Thursday, October 29, 2015

Help Wanted

Pictured above, Explorer Ernest Shackleton and two of his loyal sled dogs.

Later to be known as Breakfast and Dinner.

If you've never read about the adventures of Mr. Shackleton, you owe it to yourselves to do so. I won't give away the details of his riveting story, but this was the famous newspaper ad he took out before leaving the warm shores of Argentina for the icy terrain of Antarctica.

In 2015 we no longer place Help Wanted ads in newspapers. We turn to Social Media.

In that spirit I am turning to you, RoundSeventeen readers.

Deluded by the saccharine sweet reviews of friends and family, I am hoping to advance my literary adventures with the assistance of an official Literary Agent. (BTW, this is serious and I welcome any assistance.)

Normally, I might take the time to exercise my recently-acquired photoshopping skills and mimic the style of Shackleton's infamous ad.

But it's the end of the week and frankly I'm tired of giving this stuff away for free.


for uncompensated journey of rejection, 
implacable posturing, endless demands and 
non-stop need for artistic validation.

Rich Siegel 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trick or Treat.

Halloween is coming. 

When my kids were younger this was always an opportunity to explore some dark humor via the pumpkin decorations. For many years, we had vomitting pumpkins adorn our porch. Followed by drowning pumpkins and enema pumpkins (don't ask). 

This year both girls are at college and I'm swamped with work. 

Plus, if I don't continue to harass readers and Facebook followers with ads for my new book, who will?

So the pumpkins will be quite simple this year. We're also changing up our confectionary distribution.

Last year, my wife visited Costco and brought home the small central American sized bags of Milky Ways, Snickers and Almond Joys. Unfortunately, perhaps due to global warming or the political upheaval in the Middle East, little children did not come by the house to relieve us of all these tempting chocolate treats.

We had leftovers. Last Thursday, I found the last of the Snickers bars in the freezer, tucked behind some ground buffalo meat that had long since passed its expiration date.

This year it's going to be different. We'll hand out candy, but I have pleaded with my wife NOT to buy the good candy. This way, if there are any left over, we can toss it right in the trash or leave it on the doorstep of one those illegally zoned preschools that have been cruelly plunked right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Here is the acceptable list of Halloween candy for 2015:

1. Lollipops -- Never liked them. Never will. Always associated lollipops with Tetanus shots or root canal. If they're good enough for doctors and dentists to dispense, they're good enough for the Siegels.

2. Necco Wafers -- Frankly, I never understood why these multi-colored discs qualify as candy. Or even food. Who walks into a candy store and says, "Oooo, I can't wait to get me some Necco Wafers?" They're like tiny dishes for gerbils. Or something you'd find in a hardware store.

3. Candy Corn -- Found at the bottom of the pillowcase after a long night of candy collection, these loose nuggets of colored sugar were often covered with lint or dirt and never made it past my mother's post Halloween candy inspection. 

4. Old Lady Sucking Candy -- Needs no explanation. 

5. Kit Kat, Twix or Heath Bars -- Technically, these are chocolate and might seem tempting if found in the pantry after November 1st. But I never developed a palette for these hybrid candy/breakfast bars. The sound and the texture is all wrong. And so are the people who enjoy these wannabe's. Show me a kid who chooses a Heath Bar over a Snickers and I'll show you a candidate for the DeVry Institute.    

This is what we're handing out this year. 

I hope we get a great turnout and run out of candy by 9PM. I know some scraggly ass teenagers, who haven't bothered to put on a costume, will swing by. That's when I like to stop with the treats and start with the tricks.

I can only imagine their faces when they get home, and amongst their sugary booty, they find a random sorting of metal washers, molly bolts and 3/4 inch lug nuts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Chia Day

Last weekend, my wife and I went to Palm Springs to visit my uncle who was recovering from knee replacement surgery but who is now also recovering from broken wrist surgery. This, as a result of him not listening to his doctors and falling down while attempting to walk without his cane or walker.

We Siegels are a stubborn and often stupid bunch.

After many years of traveling to my uncle's beautiful mid-century home in the historic El Mirador section, it was the first time I noticed that his street, Chia, lacked only one letter from my long time alma mater, Chiat.

My day in Palm Springs bore some other similarities to a typical day at Chiat; there was discomfort, frustration, and laughter, topped by just a smattering more of discomfort and frustration.

As my uncle was immobile, I found myself running around town picking up odds and ends for his long rehabilitation. At this point it should be noted that what Frank Gehry is to architecture, Palm Springs is not. It is a vast desert carved up into thousands of mile long, low slung strip malls.

When Siri has announced that you have arrived at your destination, you have not. Try finding the hardware store at 1450 S. Ramon Drive among the 150 other businesses located at 1450 S. Ramon Drive.

It should also be noted that Palm Springs is almost exclusively populated by old people. And gay people. Or like my uncle, older people who also happen to be gay.

Everywhere I looked there were couples of two men, often wearing a T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops. In other words, they looked exactly like me.

Only they were much older than my 44 years.

There I was, a barrel-chested, hirsute single man, sporting muscular calves and thick Tom Selleck-like mustache walking the sun baked streets of Palms Springs alone. Suddenly, I was their Ursine Eye Candy. And couldn't help noticing the lascivious glances thrown my way. I could almost hear them whispering as I walked by.

"I'd like to take that bald Teddy Bear home and…"

After a long day of traversing the strip malls and deflecting the imaginary unwanted attention of Chardonnay-savvy men, I decided to bring some Thai food back to the house. We ordered dinner from one of the local 4 star restaurants along Palm Canyon Drive.

Parking took 20 minutes. Finding the restaurant took 20 minutes. Straightening out my order once inside the restaurant took 20 minutes. Checking the food before leaving the restaurant and discovering it was the wrong order took 20 minutes. Canceling the order and driving to another Thai Restaurant took 20 minutes.

As I noted on my scathing one star Yelp review, I could have retrieved the Thai food faster had I boarded a plane to Bangkok.

I guess it's only fitting that my long Chia Day turned into a longer Chia Night.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Make it stop

You probably heard, but last month I finally published my new book.

This month, I've been doing all I can (and probably too much, at least according to my old boss Bob Kuperman) to promote the book. Yes, there are millions of dollars to be made in book publishing but only by those who are willing to go out there and get it.

OK, maybe that's not a true statement.

But I am flying solo on this -- that is, I don't have the marketing firepower of a Random House or Penguin Books behind my sails -- so I've taken to social media. You know me, I've always been an evangelist for social media advertising since the first catheter banner ad graced my AOL landing page.

As I've said countless times on this blog, "TV, Print and Outdoor is dead. If you want to sell a car, or a beer or even build a billion dollar brand, you've got get hold of some minimum wage college graduates who can whip up some Vines, Live Tweets and Brand Engagement Units. Pronto."

It seems I've gone off on a sarcastic tangent.

The point is, lately I've been on FaceBook, Twitter and Linkedin, with a bevy of fresh homemade ads for my book using nothing but celebrity snapshots, hand held photos of myself holding the book in a mirror, and the most rudimentary, shaky photoshopping skills -- the kind you might expect from someone with Lou Gehrig's Disease.  In a rowboat. Navigating 20 foot swells. In a typhoon on the South Pacific.

That and a fair dose of snarky wit.

A friend and colleague suggested the ads are more fun than the book. A compliment, yes. But the ads take me 10 minutes to turn around. The book took me more than three years.

In any case, I did what any fully-integrated, digital-savvy copywriter with too much free time on his hands would do -- I turned it into a Tumblr.

There you have it…

This particular blog piece,
is a promo,
for the website,
that is an aggregation of the advertising,
done for a book,
that details the painful making of advertising.

It doesn't get any more meta than that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have Credit Card, Will Travel

I have a confession to make. And it will come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog, whether it be for a week, a month or even the last 7 years.

I'm a dyed in the wool cynic.

Perhaps it's due to my grossly oversized nose -- an aquiline projection from my face that makes it difficult to pass through narrow doorways and entrances -- but I can spot Bullshit from 5 miles away.

Which is why I raised an eyebrow about the University of Colorado's Parent's Weekend.

I didn't want to go.
My wife didn't want to go either. She's had a lot on her plate.

And frankly, with two out of state tuitions, room and board, laptop maintenance, and unlimited data plans for the incumbent iPhones, I didn't want to part with the money -- money reserved to keep me out of a dirty nursing home sometime down the road.

My daughter, on the other hand, desperately wanted us to drop everything, board a cattle car to Boulder and take her out for real (meaning not dormitory) food. And using a deft combination of writing and well-honed passive aggressiveness, let us know in no uncertain terms how much she want to see us.

Witness this phone text sent prior to big weekend:

That's my daughter.
Everything she knows about persuasion, I taught her.

Well, we did end up going. And just as I had suspected, spent two and half days shopping for college student resupplies, including a brand new iPhone and a duvet cover.

Her roommate got a new bike.

And the two girls across the hallway, got new winter boots and winter coats.

If I didn't know better, and unfortunately I do, I'd suggest this whole Parent's Weekend thing is just a cleverly disguised marketing stunt to pump fresh revenue into the coffers of Colorado retailers. In fact, I was chatting it up with the store manager at Patagonia who told me this is one of his busiest weekends of the year.

Of course, it wasn't a total loss, as we managed to get a little west of the town and take a nice stroll up towards the Flatirons. And I was able to get a snapshot of Abby and I, which brings me to a grand lifetime total of 27 photos.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Where's the extension?

Today, I am calling an audible.

I had intended to go on a lengthy rant about job-teasing Creative Resources Managers, their unwillingness to return phone calls or emails, and their shady day rate negotiation policies. But, other bloggers have covered that territory and frankly I've never experienced any of the aforementioned and have always found Creative Resource Managers to be the kindest, most generous, most professional people on the planet.

That's not to say that my dealings with these super-dooper, uber-ad people have not changed.

They have.

You see when I first started freelancing eleven years ago, when I was 33, I was working with industry legend Jean Robaire. He had connections in NY and would often loop me into a gig that would go 2-3 weeks. We'd finish one assignment. And then an hour later, we'd get a call to start another.

When Jean went back to NYC, I went back to my alma mater, Chiat/Day -- even though I had been fired two years earlier -- where they still found a need for a writer who could complete a proper sentence.

Here again, one job got extended into another. And I quickly found myself putting out fires on multiple fronts. One month got extended into two. Two into three and three months into a year. Before I knew it, one year had almost become four.

In the world of freelancing I had struck the jackpot. I was an eternally extended permalancer. Earning more than the staffers, yet going home with half, correction, none of the stress they regularly brought home to their spouses.

"…And then the planner tells me the campaign doesn't seem to capture the voice of the brand! Voice of the brand? As if people sitting in their living room can tell a god damn difference between the Triscuit voice of the brand and the Wheat Thin voice of the brand. They're fuckin' crackers!!!!"

Following Chiat/Day I found myself with long extended gigs at RPA and David & Goliath.

Lately however, it seems the freelance extension has gone the way of the AOR. It's just not done anymore. At least for me.

Either I'm a victim of my own success, that is my ability to work fast and efficiently.

Or I'm too expensive in this current era of Bean-Counter Driven advertising.

Or I need to switch my brand of toothpaste.

Because more often than not. I'm shuttled in for a week. Or three days. Or even one day. A brief is quickly turned into a manifesto, a bevy of spots, or a laundry list of ambitious half-baked digital ideas that will never see the light of day. And that's it.

Wham-Bam-Thank You Old Man.

"Thanks Rich. We'll call you again soon."

Maybe I should start flossing three times a day?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Funny is no longer Money.

Last week I was paid one of the highest, though useless, compliments I've ever heard.

Friend and competitive copywriting colleague, Jeff Weakley stated in his review of my recent book…

"Rich is the first freelance copywriter I would hire if I needed to write something funny."

High praise, right? 

The problem is, nobody seems to need to write something funny.

When was the last time you saw something truly funny on TV? Or heard something funny on the radio? Or read something funny in a magazine (dinosaur alert)? OK, came across something funny on the interwebs?

I'll wait.

You see, with the exception of Weiden & Kennedy, the absurdist fare from Gerry Graf and the unbeatable deadpan delivery by Blake Griffin in those Kia spots, it seems laughter is no longer in vogue.

Today brands are all about attaching themselves to causes. As if corporate altruism were some magic panacea.

"When you buy a Carrier Central Air Conditioning unit, we'll donate a nickel to the Feed the Children Foundation. So now you can feel good about feeling good."

There's also a lot of tear-jerking going around.

"Your assignment today is to craft a 2 minute short viral film that will tug at our target audience's heartstrings and make them feel different about our Monroe Shock Absorbers."

And finally, there's this unfounded belief that brands can be built online, for no money, by offering consumers a warehouse-sized toy store of frivolous, fuckwadian digital knick knacks.

"Upload your headshot and Kelloggs will turn you into a Lucky Charm."

As recently as last year, I was brought in to an unnamed agency to come up with a sharp, observational humor campaign for an unnamed client. Work that had the same vibe as our earlier ABC campaign. So that's what I gave them. I wasn't around for the presentation but I'm told the client thought the work was, "too smart."

I've seen what they put on the air. And I'm proud to say that client was 100% right.

Damn, I miss the days of "That's a some spicy meatball."

If funny ever comes back, you know where to reach me.
I'll be at my keyboard whoring my book.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Take Me Home to a Ball Game

Turn on a baseball game in April or May and I'm more likely to change the channel to something else.
Anything else.

Hell I'll watch one of those House Hunting reality shows.

"Bob and Helen are retiring from their jobs as flange assemblers. And now they want to want to buy an oceanfront home on the beautiful island of Maui. She wants access to good shopping. And Bob wants to be close to the ocean so he can take up parasailing. They only have $125,000. Can they leave the brutal, icy winters of Detroit for the warm trade winds of Hawaii. Stay Tuned."

I'll stay tuned. Just for the remote chance of seeing Bob, sporting his Detroit Lions Speedo, getting hoisted in the air by a 400 horsepower cigarette boat.

The point is, I'm not watching baseball in the spring.
But come October, it's a whole other ballgame.

The wheat has been separated from the chaff. I have no idea what that means, but as of today, there are only 4 teams in contention for the World Series.

When the stakes are this high, so is my interest level.

Watching baseball on TV has its own rhythm and language. It's slower and more thoughtful than football. With all the strategies and moving pieces and detailed attention given to each pitch, its more akin to a chess game. Had you not known this, I fancy myself a pretty good player at chess.

And I like the sportscasters. Much more so than the football announcers.

Gruden is a loudmouth who can't stop talking. Collingsworth never fails to mention his glory days with the Bengals, an oxymoron. And Trent Dilfer should be taken to the woodshed. And left there.

Give me Ernie Johnson and his solid play by play.
Give me Cal Ripken and his admirable hardworking lunchpail mentality.
And give me Ron Darling whose baseball prescience never ceases to amaze.

"With the count 0-1, this would a good opportunity for Hernandez to get a good jump on the ball. Maybe play a little Hit and Run."

Guess what happens 5 tenths of a second later?

If I have one bone to pick, and this happens every year, I still don't have a solid grasp on the differences between all the various pitches.

A four seam fastball looks a lot like a two seam fastball.
What's the difference between a Cutter and a Slider?
And for god's sake tell me or show me how a breaking ball moves in a different way than a curve ball.

I found this handy visual chart.

But I'm not sure it does me much good. Or if it would have done me much good when I played Little League baseball at Vilardi Fields in Suffern NY. As the second string catcher I went an entire year without a single hit. Though the coach said I had taken a lot of "good cuts."

Once I hit a ball, a fastball I believe, so hard it went sailing over the fence. About a foot and a half left of the Foul Pole.

A perfect metaphor for my life.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Who said advertising doesn't work?

Ever since the NFL preseason started back in March, ESPN, The NFL network, Fox Sports and all the broadcast networks have been showing spots for Draft Kings and Fan Duel. The two premier online gambling sites for those who live vicariously through Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football has been around for years.
And for years I've successfully resisted the urge to get involved.

Frankly, the idea of gathering around a bunch of drunk guys to watch NFL football and root for individual players, as opposed to teams, seemed a little self-defeating. And confusing. Plus, I don't own any football jerseys, which, ironically enough, are not cut to fit my barrel-chested torso.

But with all the advertising played during the games and the depiction of regular schmucks taking home millions of dollars in winnings, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to the siren song of false promises and instant get-out-of-my-shitty-neighborhood wealth.

So, last week, a week I'm told had the highest numbers of players ever, I signed on to the Fan Duel website and plunked down my $25 deposit.

Mind you, I'm no football junkie, but I know who the good players are.

And I know when those good players are matched up against inferior teams, they are going to be at the best.

So while so many of my best laid plans have turned into shit sandwiches lately -- my tropical vacation along the seaweed-covered beaches of the Yucatan, the release of my new book which did not rocket to the NYTimes bestseller list as I had hoped, and my numerous clever attempts to quiet the god damn dog that lives in the house behind me -- my foray into Fan Duel proved to be an immediate success.

In just my first outing, I placed 26th in a field of 100 and doubled my money. I'd like to thank Peyton Manning for his solid performance. Julian Edelman (always good to have a Jew in the lineup) had a decent weekend. And finally Antonio Gates, who had a stellar return to the lineup and vaulted me into the winner's circle.

I won.
And doubled my money.

I can see where this thing can become addictive. In fact, after completing this blog posting, I'm going to begin some exhaustive research about the league's top running backs and their performance against teams that play the Nickel Defense.

But don't expect me to be bringing the Tostitos to any Sunday football parties to partake in the, wait this is from an old actual advertising brief, "shared moments of fried, chip-based conviviality."

Nope, I'm still flying solo. Cause I still can't wear those official NFL Jerseys, made from strange polyester blend that makes me sweat.

Profusely, I might add.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

AAAA says "Eh-Eh."

This is troubling.

First my new book, Round Seventeen & 1/2 rankled the finer sensibilities of our British cousins in the Planning Department. And now it seems the firestorm has struck our own shores.

Following the successful conclusion of Advertising Week in New York City last week, wherein down-and-out street people were paid $9.72 an hour to prance around in hot, sweaty furry costumes…

… Nancy Hill, CEO of the AAAA, addressed the huddled masses with words of warning.

I would share the contents of her fiery anti-Rich Siegel speech but there might be small children in the room.

Fortunately, I have a mole inside the organization who forwarded me this scathing letter from Ms. Hill.

What have I done to deserve such scorn?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Hospital Humor

I'll be honest with you.

Actually, I've always been honest with you, that is why I suspect many people come to read Round Seventeen; brutal, unfiltered, career-killing honesty™.

But today I'm going to be honest-er.

There are times when I just feel like calling it quits.
Put an end to this blog.
And simply pull the plug.

Why? Not because I've run out of things to say. To be completely frank with you, I often get tired of hearing my own voice. Let's face it, 44 years with this kvetching, neurotic, pain-in-the-ass inner voice is a long, long time.

And so today, I'm going to go light.

Last week I was in the hospital. I should say, I was visiting someone in the hospital, my uncle -- another Siegel who has a Master's Degree in Kvetching and Neurosis.

Seems to me I've been spending a lot more time in hospitals. My uncle was having his knee replaced at Cedar Sinai. And not too long ago, my brother did a stint at St. Vincent's after he zealously overdid his first session at a Spinning Class.

I have never spent a night in the hospital bed. Not once. Ever. Nor do I want to, so I religiously exercise and eat sensibly.

On the way out of the hospital the other night, I spotted this sign (see photo above.)

Innocuous enough, right? A hallway sign passed by doctors and nurses daily, more than a few thousand times a day. And always without notice.

Until that is, I decided to whip out my iPhone and snap a photo of the sign near the water fountain.

An African American Anesthesiologist, walking in the other direction, stopped in her tracks to see what I had found so interesting.

She took a closer look and for the first time saw the sign in a new light.

"Oh yeah, it does look like the person in the wheelchair is about kick him in the ass" she thought.

She turned and walked away towards the operating room or to see her next patient. And as she did, I heard her giggling.

That made my day.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Woody Allen, Norman Mailer and the Bukake Phenomena

I know this post will have the appearance of me whoring my new book (and we can never have enough of that) but trust me it's not.

Resisting all temptation, I will not even include a link to the 67,314th best selling book. Or even a gratuitous shot of the cover -- particular since a hi-res version sits directly to the right.

But seriously, this post is not about selling the book. It's about writing the book. More accurately, taking on the endeavor to get the book out there.

Because therein lies the greatest reward.

If you are an advertising copywriter or art director -- and my amazing research staff tells me you are -- or even if you have the slightest creative inkling, you know how difficult it can be to take the flint of an idea all the way to fruition.

In the corporate world it just doesn't happen.

There are a thousand "No's" for every qualified "yes". And for every qualified "yes" there are a hundred ass-covering sycophants who don't sharpen a pencil without cc'ing the Boss. And for every clueless boss there are the privileged few in the C-Suite, who have Peter Principled their way to the top and have no problem saying, "this is nice, but we need to go in a different direction."

If I've seen this phenomena once, I've seen it 1,894 times in my career. Not that I've been counting. Or keeping track. Or writing names down on a list.

Let's say an idea does make it to the point where invoices are created and checks are being written. Let's say you're moving into production.

That's when the real fun begins.

It's been said that success has many fathers. I'm not fond of that imagery. It denigrates fatherhood and it diminishes the sense of responsibility. In the ad world, if an idea moves forward, it's more like a thousand-participant bukake.

(I'll pause here to let those who are unfamiliar with the term, Google it.)

By the time everyone and anyone has "put their two cents in", the thing that started as an idea now looks like an industrial accident at a lotion factory.

"Clean up on Aisle Five... And aisle six... And seven."

Which brings me back to the book. Again, no selling.

Three years ago, I had this crazy thought that I should experiment with longer form writing. Longer than the 700-800 words that usually go into a blog post. I learned that most short stories are about 4,000 to 5,000 words in length. So I started digging through my mental files for stories I had accumulated in my 44 years on this Earth. Then I started writing them out.

The first few were no good. I decided to switch from first person to third person. And freely borrowed some techniques from Woody Allen, Jean Shepherd and even fellow copywriter Shalom Auslander. I took my time and slowly amassed a collection that met my admittedly low standards.

Yes, I had help from my friends Robert Prins (who designed the cover) and Rachel Plecas (who did the first round of proofreading) and Theo Wallace (who did the second round of proofreading) and Bonnie Miguel who helped with the formatting, but in the end, my idea for a book became a book.

And it came out better than I thought it would. Without the watchful eye of an ECD or CCO. Or  meaningless input from a client who has never crafted anything more complicated than a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Nevertheless, it's something I can look at and say it's good and was worth the work.

Mind you, the Pulitzer people are not gathered around the table for late night discussions on the merits of the storytelling…

"The intricate weaving of Feldman's professional woes and his personal demons reminds me of the early works of Norman Mailer."

But there is an undeniable satisfaction stemming from the simple fact that I did what I set out to do. "How satisfying?" you might ask.

Ironically, I'm at a loss for words.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Can we borrow the Yakima?

The year was 2013.

It was late Fall. Later than now. And the Boston Red Sox were battling the St. Louis Cardinals in the pivotal game 5 of the World Series.

David Ortiz, the epitome of the Fat-but-Fit Movement (I'm charter member #5,831) was stepping up to the plate with two men on base and, clearly ahead in the count, looking for a pitch he could drive over the wall.

But then my front doorbell rang.

It was my neighbor from across the street. A woman in her mid thirties, with three kids under her belt and a nose for the impulsive.

"We're going camping this weekend. Can we borrow the Yakima?"

Are you crazy, I thought. It's the middle of October. And it's a Thursday night. You can't just pack up a family of five, and without a reservation, stroll onto a campground and get a site. This is California, home to 400 million other people who all want to do, what you want to do, when you want to do it.

It was about 7 o'clock at night and my neighbor's husband was still at work. That meant, not only did I have to lug out the 21 cubic foot box out of the garage, I had to curtail my World Series watching, and futz with the wonky locking mechanisms to attach it to her Toyota minivan.

I did my best to smile, but muttered mightily as she watched me spend 45 minutes bolting the bulky cargo box to the roof rack.

My neighbor is not an easy woman to say "No" to, mostly because she never says no to anyone else.

Besides I thought, having lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years and having had my fair share of unpleasant encounters with white trash neighbors of the most obnoxious variety, it was rather nice to have this impulsive, sweet-natured, a little-off-her-rocker woman, living directly across the street from us.

Moreover, my neighbor often hired my daughters to do some baby-sitting. And anyone who puts money in my kid's pockets other than me is alright in my book. She also was wired into the neighborhood and seemingly knew everything that was going on. And would stop by our house with leftover produce from her garden, with all the good veggies (kale, cauliflower, radishes and turnips), you know, the kind of vegetables that make you want to say, "When is dessert?"

But last week, this one-of-a-kind woman, this one-in-a-million people, was taken from us.


For the past seven days I have been shaking my fist at the God I don't believe in. Asking the same questions her family and friends have been asking.

How is this possible?

How could you, God of Mercy, all loving one, do this to her husband and her now four very young children?

Of all the crappy people on this planet, why would you take one of the good ones?

And not just a good one, but one of the best ones. A gentle woman of unusual spirit and light. A woman who will be remembered by all who knew her.

What kind of mean, stupid, and irresponsible God are you?

It's October again.
The World Series is approaching.
And I can't help thinking I'd give anything for my doorbell to ring and hear my neighbor's soft, wispy voice…

"Rich, can we borrow the Yakima again?"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Flame Has Been Lit

Fellow blogger, sometime follower, and legendary British adman Dave Trott came across a troubling letter.

Naturally he thought it would be of great concern to me and emailed a copy, post haste.

I've made some enemies in my day, but never did I think it would reach such monumental, and apparently very official, proportions.

I invite you to read:

Holy shit, I guess some folks on the other side of the pond have no sense of humor and have no plans of buying my book.

That's the last time I ever purchase haggis again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back in the USSR

Weeks ago, Donald Trump mistakenly mentioned how he found his daughter quite attractive -- a concept that I, a father of two daughters can't get my head wrapped around. With shovel firmly in hand, and the hole getting deeper, Trump said would even consider dating her.

You know, if she weren't his own flesh and blood.

Well, last week Vladimir Putin was sucking up the news cycle. Which got me wondering about his two daughters, seen in the picture above. And you thought I picked the photo (above) just going for the gratuitous, lurid shot of the onion rings.

Naturally, this brought me back to a blog I had done earlier this year on Russian Dating Sites. You can go back and revisit the piece here.

Having been married a long, long, long time, I never had the pleasure of Internet dating. But friends, younger than 44, tell me it's not the candy store of romance it's made out to be.

For instance, meet Ludmilla. And an excerpt from her profile page.

"Tell me where it hurts, my little Kosack. Ludmilla will make it better. Then Ludmilla will take giant eggplant and beat you on head until you surrender like the fascist dogs who dared to step foot in Stalingrad. Then I will make it better again. And the cycle of love will be set in perpetual motion. Call me, I am Ludmilla."

Maybe Cosplay is not your thing.

Maybe you're into trucks and cars and things that fit in trucks and cars. Say hello to Svetlana.

She may not be the brightest 500 watt bulb in the refurbished 1987 Ford Taurus, but what she lacks upstairs is more than made up for in her stylish good looks and her unbeatable curves. That's enough junk in the trunk for two lonely Siberian oil drillers.

I'm told Internet dating is a lot like selling real estate. And any real estate agent will tell you, you can't have an open house without good staging.

No one knows staging better than Vladlena. She's been plying her wares on the Internet since the Internet was born and she's got the 1995 600 cc Tandy microwave oven to prove it.

In addition to being a rabid AC/DC fan, Vladlena is interested in Interior design and is going for her Master's Degree via an online correspondence course at the University of Minsk. When not rocking out the heavy metal or looking for new Russian walls to adorn with tropical bamboo, you'll find Vladlena enjoying a freshly-nuked Hot Pocket (a nickname given to her by an old boyfriend.) By the way,  Hickory Ham & Cheddar is her fav.

And finally -- I'm knowlingly violating the Comedic Rule of Three -- meet Evgeniya.

This fire-breathing Georgian likes her armaments. And her ottomans. Evgeniya is a world traveller and has been to gun shows in Poland, Uganda, Laos and Florida. If it isn't clear from the picture it should be, she's all about living the unrestrained life.

I could spend all morning going through these fascinating photos and profiles. But I probably should get back to work. I forgot, I'm on the clock and somebody is paying me right now. Not to indulge in my love of kitsch but to churn out banner ads for a new data storage vehicle.

Before I go, I'll leave you with the Russian beauties who didn't make the cut in today's blog:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Badvertising Week

Don't know if you were aware of this, but last week in NYC was Advertising Week.

I bring this to your attention because last week was noticeably devoid of any Facebook links or Tweets or Retweets from this mammoth extravaganza on behalf of the advertising industry.

Odd I thought.

Particularly in light of so many fascinating panels and forums about where and how our business is going. Take an almost verbatim (from the program) look at what you missed:

Demystifying B-To-B Buying 2015 and Beyond
-- a scintillating look at linear and sequential purchasing decision making processes and the provocative implications these have on the disintermediation of digital buying behaviors.

Holy shit, I bet they had a hard time finding enough folding chairs for the audience.

Direct to Consumer: OTT and the Future of Video Entertainment
--2015 has been a year of of expansion and experimentation. Amidst the frenzy of activity, participants in the value chain-- pure-play OTT players, broadcasters, telcos, content companies and advertisers-- are facing more questions than answers.

I hope they had enough popcorn for everybody.

What Marketers Who Know Mobile Marketing Don't Want You to Know
-- Experts reveal the findings from a $2 million research project that was two years in the making. Comprehensive. Exhaustive. Enough Big Data for two panels.

Gonna need some beefy bouncers and some red velvet rope to control the crowds itching to get in this one.

Those were real panels by the way. And that was just the first day. I couldn't stomach my way through the remainder but I'm pretty sure they never discussed the issues or had anything meaningful to say about the day-to-day stuff that touches all our lives.

If I were in charge of Advertising Week, these are some of the panels I'd set up:

Re-Planning the Planning
-- How is that it takes 9 weeks to prepare a one page Planning Brief leaving only three days to conceive, photoshop, powerpoint and assemble a 359 page deck of creative? Panelists will conduct a lively discussion on the vague definitions of "off brand", "off strategy" and "I don't know why but it's just not working for me."

Clients Who Demand Actors With More Energy
-- Not every bite deserves a smile. Educating clients who insist they know more about dramatic performance than the performers or the people they pay millions of dollars to deliver that performance. Yes, the line could be delivered with more energy, but that would be stupid.

Anthropology, Architecture and the 2016 Creative Department
-- Cutting edge architects will discuss maximizing agency revenue while minimizing expensive employee footprint. Jay Chiat's Virtual Office reshaped the 1990's. But the new SuperCage™ will redefine the way creatives go about their business in the late two thousand teens. Attendees will be given a sneak preview of the exciting new design, still in beta.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Where are all the good ideas?

I have a good idea: let's stop saying, "a good idea can come from anyone and anywhere."

It's Bullshit.
And the people spouting that nonsense know it's bullshit.

It's Morale Building 101.

"Yeah, we can't give out raises or bonuses this year. And nobody gets an office. And we'll need you to work the weekend, Christmas weekend, but the good news is we're all in this together and who knows who'll come up with the game changing idea."

Based on years of experience, I can tell you it won't be the Assistant Account Coordinator who regularly messes up the late night dinner orders.

It won't be the old Media dude who has been crunching numbers since they introduced the Donovan Data System.

And I'll put my nuts on the block and posit it won't be the bean-counting office manager Nazi who has set up a DropCam in the mailroom to see who has been pinching the purple Post It notes.

Because here's the truth of the matter, a good idea is rare. And it needs to be nurtured, protected and supported. Not tossed in the waste basket because it's only the first or second round of presentations. Not marginalized because it's a smidge to the left or right of the precious strategy. And not minimized by pinning it up on a wall with a hundred, scratch that, a thousand mediocre ideas gathered at the agency brainstorming session.

Or Idea Rumble.

Or Synapse Symposium.

Or Conceptapolluzza.

Or whatever fakarkta name some clever ass-nugget in Planning came up with.

I'm all for the democratization of technology, but diametrically opposed to its ugly cousin, the commoditization of creativity.

There isn't a formula for what we do. There's no science to it. It's a little commerce mixed in with a lot of magic. And sometimes the recipe can be amended with a generous helping of caffeine and a dash of Vicoden.

Moreover, it takes experience. I didn't have a good idea until I spent 17 years spitting out bad ones.

Sadly, at least in the ad world, we are not drowning in a sea of good ideas. The landscape is as barren  as a 10 acre parcel of unsold land in the Mojave desert.

Of course, this is just my opinion. A perspective. A theory, if you will.

Should you require any further evidence, I invite you to turn on your television.