Thursday, September 28, 2017

Not so fast Lady

When women throw themselves at you, as they have my entire life, it tends to get a little old.

The fawning.

The flattery.

The endless "pick-me-not-her."

Frankly, I don't know how my wife deals with the nonstop solicitation of her fella.

At some point you have to just say enough.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

23andMe and You

Several weeks ago it dawned on me that the house would soon be empty again. My youngest daughter would have returned to Boulder where she had found herself living in a "janky" house and near people who were very "chewgy."

And my other daughter, having safely returned from her malaria-adjacent adventures in Kenya and Tanzania, would be going back to Seattle for her senior year at UDUB.

In this moment of susceptibility I found myself watching another one of those commercials for 23andMe. Within 3 business days, the DNA collection kit had arrived and I was salivating and spitting all that good Siegel juice into a tiny vial.

The results came back. And there were not that many surprises.

The lab properly deduced that my paternal line is dominated by Ashkenazi Jews who lived somewhere between Poland and Latvia and some god-forsaken border on the eastern front, where I suspect it got too damn cold and one of my great bubbies turned to one of my great zetas and said...

"Oy Chaim, I'm cold and I'm not taking another step. This is where we shtettle."

The science people also got my mother's line of ancestors correct, that is in the more localized areas of England, Scotland and Ireland. Here, they had determined my predecessors had been getting soused on warm flat beer since the early 1800's.

I also learned I have 261 Neanderthal variants, which is surprisingly fewer than most respondents to the 23andme project. Meaning I'm more evolved than your average Homo Sapien. Or Advertising Account Planner.

This was shocking too consider the copious amount of hair emerging from my ears, ankles and shoulders. As well as my obvious disdain for cutlery and preference for eating with my hands.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the results was a section entitled Your DNA Relatives.

Turns out they enter all the chromosome readings into a data base and through matching and signature reading can determine a list of possible relatives based on telltale genetic similarities.

My list was over 1000 people long.
Moreover, the report gives their names.

Being of great curiosity I scanned the list and actually found a name that corresponds to one of my Facebook friends. Don't worry no names will be used. But it turns out this woman's uncle could also be my second or third cousin.

Can you imagine getting an email from Rich Siegel to the effect of, "Hey, I think we might be cousins or should join us for Thanksgiving....can you bring some bourbon? And those spicy hot blue tortilla chips, we love those?"

I'd be hitting that Unfriend button as fast as I could.

Who knows, maybe she already has.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Me need meat.

I'm not big on impulsive.

Or, as my wife says, "I put the 'don't' in impromptdu."

I like to have a plan.
I like to plan time to make a plan.

Today is Tuesday, but I'm actually writing this last Thursday because we are going out town this weekend and I still haven't diagrammed where the socks are going in the carry on luggage.

That said, last weekend stands as an anomaly.

My Eastern Sierra camping buddy Paul called and said,

"Let's go up to Big Pine and bring back some Copper Top BBQ."

This is where it gets tricky, because for those of you who don't know, Big Pine is 252.8 miles from Los Angeles. If it were a straight shot up the 405, that could take well over a month. As it is, the drive goes up Route 395 is nothing less than a 4 hour drive.

Four hours is a long way to go for BBQ. But the tri-tip, the baby back ribs and the green chile beans from the famed Copper Top restaurant are not just any BBQ.

Not long ago Copper Top was named one of the Top Ten restaurants in the entire Golden State. Right up there with Nobu. The french Laundry. And a host of other fancy schmancy places I'll never know.

But still, that's 4 long hours in the car listening to Paul and his professorial stories about Gypsy Moths, lava tubes, Mumford & Sons, cemetery trivia and Mormon butter churners. I should mention Paul is a high school teacher.

As you can see from the picture above (me pointing to where all this good food was going) the carnivorous instincts put a beatdown on the rational instincts.

You may be asking was the 500 mile roundtrip pilgrimage worth it?

We just finished the remaining baby ribs last night and I will admit that this morning I was tempted to fish through the garbage can to see if any fleshy morsels had errantly been left on the bone.

Sadly, there were none.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Go Huskies. Go Buffs.

It's Monday morning where you are.

But it's still Friday morning for me, where I am writing this post 36 hours in advance of the kickoff between the #6 ranked Washington Huskies and the University of Colorado Buffs.

I know the phrase has been used many times in the past, perhaps even overused by zealous copywriters, but this truly is a Win-Win situation.


Because I have a daughter attending each of these magnificently overpriced out-of-state universities.

The gold flake on helmets of both teams, I paid for.

Those state of the art stationary bikes on the sidelines to keep the players warmed up, I paid for.

That giant flag emblazoned with the huge CU letters, I paid for.
And let's not forget the big W flag on the other side of the field, I also paid for that.

I look around Folsom Field and everywhere I look I see the fruits of my labor.

From the fringy epilets on the shoulders of every band member to the cashmere sweater draped over Ralph the Buffalo, because we wouldn't want the 1500 lbs. Bison getting cold in the frigid 52 degree evening air.

But none of that matters, because regardless of the outcome of the game, I rooted for the winner.

Compounding my incredible good luck is the fact that my wife, my brother and myself are here in Boulder, with both my daughters -- so this literally is a Win-Win-Win-Win-Win situation.

Monday Morning Update: I was secretly rooting for the Huskies to win and they did. Beating Colorado soundly, 37-10. Meaning they still have a chance to go to the national championship for a rematch against Alabama. And I would enjoy nothing more than another opportunity to dropkick Lou Saban and his Krimson Tide, a team that would no doubt show up at the White House for a meal with Precedent Shitgibbon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm the fella for Adela

I've been doing this AsiaDate bit for a little over two months now.

As you know every Thursday I log into my mailbox and sort through the letters of Asian women seeking an American Sugar Daddy.

I know it's a scam.

You know it's a scam.

But in a testament to the power of persuasive writing I could not help but to fall head over wallet in love with Adela.

Read her letter.

She could be the one.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Click bait

Athletes have benchmarks.

For baseball players it's 3000 hits. There's even a 3000 Hit Club. Here you'll find legends like Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Hank Aaron and Rod Carew, who is related to me through some weird connection of marriages and cousins on my wife's side.

In football, passing for more than 50,000 yards is worthy of note. You might have heard of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brett Favre. How could you not have heard of Brett Favre, he's hawking all kinds of shit on TV, from copper plated healing belts to Wrangler Jeans to worthless micro-shavers that make for terrible Father's Day gifts.

Bloggers also have a benchmarks.
At least this one does.

Prior to last week, I had never had a posting get more than 3500 page hits.

Oh, I had come close.

The post about Why I Sucked as a Creative Director was a Hall of Fame entry. Apparently people like hearing me detail all my faults and misgivings.

The follow up, Why I Sucked as a Creative Director Part II, was equally popular with folks who could just not get enough Siegel humiliation.

More recently, the telling of the tale involving my most fucked up elevator ride exceeded all expectations.

And of course, I could never go wrong with pictorial pieces on Russian Dating sites, always a fan favorite.

But as I had mentioned, last week that all changed.

I posted a piece I had written rather quickly -- hint, when I get mad I write really fast. As it just seems to pour out.

It was juxtaposition piece about how Martin Sorrell saw the future of advertising and how I saw it from a more in-the-trenches POV.

The response couldn't have been bigger.
It ripped through the charts. With a bullet.

Last time I looked, it had 3,937 views. Just short of my personal benchmark of 4000.

If I can lure 63 of you to click the link above I will be a happy man.

Oh who am I kidding?

I'll just be a slight less grumpy man.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mysteries of life

Today, this woman, former TV show contestant, Omarosa is working.

Today, as of this writing, I, a 44 year old freelance copywriter, am not.

Mind you, I have been busy lately. Last week alone, I handled a B2B campaign for a manufacturer of plumbing valves. A manifesto writing exercise for a maker of malware detection software. And some promos for some reality housewives wannabe show that will air in C-SPAN's prime 3AM slot.

But today there is nothing on the plate. And so I'll be dialing for dollars. Pounding the inter web pavement in search of agency reviews, unsatisfied clients and small production houses in Sacramento looking for some branding expertise.

It's not glamorous by any means. But it is the life I've chosen. And it's the poison I prefer.

I can't sit at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ (a term I'm seeing my colleagues use more and more.) Nor can I stomach the unpalatable gruel of jargon and process that is force-fed on staffers at an ad agency on a daily basis.

And yet I cannot help but to scratch the Omarosa itch.
She is working today.
And I am not.

Not to appear immodest, but seriously?

Here's a woman whose sole qualification seems to be her willingness to blow smoke up Precedent Shitgibbon's arse. She is seated near the levers of power. She has the capacity to shape what happens here and around the world.

And here I am hoping to get booked with a startup company that makes avocado-flavored butter.

I can't help but to be reminded of a conversation I had way back in 1998.

I was at Chiat/Day and we had just been named Agency of the Year. We were hitting on all cylinders. Winning awards. And producing campaigns that transcended into pop culture. It truly was a golden time.

We were pitching some new piece of business. And going up against some lightweight competitors. It was at this point when I found myself in a conference room sitting next to Lee Clow. Those of you who know me know I don't do the flattery thing. Sycophancy has never been in my wheelhouse, and probably goes a long way to explain my current situation.

In any case, I thought this was a good opportunity to ask Clow a question that had been on my mind.

"Lee, I don't get it, Chiat is arguably one of the best agencies in the country. In the world for that matter. We're winning awards for Apple, Levis and Taco Bell. Why do we even have to pitch clients? Shouldn't they be coming to us?"

Lee looked at me, slightly befuddled. Like I lacked some fundamental understanding of how the world was not fair and how business was conducted in the real world. And I'll never forget his response.

"I left my coffee in my office, can you go get it, Brian?"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Хороший мальчик

One of the joys about working from home and not with a gun to my head to meet some falsified deadline, is the liberty to step away from the computer and the shoestring budgets and the fakakta strategies, to do as I please.

Yesterday, I did just that.

I was pleased to take my oldest daughter on a little field trip. We got in the car and drove to a Culver City gem, the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Turns out she had never been there.

This is odd considering the museum's incredible proximity. I could literally land a golf ball on their roof with two mighty swings of a titanium driver.

Why then didn't we walk? Because even though my wife are avid hikers and log more than 50,000 steps a week, my daughters are not walkers.

It's just an incongruity of life one must accept.

Not unlike the little known Soviet Space Dogs, who pioneered our extraterrestrial adventures in search of rubber balls and meat treats. Here we learned the exploits of Laika, Belka and Strelka, canine predecessors to the much more famous Sputnik program. The efforts, and drugged napping, of these dogs has been immortalized in beautiful Soviet style posters.

In a weird (perhaps intentional) turn of fair play, the museum also featured a unique display outlining the history and magical lyricism of the Cat's Cradle.

This multimedia display had everything. A look back to the origin of the Cat's Cradle. Artwork depicting its use in torturing political prisoners. There was even a tactile area, where a disembodied voice (there are a lot of disembodied voices at this museum) will guide you through some of the more intricate Cat's Cradles you can do should you choose to pick up one of the loops of strings handled by thousands of other visitors.

Sadly, one of my favorite displays was gone. Or, perhaps we missed it. Some of the rooms in the museum are very poorly lit. Others, simply smell bad and are very uninviting. Of course, I'm talking about the robust exhibit of ancient cures and medical treatments.

We humans have some strange ideas on treating illnesses. Today, we put hot stones on our backs. Pour melted wax in our ears. Or go on 7 day lemon juice/yoga cleanses. But our ancestors knew much better.

To cure bedwetting for instance, they would make their children or husbands eat this...

Do yourself a favor and visit this incredible museum, wedged between an auto body shop and a bodega that sells awful smelling Indian spices. It's well worth the $8 admission. And you'll exit the place wondering...

"What the fuck was that all about?"

Which is quite an achievement considering the President of the United States is still defending the fine character of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In search of 44 year old men

It's Thursday and most of you know what that means.

However, we also have a whole bunch of newcomers to Roundseventeen.

Thanks in large part to Tuesday's post, which sort of caught fire, went semi-viral in London and skyrocketed to the top of the heap -- the most viewed post in the 9 plus year history of this blog.

And so, to welcome new readers, allow me a moment to explain.

I have a penchant for scambaiting, that is messing with internet scams by getting the heads of those seeking to exploit others via the web. Years ago, I engaged with several Nigerian con artists and collected all the back and forth correspondence. I even turned it into my own book/website available here:

Lately, and for the last several weeks I have pointed my laser focus at -- an internet scamming site designed to separate lonely middle aged American men from their money.

I created a phony profile, under the name of David Goldstein, and have been having fun answering selected would be mail order brides.

With that, I give you the obscenely young Hai Bo.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chuck E's In Love

Before I started my career in advertising and rocketed to fame, fortune and jetsetting around the world, I toiled many years in the restaurant business.

I washed dishes.

I flipped burgers.

I chased rats out of the ceiling rafters and killed them with a mighty swing of a whisk broom.

I also had the opportunity to work in two of the coolest nightclubs in West Los Angeles.

The divey, dirty, gritty Hop Singh's on Lincoln Blvd.
And the tonier, more upscale At My Place on Wilshire Blvd.

Though separated by only 4.1 miles as the crow flies, they were worlds apart, musically.

Hop Singh's was built for jazz and blues aficionados. The place was tiny, meaning the rent was cheap. The liquor was watered down, meaning the business costs were cheap. And the labor was overworked, meaning the boss was cheap.

And he was. His name was Rudy and he was an old school Jew from the old country. And though he was sweet and funny and treated us all like his kids, I'll never forget watching him pluck swizzlesticks from the drinks that had been bussed back to the kitchen.

"What? I should let these go to waste?"

Besides getting to see great jazz greats like George Benson, Big Joe Turner and Pat Metheny, live on our tiny little stage, I also had the pleasure of hanging out with them in the Green Room. Well, it would have been Green had Cheap Rudy sprung for a paint job.

Mostly, I remember the old black guys.

I remember them in their grimy rented tuxedoes. Smoking cigarettes, telling road stories and drinking Couvoisier. And laughing. Damn, these guys could laugh. When I think back on it, the sound coming from the Green Room was sweeter and more full of life than any random plucking of bass strings and snare taps coming from the stage.

Today, the building that was home to so many legends is the now the service department for Kawasaki Jet Ski Dealership.

Across town, At My Place is now BelCampo, some fancy upscale butcher shop/restaurant where over-indulged westsiders can pay through the nose for kale-fed, hormone free porterhouse steak.

Here too I got to hang with musicians.

Ricki Lee Jones (who was in the news recently and inspired this post) played there. So did Robben Ford, Richard Eliot and the great Billy Vera and the Beaters.

The Beaters were always the most memorable. Not only for the way they would take the show off the stage and parade the audience up and down Wilshire Blvd, but also for they way they would stick around after the show. With the doors closed and the cash registers locked up for the night, the club owner would open up the bar. And we, the staff, the beaters and even the crew of Mexican busboys, would drink.

And not stop drinking until just before the sun would rise.

Now, if I'm awake at 4:30 in the morning, it's to make my fourth trip to the bathroom.

Good times.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Advertising: "I'm not dead yet."

Not long ago, Sir Martin Sorrell, ex-Chairman of WPP (Wire & Plastic Products) explained why the advertising market is struggling.

With clients slashing budgets, taking marketing in-house and questioning industry metrics at every turn, struggling may be the understatement of the century.

In any case, you can read Marty's jargon-fested autospy here. He cites three reasons for the ominous downturn:

* Digital disruption

* Activist investors

* The low cost of capital money

I'd be lying through my ceramic-implanted teeth if I said I understood any of that. I don't. But having spent the past 20 plus years working in advertising and NOT Wire and Plastic Products, I have some thoughts on our current supercharged race to the bottom.

It starts with getting emails like this:

"Thanks for attending this morning's 8:30 AM briefing. By now you should all have a copy of the 56 page briefing deck. The junior planners will be coming by at 11AM to check in on your progress, answer any questions and take a peek at your first blush of work. Lunch will be brought in so that you can continue working and have material ready to show the senior planners at 2 PM. Additional check ins will include GCDs at 4 PM. ECDs at 7PM. And a team check in with the CCO (via Skype from her home) at 11PM. Please be prepared to show work in progress to the Partnership Council Committee at 7AM. There will be bagels."

Of course this is hyperbolic and in no way a true representation of how ad agencies work -- there would never be free bagels after only one day on an assignment.

Again, I have no idea what activist investors do or even what they are, I've never met an activist investors or had one hand me his or her business card. Though the other day I did read on linkedin that someone at a London ad agency had been named Chief Making It Happen Officer.

Stupid pretentious titles could be another factor in our collective demise.

This could be another:

Can you spot the difference?

The employees on the left get Summer Fridays (you know when workload permits.)

As if all that weren't demoralizing enough, finally there's the not so insignificant matter of wage disparity. I'm no Alan Greenspan, though there's a good chance I sat next to a Greenspan at last year's Rosh Hoshanah services. I don't understand the meaning of "low cost of capital money" nor its impact on our industry.

But I can pick up a Wall Street Journal and I can see that last year Sir Martin earned more than $100 million in compensation. I can also work a calculator. And can tell you that $100 million is equal to the salary of TWO THOUSAND staffers making a decent wage of $50 thousand a year.

Think how many banner ads 2000 people could crank out in a year.

Or put in other terms, 2000 workers could sew enough schmatta in one year to cloth the entire population of New Jersey.

Want to know why advertising is dying? Because the people at the top are choking the life out of people not at the top. That's why.

I'm going home to watch Jeopardy.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Hink Full Av Hästgödsel

You know that old saying about "half my advertising budget is a complete waste of money. I just don't know which half?" 

I do.

The waste stems from a fundamental brand-to-retail disconnect. That money gets flushed down the toilet every time the behavior espoused by the brand in big million dollar marketing campaigns is not mirrored by the behavior on the ground, where the rubber meets the road.

Or in this case when the dealer tries to fleece the customer.

In other words, Tier 1 spends the money. Tier 2 sets fire to it.

Allow me to backtrack.

Weeks ago, my daughter finished her three summer sessions as a camp counselor. She served in a supervisory role. And worked her butt off. When it was all over, the staff decided to celebrate with a trip to Las Vegas. Against my better judgment, I let my daughter drive with three other counselors.

She took her 2005 Volvo S40 and hauled off the other girls who were equally happy to be done with the overprivileged whiny kids of West LA. When they hit Paradise Blvd., they ended up in hell. The car seized up and they were literally lost in Las Vegas.

This is where it gets interesting.

She had the car towed to Volvo Cars in Las Vegas, at 7705 West Sahara Blvd. A place to be avoided all costs. This is not only borne out by my experience but by other equally outraged Yelpers as well.

On TV and in my head, and perhaps yours as well, Volvo is that nice caring brand. Quirky Swedes who are looking out for the safety of me and my family. And our general welfare. In reality, or at least at Volvo Cars of Las Vegas, that couldn't be further from the truth.

The estimated cost of repairs was over $2700. For a car with a blue book value of $4000. Moreover, I had just done a major service on the vehicle three months ago, including four brand new tires. This was the mother of all flim flams.

Don't believe me?

That's a $335 charge for a new battery!

If you know anything about car repairs, and I know a little, that's about three times what it should cost. I can only imagine how they inflated all the other costs. 

$58 for a wing nut, welcome to Vegas.

Truth is, they had all the cards in their hand. And since I was 250 miles away, I decided to cut my losses and donate the vehicle to the local chapter of the Wounded Warriors.

And to give you an idea of how skeazy these sunbaked taintlickers can be, they wanted me to pay a $170 diagnostic fee (for work that was never done) before releasing the car to the charity. 

If you know me and you know this blog at all, I think it's fair to say that I can bring them well over $2700 worth of bad press.

See Trump

See Kim Jung Un 

See Jillian Richards and See NordicTrack.

See my Yelp review and click Useful.

Moreover, while I most assuredly can muster up $3000 worth of pain, it goes without saying, I will be enjoying every minute of it.

As the Swedes might say, Volvo Cars of Las Vegas is in for an Ikea-sized helping of Fukkenslaggen.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Yan to my Yin

Last week we had an unscheduled break to the AsiaDate routine.

For fans of this continuing series, I apologize.

To those who wish I'd stop this little phishing expedition, more apologies.

Today, we meet Yan. A near perfect match to my Yin.

Will she be the one? Only time and a temperature check on her feelings towards swarthy men will tell.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

School Daze

My daughter's college experience is turning out to be the complete opposite of mine.

She spent the summer studying abroad, working with an NGO in Kenya and then traveling to Tanzania and Zanzibar. I once made a trip to a bar in Skaneateles, just outside Syracuse, because they were pouring 99 cent Genny Cream Ales.

The dissimilarities don't end there.

The other night while scarfing down some vegetarian meal (another one of her new interests) she sprung it on us that she had made the Dean's List during the Spring Semester.

The Dean's List!!!

I don't even know what that is or what it entails, only that it was so unobtainable. Not unlike all the women at the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house.

I once got on a list during my sophomore year in college. But it was Residence Hall Disciplinary List on account of our stealing a fetal pig from the Bio Lab and crucifying it on a coed's door. True story.

But here's the biggest shocker of all.

With my daughter's graduation just 8 tantalizing months away there's talk of her extending her studies. Graduate School. And not just any type of graduate school, she's hinting at possibly applying to law school.

The talk is just preliminary. And she probably doesn't want me even whispering it -- Hint to family members: shhhhhhhhh.

But three more years of tuition bills does throw a kink, albeit a pleasant one, into my carefully laid out financial plan.

Which brings me to my lists of wants that will just have to wait:

An Audi S5

A second suit

A new jacuzzi with the Vibra-Fingers 9000 Spinjets

A 4K Flatscreen TV

Those 45 lbs. dumbbells for my Body Beast program

The Bosley Mr. Man About Town Hair Replacement Program

Calf implants

The HydroWorx Endless Swimming Pool

Guess, I'll just have to get by on nachas.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gone Hollywood

I grew up on television.

As a kid it never ceased to amaze me how technology could beam the best, and the worst, of Hollywood right into my living room. Nor did it ever occur to me that one day my living room would be the setting for all this movie magic.

But it has.
And it did.

Two weeks ago a car pulled up in front of my house. An older guy got out and made a beeline for my front door. I thought for sure he was serving me papers for some random act of political disobedience I might have committed while under the influence of Makers Mark.

Turned out he was a location scout for a new Zach Braff TV show called Alex, Inc.

I'd been through this drill years before when the cast and crew of Vegas showed up to shoot for two days. I also know that having a film crew pick your house for a shoot is akin to winning the lottery. They pay serious money. And you never have to lift a finger.

You can imagine my glee when, a few days later, the scout called to tell me that among four possible choices they had selected my house.

The day before the shoot, the art department showed up to remove everything the Siegels had in place and redecorate the house to look like the home of an older Italian (Roman Catholic) woman from Queens, NY -- a little ironic since I spent my formative years in Jackson Heights and in Flushing.

The next day, Zach and the cast showed up. Here they are captured in rehearsal on my handy dandy Nest camera. Excuse the poor lighting.

Zach is in the blue T-shirt. 
And the gentleman in white is none other than Michael Imperioli, who you might remember from The Sopranos. 

I didn't stick around for the shooting. I had a gig that day. 

And, to be completely honest, watching a shoot, whether it's TV, film or even a commercial, ranks up there with the least interesting pastimes known to man. It's more boring than this blog.

Nevertheless, it did occur to me that with Micheal Imperioli (also seen is Goodfellas) showing up last week and James Caan (The Godfather) showing up ten years ago, I've now had two characters from two seminal Mafia movies in my living room. 

I just need Bobby DeNiro for the trifecta.