Thursday, February 28, 2019

Youth will be served

No, that's not Ferris Bueller's buddy Cameron Frye, though the resemblance is quite uncanny.

That's Todd Young, the young senator from Indiana.

He's the topic of today's Thursday Thrashing letter.

Hi Taaaahhhhd.



Senator Todd Young
400 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Todd,

I probably should be addressing you as 'Dear Senator', but 'Dear Todd' has such a nice pedantic and dismissive ring to it, I just couldn't resist.

As a point of background, I have been handwriting letters (none of that form letter shit you uncaring politicians regularly spew out) to each of our Republican US Senators. I may be mistaken, after doing this for 6 or 7 months, but I do believe that as your name indicates, you are the most junior member in the Senate.

I'm 44. I hope when I'm 46 I can look back at such a distinguished career.

Let's start where every look back on Todd Young starts, 2007. This is when Indiana's Young Republicans -- who now carry the tiki torch for the original Klansman who started in Indiana -- named you "Southern Man of the Year."

There's so much irony in that last statement I barely know how to unpack it. If Neil Young  (I'm sure no relation) were dead, he'd be spinning in his grave, in his long matted hair. 

Let me ask you, as Southern Man of the Year, did you receive special amenities?

* Free Robe Dry Cleaning

* Lighting the Cross privileges

* Grand Wizard for A Day (Get to wear the green sheets)

"Whoa, whoa, slow down there camper", I can hear you saying. These charges and innuendo are completely unfounded. 

I can even hear you pointing out your membership in the Republican Main Street Partnership, an association of moderate Republicans who advocate a more liberal position on social issues.

Moreover, GovTrack noted that you joined more bipartisan bills than any other Senator.

Good for you, Taaaaahdd.

Here's what you didn't do:

When Precedent Shitgibbon summarized the racial hatred and violence in Charlottesville and said there were "very fine people on both sides," you did nothing.

When Captain Fuckknuckle called the entire continent of Africa "a bunch of shithole countries," you did nothing again.

When our Commander in Spunk gleefully tweeted about Jussie Smollett but failed to mention the Coast Guard terrorist who was planning a mass attack on the press and Democratic congressional representatives (your colleagues), you followed suit, and again did nothing.

We are currently governed by an administration that is driven by hate and political divisiveness. And you and the GOP have failed to demonstrate any type of moral leadership. 

By doing nothing, you are encouraging everything.

Fuck You Taaaahhhhhd.

You're the worst kind of Moderate Republican. 

The silent kind.

Best regards,

Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

A little bit of gold

It goes without saying that once I am in the Illuminati I have to get one of these. Though I do anticipate the many nooks and crannies in the talisman will pull on my significant chest hair, which has all but turned Santa Claus white.

Nevertheless, I want one.

In our last encounter with Michael Jean, my Nigerian Illuminati recruiter, I told him of my unfortunate dealings with my boss, Sidney Blechnaven, a Jew. I always love to play the Jew card with these fellows because with just a little scratching there is always, always some cultural anti-semitism.

Brother Michael does not disappoint.

Now, with the Jewish question resolved, it is time to open up a new chapter. After all, Brother Michael wants his money and I'm determined to give it to him.

It turns out the Illuminati are kind of old school. And not hip to this new form of currency.

But I remain optimistic. And explore other ways of lowering my initiation fee.

Brother Michael seems a bit perturbed.

But not for too long.

Naturally, I am quite excited by all this good news.

Tune in next week when Brother Michael receives his Bitcoin payment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Happy Blogday



Ever in my tiny bourbon-addled brain did I ever think that RoundSeventeen, home of the curmudgeon muffin™, would be marking ten straight years of publication.

Actually, I'm a little premature with the timing (insert your own joke here), Friday will be the official ten year demarcation.

But as the 8 regular readers of this blog know, I don't normally put out a new post on Fridays. Our 8 regular readers also know that Wednesday is reserved for an update regarding my initiation into the illustrious Illuminati (who, by the way, now accept Bitcoin.)

And Thursday is spoken for with another thrashing letter to our esteemed Republican Senators. I believe we are up to letter #48, so that endeavor is coming to a close.

To be followed shortly thereafter with many annoying announcements about the forthcoming letter compilation book, tentatively titled, "Mr. Siegel Writes to Washington." 

I'm not sure I have ever done anything for ten years in a row.

Being married to my wife comes to mind, but I'm pretty sure between the dirty clothes that don't reach the hamper, the toilet seat that never gets put down and the never ending stream of bad jokes and poor fashion choices, she would not feel as celebratory as one might hope.

I've also been lifting weights with the Body Beast program for about ten years. But I'm afraid that without the aid of photoshop, the results are less than stellar.

And so, uncharacteristically, I'm at a loss for words.

Suffice to say, there is no way you could enjoy reading these 2000+ posts any more than I have enjoyed writing them.

So, Thank you.

Hopefully in 2029, when we're celebrating 20 years, I will have something more profound to share.


Note: in honor of the occasion we are trying a new logo. Hope you like it.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Ageism, schmageism.

As you might expect from a 44 year old copywriter who has been in the ad business for more than 30 years, I hear a lot of griping from fellow copywriters and art directors.

Invariably, they yack about ageism.

Guess what?
I'll have none of it.

Oh I have my fair share of beefs regarding today's crop of younger creatives and I'll make any number of references to the way things were better in the past (they were) but what I won't do is chalk up any slow periods or missed gigs or agency slights, to the growing number of candles on my birthday cake --I'll be adding another one this Thursday.

That's not to say ageism doesn't exist.

It does.

But there's fuck-all I can do about it. If an agency wants to stack their roster with writers who don't know the difference between there/they're/their, that's their prerogative. Not the Creative Director's choice, mind you. It's more the direction of the CFO who must account for every bean and send the ever-thinning profits to the capos at the NY holding company office.

Besides, last week I just wrapped up a gig, concluding 7 consecutive weeks of work. And I have two more projects softly scheduled in the very near future. So maybe it's the optimism talking.

Or, maybe it's something else.

Or maybe it's something my father, who grew up poor on the hard scrabble streets of the South Bronx, left me. A pugilistic nature. His was forged in the heat of post WWII anti-semitism. Though hardly religious and quite nihilistic, he took great pride in being MOT. And I suspect that any thug on Jerome Avenue who had the temerity to call him a "dirty Jew", walked away with a bloody nose.

Quick aside, anyone naive enough to believe anti-semitism is a thing of the past should look into the recent documents uncovered by Rachel Maddow and her investigation of Spiro Agnew. As recently as 1988, the former Vice President of the United States of America was promising to "destroy the Jews" and smash their world domination. Tired of Holocaust movies and alleged victimization? Too bad.

And so it is with ageism.

It is to be met with fierce determination. A fight worth fighting.
Nose to nose.
Toe to toe.
Keyboard to keyboard.

I'm a freelancer and I will hang up my cleats when I choose to hang up my cleats. And not a moment or a manifesto, anthem spot, two page spread, outdoor board, banner ad, brand activation event or worthless Instagram scavenger hunt, too soon.

What I won't do is complain about ageism.

I'm too old for that shit.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Best People

This country is full of brilliant people. People who can turn sunshine into fuel, algae into food and old rubber tires into roads. Why then do we allow ourselves to be governed by 53 geriatric half wits who couldn't summarize an episode of MacGuyver? Much less stay awake through one.

Say hello to Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.

The sooner we say goodbye to this mouth-breathing cretin, the better.



Senator Johnny Isakson
120 Russell Senate Office Building 
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Johnny,

I'd like to be the first Californian to congratulate you on winning the John McCain Service to Country Award

I don't often find myself in agreement with Republican Senators, 47 of whom have received hand written letters from me this year, but on the topic of National Service, you and I are like two ripe peaches in a Georgia wicker basket.

I believe that following high school, young people should do a year of mandatory service. That can be in the armed forces, the Peace Corps or even slapping on a yellow vest and cleaning debris off our highways.

That concludes the niceties portion of this letter.

So Senator, what do you plan on doing with the plaque handed to you by Cindy McCain? 

Perhaps it will go on the mantle, wedged between The Golden Bootlicker Service to President Award and the Commemorative Brown Ring Medal you received for years of "inimitable ingratiation."

By now this little GOP chorus is painfully familiar. You voted with Captain Fuckknuckle on tax cuts for the wealthy, taking healthcare away from millions of people, relaxing pollution standards and of course, rubberstamping each of his intensely unqualified nominees to positions of power in the cabinet and in the courts. 

You stood behind Precedent Shitgibbon a whopping 127% of the time. I know that seems to defy the law of mathematics and statistics, but that's what makes you an award winner, doesn't it, Johnny?

Pretty soon you are going to have the opportunity to take your lickspittle ways to new heights. 

Allow me to elaborate.

As you know, our Commander in Thief has declared a National Emergency. To build his seen-from-space big, beautiful Wall, he plans to divert money from previously approved military construction projects.

That could put you in a bit of a pickle since you are the Chairman of Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs.

Which means sometime in the very near future, some Sergeant, who just did two tours in Iraq and one in Syria, will come home and rejoin his family in a cockroach-infested, tin roof barracks. And he'll also come before your committee and ask why he and his wife and his 4 year old daughter have to share a bunk with a horde of typhoid carrying tree rats.

This will be your opportunity to follow the lead of your precious bollock-chinned spunk bubble president. Who, at his most recent press conference, expressed no concern that diverting military construction money -- to build the wall -- would delay projects benefitting the troops like base housing, schools and gyms, (saying, and I quote) "it didn't sound too important to me."

Try telling that to our returning vets.

See how that works, Senator.


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hail Satan, the illest of the illuminati

We're back with the continuing tale of my second Illuminati recruiter. We're close to a month behind. There's some catching up to do. So this may go long.

The last time we visited this adventure I had stalled Michael John on his request for $150 to buy my Illuminati Initiations items, including the prized 12 alligator peppers.

I told him I was short on money because I was working as a sheep shearer for the FDA and the government shutdown (you remember that? Trump Disaster #489) was putting the pinch on my purse.

But in addition to being relentless, these email scammers are delightfully patient.

And of course, I am reciprocally appreciative.

But his patience has its limits.

My willingness to torture his patience, however, has no limits.

We find out Michael likes leisure suits and rugellah.

Apparently though, he is a not a fan of old Woody Allen movies.

The money, where is the money?

Sadly, the money is no where in sight.

At this point in the journey it's time to discern my Illuminati friend's disposition towards Jews. 

This is always fun. Enlightening. And an opportunity to delve in some self loathing humor. 

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


We all have our peccadilloes about crap we're tired of seeing on social media. For me that includes clickbait headlines from Raw Story or Buzzfeed. You've seen them:

"WHOAH!!! You're not going to believe this!"

"This could take down the president."

"You're going to agree with Ann Coulter!"

There are also the little hand held videos. By bubbly over-caffeinated women or know-it-all kids, who think that by the tender age of 31 they have something meaningful or profound to share with the world.

They don't.

And for some, the most annoying thing to appear on social media might just be this blog. I don't blame you one bit. Sometimes even I get tired of listening this bloviating old fat man.

You can ignore it.
I can't.

But the thing that really lines my underwear with #10 sandpaper are the Watch Me Exploit Homeless People Videos.

Oh you know the scenario.

A hidden camera crew spots a poor homeless man or woman and films as a good samaritan hands them a hundred dollar bill or a pizza or a new coat. This act of generosity is soon replaced by an act of sheer unscrupulousness as they continue to roll the cameras in hopes of filming a reaction. Followed by even more debasement when the clip shows up in my Facebook or linkedin feed.

I have two words for these people: Fuck You.

Fuck you and your faux pity.
Fuck you and your alleged generosity.
Fuck you and your alternate agenda.

It should go without saying that homeless people are people. They are not props for your enjoyment. Nor are they tools to boost your Like count or increase your number of followers. These clips are as abhorrent as dog fighting videos.

That said, I'd gladly watch some douchebag hipster attempt to produce another of these gotcha moments only to have a homeless person's angry Rottie take a bite out of his millennial ass.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Ill Illuminati

If I were to ever get in the Illuminati, as promised by my handler/recruiter, Michael John, I would go ahead and get this cool tattoo. Of course, I don't know how they would apply it. They'd first have to wax off all my old man shoulder hair.

Nevertheless, when we last spoke, I had told Michael I wanted some kind of documentation of his valid membership with the fabulous Men of the illuminati. Or else I was going to take my Illuminati joining business elsewhere.

But once these guys get a fish on the line, they are relentless about bringing him in. After a brief pause he sent this.

I was not pleased.

Thankfully, Michael, returned the favor. And a picture.

Now he's playing to my weak spot. There's nothing a Scotsman, like myself, loves more than a picture of men in kilts.

But there was more.

A man holding gobs of money. Michael John is hitting all the right ancestral notes.

I let a few days go by. 
And Michael John got worried.

That's when I decided to get personal, explain some of my personal experiences and bring in the news of the day to keep things current.

I'm not sure any story ends better than with a picture of an unshorn sheep. So I will leave you to next week and the possibility of paying for my initiation fees with Bitcoin.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Slaying doubt

I have a confession to make.

A confession I suspect is common among all freelancers, particularly those of the 44 year old variety.

I thought the phone would never ring again.

Of course, I thought that in:


I think you get the picture.

This conviction, that the end was nigh, can create a good deal of fear and doubt. And though I would never share that with someone like Erik Moe, I'm fine sharing it with you.

Just last week I came off what was close to a monthlong gig.

NDAs and a good sense of discretion prevent me from discussing the details of the job. But it doesn't prevent me from revealing that after a long time of doing nothing but cable TV promo ads, banners and email blasts for other companies, I was wondering if I still had what it takes to step into a big ad agency and do big brand advertising.

I think I can safely say, without risk of self aggrandizement, that I do.

Ideas were approved. Anthems were appreciated. And outdoor boards (my favorite medium) were greeted with laughter.

It went a long way to dispel my worst fear (though again, I'm only 44) of living out my end days in a dirty nursing home, eating pureed cottage cheese and binge watching Monty Python's Flying Circus. In fact, as I was leaving the job on the very last day, I had trouble squeezing my swollen head into the Century City elevators.

In other words, I still have it.

And, for a reasonably negotiated day rate as well as some flexibility with regard to remote working, you can have some.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Miller low life

An Open Letter to Miller,

You fucked up.

You let Bud Light and their Super Bowl blitz of spots set the rules. And you allowed yourself to get suckered into playing their game. At their pace. To their liking.

What were you thinking?
Oh I know, you weren't.

You must all be graduates of Trump University. With PhD's in Brand Crisis Management. Was your doctorate thesis entitled: The Art of Dropping the Meat in the Dirt.

What makes this all the more sadder is that at one time you were the kings of the castle. You dominated the airwaves with smart and funny advertising that didn't rival anything on the air today; it would have kicked it in its teeth and taken no names.

When you first introduced Lite beer, you used celebrity athletes and stars the way celebrities and stars should be used in commercials, self deprecating, irreverent and human. In other words, someone you'd want to sit down and have a beer with.

Even a Miller Lite.

And in the 90's you created a Hall of Fame worthy library of spots that defined the tenets of the Miller High Life.

Jeff Kling, Errol Morris and their band of merry men and women mined the human condition and made Miller High Life the common sense beer for the man or woman who possessed the smallest modicum of common sense.

I invite any student of advertising today to feast on this banquet of greatness.

Think about this, these campaigns were written, created and produced in the pre-internet era. Imagine how they could have been extended and played out in social media. I would follow the Miller High Life Man's Twitter feed just to keep up with his evolving and creative uses of mayonnaise.

The point is, and I wouldn't be writing this if there weren't some not so subtle self interest agenda going on, that in order to move forward perhaps you should look at what has succeeded in the past.

Track down Mr. Kling, roll an oversized keg of cash up to his doorstep, and task him to bring the high life back to Miller.

Also, tell him to throw a few assignments this way.

Yours truly,

Rich Siegel

Monday, February 11, 2019

Howdy y'all.

It's only February 11, 2019 and the upcoming SXSW festival in Austin is a full month away, but I can already feel the excitement, anticipation and the vocational orgasms coming on.

Right now, as you guzzle down your 5th cup of coffee to steel yourself for the week ahead, ad hipsters are online purchasing their new porkpie pats and retro-cool Adidas sneakers in preparation for the big Hooplapallozza.

Crack reporters for R17 have been busy too.

And, as in year's past, have been able to smuggle out an advance look at some of the featured panels and discussions that...

ME (yelling to other room): Rachel, what's the word you use to call your friends and colleagues?

RACHEL: Friends and colleagues?

ME: No, like as if you were a douchebag old person and wanted to seem young?

RACHEL: Oh. Peeps.

ME: That's it, thank you.

...peeps will be enjoying while sucking on strawberry flavored USB jump drives and adorning their IPA beers with slices of pine cone.

These are some of your Don't Miss Events:

A Short Guide to Etiquette at the Long Table of Mediocrity™, March 8, 2019, 10 AM at the JW Marriot. Panelists will discuss pencil tappers, throat clearers, idea thieves, noise canceling headphones, and how to conduct a proper discussion with your gynecologist or urologist. Including a bonus session on scheduling a colonoscopy.

Fun with Foursquare, March 9, 2019, 1 PM at Muddy Joes Coffee Shop. Unwilling to fly the flag of defeat, the folks at Foursquare are ready to unveil a new suite of expanded services including locations check-ins for your dog, you cat and for those with pet affectations FerretSquare, the first location check in service for ferret owners.

Crankypants and Curmudgeons. March 11, 2019  2 PM. At the SoCo Shady Acres Retirement Home. A bunch of old time copywriters and art directors will bitch and moan about the glory of the old days, setting type, writing radio spots with a stopwatch and snorting coke off the tray table of First Class seats while flying on Pan Am Airlines.

WarpSpeed, The Art of Large File Transfer, March 11, 2019 4 PM at the Four Seasons. Panelists will discuss emerging digital technologies that promise to transfer huge, huge pdf files that will be hauled off to presentations and eventually ignored after reaching p.39.

Planners Planning Plans About Plans, Planning and Future Planners. March 12, 2019. 9 AM to 9 PM at the Westin Downtown. This all day affair will take an exhaustive look at Planning. No strategists will be permitted to enter. Guest speakers hail from all parts of England and will include: Shaggy, Dinghy, Mush Mouth, The Prince, as well as special guest planning team of Huff & Puff.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Idaho sure knows how to pick em

Dear fans of the Thursday Thrashing letters, I took inventory. We are up to letter number 46. I think. With the election last November some Republican Senators have left and we now have some new ones.

Plus, I got so worked up about how these pasty white motherfuckers have abandoned their duties as caretakers of our constitution and our country, I actually wrote more than one letter to some.

In other words, the water is a little muddy. I still have to work out the math and the complete collection for the upcoming book.

That said, with today's letter to Jimmy "the Weasel" Risch, we are tantalizingly close to the end.



Senator James Risch
SR-483 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Jim Risch,

I know you.

I recognize you from the Senate Intelligence Hearings, an oxymoron, to say the least.

I can't believe it has taken me this long to get to you. You see, I'm now at the tail end of my list of Republican Senators, to whom I've been handwriting letters. I still have Kramer, Young, Hawley, and those other worthless schmucks no one has ever heard of. 

But I could pick your weaselly face out of any crowd. 

And you, you are a man of some import.

If ever there was a Republican Senator who towed the GOP company line with glee and aplomb it would be you. I'll bet you have walk-on privileges at any number of Trump golf courses.

"You need a tee time, Senator? Let me bump these losers off the tee box and get a cart for you right away. Would you like some Trump-branded golf balls™ and a Trump-branded escort girl™ to accompany you on your round today?"

Hell Jim, they should name a whole suite or wing after you at Maralago. Frankly, your mastery of the microphone in service of the president's agenda has been nothing less than sterling. 

And no one is quicker to come to his defense. 

When diplomats, geopolitical professionals and even precocious 5 year olds with a rudimentary understanding of the continents, questioned Captain Fuckknuckle's approach to Russia and North Korea, you stood strong. You even broke with the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob "Corky" Corker and brushed aside his dismay and alarm.

"Well, look, everybody speaks differently. Certainly, I wouldn't say it the same way the president would, and nobody would else would say it exactly the same way either. But...even the president's enemies and his critics acknowledge that he has been tougher than anybody else. So you've got to look at what a person does and not pay nearly as much attention to the rhetoric."

Damn, Senator, that is the Waldorf Astoria of word salads. You sir, have turned obeisance into a fine art.

I think it's fair to say that the Governor of Idaho (home of America's finest Nazis) made the right decision when you were hand picked to replace Senator Larry Craig --he of airport bathroom stall fame. 

Larry Craig made a name for himself by spreading his legs real wide and greeting fellow jet travellers with their own personal "arrival gate."

In essence you perform the same deferential service for Precedent Shitgibbon. 

Only you do it with your pants on. 


Rich Siegel
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Welcome to the Government Accredited Illuminati

Welcome back to Illuminati time.

Upon further reading of his earlier email -- near the beginning of this adventure -- I came to discover the Illuminati that Brother Michael Jean is welcoming me to, is fully accredited. That's a load off my mind.

It's hardly a surprise that I missed that little detail when I was so fascinated by the Initiation Items on his list.

Now if you know me at all you know how this is the kind of bait I cannot ignore.

Particularly the part about the alligator peppers. Mmmmm, peppery.

It's also kind of refreshing to be doing business with a seasoned negotiator, someone who knows the art of give and take.

But the haggling is not done.

Brother Michael declined my request to provide documentation. 

And this is when a little knowledge and some prior experience with these scammers comes in handy. I decided to pit one against the other.

And the good brother plays hardball.

But if you thought this would be the end of the tale, you'd be wrong. 

Stay tuned.

Coming up, sheep shearing, the government shutdown and the ubiquitous Sidney Blechnaven.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Everyone's a critic

"Oh...Oh...Oh...Ozampec, you know, never believe it's not so."

Come on, sing it with me, you know you want to. I don't have an insulin problem and I'm not pre-diabetic, though part of me wishes I were just so I could take part in the Ozampec phenomena. That my friends is the power of advertising.

By the way, that little ear worm will be with you for a good part of the morning.

Speaking of the power of advertising, many of you know that my partner and I have been running a series of self promo ads on social media. Never let anyone, including the esteemed Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, tell you social media doesn't work.

It does. And somebody should write a jingle for it.

In any case, since the ads broke, Jean Robaire and I have both been booked. I just got extended another week. I can't remember the last time a gig lasted more than three weeks. These days clients and agencies expect you to right the brand ship in 36 hours. 48, if the planners change their minds.

"Sorry for the incredibly quick turnaround, there's plenty of Le Croix in the fridge. Drink as many as you'd like."

Moreover, I've fielded a few new inquiries. And one of my former partners who is now in-house at a big tech firm is threatening to dump work on me.

In other words, the ads are working. But despite the positive response from people writing out checks and requesting signed NDAs, there are still some detractors.

They showed up in droves on FISHBOWL, the app for disgruntled ad folks who can no longer leave anonymous comments on AgencySpy.

"Too much copy. No one is going to read that stuff."

"The design seems dated. Maybe, as a bunch of old guys, that was your point." 

"I've always been a fan of your work, but I give these a C+."

Color me  amused.

Not only are Robaire and I preternaturally thick, we're also thick skinned. So these quaint little barbs mean nothing to us. Besides none can hold a candle to the one aggrieved ACD who found our work offensive, sexist and tone deaf to the trying times we live in.

"Ew. Naturally this sexist and/or transphobic piece of commerce assumes it's speaking to men, using the nut metaphor."

If I could I would buy this woman a car or a house or a boat. I don't know how else to repay her for the laughs she has inspired.

Girl, you made my day.

Here is the complete series. They may not win us awards, and this may come as a surprise to some of you young people, it's not about awards. It is, for two veteran freelancers, about being at the top of list when jobs get awarded.