Monday, September 30, 2019

L'shona Tova

It's Rosh Hashanah.


Every time I turn around it seems like it's Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps because the years seem to going faster. Which is confusing because in some respects, mostly having to do with politics, they also seem to be going slower.

I could successfully argue that one year under the current regime, feels like 10. Or 50. Or 100.

In any case, today many of my Hebraic brethren are sitting in temple. And will not see this screed, unless they bolt out of their pews to sneak outside for a cigarette break. More than likely that will be during the part of the Torah reading that goes...

"And Jacob begat Samuel, who in turn begat Esau, who begat two sons Yitzak and Schmuley, who opened a dry cleaner store that went under when they refused to pay Tony and Jimmy the Thumb."

My wife and I no longer go to synagogue for the High Holy Days. Mostly because of the High Holy Shit Ticket prices. Also because our two daughters, who attended Catholic High School (because of High Holy Private School Tuition) are now out and about in the real world.

I say "real world" intentionally.

And it brings me to the last reason why I'm at home today, drinking coffee, working and conjuring new Trump memes while you're wrapped in your finest haberdashery, fidgeting in your seat and skipping ahead in the Siddur looking for the page where you find the magic phrase:

The Torah is returned and the ark is closed.

Because in the "real world", religion has very little meaning for me. I understand those who attend services for the warmth, camaraderie and the spiritual nourishment it can provide. And don't wish to offend anyone here. That's your deal and I respect that.

But I can't get past the fact that the primary reason for being in any House of Worship is to praise God. A God I simple cannot believe exists. And so, like the lawyer who posits the poisoned fruit defense, I find the whole thing to be a House of Cards. Built on a false premise. And perpetuated, largely, by those who wield God's power for self enrichment.

If I feel this way towards my own tribe, you can imagine my disdain for those who are Jewish-adjacent.

Like the fire and brimstone Bible thumpers who, after a lifetime of flying around on private planes and living in multiple god-awful gaudy mansions, find themselves done in by cheap polaroids of sordid escapades with the pool boy.

Or imams who preach mercy, love and hospitality on one hand while simultaneously blessing the families of martyrs who had the courage to strap on a suicide vest and make that last journey, along with 50 innocent people on a bus or a pizza parlor.

Sorry to start the new year on a sour, but clear-eyed note.

If you ask me, and no one is, the good lord did not do us any favors when he sent us Abraham.

On the other hand, there's Rudy Giuliani.

Thank God for Rudy. Happy New Year.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Leave me alone

What has happened to environmental awareness?

I'm not talking about climate change, ocean debris and making sure the egg shells and coffee grinds go in the green compost bin. We all know about that and hopefully we're all doing our part.

The pollution I'm referring to is people pollution. And it stems from so many of us not recognizing our own personal boundaries. The rules regarding this are currently unwritten but perhaps they need to be more codified.

Example. When I walk the 1.7 miles from my house to the iconic Culver City Steps in Baldwin Hills I'm not just doing it for the light cardio exercise. I'm doing it to commune with nature and indulge in some much needed serenity -- you know I have a wife and two daughters.

Well that much-needed serenity becomes impossible when other hikers insist on strapping Bluetooth enabled outdoor speakers to their day hike backpacks.

I don't like your "music."

I don't want to listen to your "music."

And I'm not going to warn you about the rattlesnake I saw in the bushes about 20 yards up the trail.

The same animosity is directed at the schmuck in the dentist office waiting room.

Congratulations, you got the new iPhone 11. But do we all have to be subjected to your public displays of affectation? I can't concentrate on my impending route canal while listening to you complain about how the wallpaper was installed incorrectly at your new Hollywood Hills home. Also, who still has wallpaper?

I see this kind of behavior every damn day. And no doubt you do too.

Look, there are 8 billion people on the tiny planet of ours. And life would be better for all of us if we just abided by the Golden Rule:

Get your shit out of my face.

One last thing. Because I would be remiss if I didn't mention this. When flying on a plane, whether it be a one hour flight, a five hour flight or a transoceanic flight of 10 hours, it is not permissible for you to board the plane with any food purchased in the terminal.


A corollary to this, and this seriously needs to be considered by our lawmakers, anyone toting a bag of food from Burger King -- whose distinctive and altogether unpleasant aroma cannot be eliminated -- shall be eligible for the death penalty.

I think we can all agree on that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Dreamcatcher, Dreamcatcher, catch me a dream

This is my new dreamcatcher. It measures about 15 inches, from the top of the ring to the bottom wispy feathers. As dreamcatchers go, it's quite fetching.

If you know me or if you've read a handful of blogs here at Roundseventeen, you probably don't think of me as a dreamcatcher guy.

But some ambitious marketing director for one of the native American tribes charity does.

You see I just received an inch thick package from of the tribes (I will leave them unnamed) as part of their fundraising efforts. The bubble wrapped envelope also included tribe-stamped notepads, a complimentary set of Siegel-printed return address labels and an assortment of lifeless holiday themed greeting cards.

Of course, if these people knew me at all -- and clearly they don't -- they would know that I am very particular about my greeting card selection. And eschew anything bland or generic.

In fact, when it comes to greeting cards I like the ethnocentric cards and could spend all day going through the extremely religious greeting cards.

They would also know that I have no use for a Taiwanese made factory-stamped dreamcatcher. I have no idea what they're supposed to do, but I suspect from the name it's something in the spiritual world.

And as regular readers know I'm about as spiritual as your cat's latest hairball.

I have no need for dreamcatchers.
No desire to burn sage.
No understanding of karma.
And no tolerance for anyone who spouts anything about astrology or Mercury being in retrograde. None.
Read a book on astronomy and we'll talk.

I have received these type of care packages in the past. Mostly from Prophet Gospel Evangelists, Joel Osteen, Robert Tilton and Peter Poppoff. And my natural inclination is to make fun of these thieves and their thieving organizations.

But I don't look at Native Americans in the same way. At all. And would never deride them. In fact, I was all set to pen a letter to the tribe urging them to stop spending inordinate money on these packets of trinkets. The one I received must have cost in excess of 10 bucks.

Then I backed away from the keyboard, thinking who am I to tell these nice folks how to conduct their business.

Instead, I reached for my checkbook and sent them a generous donation.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Breaking it Down.

Following my thoroughly enjoyable experience on Rob Schwartz's podcast a few weeks ago, I was offered an opportunity to do another.

And so I did.

A woman I worked with a long, long time ago reached out to me and said her boyfriend, Pete Turner, does a podcast. She told him I had written a book and had somewhat of a modest following right here at RoundSeventeen.

So we met at The Spot Cafe, a five minute walk from my house in Culver City, secured a table in the secret backroom staging area, strapped on some microphones and began to pod.

I was a little cautious and leery of walking into some kind of trap. Particularly since we were going to talk about my book and consequently, politics. Pete allayed my fears and said we would keep it light.

During the hourlong discussion, I got the distinct impression we had somewhat differing views on the happenings of the day.

I was loaded for bear and ready to rip into our filthy-rich Republican Senators like Hoeven or the supremely douchey Senator Pat Roberts, who, when asked about the ACA, replied quite sarcastically, "Oooo, I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." (Fuck You, Senator)

But Pete took the conversation in a different direction. And that was fine. It may surprise you, but there are times I get tired of listening to myself talk.

The more interesting conversation happened after the podcast had been completed. That's when I found out Pete had served in Afghanistan. As combat reconnaissance.

I rarely get a chance to sit down and converse with active service members so I relished the opportunity. Pete has seen and lived through things none of us could ever imagine. That merits our attention as well as our gratitude.

He started telling me about the work he does with Wounded Warriors. In fact, as I am writing this  (on Saturday morning), Pete is swimming in an 8 mile relay race to raise funds for these brave men and women.

The universe works in strange ways.

It was at this point that I shared my stories about fund raising for Wounded Warriors by throwing my oversized barrel-chested body in the water and not coming out until my thighs were sufficiently chafed.

Later, I sent him an ad I had done to kick off the effort. And told him how we (including many of you) raised more than $4000.

It was an interesting afternoon, filled with lively discussion, anecdotes and differing points of view.

And it served as a refreshing, optimistic reminder that the asshats who govern us, in no way define us.

God, or Flying Spaghetti Monster, bless America.


I will provide further details about the podcast when they become available.

Monday, September 23, 2019

You get what you pay for

It stands to reason.

Half the job of a successful freelance writer is writing: everything from catheters to vitamin supplement email blasts to Super Bowl commercials. If someone is handing me a brief, I'm handing them back some professionally written, ready-for-publication copy.

It also stands to reason that the other half of a successful freelance writer's job is seeking out the next freelance writing job. Or at least how to snake one away from Erik Moe.

This, even for someone like me, who, many times found myself double or triple dipping and turning overflow work to eager colleagues, has proven challenging of late.

We can sort through the myriad of reasons why that may be the case. But frankly I find it all too exhausting.

More curious and infinitely more interesting is the ad I spotted above. These type of job listings pop up in my social media feed all day long. And they make me wonder. Who sets out to find themselves a Freelance Junior Copywriter?

When I was a junior copywriter, I sucked.

When my friends were junior copywriters, they sucked too.

And there was a very good reason we all had agency staff gigs and never ventured out into the freelance world -- because WE SUCKED.

I haven't read a lot of Malcom Gladwell, OK I haven't read any Malcom Gladwell as I'm not fond of motivational corporate pablum, but I believe in his 10,000 hour principle, which holds that 10,000 hours of practice are needed to become world class in any field.

Let's be realistic, most Junior Copywriters have put in 700, 800 hours max, in their field.

And most of that time was spent at the agency Pop-A Shot Machine, Secret Santa Parties and Snap Chatting.

I know there are some very talented young people out there. I count my two creative daughters among them. But I also know from the assignments I see that deadlines are tighter, problems are more complex, and the marketing challenges that keep advertisers awake at night require more expertise not less.

So again, I have to ask why would any advertiser want to hire a Freelance Junior Copywriter?

Let's take this into the real world.

The starter ignition on the back burner of my industrial grade Wolf Oven is not lighting. And when it decides not to light, there is a slight whiff of gas in the air. I suppose I could call a licensed, bonded repairmen who has been replacing these doohickies like the Frymaster Electrode Assy, Piezo Ignitor ever since Jimmy Carter was in office or I could jot something down on an index card and slap it on the nearest telephone pole...

Freelance Junior Oven Repairman. 
Flammable gas experience preferred but not mandatory. 
If Debbie answers the phone hang up and call back later.
Ask for Rich.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Where's that Wind Shear?

Yesterday, I came within 1000 feet of Precedent Shitgibbon.

Or Captain Ouchie Foot.

Or the Mangled Apricot Hellbeast, as the Brits like to call him.

Given my lava-hot hatred for this thing that calls itself our leader and my uncontrollable tendency to "color outside the lines", you'd think such proximity would warrant the attention of the Secret Service.

But as you can see from the picture above, the distance that separated us was vertical not horizontal. It was 1000 feet as the dead crow flies.

While fundraising in Los Angeles the president's entourage flew directly over my backyard. Rudely disturbing my precious hammock naptime.

By design, there's no way to tell which MV-22 Osprey is transporting Colonel Fucknugget, but if I, a self-admitted student of this man-child's behavior had to guess, I'd say it's the first one.

"I hereby decree that in all motorcades, on the ground or in the air, my vehicle shall always be first so as not to leave any confusion. And so the people can see their favorite president, that's me, not Obama, in the lead position, where I should always be, because I'm president and you're not. The End."

No sooner had I snapped this shot did many, just like it, appear on the Unofficial Culver City Facebook Page. One quick thinking CC resident even managed to work a last second middle finger into the shot, which left me incredibly jealous.

Though it should be noted my wife and daughter came running out of the house when they heard me screaming (quite reflexively and without thought) at the gaggle of Ospreys.


Is there a point to any of this?

No, there is not.

Suffice to say, I achieved more in my 2.7 seconds of unleashed rage than the House Judiciary Committee did in their 5 hours of testimony from Herr Grupenfuhrer Corey Lewandowski -- a flaccid, shameful display of Democratic fecklessness which has given birth to a new nickname.

Representative Jerrold Nadless


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The War of Words (and pictures)

If you've been anywhere near Linkedin lately and you have even the slightest affiliation with someone in the ad business, you know that tensions are high between Erik Moe (part time aluminum siding salesman/part time sad clown/part time freelance copywriter) and myself (the youngest, strongest and busiest freelance copywriter south of the St. Lawrence River.)

The battle has been pitched.

My Midwestern foe has even enlisted the help of any outside ad agency, Derision of Stapler, who desperate for attention, are now coat-tailing off the good Rich Siegel name.

To be completely honest, the latest escalation blindsided me. And forced me to go where I was reluctant to go before -- the online face manipulating generators.

However, and I don't know if Erik or his colleagues at Mission of Seder can actually read, they should know that these cheap internet-based photo re-arrangers are simply the first arrows in my arsenal of weaponry.

If the fiery rhetoric continues to rage on and this spat goes to the next level, so will I.

Or in the vernacular of our esteemed Precedent Shitgibbon, "Little Rocket Woman (Erica) will suffer the consequences when I unleash power the likes of which this world has never seen before. Believe me."

That goes for his pals at Collision of Quaker.

It's my sincere hope that this warning might somehow ease the tensions that are now at DefCon 2. And perhaps even bring the warring parties to the table. Though, this should in no way be seen as a capitulation or the extension of an olive branch.

That will have to come from the weaker side.

Suffice to say, this acrimony need not go on. Let's just declare me the winner and be done with it.

In fact, should Erik/Erika provide the proper conciliation, I would even consider sharing the spoils of victory. You see in another unexpected turn of events, I've just been handed the account for Dr. Ronnie's Anti-Fungal Toe Restoring Ointment. That's gonna keep me busy disrupting the toe fungal remedy category.

Turns out this magical liniment also works wonders on slow healing foot lacerations. And that's where Erik/Erika can come in.

Those open wound email blasts are not going to write themselves.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Copywriting 101

It's been a while since I revealed some of the Dirty Little Secrets of Copywriting, but today I thought I'd dip my toe in that unchlorinated pool again.

More specifically, this one is aimed at young copywriters and art directors who might be working on automotive advertising.

As yesterday's post intoned, I'm in an automotive frame of mind lately. Not to mention last week's posting by my blogging buddy George Tannenbaum and his searing appraisal of the Cadillac brand.

If I were to tell fledgling art directors and copywriters one thing about car advertising it would be this:

"Don't write a new commercial, just rewrite the brief."

Oh sure, there's a lot of clap trap, coming from agencies and clients, about wanting to "break through" or "we need to disrupt the category" or "we want something new."


No one wants any of that. That puts careers at risk. That rocks the boat. That endangers mortgage payments, 529 account deposits and most importantly, career advancement. Moreover, it makes planners and strategists nervous, so there's a good chance that kind of work will never leave the building.

As mentioned above, the smarter, more efficient route is to re-craft the brief. And the good news is all the pieces to the puzzle are in the brief.

If, for instance, the vehicle you're selling is a crossover or SUV for busy moms who have too little time and too many responsibilities, start there.


Who cares where the spot goes from there. The important thing is you've nailed the target and you did it quickly. Heads in the conference room will be bobbing up and down, no one will pay any attention to the rest of your spot (brief).

What if you're working on a car targeted to hipsters? Then hipsters it is.

Ear gauges.
Steampunk clothing. The more the better.
And don't dilly dally getting to it either.


What happens next? See above.

Also, and this works for any type of advertising, pre-empt the opening scene with a logo, and a ding dongy type pneumonic. And end the spot the same way. Nothing says "I get branding like bookending your next spot with logos." The bigger, the better. I'm looking at you Sony Playstation.

"But Rich, this all seems so formulaic. So tried and true. So been there and done that."

Now, you're getting the hang of things.

Class dismissed.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Caveat Emptor

For the first time in about 25 years, I'm looking out on my driveway, as well as the two coveted parking spaces in front of my house, and I'm not seeing a Lexus. Or any Toyota product.

This is a shame as I am a big believer in the brand.

But they have lost me.

Not because of anything they've done, but because of what was done/not done by the people who sell and service Toyota products -- the Stealerships.

Namely Jim Falk Lexus in Beverly Hills (home of the $101 gas cap) and Lexus of Santa Monica (home of "We have all your service records but we can't release them to you.")

I won't bore you with all the details suffice to say the estimate for the latest repair -- which should have been done while the car was still under warranty -- exceeded the entire value of the car. Moreover, the repair was outlined in a Service Bulletin issued in 2008.

I was all ready to wage a major battle with Lexus Corporate and treat RoundSeventeen readers to an extended series of letters, stunts and trademarked Siegel tactics that would leave jaws agape.

But just as it is wise not to fight a land war in Asia, I decided on a different approach.

I scurried down to the local CarMax for a car appraisal, hoping upon hope that whatever ailed the Lexus would not show up on their diagnostics. It did not. They took some pictures. Noted some scratches. And made sure the car, seeing as it was mine, didn't have any funny smells. That's all they did.

They never even drove the car!

Thirty minutes later I had an official offer letter in my grubby hand. It was just a few hundred dollars short of the official Kelly Blue Book value.

I felt like I had pulled off another Ocean's Eleven.

I gathered up all the paperwork, including the title and registration, and the next morning my wife and I were there as they were opening the doors. Before the first pot of coffee had been brewed I had a check in my hands. Well not exactly a check. It was a bank draft that would not clear for 3 business days.

And for three business days I sweated.

I paced.

I watched the clock, knowing the Siegel luck would once again bite my not insignificant ass and that one of the mechanics at CarMax would say, "These cylinders seem a bit hinky."

It never did.

My guess is some schmuck in Alabama picked up this "sweet deal" at a car auction. He's now sitting behind the wheel of my old Lexus, fiddling around the radio for a good country music station, while his wife plays with the electronic seat adjustments and the magical lumbar support. And just as he is about to pull away at a traffic light...

"Wait a minute, something doesn't feel right with the acceleration."

If there's any justice in this world he'll be wearing a MAGA cap.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Foto Funny Thursday

It's the end of the week. And a blog post has to be written. Not because anyone is holding a gun to my head. But because it's the discipline I've placed upon myself.

That probably doesn't make much sense to you, unless you're also a writer.

I also know I'm running the danger of appearing self important. I'm not. I've never deluded myself into thinking anyone gives a rat's ass about this blog. And if they did, I'd be the first to tell them to knock it off.

With that said, today we're going back to the vault for a look at some of the photos tucked away in my extensive digital collection.

The photo at the top was snapped along Pearl Street in Boulder Colorado. And if you've ever been there you know it is lily white, affluent and populated with God's most beautiful people. We were asked to leave.

I found this somewhere on the Internet. I wish I had done it, but I didn't. I'm not that good with the photoshop and have a hard enough time slamming one of my books into some poor Senator's hands.

This was shot shortly before the finishing touches on our newly remodeled bathroom. You know you've reached adulthood when you get excited about a two speed toilet, one for pee-pee and another (louder and more powerful) for meat torpedos.

Sadly, it's getting even more rare for the four of us to get together. Here we are at Playa Provisions before my 4th Mojito. "Get outtta my house."

This was spotted on Santa Monica Blvd. It's a perfectly good, faux fur coat in surprisingly good condition. It was a little tight around my not so insignificant barrel chest, so I left it there.

This is a canvas bag with an original design by my increasingly Nihilistic daughter. Does it make me laugh every time I see it? You're damn right it does.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Your ad is approved

Never let it be said that social media platforms are not doing their job to man the front lines against any further Soviet attacks.

They are.

And I found out the hard way.

As many of you know, I recently published a new book. But publishing a new book isn't half as difficult as selling a new book. Particularly when one is on a shoestring budget and weeklong freelance gigs get cancelled at the last minute after I've already spent the money.

But, in keeping with the theory that you have to spend money to make money (book sales) I decided to run a little paid media campaign on Facebook.

Simple, right?
Simple, wrong.

Before the Zuckerberg squad would agree to run my little ad...

I had to jump through several bureaucratic hoops.

First, I had to prove I was a US citizen and scan copies of my driver's license & US Passport. Because of my bushy mustache and excessive testosterone, I may appear Russian, but the passport proved I was not. 

I thought that would be sufficient. It was not.

I also had to confirm my housing arrangements. To do that, the folks in Menlo Park sent me an old fashioned letter, via snail mail, with a special code, that once entered on my home computer, would again confirm my Facebook identity.

As if that were not enough, I had to zig zag my way through a series of digital roadblocks and detours, locate agreement boxes and wait for the final approval. 

The whole process took more than 10 days. Which exceeded the dates I had initially set for my little campaign to run.


To be honest, I thought they were going to ding me for the poorly altered photo of Captain Ouchie Foot holding up my book. Though, if any of you are familiar with my previous photoshopping work you know this was one of my best.

In any case, the ad is approved and should be appearing in your feed soon. 

When you think about it, it's Meta Gone Wild.

This is a blog post about an ad.

An ad for a book.

A book full of letters.

Letters that originally appeared on this blog.

The Circle of Life, Simba, the Circle of Life.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Put the money in the bag

Years ago, when I foolishly entertained the thought of my daughters going to college on an athletic scholarship, my oldest took a shine to tennis. Mind you, she had never hit a tennis ball in her life. But as sports go she liked the individual nature of the game.

Turns out we Siegels are not big on Team activities.

It also turns out that our natural athletic abilities came from the shallow end of the gene pool. That said, there was no need for me to invest in a titanium/graphite tennis racket strung with the guts of the endangered North Afghani Emu.

Nope, a cheapo plasticky thingamajig would do, so I sauntered down to Sepulveda Blvd., a mile from my house, to the local Big 5.

Big 5, for those not in the know, is the shabby home to low grade Taiwanese-made sporting goods. The merchandise is crap. The environment is crap. The service is crap. But the price is just right.

I selected a pinkish-tinted racket autographed by Bobby Gene King and made my way to the counter. As luck would have it there was a line. It inched ever so slowly to the cashier, who, I was to find out, was working her very first shift at Big 5.

It turned out to be a memorable one.

15 minutes later, I was second in line.  But I wasn't leaving with a brand new tennis racket for my little girl. Because the shortish fellow in front me stepped up to the newbie cashier and mumbled...

"Put all the money in a bag."

Whoa, I thought, half expecting Ashton Kutcher to jump out from the aisle selling shitty snorkel gear. I was in the middle of a robbery.

The cashier's face turned white. She literally went into shock and could not move. The assistant manager was right behind her. He sprung into action and nudged her to the side. Her jaw never closed. As he was complying with the robber and stuffing a plastic bag with ones and fives, I looked down to see if the guy had a gun.

It didn't appear he did.

He was standing within a foot of me, so naturally I sized him up. He was shorter than me. And about 50 lbs. lighter than me (and who isn't?) For a split second I considered bowling him over and taking him to the ground. In high school I once surprised myself and successfully pinned one of our star wrestlers to the mat.

Then I thought, "wait a minute, I'm not gonna risk my life so some large corporation doesn't lose $47.32."

I wisely decided to abort. And walked away empty-handed but with a valuable experience.

As I mentioned, I don't believe he actually had a gun. More frightening however is the possibility that some yahoo, buying a volleyball or a croquet set, did. I know the NRA likes to say, "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Well seeing that I was within 12 inches of the bad guy, who may or may not have had a gun, it all begs the question, what if the good guy with a gun doesn't have his glasses?

A searing reminder that the solution to our gun problem is NOT more guns.

However, in hindsight, I wonder how it all would've turned out if instead of the tennis team my daughter wanted to play for the softball team, and instead of a tennis racquet I would have been wielding a Louisville Slugger.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Tapped out

Smart. Simple. Secure.

So says the self-proclaiming TAP Card used for entry and egress on the Los Angeles Metro Light Rail.

I'm here to tell it's none of the three.

Last week, seeking to escape the brutal 54% humidity (that's high for Southern California) and the equally brutal 89 degree temperature, my wife and I decided to visit the California Science Center near USC. We had been wanting to see their big DOG exhibition. And the museum is conveniently located next to a Metro Stop.

That's an oddity in itself, as all Angelenos now know.

For instance you can't take the Metro to LAX. That would have made too much sense. Instead the Metro gets tantalizingly close with a station about 1/2 mile outside the airport in the grungy shadow of lovely Hawthorne. Which would be ideal if you wanted to get an aerobic workout in before your flight, lugging an oversized Samsonite down urine-scented Century Blvd.

Equally illogical, the Metro doesn't quite make it to Dodger Stadium. It doesn't even come close.

It's as if the city planners had never heard of Chavez Ravine. Or, if they did they assumed it was a new boy band from Juarez. Or, and this is much more likely, the greedy owners of the Dodgers said, "Get that shit out of here."

The Dodger Stadium parking lot is the goose that laid 24 karat gold bars. Parking is now $25. And I imagine if the team gets in the World Series, it will double or triple in price. And eager fans will pony up the money so they can witness all the action from the 3rd inning to the top of the 7th.

But my main beef with the city's Metro system is the city's TAP cards.

Whoever concocted or approved this archaic, dysfunctional, wallet-robbing system ought to be shot. Oh wait, we live in PC times where I'm not allowed to use such language. I don't want the Thought Police serving me a no-knock warrant.

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. or Ms. Tap Card Designer had already been tapped for a higher position in Precedent Shitgibbon's Department of Transportation. That kind of mediocrity has a way of rising to the top.

Half the time when you tap the TAP card on the entry machine, it doesn't register. The other half of the time, when it does register, it says there is no balance left on the card. As a result, you end up spending the rest of your time trying to reload the TAP card with money at a vending machine that has been designed by Lucifer himself.

These blue monstrosities are a study in inefficiency.

The bottom quarter panels of the box have to be replaced every six months as a result of all the kicking they receive from frustrated steel booted wannabe passengers.

In fact, because of all the incumbent screaming, cursing and violence these machines induce, the reloading area has been rated MA, for mature train riders only.

In order to reload these damn cards, you've either got to be a rocket scientist or some kind of Slovenian escort/genius who managed to secure the Einstein Visa,

The process is so intentionally infuriating, it seems most people choose the only option that does seem to work: the one that suggests you buy a NEW TAP Card for an additional $1.75.

You may think I'm exaggerating or conflating this little nuisance into something it's not. There's a lot of that going around these days. Just ask the folks in Alabama. But I kid you not.

And to prove it, I offer you Exhibit A.

These are the cards my wife and I currently have in our possession. The collection does not include the many cards my two daughters own. Or the ones we've tossed in the recycle bin because you can't fucking reload the things!!!

CASHIER: Thank you for shopping at CVS, here's your receipt.

MTA SUPERVISOR: Hold my beer.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I have an idea

In a simpler, more analog time, I would have been in the store, out the store, in my car and atop the step ladder in all of 10 minutes.

The bulb that had gone out in our bedroom would have been replaced.

And I wouldn't have to hear about it and hear about it and hear about it, for another two years or so.

But we don't live in those times do we?

Instead of popping into my local mom and pop hardware store, where I can still buy wing nuts and a good old fashioned rubber plunger, I had to venture down Jefferson to the Home Depot, a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP and the Nazi party.

There you will find not one but two aisles of wall to wall lightbulbs.

Bulbs of every shape and size.

Bulbs that emit light in every shade of the rainbow.

And most confusing, bulbs in every variation and combination of watts, ohms, and volts.

I may be a Luddite, but I can do a fair job matching the size and shape of the old bulb to the size and shape of the new one.

It's all the other criteria that make beg the question, "how many rocket scientists does it take to change a lightbulb?"

What's Bright Light? How is it different that Day Light? What's Soft Light? And what if I want a Bright Soft Light? Are those bulbs in a different aisle?

Also which ones are the bright blueish lights? Those are the ones that drive my wife crazy and I don't need her crazy when the official NFL season is about to start.

Not for nothing, but it's been a long, long time since I took a high school or college level physics class. So this whole watts/ohms/volts nomenclature is a tad confusing.

I'm no dummy, though lately (perhaps because I have worn out my social media welcome mat) I've been called quite a few names, many of them a lot more colorful than dummy, I can still synch up the markings on the old bulbs to the packaging on the new ones. That is if I could read the damn thing.

The markings are either angstrom small or they're printed on the bulbs in invisible ink.

When it was all said and  done, I brought the $18, 2 inch high, halogen, 100 watt, 20V bulb and, careful not to touch the bulb itself because oil emitted from human skin can ignite the bulb, I tried to install it.

That's when I realized I had purchased the screw cap when I should have bought the bayonet cap.

Oh you didn't know bulbs came in bayonet caps?

"What's a bayonet cap?", you ask.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

In Lieu of Money

I know some of you are tired of my book promotions. And I assure they will end soon.


But, as I explained to a former colleague, the business of selling books is not an easy one. Oh sure there was that initial surge that catapulted my book into the Top Ten Political Humor books. That phenomena last about 19 minutes.

And for another 37 minutes my book was the hottest new release in the Civics and Citizenship category. Nudging past Parking Tickets I Have Beaten and A Historical Look at Leaf Burning Ordinances Through the Ages, Volume 1.

It is relentless work.

Made even more daunting by my lack of a publishing house, a PR firm, dwindling Keep Me Out Of A Dirty Nursing Home funds and the apparent apathy of friends and family who have enjoyed the book but cannot be bothered to put up a 5 star review on Amazon.

And so I find myself resorting to the power that has never failed to produce results: The pounding of the pavement.

Last week, evidenced by the picture above, I took it upon myself to visit the offices of Congressman Ted Lieu. If you're non-political and don't recognize the name, you might recognize the face.

Unlike Captain Ouchie Foot, Mr. Lieu served in the Armed Forces and is one of the most eloquent patriotic Congressmen in the House.

I had hoped, perhaps in a fit of delusional grandiosity, that upon receipt of the books, Mr. Lieu would email me immediately and invite me to do live readings at some of his upcoming Town Halls.

That didn't happen. 

Nor is it likely to happen when I visit my district's congresswoman Karen Bass or the local office of our Senators Kamala Harris and Diane Feinstein.

But a man, and struggling author, can dream can't he?

Until then, the funny social media pimping will continue. Here's that link.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Nap Time

So last week I was on Rob Schwartz's Disruptor Series podcast.

I'm told it went well. Personally I can't stand the sound of my own voice. As I often say, I have a face for radio and a voice for newspaper.

In any case it was a great experience. But also unnerving as well.

You're staring at this foam-covered microphone, fielding questions, and feeling this immense pressure to sound intelligent, articulate and worthy of people's time. Criteria that never seem to matter to Captain Ouchie Foot.

And so it's not surprising that some things fell through the cracks. For instance, Rob asked me to account for today's current creative malaise. Had I been more on the ball I wouldn't have just cited the Open Office Plan, I would've quoted myself and my self-coined phrase, "The Long Table of Mediocrity™."

Similarly, when I talked about the ridiculously long list of creative deliverables that must be connected but never produced, I should have mentioned FFDKK's, Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks@.

And the other item I completely forgot to mention was Napping.

I am a big believer in midday naps.
I believe they're restorative.
And absolutely necessary.

In the early days of my career, I had an office. That office had a door. A door that locked. It also had a couch. That couch and I became good friends everyday at about 2 o'clock.

In later years I found myself in a cubicle. With a little imaginative furniture rearranging, I was able to carve out a surreptitious napping space under my desk.

These days I work from home, mostly.

One of the creature comforts I have allotted myself (and there aren't many) is a full size, luxury hammock. Note the rope attachment to the shady tree. This was my own invention which I have dubbed the SwingMaster 9000™.

If you've ever spent a summer afternoon in a big, wide comfortable (swinging) hammock, you know its narcoleptic powers rival Halcion or Propofol.

And now, just in time for the cooler weather and Southern California's rainy season I have a new napping space -- my youngest daughter's room.

This summer it was occupied by her good friend and original college roommate, Tori. She had a summer internship here in LA and we let her stay in Abby's room, as Abby was in Denver working at a post production house.

Tori was the perfect guest. Polite, considerate and best of all, quiet.

She moved out yesterday. And while we will miss her and the opportunity to impress her with our amazing Jeopardy watching skills, it will be nice to be getting back to my napping room.

I won't bore you with too many details, suffice to say the 2nd story room has windows on three sides, high ceilings and faces the street, away from the constantly barking dogs in my backyard who have taunted and tortured me for years.

I don't know if dogs get debilitating, though non-lethal, throat disease, but I wish these jet-loud mutts would.

The short of it is, Tori's Room, which was Abby's Room, is now once again, My Room.

Sweet dreams.