Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Fuck you 2020


What a year it was. One for the books. One that we will always remember. No matter how hard we try to forget it.

It was for instance, the first year my social media efforts resulted in semi-virality. The picture above got picked up, retweeted by John Cusack and several other twitter celebrities, and my mailbox filled up immediately with, "Are you seeing what's going on with your picture?"

Between the Coronavirus, the Election, work, house remodeling, work, finances, and health issues, it would be impossible to click and clack at my keyboard and do it any justice.

Plus it would take too long and these email blasts aren't going to write themselves.

I've decided instead to let the pictures do the talking. (you can even write your own captions if you so desire.

So with that we conclude this year's postings, rantings, ramblings and other miscellanies. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. A happier new year than 2020. 

And let's be honest, that bar is pretty damn low.

























Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A good time was had by all.


Spotted December 18, 2020, a partial mini-reunion of the Team One Creative Department, circa 1995. Perhaps the most talented Creative Department I've ever worked with. 

For those keeping track, and for those too old to read the tiny 6 point type ("Goddamnit, where are my reading glasses? And are we out of of Metamucil again?"), there's (clockwise from upper left):

Jeff Spiegel

John Hage (doing his Jeffrey Toobin impersonation)

Neal Hughlett

Stan Toyama (who defies the space time continuum and refuses to age a day)

Greg Collins (Tennessee, now with 27% more Florida.)

Matt "Popeye Arms" Bogen

Mike Folino (World's Greatest Freelancer)

We don't do these get togethers nearly as often as we should. And when we do they always devolve into juvenile, neck-craning cackling and laughter. You'd swear you were sitting at a junior high school cafeteria with a bunch of dorks who just got high for the first time.

Want proof?

He's the same gang, only a bit larger, seated at a fancy schmancy restaurant in pre-Covid times.


I say fancy schmancy only because that's what a group of women seated next to us were expecting until one of them grabbed the hostess and said...

"Can you move us away from the loud assclowns? They refuse to stop laughing."

And then again from years before that.


Don't be fooled by the menus on the table. We never ate dinner. we drank it. At the sketchy and questionable Mexican restaurant that made the mistake of offering 3 dollar cocktails. This night went on for quite a while. 

Particularly after Stan started doing his impressions of Mr. Chikuma, the Chief Marketing Officer for Lexus automobiles whose command of the English language was limited to 40 words. 

Or less.

The work we did for Lexus at the time was, in the words of Mr. Chikuma...

"No Good!!!"

But the people doing the work and the camaraderie that it produced was, and continues to be...

"So good!!!!"




Monday, December 21, 2020

Lemons and Bourbon


 I like my bourbon.

And in a year of untold stress, unseen financial setbacks, and the unexpected loss of cushioning cartilage between my femur and my hip socket resulting in a painful hitch in my step, I likes my bourbon as early as 5 PM. 

And 4 PM on days when I have Zoom meetings with 23 people to discuss a simple email blast.

So when one of my advertising colleagues, and occasional art director partner, put up an invitation on Facebook to join a Holiday Bourbon Exchange, I jumped on the opportunity. Particularly when, if I read the logistics correctly, it was structured like a Ponzi scheme. Meaning if I agreed to send one bottle of bourbon to the fellow in front of me on the list, there was the possibility of receiving multiple bottle of high end bourbon in return.

It's sort of like Bernie Madoff meets Jim Beam.

I did my due diligence and sent a bottle to one of my ad heroes, David Baldwin. His work appeared regularly in the advertising award annuals and I remember mimicking his style. 

Of course with my luck, David lives on an inlet, tucked away on a peninsula and surrounded by a moat. Somewhere in the Carolinas. So I had to shell out thirty extra bucks to get the bottle delivered to his hard to reach yurt.

A week later, I had a special delivery at my doorstep. Now, in this age of Instacart groceries and Amazon Prime deliveries on the every odd hour, that's not unusual. But I had forgotten about the bourbon exchange and was pleasantly surprised when a bagged bottle showed up on my doorstep.

True to the Siegel fortune, the pleasantries did not last long. 

Before the label was revealed I had visions in my head of some rare sour mash, corn fed authentic bourbon straight from the hills of Appalachia. Something that would top my favorites like Noah's Mill or Basil Hayden. A delightful small batch bourbon, artfully aged to perfection by a couple of guys named Jed and Bodean, who come from a long line of wily, outlaw bootleggers who played their craft far from the prying eyes of Johnny Law.

Instead, I got a bottle of Tottori, from those legendary bourbon makers in Japan.

(INSERT SOUND FROM SNL's RUNNING SKIT, DEBBIE DOWNER)

Japan? I didn't know they knew about bourbon in Japan.

This is how my life goes. While everyone else on the list is sipping and savoring their artisanal bourbons drawn from hand carved oak casks, I'm stuck with a bottle made by the same corporate conglomerate that makes flat screen TVs, smart toaster ovens and the three cylinder Daihatsu.

I did a little research and discovered that all Japanese Whiskey, including bourbons and rye, are scotch derivatives. I don't think they even grow corn in Japan. And while I am ridiculously ignorant as far as the alcohol-making process goes, I believe corn plays a major role in the manufacture of bourbon. 

Later, I got a private email from Jon Wagner, a fellow copywriter in NY who is always up for freelance work, who identified himself as the bourbon giver. Apparently Jon lived in Japan for a year and thought it'd be a nice gesture to send me something representative of his personal living experience. 

And it was. In fact, before writing this post I asked Jon if he minded me ribbing him about the bourbon. He was a good sport about it.

As I was telling Jon, the bottom half of the bottle tasted better than the top. Perhaps Japanese bourbon is an acquired taste. 

Or perhaps it's the wisdom an old man gets after spending 44 years on the planet and realizing that when life hands you lemons, you turn it into a Old Fashioned. And a blog posting. 



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dealing' days


For the first time in many years, I was not called by any ad agencies to help with their Year End Sales Events. Or their Super Bowl Jackoffaganza. 

I wouldn't have been able to participate as I have been gainfully employed (as a freelancer) at Dollar Shave Club for the last 8 months. That gig is coming to an end, meaning I will be back to shameless promotion and self-pimping.

This may come as a surprise but I actually prefer the cheesy low rent Sales Events as opposed to their penthouse dwelling brethren, Super Bowl assignments. 

The bar is much lower. The competition is non-existent (no one wants to do these schlocky dealer ads). And the work is subject to less stupid corporate scrutiny. 

Seriously when you think about it, the fact that any advertising is subject to so much corporate scrutiny is a joke in and of itself.  

But I digress.

I bring this up because last week SNL did a great riff on the now iconic red bow on top of Lexus ads that they cart out for every December to Remember. We, the general public, may abhor these ads, but I'll tell you who loves them: dealers. 

They live for this stuff.

Years ago, when I was managing the Jaguar account for Young & Rubicam, now RLYGLGI&R, we managed to convince the dealers that we should spoof the Lexus ads, and thus ride their coattails. And so our team came up with the Unwrap a Jaguar Sales Event, which I believe is still in use today.

We committed fully to the idea. 

The picture above, for instance, is a sheet of metallic holiday wrapping paper. Dealers gave out rolls of this cool wrapping paper to any customer who came in for a test drive. I believe special credit goes out to Ron Salvo, a very talented art director, who brought this idea to life.

We also shot a slew of TV commercials. None of which I can find on YouTube or the interwebs.

In one spot, we see a married couple pulling up at a 4 way intersection. The camera is inside and locked on the woman, who is driving and the husband, the object of her disdain. 

From their POV, we see a car cross in front of them. It's a Jaguar. And it's sporting a big red bow on the roof.

Another Jaguar crosses from the other direction. And it too has a big red bow.

Finally, there's another Jaguar, with a red bow, that pulls up beside them. Everyone, it seems got a new Jaguar for Christmas. And left the bow on the car for good measure. Everyone except the women observing this odd phenomena.

She turns to her husband, with a look that could kill an already-dead manatee.

This was 18 years ago, so I don't remember all the spots we shot. 

I do however remember one spot (written by Kenny Lee, I think) that the client would not agree to do. But that didn't stop us. Because as we broke for lunch and the account people carted the client off to the catering tent, the creatives stayed behind with the director (Erich Joiner) and quickly, and surreptitiously, knocked this spot out in one or two takes.

Jaguar ended up liking the idea they had already killed (probably cause it was FREE) and ended up running this online, but only after we agreed to replace the word son of a bitch. Doh!

You'll see.

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Get outta my house


 Today's Roundseventeen post is about Dog Bowls. 

"Dog Bowls," you say, "wow, Rich is really running out of topics and with President Elect Biden stepping into office, he's not going to have anything to write (complain) about anymore. Maybe he'll shut this rag down and give us all a much needed respite from his semantic jerkoffery."

Slow your roll there, dear reader. I'm building up to something. 

At least I think I am.

As mentioned in previous posts, my family spent last weekend at a very expensive airbnb in Palm Springs. We hadn't taken a vacation in years, we've been holed up in the house for nine months and stressed to the max, so we decided we could all use a break. 

On the way home our dog Lucy, who, because she was abused by her former family has a nervous stomach, wanted to have another look at the breakfast she had eaten 5 hours previously and decided to hurl it up. The stench quickly filled the tiny cabin of our Mazda CX5 and I made a beeline for the nearest industrial business park in West Covina.

It was there that I cleaned up the mess (it's odd that digested dog food looks and smells the same as predigested dog food, sorry) and so I put Lucy's bowl on the asphalt lot so she could rehydrate with water. It was also there that I mistakenly left her shiny stainless steel dog bowls and got back in the car to make another beeline for Culver City (home).

So now, I need to replace the dog bowls that she has so come to love. 

Well guess who wants to help me find suitable replacements dog bowls for Lucy? 

Jeff Bezos.

Because within hours of solving the mystery of the missing dog bowls, I started getting ads in my social media feed for Dog Bowls. What?

I know this happens to all of us. And I know there might be a reasonable explanation for the occurrence. But there can be no other explanation than to conclude that our Alexa AI device is listening in on us.

Why? Because in the short time we discovered the bowls were missing, not one of us had texted, written or otherwise communicated the 0's and 1's necessary for Big Brother to know we would need Dog Bowls.

It is unnerving.

But it's also an opportunity. Because now in an effort to prove my theory, I am walking into the kitchen and purposely telling my wife, "We should get a tool shed." We don't need a tool shed. But because I wrote ToolSshed here I'm sure I'll see ads for tool sheds. 

What I actually said was something else, "We should get a ___________." And for obvious reasons I can't share that with you.

But the list of things we should get is long. And obtuse. And highly specific. And maybe even puerile.

When the ads for those undisclosed items start showing up in my feed, you can be sure I will screen grab them and share them with you. 

It's on, Jeff Bezos, it's on.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Big Mo is turning.


I lept into the deep dark end of the freelance pool some 17 years ago. I had no idea what I was doing then. I only knew I liked the freedom. The flexibility. The money. And working from home, and pissing in my own pot.

Most of all, I liked doing what I wanted to do, write. 

And not doing, what I no longer wanted to do: managing people, sitting in status meetings, fighting with planners, handholding clients who knew nothing about the magic of creating advertising and dealing with the corporate bureaucracy. 

I am not a process guy.

Now with the cratering of the economy, the collapse of the holding company model, and the death of advertising as we know it, the landscape is being fertilized with the rotting remains of the old ways. And giving sustenance to a new generation of freelancers, independent boutiques and creative people who just can't take the bullshit anymore. 

And will never have to fill out another timesheet.

While this might mean my end of the freelance pool may be getting more crowded, I'm actually happy to see friends and colleagues undoing the shackles of corporate bondage and finding the freedom I found 17 years ago. 

More encouraging however, is the notion that soon the holding company overlords will discover they can't maintain a healthy bottom line unless they have the people who can deliver an attention getting headline. Or a hard working tagline. Or even a disruptive positioning line that separates Bank/Airline/Beer A from Bank/Airline/Beer B.

In other words, the Sorrells, Roths, and Reeds of this world need us way more than we ever needed them.

In other, other words, the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way. And though I only have a rudimentary command of economics I do have a passing familiarity with the laws of supply and demand and very well picture the following conversation:

Creative Services Manager: "$2000?"

Me: "That's right."

Creative Service manager: "Isn't that kind of high for a day rate?"

Me: "Oh no, that's my hourly rate."



Monday, December 14, 2020

The Great Impaling


It's Saturday Morning as I write this. Saturday, December 12, 2020. Though I sure wish it were December 12, 2021, when we will be concluding a full year in America's Great Recovery under President Joe Biden.

It is slow going this morning. 

Even as I stare out at the floating unicorn making its way around a pool of cold water (that was supposed to be hot) at the Palm Springs airbnb we escaped to for the weekend.

Slow because I'm nursing a hangover. A hangover because I ventured deep into my bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey. And deep because we were celebrating some great news.

On the personal front, a terrific health update that brought some much needed family smiles.

And on the political front, the historic news that Precedent Shitgibbon's PR stunt at the Supreme Court went down like the flaming Hindenburg while it was just 50 feet off the launching ground in Germany.

"Oh the insanity."

If you were to ask the Imbecile in Charge, I'm 1000% positive he'd be under the mistaken impression that Supreme Court Justices work for him. Including the three that he "hired."

"Welcome to SCOTUS Apprentice, I'm sure you're gonna do a fantastic job."

I'm not sure of the number, because it seems to grow by the hour, but Commander Assnapkin has now lost 53 some odd cases in federal courts throughout the land. Fifty three. Maybe fifty five. Who knows?

What I do know is that this morning he tweeted out, in all Caps: WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!

Really? 

Because today (Monday) the electors, chosen by the 50 states and bound to align with the popular vote in those states, will cast their ballots for President. And sleepy Joe  will wake up from his afternoon nap with 306 electoral votes, which under the Constitution that Precedent Shitgibbon is so pitifully unfamiliar with, will make Biden the President on January 20.

Grandpa Ramblemouth can rage tweet and throw social media tantrums -- which are so delicious from a schadenfruede POV-- all he wants, but nothing will change that.

His only option, and the one that might even awaken Americans who claim any measure of patriotism, will be for him to declare Martial Law and put soldiers on the streets.

Does that sound a tad alarmist? It shouldn't. Particularly if you've been paying attention to this craven, sociopathic narcissist who loves himself way more than he loves America.

OK, I need a drink.





 

Thursday, December 10, 2020

My weekend plans


 I deserve a break.

How do I know I deserve a break? Because no one pushes me as hard as I do. And this year, perhaps above all others, has been the most difficult in all my 44. 

So please excuse my I-have-no-excuse-for-not-posting-anything-of-substance-today other than I deserve a break.

Should you need to reach me, I'll be poolside at this Palm Springs rental. 

Probably with a drink in my hand, and leathery sunburn on my back.

See you next week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Throw away the brief


 

Two posts about advertising in a row. Change must be in the air.

To be completely transparent, I hadn't planned on writing this blog post today. In fact I was scurrying around in all the dusty corners of my brain to find something to write about. As I have been unusually busy spinning several ad plates at once. 

And then I came upon a piece put out by a copywriting hero of mine, Ernie Schenck. He's one of the older guys still laboring in this field. I believe Ernie is 45 years old. 

And yet, he's still bringing home a check. Well, he doesn't bring home a check, none of us bring home a check because that would necessitate leaving the house. And we can't do that because Precedent Shitgibbon dropped the Covid Meat in the Dirt way back in January.

But I digress.

Yesterday, Ernie posted this little nugget from the Lincoln Project.


If that isn't some wisdom for the ages, I don't know what is.

Who among us did not marvel at the speed and clarity of the Lincoln Project ads, that can be argued, brought down a fascist dictator. 

And who among us hasn't asked, "who are these fortunate folks doing these incredible, clever, punch-them -in-the-nose-until-it-bleeds, remarkable spots?"

And now we find out they accomplished all that without the aid (bullshit) and guidance (bullshit) and box-checking lists (bullshit) that seem to accompany every ad like object that gets made, from the sublime Super Bowl spot to the ridiculous overwrought and utterly disposable email blast.

I'd like to kiss the folks at the Lincoln Project. Not only for the work they've done. But for demonstrating and proving that good work does not spring from garbage prescriptive briefs or quantitatively-driven focus groups.

"This received a 38 score on engagement but only a 27 score on disruption. It gives me much concern."

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I had the distinct pleasure of working for the greatest planner to ever ply his wares in the ad business: Lee Clow.

I know people see his forte as a Creative Director. But that only stems from his street wise, gut wise, heart wise understanding of people, their instinctive behavior and the way people consume communications.

If this business is to ever recover, we need to show the Big Data people the door. And let creatives go back to being creatives.

I'll step off my soapbox now. 

I have some banner ads to knock out.







Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The weirdness of advertising


To say advertising is a weird business is to make an understatement, inversely proportionate to the kind of overstatements made by Precedent Shitgibbon, to the tune of, "the election was rigged and there's massive, massive fraud."

But stick around, because this post is about advertising and thankfully not about politics. 

I haven't written much about advertising lately and for that I do apologize. Perhaps it's because I still don't understand it. Even after 44 years of living and breathing on this earth.

 How for instance can one understand a business where, because of faulty award show logistics, attendees felt compelled to rush the stage and grab themselves a Clio. Even one they hadn't actually won. 

I was rightfully awarded a Clio a long, long time ago, and now it sits in a box. In my garage. Behind another box. Of sweaters I don't wear anymore.

The industry's confounding nature reared its head again last week, when I was disappointed to learn that my current freelance gig will not be extended into next year. I suspect I know why, but I'm not going to dwell on that, nor as I will explain, do I have to. 

Suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and got to work with some incredibly talented people who are blessed with patience and persistence. Not to mention a great sense of humor. Moreover, for reasons I will not divulge, the job was a literal lifesaver. And I can't explain how it landed on my desk at just the right time in my life.

Nor can I explain, the other phenomena at play. 

Because as soon as the dark news about my doomed freelance extension came across my Zoom screen, another screen lit up. My phone. 

As many copywriting and art director freelancers will tell, times are dismal. And the phone hasn't rung since we all started wearing masks to shield us from the arrival of the Democratic Hoax, way back in February.

Moreover, my phone didn't just ring once with one freelance opportunity. It has rung several times. And I got an email from a planner I hadn't worked with since my staff days at Chiat/Day. I'm trying to remember if I was nice to him. I must've been because he reached out to me from way beyond the blue.

A testament to the phrase often spoken in the gig world, "when it rains, it pours."

Indeed, as my fellow blogger and keyboard monkey George Tannenbaum says, I'm up to my hairy ears in work. It's Saturday morning as I write this and I have to type it fast and cut it short, because these manifestos and ad-like objects are not going to write themselves.

No snappy ending or well hewn craftsmanship for you today.

I'm saving that for the paying clients.


  

Monday, December 7, 2020

An R17 exclusive scoop


Jackpot!

Noting the incompetency of the president's legal eagle elite strike force, including last week's remarkable release of intestinal gas on national TV by Rudy "I didn't fart" Giuliani, we at Roundseventeen decided to send one of our cub reporters to the Northeastern Philadelphia area to scour the dumpsters at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping headquarters.

It was well worth the price of a Coach ticket on Spirit Airlines and a one night stay at Murray's Roadside Adult Motel (with Color TV). 

Because there, buried below empty plastics bags of Grade A Horse Manure and several discarded broken rakes, our enterprising young intern uncovered several mimeographed copies of sworn affidavits from poll watchers in the Pennsylvania election. These affidavits apparently slipped through the greasy hands of the notoriously lascivious Mr. Giuliani as he was distracted by the inviting hole on a fertilizer spreader.

Discretion and fear of reprisal from the Preening Boys prevents me from displaying the actual affidavits, but I will provide verbatim excerpts that demonstrate the weakness of their "case."

" I was asked to observe the activities inside the ballot counting area, but it was almost impossible to see. There was a fat guy standing next to me and I swear he hadn't showered in three days. The BO was making the hairs in my nose stand on end. I didn't even know I had hairs in my nose. Plus they never told us what we should be looking for. They just said suspicious activity. I might have been able to see that, but I left my glasses in my apartment."

-- Anna K., sworn affidavit #284 q/v13 


"Dude, do you know how fucking cold it gets in Pennsylvania in November...oh shit am I allowed to cuss? Sorry. It was damn cold. And it was raining. It was good to finally get in the building. But all they had for us was Folgers coffee and samiches. The coffee wasn't even hot. And the tuna sandwich was wet. Man, you can't put too much mayo in the tuna. It loses all its texture. And then if the bread isn't toasted it slops out the side of the sandwich and lands on your new Doc Martins. Can I get reimbursed for that?"

--Jackie T., sworn affidavit #17178 f/32


"I'm not really political you know. But then this nice lady comes in the Tap N'Cap, where I just hanging out with Gus and Jimmy and Big Phil and says I can make 50 bucks if I come with her down the street to the ballot verifimication center. And I says to myself, sure why not. I didn't really understand what was going on there, but there was this hot chick, kind of squinting a lot, but still hot, you know what I'm saying. I went over to say Wass Up, but she didn't want anything to do with me. Pretty sure she was a lesbian. Anyway, I got my fifty bucks, went back to my apartment and splurged for the 3 Hour block of unlimited porn on my cable TV. Not a bad night. And I'll swear to that."

--Steve L., sworn affidavit #76290 f/17H

The reader should note these are sworn affidavits and will no doubt be submitted and reviewed by our 9 esteemed Supreme Court justices as they base the future of our Republic on the ramblings of these fine patriots. 

Putin got his money's worth.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

An Unfair Fight


Just finished another argument with my wife. 

To be clear, it was an argument not a fight. My wife and I don't fight. At least nowhere near as much as my father and mother did. Those were knockdown, plates thrown against the wall, cooped up in a NYC apartment for too long, airplane-loud fights.

I inherited some of that famed Gotham/Glasgow temper but have worked hard to replace it with a more healthful California sense of Zen. Not always successfully, as co-workers in my early days of advertising will tell you.

In any case, at the end of this very argument I thanked my wife. "For what?", she said. For giving me my last blog posting of the week.

As my coffee was brewing I contended that Nancy Pelosi should leap at the opportunity to impeach Precedent Shitgibbon again. For his continued abuse of power, for taking a sledgehammer to our Constitution and for doling out presidential pardons pending cash contributions. The latter charge would require a further look at court documents that were revealed on Tuesday by the DOJ.

She countered by saying, "he's only got two months left in office and no one cares. Don't be silly."

And perhaps she's right. 

But then I rewound the tape and played back a different "discussion" we had several weeks ago when we both reached the conclusion that Democrats are Pussies. Concurring on the point that if the shoe were on the other foot (see picture above) the Republicans would be marching into the Senate with their typo-filled Articles of Impeachment all laid out.

That seemed to land. She sat stunned in silence.

Furthermore, I added, the impeachment could be fast tracked and sent to the Senate before the Georgia runoff. 

"What does that accomplish?" she countered again.

It puts David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both low life millionaire GOP Senators who benefitted from insider stock trading following the initial release of Covid info, directly on the hot seat.

If they vote to acquit in the face of all the damage Commander Assnapkin has foisted on this country they will look like greedy, principle-deprived, morally-bankrupt scumbags who have turned their back on the US Constitutions and their fellow Americans.

She waited until I was done ranting, took a deep breath, and said, "So what, they're Republicans."

Checkmate.

Debbie --1

Rich -- 0


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Cohen Chronicles


It should be noted that for a guy who makes a living in advertising and marketing, I do a piss poor job of giving my "audience" --- such as it is -- what they want.

To wit, my countless postings on the various physical ailments that have taken their toll on this 44 year old body. Nobody wants to read about that.

Or my recent ramblings on Chess. Despite the popularity of the amazing miniseries on Netflix, no one, not a single soul in my limited sphere wants to read about chess.

And my book reviews. Particularly since I've covered the entire gambit of books about Precedent Shitgibbon. And yet I am adding one more to the pyre, that's right I burn each one as soon as I turn the last page so as not to soil my small personal library.

Nevertheless, if you must read one book on Commander Assnapkin, make sure it's this one.

Oh sure Philip Rucker and his WaPo partner, whose name escapes me, do a fine job recapping the shit show at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But their rendition is quite dry and frankly not so compelling.

David Frum does an excellent job and I like his writing style.

And of course, there are the two riveting books, appropriately titled FEAR and RAGE, by Bob Woodward. These are worth reading because many of the quotes from Grandpa Ramblemouth are actual quotes from Grandpa Ramblemouth and have been immortalized on audio tape.

It should also be noted that nothing these authors have stated has ever been contested. Meaning it's not Fake News as Captain Ouchie Foot often claims. Otherwise he would have brought his coterie of lawyers to bear on the case and charge the truthtellers with libel.

He didn't. And that tells you so much.

Which brings me to Michael Cohen, also unassailed by the Trump legal team, and his titilating tome. In a word, it's juicy.  It reads like 400 pages of People magazine. And does not suffer from the arrid, politics-heavy writing of the aforementioned books.

For instance there's the time Ivanka snubbed Cohen's daughter in the lobby of Trump Tower.

Or the time Trump rigged the GOP polls in 2016 and then stiffed the poll rigger.

Or my favorite, when the President of the United States of America, Captain Ouchie Foot, chose the wrong paint to refresh the old golf course, Doral, that he just bought. The went on to sue the manufacturer Benjamin Moore. This is a prime example of his shady modus operandi.

It's all pretty damning. And it paints the picture of a craven, lying motherfucker we've all come to know and hate.

I cannot wait to piss on his grave.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A tale of two Caganers


It's December 1st, only 24 more days until Christmas. 

Unless Jenna Ellis, the president's top legal eagle, has her worst socialist nightmare come true and "they" cancel Christmas. 

I don't know what she means by cancelling Christmas, but I'm pretty sure when she refers to "they" she's got those beady, overly made up eyes, pointing at (((globalist, elitist bolsheviks))) like myself.

Christmas isn't getting cancelled. 

Nor is there some imaginary Hebraic Inquisition -- "Nobody expects the Hebraic Inquisition" -- galavanting across the nation making Christians recant their faith. We certainly don't need them joining ours. Do you know what that would do to the price of ticket for the High Holy Days?

I'm happy to say that all the Christmas traditions are in tact. Including the world famous Caganer.

What's that? You've never heard of the Caganer? How long have you been reading R17? Have I taught you nothing?

You can get a detailed explanation of the Caganer Phenomena by using the search button way up on the upper left corner. You'll see I've written extensively about it. But I know, and you know, you're not going to do that. You come here for a quick 2 minute read, get your free laughs, get out and maybe, maybe just tell a friend or co-worker, "I read this funny thing today by some blogger, Dick Spiegal."

So here's the Cliff Notes on this odd tradition. 

The Caganer started in the Catalonia area of Spain. Where it's rumored several farmhands would go around to Nativity Scenes and place a squatting hobo figurine just outside the straw hut, where Baby Jesus is entering the world, and last's night's tapas are exiting Giullermo.

Naturally you can see why I was fascinated by this scatological display of heresy. 

But the Caganer has a perfectly logical reason for being. You see the poop represents man "fertilizing" land during the planting season in hopes the Lord and Mother Earth will bring about a bountiful harvest.

That's how they justify it. As a militant atheist, unimpressed with all Abrahamic religious fantasies, I don't really need any justification. All I see is a man outside a Nativity Scene, launching a lifeboat off the S.S. Assitania.

This year's caganer makers have added two new figurines to their impressive selection of Caganers for purchase. Including Precedent Shitgibbon. 

And now President Elect Joseph Biden, doing the dutiful thing by wearing a mask while shitting out in the open.

See, things are getting better already.



Monday, November 30, 2020

The Glorious Meltdown


Perhaps you saw last week's rushed Thanksgiving Night address to the overseas troops from Precedent Shitgibbon, where he was seated at what appeared to be a tiny child's bedroom desk. It was pathetic on every level, including him berating a reporter...

"Don't talk to me like that...do you know who I am? ...I'm the President of the United States of America."

Because nothing oozes power like having to shout at the top of your lungs, 

"You have to respect me. KellyAnne!!!!"

When I watched this amazing meltdown something started tickling the nerve endings in the back of my brain. Where have I seen the dictatorial tiny desk routine before? Think, Rich, think. And then I recalled my still amusing 6 year ribbing of Kim Jong Un seen here at kimjungfun.tumblr.com (which is always good for a laugh.)

That was last Thursday. 

It's Friday morning as I write this under the haze of 3 cups of coffee and a Vicodin to ease my chronic hip pain and my post-Turkey Day hangover. It seems 44 years on this earth have taken its toll on my joints and cartilage.

This morning, I also came across a video posted by the White House Director of Communications and former golf caddy Dan Scavino (the best people). It features a big bad lion fending off a pack of hungry hyenas. And it's narrated by Christopher Walken. If there wasn't reason enough to doubt the sanity of POTUS before, there surely is now. 

You can watch the video here: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1332346370800447489?s=20

By the time you read this it will be Monday morning. And who knows what further escapades await us in the epic meltdown of #DiaperDon.

Suffice to say there are only 52 more days of this unbelievable and amateur regime. Made even more unbelievable by the fact that 73 million Americans watch this clown and think to themselves, "Yeah, that the guy I want leading my country."

I'm gonna get my money's worth out of the last 52 days and release my own Kraken. You probably didn't know I've been holding back and exercising the famed Siegel restraint, but I have.

Here's the other thing. 

Many political pundits would have you believe that Grandpa Ramblemouth will continue to hold sway over the GOP. I don't believe that for a minute.

When he is thankfully out of office he will be thankfully out of power. Nothing he says or does will have any impact. He will shrivel up in humiliation.

Moreover, if past is prologue, just as he has turned on every one in his circle, including Fox News, he will also turn on his enablers: Graham, McConnell and Barr. Mark my words.

And then he will be indicted. First by SDNY and then by new AG Sally Yates. And we will see the depths of his depravity.

He will be out of our lives just about the same time the virus begins to leave us. Normalcy will return. 

And it will be glorious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Welcome to the party.

I have been playing chess since I was seven years old. My brother has has been playing since he was six. 

I don't remember why my father sat us down to teach us the rules and objectives of chess. I'm only glad he did. It turns out he was not much of a player. And within a couple of years my brother and I were both beating him. 

Regularly. 

It might have had something to do with my father working 18 jobs at once, trying to go to college at night, and supporting a working class family of 5, on nickels and dimes. 

So my brother and I turned our attention to each other. We have been brutalizing each other for many, many years. Not so much because we love the game, although we do, but more as an outlet for our sibling rivalry. 

With the advent of the interwebs, and Covid restrictions, we play online, and always have a game going. Always.

I'm happy to say I'm almost always winning.


In any case, it's been fascinating to watch America's new streaming obsession, the 7 part miniseries, Queen's Gambit. We're 5 episodes in and thoroughly enjoying it. 

Oh sure the writing is superb. The direction is subtle and engaging. The characters are fascinating. And the set design...oh what do I know about set design?

But as someone with a special love of the game, someone who has won a couple of rank amateur tournaments against a bunch of college stoners, I'm in it for the chess.

Years ago, I got my rating online rating tantalizing close to 1600. To enter any serious tournament now you must have an 1800 or higher. In other words, while I'm good in my head, I'm nowhere near as good in reality. And will never be good enough to play competitively. 

That is not to say I can't keep learning. 

For instance, with my interest piqued I decided to look into the Queen's Gambit Declined opening. It is not a play I'm familiar with. In fact, I have an embarrassing passing knowledge of any of the famed gambits and defenses. I've never been that vested, or nerdy, to start studying chess books like Beth Harmen.

So I decided to play the Queen's Gambit on my brother. I'm pretty sure it threw him off. In monumental fashion. Before long I had total control of the center of the board and leveraged my position to decimate him piece by piece.

In other words, I. Kicked. His. Ass.

In the post game analysis provided by chess.com, I was commended (by the computer) for properly executing the Queen's Gambit to my advantage.

Maybe I'll start committing more of my Covid time to the serious improvement of my game. Then I can write more postings about chess. And then the 8 regular readers of R17 will dwindle down to 2. 

And that's only because I force my wife to read it. And I have to go back and fix typos.



 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Stupid hot


Say hello to the Fatalii pepper, Latin name: capsicum chinense. 

The Fatalii is a relative of the famed habanero pepper and according to Wikipedia (where I've recently lost my editing privileges for desecrating several low level Michigan GOP officials for their compliance in the Trump election stealing scheme) the pepper originated in the Americas but was brought to Africa a long time ago.

One can only speculate that white traders brought these indigenous plants in order to barter.

"Give me 10 human beings and I'll give you this magic plant that makes food spicy."

Fuck that long dead scalawag of the seas.

Back to the pepper, which you can tell from the picture above is growing in my garden. A raised bed garden that produced very little in the way of tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos this year and hardly recouped my $150 investment. How very 2020.

When the overgrown but barren tomato plants were cleared out, the remaining pepper plants started taking off. Judging from the strength of their fruit, I believe these peppers are impervious to the elements. Soon I will have two dozen of these nuclear-powered mouthbombs.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to eat them. They are that Hot. Or as Wikipedia says: 

"...they have a fruity, citrus flavor with a searing heat."

I take that as the understatement of the year. 

Keep in mind, I have an iron gut. As my occasional Chinese food eating compatriots, John Shirley or Jean Robaire, will tell you, I will casually pop those tiny red peppers that give Kung Pao Chicken its Pao as if they were bar nuts.

My taste for extremely hot peppers was forged in the kitchen of the very first restaurant I managed shortly after my arrival in Southern California. The head chef, Fernando, wanted to introduce me to authentic Mexican food. Not the tacos, enchiladas and burritos made famous by cheap American chains, but real Mexican food, like the kind eaten by ranchers and farmhands in the state of Coahuila.

He sat me down to a plate of humongous beef ribs, a bowl of slow cooked pinto beans, a mini-baguette of Mexican sourdough bread (that we baked on the premises) and a handful of jalapeΓ±o peppers. Then Fernando demonstrated how this utensil-free food was eaten. A bite off the rib, bread dipped in the soupy beans followed by a nibble of the crunchy jalapeΓ±o pepper.

Under the watchful eyes of Fernando, Paco, Abel and Guillermo, the dishwasher, I cautiously imitated the ritual. Then quickly made a dash for the sink to put out the fire in my mouth. There was much laughter.

"Pinche jeffe gordo no es muy fuerte."

That would be the last time I would be mocked over my inability to handle hot foods. In no time I had built up a tolerance for jalapeΓ±os. Then graduated to the Serrano, slowly working my way past the tiny Thai chiles, the tabiche and the Scotch Bonnet.

The Fatalii is aptly named. And I take issue with the folks at Scoville that have it ranked below the habanero. I have eaten habaneros, whole, and this my friend is no habanero.

I have another week to go before the pepper in the picture is fully ripened. And chances are I'll probably sear up some beef ribs and boil some beans and give this mother another shot. Only to suffer wildly. 

Both before. And after. If you catch my drift.

Why?

Because, as my wife will tell you, I'm stupid that way.




Monday, November 23, 2020

The long awaited death of the GOP


As you go about your Monday morning rituals, pounding coffee, bemoaning the state of advertising and grumbling to yourself, "I gotta get out of this goddamned business", county canvassers in Michigan and Pennsylvania are going about the business of certifying the 2020 election.

Or as I like to call it: 

Best. Fucking. Election. Ever.

By now, it's common knowledge that President Elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20, 2021, America's New Independence Day. But 70 million Red Hats are still clinging to the moronic thought that Grandpa Ramblemouth will somehow magically produce conclusive evidence of widespread election fraud. 

He won't. Because he can't. Because it doesn't exist.

Just like the investigators sent to Hawaii to dig up dirt on President Obama's birth never existed. 

Nor a plan to extract billions of dollars from Mexico to build a phantom border wall. 

Nor any nefarious proof that Comey, Clapper, and Brennan conspired to "spy" on Captain Ouchie Foot's 2016 campaign. 

Nor any X-rays showing evidence of bone spurs that earned Captain Ouchie Foot his 5 Vietnam deferrals and this oh so clever nickname.

Nor any new "big, beautiful healthcare plan" to replace Obamacare.

Nor any new Federal Strategy to deal with Coronavirus.

Nor any actions that could in any way justify that flim flamming shitgibbon saying, "I've done more for black people than any other president other than Abraham Lincoln. He had the hat."

None of it exists. It never did.

It's why all the president's white shoe law firms dropped their client and handed the case off to Qanon poster child Sidney Powell, clueless Jesus Freak Jenna Ellis, and man who rubs snot all over his face, Rudy Giuliani. You know, the "elite strike force of America's top legal talent", their phrase, not mine.

Watching them fumble through press conferences held in gardening supply store parking lots or under the hot lights on national TV, has been nothing less than exquisite. I, and I'm sure you, have been savoring every last glorious humiliating moment. 

Particularly since knowing the result in advance. It reminds of the many weekends when I'd be working at Chiat/Day and forced to tape the much-anticipated rivalry basketball games between my beloved Syracuse Orangemen and the ugly Georgetown Hoyas. I'd often hear about the victory before rolling the tape, which only made watching the contest all the more better. 

In the end, all that matters is, he lost. 

This lying, fetid, maggot-bellied motherfucker who has tortured a nation, cratered an economy, let a pandemic run unabated and put 1/4 million Americans in the ground for the Dirt Nap, lost.

And so has the party and the people who let their bigotry beat their common sense into submission and put this sorry assnapkin in office.

Oh yeah, Republicans, you lost big. 

You lost any right to stand on a soapbox and preach about morals, integrity and character. Hint: we never bought this load of crap from you hypocritical Bible thumpers even before 2016.

You lost any proprietary claim to patriotism or a special covenant with the Constitution. We don't want to hear you yelling USA, USA, USA. Because nothing you've done promotes the notion of United States. And everything you've done, from ignoring your civic responsibility to others (MASKHOLES) to snatching kids from mothers and throwing them in wire cages is unAmerican. 

And unChristian, I might add.

Moreover, you can can your phony flag fetishism. You lost that too. You want to wrap yourself in a flag, find one with the Dixie Stars and Bars. Or better yet, find one with a swastika. Because the last four years have laid bare your affinity for bigotry, authoritarianism and fascism.

And finally, you lost your way. 

This country is moving in another direction. The demographics are moving in a different direction. And now, with the election of a black woman to the second highest office in the land, the power structure in this country is moving in a different direction.

You can call it socialism. Or any other uninformed, fear mongering term you'd like. 

I, and 80 million other Americans, think of universal healthcare, better access to education, and a more equitable distribution of this nation's obscene wealth, the elimination of poverty and the resurgence of the middle class, as what the founding fathers of this country had in mind...

"a more perfect union."

If you don't like it, leave.


 

 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Yes, we have bananas.

For reasons I need not go into, my wife is immuno-compromised. 

As such she has been confined to the house for a great deal of the past 8 months. With the exception of her beach and hill hikes. Where she and her friends faithfully knock out 4, 5 and sometimes 6 miles at a clip. Not bad for a 44 year old woman.

In short, she is strong. 

And to put up with me for oh so many years she'd have to be.

As of late she had been expressing a desire to do some of the normal things that she'd do in our pre-Covid lives. Simple, banal things, that we all once took for granted. 

Like a trip to the grocery store.

When this thing hit and our lying, scumbag president decided it was a hoax and would just magically disappear, Deb was forced to give up the simple pleasure of walking into a supermarket and picking the right veggies, comparing exotic cheeses and hankering the guy behind the butcher counter for the best cut of brisket.

But she couldn't.

And this is where my youngest daughter Abby, also an incredibly strong, and creative woman, stepped in. She had an idea. A far flung one at that. I suggested she follow up on the idea and make it happen.

So she began with a phone call. The phone call was followed up with an email. An email that was rejected. So she followed up with another email, this time --borrowing a trick I had taught her -- to someone of greater import, a boss.

She asked the manager of the local Trader Joe's if it was possible to open the store a half hour early, just once, so that Deb could venture out of the house and into a grocery store, free from fear and the possibility of contracting what could be a fatal virus.

And within an hour the manager wrote back and said it would be their honor and privilege to allow my wife and daughter (she was there to make the Tik Tok video) into the store for a Covid-free shopping trip.

It moved my wife to tears. And the next day, the manager greeted Deb and Abby, invited them into the store at 7 AM, presented them with a two bouquets of flowers and made a wish come true.

I just want to thank Trader Joe's for making that all happen. And for also restoring a little bit of my faith in the people that live in this country.

It feels like the America we used to live in.

And the America I want to live in.

Again.




Wednesday, November 18, 2020

It's THAT time.


It's end of the year employee performance review time at the company where I have been gainfully employed for the last 7 months. 

Or so I'm told. 

I asked my boss, an incredibly talented Creative Director who gets his hands dirty on both sides of the art director/copywriter fence, if he had made any progress with mine. I told him in advance I'd like to make the appropriate plans for spending my end of year bonus money. And clean out one half of my overly cluttered garage to make room for the new company car.

He told me, in that always charming (not pandering at all) Aussie accent, that he was tied up doing reviews for all the staffers. He also had a suggestion...

"You're a good writer mate, why don't you take a shot at writing your own review."

Well, you know me, I'm all about shouldering responsibility and doing whatever I can to take things off the boss's plate. 

First the... 

Qualititave Section:

Rich is an exemplary employee and gets his work done on time. He regularly offers to help out and take the load off the other creatives in the company. His work is neat, organized and many times, even creative. 

Though let's be honest he has been known to transpose letters and make the occasional typo. 

It should also be added that sometimes Rich can push the envelope a little too far. 

We here at _________ have made a name for ourselves with disruptive and imaginative humor. Mr. Siegel glibly takes license with that platform and delves into sophomoric and icky copy that has some fellow employees scratching their heads thinking, "Did the old man actually say that?"

Rich has never missed a deadline and despite some industry rumors, is remarkably easy to work with. Some have even described his manner as "very diplomatic."


Quantitive Section:


Imaginative ----- 93

Creative ----------97

Engaging --------91

Disturbing-------98

Boring -----------17

Defensive -------86


Strengths: (see above)


Weaknesses:

Rich has a face for radio and a voice for newspaper. Though there's been a company wide request for all employees on Zoom meetings to leave their cameras ON during conferences, many employees have requested that Mr. Siegel leave his camera OFF. 

His room is often messy. His face, and head, unshaven. And the frayed collars on his t-shirts are embarrassingly threadbare. He hardly dresses like a 44 year old grown man. 

Recommendations:

The jury is out on whether to extend Mr. Siegel's employment. 

Though some consideration should be given to the fact that he has agreed to meet his wife's request to landscape the backyard and install a fire pit. Requiring expensive permitting and that equally expensive pressure-treated and sealed high-grade redwood and cedars for the deck planking.

For Final decision, please consult: M.K., M.O. and T.S.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Midnight train to Georgia


If I may paraphrase an old advertising jingle from the good folks at Shake n 'Bake, 

"We got a new president, and I helped."

As you probably know, the official results, from the states, not the media as Trump toadies like to claim, from the election are in. In terms of electoral votes, the human being beat the maggot-infested shitbag of ignorance, 306 - 232. With more than 5 million popular vote edge going his way.

16 of the electoral votes came from the previously Ruby Red state of Georgia, home to many a past Klan meeting and cross burning. And where the phrase, "We don't want you here, Jewboy" was heard as often as  a waitress offering, "would you like some pecan pie?"

Several months ago, my friend and fellow political activist, Pam Barsky, turned me onto her efforts with Postcards2SwingStates. They set out to encourage voters in the crucial states where Commander Assnapkin had let down the populace, to use their voice and get out and vote. 

I signed up immediately.

A week later we received a box full of postcards (see picture above) as well as a list of potential voters. It turns out there are way more Democratic voters than there are Republicans (thank god) so any effort to drive the vote mathematically results in blue favor.

The good folks at Postcards2Swingstates even provided sample copy to be written on each missive. 

I thought it was too damn polite and wanted to go with a simpler more concise message (again, see picture above and cock your head to the left.)

But my wife and daughters prevailed and the nightly handwriting crusade began. 

I'll be the first to admit the family did the bulk of the lifting. While I was busy on Facebook and Twitter sweet talking fencesitters to see the light with my gentle, persuasive and ever-so-subtle social media commentary.

OK, well I bought the postage stamps. OK, I bought them on Amazon Prime. At the same time I bought a gadget that cleans both sides of a second story window, simultaneously. I love Chinese life-hack gadgets.

The point is, whatever we did, worked. And Georgia was called for our new President Elect Joe Biden, damn I love writing that.

But the work is not done, particularly in the Peach State. Where in two months we will see two senatorial runoffs. A Jewish and a black man trying to unseat two fucking GOP scoundrels who used their insider information regarding Covid to sell off stocks and personally benefit in an unethical and illegal manner. Even if they win, I hope Biden's new AG goes after these swampy bastards.

In short, there's more postcards to be written. And we're gonna need some more ink pens.

Hello, Amazon Prime. 

Also feel free to populate the interwebs with this beautiful, nation-refreshing picture...