Thursday, January 30, 2020

A few words on insignificance

If you're like me, you're still shaking off the effects of Kobe Bryant's passing. The news of his death was made even more horrific when we heard his daughter was aboard. And then, impossibly, grew even worse when it was revealed there were 9 people on that ill fated helicopter.

As a husband and father of two daughters it naturally rattled me. Put things in perspective. And, as these type of events always do, made me confront the notion of my own mortality. And yours too.

Because that's the way this script ends. For all of us.

That and the fact the counter guy at Wing Stop will always forget to put the Blue Cheese dressing in the To Go bag is a certainty.

Everything else is a question mark. And it's why at this point in my journey, and for a growing number of young people, I have discarded the trappings of religion. The Abrahamic Theories, including the flavor I am most familiar with, just don't cut it for me.

I'm not sure they ever did.

If they work for you, fine. I mean no offense.

I prefer science. And reason. And perhaps even a little nihilism.

This is my personal choice and I know I don't need to argue my case, but I have a blog to write, so I will.

That's why I'll start with the simple and remarkable eloquence of Carl Sagan.

Consider those well-chosen words and tell me how silly we are to believe that God has blessed America, or chosen a people, or given one human being the right to pry a child away from its mother and stick her in a wire cage.

Maybe you're not a word person.

Maybe like my old Chiat Day partner John Shirley you prefer images.

"I'm a picture book guy."

Take three minutes out of your day, consider the possibility that there was no creation. That the universe always was and always will be. That time and space are infinite in all directions. It's incomprehensible right?

So is this:

Now, someone's going to have to explain to me why I can't eat bacon.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Super Bowl Blues

We're now just 5 days away from the Super Bowl. And I must admit, I'm looking forward to this one.

For one thing, the New England Patriots will be noticeably absent. Thank god. I despise that team. I despise them even more because they are Precedent Shitgibbon's team.

Plus, I enjoy watching Patrick Mahomes, the new rising star of the Kansas City Chiefs as well at Jimmy Garopppolo of the San Francisco 49ers. And while I don't have a dog in this fight I do have some  California pride and will be pulling for the boys from up north.

As a still-working industry professional, I'm also looking forward to the commercials.

This year I could not help notice the pendulum has swung the other way and fewer companies are putting out teasers or previews of their hard labor.

I've never been a fan of that practice and still remember the birth of the Super Bowl commercial phenomena with Apple's tour de force, 1984. Had they teased or previewed that spot it would have lost all its magic.

Same for Monster's "When I Grow Up"

Or Dodge's "God Made a Farmer"

Or VW's "The Force"

So far, I've only seen one full 60 second Super Bowl spot, for Hyundai's Sonata. It was wicked good. Though, full disclosure, I should mention I worked on that assignment last year, and though I had a few scripts in the running, none made the cut. And that smarts.

But like my ass, my skin is abnormally thick.

Or, in the words of Bill Belichick, "Next week, Cincinnati."

And so it goes.

Another Super Bowl is upon us.

And another year will pass when I don't have a spot in the big game.

Like Philip Rivers or Mathew Stafford, I have to come to terms that the chance of it happening are dwindling, much like the presidential brain cells of Grandpa Ramblemouth.

In fact, unless there's a surprise 3rd round of VC funding for Harry's House of Catheters, I'll probably go to the Dirty Linen Nursing Home without a Super Bowl spot to my name.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Mr. Peanut's days on Earth are limited.

As you might have heard, and if you work in the industry, I'm sure you have, the agency stewarding the Mr. Peanuts brand plans to kill off their long running spokesperson.

Am I heartbroken? No.

Do I have a filbert in this fight? No.

Do I even care? Not in the least.

But I do have extensive experience in the matter of brands brining, broasting and butchering the very same golden goose that laid advertising's golden eggs.

Take Taco Bell for instance.

During the late 90's, my buddies from Chiat Day, Chuck Bennett and Clay Williams, gave birth to Ginger, the Taco Bell chihuahua whose catchphrase (Yo Quiero Taco Bell) went viral before going viral was even a thing.

For 5 years Ginger had us in tears, laughing at her latest escapades and scarfing down Chalupas and Gorditas like they were going to run out of ways to combine meat, beans and rice.

Then in 2001, perhaps in a post 9/11 malaise, the genii at Taco Bell decided they'd had enough of this little dog and the million dollar merchandising she spawned. They wanted Ginger dead. And guess who they put in charge of sending her over the advertising's Rainbow Bridge?

Here's her final low-res appearance on TV (credit goes to John Payne, Gary Pascoe and John Shirley):

As if that weren't enough, I also had a hand in the long, slow death of the Energizer Bunny.

Here was another storied advertising icon that wore out its welcome with the MBAs in the C-Suite. Instead of interrupting commercials, breaking the fourth wall and delivering advertising that stood out, the Energizer brand stewards turned their back on the magic that once was and forced us to do stupid shit with the Bunny that neither I, nor anyone else in America, can recall from the last 15 years.

Instead of chasing big entertaining ideas, client meetings often devolved into head scratching minutiae:

"Why is the bunny wearing sunglasses indoors?"

"We should have a jingle. Why don't we have a jingle?"

"I don't like the way he's twirling his drum sticks. Can we make the twirling faster?"

You know, the kind of discussions low tolerance cynics like me just love to sit through.

Why do brands recklessly abandon the ones that brought them to the party? I haven't a clue. But after 44 years on Earth I'm finally learning that in addition to Life not being fair, Life also makes little or no sense.

For instance, come this November 3rd, 62 million Americans, most of whom will depend on Social Security and Medicare to guide them through their sunset years, will zealously pull the lever for a supposed billionaire president who promises to take those benefits away.

I give up.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Alternative Insults

Hillary Clinton got it all wrong. The people, and sadly there are many of them, who support Precedent Shitgibbon are not a basket of deplorables. They're not. They're worse.

They're comically, existentially and painfully Unaware, with an uppercase U.

I've been giving it a lot of thought lately, you know when I'm not writing banner ads for Harry's House of Catheters or FEDEXing letters to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs in Washington DC in order to secure benefits for non-combat veterans (more on that as the fight continues.) By the way, someone from Robert Wilkie's office actually called me. Twice.

Here's what I'm talking about. Getting in line with their fearful leader Captain Ouchie Foot, the GOP and the entire Red Hat Brigade often take to the airwaves or to the ether of social media and, at the top of their lungs, scream Fake News.

They claim it's a Hoax. With neck veins throbbing, they howl about:

Adam Schiff, "LIAR!"

Nancy Pelosi, "LIAR!"

Jerry Nadler, "LIAR!"

Lev Parnas, "LIAR!"

Rachel Maddow, "LIAR!"

Chris Cuomo, "LIAR!"

Purple Heart Recipient, Colonel Vindman, "LIAR!"

Democrat Human Scum, "LIARS!"

Given that they make no attempt to hide their disdain for their opponents, I can only assume that they believe there is no lower life form on Earth than being a truth-twisting, honesty-averting, Pants-On-Fire, no good dirty rotten Liar.

And yet, quizzically, it is this same repulsive attribute that they admire so much in the One they call Chosen, he who inhales KFC, the highest paid golfer in the world, a semi sentient, Adderall-adled 239 lbs. sack of shit with a fat vulgarian finger on the nuclear launch codes.

They love how he lies.

They are hypnotized by his lying.

They walk the Earth, roam the interwebs, and gather at shabby rallies, to repeat the lies he's already told. And hang on his every word, hoping to scarf up newer, bigger, bolder lies.

It is beyond Orwellian.

And so, just as Hillary Clinton got it wrong calling them Deplorables, the Deplorables got it wrong, and continue to get it wrong, calling us, the critical thinking people, Liars.

If they really wanted to stick it to us in the most painful way possible and twist the knife until we could bear it no longer, they'd pull out all the stops and call us....

"Damn, Truth Tellers!"


Thursday, January 23, 2020

A NY Minute

Some ideas are good enough not to pursue.

What do I mean by that? Years ago, I bolted from a lunch meeting to run up Wilshire Blvd. to stick more quarters in the parking meter. As I was walking back to the restaurant and my now cold Monte Cristo sandwich, I began checking my iPhone 3, it occurred to me there ought to be an app for this kind of thing.

It made perfect sense.

Imagine being a distance from your car, discovering you hadn't put enough money in the machine, whipping out your smart phone and magically filling the meter via the ether. Not only was this a brilliant idea, this could have been the key to my early retirement.

"Beverly Hills is the place I ought be. Swimming pools. Movie stars."

It's a good thing I didn't mortgage the house and hire a team of under-the-table Belarusian software engineers, because with a little digging I found out some hard-on in Boston had already beaten me to the punch.

It wasn't the first time this had happened to me. And it won't be the last.

As someone employed in the business of coming up with ideas, these delusionary visions of instant wealth and fame have haunted me my whole life. I'm the modern day Ralph Kramden of get Rich Richer Schemes.

Not long ago I had the idea for a book. It was to be a compendium of micro-stories, submitted by fellow or ex-New Yorkers, all pertaining to life in the Big Apple. The twist was that each vivid tale would have to be told in 150 words or less.

Anyone who has ever recorded a radio commercial knows that 150 words is the absolute maximum copy one can squeeze into a 60 second commercial. Hence the title of the book was going to be NY MINUTES.

But again, I'm glad I did not commit resources, or even effort, in to this endeavor.

Three years ago, with the ascension of Grandpa Ramblemouth, I decided to embark on a subscription to the failing NY Times. I have been a religious reader ever since. I have my favorite parts. I devour the A section. As well as the opinion pieces. I go through the Sports. And I give the Business section a good once over, some of that heavy duty finance talk goes way over my head.

I also discovered Sunday's Metropolitan Diary.

Here you will find a quilt work of stories that define New York City, my birthplace, to a tee. You can almost feel the burn of a folded slice on the roof of your mouth. You can hear the stomping of your upstairs neighbors as they traverse the apartment in their lead boots. You can picture yourself on the #7 line, wincing from the smell of urine and aghast at the old woman seated across from you, busily clipping her toenails while eating from a tub of day old egg salad.

It's that vivid. I invite you to give the Metro Diary a look.

And I leave you with my own personal iconic NY Minute story:

I was in Manhattan on a job finding mission. This was when portfolios lived not online but in big, heavy leather cases. I was working my way up 9th Avenue. I know, what self-respecting ad agency situates themselves on 9th Avenue? I couldn't locate an address I had scribbled on a scrap of paper.

Hell's Kitchen is not an area where you want to look like a lost tourist. Or anyone carrying something of value. So after aiming around, fruitlessly, for 45 minutes I came upon what I took to be a soft-spoken old man donning an expensive looking black overcoat.

"Excuse me sir, do you know where I might find this address?", I said and slipped him the scrap of paper.

He put on his old man reading glasses, looked at the address, put the mental picture together in his head and replied, "I think it's down two blocks, make a left and it's the first building on the right."

In addition to looking very distinguished, he was about as gentle and helpful as a stranger can be.

Then, seeking a little affirmation, I held out the scrap of paper one more time and said, "Are you sure?"

He squinted at first, almost as if he didn't hear my question.

And then he snapped at me, like a frothing un-neutered Rotweiler...

"What am I, Rand-Fucking-McNally?"

It was perfect.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Some principled work

I have a confession to make: I am a whore.

Sure, I work in advertising and that goes with the territory. But sometimes the shame is too much to bear and the only way to cleanse myself is to come clean.

The little cartoon character pictured above is named Eddie.

I know this because on several occasions I was asked to work on the Principal Financial Group and make ads with Eddie. It was never something I enjoyed. And as an old mentor once wisely said, "This is work. It's a job. It doesn't have to be enjoyable." Plus I had two kids in out of state colleges, each with a proclivity for expensive cold brewed coffee.

So I stuck my oversized aquiline nose to the grindstone -- I laid on my back in the vernacular of prostitutes -- and did my best.

Eddie holding logo as a shovel.
Eddie using logo as a snowplow.
Eddie flying logo as a kite.

I should've doubled my day rate, because let's face it doing bad work is twice as difficult as doing good work.

I bring this up only because I was so caught off guard by the new campaign for Principal. It's the kind of work I'd actually enjoy doing. Moreover, it's the kind of work I suspect we'd all enjoy doing. And viewing.

It's thoughtful, concise, impactful storytelling that manages to hammer out some real estate in the consumer's minds. In other words, it's everything Eddie wasn't.

Maybe it's because I'm 44 years old and have to start paying more attention to the inevitable retirement phenomena, but these two spots hit home.

And because I've recently taken on the role of a senior care giver, this one hit a nerve:

Is this going to sweep up the awards at Cannes? Probably not.

But it is, as my friend George Tannenbaum has often noted, refreshing to see work that is authentic, intelligent and respectful.

We now return you to your regular diet of pedantic banner ads, annoying e-mail blasts and Super Bowl commercials featuring talking armadillos.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Timely timeliness

Yesterday, Martin Luther King Day,  we commemorated a man who pushed us forward and added to the lore of American greatness.

Today, the Senate begins the trial of a sad 239 lbs. sack of diseased flesh who has set us back and done irreparable damage to the notion of American Exceptionalism. A notion that is not defined by, though many in the Red Hat Brigade claim so, a rocketing stock market fueled by tax cuts given to wealthy people.

Ronald Reagan's "Shining City on Hill" was not a gated community of McMansions with private pools, floor-to-ceiling flat screen TV and a plethora of imported stainless steel kitchen appliances. Our greatness was defined by President Reagan as being a Beacon of Hope. A beacon of hope does not square with throwing asylum seeking children in cages, cutting people off healthcare, punishing students who can't afford a school lunch, or looking the other way when a supposed "ally" hacks a journalist to death with a rusty bone saw.

As if all that were not damning enough, today the Upper Chamber considers the high crimes and misdemeanors committed by our impeached, cockwomble 45th President. And again there is little hope that justice will prevail and that he will be held accountable for extorting a foreign country for political dirt on his opponent, an outrage literally described by our founding fathers.

Assuming Senator Manchin and Senator Jones (West Virginia and Alabama, no comment) do not succumb to the spine thieves on Capitol Hill, it will take an additional 20 GOP Senators to sack up and do the right thing.

I'm here to tell you, "Don't hold your breath."

Many of you know I recently published a new book (pictured above.) I have spent the better part of the last two years writing letters to these "stalwarts of civilized deliberation."

I also did my homework and researched these slithering, slime-bellied creatures and can tell you with no hesitation, they are greedy, craven, power-obsessed trough hoggers who are focused like a laser on one thing and one thing only --hint: it's not their constituents-- the furtherance of their political careers.

Think I'm exaggerating? Let's go excerpting.

Let's look at Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, I'll bet you've never heard of this circus clown:

P.127 -- A reporter named Alice Olstein asked Roberts if he was in favor removing certain mandated healthcare coverage. To which Roberts replied, "I wouldn't want to lose my mammograms." 

That's genius, Pat. Pissing on the graves of thousands of mothers, daughters, sisters and wives who lost their lives to breast cancer, just so you could make a cheap joke and score a few political points in the name of Tea Party austerity. Fuck You Pat.

Or how about this gem from Senator Jerry Moran, also of Kansas. Why are all the brightest people from Kansas? During the Clinton impeachment, Senator Moran found a soapbox and opined:

P.115 -- "I choose to be on the side that says no man is above the law; that this is a nation of laws, not men; that telling the truth matters; and that that we should expect our public officials to conduct themselves in compliance with the highest ethical standards."


Why don't we hear from a Senator you do know? Like Rand Paul, he of the punchable face topped by the squirrel merkin. When Mike Pompeo was being vetted for the Secretary of State position (only to be usurped by Rudy Giuliani), the Senator raised some strong objections.

P. 34 -- "Mr. Pompeo, the President does not have the authority to bomb Assad's forces. Our founding fathers gave the authority to Congress, and actually they're uniformly opposed to the executive branch having that power." 

These asshats sure know how to pontificate. Too bad all their posturing gave way to obsequious prostration before our new Fuhrer, Grandpa Ramblemouth. Rand Paul voted to confirm Mike Pompeo.

Do not listen to the pundits who blather on about 4, 8 or even a dozen US Senators who, behind closed doors, want to do the right thing. These worthless douchebiscuits forgot what the right thing was the minute they placed their sweaty palms on a bible and swore an oath to their 401K, Constitution.

It is a sad day in America when 53 US Senators can't muster up the courage, fortitude and patriotism of this fucknuckle...

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Let's go to the photos

It isn't everyday that I pass by a lone brassierre laying on the sidewalk. Fortunately we live in a special time when the President of the United States is explaining the proper operation of a dishwasher and we all walk around with portable cameras in our pocket.

And so, because I have been extremely busy this week and need a blog entry, I am turning to an old standby, the Thursday Photo Funnies.

You might remember the loser who bought two GMC trucks for Christmas, only to have the black one snatched up by his ungrateful, gold digging wife. Turns out Chumpy McChumpface was not happy taking the red one and returned it to the dealership.

What the hell are those, you may ask. Those are lemons from the tree in my backyard. I'm convinced my house was built on top of a pet cemetery and the ghosts of old dogs are out to get me.

Speaking of dogs, we saw this one at a tile store in Indio, in the furthermost stretches of the Southern California desert. There's a lot of weirdness out there. I wish I had the good sense to snap a picture of the owner, who also had his beard braided.

Here's the entire clan. The four of us don't get together as often as I'd like. But when we do we abuse the alcohol. OK, I do.

Speaking of family, I snapped a picture of this kitschy album cover on my daughter's desk. The crabapple does not fall far from the tree. 

This was spotted on a transformer box. If you know me you know I am fascinated by transformer box art. This one was particularly satisfying.

A 1969 VW beetle. The old guy who was driving it told me it had more than 300,000 miles on it. Adding, "I'll die before it does."

Also from a different era, pre-iPhone, a Flip video camera, given to me as a gift by my friend Laura Sweet, for hooking her up with a sweet gig. It still works.

The sad, cheap obligatory Hanukkah display at an office building where I was working recently.

And finally, one last shot of my two college graduates who hate being photographed by me. But humiliating them is my job.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

You Are What You Read

This week we are witnessing not one instance of Presidential horsecockery, but many. Enough to keep future historians up late at night sucking down pots of coffee and hooking themselves to IV's of liquid Aderral.

Today, for example, Captain Ouchie Foot will sign an agreement with China.

If you listen to his hyperbole, it's the biggest, bestest deal for the United States since "Seward's Folly." And if you listen to those who genuflect at the cankles of this fat fascist pig, it's nothing less than biblical in its impact.

Only it's not.

Details are unimportant to the Red Hat Brigade, but details and facts matter. The signing is simply a truce in the Trump-inspired Trade War. An agreement not to escalate the tension and impose more tariffs, which are paid for by the deplorable proletariat.

Speaking of War, it turns out the drone hit on General Solemmani was NOT because of any "eminent" (sic) threat on the US or four of our embassies. Or even one of our embassies. The administration has walked back all that Reichstaggian claptrap back in favor of,

"Well, he was a really bad hombre." 

Welcome to the world of 7th grade global diplomacy.

If all that Three Card Presidential Monte Card chicanery were not enough, consider this: it turns out that because our tax codes --the ones written by rich people for rich people -- are so arcane, Grandpa Ramblemouth can now write off the $25 million fine he had to pay for running a fraudulent real estate school, Trump University, Home of the Fighting Commission Takers.

Fuming about this obvious double self dealing, crack RoundSeventeen reporters interviewed several of the "students" who were scammed by the Trump Empire and collected some of the textbooks used by the "professors" at the esteemed Trump University.

The Trump University textbook titles, telling as they are, included:

The Rent is Too Damn Low

Slumlording 101

Asbestos, God's Gift to Property Owners

An Illustrated Guide to New York's Great Italian Concrete Pourers

Contracts, Schmontracts

Toothpaste, The Smart Man's Spackle

1001 Ways to Evict a Tenant

Rent Control, A Globalist Plot Financed By George Soros

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Into the jingle jungle

Over the years, I've written quite a bit about the ills of advertising, ills that can literally cause Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach and Diarrhea. Some, namely my wife and my CPA, claim I write too much on the topic.

Though it should be noted that last week and this week I'm on kind of a dream gig. I'm at an agency near my house. There's still some old school folks in the building. And the young (they're all young) creative director I'm working for couldn't be smarter or more pleasant.

Nevertheless, let's not sugarcoat things.

This business, from a 90,000 foot level, with its crazy deadlines, its fickle nature, its dwindling budgets, and its constant client/agency tug of war antics, can be brutal. Brutal in a soft, white collar, completely insignificant and non-newsworthy kind of way, but brutal nonetheless.

But let's step back for a moment and take a pause for the cause.

Because if you think you're in a particular type of hell, whether you're seated next to a throat-clearer at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ or the client wants you to produce a video about Q-tips that will go viral, I'd like you to consider this...

The 15 second version is bad.

And I'm sure the 30 second version (which I could not locate on the interwebs) is even worse.

Now, close your eyes and picture yourself not as an inconsequential viewer of this campy advert. Imagine yourself on the set, with a banana strawberry smoothie in one hand and an overly picky Chief Marketing Officer on the other.

" I thought Take 53 was a little better."

" I didn't like the way she rubbed her stomach on Indigestion."

" I know it's been a long 15 hour day, but I want to make sure we get some safeties. Can we just do three wild lines on Diarrhea?"

Outsiders will accuse me of overly exaggerating the situation. Insiders, meaning those of us who have sat in production meetings and conducted 3 hour discussions on wardrobe sweater selection, know that I'm not exaggerating at all.

They also know Day 2 of the production was even worse.


For those of you who enjoy earworms and wasteful brand extensions, here's three minutes of your life you'll never get back:

Monday, January 13, 2020

The unfolding tale of Sebrina/Sabrina Jean

Meet Sebrina Jean.

Or Sabrina Jean.

She refers to herself both ways as you will soon find out.

As many of you know I'm no stranger to internet scamming. I wrote a book about it, Tuesdays With Mantu, My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist. And have become quite adept at recognizing all the hoodwinking variations, including the Illuminati angle.

The thing is, I've always been baited into these scams via Facebook. And no other social media platforms. That is until last week when I received a Linkedin invite, an urgent one at that...

Who wouldn't respond to an inquisitive student from Lovely Professional University?

I forwarded the invite to my little used gmail account and took the first step in the now familiar journey.

Turns out Ms. Sebrina/Sabrina is quite the chatty Cathy.

A lonely older spinster with lots of money? 
That's music to my ears.

Maybe too chatty.

You can't imagine how excited I was. 
Well, maybe you can.

I know some R17 readers love these letter chains. 

And others hate it. 

But it's my blog. And it makes me laugh. If you want some of that erudite, smart thinking, adult kind of stuff, I suggest you read the blogs of Jeff Gelberg or George Tannenbaum.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

He's a Genius!

"No one knows more about drones than me."

Our fearless leader, Grandpa Ramblemouth, actually said that.
Out loud.
In front of reporters.
With TV cameras.

How much do you think he actually knows about drones?
Do you think he can explain their ability to fly?
Or propel themselves forward?
Do you think he can lay out in detail (because after all no one knows more about this stuff than he does) the technology used by the controller to manipulate the drone? Is it radar? Is it IR? Is it WiFi based?

Let's not forget this is the same clueless, ignorant, braindead schmuck who tried to convince the Navy to abandon their sophisticated aircraft carrier launch systems and replace them with steam. Good old reliable steam. Because, "let's face it you have to be an Einstein to figure out the current new technology."

Yeah, he said that too.

He says a lot of stupid shit. In fact, here's a list of topics President Shitforbrains knows more about than anyone on the face of the planet:

* TV ratings


*Social media

*The Visa system (for immigration not the charge card, though I'm sure he knows a lot about racking up debt)

* Lawsuits (duh)


* Campaign Finance

* Taxes

* Borders

* Democrats

* Infrastructure

* Renewable energy

It's as if the good Lord extracted all the brain power from Stephen Hawking, Leonardo Da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill, Aristotle, Marie Curie, and Albert Einstein, and stuffed them all into one magnificent 239 lbs. gift to all of mankind.

Keep in mind however, this is the same man who doesn't know the difference between your/you're, or there/their/they're, and can't spell hamburger.

Me and my wife were talking about this on one of our traffic-laden jaunts out to Palm Springs. We looked at each other in astonishment. Who in their right minds would ever proclaim, "No one knows more about _________, than anyone?"

No one. Because sane rational thinking people freely acknowledge that whatever we know (on any given topic) is dwarfed by what we don't know.

Except panini sandwiches.

Given my many years working as a short order cook and my inordinate ability to determine proper cheese melting rates vis a vis bread toastability, I have, and I say this with all modesty, become exceedingly proficient with oven roasted turkey, fresh avocado, thin sliced swiss cheese and sourdough ciabatta rolls.

So much so that I am not embarrassed to say, " No one know more about panini sandwiches than me."

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Tale of Two Louies

My blogging compatriot George Tannenbaum writes, quite derisively, about the new surveillance economy. He takes issue with big corporations mining his personal data, packaging his personal data and then selling his personal data.

I say, "have at it."

I've got nothing to hide. If Amazon or Google wants to know about my preference for medium roasted coffee, I'm all for it. Light roasted coffee doesn't do anything for me. And the dark roasted stuff has me running for the Pepcid AC.

Similarly, if they want to know about my heartburn medicine preferences, I like Pepcid AC over the ineffective Tums or the foul tasting Gaviscon. Even worse than the taste is the gummy paste like substance it creates in your mouth after chewing. I think I'd rather suck on a tube of bathroom caulk than go near the Gaviscon.

The point is -- wait was the point? -- oh yeah, I don't mind these big data companies knowing what's on my mind. Or even what's running through my blood.

Last year, I did the 23andme spit in the tube test. The initial results were rather predictable. But now the testing is proving quite fascinating.

About a month and a half ago I got a message, out of the blue, and from far across the blue waters of the North Atlantic, from a young woman in London. She shares my mother's maiden name. And DNA suggests we are third cousins.

I don't have a large, or particularly functional, family so the connection was quite pleasant. Even more interesting is the fact that she has been assembling her family tree and suspects we might be connected via my father's Russian/Jewish side. Apart from Mark Knopfler and myself, there just aren't many people running around the planet with the Scottish/Jewish/Eastern European DNA cocktail.

As if that weren't enough, I also got an email, this time more local, from a woman who is my second cousin. We chatted back and forth and found out we both come from the same great grandfather, Abraham Siegel, a tailor from Bialystock in Poland. He was married to Sarah, a first cousin (ewww), in a marriage arranged by a matchmaker.

I'm literally living in a spin off from Fiddler on the Roof.

But here's the funniest (at least to me) part of the story. Abraham and Sarah had 7 children. When they fled the Cossacks, hopped on a rickety boat, ate jars of creamed herring for days on end and landed on Ellis Island, they spoke little or no English. They weren't thrown in wire cages, like today's refugees. But they were given English sounding names.

So when the Irish intake officer was tasked with assigning my grandfather and his older brother, originally Lazar and Labner, Officer McGuillicuddy (who had no doubt been drinking) simply called them Big Louie and Little Louie.

I love that story.

Call me crazy, but if that's the price I have to pay for the big tech companies to mine my data, and know about my excessively sweaty big fat feet, my preference for Beefy T undershirts, and my voracious consumption of news, so be it, I'm more than willing to pony up the 1's and the 0's.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

My 2020 Resolution

My daughter and I went to visit my uncle on Christmas Day and we all ended up taking a trip down Memory Lane. At 81 years old, with bad hips, bad knees and the occasional bad temperament, it's the only kind trip my uncle can make these days.

As we were cleaning up his room at the Crappy Acres Assisted Living Home  -- I've decided to stop pulling punches about this place -- we came across his army discharge papers. Only to discover that he'd been stationed at a base in Oklahoma. I can only imagine how he must have pissed off the Inductee Officer to get this assignment.

"You, gay Jew accounting boy from the Bronx...yeah're going to Oklahoma."

As if that were not surprising enough, we also found out that in addition to being quite handy with debits, credits and long term asset depreciation, my Uncle Ron was also quite handy with the long gun. And because of his superior eyesight was rated as a Rifle Marksman.

In short, my uncle's military career was the stuff of a bit character in a Spielberg war movie.

"Collins, Gamboni and Johnson, you flank left. Hawkins, Murphy and Davis, you follow me on the right. Siegel, you head up that bell tower and set up a Crow's Nest to give us cover. Take plenty of ammo. And nevermind about the curtains."

Fortunately, my uncle's military service ended before things got heated up in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, that means he receives no aid and assistance from the Veteran's Administration to defray the ridiculous cost of senior assisted living.

That brings me to my 2020 resolution.

In addition to doing all I can to remove the jackboot of fascism and the most destructive presidential administration to ever afflict our nation, I am on a quixotic mission to effect change at the VA.

This is no small task. And will probably necessitate the purchase of a new wireless keyboard after I knocked the piss out the keys on my current rig.

The mountain is no less daunting considering the current Secretary of the VA Affairs, a man who once spoke at the Sons of the Confederate Veterans convention and who once called abolitionists, "enemies of liberty."

That's nice.

But if you know me at all, you know I'm up for a good battle. You also know that my advertising background requires me to end this piece with a good zinger. Or at least a CTA, Call to Action.

I'm going with the latter.

Because there's a good chance you will soon find yourself in my well worn shoes and handed the responsibility of taking care of a senior relative. Probably one that served. And if you don't want to find yourself staring down a plate of inedible vegetable lasagna at the Sad Sundown Retirement Village, you'll be happy to receive some of that good VA assistance.

So join me on the frontline and drop a line to:

Robert Wilkie
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
US Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave, N.W.
Washington, DC 20420

Monday, January 6, 2020

2020 Foresight

Happy New Year and Welcome Back.

Here's what to expect from me in 2020:

* Same exorbitant day rates

* More stories that begin with, "When I was at Chiat..."

* Fewer eye rolls or facial ticks that indicate confusion or disapproval 
(If you're writing the checks, I'm writing the copy)

* Better and even more urgent CTA's

* Greater attention to personal hygiene, with special emphasis on ear hair

* More charming anecdotes about working with Lee Clow, including a detailed bio description for younger creatives who can't identify Lee Clow

*  No scripts with Kristen Bell, Shaquille O'Neal or Anna Kendricks

* Less bragging about my ability to bench press 245 lbs.

* Zealous response to requests for email blasts, banners and Tik Tok mishegas

* Faster turnarounds, 1st look at work will be presented before conclusion of the briefing

* Because our country is at a crossroads, I promise to donate 5% of all 2020 bookings to the Democratic Presidential Nominee (even if its Marianne Williamson) as well as the candidates running against MoscowMitch, Ms. Lindsey Graham and Matt Gaetz ( I want to punch this bastard)

 Let's light this candle and get to work