Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mainelining my guilty pleasure

I have a confession to make. There aren't many shows on television that I consider must see viewing.

There's any rerun of the Godfather movies, except Part Three.

The current re-running of Syracuse basketball games on ESPN (Big East games, from when they were actually good.)

And there's the hidden joys of Maine Cabin Masters on the DIY Network.

It helps that I like the crew.
These are salt of the earth folks who I could imagine drinking a beer with.

Actually I can imagine drinking several beers with them. With the hope that they would show me some handy dandy tricks with a miter saw. How to lay down tile. And where I can get one of those fancy nail guns that make happy hands at home carpentry look like a cinch.

But of course the main draw to the show are the cabins.

All are situated on lakefronts or river fronts.

And for me, there is nothing more peaceful or tranquil than sitting in an Adirondack chair, sipping a bourbon and gazing out onto a large body of water.

At the beginning of each show, all the cabins are in disrepair. There's rotted wood, sinking sills and roofs covered with leaves that fell in 1978. In other words, they look like the Siegels have been living there for a while.

But when the crew gets done jacking, plastering, sanding, painting, rebuilding and refinishing the joint, these run down cabins look like they belong as set piece in a movie, with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as well to do WASPY Nor'easters living out their Golden Years on fat reliable annuities.

Mmmmmm, annuities.

I don't have a bucket list, as I'm only 44 years old. But if I ever did start compiling one, owning a lakefront Maine cabin would be at the top of the list.

Particularly now.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Places not to be and people not to see

If you're like me you've been spending a great deal of time at your computer screen.

I'm here at my desk for work, spotty as it is, but also for my sanity. As my wife and two daughters are holed up the living room watching Tiger King, which I understand was a project spearheaded by my old friend and former film colleague, Chris Smith.

The snippets I have caught have a distinctively Chris "let's turn over this crazy rock and see what's under it" Smith feel to it.

In any case, as it is Monday and it looks like we still have a long way to go in this CV crisis, I thought I'd share some the more interesting links I've discovered in my pointless journey across the interwebs.

1. https://donottouchyourface.com

For obvious reasons there's this informative, interactive site that teaches you some interesting training techniques for not touching your face. You'll need an operable web camera to use the site as well a fully functioning door to secure your privacy.

2. http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2018/07/17/acrylic-paintings-of-objects-sliced-like-sashimi-by-yoko-eda/

Here's another interesting site and it comes to us from across the pond. Not the little pond. The Pacific, the big pond. Maybe it's because my father used to bring home books on Japanese kitsch. But I have an odd fascination for oddly fascinating things from Japan. And China. And Korea. Particularly North Korea.

3. http://www.bldgblog.com/2018/05/journey-of-a-single-line/

While we're on this art kick, check out these amazing images made with just a single stroke of a pencil. I have no idea how these are done but can only imagine it takes copious amounts of coffee as as well as copious amounts of joint pain relief medicine.

4. https://www.lifewire.com/best-10-hour-videos-on-youtube-3486172

You're going to thank me for this. By the time you get through all the incredible content on this website, which is really a compendium of ten other websites, we could be well past this coronavirus pandemic. When you finish all these videos, we'll all be laughing and group hugging and sitting down to a bowl of CV Fruit Loops. That's how far in the past this little nightmare will be. Enjoy.

5. http://endless.horse

Finally, there's endless horse. The name says it all. But wait to you see how it ends at the bottom.

Happy Time Killing!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Peeling back the onion

Last weekend, as so many of you have, I cleaned out my garage. I'd dazzle you with the pictures of my well manicured shelves and dust-free floor, but it's been intimated to me on Facebook, "No one wants to see that shit anymore."

Of note however, is one thing I found while rummaging through a box of memorabilia. Interesting on two notes, which I will explain.

The first, is the cartoon above.

It was drawn by Jon Medwick, an advertising colleague who I met through social media. Jon works in advertising and is a copywriter by trade. But he also does illustrations. Eerily, in all our years in the same industry, and it turns out the same college alma mater, we had never met. Or collaborated on anything.

However, in this Twilight Zone world we find ourselves living in, it turns out our paths crossed a very, very, very long time ago.

Which brings me to the second point. You see Jon Medwick's cartoon was actually used on a Letter to the Editor that I had written to the Daily Orange, the student newspaper at Syracuse University. I will attach a reprint of the lengthy letter at the end of this post.

This letter was the very first time I had seen my words in print. And the consequences of the letter reinforced my belief (as well as my reluctant father) that I should pursue writing as a career.

It was my senior year in college. And prior to that I had dutifully detached myself financially from my family. I earned the tuition, room and board for my junior year in order to establish independence and thereby gain eligibility for aid in my senior year.

I worked.
And I worked.
And I worked.

Mostly at a local restaurant, PJ's I believe it was, whose speciality was homemade French Onion soup and 10 ounce charbroiled sirloin burgers.

The food was great. The inside of that dirty, hellishly hot kitchen was not.

To make a long, blood boiling story short, I was denied financial aid for my senior year. The auditors and numbers people at SU thought I was still getting money from my parents and said "No Good."

That's when I took pen and fury to paper.

I can barely read it today. It's embarrassing. Overwrought. And sorely in need of an edit and a rewrite.

It was in essence my first Direct Response piece. It also scored a direct hit. Because following its publication in the school newspaper, a full half page, I got a call to visit the Financial Aid office. They re-reviewed my file.

The next week I got a check for $2000. Pretty sure I blew the money on pot and Schmidt's beer.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Maskmaker, Maskmaker, Make Me a Mask

Some of you might have seen my rare Saturday post last weekend, wherein I solicited a very naive idea for getting N95 masks into the hands of our cherished public health people.

Turns out there are no stupid ideas. 
Just stupid presidents.

Because following that post I got a phone call from Lynn Tucker, a logistics expert and veteran of the USAF. 

Lynn read my piece and thought I could help, albeit in a different manner. One that actually got something accomplished. I told her I was interested and that I was all ears.

That was a mistake, because for the next hour and a half, I was treated to an eye opening primer on the supply chain mechanics of the US government. Thanks to the Mute button on my iPhone, I was able to squeeze in two bathroom breaks during the Lynn's dissertation on Federal red tape and mismanagement.

As you might suspect, the picture was not pretty. 

In fact, the picture was not altogether clear. But as I explained to Lynn, I'm not the brightest bulb in the package. She didn't bother to disagree but instead moved on to the next point in her plan.

Which I now interpret to mean, "Yes, Rich, we get that you were not cut out for anything more than throwing some occasionally funny words on a piece of paper, but the people who read your blog are arguably the best in the business and have vital connections to the C-Suite and Fortune 100 people who can make things happen."

And that's where you come in.

You see, for this large scale, rapid fire manufacture of N95 masks to work, it's going to take coordination. More importantly it's going to require connecting all the dots, from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. 

Material suppliers. 
Inventory control. 

The secret sauce is putting the right people together with the other right people. And if you were to go through the little Rolodex in your mind ("OK, Boomer") or the hard drive on your computer, chances are you know someone, or someone who knows someone else, who can help -- in other words, one of those critical dots.

Lynn and her team are working with the folks at Govshop.com. It's a site designed to facilitate the connecting of the dots, so that more masks can get made, more masks can get shipped and more masks can be used to protect the people who are protecting us.

At least that's my very rudimentary understanding. But before I lay out the contact information and your next steps, let me interject a small anecdote to illustrate the seriousness of our current situation.

On Sunday night, my wife was doubled over in pain. Intense, unbearable intestinal pain. We rushed over to the emergency room at Brotman Medical Center. 

And it felt like we had entered a dystopian Spielberg movie. 

My wife was admitted into the ER, but I had to wait in the parking lot, secured by two uniformed guards. The nurses and techs were all wearing masks. The attending doctors had masks as well. Those  heavy duty plastic flip down face guards that made them look like welders. 

There was an uncomfortable tension in the air. As well as who knows what contagions. Four hours later, we left with some opioids and medicine for her nearly evacuated kidney stones. All in all, very surreal.

In short, this is an unprecedented time. 
And it calls for unprecedented action, by all of us.

Please visit https://govshop.publicspendforum.net This is one of several sites dedicated to bringing suppliers together with government buyers.

Learn more about what they're doing. And think about what you can do to help.

You can also reach out to lynn.tucker@alphazulumedia.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Best Point

This is the beautiful West Point Academy, situated along the Hudson River, near my hometown of Suffern, NY. It's about 27 miles away, or 1.57 seconds as the high caliber mortar flies.

For some ungodly reason, my father loved the place and often took us out on Sunday drive to see the campus. And gaze upon the majesty of the place. I say that with not a hint of cynicism or sarcasm. It's amazing.

However, given my father's "problems" with authority and his litigious run ins with the US Army, which landed him a year in the brig (true story), I always wondered about his fascination. And have come to realize that it stemmed from his admiration of certain qualities -- integrity, discipline and perseverance -- that made a very select few, West Point material.

Well, with time on my hand and a super speed internet connection at my disposal, I decided to delve further into the lore of West Point to seek out their definition of leadership. It should come as no surprise, that these right brain oriented soldiers had laid it all out, in bullet point fashion, so that even the laymen civilian like myself could understand.

 And there it is in a nutshell, the characteristics the brass at West Point believe produces Leadership, not just any leadership like running a shift at the local Jack in the Box or guiding a crew of fork lift drivers in a warehouse of wire cable spools and industrial motors, but real, world changing leadership. The kind demanded at the very highest levels of office.

Oh, you must have seen where this is going.

Let's see how our Leader, the leader of all leaders, stacks up against the West Point criteria.

1. "...the personal courage to to take appropriate action regardless of consequences." Just yesterday we found out, through the horse's mouth, that Precedent Shitgibbon bravely took office despite losing billions and billions of dollars. He's a giver. A give, give, give, giver.

2. "Humility that enables an individual to treat others with dignity and display selflessness." We saw that the other day at the now legendary presser, when he put that terrible reporter in his place for asking a nasty question. How dare he?

3. "acts with with proper decorum in all professional, social, and online environments." Next slide please.

4. "possesses the sense of duty". I think we can all agree Captain Ouchie Foot always puts America First. Hell, it's his campaign slogan. It's about us. And always about us. It's why he famously said, "the buck stops with everyone" and "I don't take responsibility at all."

5. Finally, a great leader must "establish a safe, positive command climate where everyone thrives while achieving results." This goes without saying, were it not for Grandpa Ramblemouth's quick action and stellar response to the coronavirus pandemic, there's a chance my garage would have never been cleaned out and reorganized to demanding cadet standards.

To wit these amazing results...

Thank you Dear Leader. We are so lucky to have you.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Day 13: A missive to the Mrs.

A letter from the frontline:

My Dearest Deborah,  

It is now Day 13 of our self imposed quarantine. I am writing to you from the loneliest of places, the socially distant hole in my heart, kept warm only by the fond memories of a shared dinner by the blueish light of Jeopardy. 

But alas, as I am here in the "man cave" and you, though only 25 feet away in the living room, might as well be as far away as Neptune or Saturn. Or, because I've given myself the sophomoric opportunity to mention my favorite planet, Uranus.

The enemy is quiet and stealthy like a henhouse thieving fox. 

Leaving us no choice but to remain vigilant and stalwart, a task made even more difficult by the loss of March Madness, The Masters and the almost forgotten musings of Stephen Colbert.

But stay strong at heart my dear, because the men have steeled themselves and remain as formidable as a hot summer wind whipping through the plains of Kansas. At least that is my understanding, for I have not heard from Josiah, Peyton, Tecumseh, Bushrod, Beauregard, Rooster, or Vestal. And Nathanial Bedford has not returned any of my text messages. 

Either he has been stricken by the devil's strain. Or his phone has died.

Though our spirits and faith in the Lord remain high, as you might expect, our supplies are dwindling. The bottle of Purell is half empty. And the handiwpes are almost all gone, though because of that darned pinching valve disbursement contraption, I suspect there may be more wipes on the bottom. 

We are dangerously low on Cheez-its and Diet Coke. I fear we must summon our daughter, fair Rachel, to don our sole remaining N95 mask and sally forth to the nearest 7-11 or Kwik-I-Mart for replenishment.

I  must go now. ESPN is about to rebroadcast the classic 6 overtime Madison Square Garden showdown between the Huskies of Connecticut and my beloved Saltine Orangemen of Syracuse. 

Until such time that I may resume our correspondence, I send my love,



Saturday, March 21, 2020

Rosie the Riveter, Part Deux

Like many of you, I wish there were more I could do to help in this unprecedented situation we find ourselves in.

You know, apart from voluntarily pumping out humorous Trump/coronavirus memes, like Andy Borowitz, but without the pay.

Then I got around to thinking about one small aspect that needs addressing -- the lack of N95 masks.

While cleaning out the garage last week, I actually came upon one that I had purchased from Home Depot years ago. I'm holding onto it, in case my neighbors go all zombie on me and we find ourselves plunged into a social abyss.

Then I heard about a hospital that had their staff sewing covers, to be placed over the mask, to extend its life and usefulness.

Then I started thinking about Apple, YouTube and Amazon. Then I started thinking about their deep pockets. And then I started thinking about their deep pervasive presence in our life and how that can be leveraged into something good.

At the risk of sounding incredibly naive, here's how my idea could work.

Apple could purchase sheaths and sheaths of raw material. Material that can be used for mask covers.

Amazon, with their unique distribution ability, could get that material into the hands of stay at home Americans, within days. Or even hours.

YouTube, working with Apple (who has quite a bit of experience with tutorials), could put together a series of videos that lay out the assembly instructions.

And roughly 150 million people, or 300 million idle hands, could put down the remote control for their TVs, and start putting these N95 mask covers together and returning them via Amazon Prime.

I don't know if this is feasible. It's just one idea.

But the fact is we have the best technology in the world, the most creative minds on the planet, and a bored labor force that is ready, willing and able to do what our clueless cockwomble president and his staff of fishbrained fucknuckles have failed to do -- come up with a plan and some answers.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Democalypse Now!

Remember the halcyon days of January, 2020, when this deadly coronavirus was nothing more than a "Democratic Hoax"?

Or in the words of some of our nation's brightest pundits, "a political cudgel wielded recklessly to take down a legitimately elected president"?  I'm not sure why 2,000 elderly Italians would willingly give up their life to influence an American election, but OK.

Those were heady times. And if we could just turn on the time machine we could hear the profound sagacious words of our own stable jenius, Donald J. Trump, making political hay at one of his jag-off rallies.

I don't have a time machine so I'll just have to paraphrase. A little.

"If you elect one of those radical socialist Democrats, this country will turn into Venezuela. Do you folks want to live in Venezuela?"

"If Crazy Bernie and his communist pals get into office you're gonna have people wanting free stuff. They'll demand checks from the government. Do you want your hard earned money going to moochers?"

"If you don't vote for me, this miracle economy will come crashing down. Unemployment will skyrocket. And those beautiful 409K plans, oh they're so beautiful, aren't they? They'll all be gone folks. The stock market will be back to where it was under Barak Hussein Obama. Is that what you want?"

"Are we having fun people? (Holding hand to ear) I can't hear you, are we having fun? A Trump rally is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. If you elect a Democrat, all this will be gone. The shelves at the supermarket will be empty. The streets will be empty cause nobody will have a job. You'll be holed up in your homes, scared to see what's gonna happen next. And you wont know. Because the Do-Nothing Democrats wont know. It'll be ugly folks, I'm telling you, it'll be ugly."

As it turns out, we didn't have to wait until November 3rd and his prophesied Democalypse. The doomsday scenario so eloquently painted by Captain Fuckknuckle is here.


Oh and to top off this dystopia, we also have to wipe down every damned thing we thing we touch with anti bacterial sanitizer that will probably give us hand cancer.

I'm not saying none of this would be happening now if it hadn't been for coronavirus. But it could all be a lot different if we had taken the proper preventative measures.

On November 9, 2016.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Craft service lasagna with La Sorda

With little to do these days but watch my life savings dwindle and ration every dried pinto bean we have in the pantry, I decided to clean out my desk.

There, I discovered an ancient artifact -- a film slide. If I'm doing the math in my mind correctly and if I take proper gauge of the high waisted pants and already thinning hairline, I'd guess the photo was taken in 1992.

Let's see I'm 44 years old now, this is 2020, carry the 1, subtract the remainder, well, it doesn't matter how old I was then.

More importantly, the question you may asking is why am I standing next to longtime Dodger Head Coach Tommy La Sorda? The answer begins, like so many of my life adventures, "we were shooting this commercial..."

That's the thing about us grizzled ad guys and it explains why we do so much pining for the old days. It's because we had fun. Not the same kind of fun one has when writing an email blast or crafting the perfect micro-targeted banner ad. We travelled. We hung out on film sets. We got treated like royalty. And we rubbed elbows with A-listers.

You could argue that La Sorda was never an A-lister, particularly after the dry spell following the '89 World Championship. Though it would be wise not to mention that to Tommy's face. He could be quite testy.

Because the year was 1992 and YouTube had not been invented yet, nor had the internet, the only record of this commercial is locked in a musty vault, somewhere on the backlots off Gower Ave. And the 3/4 inch videotape it was recorded on, is being gnawed on by some crafty cockroaches and dust mites.

Fortunately the script is engraved on my cranial hard drive.

We were doing a sales event for Nissan (when weren't we?) My partner and I decided to enlist the help of rookie Eric Karros, who was starting as a first baseman with the Dodgers. Eric was signed at MLB minimum wage, which at the time was $109,000. Not a lot of money, even in those days.

So we had him power walk through a faux dealership showroom and point out the magnificent savings on Sentras, Altimas and Maximas.

"$1500 cash back on an Altima? Hey, those Hall of Fame guys don't need to save money, but I do." 

Embarrassing? Yes. But it put food on the table and it staved off a pink slip from the legendary hard taskmasters at Chiat/Day.

To be honest, I can't remember why La Sorda was in the spot. I believe it was part of the deal Nissan had arranged with the Dodger organization. And so we wrote some lame joke about Tommy making a cameo appearance at the end of the commercial.

He tosses a baseball to Eric, who naturally drops the ball. Tommy responds with the predictable eye roll and the even more predictable...


I told you it was embarrassing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The futility is strong

To learn more about this exciting Tuesday morning post on RoundSeventeen, continue reading.

To find out more, or even anything, about the nature of this post, please proceed to the following paragraph.

To discover where all this is going you will have scroll down and put up with this nonsense.

I hate to have tortured you with all that, particularly today, when nerves are shot, anxiety is high and, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic (is that redundant?), our fearless leader is gibberish tweeting....

But believe it or not, this little semantic exercise is not without its purpose. Because as the copywriters reading this know all too well, hours, days, sometimes weeks can be wasted discussing the efficacy of a simple CTA, Call to Action.

"I like using the phrase LEARN MORE. It promises the consumer an educational reward. And who doesn't like to be educated?"

"I don't know, I'm leaning towards FIND OUT MORE. People like finding things. I once found a twenty dollar bill in my husband's pant pocket. I also found a mushed up little blue pill. He didn't know where that came from."

"We should go with DISCOVER.  I don't really have a reason, but I'm the Senior VP."

This is what the "craft" of copywriting has come down to.

The shame of it all is that it wasn't always like that. I remember a time when the last line of copy in an elegantly written print ad was more important and harder to come by than an award winning headline.

Writers at the top tier agencies where I served my apprenticeship (RPA, BBDO, Team One and Chiat/Day) would spend an ordinate time and experience inordinate lost sleep over the perfectly hewn, wrap up line.

As if the devolvement of our industry were not self evident, consider this -- to get a potential consumer to the very end of our advertising messages today and make the fateful choice of whether to Learn/Find/Discover more, we often have to get past this minor roadblock at the very beginning...

Monday, March 16, 2020

No sale

I don't often get to tell a gun story, as I don't own any guns, have no interest in owning guns and generally don't know that many people who are into guns.

I understand the thrill of shooting a gun. I once shot my brother with a BB gun while he was speeding away on a bicycle. And I must say I'm still proud of the way I led him, carefully gauging the speed, wind and vectoring, and nailed him right in the calf. He still bears the scar of my pubescent marksmanship.

In any case, with not much in the way of work these days, prospects made even gloomier in these pandemic end times, and with no sporting events on TV, I find myself, and my dog, doing a lot more walking. Yesterday, while returning home via Culver Blvd, I noticed a white Honda pulled into a driveway and blocking the sidewalk.

As I approached, the window came sliding down and a middle aged Asian man stopped me in my tracks (I will explain the reason for noting his ethnicity in just a bit.)

"Do you know where the gun store is located?" he asked.

"Gun store? This is an apartment building going through a remodel."

"But Google maps says there's a gun store here."

He showed me the map on his phone.

Indeed, there was gun store. But I had never heard of TJ nor did I know of his whereabouts and his "pistolsmithing skills" (according to his website.)

I couldn't help notice the man was quite nervous. So I took it upon myself to do something that's not exactly in my wheelhouse, I tried to de-escalate the situation and calm him down.

"Why are you looking for a gun?"

"I went to the gun store on Washington and the line was around the block. I need a gun to protect my family. Do you have a gun?"

"No,  I don't. I'm kind of hotheaded and have anger issues. So owning a gun is not a good idea for me, though it would be an excellent way to silence my neighbor's god damned car alarm."

And then I remembered a conversation I had with my wife earlier, where she had read that Asian families are feeling threatened because Captain Fuckknuckle and his GOP fear mongering toadies are busy pointing their coronavirus-exposed fingers at the Chinese and whipping up conspiracy theories.

It's one thing to hear media pundits analyze the news and put their spin on it, it's quite another when the fear is real and its staring up at you from the driver's seat of a 2017 Honda Civic.

"Look, I can't tell you what to do. You can get a gun at Big 5 on Sepulveda."

"Thank you."

"I think there's a mandatory three day waiting period."


"I also think we need to remain calm and take a deep (well-filtered) breath. Everything is going to be OK. My family will be OK. And your family will be OK. Everything is going to be OK."

His shoulders dropped and he exhaled.

It looked like he hadn't exhaled for three days.

As he drove off, I thought to myself, I hope I'm right.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Pats on the back

Even at the ripe age of 44, I consider myself a student of the game. I make it a point to observe successful people, study their regimens and when, if possible, mimic their techniques.

Today I'm sitting in my home office working on some new email blasts for Harry's House of Catheters. I didn't say I was a very good student.

A clumsy segue to the topic of self promotion and the cringeworthy practice of patting oneself on the back.

In my many years working the hallways of America's leading ad agencies, I've seen my fair share of self spinal massage. In all its various glorious and surreptitious forms. But what we are witnessing now, often behind the presidential podium or on the south lawn of the White House, is a Master Class in delusional aggrandizement.

"We're doing a fantastic job."

"I'd give myself an A+++."

"There's never been a better president than me. Maybe Abe Lincoln, but I'm beating him in the polls. And I wear better hats."

These are not fictitious quotes. These are actual words that have exited the President's mouth, you know when he wasn't busy inhaling a bucket of KFC or some very well done steak smothered in ketchup.

If it weren't so pathetic it would be funny.

What's worse is that it's working.

Despite doing a decidedly NOT fantastic job on any number of matters: coronavirus, the economy, foreign policy, domestic policy, healthcare, immigration reform, infrastructure, etc, his poll numbers are rising. It's confusing, until you remember we live in a country where thousands of people actually bought and drove a Pontiac Aztec.

What can we learn from this?

People like hearing other people vouch for the work, whether it be from the President of the United States or even an overpriced freelance copywriter.

And while I could wait for a slew of complimentary references and recommendations to come pouring in, the more expeditious GOP-inspired method says why wait?

And so, in true Trumpian fashion I offer you this:

"I'm hearing a lot of good things, actually great things, from many people, about the fantastic job Rich Siegel is doing."

"If you're asking me to grade myself, and I think that you are, I'd have to give Rich Siegel an A+. And many others are giving me an A++. They say, "sir, that was a fabulous job you did." And then they thank me. A lot."

"The ratings and the reviews for Rich Siegel are starting to come in. From all over. Fabulous. Just fabulous. They're saying things like, "if I needed a manifesto or an anthem to be written, Rich Siegel would be my first choice. I wouldn't even ask him if he could lower his day rate." 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

20 Questions

Late last week my blogging compatriot George asked if I'd like to co-write a post with him in the form of 20 questions. Because of some personal issues going on at home I had to decline. Also, because George is a much better writer, I knew I couldn't compete with his comedic gems.

Nevertheless, I did like the idea of a post consisting on nothing but questions. And so, I am stealing the format from him and have compiled 20 questions aimed at Trumpsters.

These headscratchers confound and will continue to confound me all the way to November 3rd.

1. The man has no moral compass, doesn't attend church, cannot quote any scripture, has violated 7 of the 10 commandments and has no discernible faith in God. Does it bother you to support an unabashed atheist in the White House?

2. While on the campaign trail in 2016, he led off every rally with the claim that he was going to build a "big beautiful Wall" on the Southern Border and that Mexico would pay for it. Now US Taxpayers and veterans, who were counting on funds for housing and new schools, are paying for it. How is that a Promise Kept? What am I missing here?

3. Similarly, he promised a "a big, beautiful, new healthcare plan" to replace ObamaCare. The GOP has had more than 11 years. Where is it?

4. Also similarly, the much heralded tax cuts (which benefitted the wealthy) were supposed to pay for themselves and bring our skyrocketing debt down. When does that start to happen? To make it sting even more visit usdebtclock.org

5. The president, who once shouted before live TV cameras, "Where's my African American?", often boasts that unemployment numbers for African Americans and Latino Americans is at its lowest point. When did white America become so concerned about employment numbers for brown skinned people? Or anything else for that matter?

6. There was a time when Character Counted. In fact, that was a phrase coined by the GOP in 1998 when they impeached President Clinton (he, of the booming 90's economy) for lying about a blowjob. This president has famously said, "The Buck stops with everybody." Can you point to one instance, just one, where Grandpa Ramblemouth has exhibited any selflessness, admitted any mistakes or taken any responsibility? For anything? And how, in God's name, is that leadership?

7. This? Please explain this.

8. Another map related question. Over the past two years, Precedent Shitgibbon has attended more than 578 rallies (actually I made that number up, but why should accuracy count at this stage of the game?) At all of these rallies he has boasted about the comeback of US Steel, claiming the company has opened 6 new plants. Sometimes he says 7. Where are the plants? It is not easy to disguise a steel manufacturing plant. Where are they?

9. I play golf. Do you play golf? I get out maybe 3-4 times a year. Just enough to remind myself how much I hate this game that seems to hate me. I know it hates me because it refuses to let me improve. If I do something long enough and often enough I usually get better at it. Not golf. Wait, I seem to have gotten off track. In any case, remember when Captain Fuckknuckle said he would never leave the White House because there was too much work to do? Remember he said he'd have no time for golf? Where did he find the time for 150 rounds a year?

10. Melanoma Trump has been called the Classiest First Lady to ever live in the White House, (let's be clear she shacks up with her Bolivian stud boyfriend at an apartment somewhere on K Street.) Where did Republicans come up with this twisted notion?

11. ?

12. ?

13. ?

14. ?

15. ?

16. ?

17. ?

18. ?

19. ?

20. ?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mick Mack Mensch

Next week, we'll be celebrating St. Patty's Day.

It's a holiday I have always indulged in, particularly as a youth growing up with friends named Gallagher and Dawson. Though as a half Scot, half Jew I never felt very connected to the green isle or its inhabitant's yearly drunkfest.

Enter 23andme.

An exhaustive analysis of my DNA has revealed some very interesting new information. Apparently, and this is a new term I learned from the very charming Brian Cox who appeared on Bill Maher last week, many Scottish people are also Irish people.

In fact there's a term for people like Brian, and now people like me, Mick/Macks.

According to the chart, it's a group to which I now I have proud membership:

Who knew?

You'd think this would be something my mother would have shared with me as I generously shared all my Heineken beer with her when she came to visit. But barely a word.

In any case, it merits a deep dive.

Into Irish literature. I'm sure my personal librarian, George Tannenbaum, can point me in the direction of some fine Irish authors, particularly those who wield wit as prodigiously as Kim Jong Un wields mobile launched missiles.

Into Irish spirits. It may be time to reintroduce myself to the dark side of beer and sample the freshly drawn Guinness at the newly opened Auld fella pub which is in stumbling distance of my house.

And next time I'm in a restaurant I might have to pinch my nose and fight through the stewed cabbage and sample the corned beef. Though to be honest, if I'm in a place that serves corned beef and other cured meats, I'm probably gonna take a pass and opt for the pastrami.

I'm sorry my Irish brethren, but when it comes to good deli sandwichs, you got nothing on the Jews.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Influencer Influenza

Today had been scheduled for my annual SXSW mockapolluza blog piece. Every year, since the festival began, I have gleefully taken the opportunity to bust its hairless hipster balls.

This year, due to the "almost airtight contained" outbreak of Coronavirus, the festival has been put on ice.

And with it, all my well hewn jokes about: kale, breakfast burritos, knit hats, Gary Vaynerchuk, ad tech, more ad tech, and still more ad tech, ear gauges, tattoos, FFDKK™ (Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks, gang bangs, obscenely-paid C-Suiters, BBQ brisket, Capri pants, self important world changers and of course, The Long Table of Mediocrity™.

That will all have to wait until next year. God willing there will be a 2021.

If you are familiar with my curmudgeonly ways, you might imagine I have little use for these  industry confabs.

I'm not big on forums. Or panels. Or ra-ra speeches. Or really anything that involves more than 8 people. Unless there's alcohol, recreational painkillers and the possibility of some spouse-sanctioned, off-the-range bacchanalia involving fish net stockings and leather catcher masks.

I'm not a big group person.

These days, with the possibility of other people, who I probably don't like, killing me with an errant sneeze of fatal micro-contagions, I'm even less inclined to venture into a crowd.

Many, many years ago I was actually invited to Toronto to sit on one of these panels and speak publicly about some misperceived success. Naturally, I prepared nothing in advance. And winged the whole damn thing. It went surprisingly well.

The truth is, and I've got over 2000 entries on this blog to prove it, I know nothing. I have no expertise. At one point in my life I could solve differentiated quadratic equations and do some rudimentary bookkeeping, but other than that, I'm just an ad guy who can occasionally turn a funny phrase.

That makes for a pretty shallow and meaningless speech. In that light, you can see why I don't like to dish out advice. If I were to dispense any it would be directed at one person and one person only, the younger me.

Here, with the benefit of 2020 hindsight only a 44 year old could accumulate, is what I would tell my thinner and younger self:

1. Shut up and listen
2. Shut up and stop complaining
3. Shut up and play with your kids more
4. Shut up and stay away from the free Friday donuts
5. Shut up and leave that unburnt bridge, unburnt
6. Shut up and work harder
7. Shut up and plan better
8. Shut up and push yourself
9. Shut up and worry less
10. Shut up and enjoy more

I suppose I could share this homespun wisdom with my kids. But as you might have guessed, they don't listen to a word I say.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The new school of the old school.

Know how I know advertising is changing?
Because people are changing it.

Take my internet friend and advertising colleague, Ian David.

He and his partners have eschewed the standard operating procedures of big holding company ad agencies -- people on the ground, usually young people making little more than minimum wage, doing all the work, eating all the bowls of shit, and sending the gobs of money back to their NY overlords -- for something different.

They run FEARLESS, a collective of talented people, some in their 30s, 40s and dare I say, even 50s. They bring their experience and wisdom to bear on all kinds of projects and marketing challenges.

His is not the first collective of its kind, nor will it be the last.

I'm seeing more and more of these outfits forming in cities large and small. They're mostly driven by the desire to fix what's broken in the ad industry. And partially driven by the desire to exact their revenge on the big ad agency people who broke it in the first place.

Naturally, I've offered Ian a heavily discounted day rate.

It's good to see many things changing in our troubled business.
It's also good to see that some things are not changing.

Yesterday, I read on Linkedin that February sales of Hyundai vehicles had soared 16%.

Gee, what do you think could account for such a meteoric rise in sales?
Think hard.
Think Super hard.
I know you're smaht.

That's right, Hyundai moved the merch because Hyundai had a great TV commercial during the Super Bowl.

I suppose you could argue the reason the spot was so effective was because it was "part of an integrated approach that maximized multiple platforms, the latest in data mining technology, and a holistic strategy that optimized best practices throughout all tiers and touchpoints of operation."

You could argue that. 

But I'd call BULLSHIT.

The reason this advertising worked is the same reason why any advertising works. They had a funny script. They had a great execution (full disclosure, supervised by some of my seasoned ad friends.) They got noticed. And they demonstrated a unique feature on the car. That's how it's done people.

This is not rocket science.

This is not curing cancer.

This is not even curing coronavirus.

It's just good old school advertising racking up good old sales. And it's a shame there's not more of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

My own personal librarian

One of the promises I made to myself was to read more.

Unfortunately, reading is an activity that gobbles up a lot of time. Moreover, it requires an attention span that lasts longer than a Vine video. Or even those newfangled Tik Tok thingies.

Nevertheless I am determined to shed the self-appointed moniker as the world's most illiterate writer. This has become increasingly easier now that everyone and their brother, or sister, graduating from high school, is a freelance copywriter.

I made some headway years ago when I was commuting to my staff job in Irvine, CA. I managed to get through the world's 100 must read books via books on tape. Listening to the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the bloodthirsty deeds of Dracula and the equally murderous activity of Raskolnikov, made the commute on the 405 almost bearable.

But now I work from the comfort of Culver City. And, as mentioned before, because there are so many freelance copywriters racing to the bottom and low balling each other, I find myself with an excess of free time as well as an excess of bills from the contractor.

And so I've turned to turning pages.

I've also turned to my friend George Tannenbaum, who is ironically, the world's best read copywriter. Though I've never stepped foot in his Manhattan apartment I suspect every wall is a bookcase and there are more books to be found here than the in the library at Harvard Law School.

As such, I have appointed George to be my official personal librarian.

Years ago, he pointed me in the direction of the Epic of Gilgamesh. It's a long form poem, not one of my favorite dishes. But this is where I have learned the lesson of open-mindedness. Somewhat.

I plowed through the book in one sitting. If you're like me (and let's hope you're not) and enjoy walking into a movie with no knowledge or expectations, I think you will find yourself equally enthralled with Gilgamesh.

Because we're both native New Yorkers, the Bronx to be more specific, and because we're both fans of muscular, straight forward writing, George thought I'd enjoy the writing of Jospeh Mitchell. And he was right.

Most recently, in response to a blog piece I wrote about my own lack of faith, more specifically my faith in lack of faith, George suggested I pick up Timothy Egan's A Pilgrimage to Eternity. Chances are you've never heard of the Via Francigena, but if you are a seeker of answers, you should.

Admittedly the going is slow, as I find myself stumbling on many historical references that I should be more familiar with. Thomas Beckett? I thought he was goalie for the NY Rangers in the 1980's.

If you read this blog, you probably read George's infinitely more popular adaged.com. There you will find many book suggestions. You can probably reach out to him as well. He enjoys making recommendations and should probably contact Jeff Bezos for a cut of the action.

Now if you'll excuse me I've got to get back to Egan's pilgrimage. He's just about to knock back some homemade grog with a bunch of salty French Jesuits.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

President Iger?

By now, you've surely heard the news that Disney CEO Bob Iger has stepped down. Maybe out in the heartland, you know, real America, this barely raises an eyebrow, but here in Southern California, it's about a 5.1 on the Richter scale.

At the risk of resting on my laurels and wiping the dust off placards of glory from another era, Iger and I have history.

A little more than 20 years ago, when everyone who works in advertising today was still discovering hair on their bodies or practicing the Hammertime dance, my partner John Shirley and I found ourselves in a huge pitch at ABC headquarters in NYC.

Bobby, sometimes, mostly when he's not around I call him Bobby, was at the head of the table. We clicked. We won the account. We did some work no one cares about anymore. End of story.

But it wasn't.

Five years ago, we (my family and I) walked into a restaurant in Culver City. Iger and his wife were seated at an adjoining table, chatting with the chef. I recognized him right away. And, get this, he recognized me!

I went over to shake his hand and he said (verbatim), "I thought that was you. I saw this big bald guy with the bushy mustache and thought, hey that's Rich."

I'm not kidding you, he remembered my name.

We spent a few minutes reliving my 2 &1/2 seconds of fame. And how he leveraged the success of our ABC campaign into a billion dollar promotion. And how I didn't.

And then our two paths diverged.
But have they?

There is rumor that Bobby stepped down from Disney so he could make a run at Donny. And in a brokered convention scenario, snag the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States.

Can you imagine?
If you can't, I can.

I can imagine Bobby calling me and asking me to run his campaign.

I can imagine cities bathed in big, beautiful billboards, boasting hard hitting, razor sharp witty lines that would take down the current regime. (Though not on a yellow background, that shit's been done already.)

I can imagine myself sitting at the table with the country's greatest policy thinkers and getting the opportunity to chime in on the important issues of the day: unrestricted street parking, luxury boxes for jurors, and tax credits for burly old people who can bench their own weight.

I can imagine riding the Iger wave all the way to the White House. And I can imagine President Iger appointing me to a special Cabinet position, Secretary of Snark, with a starting salary of $450,000 a year.

Ok, maybe that number is a little unrealistic. But the rest is definitely possible.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Coming in like a lion

On this day, eleven years ago, I began clicking and clacking on the keyboard, not for pay, not at the behest of corporate conglomerates selling sugary brown fizzy water, and not with any stated goal in mind (this still remains the case).

On this day, eleven years ago, I entered the blogosphere and gave birth to RoundSeventeen, a blog that captured no one's attention, sparked no viral media and launched no one's career as a social media influencer thus spawning a sea of banal videos and questionably branded sneakers, knit hats or mayonnaise.

And we can all be thankful for that.

Actually, for the purposes of journalistic accuracy, I'm a day early with this entry.

Because as I write this, it is February 29th. A weird day that falls, rarely, a day after my birthday and a day before the R17 anniversary of March 1, 2009.

Not that it matters, but yesterday was one of my best birthday celebrations, as my daughter Abby flew in from Denver to surprise me.

I probably don't say it enough, but in addition to the melodrama, the tzuris, the never ending financial strife, the phone upgrades, the dirty dishes and the eye rolls, my daughters bring me the greatest joy in life.

And you guys, the 8 regular readers of RoundSeveneteen, come in as a close second.

Yesterday's digital birthday greetings came with a slew of thanks for the daily "chuckles and wisdom." 

To be honest, it's been my pleasure.

And to be even more honest -- and anyone who blogs, or just writes, will tell you the same --it's also been my therapy.

Once that spigot had been opened, as it was 11 years ago, there was and is no way to turn it off.

Well, Coronavirus could put an end to all this.

But April is just around the corner and it's my understanding once the weather warms up, that shit will all but disappear.