Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Did I just see what I just saw?

Despite my advanced age, or perhaps because of it, I often get lumped in with an elite group of copywriting legends who made their mark in traditional advertising and now -- it can be argued -- own the social media domain.

Of course, I'm talking about George Tannenbaum, who has been writing the since Methusalah sent his last bowl of cold soup back to the kitchen. And Bob Hoffman, who is roaming the earth, pimping his latest book, and printing money on his highly lucrative speaking tours.

Together, the three of us (and I'd add my good friend Jeff Gelberg, whose blog rotation and balance is highly underrated) have more advertising experience than all of Omnicom and WPP (of wire and plastics fame) combined.

We've also clocked more readers, hits and views on our unpaid blogs than any ad agency on earth. I know I shouldn't make unverifiable claims, but we live in the age of Grandpa Ramblemouth. If you don't like it, sue me.

Suffice to say, that while none of us have ever made a Dik Dok video or plied our wares on Instagram or even checked in with Foursquare, we know a thing or two about attracting a social media audience. Admittedly, this blog is way, way behind George's outrageously popular and razor sharp platform.

Nevertheless, I like to think that what makes us, us, is also what makes people seek out our daily musings. We don't hold back. We are unabashedly and unapologetically, brutally honest. We pull no punches. We tolerate no fools (I think Mark Read would agree with that) and we are surprisingly agile/nimble/adaptable for our age.

You may have a hard time teaching an old dog new tricks, but you put that old copywriting dog in front of a keyboard, feed him, or her, a steady diet of industry dysfunction, and then provide a client-free, editorially-free platform for the venting of gripes and the open mockery of a once great business, well, you know the rest.

Recently, in my latest gig, which spans the entire media landscape, I learned a new term -- thumbstopping.

I made this discovery completely by accident. To wit, I noticed a tiny mistake on one of our online videos. It was quickly pointed out to me that the "mistake" was intentional. It's a "thumbstopper", designed to catch the viewer's casual attention and make the viewer rewind the video to confirm his or her observation.

Holy Shit, I thought. That's genius.

It's unpaid media, earned by leveraging simple human behavior. Skinner would be proud.

It's also a convenient excuse I can serve up when my wife reads my blog and spots typos or grammatical errors.

"Those aren't mistakes Deb. Those are all intentional. They're thumbstoppers."

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Close the curtains, I'm sleeping

As you read these wearily written words on a bright Tuesday morning, there's a good chance I'll be asleep. Or trying to get some sleep because I have been working all night long.

This week I'm on the graveyard shift, punching in at 12 o'clock at night. And calling it a day, or night, or whatever, sometime after the sun rises and pokes its head through our smoky, wildfire enraged sky.

If you're expecting one of my long, expletive-laced, signature vocational rants, I'm afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you. To the contrary, my nocturnal activity is of a different nature. Because I'm in production!!!

It's been a long, long time since I've been able to utter those words. Indeed, not many 44 year old freelance copywriters can. Most these days, are happy to be on the payroll in whatever form or or fashion that happens to take.

"Banner ads? Sure I can do that."

"E-mail blasts? Blast away."

"Experience with upper respiratory disease or arthritic bone surgery? Hand me the brief."

Believe me, I'm well aware of the fallow times we live in. All of which makes it so shocking to me that I'm actually in production!!!

Discretion requires that I say nothing of the client or the nature of the project. And in the interest of continued tomahawk steaks landing on my kitchen table, I have no intention of putting any of that at risk. 

Suffice to say, that the production is taking place in another part of the world, 18 time zones away and I'm still here in Culver City. Meaning there are no breakfast burritos, no client massage tables and no cajoling with craft service girls who are shockingly younger than my own daughters. 

But there is this: I am in production!!!

I can't say that enough. 

More importantly, in a couple of weeks I'll be in post-production. 

Again without the benefit of banana smoothies or late afternoon lattes made with special hand-curated South Argentinian coffee beans secured by only the finest post production houses in all of West Los Angeles.

All of which is a small sacrifice considering I'm once again doing what I love doing. And, fingers crossed, have the highest of hopes for what promises to be some of the funniest shit I've ever been involved with.

Ok, I'm going back to sleep now.

Monday, September 28, 2020

My two cents on 25 cents

Pictured above is a newly minted 2020 United States Quarter. I found it on the floor of my kitchen. It must have slipped out of my shorts pocket.

I rarely see cash or coins these days, as most transactions occur via credit card or via Apple Pay on my iPhone.

I had this quarter, and her sister, in my pocket because I recently came back from the pharmacy to get my weekly refill of Tramadol, an opioid-like pain reliever typically prescribed to pets, but thankfully prescribed to me to deal with my hip flexor strain, which happened while I was engaged in some very manly weightlifting exercises.

When the cashier at the drugstore rung me up, she told me the cost of my government-approved 7 day supply of horse pills, after my Rite Aid discount and the OSCAR insurance co-pay was 51 cents.

Hell, I thought, and whipped out a dollar bill. She asked if I had a penny. And for all reasons mentioned above, I did not. So in a rare moment of superior customer service, the cashier let me slide and handed me the two quarters.

I paid no attention and slid the coins in my deep cargo pants pockets and quickly reached for the hand sanitizer. As I do on all occasions of human to human contact in these crazy pandemic days. If one of the quarters had not fallen out of my pocket, I would never have given them any notice and this pointless blog posting would only be visible in a parallel, impossibly more boring, universe.

Which brings us back to the quarter in question. You see, it is unlike other quarters you've held in your hand.

For one, it is less weighty. It doesn't have the gravitas one usually associates with the Queen of all US coins. The King being the rarely seen 50 cent piece. The new quarter also lacks the girth of its predecessor. It's thinner. Flimsier. Doesn't feel right in the fingers.

And finally, and this should come as no surprise, this new quarter has the wrong texture. Less like the quarter you can conjure up in your brain stem and more like those shabby toy coins you might find at a street carnival or a third world country.

But the proof is in the pudding. Or shall we say the flipping and the twirling? Even before I flicked my thumb and sent this quarter skyward, I had a sneaky suspicion of the disappointment to come. And I was not disappointed. This coin will not hunt. It has neither the grace or the aerodynamics of quarters past. And flies through the air with all the style of a balsa-wood toy plane.

Don't even try spinning these new faux quarters on a table top. It will make you sad. They twirl with all the clumsiness of a fat kid on new ice skates.

The only thing you can say about the 2020 quarters is that they are heartbreakingly on brand and a glum reflection of our current state of the union: Shabby, Cheap and a shadow of their once glorious past.

If it were up to me, I'd tell the people who minted and pressed these new coins, "I want my money back."

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Let's go phishing

Earlier this week, right wing loonie, High Priestess of the eponymous Sheila Zilinsky Ministry, went public and accused LeBron James of being an Illuminati Wizard, who was surrounded by demon seed and a host of other such nonsense.

As you might imagine, this caught my attention as I am inordinately fascinated with anything remotely connected with the Illuminati, even luminous garden lighting.

So I did what any writer with a snarky tongue and a penchant for mischief would do. 

I went back in my catalogue of fake email accounts, logged myself in (after trying 27 forgotten passwords) and reached out to Ms. Zilinsky, hoping to get a nibble. 

When and if I do, readers of this blog will be the first to know. 

Until then, there's this...

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The price of gas

I didn't wake up this morning thinking I should do a blog posting about farts.

But then this (the picture above) showed up in my mailbox.

And I knew instantaneously (thrrrrp, thrrrrp) that I had no choice. I should write about farts.
No, I must write about farts.

Even at this advanced age, 44, I still find farts and farting funny. My wife and daughters do not share this affinity and often look down their clenched noses when I indulge. But I am sure that when I am long gone and they grow misty eyed in my absence, they will shed a tear and say something like:

"I'd give anything if he were just here for five more minutes, sitting in his leather chair and letting a few good seat burners rip (thrrrrrrrrrp....thrrrrrrp.....thrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp.)"

Farts are funny. They just are.

Burps are funny too. But somehow air leaving the body from the bottom orifice are much funnier. George Carlin, Robert Klein, Richard Pryor, never did bits about burping, but they sure had a lot to say about farting. And since I am their offspring as much as I am that of Mr. & Mrs. Siegel, it seems only natural that affectation has been affectionately passed down.

In pre-pandemic times I will cop to several fart crimes, as it were. 

Not long ago I was working a gig in Century City; the building had a very strange elevator system. (Please note the use of a semi-colon in the previous sentence. I rarely use this writing utensil but it gave me the opportunity to squeeze the word colon into a post about farting.)

They were express elevators. Meaning, once the doors closed, they would not open again until the elevator reached its destination. Did I take advantage of this forced solitude? Let your phantom olfactory sense reach its natural conclusion.

For those still in doubt, let me recall an anecdote with actual witnesses. Years ago, while toiling in the town of Smell Segundo, an oil refinery town with its own foul aroma and a host of nicknames, I went to lunch with the two Gregs, from Team One. 

We strolled down Sepulveda Blvd. and stopped at a place called WoodPit, WoodFire, WoodBurgers, that part I don't remember. However I do remember that after a long wait for our messy cheeseburgers we were finally enjoying our meal. While a group of French tourists sitting directly behind us were enjoying their post-meal cigarettes. I don't know how Europeans lay claim to being the center of fine culture with all that disgusting smoking and eating, sometimes simultaneously, but I did know this will not abide.

"Excuse me, we are trying to enjoy our lunch, can you go outside and smoke?" 

"voulez-vous coucher avec moi, se soir."

"I said we're eating. Do you mind not smoking?"

"voulez-vous coucher avec moi, se soir."

"Look if you expect me to put up with your smoking then you won't mind putting up with my farting."

They laughed and waved me off with a casual flick of the wrist. Showing my appreciation for French artistry, I conjured up the ghost of Sir Joseph Pujol, best known as Le Petomane, casually lifted a leg and sounded my own cor francais.

Their effete mockery quickly turned to stunned shockery. Instinct kicked in and they quickly fled in retreat. 

And those cheeseburgers were delicious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

His Reynoldship

I'm not big on hero worship. 

I've worked with and for some of the legendary icons in the ad business, Lee Clow,  Steve Hayden, Joe Pytka and Michel Gondry, among many others, but never succumbed to cringey sycophancy.

I like to think that even if I were standing at the urinal next to David Ogilvy or Bill Bernbach, I'd remain unfazed and not give in to any fanboy-ism.

It's just not who I am.

Which makes my admiration of Ryan Reynolds even more noteworthy and shocking. Because if you hadn't noticed Mr. Reynolds, I''ll afford him a proper prefix, is turning the ad world on its head. 

And doing so in a good way. Not by making banner ads bigger. Or by creating elaborate internet scavenger hunts. Or making Tacky Tock videos, seen only by dance happy 13 year old girls. Or any of the nonsense that passes for brand building advertising these days.

He's revolutionizing the business by bringing entertainment back to the TV medium, still and by far, the most effective tool of mass communication known to man, woman, child or confused CMO.

His foray into our world started when he purchased a majority share in Aviation Gin. A brand no one had ever heard of until Sir Ryan had the good sense to leverage his celebrity status in a way Mathew McConaunghey, George Foreman, or Marie Osmond never had.

Note the tongue planted firmly in cheek. 

Note the unexpected plot twists.

Note the devil may care attitude and calling people who don't drink gin, "Assholes."

Having rebranded and successfully planted Aviation gin into our alcohol lexicon, Lord Reynolds sold his share of the company for an astounding $620 million. As any good serial entrepreneur would do, he poured that money into a new venture Mint Mobile and has brought that same joie de vivre to the telecommunications industry, which hasn't seen anything remotely entertaining since Gerry Graf and company were pimping Sprint back in the early 2000 oughts.

Maybe you've seen the latest commercial offerings from his Ryanness. Maybe you haven't. But fear not and thank me for saving you valuable Googling time.

This latest spot checks so many boxes for me, it's hard to know where to start. For openers it literally takes the piss out of what so many of us lend so much misplaced reverence to: the making of advertising. People these are commercials, lighten up. And soak in the goodness as Ryan obliterates the fourth wall and literally mouths the words coming from his co-star.

That's right, this commercial doesn't have one celebrity. It has two. Again, throwing caution to the wind and breaking our own stupid self imposed conventions.

Finally, savor the pitch perfect performance of the reluctant spokeswoman, who does not smile, who does add any color and who is actively negative every second she appears on screen. 

I can't tell you how many times we pitched the Unwilling Spokesperson Idea. And never in my 44 years did one client take us up on the notion.

Fuck You Ryan Reynolds. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Hurt so good.

I have a Dominatrix.

I should clarify and state right off the bat, this is not her picture. Nor, out of discretion and fear that she would turn the pain up to Eleven, will I divulge the name of my personal Dominatrix. Let's just call her Lady Safeword.

Every week, I don my mask, get in the car and drive the five minutes to her dungeon in Culver City. This is noteworthy in and of itself, because in Los Angeles nothing, absolutely nothing, is within a 5 minute driving radius. But perhaps it's the wish of the gods to see me get my pain as quickly as possible, Lady Safeword's Cave of Horrors is. Moreover, there's free and ample parking at the back of the building.

OK, that's enough misdirect.

Truth is, I'm in Physical Therapy. Maybe some of you have been to a physical therapist and are familiar with their sadistic ways. I was not. And it still boggles my mind, and sometimes my body, that I voluntarily submit myself to such excruciating pain. And then I pay for it. Actually, I only pay for half of it as the the other is picked up by my healthcare provider, OSCAR. 

I suspect there are hidden camera's scattered amongst the medicine balls, the swing apparatus, the many parallel bar fixtures throughout the facility and that the "sessions" are video piped into OSCAR headquarters where pain-loving healthcare insurance freaks (a redundancy if there ever was one) savor the grunting and groaning of subs (submissive) like myself.

This tortuous journey began several months ago when it appears I pulled a muscle while doing some Romanian Deadlifting in my garage with the Olympics weight set I purchased from Hollywood mogul Steve Levitan. The injury was aggravated by my long stretches of uninterrupted Zoom calls with my new place of perma-lance employment. As well as my new addiction to the Peloton cycle that now occupies my youngest daughter's vacated room.

As a result of the Hip Flexor Strain, I have been gimping around the house and making odd noises every time I "climb" the stairs, which have now taken on Everestian proportions. My two doctors, a GP and a Sports Medicine specialist, have recommended PT. One also gave me a prescription for Tramadol, an opioid-like drug that is often administered to pets.

Suffice to say, I prefer the Tramadol. Mmmmmm, chemically-induced endorphins.

Each week at Lady Safeword's brings about a new "exercise". They have cute pet names, seemingly to mask the torture one is about to experience.

"Today, we're going to two sets of Clamshells followed by another two sets of Crabwalks. Doesn't that sound fun?"

No, no it does not. Truth is, doesn't matter what they call it, every so called "therapy" is designed to stretch my muscles in a way my fireplug-built body was not meant to stretch.

There is some saving grace in all this. Because when the torture is over, I am brought over to a masseuse table. Where Lady Safeword puts her years of PT training and expertise to work and literally kneads the spots where the tendon is attached to the muscle. 

It's painful but it's also oddly pleasurable. Who'd of thought that at 44 years of age, I'd be discovering a new world of physical sensations?

This week Lady Safeword had a previous engagement, so the administer of my torture was Steve. And boy can he bring the pain.

And yet, to my astonishment, I liked Steve.

Maybe I'm Cry-Curious?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Curb Your Enthusiasm

When I worked in the ad agency world, I was involved in many new business pitches. We'd win some. We'd lose many. Just like any typical ad agency.

One thing we'd never do, ok almost never, whether I was at Chiat/Day or BBDO or even Team One was participate in your typical new business gimmickry.

We didn't make stupid videos of employees eating pizza (or whatever passes for it) at a Pizza Hut. We didn't don moronic costumes to show our commitment. Or send potential clients giant tubes of toothpaste, you know because they'd be smiling so much for hiring us.

We didn't feign enthusiasm.

We did the work.

Because enthusiasm is cheap. It's shabby. It's lazy. It's one dimensional bullshit, created by people who think bullshit works. I will take rational cynicism over manufactured enthusiasm 8 days a week and twice on fan-less football Sundays.

Charlie Manson's followers were enthusiastic.

Nazi Germany was enthusiastic.

The Atlanta Falcon fans, and the players, at Super Bowl LII were incredibly enthusiastic when they held a 25 point lead over the New England Patriots deep into the third quarter.

While they were zealously high fiving and slapping each other on the butt, Tom Brady and Bill Belichek coolly went about a strategic approach, matched by precision execution of a plan to get them over this seemingly impossible hurdle. And they did. For those of you that don't follow gridiron, the Falcons lost.

This country does not need Precedent Shitgibbon's jingoistic, flag fucking, paper thin, bargain basement enthusiasm.

This country does not need airport rallies, where dumbfuck Red Hats, convinced of their own invincibility, gather in large mask-less crowds to hear a con artist clap for himself and whine about how the world "doesn't like me."

This country does not need tacky boat parades. I'm not impressed by classless bourgeois lunkheads tearing up a lake in their mini-yachts with clever names like the SS Liberals Tears or SS PussyGrabber or SS King Covfefe.

Though I could watch hours of footage showing those glorified dinghies getting capsized by lake wakes and their flailing owners clutching a life raft in one hand while maintaining a sturdy grip on their Bud Light in the other.

There are about 50 days left until the election.

Plenty of time for Red Hats to put their fervent zeal to the side and take a cool-headed, rational, objective look at the genocidal havoc Grandpa Ramblemouth has wreaked upon this nation.

I'm hopeful they will.

But I'm not very enthusiastic.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

On Spinoza, Einstein and Carl's Western Bacon Cheeseburger

Two days until Rosh Hashanah!!!

You guys have all your noise makers and party hats ready to greet the New Year? Ready to celebrate the joy and blessings that were 2020? And prepare yourself for the bountiful good tidings that are sure to come in 2021?

I'm sorry, we're talking about the Jewish New Year. I think we're up to 5784 or 9328 or 10,437. I'd look it up on the Google, but why?

At this time of year we usually shell out exorbitant money for tickets to the High Holy Day services to thank our Lord. You know, for the pandemic, the recession, the forced closure of all known ways of life, that kind of stuff.

Being a devout atheist, I would go just to make my wife happy, she is nowhere near as cynical about this sort of stuff as I am.

But as readers of R17 know, God and I are not on speaking terms. And though I will go through the tribal motions, I have no need for organized religion and see it for what it is, a means for those in power, to manipulate those without power, usually the poor and the uneducated. And the ones with no weekend hobbies.

Let's remind ourselves that these precious divine stories about our humble beginnings and our place in the universe were written by people who believed in burning bushes, water turning into wine, and a 900 year old man who built a boat for all the animals of the earth in order that they could ride out a 40 day rainstorm instigated by a loving god to demonstrate his love of his people. WTF?

They also had no idea about gravity, astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry or even the taco truck at Venice and La Brea.

Nevertheless, this Saturday the Siegels will ring in the New Year. In style.

Hat tip to our friend Glen who clued us into a local Culver City restaurant, AKASHA, that prepares a special Rosh Hashanah feast, which will be delivered to our house by Goy-Hub, because the holiday falls on the Sabbath and in order not to stir God's anger, it has to be delivered to our house by a gentile. Again WTF?

Along those same lines, and according to the little research I've done on the matter, this year's Rosh Hashanah festivities will NOT include the blowing of the Shofar, the bony remains of a ram's horn. Why? Because of the very strict and arcane rules that might have been proscribed on a sheet of papyrus by a goat herder suffering from sunstroke somewhere in the Sinai desert some 5,000 years ago. The same shoulder shrugging rules that say I can't have a cheeseburger or enjoy a lobster roll on a toasted kaiser roll.

This is not to say that I am not curious or spiritually indifferent towards our nature. Despite my somewhat nihilistic disposition, I would like answers too. In fact, this week I found some. Not in a church. Not in a temple. And certainly not in some Abrahamic text.

I found it on Facebook, of all places.

It was a posting by shared by one of my advertising colleagues, let's call him Bob (mostly cause that's his name). It's a little lengthy, but it's worth a read. It is, as far as I'm concerned, the best replacement theory for religion these days. All religion.

So instead of my typical snarky little ending to each of the pieces, I will leave you with this:

Did you know that when Einstein gave some lecture at the numerous US universities, the recurring question that students asked him was:
Do you believe in God?
And he always answered, "I believe in the God of Spinoza."
The ones who hadn't read Spinoza didn't understand...
I hope this gem of history, serves you as much as it does me.
Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher (a secular Jew like myself) considered one of the three great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, along with René Descartes in France, and Gottfried Leibniz in Germany.
God says:
Stop praying and punching yourself in the chest.
What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to enjoy, sing, have fun and enjoy everything I've made for you.
Stop going to those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and say they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That's where I live and there I express my love for you.
Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don't blame me for everything they made you believe.
Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can't read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son's eyes... you will find me in no book. Trust me and stop asking me. Would you tell me how to do my job?
Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or seek to punish you. I am pure love.
Stop asking for forgiveness, there's nothing to forgive. If I made you... I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies... free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I'm the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of God would do that?
Forget any kind of commandments, any kind of laws; those are wiles to manipulate you, to control you, that only create guilt in you.
Respect your peers and don't do what you don't want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that your consciousness is your guide.
My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing that exists here and now, and it is all you need.
I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues... no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.
You are absolutely free to create in your life heaven or hell.
I could tell you if there's anything after this life, but I won't... but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is nothing after... as if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.
So, if there's nothing, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won't ask if you behaved right or wrong, I'll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?...
Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don't want you to believe in me... I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.
Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
I'm bored being praised, I'm tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy!... that's the way to praise me.
Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you've been taught about me.
The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, and that this world is full of wonders.
What do you need more miracles for? Why so many explanations?
Look for me outside... you won't find me. Find me inside... there I am beating within you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

On Groupthink.

I'm a sucker for cults.

Not for joining them of course, but for studying them and trying to get in the heads of people who succumb to this nonsense. It explains my fascination with Leah Remini and her expose of Scientology. It explains my obsession with the Illuminati and my fruitless efforts to gain online admission into their esteemed organization. It even sheds light on yesterday's post about the cult of Z, the democratic dark shadow counterpart to Q and Qanon.

Lately, I've been hooked on HBO's The Vow, a deep dive look at the sex slave/human trafficking/MLM Ponzi scheme headed up by Keith Raniere. I have a special interest in this latest cult for a number of reasons. One, being the outsized population of Tribe who count themselves as members of the cult -- and yes I'm aware of the irony of that statement.

And yes, I often question why I claim membership in a tribe that subscribes to many foolish, irrational thoughts and 3000 year old sheepherder stories, but that's a post for another day.

The other reason for my edge-of-the-seat viewing is that I have come to discover that the cult leader Keith Raniere was born in Brooklyn but moved to and grew up in my hometown, Suffern, NY when he was a small child.

Apart from Joe Lockheart, who served as communications director for President Obama, and Walt Weiss, who played shortstop/2nd base for the Oakland Athletics, there just aren't that many noteworthy people coming out of Suffern.

Certainly not many frumpy blowhard cult leaders who wormed his way into attractive women's hearts and pants. Suffice to say, this story has some local spice to it.

I'll admit I did not get on The Vow watching train from the beginning. It debuted right in the middle of the President's monumental unraveling -- between the soaring number of Covid cases, the release of his niece's scathing book, the Suckers and Losers scandal and now the playing possum bullshit during a fatal worldwide pandemic.

But I did catch an episode where a clearly embarrassed woman was giving tearful testimony about how she had been "branded" with a scorching cattle iron, signifying her membership in the organization. Turn the branded logo, etched near the women's private parts by the way, on its side and you'll see the cult leaders initials.

Maybe she can buff that out with some Bondo.

That's when I knew NXIVM (the cult's cockamamie name) merited my undivided attention.

In any case, The Vow is my new obsession. And so I'd like to answer the many people who have inquired, "what are you going to do with yourself if Trump loses the election and is out of office come January?"

For one thing, I'm not convinced he's losing. Over and above that, I'm not convinced that if he does lose, he will leave office. I'm amused by the number of naive people who still put trust in a system of government that has been rapidly decaying since the day that cockwomble rode down an escalator.

But should all that come to pass, I will gladly close the file on Grandpa Ramblemouth and resume my unsatiated desire to gain entry into the Illuminati.

I gotta have that Illuminati hat.

Monday, September 14, 2020


I received an unusual email last week on the interwebs.

That in and of itself is not noteworthy as I receive many odd emails on the interwebs. Including invitations to join the Illuminati, business opportunities with wealthy Nigerian dentists, fundraising ads from the 3,852,971 candidates running for office this November and of course, friend requests from young women looking for a sugar daddy, like this latest from Ciara...

I can't recall where I know Ciara from.

You'd think I'd remember a name like Ciara.

This particular email came from an organization named Z. They claim to be the Democratic counterpart to Q and/or Qanon.

The Z, they also call themselves Zebras because of their innate ability to blend in with their surroundings, have purportedly infiltrated the Trump Regime and have inside operatives in the ABYSS, the counterpart to the Deep State.

Like any direct mail piece of communication, they cleverly held off on the pitch for my precious money. And instead teased me to the end with countless tales of the horrific things going on behind the Orange Curtain.

According to their Z undercover operatives, working incognito at Mike Pompeo's State Department, laying low in Bill Barr's DOJ and skulking the hallways and closets of Vice President Pence, this is what we can look forward to if the president steals another election:

* The Killing of all Firstborn Males. If it sounds familiar it should, Inspired by tales told in Exodus and in Two Corinthians, the Republican Party is putting in place a plan to kill all firstborn males in America. It sounds absolutely insane and impossible, but it's been confirmed by various Zebras.

It's a preventative GOP action meant to stem any further resistance. But it's also a double edged sword, because when the corpses pile up (and again this is according to Z himself) top level Republicans will move into Phase 2 of their dastardly plan.

* All Night Necrophiliapaloozas. Oh yeah, you heard it here first. Apparently this is a deep dark secret previously only known to America's morticians and Funeral Directors. You thought the Democrats were bad had a monopoly on abhorrent behavior with their pedophilia and pizza topped with PINEAPPLE!!!

The thought of these corpulent, old moneyed men having their way with fresh new snowflake cadavers while wiping their bloody chins with hundred dollar bills brings new and eye opening meaning to the Grand Old Party.

But strap yourself in and prepare to white knuckle the armrest of your Herman Miller chair, because according to Z, the anonymous patriot who is willing to risk life and limb to get at the unfounded and evidence-less Truth, the rampant Republican necrophilia is only the appetizer plate for the real horror...

 * Cannibalism. The Golden Corpse Corral. All You Can Eat Libtard Smorgasboard. HombresTown Buffet. Call it whatever you want, but Z has it on good word, including an anonymous source on Gab and several Reddit boards, that Republicans are eating people. Young people, old people, skinny people and fat people. They're told fat people are the best because the meat just falls off the bones.

Moreover, Republicans and zealous Trumpsters are getting more and more brazen about their craven carnivorous delights. Ted Nugent is launching a new BBQ sauce. And Kanye West plans on releasing a new album entitled, "Pass the Salt." 

I know it all sounds so incredulous, so revolting and so outrageously implausible. Moreover, the people from Z have nothing in the way of evidence. Not a photo, not a document, not even a recording from Bob Woodward.

In other words, we have no reason to believe any of this.

Nevertheless, my new Z t-shirt arrives on Thursday.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Foto Funnies

It's been a long hard week, as 4 day work weeks typically go.

So I thought I'd give myself a break and  return to the Thursday Photo Funnies. The Photo Funnies is not my own creation. It was a staple in the National Lampoon, the preferred magazine of my youth. I think Editor Doug Kenney and gang would snap some shitty pictures around the office knowing they could attach some funny captions to each, plug it in the magazine and call it a day.

I don't even have to snap any new pictures. I, and I'm sure you, have a stockpile of them on my iPhone or as screengrabs on my desktop computer -- they're all neatly arranged in a new Mac feature called Stacks. If you are aren't using it, you should. It's a lifechanger.

The photo above came via the Face Book. It was one of a hundred new friend requests I get regularly. I couldn't place the....uh, face...did I work with her at Abert, Newhoff & Burr? Or was she the receptionist at Bernard Hodes Advertising? Of course it's just clickbait for Nigerian scammers. though it's always amusing to see when mutual friends show up on her page. Come on fellas.

It's been HOT lately, so my daughter ran over to the Pic N' Save and snagged these two little inflatable pools for $3.98 each. They made the perfect hot weather retreat. The structure behind my house is the garage of M. Emmett Walsh, my neighbor for more than 25 years.

Living in Southern California means living with palm trees. My street is lined with them. They can get quite messy and the city has to trim them once a year. I hope they bring the fallen frongs to the local temples so people can use them for their Sukkahs. (use the Google)

My wife enjoys popsicles. And since she is immunocompromised and can't go grocery shopping, that  means I have to bring home the bacon. And the popsicles. Last week I got the wrong kind. Now I use technology to get the right kind. Am I the best husband, or what?

Does this picture need a funny caption? No, it does not.

Speaking of rats, they love the palm trees and the cypress trees. So I'm forced to set traps (and almost lose fingers). On this occasion I bagged two with one tiny dollop of peanut butter.

This was spotted in my friend Paul's backyard. It's a replica of Mt. Rushmore set in styrofoam relief. If you knew Paul you'd know this is incredibly "on-brand."

Our new Peloton. How do you think I'm able to maintain my girlish figure?

I'm a sucker for children's lost toys. Every lost toy tells a sad story. When I see one on the street or on a hiking trail, I feel compelled to take a photo. I have many of them. If I had any photography skills (which I clearly don't) I would turn them into a coffee table book.

And finally, there's this. Another picture that requires no explanation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Netiquite Faux pas

As many of you know I can be quite vocal about politics.

I wasn't always like this. Up until 4 years ago, I rarely, if ever, made any political commentary on any of my many social media platforms. Not even on Foursquare or Friendster. (With the exception of my highly popular Kim Jong Un tumblr, which is still quite funny in my humble opinion)

That changed when the Son of Hitler came gliding down the escalator with his Slovenian Rent A Date.

Lately, and because the most important election in the lifetime of American Democracy is just 60 days away, I have expanded my political domain and have started posting my vociferous opinion on Linkedin. To the delight of some. And to the dismay of others.

"This is not Facebook."

"This isn't the platform for this kind of material."

"Political posts on this site will not help your career."

If I may paraphrase General Anthony McAuliffe and his legendary and incredibly brief response to a threat issued by the German High Command:

"Eat Me."

Am I concerned about the consequences of such a vocationally risky move? Am I worried it will taint my already iffy reputation? Or that it will in some way scare off any new potential employers? No. No. No I am not.

I'm 44 years old. I work in advertising. I don't know if you heard the incredible sage Mark Read, the CEO of WPP, Wire Plastics & Profits, the world's largest and misnamed advertising holding company:

“We have a very broad range of skills, and if you look at our people – the average age of someone who works at WPP is less than 30 – they don’t hark back to the 1980s, luckily.”

In other words, and for all in Tent Sales & Purposes, my career (if you were to call it that) is over.

That being the case, there's a good chance I'll be redoubling my efforts and pissing off a certain misguided young upstart copywriter from Philadelphia who took to clumsily badmouthing me on several Linkedin posts hoping to engage me in some type of social media fight. After the second off the mark and unfunny crack about my age, I hit the block button. Did you know you can block folks on LinkedIn?

I'm not even going to give his name, lest the algorithms throw more attention his pathetic way.

Finally, I'll say this, perhaps Mr. Read is right. No one want to harken back to the 80's. That's when I was sporting a haircut that is best not immortalized and pushing the damn mailroom cart down the long corporate hallways of Needless Hard-ons & Tears.

I hated that cart.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

I'd like to buy an argument

The astute among you will recognize this classic skit from the Monty Python gang, who ruled the television airwaves in the late 60's and early 70's. They were so far ahead of their time that I would posit their TV show holds up better than 100% of anything else you could possibly watch in 2020, the Year of Our Demise.

In this timeless piece, Michael Palin poses as a man wishing to purchase an argument from the inimitable John Cleese. A silly premise made not so silly when you consider I spend 75 dollars a month for high speed internet so that I can argue with Red Hats, both anonymous and non-anonymous.

With two months until the eve of our next and possibly last presidential election, I suspect I'll be having even more of these useless encounters. Because no matter how well I present the facts, the data that support my opinion and the logic that even a 3 year old can understand, all arguments with Red Hats go like this:

Me: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

RH: That's a hypothetical. I don't argue in the hypothetical.

Me: Fair enough, do you know what the US debt was 4 years ago?

RH: Oh you mean after Obummer doubled the debt and spent 10 trillion dollars. More than any other US President. 

Me: He spent 9 trillion, actually a little less than that, but for argument's sake, let's say he spent 9 trillion dollars.

RH: Yeah, let's say that.

Me: But he bailed us out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. And he spent it over two presidential terms. Precedent Shitgibbon, I'll be respectful and say Trump, will spend 7 trillion dollars in ONE term. At the current rate of spending he will amass $15 trillion of debt if he's re-elected. 

RH: Where'd you get those numbers?

Me: From the US Department of  Commerce.

RH: Bunch of Never Trumpers. How do we know they're not in the Deep State?

Me: Uh....OK. What about the healthcare?

RH: What about it?

Me: The GOP has had more than 10 years to produce an alternative plan to Obamacare. Where is it?

RH: You mean ObummerCare.

Me: Yeah, OK. Where's the plan?

RH: They're working on it.

Me: On July 19th, Trump said he'd announce the plan in two weeks. We're going on two months.

RH: Fake News.

Me: It's on videotape. Do you want to see it?

RH: Do you want me to vote for a senile old pedophile like Joe Biden?

Me: Senile? Trump imagines phantom plane loads of black uniformed thugs using "bags of soup" to attack law enforcement.

RH: Have you seen them?

Me: No.

RH: Then how do you know they're not there?

Me: I can't argue with that.

RH: Biden's a pedophile.

Me: There are no charges against him. There's not even any investigation into that. More than 20 women have lawsuits for sexual harassment and molestation against Trump, who admitted on tape that he likes to grab women by the pussy.

RH: Fake News.

Me: It's in the court system.

RH: Fake News. You're just a libtard.

Me: So where's the Wall? The new Trade Deals? The Infrastructure? The booming economy? The federal strategy for dealing with Covid? The denuclearized North Korea? The new treaty with Iran?

RH: Fake News. You're a triggered snowflake. I presented all my facts to you about how President Trump has accomplished more in 4 years than any other president. You just won't listen. I can't argue with you anymore.

Me; You didn't present any of that.

RH: Fuck you, you commie bastard.

There are more than 60 million of these lunkheads. And they're gonna vote on November 3rd. This country is screwed!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Commodification of Advertising will be televised.

They're called Best Practices. But if you're reading this blog, and have read this blog in the past, you can probably see where this is going; they're not.

I hardly know where to begin. Suffice to say I have been practicing the art of advertising for a very long long. Longer indeed than my 44 years old would seem to permit without bending the time/space continuum.

And it is only now that I find I've been operating under a false premise and doing it all wrong. If I hadn't already lost my hair, I'd surely be losing it now.

I think back on all that time I spent at Syracuse University studying the art of mass communication.

The money I spent after college to attend the now defunct Adcenter on Wilshire Blvd. Not to mention the esteemed Carson Roberts Workshop.

All the weekends I holed up with various art directors to work on our portfolios. And to drink. And to do various recreational drugs.

And then, all those books from the great ones (Gossage, Ogilvy and Bernbach) and awards annuals I bought and collected to hone what I thought was a craft that demanded time and energy.

It turns out it didn't.

Because in today's ad world, one simply needs to consult the Best Practices handbook on How To Make:

1. A TV commercial
2. A viral video
3. A manifesto
4. A banner ad
5. An Email blast
6. A pre-roll video
7. A radio spot

Notice I didn't include print ads.

They, the ubiquitous 'They', an entity of data driven, formulaic, anonymous, fastidious box checkers, don't have a Best Practices section for print ads, because no one does print anymore (a blog posting for a later date.)

It all defies logic.

Because if everybody is following the "Best Practices" guidelines then it stands to reason all the advertising will start to sound, look and feel alike. And that my friends would not be a Best Practice, indeed it would be the Worst.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

You've got mail.

As many of you know, I am someone who does not hold back on commitment. I've worn the same flip flops for 7 years. The same cargo shorts for 11 years. And my wife and I have been together for more than 30 of my 44 years on this planet. The math might be sketchy but the commitment is not.

For the past three and a half years I have been on a warpath to oust this lying, fobbing, earth-vexing hedgepig from the White House. On this matter, my energy is boundless. And I am, admittedly, annoyingly relentless. Not as annoying or relentless as the subject of my disdain, but enough so that many followers on social media have located the Block or Unfriend button.

They have wisely saved themselves from my next endeavor.

At the behest of Pam Barsky, an advertising friend and a woman of equal hatred for our pig-nut POTUS, I signed up with, an organization that is driving the vote where it counts most -- those purplish states where undecided voters can swing the election towards an American Rebirth or towards a violent, fascist, gold-plated, Covid-ridden Hell, the path we are currently on.

As you can see from the picture above, I've been sent a package with close to 200 postcards. And I've been given the names and addressees of their intended destination. I simply have to write out a message on the postcard and buy the 35 cent stamp needed to "guarantee" their arrival.

The good people at Postcards2SwingStates have prepared a simple and quite agnostic message they'd like me to affix to their postcards. The idea is to get out the vote, knowing full well there are more registered Democrats than there are Republicans in this country.

As someone in the copywriting business for the last 500 years, I have to say their message is limp and uninspiring. I'll probably adhere to their guidelines, but I won't like it.

For one thing, who plans to sit out the next election, the most important election in this nation's fragile history. We are literally on the brink of Civil War II and you're not going to vote? While the country is crumbling like a stale Fortune cookie, you're going to sit this one out and stay home to binge watch Matlock?

"They're showing that episode where he solves the crime at the last minute."

More importantly, you're still undecided about who to vote for? Are you out of your god da.....


Sorry Pam.

Sorry, I might have to go my own route on this one.