Thursday, June 29, 2023

Not driving an Uber yet

Something strange happened to me this week. For the first time in a long time, I worked. I emerged from my vocational hibernation, hit Pause on my rigorous workout routine and began clicking and clacking. 

For money.

Even odder (particularly in light of yesterday's post) the phone rang not once, but twice. Both times from former colleagues. Maybe the reputation I thought preceded me, was not at all what I imagined it to be.

Cue the Flying Nun:

Maybe I'm reading too much into it.

NDA's and discretion prevent me from doling out any specifics, so I won't. But I will say it was refreshing to be working again. More specifically working again in legacy media like film and OOH. I love both but OOH is dear to me. 

Something about the brevity of it all. And the powerful ability of 7-8 well chosen words to stop people in the their tracks and make them pay attention.

It's a distinctly writer's medium. 

And, though I haven't been on anyone's payroll for a while, it's one I've been toiling at during my magnificent moments as a Man of Semi Leisure. If you've been following my travails on the picket line, in support of the Writer's Guild, you know I've been more than busy...

And those are just the ones I can find amongst the 273,951 photos I have on my iPhone. 

But the best thing about these jobs was how they came to me. 

I wasn't cold calling. I didn't have to resort to any self promos. I didn't have to beg. Or outwit any of the 273,951 out of work freelance copywriters who've been displaced by Mr. Copy (see yesterday's blog.)

Actually, that's only the second best thing. When the checks come in, I plan on treating myself and switching from the expensive $13.99/lbs. Atlantic Salmon to the even pricier $15.99/lbs. Atlantic Salmon.

These truly are the Golden Years.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Fire the writers

There isn't a day that goes by where someone (everyone) isn't talking about AI. 

Last weekend I was talking with Ms. Muse as she was thumbing, and laughing, through a copy of MADWEEK, the trade parody magazine I wrote with the esteemed and talented Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein, more than 30 years agao.

"Siegel, you're prescient," she said (sometimes she addresses me by my last name, perhaps a charming genetic remnant gifted to her by her father who was from Forest Hills, Queens, not far from my old neighborhood.)

"How so, Sheryl?"

"You guys wrote this in 1989. 34 years later, writers, in advertising and other industries are fighting to keep their jobs. Worried about losing it to AI, like Mr. Copy."

Holy shit, she's right. We had predicted this predicament while I was still sporting Dolphin running shorts and Flock of SeaGulls were still being played by radio stations.

Take a look...

Not only did we nail the burgeoning technology, we also hinted at the decline of advertising media vehicles and suggested the rise of performance marketing and the type of projects self-respecting copywriters detest.

Feeling proud of myself and getting that small dose of vocational dopamine which I haven't had in a while, I decided to pit myself against ChatGPT in a very Meta fashion. 

I asked ChatGPT to write an ad for itself, that is a software program that could effectively eliminate the need for a copywriter. What it spit out was expectedly anodyne and lackluster. 

Then I asked it to make the copy funnier.

I don't know about you. Or WordGenius Pro. But I'm not impressed. And don't believe copywriters, true copywriters, have anything to worry about.

If only my prescience had been applied to other areas. For instance, if I had the prognosticating powers to see far into the future of certain equities, I would have sold everything I had, including my valuable Cinelli bike at the time, and sunk it all into Apple Stock.

In which case, this blog would not exist and I'd be in a hammock, in the Caribbean, sleeping off my first round of day drinking.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Everybody in the water


If you read yesterday's blog, you know I'm still red hot mad about the mad man roaming my neighborhood and terrorizing innocent Culver City residents who are effectively being denied their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Today, I'd like to relay an exponentially less violent encounter with one of the local "members of the unhoused community." 

I was scolded recently on the nomenclature I had been using, which demonstrates why we have problems that get looked at but never solved. 

Homeless people are homeless people. Calling them euphemistic names may make us feel better about ourselves, but it doesn't do anything for them. It's window dressing with no windows to speak of. Nor any roof. Not even a pot to piss in.

Back to the story.

I was in the locker room at the Culver City Plunge -- is there a better named Municipal Swimming Pool in all of America-- fresh from another mile+ non-stop swim, when a transient entered. Not only was it obvious this man was without a home, he had a tenuous grasp on reality as well.

This was a younger man and he immediately started grumbling at me.

"They didn't want to let me in. They said I needed a swimsuit to get in the water."

"Yeah, that's usually the way it works," I responded, while standing there in my 175 lbs. (sorry) birthday suit.

"Hey, do you have an extra one?"

"Extra what?"

"Extra swimsuit."

"Uhhhhhhh, no."

"You just got done swimming, can I borrow yours?"

"Again, no."

With that he mumbled to himself, started looking through the empty lockers. It was the sartorial version of dumpster diving. I was tempted to watch, but decided instead to make a hasty exit.

On the way home I wondered, how exactly did he think that would work? 

I'd lend him my fancy European-style, lycra swimming suit, watch him jump in the water, wait for him to lazily breaststroke a few hundred meters, and then retrieve the suit? 

Yeah, I'd have to be a lot higher than he was for that to occur.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Mad as Hell


If you are of a certain age, you no doubt recognize Peter Finch, the actor portraying Howard Beal in the movie Network. 

If you're not of a certain age, you really haven't been exposed to movie making and instead have probably filled your gut with empty calories from the Marvel Universe. And other explosive nonsense that amounts to a cinematic bukake.

I bring up this iconic scene because I just returned home from swimming and came across the homeless bum who attacked me. If you are of the crunchy persuasion and believe we need to shower these people with compassion and understanding and federally-built million dollar townhomes, you might want to stop reading right here. 

Right now.

I'm not in that camp. And my confrontation, which almost resulted in the exchange of punches, should be self explanatory. 

Last week, I was walking home from Sony Studios, where I joined fellow writers in taking a stand against corporate greed. Suddenly, without any provocation, this mentally-addled bum came rushing at me and started flailing his arms and his ratty coat in my direction.

"Get outtahere, you fucking NATZI (sp)!" he shouted.

I quickly dodged his fists and his coat, which hadn't been cleaned since Charles Manson (his doppelganger) was roaming the streets of LA.

Moments later, when I safely returned to my house, I was on the phone with the Po-Po. They told me they would search for the man (who they knew from previous encounters) and pick him up for a 72 hour cognizance hold. Less than 48 hours later I saw him again. 

And according to neighbors on the always entertaining NextDoor app., he is a well known entity. And has, again, without provocation, attacked fellow Culverians...Culvercites...innocent people!

In other words, he lives here, but doesn't live here.

In other other words, this monster has more rights than you or I do. 

If for instance, I strolled onto Camden Drive and accosted a well-heeled woman on the streets -- never making physical contact -- but accosted her, I have no doubt I'd be in stainless steel handcuffs and carted off to Beverly Hills' least accommodating accommodations.

But, because this schmuck has poor fighting ability and a wild haymaker that could not land, he gets a free pass.

It's enough to make this radical, left leaning, Marxist want to throw on a Red Hat and scream out for the Gazpacho Police to round these people up. 

OK, maybe not. But it does call to mind the abject failure of our political leaders -- on both sides of the aisle -- to frikkin' do something about this. I shouldn't have to be looking over my shoulder while walking in my neighborhood, where I pay exorbitant taxes, play by the rules and respect my neighbors.

Now I feel ashamed. That's a piss poor rant on my part.

Take it away, Howard.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Stupid Brain

It appears I have reached that certain age. 

I had the second line written in my head, but now I can't seem to remember it. Oh yeah, I have reached that certain age where my short term memory seems to dying out like the candle in the bathroom that's supposed to make my 2nd office smell like mint and eucalyptus. 

Note to self: Order more scented candles and maybe get a housekeeper.

When I worked in an actual office I had an older boss, Lee Clow (maybe you've heard of him) who used to berate himself and complain about his CRS -- Can't Remember Shit Syndrome. It must be a late contagion. And it must have morphed into something Ms. Muse likes to call Location Blindness. Which is best demonstrated by the following phrases which we both utter with unsettling frequency, for example...

"Where are my glasses?"

"Did I leave my phone upstairs?"

"I can't find the car. Did we Uber here?"

What's worse, is the thing, be it keys, accessories, or even cars, we are looking for, are often right under our noses. 

I'm no lawyer, though I spent the better part of the last month in a courtroom watching a man who founded VagiKool (go ahead and Google it) try to squeeze $4 million out of a hospital on a laughable malpractice lawsuit, but if I were Donald Trump --and thank god I'm not -- I'd give this CRS or LB syndrome a good looking in to. 

Particularly as a defense to the THIRTY EIGHT count indictment he now faces. 

Turns out his lawyers in the Mara Lago documents case have abandoned him and let him sink to the bottom like a shabbilly built ocean diving submersible. But it doesn't seem too far fetched for a 78 year old man, suffering from the stresses of life (triple putting the 15th hole at Doral), to claim...

"I was looking for my red plaid golf pants and came across these plans for a two tiered pincing attack on the Iraniain Revolutionary Guard. I forgot I even had these. The good news is I found my pants. They're my favorite golf pants because they're made of Sansabelt, we all love the Sansabelt."

I seemed to have digressed.

Oh yeah, maybe I should be taking some nootropics. Those sketchy brain-enhancing supplements that are endorsed by experts like Joe Rogan, that allegedly increase cognitive function. 

Loyal readers of the blog, all 8 of them, might recall that John Robaire and I did a good deal of work for TruBrain not so long ago. Here's an illustration that still adorns their website:

In fact, now might be a good time to cash in those 2200 shares of stock I was given as renumeration. They might actually be worth something. 

If I could only find stock certificate?



Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Semper Fly

When biking through Camp Pendleton, home to America's fiercest fighting force, it's always best to be on the lookout for high grade military vehicles.  

If you take on an MI Generation 3 Abrams Tank, coming in at an astounding cost of 6.21 million dollars, chance are you're gonna lose. Even you're atop a Cannondale SuperSix Evo CRB 3 costing less than $6.21 million, though not much less, like the one pictured below.

Who is riding that sophisticated machinery boasting a featherweight carbon frame, electronic gear shifting, hydraulic disc brakes and the legendary Shimano 105 derailleur, you may ask. In my ongoing quest to spend my kid's inheritance, I did the unthinkable and bought something selfish for myself. 

This is no small feat. 

After a lifetime of providing for my family it takes the creation of new neural pathway in order to cross that psychological chasm that says it's OK to spend money on myself. But, I figured, since Ms. Muse and I have been logging triple digit weekly mileage numbers, it was high time I upgraded my cycling gear. 

I hadn't purchased a new bike since I did triathlons back in 1984. If a year of a dog's life equals 7 of that for a human, a year in life of the road bike equals twice that, meaning that 39 years times 14...carry the 3...add the's an old frikkin bike. 

I test rode a bunch of bikes from In-Cycle (that's right I'm giving them a plug) in Pasadena. The salesman wisely put me on a 14 lbs. Aethos Pro bike, knowing full well this amateur cyclist would get spoiled by this amazing machine. Then he showed me the price tag which almost necessitated the use of a defribrillator, an amazing machine in its own right.

Then I rode some "nice" bikes at the lower end of the spectrum. 

They were sturdy, well-designed, and  efficient in every sense of the word. But I was suddenly hit by a flashback of useless status meetings, stupid client presentations and the many bowls of humiliating shit I had to slop up over the course of my less-than-stellar career and thought, "No, I didn't come this far to settle for 'nice'."

And so I didn't.

Earlier this week, I took the maiden voyage aboard the new Cannondale SuperSix Evo CRB 3 in San Clemente. Let's just say my formerly fat cycling ass will never be the same again. The Strava cycling app says we covered about 30 miles, but it felt more like 10. 

I was climbing hills like a gazelle. Maybe not a gazelle, but one of those hoven animals that can perch itself on the side of cliff and taunt Sir Isaac Newton and his weak laws of gravity. 

And fast? I had no idea I could go so fast on a bike. And that was just the using the first 11 gears. I would've engaged the second 11 gears to go even faster, but I hadn't got that far in the owner's manual.

Is there a Senior's Group for the Tour De France?

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Which Witch Hunt?

If you listen to the mangled words of our former president, and how can you not when he is on full blast like a 747 engine fueled with hot burning magnesium, you know he is the alleged victim of a Witch Hunt.

That is, he is being unfairly targeted for crimes he did not commit. 

This is odd coming from the thinly-veiled bigot who took out a full page newspaper ad calling for the death of the Central Park Five. Who were the victims of a witch hunt and who were exonerated by DNA evidence.

It's also odd considering this cerebellum-challenged blowhard also went after President Obama with  equally vile vigor. And claimed he was not eligible to be in the White House because he was born in Kenya. If you remember correctly he even claimed to have had a team of top notch detectives uncovering damning evidence while searching in Hawaii

We never saw that evidence. Nor did we see his  "big, beautiful healthcare plan." Or his Infrastructure program. Or the check from Mexico paying for the Wall that never got built.

The truth is, if ever there was a man or woman or American who needed to be held accountable for his misdeeds and crimes it is the schmuck who paid a horseface (his words) pornstar $130,000 NOT to have sex with him, while his third wife was breastfeeding his newborn son.

But Red Hats are not interested in the truth. And he knows it. That's why he returns to the Joseph Goebbels playbook and lies. 

And lies.

And lies.

And keeps on lying.

Because the folks with no discernible ability for critical thinking nor the ability to stop watching NASCAR races for one goddamn minute to read a legitimate newspaper or a book, believe it. 

Let's look at the "failed" attempts to get him.

It started with Robert Mueller. Remember what Trump said when he was told a Special Counsel had been appointed to look into his dealings and partnership with Russia? 

"I'm fucked!"

Does that sound like the reaction of an innocent man? If someone said the police were investigating me for a murder or a bank robbery or an embezzlement plan, my reaction would've been, "Have at it, I didn't do any of that shit."

If any of his followers had read the Mueller Report before Attorney General and Hatchet Man Bill Barr, condensed and whitewashed it, they'd know there was plenty of evidence of "Russian Collusion", including meeting with Russian Intel agents, sharing of raw polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, and ongoing negotiations for the building of a Trump Tower in Moscow.

Not to mention the fact that Putin announced he had done everything he could to install Trump into the White House.

What about Impeachment #1? What about it? If any of these Red Hats or Red State Senators had listened to the testimony of Fiona Hill, Colonel Vindman or Ambassador Gordon Sondland, they would know he was blackmailing Ukraine. He even said to Ukrainian President Zelensky, "Just announce an investigation, you don't even have to do it, my people will take it from there." 

Sort of like what Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Tayler Grift are doing right now.

And Impeachment #2? Remember how McConnell, Graham and even Kevin McCarthy loudly condemned the president for inciting the seditious Insurrection? Then, realizing the feckless flock of Red Hats weren't buying into it, slowly walked backed their condemnation. Once again, GOP politics superseded the interests of the nation. They absolved him. Again.

And I can't help but to be reminded of the prophetic words of Lady Lindsey, who back in 2015 said...

As we stand today, the former "president" is no longer in power. As such he can no longer pull the strings which benefitted him in the past. He can only repeat (ad nauseum) the lies he has been spewing the entirety of his life. 

But now there is evidence, there are courageous lawyers who don't live in fear of him or his minions, and there is the Rule of Law. 


Now Donnie, now, "You are FUCKED!"  

Monday, June 19, 2023

Life in the slow lane

My father sucked at vacations. 

He was good at some things like do it yourself home repairs. Securing free horse manure for our garden. Merging into traffic. And drawing upon all his certified public accounting abilities to deny Uncle Sam any unnecessary taxes. 

In fact, I have come to believe, and with very good reason, that he had side gigs, and offered his book cooking services to many low level NYC wise guys.

You'd think that a man who smoked his first cigarette at 9 years old, worked since he was 14 years old and spent a year of his life unfairly incarcerated by the US Army, would have been clued in to vacationing and taking it easy for one week a year. 

He did NOT.

I was reminded of his poor leisure choices from the picture above. It shows the rising water levels in California due to this year's bountiful rain. All 31.89 inches of it. Syracuse can have 31.89 inches of precipitation (snow) in less than 24 hours, should anyone require comparison.

That's a row of houseboats down the middle of the lake. I have no idea why they are aligned like that. Such conformity seems to go against the notion of having a houseboat and going where ever the wind blows you. I know, because one year the old man rented a houseboat and we all went upstate to spend a bucolic week on the St. Lawrence Waterway in closed, cramped and quarreling quarters.

My landlubbing Bronx-born father knew nothing of houseboats. 

Which was inversely proportionate to what he knew about torturing his kids and issuing a good challenge that would "build character." 

Between lugging all the Siegel accoutrement onto the tiny boat ("We don't need the 30 footer, the 20 footer is so much cheaper"), docking the boat, fueling the boat, and generally being on the boat for one week with the people who drove you meshugge the other 51 weeks of the year, it was a "vacation" that left a mark.

Having failed the northern territory, we embarked on a similar excursion towards Miami the following year. This time in a Winnebago, a land houseboat ("We don't need the 30 footer, the 20 footer is so much cheaper"). To make matters worse, we dragged along our dog, a full size German Shepherd, and my grandfather, who often lit one cigarette with the remaining amber from the previous cigarette.

To make matters even more miserable, this journey occurred in August. You don't want to be in Florida in the middle of August. Or, any other time of year. If the sun doesn't sting your eyes, the smoke from the burning books will.

Finally, because the Law of Threes, applies, and because my father was an absolute glutton for punishment and self abuse (the man was a survivorphile and did three stints with Outward Bound), there was Yellowstone. 

In 1984, he called me up and said, "meet me in Jackson Hole. Your brother and me are coming out there and we'll backpack for a week on the backside of the Grand Tetons." 

It rained. We slept on mud. We carried 75 lbs. packs. And ate MRE's ("Herman's Sporting Goods had some tasty looking freeze dried food, but the Army Navy Surplus Store was so much cheaper.")

I'm going on vacation in less than a month. It will be my first vacation in the last 8 years. The most difficult 8 years of my life. Which have necessitated draining the last few drops of character that were left in the tank.

Ms. Muse and I will be relaxing in the Caribbean. Instead of putting work into the vacation, unlike my father, we put our work into the planning the vacation. 

"We don't need the beach cottage with the plunge pool and the outdoor shower, but we booked it anyway!"

Serenity, now!

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Bon Jour

From what I can gather online, the Cannes Advertising Film Festival is in full swing right now. To be completely honest, I don't even know the correct name for what goes on over there 6,000 miles to my east.

To be even more honest, I never had an affinity for advertising award shows. Don't get me wrong, during the salad days of my career, I loved winning awards. The recognition. The subsequent salary bumps. The palpable envy of colleagues. I just never liked the peacocking and social niceties that go along with the shows themselves.

Those were better suited for the cool kids. The ones who look natural in porkpie hats. Or Capri pants. Or penny loafers with no socks. All sartorial choices that were never designed for a stocky, barrel-chested man with thinning hair and a disruptive aquiline nose. 

Ms. Muse is not going to be happy with all this self deprecation.

I was never interested in going to Cannes then, I certainly am not interested in going to it now. Given the way the media landscape has flattened out and in essence gone radio silent, I have no idea of what kind of work is out there. And even less cognizant of work that merits heavy gold-plated trinkets and toddler-sized bottles of Rose wine.

Saw an interesting piece of ad wisdom the other day. Something to the effect of, "once you've developed a reputation for doing good or great work, you'll never have to resort to swimming in a sea of mundanity again."

At the risk of sounding immodest, I call complete BS on that. 

Prior to my forced semi-retirement, I have been neck deep in assignments that took a sledgehammer to my dwindling self-respect. I know from kvetching sessions with my contemporaries, I was not alone.

Folks who used to build and steward brands, create Super Bowl spots, turn companies around with something we used to call "A Big Idea" were now crafting disposable banner ads, 5th level landing pages, and e-mail blasts that were high on labor but unsurprisingly low on click thru rates.

Thanks to Performance Marketing, the vessels for creativity (film, print, radio and outdoor) have been replaced with newer (cheaper), smaller (cheaper) and data-driven (cheaper) digital vehicles that vanish seconds after they appear. 


"The Gold Lion for Best 468 X 60 Banner ad goes to..."

"Winners of the Titanium Lion for Subject Line goes to..."

"The Grand Prix for Outstanding Referral Card goes to..."

I'm not sure this is an accurate rendition of what goes on in the south of France these days, but as I stated at the outset, I probably never will.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Sign of the Times.

I like to think of myself as an empathetic person. I often put myself in other people's shoes and imagine what life would be like. To that end, I know living on the streets of Los Angeles cannot be easy.

In fact when I first arrived here in the summer of 1979 with 99 dollars in my pocket and didn't know one soul in the entire state of California, I almost ended up with no roof over my head. 

Actually, I did end up with no roof over my head when I arrived at a UCLA frat house. They hadn't started renting out rooms to boarders (I was not a fraternity guy) but the house manager said...

"There's a mattress on top of the building, you can sleep there and shit and shower here until a room opens up. Only $75." 

That small act of kindness changed the vector of my life. And kept me from becoming a college educated dumpster diver. Like I said, I get it.

But last week my empathy ran its course. 

As I was returning home from a solid day of picketing with the Writer's Guild, where I was given an official WGA T-shirt, a WGA whistle and an invitation to nosh on some fine looking bagels and lox, I made my way back to my humble Culver City residence. On the way there I encountered a homeless man who had commandeered a substantial piece of real estate on the sidewalk of Culver Blvd.

I decided to walk around him and veered out into the street to circumvent a parked car. Now on the other side of the vagrant, who emitted an overpowering foul smell as well as the air of lunacy, I made my way back towards the sidewalk. 

That's when he came at me. Totally unprovoked, I might add. 

"Get the fuck outtahere, you fucking NAZI," he yelled at me.

I almost chuckled, as a man of Hebraic Seasonings is rarely addressed as a Nazi. 

But the adrenaline surge took over. 

I stepped back as this older guy (actually, probably younger than me, I don't think of myself as an old man) was flailing and swinging his arms and a ratty coat in my general direction. At this point I could see cars pulling over to watch the escalating altercation.

Following the wise advice of my karate instructors, I stepped out of the way, first left, then right. But he kept coming at me, with fiery eyes, and no doubt, a belly full of Fireball whiskey.

That's when I realized I was holding a useful weapon in my hand -- Two picket signs. 

One that read: We are not Gregg (an inside baseball joke about the stepped-on buffoonish character from Succession.

Two: A blank sign. I always pick up a blank one, which are hard to come by, for the next day's witticism. 

Now, in retrospect, I'm thinking, maybe he wasn't crazy at all. Nor even homeless. Maybe he was an actor/goon sent to the streets around Sony Studios to intimidate the writers and strong arm them into a settlement. If you know anything about the tense relationship between Management and Labor Unions, you know that's hardly out of the question.

It would also explain why I had a dream about Jimmy Hoffa last night --true story. I don't remember the details of the dream, but I do remember I have not once in my entire time on this earth ever had a dream about Jimmy Hoffa. Ever.

Word to wise. And to the writers. 

Be careful out there!  

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

My head hurts

I spent the last 3 weeks of my life learning, in agonizing detail, about the anatomy of the foot. 

I did so for no other reason than our crack judicial system demanded it of me. And because one whiny plaintiff (I won't say his name because he appears to be quite litigious) brought a charge of medical malpractice against a doctor at Keck Medical Center. 

In other words, because his foot hurt, so the lives of 14 people (12 jurors and 2 alternates) would have to hurt too. Naturally because I'm the world's worst liar, I got picked to be one of those unfortunate jurors. This was my second time on a panel. Also, the second time I was made Jury Foreman. 

Ain't that a kick in the head?

I could bore you with all the tedious details of the case, but unlike the plaintiff, I have respect for the lives of other people who might just have better things to do than listen to a grown man whine. Or learn about the painstaking path an electrical signal must travel along the Calcaneal Nerve through the Tarsal Tunnel by way of the Flexor Retinaculum. 

Note, of all the body parts that could malfunction and trigger a lawsuit, I get stuck on the one concerning feet. I know some people have foot fetishes (fetishi?), I'm not one of them.

The trial started with the plaintiff's lawyer droning on about the initial diagnosis -- Plantar Fasciitis. 

As a former 10k and marathon runner, I was quite familiar with this. I had it in both feet, as most people do. The plaintiff, Mr. Ouchie Foot, only had it in one. But the medical chart, a template generated by Keck, erroneously indicated it as Bilateral Plantar Fasciitis -- bilateral, meaning both feet. 

Mind you, the doctor's notes never said both feet, but the internal electronic charts, used for billing and insurance purposes had it listed as bilateral

Someone alert the FBI! 

This little typo, which never affected the care given to the plaintiff, gave rise to a demand for more than $4 million. I'd put my foot on the Bible and swear to it.

You might accuse me of exaggerating. But I'm not. And many of my fellow jurors concurred. One young lady, as exasperated as we all were, said, "I had my mind made up within the first 20 minutes."

Wait, it gets worse.

The origin of the Mr. Ouchie Foot's claim goes all the way back to a surgery for the foot pain in 2017. Go ahead, do the math, That's SIX YEARS ago!!!

The two competent legal teams lived with this for close to 2200 days. It would have been simpler to chop off his foot and build this crybaby a new damn bionic foot.

This case, which generated thousands upon thousands of legal documents -- I know because we had to view them ALL -- also gobbled up thousands upon thousands of lawyer hours, generating millions and millions of legal fees. 

Like the infinite nature of the time/space continuum, I just can't get my head wrapped around it.

At least we, the jurors, all got about $137.92 for our service and gas mileage.

I'm happy to say Mr. Ouchie Foot got nothing. 

When we finally made it to the Deliberations Room, we chatted, vented and laughed. We also had our decision in less than an hour. The judge graciously also sent in a case of bottled water and a box of various sweet and salty snacks. But none of us wanted to take any more time than necessary to get the hell out of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

One wise-cracking juror -- and I wish it had been me -- said, "I sort of feel bad we're not giving the guy the $4 million dollars, maybe we should pay him in Nutter Butters!"

Had we gone through with this retaliatory plan of action, guess who would have been the person to announce the confectionary award?

We should have done it.

Monday, June 12, 2023

The Taste of Redemption

You didn't think I'd let the best political news in the last 8 years -- since this fetid sack of diseased haggis descended down the escalator -- go to waste did you?

I only wish Deb were around to see this. We spent many hours arguing/discussing the fate of this 289 lbs. Benedict Donald. She believed he would walk away scott free. I have always, perhaps delusionally, believed justice will be done (I know, there's a long way to go). 

Furthermore, I believe it will be a direct result of his own stupidity and toxic narcissism.

"These documents belong to me. Read the Presidential Records Act, I can do whatever I want with them, which by the way, I declassified. Just by thinking about it. Bam, they're declassified."

Think about that Red Hats, you put this lobotomized, ketchup throwing, pornstar banging clown in the White House. Where, by the way, everyone from China to Russia, Saudi Arabia to Israel, outwitted him (not that difficult) and manipulated him for their own agenda.

When the news broke last Thursday that Jack Smith, a Syracuse guy (meaning, full of heart and determination) brought 7 indictments forward you can just imagine the dopamine that was sent coursing through my body. The news got even better when on the following day, the indictment count went up to 37, including an ESPIONAGE charge on each Top Secret Classified document that detailed weapons inventory, nuclear capabilities and specific retaliatory war plans against Iran in the event of a first strike.

That's some major shit.

I know a little about intel gathering from reading about the exploits of Mossad. As well as the CIA and KGB. Sophisticated methods and spycraft go into each document. Our adversaries know how to read these documents and make certain inferences about players and processes. Lives were put at risk. 

And now our lives are at greater risk. 

All because this mewling, earth-vexxing moldwarp wanted some souvenirs from his glory days!

It's all so unbelievable. 

Made even more so when the DOJ released pictures of boxes and how they were stored at Mara Lago. 

In the sloppy storage room, 
where the brain dead douchebiscuit kept his scrapbooks and skinny suits 
that he no longer fits in...

In the shabby hotel bathroom reserved for Gold Members, 
who wouldn't spring the extra $50k for a Platinum Membership...

And, in the same eyesore banquet room that hosted the Feinberg Bar Mitzvah 
("Everyone on the dance floor, it's time for the Hora, you too, Ira")...

As one of my Facebook friends commented, it is all so remarkably, "SURREAL."

Even more surreal, is the fact that 75 million hoodwinked Americans want to re-install this nightmarish Russian stooge back into office.

I hope this LSD wears off soon.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Mopping up

Woke up at 5:45 AM this morning. That's not the usual time I arise from bed. But I have admittedly started going to bed earlier these days because I am simply exhausted from jury duty. More exciting details on that, tomorrow.


As I was moping around the house, I remembered I still need to pen one more blog posting for the week. And was coming up empty. Once you sink your teeth into the titillating details of a civil case that was supposed to last 4 days but is now on its 9th, everything else pales in interest. 

Believe it or not, I was coming up empty. Then I realized the topic for today was right in the palm of my hand.

Allow me to back up and stipulate that while in college I spent an inordinate time working. 

Not on school papers or science projects or even creative writing endeavors. I mean working. Putting money in my pocket by offering up my manual labor to the college dining halls. I washed dishes, I helped prep food, I stocked the utensils and I mopped floors. 

Damn, did I mop floors. I'm guessing in my four years at Syracuse I covered an area equal to the land mass the Russians have recently vacated in Ukraine.

It's more glorious to say I did all this to pay my own tuition. The truth is I worked so I could buy beer and weed, like my more affluent brethren at New York's most expensive private university.

As I mentioned my hands are no stranger to the sturdy well worn handle of an old style janitor's mop. And so it was with great excitement that I recently purchased the Bissell Power Fresh Steam Mop with Natural Sanitization, Floor Steamer, Tile Cleaner and Hard Wood Floor Cleaner with Flip Down Easy Scrubber 1940A.

I imagine you think I wrote that out for comedic effect, but that is the actual name of the product. To wit...

Perhaps an old man like myself should find other things to get excited about, but I simply love my Bissell Power Fresh Steam Mop with Natural Sanitization, Floor Steamer, Tile Cleaner and Hard Wood Floor Cleaner with Flip Down Easy Scrubber 1940A -- forthwith to be known as the 1940A.

Last night, following hours of riveting testimony, I came home, assembled the 1940A and attacked, with prejudice, the caked-on soot that had besmirched my hardwood kitchen floor for so many years. 

Mind you, I have been cleaning the floors regularly with my Bissell  (I love Bissell, I even love saying Bissell) CrossWave™ but never felt like it was getting down there into the phloem and xylum microgrooves that at one time circulated nutrients and water to the mighty red oak that gave its body up to my modest California ranch house.

And now? The kitchen floor is absolutely beaming. It's hospital clean, which is 180 degrees from the ancient bathrooms at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse which don't look like they've ever been cleaned since the joint opened its doors in 1957.

When court recesses today, I will speed home, fire up the 1940A, refill the tank with more distilled water and reclaim the barely-recognizable hardwood flooring in my den/office. 

Can you feel the excitement?


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Greed is good. Just not for you.

Let's talk about greed.

Because the Walton family doesn't have enough yachts, vacation homes and collective wealth for the next 100 generations of future Waltons, they have instituted self checkout stands at their Temples of Conspicuous, I mean stores.

I know we in the creative industry are afraid of losing our jobs to AI, but Walmart employees are already losing their jobs. To customers. 

Next time you hear, "Clean up in Aisle 7",  they'll expect Joe Blow or Betty Bag O'Donuts (hat tip to Rob Schwartz) to grab a broom and mop. 

How pervasive is this trend? 

Well, the other night while watching TV and fumbling through the various streaming channels -- why do I have to do the work of finding a show? -- I stumbled across a new flock of shitty commercials. The one that stood out, and not because of any marketing genius, was a spot for a Payroll App.

Maybe you've seen it too. 

When it comes to the nuts and bolts, credits and debits of business, I'm no Warren Buffet. But if memory serves me right I did work with his sister-in-law decades ago when she ran a small editorial house in Santa Monica. I thought when they served us lunch she'd add a hot stock tip or mutual fund recommendation with the Cashew Chicken Salad, but that was not to be. 

Moreover, I have never claimed to comprehend the nuances of P&L, ROI, KPI, or any of that fancy Wharton School language. 

But if I understand this correctly, companies big and small, now expect us to take on our own Accounts Payable duties?

I got a taste of this responsibility-shirking while employed at Dollar Shave Club and again when I was a full timer at PayPal. 

Anytime I had a question or a need that would've have normally been the purview of HR was now met with: "Go to the company portal and find a link that will send you to another landing page and another link that will eventually explain all your dental benefits and why anesthesia is no longer paid for during Root Canals."

This was somewhat understandable during the Pandemic, or Plandemic for those of you still harboring idiotic fantasies of the Deep State or malevolent conspiracy theories regarding elite, globalist cabals (((Hebraic Seasonings))). But people, not me, but other people, are going back to offices and returning to normalcy.

Apparently, normalcy now means the HR Department will be shuttered. 

Don't know why they deducted $58.93 for FICA/MAMC/SS? Too bad.

Coworker sitting at the Long Table of Mediocrity™ has BO? Suck it up.

Expecting an office party for your 30th birthday? Go to Dave & Busters.

Makes you wonder, what else do our corporate overlords have on the chopping block in order to pad their pockets with more ill-gotten money.

Said it before and I'll say it again, I picked a good time to go into semi-retirement.

Monday, June 5, 2023

The Great Di$$connect™

In between the grueling drives downtown during morning rush hour, drinking shitty civic bodega coffee, slumming on hard cement slab benches and holing up in cavernous wood paneled courtrooms that still use overhead projectors and microfiches, I managed to find time to squeeze out an R17 post.

As you might have summarized from my opening salvo, I'm not in a good mood. I don't like my time being stolen from me. Particularly when my clock is running out and I find myself staring at the very long Dirt Nap™.

And so today I'd like to rip off a bandaid, along with its crusty scar tissue, and talk about money. More specifically, ad agency money and how they're so reluctant to part with it. In most cases.

Part of this also springs from an article I read yesterday about how Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez had purchased a new mansion in Los Angeles. Or Beverly Hills. I didn't pay much attention because frankly I don't give a shit about celebrities. 

And don't concern myself with their lives because I don't travel in those circles. I'm pretty sure the rock hard bench I'm sitting on in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse on the 7th floor, wedged between Family Services and Traffic Citations, has never been graced by the significant rear end of the woman who goes by JLO.

The couple spent 61 million dollars for a house that sits on 5 acres, has 28 bathrooms, a pickleball stadium and for all I know a helipad, so they don't have get too close to the riff raff on the 110 Harbor Freeway. The riff raff is you and me.

Meanwhile, up the street from me at Sony Studios, T-shirt clad writers, talented young men and women who click and clack for food, are carrying signs (which I think could be funnier) and striking against their corporate overlords, who, like their advertising counterparts, do not want to share the booty. 

And here's where the cognitive dissonance comes in.

Over the course of my 35 year plus career in advertising, I have been in countless new business, and old business, presentations. 

I had the privilege of sitting in on meetings chaired by Lee Clow, Steve Hayden, Bob Kuperman, John Doyle, David Lubars, and more. Titans, all. 

To a tee, they all would open with an eloquent preamble about the magical value of ideas. And branding. And lather it on thick about how a great idea can act as a fulcrum for a brand. Endowed with the power to launch a company selling cars, computers or carbonated sugar water, into the stratosphere. 

For the most part, they were correct. I've seen it in action. And know that is true. That is the inherent and somewhat magical value ad agencies bring to the table.

In the same breath, however, these same agencies turn to the people who come up with those ideas, writers, art directors, designers, production people, and more, and year after year, tell them, we don't have anything in the corporate moneypot for raises. Or bonuses. Or even offices (see Long Table of Mediocrity™.)

And now, with the great Thinning Out™, "we don't have any money for YOU."

I can't be the only one to see this. Maybe, because I'm semi-retired and emboldened by a new sense of IDGAF, I'm one of the few that can actually say it, "This situation is FUCKED!"

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to bring my angry ass back in to the courtroom to mete out some justice.