Monday, July 31, 2023

A Not-So-Jolly start

My vacation to the beautiful island of Antigua did not begin well. 

And by the way, it's pronounced Antiga. The u is silent. Which is confusing for someone like me who loves guacamole.

"....Uh, ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Inaudible from the flight deck, looks like there's some nasty late afternoon weather in Miami and the tower is lining up all the incoming flights, we should be on the ground in twenty minutes."

Being a white knuckle flier, I know that late afternoon weather in Miami means thunderstorms. Big semi-hurricane-like, wing-ripping thunderstorms. I immediately reach for my iPhone and dial up the turbulence map. 

Oh yeah, I'm one of those crazy control freaks who likes to see who all the possible microcells of unstable weather that might be the cause of my demise. I've entertained the notion of running up to the cockpit, warning the pilots of the ominous red blobs indicating danger and actually suggesting alternate, smoother flight paths. You know, in case they're not up to date on the impending doom as I am.

Ms. Muse grabs my hand from across the aisle. Then immediately pulls away. My palms are clammier than a freshly shucked oyster. She rolls her eyes and goes back to reading her book: The Heretofore Unknown Joys of Dating a Man of Hebraic Seasonings. 

I make a quick dash for the two lavatories at the rear of the new 737 plane. 

These newer Boeing versions, feature new overhead compartments designed to accommodate even more carry on luggage. I'm convinced they found the extra room by taking it from the onboard bathrooms, which are now impossibly narrower than a human torso. 

Thankfully, due to my recent weight loss I am able to shimmy my way in. As I exit the room -- and I use that word lightly and could never again be used for Mile High Club activities -- I cajole the flight attendant for a mini bottle of Jack Daniels. Sensing my apprehension, mostly because I told her, she hands me two.

"...Uh, ladies and gentleman, this is Captain Inaudible again from the flight deck. We're gonna circle around for a bit while we wait for the weather to yield. Just sit back and enjoy the flight. We'll have you on the ground shortly."

I switch from the turbulence map to the flight tracker live map. I mentioned I was a control freak, right?

Even at 37,000 feet above sea level the human body can sense the gravitational forces. One circle, 5 miles above terra firma, begets another and another and another. Had I been thinking correctly I would have snapped a screen grab. But the whiskey and the Ativan had clouded my already-cloudy thinking.

Suddenly that Sunset Pool Cottage at Coco's Hotel in lovely Jolly Harbor seemed to getting further and further away. And for 180 degrees of each turn, it was.

"...Uh, ladies and gentlemen, Captain Inaudible again, the unexpected delay has put a crimp in our fuel supply, so we're gonna hop on over to Tampa. We'll top off the tanks and get back up in the air in about 20 minutes. We appreciate your patience."

I take umbrage at his cavalier casual attitude. Even a small child could tell you, 20 minutes in airline-speak means 60 minutes. And that's if everything goes according to plan. It rarely does.

I twist off the cap on my second mini-bottle.

"Bourbon, take me away."

Monday, July 17, 2023

Currently not blogging

Not blogging.

Not ranting.

Not raving.

Not answering texts or emails or stupid comments by Red Hats.

Not doing much of anything. And loving it.

Be back on July 31st. 


Thursday, July 13, 2023

Naming names

Lately, I've been on a winning streak. And have racked up a significant number of victories in Jon Soto's Name the Band and Jon Soto's Name the Thing online contests. 

I've had so many recent winners lately, I've decided I'm going to carve out a special section on my portfolio page just to showcase the fruits of my labor. And Soto's amazing art direction. I also decided I could squeeze a blog post out of the endeavor. 

I can do that, and many other things, because I'm at that liberating part of my career where I just don't have to give a shit anymore.

Truth is, I wish I had reached that brass ring of nonchalance a lot earlier. It probably would have served me well.

But now I'm there. And I can take your job or not take your job. That decision is mine. And does not belong to some faceless Wells Fargo Mortgage Collection agent.

If you're not familiar, Senior Soto, a Chiat/Day alumni like myself, finds an interesting group photo and asks his Facebook friends to name the band as well as the name of the album. For a long time, I was confused by the order in which Jon requested the fictitious band names and errantly submitted some killer names as the album title. And vice versa.

Sometimes the two are interchangeable, like the Band (Plantar Fasciitis) submitted by me. And the Album title (Macular Degeneration) submitted by the very talented Ms. Muse, my partner in crime, who is now an enthusiastic contestant in this frivolous battle of juvenile wit.

Want to see the other Siegel winners, conveniently compiled for your amusement? 

Of course you do, because it's far more entertaining than the humblebrags about serving on the One Show Jury or the number of lyons collected in Cannes (apologies, Greg).

Without further ado...

I was going to supply a caption detailing my participation, whether I named the band or the album or the thing, but that would be a useless exercise in ego.

I like to think of these holistically, so just enjoy the laugh.

And also, friend Jon Soto on FB so you can enter the fray. 

You'll enjoy it.


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Lawyers, bunions & Money

Been thinking about the law and lawyers lately. Not just because our esteemed former president finds himself in an XXXL vat of hot water lately.

By the way, did you know that in addition to Pride Month, June was also Unofficial Shadenfreude Month? 

In addition to the 7 indictments brought forth by NY attorney Alvin Bragg (how appropriate) TFG is now looking at 38 federal indictments handed down by "deranged, Marxist/Fascist" radical Jack Smith. Even better, if that's at all possible, many of Trump's former attorneys are now seeking their own attorneys. 

In the malapropped words of Winston Churchill, "It's a FUBAR, tucked inside a shitstorm, wrapped inside a clusterfuck."

But I've also been obsessing with the lawyers with whom I had recent close personal contact with. 

I'm still not done flushing my late spring jury duty completely out of my system. Mostly, because it's three weeks of my life I can never recover. And because the $169.83 I received for my service and my daily grind into downtown LA canceled out a week's worth of unemployment benefits I have come to count on.

Guess I'll be eating flash-frozen Talapia instead of my mercury filled Atlantic Salmon. Thanks a lot douchebag who hurt his foot and can no longer shtup his wife with any regularity.

More specifically, I've been going over the performances given by both sides. And lets not make any mistakes, lawyers, particularly personal injury lawyers are performers at best.  

I remember how the defense attorney, representing Keck Medical Center at USC, framed his interviewing questions while selecting the unfortunate 14 (12 jurors and 2 alternates) by asking if any of the potential candidates harbored any misgivings about people bringing "frivolous lawsuits."

That phrasing, innocently posed before the trial even began, remained in my mind. And I suspect the others jurors as well. 

It was not by accident. 

He knew it was a frivolous lawsuit. Even the plaintiff's attorney knew it was a frivolous lawsuit. And by the end of the three week ordeal, WE, the folks deciding the case knew it was a frivolous lawsuit because that pejorative seed (which would never have been allowed during the trial) was ingenuously planted by a clever attorney.

In hindsight, I was also struck at how the plaintiff's attorney fumbled so badly and overplayed his hand. Claiming an obvious and inconsequential mistake in the electronic medical records amounted to intentional Document Falsification, or even Forgery. 

Oh for fuck's sake.

And this is no regular lawyer. I did a little internet sleuthing and found out he's quite the big time Hollywood guy. I won't divulge his name, because frankly I know how litigious lawyers can be. It's been said a good lawyer can sue a Ham Sandwich. Well, I'm no Ham, or any species of meat, Sandwich and frankly don't need to be anywhere near a courthouse for a very long time. Or, ever again. 

I may not be the best person to advise on the matter seeing as I've now been on two jury panels and served as Jury Foreman both times, but I did learn a very interesting way to escape your mandatory service. And this only applies to a civil case. 

As I was leaving the Stanley Mosk courthouse and making a silent vow to my ass that it would never come in contact with its unforgiving cement benches, the defense attorney told me about the one potential juror who got called in before the judge. She got out scot-free, by explaining in a note, that she was raised in a military family. Her dad was a Marine. As such, she was taught that "pain was just weakness leaving the body."

Ipso, facto, she found it impossible, no matter how compelling the case may or may not (in this case, may not) have been, there was no way in the world she would be able to find for a some crybaby plaintiff. 

No way, at all.

The judge gave her a piece of his mind. Which mattered little to this tattooed, hard living woman, who strutted out of court with her well-earned walking papers in her hand.

Semper Fi.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Pitchers, pastels and purification.

Years ago -- Oh shit, Rich is reminiscing again -- I had the pleasure of working with an obscenely talented young writer named Mikey Collado. He was young (and who isn't?) and rough around the edges. but  Mikey was prolific. Churning out more crerativity in an hour than most do in a week. Or in some cases, a career.

Anyone who was at Chiat Day in the late 1990's knows exactly what I'm talking about. On one less-than-memorable afternoon, we decided to venture to the new Hughes Center Parkway Mall. They had just cut the ribbon and were eager to attract guests to their new Disneyesque monstrosity, wedged between the slogging Sepulveda Blvd. and the always-angry 405.

As we made our way past Sunglass Shack and Chess King, Mikey remarked, "Look at this, it's the kind of place only a _______ person could love." I'm leaving the descriptor blank so as not to attract undue attention from the Community Standards Police. 

What I'm thinking is: Mayonnaise, Curt Schilling, Yacht Rock and SPF 70. That should be all the clues you need.

It was a phrase that had my attention then. And has stuck with me and is part my everyday parlance now.

And I am reminded of where I was about a year ago, while in the employ of one of America's most used online payment systems. They take your money and hand it over, via the ether and high speed internet thigamajgs, to the companies selling you stuff: Crocs, Foam Fan Fingers, Air Fryers and Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. 

They're omnipresent. They're big and bland. And functional in the very least attractive sense of the word. Good for consumers who shop online. Not so good for folks like me trying to build a brand around a personality-devoid yellow and blue button.

Nevertheless, that didn't stop them from trying. 

But trying and succeeding are two different things. Nor did it stop them from getting inordinately excited when the user interface people brought forth their prized Brand Guideline Book.

I'm still surprised it wasn't presented on a velvet pillow accompanied by royal trumpets.

The 1,837 page pdf had covered it all. Which typeface to use. Which design elements were to go on landing pages (they have a shit ton of landing pages) and which ones go on banners. Or referral cards. Or any of the million digital marketing vehicles they spit out with astounding frequency.

If you know me or even if you don't and are reading your first R17 post, there's a good chance you know where I stand on Brand Guideline Books. Or what I like to call the Shoah of Marketing.

My favorite section(s) regard the Brand Tone of Voice, which is so amusingly delusional I hardly know where to begin -- like the folks in charge. Brands, and I'm referring to 99.99999% of them, don't have a tone of voice. Much less a need to guide a newbie on the proper use of one. 

If there was one directive it could be simply be: "Sound more like a ChatBot."

Because that's what Marketing folks are looking for. 

Be friendly, but not overly personal. 

Be whimsical, but not funny. 

Be brief, but include all disclaimers set forth by our legal teams. Cause we don't want anyone suing our billion dollar asses.

Be different, just like everybody else.

This is what what marketing/advertising has come down to these days. We must all follow "Best Practices' and we must kneel at the altar of the almighty Brand Guideline Book. 

It's the kind of shit only Curt Schilling could love.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Patriots Gone Wild

Oh say can you see the story of the Billion dollar flagpole. That's no typo. Though this blog is often riddled with typos and that would be a natural and understandable assumption. 

A Billion dollar flagpole. 

Sounds ludicrous. And it definitely is, but that's not stopping the folks from Columbia Falls, Maine from moving forward with the ambitious, if not ridiculous, undertaking. 

I know this because it was reported on Page A2 in the LA Times last week. As mentioned on these pages before, I've downsized recently and decided to stop handing over huge bags of money to the Old Grey Lady -- though I still get the digital version of the NY Times -- and feed my brain locally, by subscribing to the once hefty LA Times.

Additionally, I now find myself hob-knobbing with staffers like Jim Rainey and the inimitable Steve Lopez, and even went on a hike with the equally inimitable and master of the stream of consciousness written word, Chris Erskine. It's fun and entertaining hanging out with real writers. It puts me in the vicinity of validation.

Back to the story, because you might be wondering why the good people of Columbia Falls, Maine, where the cold winds of the North Atlantic can have an obviously debilitating effect on the firing of brain waves, want to sink a billion dollars of their hard earned lobster-catching money into erecting a flagpole that's higher than the Empire State Building.

DOH, should've mentioned that earlier. I believe in the parlance of newspaper men and women, that's called burying the lede.

According to Morrill Worcester, founder of Flagpole of Freedom Park, "We want to bring Americans together, remind them of the centuries of sacrifice made to protect our freedom, and unite a divided America."

And he, along with many Mainesters, who have donated to the project, thought building a 1,776 foot flagpole would do the trick? 

Call me crazy, but a billion dollars could go a long way to feeding hungry children, taking care of veterans, building affordable housing for homeless people currently on the street attacking innocent writers protesting against corporate greed and wage inequality. 

I'm not sure Mr. Worcester or his fellow flag fetishists have really thought this through. 

Nor do I suspect many of them have been to the Empire State Building, which stands a measly 1,250 feet tall. But at that astounding height, viewers on the ground would be hard pressed to see Old Glory in all her majesty nearly a 1/3 of a mile above sea level.

For that to happen, a custom flag would have to be sewn, presumably by the local Columbia Falls residents, during the lobster off season. And that humongous flag would literally need to be the size of Rhode Island.

Maybe that's Phase II of the project.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

I made a thing

Unable to contain my rage at all the recent findings by our Not-So-Supreme Court, I put together this little meme depicting the 9 justices.

Like so many of my other political memes, it got a few chuckles and upvotes on my social media platforms.

Unlike so many (so, so many) other examples of my handiwork however, this one went crazy viral on Facebook. 

It caught me totally by surprise. To be honest, I think I've done better. I'm not referring to the Photoshop work, which we can all agree is shabby and quite amateurish. I'm a writer by trade and don't have the patience or the necessary brain space to remember all the processes and buttons one must push to make something visually appealing.

These days, I can barely remember where I put the recyclable storage poop bags that attach to the dog leash. And trust me, you don't want to pick up Lucy's business with a found Culver City driveway Pennysaver Newspaper.

No, I think I struck viral gold -- now at more than 13,000 shares on Facebook -- because I tapped into a common agreement that the Court is acting in its own interest and not the interests of the American people.

It started with Dobb's and the archaic decision to roll back Roe v. Wade, a landmark case that granted women sovereignty over their own bodies. If any of you were paying attention, you might remember the three Trump appointees steadfastly stated they would not seek to overturn Roe. However, as faithful and sycophantic residents of Trumpworld, their word has all the value of a Putin promise not to exact revenge. 

How is the GOP, the party of individual liberty and personal rights, OK with that? Here's what I have to say on that, "your religion might prohibit abortion but mine doesn't. My religion prohibits eating certain shell fish, you don't see me blocking you from going into Red Lobster, do you?"

Also, "Don't like abortion? Don't get one."

End of story.

That disastrous ruling was followed by another, in a phantom case (that had no standing), ruling that a woman in Colorado could refuse her publicly available services to a gay couple based on her myopic religious beliefs. It's funny how the GOP sees slippery slopes in anything that pertains to gun rights but never when it comes to do with civil rights.

Could this same woman refuse her services to an interracial couple seeking to get married based on her religious nonsense? BTW, did you know anti-miscegenation laws were still on the books in Alabama up until 23 years ago. And more than 1/2 million Alabama residents voted against eliminating that law


This country is so backwards I'm inclined to believe we need to MAGFO, Make America Great For Once.

All this meshuganah business was capped off by the Court's decision not to relieve our nation's college graduates of the staggering loan debt they have accumulated. A move that would put money back into the hands of our future leaders and actually improve their standard of living. Full disclosure, that includes my two daughters, recent graduates of UW, University of Washington, and UC, University of Colorado.

Funny how nobody has ever challenged the massive subsidies we give to Big Oil, Big AG, Big Pharma and Wall Street. Maybe a challenge has been issued, but it has never reached the Supreme Court. I guess it's only important when it affects real people, the ones don't own yachts or vacation homes. 

Or don't flaunt their wealth by challenging other wealth hoarders to meet in a cage match.

BTW, my money is on Zuckerberg, but I wouldn't mind if the match goes on for quite a while and they both get bloodied to a pulp and way beyond recognition. 

That's some cause for optimism.


UPDATE: As many of you know, I write these posts in advance. I do that in order to keep up with my incredibly busy schedule as a Man of Semi-Leisure. Did I say the meme had 13,000 Facebook shares? Well that was a few days ago, as of 5:01 AM this morning, the total is upwards of 19,000 shares. If one were to do the math, as I often like to do...

If 1000 people shared my handiwork and each of them had 100 Facebook friends that would be 100,000 views.

If another 1000 of that 100,000 had a sense of humor and shared my obviously dead on correct depiction of the highest court in the land with their 1000 FB friends, that would mean 10 million people would have had the smallest glimpse into Siegelworld.

And if one of those millions upon millions of people would just hire me to do their schlocky online advertising, I'd have enough money to hire a decent housekeeper who was willing to clean the baseboards and scrub the parts of the toilet bowl I simply can't reach anymore.  

Is that too much to ask? Apparently, it is. 


Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Dear Waltine

An Open Letter to Waltine Nauta:

Dear Waltine,

You don't know me. And admittedly, I don't know much about you. 

But here you are under the red hot glare of a nation's attention for your part in the espionage activities of our former "president" who stole Top Secret Classified documents, kept them in unsecured facilities and paraded them around with blatant bravado to any Tom, Dick and leggie Lady in a skirt. 

I do like your name, Waltine, sounds like saltine, which I understand is good for treating upset stomachs. I have a gut that's sturdier than the 50 year old cast iron skillet handed down to me from my father. As heirlooms go it's not very sentimental, but it is incredibly functional if not difficult to clean. 

I've done a little "research" on you and discovered you were born in Guam. You know where Guam is. I know, generally, where Guam is. But I'm willing to bet the equity in my house that the ignorant schmuck who dragged you into this criminal mess couldn't find Guam on a map, anymore than he could find Syria, North Korea, or even China. 

To his credit he does know the whereabouts of Georgia and Arizona and the trunk full of phony Biden ballots from 2020.

Furthermore, I'd further up the ante and suggest the man illegally in possession of SCIF-worthy military invasion plans can't even spell GWAM. And when he's shouting about Making America Great Again, he's certainly NOT including Guam -- even though it's an unincorporated US Territory -- in his neo-fascist jingoistic wet dream. 

Let's also be honest, he doesn't really have any MAGA plans, he just needs to say it over and over and over again because his supporters are not very discerning. They're spellbound by his array of ugly red ties.

Back to the situation at hand.

Today is July 5th. From what I've read on Wikipedia, the lazy man's unofficial source of facts, the drop dead deadline for your federal arraignment is tomorrow July 6th. Apparently you could not be properly arraigned in South Florida as your Trump-appointed lawyer, that is the one being paid for by Trump's PAC meaning Joe Sixpack and Betty Bag O'Donuts, is not permitted to practice in the "great" state of Florida. Necessitating the hiring of a new lawyer.

This little legal unforced error seems par for the course for the Trump team who, to this day, still claim the 2020 election was STOLLEN.

By the way, Waltine, I'm no lawyer (though I was waitlisted for admission at Southwestern University here in Los Angeles), but I'm not sure your legal interests are best served by lawyers who answer to the man who can't even put am old windbreaker on by himself. (See photo above)

This tactic is often employed by the mob. Or by huge corporations seeking to ply unwitting witnesses (that would be you) in their client's favor. If you haven't seen George Clooney in the movie Michael Clayton, I suggest you do so. It's highly underrated.

When you're done watching the movie you should also read the book by Rick Wilson titled, Everything Trump Touches Dies.

And it does.

Ask Manafort, Cohen, Giuliani, Powell, Flynn, Stone, Weisselberg, Pence, Gates, Easton, Lev and Igor, or the 1000+ "Tourists" who visited the Capitol building on January 6th, 2021.

What I'm saying Waltine, is you have an opportunity. You stand at the proverbial Fork in the Road. 

You can stand your ground as the former president's loyal Coffee Boy, in this case, Diet Coke Boy, and take your lumps, serving a couple of years at Leavenworth, while he continues to cheat his way around the hilly course at Doral. And scarf up omelettes at his fleabag hotel in Mara Lago.

Or, you can write your name in the history books, and cement your reputation as an American hero who followed in the singular path of John Dean, told the Truth, and took down an American president who sullied the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A man who perverted the notion of public service and served only the interests of one traitorous sad sack of shit who is long overdue for the accountability and karma he deserves.

Do the right thing, Waltine. 

Make the deal with Jack Smith and put Guam on the map.