Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Say hello to Occam


I'm ashamed to admit it but I didn't come to Occam's Razor until a very late point in my life, maybe I was 43.

As it is fundamental to any curriculum in logic or philosophy, I should have learned of it in college -- some 20 years ago -- but I have a sneaky suspicion I was stoned, or drunk, or both, at the time.

For those of you who are still unfamiliar, and in deference to the principle itself, I will keep the explanation exceedingly brief.

Occam's Razor is reductionism in action. If I were to boil it down, it simply states that the simplest explanation for a phenomena is quite probably the most truthful.

Anecdotally, it gives us the following:


Occam's Razor asks, if there is a Deep State of Obama/Clinton puppets pulling all the strings of our government, why is Precedent Shitgibbon, President Shitgibbon?


Occam's Razor asks, if Russia was colluding with Hillary Clinton, who it seems single handedly gave them the Uranium One deal, why did they put all their efforts to electing Captain Fuckknuckle?


Occam's Razor asks, if the smartest, brightest most well informed scientists on the planet tell us there is Global Warming does that make the deniers of Global Warming the dumbest, dimmest, least informed people on the planet?


Occam's Razor asks, wouldn't the country with the most guns per capita and the most gun violence per capita want to emulate, or at least learn from, the countries with the least guns per capita and consequently the least gun violence per capita?


Occam's Razor asks, if it takes fives teams of junior creatives two weeks to come up an advertising campaign and it takes one team of seasoned veterans one week to come up with three viable advertising campaigns, why am I home day drinking and watching Maury Povitch?


Occam's Razor asks, If I religiously lift weights 6 days a week, eat massive amounts of protein, cut down on all packaged food items, why do I still look like the Before picture in every weight loss infommercial?

I could go on, but...

Occam's Razor asks if no one is reading this blog why continue writing this blog?

Indeed.









Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday Thrashing Week #4


The fourth in our continuing series of hand written letters to Republican US Senators who this week said NOTHING on the Rob Porter scandal and are complicit in the nation's moral devolvement.

Boy, when you can't come out with a forceful condemnation of wife beating, Nazis and out and out racism, you've sunk to new lows.

It's a long letter so I'll dispense with the pre-amble.

Fuck You Corker.



Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Jig on the Gig


I just finished a series of assignments for agencies/bosses/clients that get it.

And by that I mean they got the most for their advertising dollar by letting me operate at my most efficient.

Others have not navigated the turbulent waters of the gig economy as well. And so, more as a public service to those folks -- and clearly not in any kind of self serving way to myself -- I thought I'd provide some helpful tips to those who engage the skills of a freelance copywriter (preferably me.)

Do your Homework -- I now have a small list of clients, little start ups and renegades that I do direct work for. We've bypassed the big holding company model, the endless meetings, the trapezoid shaped planning documents, and gone straight to "I need an outdoor board." or "I need a mobile site." And then, we give them just that.

I constantly remind these small firms hoping to become bigger firms to watch their money. And to do that, they must do their homework. Know their product. Know who wants their product. Know what you want to accomplish and how you want to accomplish it. Because, and this is where the rubber meets the road, I am not inexpensive. And my meter starts the minute I am engaged. So preparation is everything. I can sit around and jabber with the best of them. But it really is to the client's benefit, and in the long run, mine, if everybody comes to the table prepared. See? I'm already helping your business.

R E S P E C T -- I don't want to come off immodest or holier than thou, but a little respect goes a long way. And this is especially directed at the big ad agencies. Please don't bring me in and tell me I'll be reporting to some junior ACD named Jade or K-Pack or Quincy, who is not only 15 years away from being 44 like me, but who has never done a TV spot or created a campaign from scratch. And furthermore wants to SnapChat his or her way into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Or, even worse, put me in the hands of someone who is way more contemporary, as well as way less accomplished. Because guess what, then you're not getting the best of what I have to offer. You're getting Mr. or Ms. Hacky's version of what they think is my best to offer. And it won't be. What it will be is a colossal, expensive, endlessly-revised pdf of horseshit -- a literal deck of dreck. You will never want to hire me again. And chances are, I'll be completely fine with that.

Take the gun away from my head -- If I've said this once, I've said it a thousand times. At least since 2006 when nonsense like Five by 5 (Five Ideas by 5 o'clock) was born. Creativity cannot be rushed. Brands cannot be turned around in a day. Big, bold, iconic ideas are not the byproduct of daily check-ins, committee groupthink and a ticking clock.

This point is best illustrated by example.

Last week, my wife found the ideal brisket. It had a big juicy cap of fat on one side. And was perfectly marbled throughout. We carefully hand rubbed the meat and placed it on the Traeger Smoker which was filled with cherry and apple wood pellets. That brisket cooked overnight. Low and slow. It was basted faithfully. I got up at 4 in the morning to give a mid-stall coating of cider/beef broth/and pale ale beer. It sat on that smoker longer than a Nancy Pelosi filibuster. That first bark-encrusted slice was carnivore nirvana. Fatty, juicy, buttery brisket heaven. It was Austin Texas worthy. In other words, it was everything an InstaPot could never be.

That's all I have to say on this matter.

For today.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

End Times in the Cocky Mountain State


Meet William Tapley.

Bill doesn't like to go by that name, he prefers you address him as The Third Eagle of the Apocalypse.

Anyone who chooses that moniker had better have some serious religious credentials. Or skate perilously close to forced institutionalization. Billy meets the latter criteria.

I became aware of Triple Eagle thanks to my Facebook Memory thingie. Turns out I had written about him 8 years ago when he took to the YouTube airwaves to discuss the temporary blackout during Super Bowl 45.

You remember that don't you? That's when half the stadium went dark because of an electrical outage. Triple Eagle saw something more sinister and contended it was all part of a subtle AntiChrist conspiracy. Fueled in part by the Hyundai Corporation, who aired a whopping than 5 commercials that year.

If you do some Googling and venture a little further into the Third Eagle Rabbit Hole, you'll find all kinds of hidden End Times messages buried throughout the Hyundai spots.

Connecting ad people to the efforts of the AntiChrist was fascinating. Particularly since my buddy Max was a Creative Director at Hyundai and was, at the time, in cahoots with the Dark Lord.

I remember once, Max and I went to dinner and he left me to pick up the check. After he had gone out of his way to order a calamari appetizer, no less. I thought that was sinister and sleazy at the time but had no idea he was an agent of Hades himself.

Fuck you, Max.

Turns out Triple Eagle has been predicting our end times for many years now.

2013.
2014.
2015.
2016.
2017.
and 2018. (Although with Captain Fuckknuckle at the helm, he's got a good shot his number will come in this year.)

In any case, I decided to do a little digging on Triple Eagle, who has quite a bit to say on any number of topics and can find the handiwork of Lucifer everywhere on the planet. Particularly at the Denver airport.



I'm not a big fan of airports. I don't like flying. And I don't like crowds. But, as my daughter goes to the University of Colorado in Boulder, I actually find myself at the Denver airport quite a bit. And I have to say, it's one of my favorites. It's big. It's clean. It's efficient. Most of all it's easy. You get in and you get out with amazing speed.

That's all ruined. Next time I'm there, I'm sure I'm gonna see penises everywhere I look.

Thanks a lot, Triple E.

Monday, February 12, 2018

From Super Bowl past


Remember this spot from last week's Super Bowl. It didn't get much ink in the USA Today Admeter survey. But it sure was one of the most talked about :30 seconds aired during the Big Game.

And while it had most of America reaching for their remote, asking, "WTF?", it had me reminiscing to another in my long list of Super Bowl non-appearances.

Let's go back to the year 2007.

The economy was booming. There was a Republican in the White House. And we were on the eve of a complete financial meltdown. I had been freelancing at Chiat/Day, who had just won the Visa Credit card account and they were looking for a breakthrough :60 second Super Bowl spot.

So I gave them one.

I couldn't find the actual script, which lives on a hard drive of a computer now buried in the Eagle Rock landfill, so I'll recreate it to the best of my ability.


"MONKEY"
:60

Open on a shot the FOX broadcast booth at the Super Bowl. Pan down to the FOX broadcast truck, parked just outside the stadium entrance.

A man enters the FOX truck, where we see a full technical crew, multiple TV screens, switchers, routers and all the broadcast gear.

DIRECTOR: Oh hi Bob, whatcha got?

Bob holds up a videotape box.

BOB: I have the new spot Visa, where they talk about how it's taken everywhere, low interest rates and special rewards for Visa customers.

The director looks at Bob and his mood changes.

DIRECTOR: Hey, how many times do I have to tell you not to bring your pet monkey into the broadcast booth?

We see that Bob has a reddish Capucin monkey on his shoulder.

BOB: Pucci's fine. He's not going to do anything.

One of the crew guys knocks over a mug of coffee. It shatters. And it freaks out Pucci the monkey, who leaps from Bob's shoulders and starts scampering around the inside of the FOX broadcast truck.

Mayhem breaks out. And no one can catch the frisky monkey.

DIRECTOR: No, no, no...don't touch that lever......

Cut to black.

Solid black.

After an excruciating 30 seconds of excruciating black.

And silence.

Finally, we hear one of the crew.

CREW GUY: I found my phone.

Cut to a flip phone opening up.

By the dimmest light from the phone, we see the Visa logo on the case of the tape carrying the commercial.


If you'll pardon the pun, that spot never saw the light of day. Like so, so many other Super Bowl scripts I have written. It still makes me laugh when I think about it. But then again, I'm easily amused.






Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fuck You Flake


We're already at Week #3 in my Thrasher Thursday series, wherein I take the time to write and physically send an old school letter to one of the 52 Republican Senators who are now complicit in our freefall into Fascism.

Today, we're addressing Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

You might recall, Jeff was the ONLY republican Senator who took Precedent Shitgibbon to task for calling his Democratic colleagues treasonous. The ONLY one. That's how far we, and our standards of decorum, have sunk.

But before we go throwing the Flakester a parade, let's take the time to remember his so-called integrity has the all the lasting power of a snowflake in Tucson. Oh Jeffy loves to make a big show for the cameras, but when the rubber has to meet the road he votes a straight Captain Fuckknuckle ticket.

Frankly I have more respect for someone who makes no attempt at any duplicity. A senator who owns his stupidity and does not disguise his evil agenda. Someone like Senator Grasseley or Cornyn.

They're gonna hear from me too. But first, lets deal with Senator Jeff Flakey Flake.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Front Page


Finally got around to watching the SAG screener of The Post.

I know other friends and family had a less than enthusiastic reaction to the movie, I didn't. I loved it. Despite the typical hamhanded direction of Mr. Spielberg and all the hallmarks of his filmmaking: the soaring John Williams soundtrack, the forced staging and the squeaky clean art direction. Hell, if you're doing a 60's period piece, does every car have to look like it was rented from a local vintage car show?

I was smitten by the subject matter. And no doubt swayed by my renewed love affair with newspapers.

I'll admit I had become a victim of the digital age and did my news gathering via the the internet. That's a fool's game as my Facebook newsfeed -- yours as well -- is chock full of bad news sources. And it's only recently that I've compiled a list of sources that I no longer read: bipartisannews.com, palmerreport.com, washingtonpress.com, etc.

I pay them little attention. I wish others were more discerning.

Instead, I've renewed my subscription to the LA Times and took an additional one to the NY Times. And having viewed this movie, will probably sign on to the Washington Post.

I'm well aware that these media sources have an agenda. They are not immune from putting a certain slant on what they report. I also believe that after 44 years on this earth I have developed a nose for false claims and half truths.

But these newspapers have something the folks at Breitbart, Fox News and the Gateway Pundit, don't have: Pulitzer Prizes. They could amass 100 million regular viewers and billions of dollars in ad revenue, but Sean Hannity and Steve Douchebaggery from Fox & Friends, will never be asked to don a tuxedo and take home an award for journalist excellence.

Never.

And regardless of what Shitgibbon says, standards of excellence matter. Facts matter. And so does trust.

I trust frumpy reporters making $75K a year over spin doctors who go before a national audience and say the president's inauguration was the largest crowd ever.

I trust professional journalists who ask tough questions and document their findings over conspiracy theorists who peddle hate and propaganda.

I trust my eyes and ears over a shithole-calling, pussy-grabbing, phone call-fabricating, cheeseburger-in-bed-eating, race-baiting, FBI-attacking, "Fucking Moron" any day of the week, and twice on a 36 hole playing Sunday.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put on a pot of coffee and see what Maggie Haberman has in store for me today.



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A long overdue apology


I went to pick up some drugs the other day.

My wife had caught this nasty bug that's going around so I volunteered to stop at the Rite Aid to pick up her package of semi-narcotic goodies. Particularly since the package included some codeine-fortified cough medicine.

Mmmmm, false euphoric confidence.

In any case, while waiting for the druggist to fill the order, I spied a brand spanking new blood pressure machine. I always love to throw my arm in the mechanical tourniquet and give it a whirl. Mostly because the numbers are always great -- 121/79, or something in that proximity.

On this occasion, it wasn't. I know the reason why.
I think we all do.

Which brings me to my apology.

I am not without any self awareness. And I know that I have been spending a good deal of time on this blog, on twitter and on Facebook, making comments, making memes and making myself heard in this fucking dark period of our nation's history. Furthermore, I know I've been abusing my social media privileges.

Hell, sometimes I get tired of hearing my own voice on the matter of Captain Fucknuckle.

While I'd like to apologize, I'd also like to offer up a weak argument in my defense.

You see, as someone who makes a living by putting words on paper -- more accurately, a computer screen -- I, and freelance copywriters throughout the land, spend an inordinate time in our Herman Miller ergonomic chairs staring at what you're staring at right now.

I'm not complaining, it beats shoveling shit, washing pots in a hospital kitchen or driving a forklift in Compton, California, all previously held jobs.

Here's a little occupational secret, good writing requires lots of good non-writing.

And by that, I mean we live or die by our distractions. Some writers will knit on the side. Others will pick up a guitar between spurts of inspiration. Me? I like to pick rhetorical fights with clueless khaki-pants wearing cretins who often don't know the difference between their there's and their they're's.

It gets my juices going. It keeps me razor sharp. And in a circuitous way, it puts food on my table and inches me that much closer to a brand new Audi S5 with the supercharged engine and the Heads Up Display.

What does all this mean?

It means I'm sorry for being so relentless. So prodigious. And so outspoken about the diseased sack of yak shit that is currently residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave..

Does it mean I plan to stop?

It doesn't.

Sorry.








Monday, February 5, 2018

On the Nunes Meme


I wasn't planning on writing about the Nunes Meme  -- misspelling intentional -- frankly, I didn't think I had too. I suspect most of the 8 regular readers who show up here are residents of the same political echo chamber and would likewise find a rebuttal unnecessary.

But on the off chance you know, or run into, someone who peddles this horsecockery from Fresno's favorite son, I thought I'd delve in. Because, as it turns out, picking that meme apart is easier than passing the Montreal Cognitive Assessment Test.

In a feat of monumental reductiveness Nunes, I should say the Nunes staff, as he has admitted that he never read the 50 page FISA document, has reduced and summarized the warrant to a simple 3 & 1/2 pages.

Allow me to reduce it even further.

His point, muddied as it is, states that the warrant was illegally obtained because it was based solely on the Steele Dossier, a file that he fails to mention was initiated by a conservative Republican outfit before it was resold to the DNC.

Furthermore he states this was done at the behest of people who were conspiring to fool these longstanding judges in order to take down the candidacy of one Donald J. Fuckknuckle. This is laughable, at best. If, as Nunes and his genii colleagues like Rep. Jordan, Gaetz and Gowdy contend, there were some conspiracy to spoil the Shitgibbon presidential victory, why didn't they go to the press with news of an ongoing FBI investigation?

The argument should end right there.

In essence they're saying that Comey, Mueller and Rosenstein (all Republicans, by the way) were smart enough to  fool a FISA judge BUT were not bright enough to leak the story out. To CNN? To the Washington Post? Hell, they could have put it on Reddit.

Which brings me to my second point.

From my understanding, and mind you I only took one Civics course in college, though I venture to say that was more time studying our system of checks and balances than either the dunce from Fresno or Colonel Combover ever did. Getting a FISA warrant is no rubber stamp process. It's not like getting a fishing license. It's a multi-step process that is both rigorous and heavy on Constitutional compliance.

I know this from listening to former federal prosecuting attorneys empaneled by CNN and MSNBC. I'll take their expertise on the matter over a bunch of ex-sorority girls on Fox News, even if they did have the highest cookie bake sales in the entire history of Alpha Phi.

Finally, there's the subject of the warrants, Mr. Carter Page.

Have you heard about this asshat? He lived in Moscow for three years. He was actively recruited by Russian FSB agents. And he was named one of five top foreign advisors to the Shitgibbon team. That team of five also included George Pappadopolous, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges and is now cooperating fully with Bob Mueller.

Ask yourselves this. If Hillary Clinton were president and you found out one of her top five foreign advisors spoke fluent Russian and had multiple contacts with Russian intelligence agents, wouldn't you want him followed? Moreover, wouldn't you be questioning the people who hired this jizzbiscuit?

If all that doesn't tell you enough about this Russian mole, perhaps this will....










Thursday, February 1, 2018

Then there's this Asshole


Last week, I committed myself to writing and sending a letter to each of our inept, enabling Republican US Senators who are complicit with the current ugly iteration of the Fourth Reich.

I have no delusions about receiving any response from these entitled and criminal clowns. But given my rising blood pressure and witnessing the collapse of our country in slow motion necessitated some physical form of release.

I choose to put pen in hand and take these assnuggets to Rhetorical PoundTown.

Last week , in a further testament to his soaring integrity, special counsel Robert Mueller released more texts between FBI officials who were removed from the current investigation. In one of those texts, an agent jokingly suggested the Trump campaign be brought up at the next meeting of the secret society.

Of course, there is no secret society.

And even if there was, a lifelong FBI agent with expertise in the intelligence gathering field would not be texting about it. Nor would they be so unimaginative as to call it a "secret society."

None of that stopped Wisconsin jizzbiscuit Ron Johnson from hunting down the nearest working TV camera and ginning up the now debunked story for his khaki pants wearing, tiki torch carrying followers.

Fuck you Ron and the Wisconsin cheese wheel you rolled in on.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Welcome to the new world


Every once in a while I'll come across the perfect TV commercial.
Perfect writing.
Perfect casting.
Perfect direction.
Perfect editing.
Perfect timing.

It's a rare occurrence.
Made even rarer when it happens in a 15 second spot.

Most 15 second spots I see are mere cutdown of their 30 second brethren. Half the time they don't work. The storytelling is forfeited in lieu of some cheapskate bean counter's need to make the numbers and ship more profits to the mothership in NY. And often times, clients who are intimately aware of the longer version, will just assume the viewer at home will "get it."

Newsflash, they won't.

But I digress.

This 15 second spot is storytelling at its best. I liken it to those contests I often see online challenging the writer to tell a tale in six simple words. You've seen those. Like this Hemmingway classic:

Baby shoes for sale. Never used.

This spot, featuring a baby, has a happier ending.

Maybe.



I'll grant you the connective tissue to TurboTax is a bit specious. And you could argue that this is a classic case of borrowed interest. Nevertheless, every time it comes on, I find myself rewinding the DVR and letting myself soak in the moment.

Particularly the smiling ginger mailman as he enters the room without a care in the world.

There was a time when infidelity and the birth of a bastard child was completely out of bounds for big national advertisers. But that was before we elected a porn star-banging, pussy-grabbing, money-laundering, swastika-embracing president.

It's a new world out there.

Thank you Captain Fuckknuckle.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My weekend with Riley


Today I am sad.

Yesterday my youngest daughter left for her study abroad program in Prague. Considering her volatile mood swings, her propensity for leaving dirty dishes in the sink and her terrible whistling,  this is not the source of my gloominess.

You see yesterday, we also said goodbye to Riley.
Who?

Well, our friends had to fly to Phoenix for a weekend funeral. Their normal dogsitter was unavailable. So we volunteered to help by taking Riley, a 10 year old Aussie Shepherd, for a few days. It was love at first slobber.

Since our dog passed last June, the house has been lacking any canine presence. And it isn't until there's a dog in the house that you begin to realize how they fill a home. It's a little uncanny.

Especially with an Aussie hound like Riley, who immediately identified me as the alpha male in the house and then behaved accordingly.

I went to get a cup of coffee, Riley was there.

I went to watch some basketball, Riley was there.

I went to the bathroom, Riley was there. OK, well parked outside the door waiting with baited breath for me to finish my business.

I had his undivided attention the entire weekend. It's as if Riley saw me as some fat, swarthy sheep that needed to constant herding before being led off to the slaughterhouse to yield 210 lbs. of perfectly marbled lamb chops.

(Homer Simpson voice: Mmmmm, unprocessed lamb chops.)

To wit:



Today, I am sad.
Tomorrow, I am working.
And the day after that. and the day after that.
This weekend, it may be time for a trip to the rescue.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Please me don't tease me


We're less than a week until Super Bowl XVZXVIIXXV.

And you know what that means. The Super Bowl commercials that no one gives a rat's ass about, will be teased with Super Bowl pre-commercials, which impossibly, command even less attention.

I don't know how this phenomena came about. But as you might suspect, I have my suspicions.

I've been in a million and a half advertising meetings. And in my modest 44 years, I've seen it all. Screaming matches between agency principals. Mid afternoon drunkenness. Narcolepsy. Sexual harassment -- not by me, mind you, but by pigs pulling down 7 figure compensation packages. And raging incompetence, Trumpian-level incompetence.

People who are incompetent are not dumb. They recognize their own shortcomings and tend to over compensate with ruthless anal retentiveness. From this, we have the birth of a corporate archetype that I like to call Bobby Boxchecker.

Of course we're not playing any gender politics here, it can also manifest itself in female form, as in Bobbi Boxchecker.

Mr. or Ms. Boxchecker is fond of electronic meeting invites. Agendas. Taking attendance. And lists. Oh god, they love their lists. Particularly the list of creative deliverables. The list endows them with a certain power they possess no where else in life. Hence they go back to their precious little list over and over again.

Years ago I was in a meeting that started with the reading of the creative deliverables and ended with the reading of the creative deliverables.

If memory serves me right, during the bathroom break when I went to "dump all my shares of Hometown Buffet", Bobby Boxchecker saddled up in the stall next to me to give me one additional echo-y rendition of the creative deliverables.

Mostly, they love this list because it chock full of work they don't have to do. Consequently, they have no compunction adding to it.

"Hey the client wants three directions, let's give them four."

"They said they don't have money for a brand manifesto, but we should give them one anyway."

"With data targeting we can customize banners a hundred, maybe a thousand different ways."

And this my friends, is where I believe the Super Bowl pre-tease commercial was born. When some account executive/coordinator, short on skills but long on ambition, mindlessly blurted...

"People love the Super Bowl commercials, why make them wait a week. Let's give them more to love."

To which I wish one clear headed creative would have mentioned that people don't love commercials and shown Bobby or Bobbi Boxchecker this:






Thursday, January 25, 2018

You get a letter. And you get a letter.


Regular readers of this blog, all 8 of them, will tell you there's been a distinct subject matter shift in the past year or so. Less griping about advertising. And more, much more, bitchin' about our current political abomination.

This is not just perception. This is reality. And I'm the first to admit it. I'll also admit that this turn to Washington, D.C. has cost me some readers, with web traffic taking a noticeable dip.

Guess what?
I don't care.

I also don't care about the so-called booming economy. Money is not the measure of a nation's greatness. Nor do I believe the Shitgibbon in charge had much to do with it

What I do care about is the future of our country and what we will be leaving to our kids. From my perspective it's not just the brain-dead hugger-mugger in charge that we have to worry about, it's the 52 Republican Senators who are equally complicit and do nothing while the man with the nuclear codes holds DACA children hostage, pays hush money to porn "stars" and tosses around racial epithets at countries and continents.

So today I start my Thursday Thrashing, wherein I write and hand mail a letter to each of these bumbling tainticklers.

First up, the less than honorable Senator Bob Corker.



Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Advenheit 451


I just finished Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury. This, despite the efforts of Precedent Shitgibbon and his limp cease and desist order.

I liked the book, but I wanted to like it more.

It was after all a tell-all account of the sordid, mortifying White House adventures we've all been watching for the past year. And given my visceral hatred of this junk food gobbling, clay brained hugger mugger who now pretends to govern the free world, you'd think I would have ripped through the book in one sitting.

But alas, it wasn't the page turner I thought it would be.

I'm not sure that Michael Wolff is to blame however. The chronological recap is just that, a chronological recap. And due to my voracious appetite on anything Shitgibbon-related, I was fairly familiar with all the grime before Mr. Wolff so eloquently restated it.

What was fascinating and where once again my naivete is so glaringly obvious was the internal fighting that went on behind the scenes. The  fiefdoms. The backstabbing. The alliances, both real and manufactured. This is the stuff of gold.

It was eye-opening to read how Bannon, Jarvanka, Priebus and even the Mooch, all stepped on each other to seize more power. Not by being better at what they did or by moving the ball closer to the goal line. By but leaking to the press, arranging back door meetings, and triangulating the forces at their disposal to make the opposition look weak or stupid or both.

This was revealing on more than one level. Because it not only gave context to the shenanigans at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it explained my position in life and why my career stalled at the many Big Holding Company ad agencies where I had toiled for so many years. And why today, I am working on brand activation events for Dr. Flowgood's Instant Pipe Cleanser.

Look, I'm the first to admit that I was never management material. But that never stopped lesser creatives from ascending the org chart. My issue, and this has become clear in retrospect, was my unwillingness to play the political game. Moreover, it was my inability to see that within the walls of an ad agency, a political game was being played.

I was so squarely focused on the brief and coming up with the next big idea, I never spent a second thinking about my next career move. I always thought (stupidly, I might add) that promotions and more money came as a result of hitting more singles, doubles and occasional home runs.

Never in a million years, or at least the last 44, did it ever occur to me that what went on in the White House goes on every day in ad agencies. And in law firms, and Fortune 500 companies throughout the land.

Merit is officially in Chapter 11.

And this is why we can't have nice things.




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vítané výhonky


This is the famed TV Tower in Prague.
In the Czech Republic.

By this time next week, my youngest daughter Abby, will be looking at the tower from the window of her apartment. Or her dormitory. Or her youth hostel. We still haven't received word from the University of Colorado about her study abroad living quarters.

We only know that she'll be there. About 6,000 miles away from the safety, comfort and overbearing control of her father.

And just as I was anxious about my other daughter going to Africa last year, it will once again be time to load up on the Atavan. And the Pepcid AC. And the Maker's Mark. This easing of the nerves will be accompanied by a rigorous study of the crime statistics in former Czechoslovakia as well as a detailed knowledge of the neighborhoods/train stops Abby must avoid.

Of course no mention of an Eastern European country would be complete without a thorough understanding of that country's disposition towards Jews during the 1930's and 1940's.

Then again, maybe I'll spare myself the agony, the haunting black and white photos and the harrowing accounts of the Eissengruppen and their mass murder of children. This rarely gets mentioned but it's quite possible that of the 2 million Jewish children slain by the Nazis, there's a good chance one of those gifted boys or girls might have gone on to cure cancer or unlock the secret of cold fusion. Good work White Supremacist assholes.

To be honest, I have no idea why Abby has to go to Prague to further her studies of media and production. Despite my impassioned pleas, she has decided to follow in my excessively wide footsteps. Not necessarily into advertising, though she is not ruling that out, but something in the media arts field.

Then again, perhaps I'm rushing to judgment. Maybe Prague is the Eastern European hub for creativity, as a closer inspection of the TV tower reveals this...


Like Portland and Austin, Prague is proud of its weird.

And with my daughter's arrival, it's about to get weirder.



Monday, January 22, 2018

ALO's


I had an interesting conversation not long ago with my buddy Josh. He had been working as a writer/producer/consultant on MAD MEN, but left the glamorized world of fictional advertising and returned to the considerably less glamorous real world of advertising.

If you can call it that.

Josh wanted my take on what was going out there. And seeing that I was a veteran nomad, who has worked in agencies big and small, near and far, shitty and even shittier, I was pleased to oblige.

Our conversation began and ended with a conversation about Ad Like Objects.

"What!?"

I told him to reach for the recline button on his Herman Miller chair and sit back for this doozy.

You see, agencies don't like having work rejected. It's demoralizing. It's expensive. And it creates all kinds of frictions between agency employees, who we all know are creative and all have a hand in the development of the work. So, in order to not have work killed they have cleverly come up with a solution. They don't show work.

"What!?"

Yes, they have eschewed that option and instead chosen to present Ad Like Objects, which, as the name would imply, are like ads. But of course they're not. They're fuzzy, vague, superficial entities that represent a way we could go. Or not go. That all depends on the whim of the client or if the strategy has changed...no, changed is not the word they use...evolved, yes that's it...the strategy evolved.

"What!?"

The storyboard, the comp, the script, the mock up, I explained, are all part of the past. Replaced by the handle, the platform, the direction, and a nebulous thingie that could, or not, be something to be pursued. This results in less contentious meetings and produces the thinnest veneer of progress. Most importantly, it allows for the illusion of the ball being moved forward and for timesheets to continue to bloat exponentially.

Josh, who is exceedingly smart, particularly considering he's an art director, wrote the term on his white board for posterity's sake.

And noted quite accurately, that considering our time in the business and the muddied future of the agency model,...

"That makes us, you and I, Ad Like Objects."




Thursday, January 18, 2018

Being an A Lister


Last weekend I did something I've never done in my life -- that's a set up line for a million jokes.

But with the photo above, I've already telegraphed the payoff.

As an early birthday present, my brother took me to a Saturday afternoon Clippers game. To be honest, I don't pay much attention to the NBA while the football players are still putting on the pads. To be even more honest, I don't care what goes on until my Syracuse Orangemen are officially relegated to the NIT and the fever of NCAA March Madness wears off.

Nevertheless, it was opportunity to do something fun with my brother. And drink beer in the middle of the day. Little did I know that what my brother had in store was more than just a pair of nose bleeds wedged between the supporting columns and the TV cameras for Univision.

When we arrived at Staples Center, we were led into the super exclusive VIP parking area. Once I handed the valet the car keys, we were guided thru a labyrinth of dark hallways and cool blue neon mood lighting. A smiling usher greeted us every 25 feet. And once we met their demanding security criteria, they navigated us all the way to our even more exclusive seats.

We were COURTSIDE.

Correction.

We thought we were courtside.

The folks at Staples have a rather lenient definition of the term. You see, while we were not exactly sitting next to Billy Crystal in the blue cushioned seats, we were directly behind them. And for some unexplainable reason, these too were considered courtside.

More like courtside-adjacent.

This perturbed my brother a bit, who fancied himself being shown on the big screen. No doubt hoping to recreate a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm, by tripping De'andre Jordan. But it was not to be.

It didn't bother me at all. From down here, the game is so different. You hear the players jabbering at each other. You see how fast they move. And for two and a half hours you see how the other half lives. And by that I mean the deferential treatment from the waiters, the security people, even the folks handing out the free shit. They're all so eager to treat you in a way regular civilians never get treated.

One other interesting tidbit. About ten minutes before tipoff, a middle aged man and his son took their seats right next to us. I recognized him immediately. It was Disney CEO Bob Iger. This was my second random meeting with the man who literally set my career on a different (much better) trajectory in two years.

We exchanged some small talk, but to be honest this time I don't think he recalled who I was.

That disappointment didn't last long. As we left the arena I asked the usher to send the waiter by so I could clear up our substantial lunch/beer tab.

"It's all complimentary in the courtside seats."

Like I said, it's a different world down here.



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Where's Pedro?


What are you looking at?

Well, this is just an estimate, I could be off by a hundred or two hundred, but this is roughly 5,000 people. That's a lot of teachers, firefighters, accountants, short order cooks and freelance copywriters, right?

Not really.

Because, you see, it's only one thousandth of the number of people alleged to have voted, illegally, in the 2016 election. So says stable genius and immigration expert, Precedent Shitgibbon.

You may recall that shortly after he "won" the presidency via the Electoral College, he was visibly and mentally upset to hear that he lost the popular vote. Trumps don't lose. With the exception of Trump Steaks, Trump Wine, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump University and Trump Casinos.

So he did what any rational, budget-conscious leader of the Free World would do -- he allotted millions of dollars to have Kris Koblach from Kansas set up a commission for a months long investigation. Last week that commission was decommissioned.

Here's what they found:





















That's right, NOTHING.

I was under the impression that we live in the smartest, most sophisticated country on the planet. With technology that is light years ahead of our nearest competitor.

And yet this star-studded commission of voting experts could find no evidence.

We are talking about FIVE MILLION People. Where did they go? Where did they stay? Not one of them got a hankering for some cheese doodles and a Big Gulp? There are no receipts? No witnesses? No video capture of one of them popping in at a 7-11?

I'm no Efram Zimbalist Jr.  -- though I wish I had pursued a career in criminal detection as I love to figure out puzzles and use all the resources at my disposal to find answers -- but I have to believe if there were 5 million illegal voters, I'd have the wherewithal to find at least one of them.

I'm actually very good at tracking down ne'erdowells.

Just ask one of my Carlson Park neighbors who had the temerity to deface my front yard.







Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Let's Do Drugs.


With any luck 2018 will be a turning point in my career. And by that I mean I will transition from being a general market freelance copywriter into a pharmaceutical freelance copywriter.

Oh yeah, I'm feeling it. Of course that could also be the onset of Restless Leg Syndrome.

I'm well aware of the implications of this ground shaking shift. Some will say it's the beginning of the end. That the needle on the record player is skirting dangerously close to the paper label. That Siegel has lost it and that furthermore, we have lost Siegel.

"I haven't seen him in years. Not since he started work on that new Open Wound Salve Cream."

The truth is I'm itching to break into the lucrative world of pharmaceutical.

Why? You may ask.

For one thing, it's swimming in money. It's like they're printing the stuff. Or more appropriately, they're breaking out in money, like a bad case of hives. And can't get rid of it fast enough.

Years ago, we took the kids to the Hyatt Regency in Kauai, not an inexpensive place to hole up for the night. Or seven. Turns out an entire wing of the hotel was booked for the sales reps of a huge pharma company. They were there on a boondoggle.

I cornered one of the reps, Top Cialis Producer in the Northern Indiana/Eastern Illinois Sales District, who told me their Hawaiian boondoggle included lodging, meals and TWO excursions a day. At the end of the week the pharma company threw a huge luau at the hotel. With roasted pigs, tattooed Samoan dancers and a full blown fireworks show.

They spared no expense.
I think they rolled Don Ho out of his grave for one last encore performance.

"But Rich," I can hear the naysayers, "you might make a lot of money in pharma, but you risk losing the creative respect of your peers and the opportunity to line your mantel piece with tinny gold-plated trinkets made in Taiwan."

"Hand me that brief for Latuda."

Finally, there's the issue of media. Pharma companies, whose main market is older people with nagging skin conditions, wobbly knees and skidmarked underwear, are decidedly old school. They've got their adhesively-bonded teeth firmly latched onto TV and print. Ahhh, the good stuff. They're not wasting their time or money on banners, page takeovers, towers, pop ups and mobile. They mirror the same attitude as the older folks they market to...

"Get off my phone!"

Not surprisingly, they've gotten pretty good at this TV stuff.



How good? Chances are you're going to being singing Tresiba Ready for the next few hours, whether you like it or not.

You can scoff all you'd like but we're getting older. I'm not going to be 44 forever. So this makes perfect sense. It's a way to remain productive and creative while I still have all my mental faculties. And suddenly find myself reaching for the Celebrex.

With any luck 2018 will be a turning point in my career. And by that I mean I will transition from being a general market freelance copywriter into a pharmaceutical freelance copywriter.

Oh wait, I said that already.