Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Is it 2018 yet?

There doesn't seem to be a lot to be thankful for this year. Or as one of my smart Facebook friends (sorry I can't recall which one) put it,

"2017 is the kind of year that makes you yearn for 2016."

That says it all.

Of course there are the usual bromides. We have our health. We have a roof over our head. We have a two kids in overpriced colleges. We have a turkey that's going to sit on our new Traeger smoker for a good 6 hours tomorrow and vault me into the BBQ Hall of Fame.

But it's also hard not to see the awful direction this country is headed in.

Just a few months ago, Tiki torch carrying Neo Nazis roved our streets and shouted "Blood and Soil" and "Jews will not replace us." Geez, where have we heard that before? And instead of calling them out for this, our dim, witless, clay-brained president decided it would be wiser to cherry pick a few good apples in the bunch and call them "very fine people."

And because of his fragile ego and skin thinner than a self conscious 16 year old girl at the junior prom, we now find ourselves closer and closer to a nuclear winter.

And that's just the tip of a sooty, millennium old iceberg that's melting due to global warming and rising sea levels throughout the world.

There's our new increased reliance on coal.

The withdrawal from global trade agreements.

The wealth redistribution to America's top 1%.

The destruction of Truth.

The attack on social services, like education and healthcare.

And the willful ignorance about Russian infiltration and the outright commandeering of our elections.

That's not to say there's nothing to be thankful for.

There is...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I'm now a Smoker.

Those of you who have met me in in real life, know I'm quite rigid on the topic of smoking. Actually, I can be quite rigid on a lot of topics. Kind of binary in my thinking. I either love something or I hate it. Not a lot of room for nuance. I explain it, often to my wife, that unlike others, I am unusually clear minded. She counters, more like unusually thick-headed.

And no where is this more obvious than my disdain for cigarette smoking. I don't like it. Can't stand it. And for better or worse, I often keep my distance from people who do.

Which makes the headline above so disconcerting.

Of course it's also misleading, because I have not taken up smoking tobacco, I have begun smoking meats.

After weeks of research and numerous visits to the various high end, overpriced BBQ stores that dot the landscape of West Los Angeles, I caved in and bought myself a Traeger. The TFB42LZBO.

It's being delivered later this afternoon, just in time for Thanksgiving. And already my head is in a foggy swirl, dreaming of Texas-style brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs and to the dismay of generations of Polish/Russian Ashkenazi Jews now turning over in their shtetl graves, mounds of mouth-watering pulled pork.

Mmmmm, dietary kosher law violation.

I've already found myself scouring the Internet for interesting smoked meat recipes. Investigating online smoked meat suppliers of duck, ox and yak. And browsing through the cavalcade of smoked meat accessories. As a matter of fact I do need an apron that says, "I'm Smoking."

The anticipation is killing me. I'm seriously at the point of consecutive carnivorous climaxes.

You might be wondering what led me to the magical wonders of smoked wood-pellet cooking? It started where all good conspicuous consumption starts -- on TV. It wasn't a banner ad. Or an Instagram Instie thingie. Or even an ad on my mobile device. By the way, I never see ads on my phone, and if I do they're always too small to see.

No, this bromance was all Old School.

With a twist, of course, it wasn't a TV commercial that sunk its hooks into my meat craving mouth, wait that didn't come out right. It was a 30 minute infomercial.

As I mentioned weeks ago, I believe the infomercial (the original branded content vehicle, if you will) is the future of our business.

Unlike these new fangled 6 second message units or whatever the fuck the media people are pitching these days, infomercials are informative. They're persuasive. And they're effective. The Traeger infomercial lacked production value. And to be honest it wasn't all that engaging. But when you're hawking slow-cooked juicy, sweet and tangy baby back ribs, it doesn't have to be.

All this talk about meat and advertising reminds of a headline I wrote years ago. It might have been for AppleBee's or Sizzler or Smith & Wolensky. At this point in my career they all blend together. I only remember that unmistakable look on the client's face when we presented this and her scowl of indignation before killing the entire campaign.

If God didn't want us to BBQ cows,
he wouldn't have made them so easy to catch.

Monday, November 20, 2017

That's Not How It Works

I'm going to step out of my Comfort Zone and talk about something I know little of. Actually, some might argue, that is my Comfort Zone.

In any case, when it comes to Economics or Macro-Economics, I'm a self admitted lightweight. I took an Economics course in college, during my freshmen year, when I was still too stupid to realize you never sign up for an 8:30 class. Especially in Syracuse, where at 8:30 in the morning, the temperature hasn't made it into the positive integers yet.

On the other hand, I'm a member of the Tribe. And it's rumored we know a thing or two about money.

In a recent poll conducted in Mobile, Alabama, the intellectual capitol of the world, 9 out of 10 locals were prepared to say,

"...'dem Jews, geez, they can turn a dime into a dollar."

As far I'm concerned, that's as good as a PhD.

Which brings us to the Trickle Down Theory and the House of Representatives proposed "Let's Fuck American Workers and Hand All the Money Over to the Robber Barons Tax Plan." I'm afraid I might have tipped my cards and telegraphed where this is going.

Unfortunately most Americans can't see the forest for the trees. Particularly the ones who put Precedent Shitgibbon in office. I guess their memories are not as stout as his. Because for the last 8 years all we heard was how the national deficit was ballooning and would bankrupt our children.

Which is funny because this new plan does nothing to reduce our debt. And in fact, despite the earlier protestations of Paul Ryan, actually ADDS close to 2 trillion dollars in red ink. Sooooo, we're not kicking the can down the road, we're picking up the #10 can of industrial-grade tomato paste and bludgeoning our children on the head with it.

Oh but Rich you're so Old School. In the new school of "Dynamic Economics", numbers and data are more fluid. Malleable. More forgiving to old wealthy white men, who, let's face it, are better at this money thing than working class stiffs will ever be.

And there's the other side of the coin.

Sure, we're adding to our debt, but we'll be taking away useless tax deductions like mortgage interest for homeowners and student loan interest for college students, and putting that moolah in the hands of people who are going to invest in factories, infrastructure and research and development.

And that investment is going to produce growth, like some magic Chia pet. And that overgrown leafy Chia pet will create jobs. Jobs. And more jobs.


I've been in the corporate world and rubbed shoulders with a few wealthy people to know that money does not trickle down. Money defies gravity and trickles up. One need only to look at the wage disparity between today's CEO's and today's shipping clerk, forklift driver or freelance copywriter. In days of old it might have been a multiple of 30:1. Open up a corporate earnings report today and you'll see it's as high as 1000:1.

If you want to verse yourself in the ways of cashflow, I suggest you stop sucking on the teat of failed Republican economic theory -- 2008 was less than 10 years ago -- and binge watch a few Martin Scorsese movies.

Little white envelopes.

Stuffed with cash.

Skimmed, laundered and handed up to the line to the Capos and the Dons.

That's how money works in America.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

If it's Thursday I must be lazy.

As some of you have noticed I have pulled the plug on my reverse scam series that I had been running on consecutive Thursdays. Some of you are lamenting the loss. Some are considerably more thankful. No one is more relieved than my wife, who no longer has to field the persistent questions...

"How could you have married that sick man?"

I'm feeling a little lazy these, and frankly under-appreciated, so in order to cut down on my Roundseventeen writing chores, I'm going to default to my suspect photojournalistic skills and publish a random selection of pics found on my iPhone.

My iPhone is always with me, whether I'm hiking up the stairs in Culver City or even in my garage committing myself to the Beachbody Body Beast program (my arms are reaching Matt Bogen proportions, by the way) so there will never be a shortage of crappy, meaningless photos.

Like these...

This one says so much about the failure of people to take any responsibility. 
And the fucked up status of our country.

This one says the same thing, only better.

"Eat Me" has always been one of my favorite catchphrases. 
Ever since Animal House.

This is from a kitschy souvenir shop in Little Rock, CA. 
My daughter picked it out and I'm so proud of her.

Found plastered to a garbage can in Little Tokyo, a fun night of revelry with Tom Saputo.

From the "I Should've Been An Artist" Collection.

In between Incline Shoulder Press and Progressive Hammer Curls, 
I found this guy atop my medicine ball.

The inimitable Gary V.

Hard to believe that at one time everyone on the block dreamed of driving one of these.

We don't say Cali.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's that sucking sound?

There's a sucker promoted every minute.

Notice I didn't use any demeaning adjectives around that. I didn't say stupid suckers. Or imbecilic suckers. Or even dim, clay-brained suckers.  Because the suckers I'm talking about are not dumb. Not in the least. In my 25 years+ plus career in advertising, I've met some pretty damn smart people.

Whip smart.
And you have to be to get to where these folks are. (Although let's be honest, the ability to suck up  plays a large role in their largeness.)

I'm simply saying they're gullible. And consequently susceptible.

How else can you explain the warm self-immolating embrace the advertising industry threw onto this thing called Digital? Here was this unproven platform, with bloated promises, fancy powerpoint decks and a thinly-veiled agenda to eat away at ad agency profitability, and yet these high-placed suckers went out and pimped it as an unprecedented game changer.

They bought it hook, line and sinker. Suddenly, every FSI, every statement stuffer and every metal-pushing End of the Year Sales Event had to have 360 degrees of Frivolous Fuckwadian Digital Knick Knacks™.

It changed the game, alright, but hardly for the better. For a more thorough and rigorous thrashing of this mishigas, I suggest you visit or buy Bob Hoffman's newest book, BADMEN.

Not only have agency brass been bamboozled by known competitors, The Digital Shysters, they've been hoodwinked by the very people who pay their salaries, the Clients.

More specifically, I'm talking about pitches, bitches.

Torturous, expensive, masturbatory marketing war games that leave nothing but misery and heartache in their wake. Losers come away empty-handed. And winners come away with a serial agency reviewer on their hands. A client who will double down on the pain they inflict and make them defend the account 365 days from the moment it is awarded.

Not long ago, my partner and I worked through the Christmas and Easter seasons on a pitch. Round after round of revision, which is music to a freelancer's ear. Followed by indecision after indecision. Again, not complaining. It's now been more than a year since the "final" (I use that word with trepidation) pitch, the client still hasn't made a selection.

I'm told by insiders that agency management is hopeful it will happen soon.
They're also, naively, counting on the budget to be even bigger than last year.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Last week, on Linkedin, someone posted a question to creative people,

"What percentage of the time do you feel uncomfortable at the beginning of a creative assignment?"

In a show of false bravado, I offered the very glib,

"O%. It's only advertising."

A weak attempt at humor to say the least.
But also mostly true.

Because I've been doing this for a very long time, longer than most 44 year olds care to remember. And I've built up a healthy reservoir of self confidence. Particularly in light of the fact that I've presented work, directly, to creative directors like Lee Clow, Steve Hayden and David Lubars.

And I've been in several hundred million pitches, seated across the table from people like Bob Iger, Elena Ford (of the Ford family) and even Andrew Puzder, who was at one time Precedent Shitgibbon's nominee for Secretary of Labor.

Plus, in addition to my thick nose, my thick feet and my thick chest, I have unusually thick skin. Made even thicker by my numerous trips around the sun. I'm at that privileged point in my life where I simply don't give a shit.

Allow me to clarify. I still give a shit about the work. But after the work is created I'd rather spend my time invoicing for it and not defending it.

Recently, my partner and I did an outdoor campaign (my favorite medium) for a new client. They loved the work. They thought it was "fun", "provocative" and "disruptive." Maybe a bit too much fun, too provocative and too disruptive. Because the positive feedback was immediately followed by the negative feedback. The hemming. The hawing. The second guessing. The omnipresent "ass-covering." And of course the backpedaling.

Thankfully, it was all done with one of those Love/Hate phone calls. I love hearing the work hit a nerve. I hate everything that follows.

At the very least it was another deposit in the my bank of self confidence.

You see, I can still come up with great ideas. I just can't be there when those great ideas get watered down to good ideas and good ideas get dumbed down to crap ideas and crap ideas get committee-fucked into whatever it is I'm seeing so much of these days.

That I can't do.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I See What You Did there.

At one time I had 20/15 vision. Of course, at one time I also had a 32 inch waist, a full head of hair and delusions of grandeur that frankly, were completely unwarranted. I guess it's only natural for a 44 year old to wax nostalgic about the past.

But, that's not why we're here today. And today is different. Because today I am officially a glasses-wearer-- there ought to be a better name for someone who dons spectacles. Especially now that I'm in the club.

Never thought it would come to this. As a kid I could see road signs on the horizon that my family couldn't see. I'd tug on my father's shoulder and...

"Look there's a Dairy Queen three miles up ahead."

"Sit back and shut up. Before I make you."

Having great eyesight was always one of my best physical attributes. On a list that's embarrassingly short. It was wedged in there with Inordinately-sized Roman Aqualine Nose and Sturdy Beer-Barrel Physique.

Not that I'm complaining. There can be no doubt that I have somehow been blessed with superhuman good health. The only night I ever spent in a hospital was my first night on Earth. With clean living and a ruthless devotion to the P90X and Body Beast programs, I hope to avoid hospitals for as long I can.

The current vision challenge is not entirely new.

Years ago my reading ability had started to fall off. Words on the page, and on the computer, seemed softer. Fuzzier. Squinting helped but it all became painfully crystal clear when at a local deli and, having read the menu wrong, I found myself in front of a plate of braised brisket, not BBQ brisket which I thought I had ordered. I hate braised meat and believe it brings great dishonor to the animal in question.

And so the collection of cheap drugstore-bought reading glasses began. They were all over the house and seemed to breeding faster than Viagra-fed bunnies. These reading glasses came in all different shapes and sizes. Some you could twist. Some you could bend. Even some you could fold, stuff in an ingenious plastic case and attach to your keychain. I still have those and they rank among my most prized possessions. Another embarrassingly short list that we can discuss on another day.

Interestingly, the reading glasses also come in ascending magnification powers. Which not surprisingly, were in direct proportion to my age. At 40, I could get by with the .75's. By the time I reached 44, I was at the highest magnification level. Wearing them, I can see the teensy tiniest of objects.  I swear I can see molecules and atoms. Most ironically, I can wear these Superman super-strength magnification readers to fix and replace those minuscule little screws that bond the lenses to the eyeglass frames.

Now, like an iPhone 4S from 2013, these reading glasses serve too little purpose. I was still able to read and write (that's unfortunate for all my friends on social media) but I was having difficulty see off into the distance. And by distance, of course I mean I couldn't see which teams were playing on my flatscreen TV.

Hence, a terrifying trip to the Opthamalogist, who poked and probed my cornea with some horrific cornea-poking machine, The Kayatsu Mishamoto Pokeatron 9000.

This was followed by an even more terrifying trip to the eyeglass store. Where, they seemed to be speaking a new language -- a language known only to eyeglass wearers. Moreover,  there were stylistic choices to be made. Being well aware of my aesthetic challenges, my wife offered to accompany me. I declined her offer, knowing it could turn into a major battle -- A NoseBridge Too Far.

I put on my big boy pants and went and bought my old man glasses.

And no, my wife did not laugh at my selection.

And no, neither did my daughters.

And no, I'm not going to post a picture of myself wearing them.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Money, Money, Money Part 4

Editor's note: It is with some sadness that I am announcing the retirement of the Thursday reverse scam series. I had a lot of fun with these. And I hope you did too. I also received a few random emails from people claiming my replies to the hilariously composed AsiaDate come on letters were misogynist or racist. I refute that 100% and would dare anyone to find an example. 

I hate to admit this, but there were times when my mood swings corresponded directly with the ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrial. if the market was up a hundred or two hundred points, I'd be absolutely ebullient. If it was down, I was convinced it would continue its slide and I'd spend my golden years in a not-so-golden dirty nursing home.

"What's for dinner, Maria?" I'd whisper to the nurse's assistant.

"Ketchup packet soup."

Thankfully, that's no longer the case. Not the nursing home bit, I'm always going to be wary of that. But the fluctuations of the stock market no longer have me scouring beneath the sofa cushions for a lost Xanax.

You see, I got out. I didn't make the same mistake that my father did. And I didn't get greedy. When the market hit its record highs -- under the Obama administration -- I started taking money off the table. I had done well with stocks like Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, and I pocketed the profits. After all, as my wife reminded me, I'm 44 years old and have to start thinking about the end game.

Of course that also means I didn't reap the rewards of the latest bull run. As our chief Fuckknuckle is quick to point out the market has added $5 trillion in the last year. Somehow, through Trumpian mathematics, that equates to lowering the national debt. It doesn't. In the same way the market's $8 trillion addition during the previous administration didn't wipe out our collective tab.

You could point out that logic to a fan of Fox and Friends, but they'd simply wave a flag in your face...

"U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!"

Ok, end of discussion.

Well now I'm in a different place. My money, what little there is, has been sidelined. My moods have been stabilized. At least as far as finances go. I still get a little foamy at the mouth when I hear our pribbling, beetle-headed hugger-mugger open his mouth and heap praise upon the Confederacy. Or delicately prance around underachieving Tiki Torch bearing Master Race wannabes and call them "very fine people."

And probably to the dismay of my financial planner I'm not in a rush to get back into the market any time soon. Because in these topsy turvy times we live in, I'm actually pulling for the market to take a nosedive.

If it's bad for Precedent Shitgibbon, it's good with me.

Down is up.

Red is green.

And Orwell gets another feather in his cap.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Money, Money, Money Part 3

I know there's this widely held belief that Jews are universally wealthy and that Jews "own everything."

You may find this shocking, but I'm living proof it's not true.

I'm not wealthy. Never have been. Neither has anyone in my immediate family. They're may be some money on my grandmother's side of the family, though I can't imagine anyone getting rich sewing schmatta. In any case, these distant relatives have wisely disassociated themselves from the Siegels.

My roots are distinctively working class.

My grandfather was a hack. Sorry, that's a term from a different age. A hack was a cab driver in NYC. I can't be sure, but I think he owned a medallion. But it is far more likely that he was gypsy, meaning not part of the taxi driver's union. And working totally on the sly. Given his disdain for organized groups as well as his penchant for betting the horses at Belmont, this seems most likely the case.

My father was also working class. And as I mentioned years ago, a convicted felon. Thrown in the Army brig for smoking the hooch, which is now legal in 5 states and probably making some other Jew (just not a relative of mine) a lot of money.

He also drove a cab.
And waited tables.
And went to night school to get a degree in accounting.

Through sheer determination, the kind that would shame a pitbull, he lifted himself, and his family, up to what is commonly referred to as middle class.

My wife, another Jew who also doesn't come from money and whose family shares similar working class roots, and I are now a little higher up the ladder. Not because anyone gave us anything -- there's never been anyone with anything to give -- but because we worked for it.

We've both been working since we were 14. We both put ourselves (largely) through college. And we both do our best to earn, save and spend wisely.

It would have been nice to have an Uncle Morty leave us 10,000 shares of Apple or 1000 acres in Northern California, but that didn't happen.

I don't know what the point of all this was other than to dispel the stereotype of the ubiquitously wealthy Jew.

But, in doing so, I'm also going to reinforce another stereotype. Because I'm still raging about President Fucknuckle's lopsided "tax reform" plan that subsidizes corporations and the super rich. And I feel about my savings and my earnings the same way some ammosexual feels about their guns.

"I'll give you what I've worked so hard for when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Money, Money, Money Part 2

Ever find yourself driving through a hoity-toity neighborhood, admiring the fancy cars, the well-sculpted topiaries, the top of the line electronic surveillance cameras, and think to yourself, "What do these people do for living? Are they lawyers? Are they in finance? Are they in the entertainment industry?"

The answer is No.
I'll tell you what they do.

They make their money. By you not making yours. They grift. They scam. They wield their collective power to bully politicians to serve their interest to the detriment of all others.

And there's no better example of all this that the recently introduced "tax reform" plan put forth by the house.

Precedent Shitgibbon wanted to call it The Cut, Cut, Cut Tax Plan. Only because it was deemed that The Fuck, Fuck, Fuck Working People Out Of Their Hard Earned Cash Plan was too wordy. And honest.

Before we tackle some of the specifics, I find myself asking, why at this point do we even need to turn the apple cart over? The unemployment rate is at 4.1% -- it was 4.7% when Shitgibbon took over. The stock market is at an all time high. And corporate earnings have never been better. So with the economy booming -- and by the way, that started in 2010 -- one has to wonder why the fish brained fuckknuckle in charge wants to do any course correction?

The answer is, as it has always been, GREED.

Small businesses, you remember them from the campaign trail, hate the new tax plan, which favors large business and offers no tax relief for mom and pop enterprises. The National Federation of Independent Business came out squarely against the bill.

So has the real estate industry.

Because the bill would eliminate any tax deductions for mortgages over $500,000. That's not going to affect Cletus the coal miner in West Virginia, but it takes money right out of my pocket, and probably yours, and puts it right in the hands of the Acme Carcinogen Company -- Stimulating cancer cells since 1971.

The bill also wants to eliminate any interest deductions for college student loans. Yeah, why would we want to incentivize higher education? Especially when the luxury boxes at Arrowhead Stadium needs to be updated with the new microfiber couches and the latest 4K TV's.

Come on 'Murica, lets get our priorities in order.

Finally there's the Estate Tax. President Bonespurs wants to call it the Death Tax, so it has a more egalitarian feel and applicable to Joe Sixpack and Betty Bag of McMuffins, but make no mistake it's an Estate Tax and is important to folks leaving close to $12 million behind.

That ain't me.
And it probably ain't you.
But as I stated above that's how they make their money.

If you hadn't guessed it's got my undies in a bunch with a thorny Full Nelson on my testes.

We're gonna pay more, so that when Thurston Howell VII leaves a $100 million yacht to Thurston Howell VIII, he doesn't have to pay any.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Money, Money, Money

Last week I finished up an assignment for a major video game franchise that been around since the turn of the millennium. I know what's going through your head, "I didn't think 44 year olds even knew about video games." Let this spot, directed by Doug Liman, put all doubts to rest.

Anyway, this happened to be one of the most successful games ever introduced and in preparation of launching the newest version, they told us to go balls to the wall. If not for a signed NDA, I'd share some of the balls to the wall events we came up with.

But that's not what this post is about.

You see, as my friend, and fellow blogger, and fellow old man George Tannenbaum, wrote recently, coming up with ideas and writing is done in spurts. You write a little, you goof off a lot. That's just the way it is.

Because I have two kids in college and a wife that is fond of house remodeling, I often spend my goofing off time looking for other gigs. I've even toyed with the notion of going back in and taking a staff job. After all, those soapstone counter tops aren't going to pay for themselves.

But then I turned to the pages of Indeed, Dice, Monster and Linkedin, and have never been so horrified in my life. Good Night Eileen, this is what I saw:

Sr. Copywriter -- $70K-90K

Creative Director -- $125K

ECD -- $175K

When I was growing up I was always taught it's not polite to talk about money with friends, family and co-workers. But we've now elected a man who lusts after his daughter, talks openly about grabbing pussies and defecates every time he sees a live microphone, so politeness is as meaningless as a sworn statement from Jeff Sessions.

What's disturbing about these numbers is not that they are the same numbers I was familiar with when I was climbing the ladder in the ad agency world.

They're less. Significantly less.

When I was legitimate Sr. Copywriter, back in 1853, I was making more than $100K. And even then, it was barely enough to buy a new covered wagon or a new butter churner.

My head hits the desk when I think of today's Sr. Copywriter bringing home $70K a year. Particularly when you consider how that "year" includes lost weekends, lost birthdays, lost anniversaries, and nights lost to making sure every fucking idea spins three hundred sixty fucking degrees.

Even more dispiriting is the fact that today's CEO's are often bringing home 100, sometimes 200, times that amount. Not to mention complimentary in-office dry cleaning.

While perusing these internet job listings, I always run across articles and listicles to the effect of "10 Ways Ad Agencies Can Recruit and Retain Talent."

I'm here to tell you, it has nothing to do with foosball machines and free mouthwash in the restroom.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hello Alice

As you might suspect, as a registered member of the club (?) I receive many, many letters from Asian mail order brides looking for an American sugar daddy.

Finding the right one to respond to is not always easy.

 But it's a fiduciary duty and service I happily provide because, well, I'm a giver.

The overriding criteria? Sometimes it's what's the young ladies say. And sometimes, like today, it because of the FREE photos they include with their introductory letters.

Meet Alice, who is not only eager but also musical.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hello Ghulam

The Internal Revenue Service called me last week.

I thought for a second I might be the target of a malicious audit, you know, in retaliation for all the memes and jabs at Precedent Shitgibbon. I seriously wouldn't doubt if my name were on some payback shortlist. Of course, if you know me at all you know I would wear that as a badge of honor. I long for the day when I get blocked from his Twitter feed.

But it turns out it was scam. The IRS, it seems, does not conduct criminal investigations from an office in Sylacauga, AL. Nor do they use robo-voices and broken English to alert tax cheaters of their crimes.

Here's a transcript of the phone call.

I don't know about you, but I love turning the tables on scammers. There's something about people trying to get their hands on my hard-earned money that just gets my goat.

Years ago, you might remember I published Tuesdays With Mantu, My Adventures with a Nigerian Con Artist.

Every Thursday, I take the time to reply to the scammers at, a money milking operation that preys on lonely men seeking companionship.

And you might be familiar with my ongoing battles with Volvo Cars of Las Vegas.

So, I did what any tax-paying American would do, I called them back at their Sylacauga, Alabama headquarters to find out how much I owed in arrears.

The phone was answered by Ghulam, who sounded more like he came from Pakistan than the land of Dixie.

Me: Hi, I got a message that I'm under investigation.

Ghulam: Yes sir. You have failed to declare all your income and now you owe us back taxes.

Me: Is this from my side business?

Ghulam: Yes sir, I do believe it is.

Me: Am I going to jail?

Ghulam: You must send us a check immediately. What kind of side business do you operate sir?

Me: It's a little unusual. I have 35 acres in Visalia. It's in the middle of farm country.

Ghulam: And what do you grow there sir?

Me: This is hard to explain.

Ghulam: I am listening, sir.

Me: We keep a herd of goats there.

Ghulam: You are selling goat's meat, sir.

Me: Not exactly, Ghulam. We're sort of running a goat brothel.

Ghulam: Not sure I am following you, sir.

Me: Look....there's not a lot of women in Visalia...and sometimes the men around here, well, they're looking for companionship...and for a modest fee they...uh...spend time with the goats...


Me: Hello, Ghulam? Are you still there? Ghulam?

I was going to take the time to block this phone number on my iPhone, but I don't think they're going to be calling me again anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The anticipation is killing me

It's Tuesday where you are, but it's still Saturday morning (when I write the week's blogs) for me and  the weekend can't go fast enough.

Why? You may ask.

Clearly, yesterday's announcement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has brought forth the first, in what I hope are going to be many, indictments in the Shitgibbon/Russia investigation is cause for great excitement. At this writing we don't know whose name will be listed in big bold beautiful type:






But here's what we do know. Our Golfer in Chief is a control freak. He pens excuses letters for Donnie Jr. He feels the need to tweet at every criticism. And he gets two scoops of ice cream for dessert when everyone else gets one. You'd have a hard time convincing me that if there were election shenanigans going on with the Russkies, he'd most certainly have his tiny vulgar fingers in it.

Even if he somehow manages to squirm out of any indictments or impeachment himself, this promises to taint -- god I love that word -- his entire presidency. Because it calls into question his judgment. The astute among you know he has no judgment and yet one third of the country still swallow his horsecockery. Moreover they're convinced his presidency will go down as one of the greatest in the history books. Which is rather ironic since his loyalists don't read history books. Or, it seems, any books.

More cause for excitement? A good friend of mine, who was actually a client the first time we met (thus dispelling this notion that I hate all clients), has promised to introduce me to a small firm that is in need of some help. Best of all, this not about hawking a better butter replacement or some sugary brown fizzy water. This is about using my marginal and overly expensive ability to twist words around to actually do some good in this world.

Finally, there's the World Series. By the time you're reading this on Tuesday the whole thing could be over. Particularly if the Dodgers play sloppy and listless like they did in Game 3. What makes this World series different than all the others is that LA is playing.

You see baseball and my marriage have had a rocky relationship. Our anniversary was last week. And my wife will never let me forget how I, and half the men in attendance, missed major sections of the wedding by scurrying off to the bar at the Riviera Country Club to watch the nail biting, extra inning conclusion of Game 6 between the Blue Jays and the Braves.

This year, because the hometown is involved, I've got a pass on the excessive baseball watching. And even have my wife running around the house saying, "Los Doyers."

As if all that weren't enough, my Ryan Gosling look-a-like  handyman is bringing his crew and their sledgehammers to begin demolition work on the downstairs bathroom (see yesterday's post).

This is a lot to take for my heart.
Good thing I've been doing a lot of cardio.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Welcome to the Library

Last week, I said the magic phrase to my wife, the words every woman wants to hear...

"Happy 25th Anniversary."

No, wait that wasn't it, even though we did just celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The words that lit up her face, as I suspect it does for so many wives who crave a magic spark in their life, was more like...

"Let's remodel the bathroom."

I swear it was like bringing home diamonds, dipped in chocolate and buried in fresh cut roses. I had no idea of the power. Nor did I in any way comprehend the Pandora's Bowl I was unleashing.

No sooner had those mystical words left my mouth, did I find myself and my wife leaving the house. Headed to that most dreaded of all destinations -- the tile store.

If you haven't had the pleasure, might I suggest some deep roasted and heavily caffeinated coffee. Then, make sure you pack some additional Red Bulls, for when the tile store designer starts showing you herringbone displays. And then, just for safety, bring along some smelling salts, because you have never been lulled to sleep so effortlessly until you've started picking out the right grout colors.

That, it seems, is only the first Gate of Hell. Or more accurately the floorway. Because we haven't even talked about wainscoting. And why would we? Well, apparently getting the right wainscoting is very important to the overall aesthetic of the room, a room I might add where, if I'm lucky, I get to "launch a daily lifeboat off the SS Assitania."

OK, so tile is important.

Grout color is important.

Wainscoting is important.

And all require multiple discussions, visual comparisons and hours of angst.

Yet all pale to the biggest decision of all, the new paint color.

Hence last weekend's  -- during the World series, no less -- to the paint store.

I've spent the last 25 plus years partnered with art directors who painstakingly, and lovingly, sweat out every last visual detail. That's their job. They're professionals. But they wouldn't last 5 minutes with my wife and the robust conversations about richness of Pantone 185 versus the silky texture of Pantone 193.

Good grief, what, or who, have I unleashed?

It's all fun and games right. Well that is until we find ourselves standing before a magistrate, armed with our divorce lawyers, explaining the irreconcilable differences regarding the selection of the brushed nickel toilet paper holder.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Give Hate A Chance

By now you know I read a lot of love letters from

I have well over 1000 in my inbox.

To be honest, many of them start to sound the same.

"I listen to your heart. Together we can walk by the ocean and share our deepest emotions. I will kiss your fish and we will make a life together in peace, harmony and high quality."

Perhaps that's why I so appreciate a brave woman who dares to take the unconventional approach. A strong Chinese woman like Chengshu.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The art of the slow burn

I'm not big on prognostications.

Never had a stomach for folks who claim to know what's in store for the future. Most of them are uninformed. Most, it seems, have some hidden agenda. Plus, there's plenty of evidence that people who make predictions about the future of advertising are just simply full of shit.

Remember Vines?

Is anybody using FourSquare?

Do you Slack? Or know anyone who does Slack?

And despite all this, I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest the future of our business is infomercials. I'm not just saying this to be contrarian. I know the current talk is about 5 or 6 second commercials, pre-rolls and other such abbreviated horse-cockery.

Those people are idiots. And I've got the research and big data to prove it.

You see I  don't just consider myself America's Premier UnderEmployed 44 Year Old Freelance Copywriter. I think of myself as a focus group of one. And last week this focus group of one found itself mesmerized by a 30 minute long infomercial on the many wonders and benefits of wood pellet meat smoking.

More specifically, I found myself watching an entire half hour paid advertisement for the Traeger Grill. As a lifelong carnivore, I naturally have a built in interest in the preparation of briskets, Porterhouse steaks, pork shoulders and Santa Maria style tri-tips. But the folks at Traeger found a way to make my already watery mouth, even more water-ier.

Prior to this viewing I had never even heard of wood pellet cooking or automatic auger-controlled low-and-slow burning. But by the end of the show I was a bonafide expert. And it all made perfect sense.

Hell, if TV executives can make successful shows about people buying storage lockers or installing elaborate aquariums, it can't be that hard to hook people for 30 minutes and entice them with St. Louis Ribs slathered in tangy bourbon-based BBQ sauce. Mmmmmm, bourbon.

And that's the thing about these infomercials. They are incredibly persuasive. They inform, they entertain and they sell. And I've got a garage full of P90X, Insanity and Body Beast DVDs to prove it. I'm a sucker for these ads. And I'm most cynical man on earth, so says my wife.

I sincerely believe this is where the industry is going.

My friend Laura writes a blog on fashion and style and gets all kinds of free swag. But I don't want you thinking that I'm saying all this with the hope that the Traeger PR people will see this blog and comp me one of their $1000 grills. OK, maybe I am. But I still stand by my convictions about infomercials.

BTW, that new Traeger Timberline model with the wifi-enabled temperature control and 458 square inches of cooking capacity looks very cool.

And blogworthy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Little, tiny, microscopic data

Yesterday, I took the opportunity to delve a little deeper into my 23andMe report.

If you haven't done this test that examines your chromosomal contents. I suggest you do. It's a lot more enlightening than sitting down with an overpaid therapist who pretends to take notes and respond to every question with...

"And how does that make you feel?"

It made me feel like I was wasting my money and that Siri or Alexa could be more helpful.

Perhaps the most fascinating component of the 23andMe report is the section on my alleged DNA relatives. These are other people who have voluntarily spit into the plastic vial, in order to satiate a similar curiosity about their ancestry.

Turns out there are close to 1500 people in the US alone, who share some of the same ATCG combinations floating around in my body. Meaning we're related. Cousins. Or cousins of cousins. Or even cousins of cousins of cousins. That's so many mental images I don't want to think about.

I've reached out to a few of these people. And not surprisingly, none of them want to have anything to do with me. If I were in their shoes, and genetically-speaking I am, I wouldn't want anything to do with me either.

But here's where the whole thing gets marginally interesting. The brainiacs at 23andMe have taken all this scientific big data and extracted some useful/not useful insights into how it translates into behavior.

Take a look...

I've never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the package. Maybe the whiniest, but certainly not the brightest. But these charts have left me a little confused.

If for instance it says my relatives are 72% less likely to have sweaty palms, does the converse hold true? Meaning we're 28% more likely not to have sweaty palms?

I'm a little befuddled by the presentation. I do know that if we've ever met in public and shaken hands, there's a 99% chance you're gonna make a beeline for the bathroom and the CostCo-sized Purell.

It's not that I'm stricken with anxiety -- I'm 44 years old and frankly don't give a shit anymore -- but my hands and feet are like Niagra Falls.

I also have to question the accuracy of their findings. I like caffeinated soda, though I'm making a huge effort to cut back. I haven't skydived, but my brother and my daughter have. And despite my barrel-chested shape and excessive girth, I have run three marathons. As well as a number of Triathlons.

So what's the point of all this? It all comes down to accounting.

You see the 23andme report costs me $99. And now, since I've written about it on this blog. And this blog is nothing more than a vocational tool of self promotion. So, by the transitive law of twisted tax deductions, I can write the whole DNA exploration experience off on my 2017 tax returns.


Monday, October 23, 2017

5 Better Alternatives to Precedent Shitgibbon

Last week, former president George W. Bush offered a stinging rebuke of the current presidency. I haven't listened to it yet. To be honest I'd rather be watching the Pee-Pee tapes, which are now back in the news.

But these days, littered with lies, arguments with Gold Star families, and just the sheer failure of leadership, you take what you can get.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking -- never a good thing. About who I would prefer to see as our president. That narrows it down to between 7 billion and 8 billion other people on the planet.

But for the purposes of this blog and for the veneer of plausibility, I've culled it down to 5.

Many people don't like Mike Pence. I don't like Mike Pence. His biblical views aren't fit for a tribe of goat herders. I have many gay friends, colleagues and relatives. I suspect you do as well. I may have grown up in a homophobic hamlet in upstate NY, but I like to think my perspective has evolved. And for the life of me, I can't understand why what two people (maybe three) do behind closed doors has any effect on my life. It's not my business. It's not your business. And least of all, it's not the government's business. And yet, despite his farcical, Neanderthal theocratic outlook on life, it is far, far better than the Fucking Moron currently in the White House. And so, I'd be happy to salute President Mike Pence.

Recognize this assnugget? That's Louis Gohmert, a congressman from Texas who is widely regarded as the dumbest man in the House. Louis subscribes to the belief that if there's snow on the ground, there can't be any global warming. He's also had some choice comments regarding rape, guns and religion. If there were such a thing as an IQ contest, as alluded to by the twatwaffle in charge, Louis would easily lose to a stale after-dinner mint. Intelligence and goofy grin notwithstanding, I would still have no problem calling him President Louis Gohmert.

I'm sure you're familiar with this yahoo. That's Alabama's own Judge Roy Moore. He's currently running for senator. On a platform of misogyny, state's rights, unfettered access to guns and of course strict adherence to Judeo-Christian values. Though I'm sure if you cornered him, he'd be happy to omit the Judeo part. "Hell yeah, I want bacon bits on my ice cream float. Pour it on, you damn infidel." You might think, we'd be way too un-simpatico, and for the most part we are, but in addition to knowing religious laws (funny how this is a common strain among all these fuckknuckles) at least he also has a passing acquaintance with the laws in our Constitution. And that alone makes him marginally more preferable and it makes me ok with saying President Roy Moore.

OK, we're reaching the part of the barrel, where the brine water gets a little foamy. Tiny shavings from the wood cask float amongst the bubbles. It's here we find former Vice President Dick Cheney. It's no secret he has got a mean streak wider than the plains of eastern Wyoming. He's cunning. He's evil. And he's a master puppeteer. But, shown a map of the world, he can easily point to North Korea, Iran and Niger. The current taintlicker would have to whip out his Geography for Dummies handbook to do the same. All hail, President Dick Cheney.

Yes, it's that fucking bad. Good morning President Scott Baio.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Learning about Loofas

When it comes to women, I like the ones that get straight to the point. They don't dilly dally around with all kinds of useless narrative. They dive right into the deep end.

And speaking of watersports, say hello to Molly.

She's clearly into the wet stuff.

Oh and Game of Thrones, too.

You'll see.