My First Post – An Unexpected Problem in the Yucatan

One of my oldest friends has started to share his travel stories and he starts out with a series of unfortunate events.

Star Wars Super Bowl Trump

PuppyMonkeyBabyIf that headline doesn’t win an award for best SEO-optimization, I don’t know what would? The only thing missing is Kardashian and “You Won’t Believe What Happened Next.”

Anyway, one of the reasons I hadn’t been blogging much is, as stated last time, bandwidth issues. When I took on the new job, I didn’t give up writing the column at work, so, well, it’s sad really. I remember back in the day when James Lileks wrote a daily 6-katrillion word piece for his own blog, did some sort of radio stuff, wrote a column for work and more (actually, I’m pretty sure he still does it). Here I am bitching about getting a column out every other week. In my defense, I totally kick ass at going to meetings, though.

Anyhoo. So the column. What have I been writing about? This week I wrote about the Super Bowl, as one would expect. But I did not do the ad review this year. No, I just wrote about surviving your $4.8 million hangover if you were a marketing executive who bought an ad in the game and, perhaps, it didn’t go so well. Also: PuppyMonkeyBaby.

I wrote about Coke’s new marketing as well, but that might be a little TOO focused on marketing for anyone outside the industry to get into it.

One of my favorite ones of recent vintage was when I piled on Hasbro and others for leaving Rey out of the toy lineup for their Star Wars merchandise. “Blah blah blah, we couldn’t be sure … logistical something … blah blah blah.” SHE’S THE HERO OF THE MOVIE, YOU IJITS!

I even took some time out of my busy schedule to write about Donald Trump and his political campaign, such as it is. This was well before Iowa. And, as you can imagine, I got an earful from his supporters for daring to suggest that his marketing efforts, while great for him, aren’t replicable for anyone else, much less real companies that have to sell actual things to actual people. (Try to imagine Coke or Procter & Gamble, straight-up calling people smelly ugly losers … rather than just implying you could be one if you don’t use their products.)

So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to.

Oh. And Happy Mardi Gras.

10 Alternate Slogans for (Horrible) Bob’s Furniture


Here there be dragons

All I wanted was a recliner.

Now, some of the ex-suburbanites who dwell in New York are already laughing, because they’ve convinced themselves that a recliner is something to be scorned rather than a technological marvel that deserves a place in the annals of history right up there with the air conditioner and television. But you go right ahead and pretend you scoff at the recliner because of your impeccable taste in design rather than some deep-seated daddy issues that we’d rather not get into. I’d tell you to “enjoy” the discomfort of your Modern furniture, but you probably don’t notice what with the stick up your ass.

Where was I? Oh. I wanted a recliner. We now have plenty of room and the couch and ottoman thing has been killing my back. I wanted something cheap, functional and not completely ugly. Cara thought it was all quite cute until she sat in a recliner and I saw immediately we’d be fighting for whatever I purchased. So we got a loveseat with two recliners built in because, like Charles Manson said, if you’re gonna do it, do it witchy.

Continue reading

She Put That $#*% on Everything


To quote the legendary Jim Anchower: “Hola, Amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I wrapped at ya.” But I had a few changes since last I dropped in on this space over five months ago.

I’ve grown a beard and shaved it off. I got a new laser printer. Cara and I moved to Bay Ridge from Park Slope. We miss the Slope and the commute. And we’re still renting. But now instead of a 700-square foot (if that) two bedroom, we’re in a four-bedroom house, which means we can throw stuff all over the floors and have it take a little while before things look really messy.

Oh, and it’s no coincidence I quit blogging right around the same time I became editor of Advertising Age. Turns out that even after working there for over 15 years and being managing editor — which involved a lot of backseat driving and Monday-morning quarterbacking — the job has been a challenge. Hell, it might be the first time I’ve found a job challenging since my first gig as a reporter at Suffolk Life Newspapers back in 95 or whenever that was. But back then I was 22 years old and too cocky and stupid to realize I was being challenged.

Challenged, of course, does not mean bad. It just means different and, thankfully, not boring. (And they also pay more for the challenging part, so that’s nice.)

I was going to write an entire post about limited time and limited mental bandwidth, how between the commute and the job and the this and the that, I hadn’t been writing here or working on my most recent novel (especially frustrating since I finishing an entire rough draft). But then I realized it sounded like so much whining, the ultimate in first-world problems and something that, if I took a step back, would sound like humble bragging of the worst sort. “Oh, I got a promotion and my beautiful wife and I moved into a much bigger place, but the commute is annoying and I don’t have time to blog for my 16 followers or work on my precious fourth novel.”

Yeah, that dude needs to rub some dirt on it and keep moving.

Or better yet, some Campho-Phenique. I’m not quite sure what prompted this blast from the past, but it’s been on my mind recently. Perhaps the smell of Biofreeze or Tiger Balm dislodged a memory about the wonder drug Campho-Phenique.

Yes. You’ll see on its home page that it’s for cold sores and bug bites.

But for a certain demographic in certain regions of America (poor and Southern among them), Campho-Phenique was a wonder drug that was used to treat the following: cuts, scratches, scrapes, bruises, bites (mosquito, ant, spider, squirrel, dog and cousin), burns, burning grass nettles, stings, gashes, bashes, lashes, hurt feelings, puncture wounds, chicken attacks, pink eye, ring worm, tractor rash, rabies, tetanus, and broken and severed limbs up to and including decapitation.

It might not always work, but it was going to be applied. Campho-Phenique was Neosporin for a tougher generation.

Seriously, when we were at Mawmaw’s house and one of us went down in action, we knew the funny-smelling stuff in the green bottle with the yellow label was going to be called into play. In fact, it often made us hesitate to run into the house crying (we weren’t allowed in the house during daylight hours unless there was a hurricane or something). Because Campho-Phenique, much like rubbing alcohol, burned — especially on open wounds and, well, burns.

Hell, I had an entire blog post in my head about Campho-Phenique, too. But it turns out that everyone from Jeff Foxworthy to this blogger, who’s even got a photo of the classic bottle sitting right next to — what else — a jar of Vicks VapoRub. Which is funny because aside from consistency, they are pretty much the EXACT. SAME. THING. Camphor and eucalyptus oil. (Though the Phenique in Campho-Phenique means it’s got carbolic acid as well, something they used to advertise right on the bottle. Because if it’s got acid you know it will just burn away the germs and infection.)

Jeff Foxworthy literally said, “You might be a redneck if you think Campho-Phenique is a miracle drug.” In another of his bits, he says “I remember when I was a kid, there were two medicines: aspirin and Campho-Phenique, that was it.” (And that’s sort of funny because Campho-Phenique is owned by Bayer.)

Now, technically, Mawmaw wasn’t a redneck. We were Cajuns. But that’s mostly a difference of accent and religion. And even in matters of faith, both groups apparently put a lot of stock in good ol’ Campho-Phenique.

So, to sum up, I was going to sit down and write a post completely consisting of whining, and then I thought about doing a bit about Campho-Phenique, but found it had already been done numerous times. I still managed a few hundred words. Because that’s how talented I am. (Or that’s how intent I am on procrastinating about diving into this damn novel.)

But if you have young children today, you should totally invest in Campho-Phenique. Does it work? Who knows? Does it burn? Hell yes. But it will provide your children with a clear olfactory memory that will anchor their childhood and bond them to you.

Also, Phenique would make a great stripper name.

Time Once Again to Fight Cancer!

Epitome of style and grace

Epitome of style and grace

I’m doing the Team in Training thing again, raising money to kill cancer dead.

In fact, I’m sweating from a run as I type this message. But it was a good day for a run. In the 70s and little humidity — unlike Sunday when I ran in Louisiana and it almost killed me. I don’t know how people train in Louisiana.

This year the team and I are running the Brooklyn Rock n Roll Half. I’m hoping to PR (at the age of 40-something) and I’m also hoping to bust some fundraising records, too.

So I’ll need your help. Whether it’s five bucks or a hundred, every little bit helps.

It takes more than one person to make up a team and that’s why I’m asking you to donate to my TNT fundraising page for TNT!

In the six years that Ad Age and Crain Communications employees have been fielding a Team in Training team, we’ve raised over $135,000 to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society find cures and more effective treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and myeloma.

Since it’s beginning in 1988, more than 600,000 participants have helped TNT and LLS raise more than $1.4 billion.

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immunotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer.

Patients need these cures and they need your support.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

Video: Our Robot Overlords Now Know How to Jump

Thanks, Boston Dynamics (and Google). Thanks MIT. Thanks a lot.

Already Sick of the 2016 Election? Have I Got a Proposal for You!

Election ads have already begun. This is horrible news for the country. I love political ads because, while they’re full of lies, they’re among the most honest ads out there in that they show the marketers involved as sniveling, cutthroats who’ll do or say anything to gain or maintain power! But I don’t live in a swing state, so I’m not subjected to political ads from now until next November. NEXT November.

So, in my most recent column for Ad Age, I’m proposing Abigael’s Law, named after the little girl above, driven to tears by the last election.

The law I’m proposing is fairly simple. During the general election season, you can’t advertise on TV or radio at all until 60 days prior to the election. For primaries, it will be 30 days out from the election in that particular state.

We’re going to avoid all the confusing distinctions between candidate and party and advocacy advertising made by regulators in other countries, if for no other reason than to curtail cries that we’re violating First Amendment rights of faceless political groups bankrolled by downtrodden billionaires. Everyone can advertise! And everyone can spend as much as he or she wants!

But there are a few caveats — and a few more jokes — in the full piece. Go read it.