Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Randomly Scratching Away

As I mentioned when I started to write this book, blogging might take a back seat. I thought I would write about 80,000 words, but I just passed 82K and the story isn't over yet. I have one final climactic scene to finish and then the wind down. Probably come in just shy of 100K when it's done. So, that's why I have been a negligent blogger lately.

If anyone knows a literary agent or is in the publishing world, here's a synopsis:

A newcomer to town, a stranger living in an Airstream at the local campground, visits a megachurch in America’s Midwest. His arrival portends the rapid meltdown of a prominent and fast-growing ministry under the leadership of Dan Jackson, the gifted pastor of Oak Canyon Church. Beginning with the murder/suicide of the music minister at the weekly staff meeting by her naked and disturbed husband, the church’s slide has only started, an empire falling.

When you’re the biggest and the boldest, the loudest and the proudest, people want to take you down.

“Why do they love to see us fall?” Dan asked God.

“Because you set yourself up so high,” he replied.

The church as a business, a military operation, a fortress under siege. A picture of America. An American parallel.

Let's see if there's anything to this social media stuff I keep hearing about.

The main character has a Twitter account, which he uses periodically in the book. Starting in July, when the book takes place, he will be tweeting the book in real time.

And the website is here.

Should be back to a normal, non-obsessed blogger soon.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grandpa Was Into Rodents

OK,, not sure what's going on here, but it's probably not healthy.

Previously in weird banners:
Haunted Bus Ride

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Monday, April 20, 2009

If You Do Something, Do It Well

Don't know how I stumbled upon this on a Monday morning as I try to get the caffeine levels up to a point sufficient to attack a boring brochure about charitable gift annuities with some degree of enthusiasm, but it's inspiring. I have to find something I do well.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

It Ain't Over 'til the Fat Lady - Oh, OK.

I'm one of those uncultured Americans who can't appreciate opera. We're everywhere. We don't know our arias from a hole in the ground. We'd fall asleep at the opera. We don't understand it, aren't interested in understanding it and don't mind that you think we're idiots for not understanding it.

Not that I am averse to "the arts" as a whole. I like a good play, as long as it's not a musical. I can even stomach a little classical music. And I've been to the ballet. Twice. I will even listen to NPR when I have no choice.

So, don't color me sad that the Orlando Opera has hit the skids. And I don't think the city should be surprised nor should we wring our hands at the death of the Orlando Opera. Just the name is an oxymoron. Orlando has an opera? This is a joke, right?

The local wags and nobs think this is harbinger of horrible economic times to come. No, it's not. It's the natural byproduct of horrible economic times. People stop supporting things they don't use or need. And rarely ever used.

"The lack of broad community support indicates that a resident professional opera company is not a priority of Orlando in these difficult times," said Joy Barrett Sabol, the opera board's chair.

No, Joy, and it never was. Sorry.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


When it comes to church advertising, almost all of it makes me want to puke. Heart-string tugging, little kids, sadness, despair, whatever - come on out to Life Center Faith Fellowship or Morningstar Community and get your fix of happy! (And come as you are, 'cause we're all hip like that, where cool boys play guitars while hot chicks sing for Jesus.)

On the other hand, this one is great. A timely, tongue-in-cheek spoof of the ShamWow dork. And from the Catholics, no less - not normally known for doing advertising beyond letting you know via vinyl banner that they're having a bingo night this Saturday.


On a somewhat related note, check out ShamWow guy - en Español!

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Baseball is Boring - But You Won't Be Bored

When your advertising nearly apologizes for your reputation and tries to draw attention to other aspects of your product, I think you're off on the wrong foot. Like that movie, the name of which escapes me, where the agency designs a campaign for Volvo that says, "Boxy - but good."

Cooperstown, NY. The name instantly makes you think of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown wants you to think of other things now and is trying to alter its image a bit with their website This is Cooperstown, on which they show lovely women and children enjoying things like The Farmer's Museum, the Opera, Food Tours and more.

The point is, ladies, that if your fat, baseball-obsessed husband insists on visiting that ridiculous shrine to America's pastime, you can have fun too, all by yourself, alone, lonely and sad, reminiscing of a time when he wasn't a jerk, and he'd accompany you on trips to the farmers' market and pretended to be interested in things like 19th Century landscapes. So while he's off drooling over pictures of dead ballplayers and old baseballs under glass, you can come and visit our empty art galleries with nicely polished floors, looking so sunny in your summer dress. Yes, we have art galleries, believe it or not.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Your Bad Joke for Good Friday

Much like Sick Tomato, this one's for the juveniles in the crowd.

Previously in "My Stunted Middle School Humor":
Bare-breasted Land O' Lakes Lady
Homemade Near-death Experience

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

At Least Amtrak Can Deliver Commercials

Nevermind that Amtrak Sucks, great job on this commercial that positions Amtrak as the alternative to flying, much like I recommended back in March of 2008.

Now, if only this commercial was true, and not a blatant lie telling giant tales of a nationalized rail service that actually works.

Ah, advertising.

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Two Traffic School Direct Mails - Which To Choose?

I have to hand it to both of these businesses, they are on their game. A couple of weeks ago I was ticketed on I-4 for exceeding the speed limit (and another $96 violation I won't go into, lest I draw the ire and scorn of a certain portion of the audience). Not long after that, these two pieces of direct mail arrive on the same day. Smart marketers, grabbing the "who got ticketed today" lists from the various law enforcement agencies and promptly hitting up the bad drivers for business.

Same "Approved by the State of Florida" notifications, and even the same cost. It now comes down to choosing a traffic school based on design, copy points and the ability to "grab" the audience. Direct mail is tough. Some people love creating it, but I personally hate it as I am always at odds with the AE or client, who want it louder and nastier than should be lawful.

I'm probably going with the lady on the laptop and not the greasy-haired smiley boy.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

As Seen on TV

My closet is crowded, but I'm not ever in a million years hiring one of these Closet Consultants who come over to your house and build a bunch of teak and mahogany shelves so that Barry Gibb and Jennifer Lopez can sit on my bed and be bored.

Do these things work?

According to a commenter on YouTube, it's all a bunch of lies; a swindle of the most diabolical nature.

Wonder Hangers are wonderful when you first hang your clothes. But they are made of plastic and will NOT hold up. They soon begin to stretch and even break under the weight of the clothes -- even clothes that aren't heavy. Plus, the processing and handling fee is exorbitant. It's a scam to get your money. I am ashamed aboutt how much I wound up paying. I have heard that QVC and Target have much better metal hangers for the money.

Maybe instead of making everything fit better in my closet, I should just get rid of my Bee Gees leisure suits and disco polyester pants, my padded rugby shirts and Robert Plant bell-bottomed jeans, my MC Hammer balloon pants and Micheal Jackson admiral coats with the scrub-brush epaulets, my Joan Jett leather pants and collection of Simon Cowell too-tight shirts, my Muammar Qaddafi khakis and Ahmadinejad imitation Member's Only jackets, my Pete Wentz ball-hugger jeans and David Hasselhoff shirts that only button to the mid-chest.


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Notes on a Meeting - #10

As long as you are writing during a meeting, your colleagues assume you are paying attention. Unfortunately, sometimes what they're saying isn't really worth listening to. That's when you doodle.

The following fictitious character in no way represents anyone I work with, or anyone who was in a recent meeting, or anyone I've ever worked with. Or anyone you work with, or know. Or whom you have ever known. Any semblance of the following fictitious character to any person, either living or dead, is purely coincidental and is completely in the imagination of the person who thinks it's them.

Previously in Notes on a Meeting

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Social Media Discussion - Ground Level

I will now prove to you that anyone can be a social media consultant. I will take you inside a social media conference that occurred recently.

Here's an email from my sister to my Dad and me:

I've had a few people ask me to join their Facebook or Linked In pages, and perhaps I'm a techno-boob, but I still can't quite "get" the value of signing on to one of these things. Why not just send an email to all your friends if you want to update them? Do you have any insights?

Here's my quick, blunt and not-very-helpful response:

That's a raging debate. I am on both of them, but I wish I weren't. As far as I'm concerned, life is much easier not being updated on the goings-on of people I knew in 8th grade (That's Facebook) Linked-In users will tell you it's a valuable networking utility, which is a bunch of crap.

Then we get a reasoned and thought-out answer to my sister's query from my Dad:

I'm also on both (and a few others of similar ilk). [name redacted] asked me to join Linkedin. His reason was that it provided a business-related networking capability, and he was, I think, out of a job at the time and trying to find one. He wanted to use me as a reference on that service, but as far as I know nothing ever came of it. I personally have no use for it. I suppose it could be a valuable "networking" tool if it were actually used for the purpose that it supposedly exists. But I have no idea if it's effective.

Facebook, and all those other social networking sites have some value I suppose. For example, [another daughter] uses Facebook to post pictures for all of us to see, rather than send them in separate mails/messages which she says costs her (I suppose she's talking about using her phone camera.) Of course there are other ways to share photos online. I've only joined this and others because one of the family (usually grandkids) have asked me to. Again, I personally have no particular use for them, and generally avoid using them. They've had their own security problems.

Bottom line is that I generally avoid using them. But it's obvious to me that some find them addictive.
Thinking about the work you're involved in now, I suspect you've got business associates that use them. Seems like every member of Congress thinks they need to Twitter. As do many celebrities. A lot of them are on Facebook. Ways to get noticed, keep up the celebrity, and supposedly stay in contact with the common man. If an important client is using one and wants to deal with you through it, then I guess that's an incentive.

And he fired off that reply jacked up on painkillers the day after partial knee replacement surgery. If he used Facebook more often (or Twitter) he might've just updated the occasional "Recovering from knee surgery" or "Love these pain killers" or "On couch after knee surgery," but I've seen no such updates from him. He's kickin' it old school, using that email thang. And sometimes - get this - the phone! I think I'm glad my Dad doesn't use Facebook that much.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Been A Lame Blogger Lately

I started writing a book on Sunday, and I'm trying to keep up a pace of about 2,000 words a day. I hope to be done in a month or so. In the meantime, blogging may take a backseat. I'll still be posting, though not likely with the frequency at which I'm used to. I have no idea where the book is going, which is half the fun and half the challenge. But I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

I got to thinking about how much I blog, and while I enjoy it a great deal, it all just goes away. "Ephemera," as my friends at Public School Intelligentsia call it. So I decided to write something that might last a little longer; longer than some old blog post that gets buried in the archives, to be pulled up at random when someone searches for Land O Lakes Butter Trick or Amtrak Sucks, two of my most trafficked posts here. Longer-lasting also than the throwaway ads, brochures or web copy I write for a living.I've always advised creatives to keep something on the side that no one has a say in. Paint, write, take pictures, draw, sculpt or play music. If all your creativity is spent working for your clients, you can learn to hate your gifts. That's why I started blogging. Now I'm going to take my own advice a little further. The best part about writing this book (aside from the freedom to create with no other goal than to entertain) is that there's no one telling me it's wrong or that the call to action isn't strong enough.

So, if anyone comes across this post by accident, likes my writing style and is also a literary agent (or knows one) hit me up and we'll talk about my forthcoming novel. It has very little to do with advertising and marketing, though they play minor roles. It is rated R for occasional adult language, sparse graphic violence and a little nudity. It's a good story. The first of many. (And yes, I got ahead of myself and created the jacket image above.)

Eventually, I want to live on an island like Graham Greene and write a mere 350 words a day after I've gone swimming in the Mediterranean and drank a few cocktails. Then I'll look them over in the evening, edit them a little before dinner and then go to a show. When my publisher calls once a week, I'll say, "You need to stop pressuring me, man. This shit doesn't write itself, you know. And I'm almost out of Elijah Craig, so why don't you get on that and gimme a break. And by the way, I want a clause in the next contract stating that under no circumstances will Keanu Reeves play a character from any of my books if they are optioned for film."

And no, my name is not Jack, but my middle name is John, and I understand that Jack is often a nickname for John, (though that never made sense to me) so that's my pen name this time around.

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