Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

Mom got in safe and sound, even with poor weather between here and Massachusetts. Now, we have to think of things to do between meals (but we do like to eat!). Right now she's asleep on my loveseat, so I figured a good time to post a quick note on the holiday season.

Many nice people have asked me, that since I'm an agnostic, why I like Christmas. The answer is simple, and apropos to me being an adman, that I like the tangible aspects even though I can't relate to the spiritual ones. Wrapping presents, and although I'll admit I failed that subject in grade school, is strangely comforting and rewarding. You take something tangible, a gift that touches a person's needs or wants, and wrap it up in pretty paper so they can enjoy a little surprise.

Christmas cards are another good marketing idea. I get happy when your cards show up, and when they have a little note inside detailing how little Johnny is doing, or Auntie Erma is slipping, etc. -- I know at my age that they're not personal -- but maybe there's a quick note telling me: "Hey, hang in there, my buddy Dipshit is going through a divorce, and if he can make it, so can you!" This does not exactly exude the holiday spirit, but at a minimum I know that Pissturd, my fraternity brother fifteen years ago, still cares enough to give me a "hi" and send a more personal hello. New children, new jobs, whatever is in the note, it's still nice to feel and absorb a piece of paper instead of reading FB and/or finding out stuff in 135-word-or-less snippets. Makes one feel magnanimous that people do care, to some degree, even though they could possibly be at the gunpoint of their S/O to get their f*cking cards done, but that once a year, they check in and give a minor personal connection.

I'm also a sucker for Xmas-related shorts and film. Can't wait until Saturday when I can watch "The Christmas Story" at least four times before my elderly mother biffs me with her cigarette carton. Same goes for the "Charlie Brown Christmas" -- this I like not for the worst Christmas tree ever, but instead for the soundtrack. I've debated friends and foes on why this is such a good animated short -- their argument is mainly for the Linus manger-scene-speech, but I've argued, and will argue still, that the ice rink skating scene at the opening is the best. Once Snoopy comes on, and dumps the kids helter-skelter, I'm in, especially with the Guiraldi twinklings. Other movies that I'm in on, no matter what, and in no particular order or no reason related to this post, and missing many, are: "The Departed," "Bull Durham," and "Four Weddings and a Funeral." No rhyme or reason there. But don't get me started on "The Grinch" -- I know the song and will sing it to you if you bother me at work.

This isn't the best column I've written thus far, but I'm trying to tell y'all that there is good out there, and that this is the right time to acknowledge it regardless of one's convictions. There's good times and bad times, yet we all live though them. Last year I was a hermit and didn't go out at all. Blew chunks, not recommended.This year, I got a tree, outdoor lights, and spent a happy many hours wondering how scissors worked while I cut wrapping paper. Plus, tape can be interesting. A random piece was evacuated off my derriere -- how did that get there? And why was I naked?

Mom and I will nosh through Madison the next few days, and then our holiday will arrive on Sunday (yep, I get the kids one day late, but that's a good thing!).

My best wishes to all friends and family, have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and I'll be snarky again next week.



Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Night's Game Almost Killed Me

For those of you who know me, you know that I'm a 100%, Grade-A, world-class idiot. As the chateaubriand is to a cut of meat, or as Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest films ever, I'm the equivalent of both when it comes to my propensity to put myself in uncomfortable situations.

Now, you also know that I'm also a die-hard Boston sports fan. With the exception of the Bruins, I breathe for Boston sports. Never got hockey, my bad. Something about missing teeth and 150mph missiles flying at my plums. Early memories of flipping on the Sox game with my dad, wallowing in misery through years of Pats (at best) mediocrity, and local college hoops formed the warped mass of flesh here. I'll freely admit: I'm on the fence about the Celtics, but that's not because I don't like pro hoops. It's more of the fact that I once drove Antoine Walker, he with the enormous debt and even bigger ass, from Logan to his rookie training camp on the illustrious Brandeis campus in lovely Waltham, MA. I was gamely trying to make chit-chat on that awkward 1/2 hour ride, but apparently 'Toine didn't like me, thus decided to tell me, and I quote: "Shut the fuck up." Needless to say, there's part of me that's not unhappy that he is so in debt that it's surprising he's not sleeping with the fish.

So, on to the point! While this may not make Britney Spears/Tiger Woods/Brett and his orange Crocs-level of idiocy, I mercilessly teased my friends and colleagues on Friday on the utter dominance of the Patriots, and one T. Brady of Quincy, MA. My mantra? "You're dead."

If you're not from Wisconsin, you gotta understand that the Packers are right behind one J. Christ of Jerusalem when it comes to deities. And, the poll numbers are tracking pretty darn close right now. So for me to rake them over the coals re: their shortcomings, I might as well have marched them outside into our balmy Wisconsin weather (I think we had a high of 2 today), made them drop their pants and laughed at the area between knees and navels.

Well, the Cheeseheads almost got their due. Last night's game was a nail-biter, and I do mean that honestly. Pack came out fast and looked efficient; Pats looked lifeless as if they were already in Dallas and hoisting trophy #4. Had it not been for an 4th quarter freak fumble by a rookie QB, I may have fled to Mexico and started a new life as Joaquim the cabana boy in Cancun.Cervesa? Si!

I took the diplomatic route today, waxing nicely about what a good game it was, but those green-and-golders could see the insecurity in my eyes: they knew, and they had prepared the night before to commence a wonderful beat-down. It's like I finally got to bump uglies with the prom queen, but lasted all of 5 minutes. I've learned my lesson: keep my mouth shut and unless I take the high route, don't be a twit.

Oh, there was another bad omen last night. My pair of football boxer shorts, which I've had over 10 years, split a hole in a relative - *ahem* - inconvenient spot. I've been wearing these on Pats Sundays religiously so I'm about to whip out the duct tape and stapler in order to ensure they make it one more month. But fittingly, as I was about to shit myself last night, I had a big hole where one was not needed. If you're thinking last-minute Christmas ideas for your pal Jeremy, there you go!

Thought you needed to know.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh No! Not Scarlett & Ryan...

The title of this blog is in fun. At this particular junction in my life, nothing makes me merrier than the demise of a marriage of the beautiful folk. Today, Scarlett Johannsen and Ryan Reynolds announced that they are planning to divorce.

Granted, there is less acrimony (at least in the press) in their separation than there is in mine (thankfully not in the press) but it shows that those of us not fortunate enough to succeed at matrimony that others, thankfully high-profile others, will also have a difficult time making marriage work.

I think the reason is simple: one goes through the dating phase, where you're feeling out the other person, wanting to be with them regularly, ignoring any warning signs (such as in-laws, which I speak from experience), and dismissing whatever sordid pasts one might have had. When I moved to Wisconsin, a mutual friend took me around downtown and cheerfully identified the random spots where my soon-to-be-ex had either disrobed, made a drunken fool of herself, doinked in a public venue, etc. It should have been eye-opening, at the least, but at the time it was charming in a way. Here was a person who had enjoyed her years in some random town and had a personal Freedom Trail to prove it. I've got mine back in Boston, of course, and thank the mighty Lord (again, from an agnostic) there weren't digital cameras or smartphones to document my various indiscreet misdeeds.

Then there is the wedding itself, which I don't remember much of, not because I had too much to drink, but that it was a blur of tuxedo activity and napkin-color decisions. And then there's post honeymoon, where you still coo at each other, and are excited for life for the next 50 years. At this point, ones' couple friends are so happy to have you in the club that there is stuff to do constantly.

Alas, as things went south the past couple of years, things you notice your spouse do and/or have begun to become more significantly irritating, annoying, or downright disturbing. And lest I not judge others, I'm to blame for a great majority of problems. One does not throw stones at plexiglass houses, or something of that irk. But the little idiosyncrasies do add up, and while it's typically on a mutual basis, one does wonder if one of the other fish in the sea may have been preferable to reel up. Unfortunately, yours truly plead ignorance and went off and spawned two wonderful and beautiful children, so I have a lot more splainin' to do than others who recognize, like Scar and Ryan, that things may have been better had we severed the ties earlier as opposed to later.

We live and learn from this. And such, personally, I've come to the terms that all I need is someone to make me laugh, inspire me to do stuff, hopefully love my children, a good roll-in-the-sack quantification, and share the years of life. No more pedestals, peeps -- none of us deserve them. Not politicians, not sports idols, not movie icons, and definitely not an insurance peddler. I probably will still stand agape at other people's peccadillos, but I've matured and have come to terms that it's best to ignore, and not bicker.

Bless Scar and Ryan for their ridiculous chests, abdomens, and other anatomical features. They're also decent actors, so I'll watch them in a film if it interests me. But part of me is also glad that the glamorous can reach a point of no return. It's not just us wee peasants. Best of luck to them both, and they can feel free to help me with my legal payments if they like this.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Meeting!

Had one of the stranger meetings today via phone with one of our agencies. Things pretty much bounced around like a ping-pong ball during an inebriated pick-up game, but actually we came out with some good ideas and feasible concepts that will help the company in 2011. Won't bore you with details, but we'll be alive and kicking in Q1 with some cool growth-initiated advertising.

I do want to thank our leadership (no names here, unless they're named Ian Chalgren, and then all bets are off) for providing excellent guidance on the topic of how important it is to lead as opposed to react. They are wonderful people with great minds who provide real ideas for our team. Yes, my nose is slightly brown, but things wash off.

You five followers know that I gnash about my work -- there's seemingly no rhyme or reason as to what we work on, and that we're subject to what our sales force or product lines make us do. Chances are, the requests have been preempted by higher-ups and not been vetted to decide the warranty of whether the request is necessary or not. I understand corporate politics, but it doesn't mean I should agree or disagree with the direction. Dude, let's empower ourselves.

Back to the meeting! We got great direction to advise our corporate creative agency to act. And that is the key word: act. Not react, not advise, not hem-and-haw about what sister agency told them what, but listen to us and follow our direction and produce the assets we want to give to consumers. This is cool. We got some power now, and we'll make use of it.

I'll go back to posting about my idiotic fumblings and what'all shortly. In the meantime, I do truly feel we as an organization are on a good path and look forward to 2011 and getting more cool stuff out there for our consumers.Enough about work, and once Justin Bieber falls off the wagon I'll have some more inappropriate postings.

Now, who wants to get naked and chat about Tom Brady's stubble? Don't deny you're not impressed. Gisele, your input is needed.



Monday, December 13, 2010

Jeremy and Nudity

The funny thing is that I took my shirt off last Friday evening at Shannon's Christmas party. There was no rhyme or reason for this, and I was stone-cold sober, but I was hot and thought I had a t-shirt underneath. By the time I realized that I was butt-assed naked and exposed for the suddenly silent crowd, I whimpered "thought I had a t-shirt on" while their drinks spoiled. Should have done another twenty-five sit-ups that day.

I've done this before. And, not because I have a good body. Many will say I need to hit the gym more, and I cannot argue with them. Sitting here writing this feeble blog I have on a sweatshirt, long undies, boxers under them, wool socks and mukluks.

I simply take clothes off at regular times. My daughter does this, too. Apparently, we're happier when naked. Not to belabor the point, but I bet most people are. I once told a joke in front of, maybe, 10 - 12 co-workers, including senior management folks, whilst having a pencil stick out of my ass. Ain't pretty, but that pencil rammed home made a point (pun intended) that I wouldn't be able to make when properly dressed. I don't remember the punchline, but chances are my former co-workers don't either.

There's too much concern over the human body. If you know me, I'm a movie buff (again, ha ha, no pun intended) so I've seen the wonderously naked form in many shapes and sizes. They all look good to me. Things are different when the lights are turned out and our insecurities are left unnoticed. And, I'll argue, they're better because we get to wake up the next morning and take a closer look. Look, we're all absolutely ridiculous, with things hanging here and there, hair hither and yon, sags where they shouldn't be and so forth.

See, there was a big bally-who when Dan Radcliffe (Harry Potter) appeared nude in Equus, one of the greatest plays of all time. Look, I like Harry and his wand (when pointed at Draco, but no, that sounds bad) but who cares? The man is an actor, and to take on one of the most challenging roles in theatre when trying to shed his image as the most iconic characters in literary I would say is inspiring.

I'm not feeling well today, so this post will be short and sweet, but I do query y'all: what do you consider to be taboo and not taboo? I've taken the shirt off, so to speak, so feel free to comment. Nothing taboo here: politics, local news, sports, sex, entertainment -- they're all on the table.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dapper Don Draper

I had an interview on Wednesday, so I uncorked the lightly-patterned, clean white shirt fresh off the rack from our local dry cleaner, coupled with fresh, pleated dress pants and pseudo-wingtips. Side note: am I the only one who likes the smell of a dry cleaner? It is definitely in my top 10 smells, 1 - 4 I won't discuss (although a splish of perfume helps mightily) but in no particular order, I also enjoy pizza places, haircutters, furniture stores, and bookstores when they're not in uber-holiday selling mode. Makes me happy. Ironically, I don't enjoy the smell of any stadium (even though I am a fanatic sports nut), movie theaters (ditto to above, but hate the sticky floors, uncomfortable seats and $100 popcorn), and fast food restaurants (while admitting I've eaten more than my share of Big Macs).

Just found it amusing that everyone I ran into that day said "Wow, you look great! Is it an interview or did someone die?" Did I show up to work in a wife-beater, 5-day stubble and certain zippers and/or buttons not completely finalized? And, what if somebody died??? Strangely awkward, at the least...

My style is minimalist, I like a lot of interchangible solid colors on top with the standard khaki/black/blue/gray slacks on bottom. Here's hoping I'm not scaring the local children or having random parents Google me to see where I live because I prefer the J.Crew look.

My friend has also gotten me hooked into "Mad Men," the AMC drama focused on an exec named Don Draper at a NYC ad agency during the '60s. Now he's a snappy dresser, and what hair! (Editor's note, second only to one T. Brady of Quincy, MA).

Now that the surname Draper has become linked to being an adman who indulges in heavy drinking, smoking Luckies, and knocking boots with every feminine person that has use of their limbs, I'm struggling to see if I should notch up my personal style.

Honestly, I'm torn. I got a couple more pressed white collar dress shirts in the closet, and we all know that slacks can go a couple of days until they stick to the floor. So that option is available!

I'm also a religious man for hair gel, but that's 'cuz my coif tends to go about it on a non-gel day in either a Harry Potter spiky fashion, or a Ringo Starr so-limp-it-needs-Cialis mode.

Or, stick to the salt-of-the-earth neutral tones and sensible shoes. And yes, Shannon, black shoes go with everything. I spent a good 1/2 hour researching this.

So, peeps -- whaddya think? White collar or slacker-cool?

If we were in Chicago, it's a no-brainer. Hipster pants (ironic for one with no hips nor ass, so the solution is hazy) and random t-shirts celebrating minor celebrities from sitcoms we remember, but have not gotten better over the years. I'd still pick Fish from "Taxi." Great character, not so much a great show today, but the shirt would be wicked cool!



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where for art thou, hippity-hop?

This is another example of the drivel that percolates in my head: what happened to the hippity-hop and why haven't adults adopted it as a necessary apparatus for daily life?

Bear with me here. I, like so many of us, had a hippity-hop when I was a wee, hairless lad. Well, I had hair on my head, but the rest of my body, like most youngsters, was not yet sprouting. Now, due in some part to Mark's FB post about his rogue nose hair which is also unfortunately stuck in my head, I've turned rather hirsute. Sometimes in places where I never expected to grow hair, but that's probably more than you want to know, dear reader. Anyway, I digress -- back to the hippity-hop and how it can cure many the evils we face.

First, it provides fantastic exercise. I used to bounce all around the house, the yard, friends' houses and yards, and the occasional unexpected foray into the street due to an errant hippity. Think about having a company's employees all use the hippity-hop. We'd be getting constant exercise for many key muscle groups, working our core whilst laboring over the never-ending slew of e-mails, and we could design/decorate our hops to better reflect our personalities, or even status levels. Managers and executives could have large, more bouyant hops, thus indicating their status level in the organization (possibly with even two or more handles if they're making one of their employees attend yet another meeting on, say, Increasing Your Communication Skills by Not Talking to Anyone, Ever.) Us lower on the foodchain would look longingly at their hops and give us more motivation to work hard and move up the ladder.

Where I work there are a number of -- "ahem" -- petite-challenged folks who ride Rascals to and fro. We'd be doing them a favor if we required them to hippity during the business day, as opposed to zooming around in go-carts and frightening innocent insurance professionals as they zip around corners without the merest toot of a horn. On a side note, I'm convinced I'll meet my fate at the expense of one of these speed demons, and while it may be argued that it would be a fitting fate, it is also ironic as I do my best to stay in reasonable shape and prefer to use my own appendages for travel.

They'd also allow for a healthy level of competition amongst staff members. Who can hippity fastest? Highest? Who can get from building A to building C in the least amount of time and/or bounces. My team is particularly competitive, so it would be a matter of pride to excel in one or more areas of the art of hippity.

Finally, they would replace the need for desk chairs. Think of the bottom-line savings! The bean counters certainly would be in favor.

Seriously, think about this. I can't come up with a counter-argument to any of the above statements.

PS, I have to give props where props are due. My friend Chad from Boston first positioned the hippity-hop theory, and this was about 12 years ago, so the simple fact that I haven't been able to defeat the idea in over a decade proves that hipittying has merit. Like most brilliant minds of our generations, I've simply fleshed his idea out.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More Random Thoughts

No rhyme or reason to these, and apologies to Bob Ryan, Gerry Brown, Whitlock and all the other sportswriters I follow and admire online.

On to the post!

- Season 2 of Mad Men isn't doing it for me like Season 1. I'm through 5 episodes and will probably watch #6 tonight, but can't get into it. Bill tells me to muscle through, as he swears it will get better, and so I will. But thus forth, not up to par.

- Had a great meeting, and even greater breakfast (crepes!), with our partners at Lacek. I like the fact that these nice MN folks want to work with us and are amenable to incorporate our messaging into their new creative. This will be a fun couple of months to work with them and align creative (me), digital and direct marketing into a holistic program. That's cool.

- Another cool meeting with a vendor called Vero. Thanks to Dan for organizing. I personally am not sure if we are strategically aligned, but they do provide an attractive service. Question for the two of you following this blog: who would you pick musically to represent Amfam? Y'all know my thoughts on country music (barf) but some of the hot performers seem to be the ideal candidates. None of the team had heard of Vero before the prezo, but I think we were all impressed and have an opportunity to leverage them. Input needed.

- Tom Brady. 'Nuff said.

- Glad to see the marketing peeps who were marooned on floor 1 to join us again. Even if Justin's mustache still is prominently featured. Easier to find them whilst in crisis mode, which is typical in our department (we like changes and challenges, please repeat 10 times), but even better, easier to bounce ideas and strategies off them when interesting ideas come up. If you've ever worked with us creative idiots, we tend to be ADHD -- good ideas will get missed if we don't act quickly. And then, of course, we feign ignorance when you follow up with us. Hey, have a couple martinis and a Lucky or two and you can fit right in!

- Dropped $300 on today. Can't wait for the opening of the presents -- nothing better than one's kids on Christmas morning -- but even at my age, I'm aghast at the cost of cool toys for the tykes. Did you elderly feel the same way 20 years ago?

- Finally, I'd like to thank the two of you who have followed this ridiculous blog. Glad you're enjoying my random ramblings, and just remember I'll get better as this moves forward.

- Time to make supper. Feeling like pizza tonight, but am forced to endure another feeding of chili because I'm an idiot and cooked up a week's worth on Sunday. Bottom line is to forget the key ingredient. Then you're in the clear! Unfortunately I was at Costco a few weeks ago and bought the Army-sized chili powder. Damn. I foresee chili through February.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Pissed, Sorry.

I had to spend a lot of money on a therapist exam. Supposedly this will tell the courts if I'm sane or not.

I don't begrudge the money, as thankfully I have some for the impending Christmas holiday, but I do mind the exam. The cash I had to spend amounted all to nothing but glorified Iowa exams. Somebody who does not know me in California is now qualified to determine if I'm a good parent, father, mate, or whatever.

What does bug me is somebody took the time to meticulously judge me via a couple of paper tests. I could have answered B, B, B and B and somebody is now empowered to give judgment on my parenting acumen and I have no recourse except the ruling of the court.

I ask you: is that fair?

So, please take your significant other not for granted and pray (this from an agnostic) that you'll be spared the indignities and will be able to tell someone that you're well and able to take care of those who matter most to you. If you're concerned, stop by and I'll prove to you my worth. It's there.

I'll promise to do the same, regardless of the cost. Some things one does have to fight for. And I will.



Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever.

I'm eating a $8 salad from our friends downstairs with Sodoxho when a random thought got snared in the sticky goo that makes up my subconcious.

Bob Clark's "A Christmas Story" is the best Christmas movie ever. This is not news, per se, as other reviewers recognize its underrated greatness, but I put forth another perspective: this movie was released a mere two years after Clark's previous watershed, the immortal "Porky's."

See, serious cinephiles have waxed poetically over the years at the mad genius of Kubrick, the versatility and style of Scorcese, or the always-devlish winkings of Hitchcock.

However, have any of those directoring luminaries (or others that I may have neglected to list), gone in such a complete different direction in such short a time? I mean seriously, one day Clark is shooting Pee Wee, Meat and the boys peeping in shower stalls (nothing wrong with that, I'll watch every time) or ogling strippers at a redneck roadhouse somewhere in the Everglades, and then the next day he's serving up classic Americana and reliving a holiday season for an entire generation.

Both films have their religious devotees. Both aupport "where were you/how old were you when you first saw it" discussions. What other two films could claim that? There's not one single thing alike in the two films, and yet Clark doesn't get any due. Even PT Anderson has his niche -- all of his characters are flawed and repressed to the point of explosion, regardless if it takes place in Vegas, San Fernando Valley, or the oil fields of Texas.

Thanks for listening.

East vs. Central

I have lived here since 2002, yet still don't feel like part of the patchwork.

On the East Coast you know where you stand at all times. Murph is going to give you a big hug, or he's going to kick your ass. And you'll know pretty quickly which it is.

Here, the level of politeness is deceiving. Are people being polite to you because they're nice people and generally want to make others feel welcomed? Or, do they have some hidden agenda and is that fake sincerity more to prove they're better than you, for random reasons that you may not ever calculate?

Even with my flaws (and there are many), I prefer to know where I stand with people, and vice-versa. If I think you're an asshole, I'll let you know by my body language and communication. Please do the same back, as it will save valuable time.

I got a great backhanded compliment from a friend last week when I was asked where I came from. Boston, I replied. "But you're not rude!" she said. And she meant no harm, so no ill wishes back at her. But, I'm also not apologetic for apologies' sake, either.

It is the same thing as flirting -- if you're not into me, it's in your best interest to let me know quickly so you can mate with a more suitable partner and I can go find someone easier. To let me yammer on about politics, sports, Oprah, fabrics, etc., all in the hope I can see you naked yet without a probable chance wastes time for both of us.

Murph may not let me see him naked, but he'll tell me that before he kicks me in the balls. Here, we have fish fry. Not a great summation, but there's something to it. Long lines for cheap fish and watered-down old-fart cocktails. I'll take the chicken parm with extra sauce.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


So I'm going through a divorce. Sucks. Looking for a nice girl to just be friends with. Nothing more, y'all can theorize but companionship is my first priority.

Now on to this blog -- having moved to Madison in 2002, I was first aroused and fixated on the sheer level of fried foods this city offers, as it is truly staggering.

But my question is why does Madison rely on chains? When I lived in Boston I could wander down the street and at any Mom-and-Pop Italian or Greek storefront get a wonderful sandwich. Here, I've got Subway, Milio's or Cousins. Not attractive.

And, oh, don't get me started on the pizza here. Have you heard of sauce, or maybe toppings? Anna's in Sun Prairie is good but she charges for the privilege of being good. $20 for a medium pizza is too much for mediocrity.

You Badgers might make a good cheese curd (note, have you read how those are made?) but you can't make a good sandwich, you can't get me a decent slice, and it sucks driving anywhere.

Thought you should know! Still getting divorced,