Category: Advertising


A Year of Reinvention

Shit, has it really been a year? A year since I last posted something to this good-for-nothing blog? Almost to the day. Good thing no one reads this shit, or someone might’ve actually thought they were missing something.

So why start writing again? I don’t even know if I want to commit to that. “Writing again.” There was some self-induced pressure to post something every few week or so. I have no idea if this is going to be a one-off, or if I’m actually gonna get back to this.

Right now, I’m on a plane. With about 13 hours to kill. I started watching the first two episodes of Dave Grohl’s televised love letter to American music, “Sonic Highways.” I’d originally written off the effort as  yet another shitty way to shill the Foo Fighters’ new record. Yeah, I wasn’t completely wrong but I’m not completely right, either. While not an original endeavor, Grohl’s gone all Ken Burns on us by taking a deep dive into some pivotal points in American music history: Chicago blues, the DC punk scene, Nashville, and so on.

The second episode – the one about the ‘80s punk scene of DC – dealt a lot with the idea of DIY music. The DC punks had no one to make, press, and sell their music. So they did it themselves and that’s how Dischord Records came about. Invention being the mother of necessity and all that.

Well, it has been a year of reinvention for me. A year ago, I was at a job that was incredibly challenging – I needed to do more, but there wasn’t more to be done. So I walked across the street – quite literally – and started working at another shop, but it was ad shop to which I wasn’t accustomed. I’d cut my teeth at big Mad Men, Galactic Empire-type agencies: all TV all the time, hundreds of people with fancy titles and excruciating egos to match, and none of the creativity to back it up. Now I’d joined a shop that started life a few years ago as a modest digital ad agency that had grown up almost too quickly. At best, the median age is probably 28 (I have no idea, I guessing here) and most folks hadn’t done anything other than digital marketing. They weren’t familiar with the only world I’d even known: TV, print, radio – you know, all the shit that people used to consume before they all married their smartphones.

And that’s how I ended up on this airplane, on my way to produce the agency’s very first TV commercial. Shit, for some reason I feel like I’m taking this agency backwards.

And speaking of going backwards, what better way to embrace a midlife crisis than to start your own fucking band? For years, I’d jammed on a song or two with friends who’d play gigs around town. These friends are all crazy talented people, but they almost never played the stuff that I wanted to play. I mean, who many fucking times can you play a Marshall Tucker Band tune to a disinterested bar?

So in January, I hatched a half-baked idea to grab three of my buddies to start a band. Like a bunch of high school kids. Except we’re all old as fuck now, we all have families and responsibilities and shit, and we all have white collar jobs that we trudge to each day… but fuck it, you play the bass, you play keyboards, you play the drums, I play guitar, fuck it, let’s start a motherfucking band. DIY, motherfucker. Let’s play the shit that WE wanna play. With thundering drums. Distortion turned to 11. Yeah, my Peter Pan complex knows no bounds.

10270382_271781313032531_1058394622934270321_nAnd when we got together to play for the first time in our drummer’s dad’s basement (yeah, you read that right), we were fucking awesome. Wait, did I say awesome? No, actually, I didn’t mean that. I meant to say we were fucking awful. Yeah, we were so beyond shitty.

Half of us had played in real fucking bands back in the ‘80s. One of us played around New York in a hardcore band that once opened for GWAR, so you know he’s got his shit together. Another one of us actually went on the road with his band and a chestful of original songs. The remaining two of us had never played in an actual band setting. So, you know, what could go wrong.

The first time we played in front of a crowd, we fucking bombed.   We strutted to the stage like we were fucking rock stars and by the second verse, our whole show fell apart. We forgot entire passages to the song, my fingers knotted up on the guitar, sound levels were all over the place, and it was just a big fucking mess. Crashed and burned right away.  In front of a few hundred people.

Yet for some unexplained reason, we actually got asked to play a second time. People are either highly charitable and forgiving, or they’re all fucking deaf. Still, we were grateful for a second chance, so we took it – a two-song appearance at a commemorative screening of “Purple Rain.” We threw down two Prince covers – “Darling Nikki” and “Let’s Go Crazy” – and the crowd didn’t walk out! So, you know, SUCCESS!!

Summer came and we booked ourselves into two summer block parties. By “book,” I mean, we offered to drag our shit out to the middle of the street and play a set of covers during a large outdoor picnic, and get paid with free beers. No one’s dropping bills for our shitshow. These things were a humbling experience, so say the least. Now, outdoor sound quality is shit, no matter how good your gear is (and being a garage band and all, we have shitty gear), and no one’s really there to listen to you play. You’re auditory wallpaper, a lot of distortion and cymbals that are getting in the way of drunken conversations. But, after a couple of hours, when everyone’s a bit more tanked, it means you start to sound a bit more tolerable, and folks actually start to get into the tunes you’re playing. But you never actually stop realizing that at all times, you’re still a bit shit at this whole thing. Especially for a band that’s only been together for about 6 months.

Which is probably why we didn’t think too deep into it when our bass player got us a paying gig – an actual paying gig! – at a local dive bar. We had about 3 weeks to prep for this, and for 3 weeks, we were in our drummer’s dad’s basement rehearsing our balls off. We knew we were never going to be great, we just tried to be good enough so that people didn’t fucking walk out.

We worked the show from all angles. We told EVERYONE. We had to. This band was going to have a short shelf life if we had a paying gig and NO ONE showed up. We told everyone. We sent out dozens of emails. We abused Facebook and Twitter and every imaginable social channel. We told our friends, we told strangers. We needed to fill that tiny bar.

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In the end, we’re told about 200 people packed into that little bar in our little town. Holy shit. The whole place was just a flurry of people and abuzz with friends from all over who came to see these four idiots play some cover tunes for 3 hours. I have no idea if we were any good that night, but that was the best we’d ever played. I have no idea if anyone had a good time, but we had the best fucking time ever.

That night, it didn’t matter if anyone else bought into the idea of us as a band, but we fucking believed we were finally a proper band. The training wheels had come off. We played the music we wanted to play, and we pulled our little shitshow together and we formed a fucking band.

DIY, motherfuckers. And that’s how I reinvented myself right into a(nother) fucking midlife crisis cliche.  Godamnit.

 

“Head of Ideas.”  Check out that link.  Not a terribly long post, but so much to work with here.  It might’ve been a slightly more dignified post if it was all butthurt.  But it’s not.  It’s a fucking pathetic.  First of all, this guy actually acknowledges the job title that he’s been given: Head of Ideas.  In a supposedly creative industry, this fucking guy actually embraces the notion that he’s the grand arbiter of ideas in his shop.  “Hey, fuck the rest of you, I’m the boss of all the ideas.  The rest of you can suck it as far as ideas are concerned.”  Head of Ideas – what a colossally douchetastic title.

Second, this fuckwit is actually trying to validate the advertising industry against the motherfucking Onion“We don’t deserve to be called talentless.”  What a jerkoff.  Every industry on the earth is overrun with talentless fucks – why the hell should advertising be exempt of that?  If anything, advertising is probably leading the brigade.  We’re surrounded by fucking hacks.

And then he tries to formulate his argument by creating pathetic movie parodies that are neither interesting nor witty.  I don’t even know what point he’s trying to make with those examples.  I swear, whomever’s hiring his agency, fire that agency immediately.  Then fire him immediately after that.  Then fire the people who fired him because they were the probably the ones who hired him in the first place.  (Sometimes Monty Python have the right ideas for everything.)

You know what, fuck that guy.

 

 

Ramen Burger

The Ramen Burger.  Hey asshole, this is not your cronut.  And before I go any further, I just need to acknowledge this cronut bullshit.  Upon advisement from Serious Eats, I ventured to Yonkers to get what was supposed to be a pretty good knock-off of Dominique Ansel’s cronuts.  The knock-off cronut was a far more modest affair.  No cream filling, not cream ring on top.  Just a sugar coating.  And it was such a fucking letdown.  A letdown not because it was missing all that creamy goodness.  But because it tastes exactly as a cronut had been described – a buttery croissant shaped like a donut.  And because it was all buttery and fried, the thought of one of Ansel’s originals gushing with cream just fucking grossed me out.  It’s probably like 1,000 calories per cronut.  Fuck that guy and his ridiculous pastries.

But wait, back to the ramen burger.  Just look at that fucking thing.  It’s such a forced concoction of stupidity.  Ramen should not be molded into hockey pucks, asshole.  That’s not how you eat it.  You don’t see me taking a burrito and putting it in a blender to make burrito soup, do you?  Then why the fuck are you molding ramen noodles into hockey pucks?

People like ramen.  People like burgers.  I get it.  That doesn’t mean that people need to have the two together.  This is the just the most insufferable Brooklyn version of asshole food that chains like Chili’s puts out there – “Hey, people like ribs, people like cheese… let’s smother our baby back ribs with cheese!”  No, asshole, no.  There is no redeeming reason to put ramen noodles and burgers together.

You know what, fuck that guy.

 

 

AUTI5M.  That was on the Maryland license plate of a car I passed when I drove back from Baltimore this past weekend.  Before I go on, let me get this out of the way – third only to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Maryland drivers are colossal assholes.  You’ve got some work to do if want that podium spot, Connecticut.

Anyway, I was gunning the pedal trying to get the fuck out of the shithole that is Maryland when I passed some white 4×4 with “AUTI5M” on the license plate.  This wasn’t some state-issued special edition license plate like those celebrating your stupid fandom for the Yankees or something like that.  No, this was a vanity plate in which some jerkoff paid a premium so that his license plate would read a goddamn medical condition.

What the fuck does it even mean?  Presumably, this fuckwit’s trying to raise awareness of autism.  Fine, I get it, the intent is noble and warranted.  But the means?  Is that really the way to go about it?  Does the rule apply to other disease states also?  I mean, next we ought to have a car driving around with a license plate that reads C4NC3R, right?  How about HERP3S?  It doesn’t work, asshole.

You know what, fuck that guy.

 

 

Ten grand for a hubby.  So some account broad in some dopey agency in San Francisco can’t find a man and is putting up reward money?  How fucking original.  Read the self-satisfying tone in that letter.  How proud she is to have written something so “witty” and “interesting”.  Ugh, puke.  Everything about that letter screams “bullshit” and “go fuck yourself”, and not necessarily in that order.  If you claim to resemble Charlize Theron, and you live in a major metropolitan market (granted, it’s San Francisco, which means your typical choices in companionship are either “dipshit” or “smug douche”), you wanna tell me you can’t find a single asshole who’ll hook up with you?  How much of a nightmare must you be for no guy – NOT ONE! – to want to put up with your bullshit?  I tell you what, if Charlize Theron was a total bitch on toast and she wanted to go out with me (shut up, it could happen), I’d put in the effort.  You fucking bet I would.  You fucking bet YOU would.  Charlize fucking Theron, you guys!

So this dumb shit can’t meet anyone decent and she puts the burden – sorry, reward – on her idiot friends to hook her up?

You know what, go fuck yourself.

 

 

Me.  Short of blowing a shit load of cash I don’t have on a new 911, I can’t think of a more pathetic attempt at a midlife crisis than what I’m going through right now.  I bought myself a road bike (a two-wheeled equivalent to the hot convertible).  Next thing I know, I’m riding all over like I’ve got something to prove.  I’m trying to beat other riders up hills and shit.  Now all these obstacle course mud runs are all the rage, and I signed up for one.  At my fucking age, I could fucking die in one of these things – even if I did sign up for the most creampuff version of such races.  Which means I’ve now started running, too.  I fucking hate running.  I tried it once right after Hurricane Sandy and it was as stupid as it was painful.   Yet, despite my eternal loathing for running, I signed up for a creampuff running event and I’m now running on a almost a daily basis.  Because I can’t bear to show up to this event like a waddling schmuck.

The lengths I will go through to try and preserve some little youth I have left.  Like I’ve got shit to prove or something.  That’s a lot of horseshit, and I fucking hate myself for being this way.

You know what, fuck me.

 

 

 

Not to sound ungrateful, but if there’s working lunch at the office and we’re getting food brought in, can we please never ever have stupid fucking sandwiches again?  Fuck sandwiches.

Sandwich platter

Now, working lunches are a bit more commonplace in some industries than others.  I work in advertising, and this shit is a daily occurrence.  It may not happen literally every day for you, but you can bet there’s always some group stuck in some big important meeting in some big important conference room at midday, and lunch is being brought in so that everyone can keep working.  This shit’s important, no time to stop so you can pop out to grab some lunch, we gotta keep going, right?  Right.

So wheel that cart of sandwiches in, why don’t you.

You wouldn’t be out of place for thinking, What an ungrateful wank, he’s getting a free lunch and he’s bitching about it?  Yes, yes I am.

I’ve had it with sandwiches.

In the time that I started working in the late-‘90s, I’ve have witnessed some absolutely remarkable leaps of progress all around me, in and around the workplace.  Snail mail letters and fax machines got replaced with email, the internet become far more indispensible than being just for porn, I can have a virtual face-to-face meeting with people in Sydney right from my office in New York, and I can sign and authorize shit with a virtual signature.  Fucking power moves.

Meanwhile, the working lunch has remained largely unchanged for decades.  The working lunch is like Little Richard, who still looks and sounds like he did 60 years ago.  It’s always the same, isn’t it.  Sandwiches.  A big predictable platter of sandwiches.

I’VE BEEN EATING THE SAME FUCKING SANDWICH FOR 15 YEARS!!! 

This is exponentially more preposterous for those of us who work in large cities, like New York or San Francisco, where there are literally hundreds of other food options out there.  I shit you not: there are literally 40 different food joints – restaurants, delis, food trucks, you name it – within a 2-block radius of my office.  It almost doesn’t matter where I’ve worked, past or present – there’s always been an overwhelming number of places from which to order food (the one exception is probably Times Square – those of you unfortunate enough to work in Times Square are fucked for edible options, sorry).

I can get tacos, mofongo, pho, curry, BBQ and fuck knows any number of other types of food within 5 minutes of my office, and that’s not an exaggeration.  If you can’t be arsed to walk the 5 minutes, every single one of these places will deliver to your office (because that’s just the sort of awfully civilized place New York is.)  All the choice, all the variety!

So why the fuck am I still eating goddamn sandwiches in the conference room?

This bears repeating: fuck sandwiches.  How many turkey and cheese on Kaiser rolls can one eat in a lifetime?  How many ham and cheese sandwiches can you fucking put up with?  Regardless of whether it’s turkey or ham or salami, they taste like nothing and you can only tell them apart by color (if you’re lucky).  All the cheese slices have the same consistency and blandness, they’re all shit anyway.  The rolls are hard as fuck by the time the sandwiches show up.  And as if to impress you, they always stick a bunch of wraps in the platter as well.  Fuck you and your fucking wraps.   You’re not fooling me with your fucking wraps.  Don’t pretend to be healthy or fancy with your stupid wraps.  They’re just as calorific and bland as the accompanying sandwich culprits. Wraps are just sandwiches shaped like penises, a big fuck you to your working lunch.

And these pathetic sandwiches and wraps never just show up on a platter and that’s it.  Some overenthusiastic assistant is always trying to impress you by ordering them with offending partners-in-crime.  It’s like some horrible Will Smith movie – you can always count on his dumb kid showing up to further ruin your shit.

That’s where the large bowl of salad comes in.  Actually, it’s always two bowls of salad, isn’t it.  You’ve got your obligatory plastic bowl of unappetizing lettuce that just stares at you, and right next to it is some toxic bowl of lumpy pasta salad.  Fuck you and your salads.

And the thing is, this whole mockery of a meal – the unimaginative sandwiches, the ritualistic salads – they’re always cold.  I’m so fucking sick of cold lunches.  Even when they try and mix up the sandwiches with a panini or whatever the fuck, it still gets to you cold.  If I want a cold meal, I’d be thrilled with a bowl of cereal, I really would.  Not your goddamn sandwiches.

If I’m giving up my right to a lunch of my choosing, then the least you could do is provide me with a lunch that is slightly more motivating than a fucking cold ham and cheese sandwich.  Because that’s bullshit.

 

Every time “Rudy” is on TV, I drop everything and I have to watch it.  Even though I’ve watched it about a hundred times by now.  And every fucking time, it makes me cry, right at the end.  I’m an enormous pussy like that.  But then again, I understand that this movie has the same effect on a lot of dudes.  Even some die-hard life-long Notre Dame haters.

“Rudy” is one of the greatest films ever made.  Shut up, ‘cause I’m not taking any argument about this.

So Game 1 of the 2012 World Series rolls around, we cut to a commercial break and I hear the “Rudy” theme.  It’s quick cut footage of kids and grown-ups, all doing every manner of sport.  90-seconds later, the end frame reveals that it’s a spot for Dick’s Sporting Goods.  90-seconds of growing aural exhilaration and it’s a giant cock tease for a shitty sporting goods chain store.

Fuck. That.

You can’t fucking do that.  The “Rudy” theme carries meaning.  It has a certain quality to it.  In fact, it’s got lots of qualities to it because of the film: tenacity, redemption, grit, glory.  NONE of which apply to a sporting goods chain store.  So, fuck Dick’s (that sounds weird).

There are very limited occasions in which you’re allowed to use the “Rudy” theme.  Here are the very few occasions the “Rudy” theme is be allowed.

  • Football games.  Of course, part of it is the theme’s pedigree – it’s football music for a football film.  But it can only be used with football.  Not hockey, not basketball, not baseball, not any other sporting event – despite what Dick’s wants to sell you.  A lot of that has to do with the late, great Steve Sabol, who with his dad, perfected the art of overdramatic football film.  The Sabols had this remarkable talent to slow down film and make even the derpiest football action look like a Wachowski action sequence.  And not to get all band geek here, but mostly because the “Rudy” theme is a bit of a march.  No other sport has in-game action that mimics a march like football does.  No other sport has such military-esque assembly in which such attention is paid to orchestration and timing.  No football, no “Rudy”.
  • Weddings.  Specifically as the bride walks down the aisle.  Shut up and stop being so selfish, girls, let the groom have this one.  The whole fucking day’s already all about you chicks.  For some reason, dudes always are nervous as shit on their wedding day (I have no idea why – I got married in my mid-20s and it was a fucking breeze).  So the least the guy can have is a cool-ass theme song as his bride walks down the aisle.  It’s a fucking kick ass piece of music, it’ll pump up the dude and get rid of his nerves, and it’ll be the one thing – the one fucking thing – that’s about him on that day.
  • Pre-school graduations.  This is mostly for the dads who have to go to these stupid things.  As a rule, kids get too many graduation ceremonies growing up.  Pre-school graduations, kindergarten graduations, first grade ceremonies, the list goes on.  Stop making a big deal out of something the kids are SUPPOSED to do – finish the grade and move the hell on.  So for something as goddamn gratuitous as a pre-school graduation, you might as well make it kick ass for the attendees.  No “Pomp and Circumstance” – that’s college material, and you 5 years-old ingrates haven’t earned it.  No, put on the “Rudy” theme, the kids won’t know any better and every fucking dad is going to be high-fiving each other.  Everybody wins.
  • After an In-N-Out Double-Double, Animal-style French fries, and a milkshake.  Because you know that meal is fucking epic.  Which means it needs to be celebrated.

So, just for good measure, here’s the ending of “Rudy”.  The bit that always makes me cry.  That’s what the “Rudy” theme means.

Goddamnit, I just cried again.

 

 

Growing up in the city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, as a kid I was never shy about my fondness for all things West.  Somehow, in my childhood I had developed some strong xenocentric tendencies.  I’m not saying it’s right, it’s just how I was influenced as a kid.  I ate up everything that came from the West – television, food, music, you name it.  I seemed to be focused on America and all things American.  America seemed to the birthplace of awesomeness, full of bright and shiny objects that drew me in like a Star Destroyer’s tractor beam.  (Actually, that analogy holds more water than I care to admit.)

And the more I learned about and experienced Western culture, the more I grew ethnophobic – I became quickly dissatisfied with life in Kuala Lumpur.  I had miserable teenage years.  Not just average miserable teenage years like a lot of kids had – I had this weight on my shoulders about the country I lived in, the people around me, my surroundings, my whole outlook.  In hindsight, I was probably just another ungrateful little shit who didn’t appreciate what I had, but rather moped about how green the grass was across the Pacific.  I was an insufferable shit as a kid (I haven’t changed much).

But I was unwavering in one ambition that I had when I was a kid –  one day to get the hell out of Dodge.

I am privileged to have parents who planned well enough to be able to send me to college abroad (I’m nowhere near as prepared, my kids are so screwed).  Nothing super fancy or prestigious, just a modest college experience.  Malaysian colleges were never an option, but I’ll get into why in a minute.  Long story short, I left for college in New Jersey, then found a good job in New York, and I never moved back to Malaysia.

I now call New York home.  When asked where I’m from, I typically reply, “I’m from New York.”  Which fucking kills me, because it’s not the whole truth.  But it saves me from having to explain this whole Malaysia backstory.  It saves me from having to bite my tongue about the disdain that I’ve grown for my country of birth.  A moment of me being slightly disingenuous saves me from having to deal with my own self-loathing and what complete and utter disappointment at my former home country.

So, why am I so fucking down on Malaysia, the land of my birth, my childhood country, the country in which 90% of my immediate and extended family still live?

It starts from the top.  Malaysia is like an upside down tree.  The roots are at the top, planted in a toxic pot that gets no illumination from the sun.  These gangrenous roots are the government.  A government that is held together by only the finest grade of corruption and greed.  A government that is driven by the ethnic majority.

Ahh, the ethnic majority.  You see, Malaysia is comprised of three large ethnic groups – the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians.  The Malays, who are native to the land, opened up the doors to the country to the Chinese and the Indians during the Spice Trade because Malaysia sits precisely at the perfect maritime gateway between India (who wanted Chinese tea), and China (who wanted Indian spices).  That’s the super dumbed-down version of that story.  What do I look like, Wikipedia?   If you want more detail, Google that shit.

Fast forward 500 years later, and somehow you’ve got a ruling class with a constitution that openly favors the ethnic majority, exercises extreme prejudice, and an inculcated environment in which the ignorant are rewarded and the hardworking masses are told to shut the fuck up and keep working.

No fucking way, right?  There’s no way that such a retarded country can actually exist!  I mean, it’s so fucking outlandish that it’s absolutely farcical at this point.  Like some insane Monty Python sketch.  Yeah, well check these out:

  • Bumiputera discounts.  “Bumiputera” is what the Malays call themselves.  Princes of the earth.  Can’t you just feel the ooze of racial entitlement?  Basically, if you’re Malay, you’re entitled to massive discounts on all sorts of big dollar shit.  You get a lower interest rate on mortgages, you get discounts, you get preferred acceptance into organizations, contracts, colleges, etc.  If you’re Chinese, Indian, or any other ethnic group, you’re fucked.  You get the privilege of paying top dollar, and you wait in the back of the fucking line.  Lucky you!
  • Pizza Hut.  Shit like this Pizza Hut commercial make even the most retarded used car salesman commercial in America look like a Clio winner.  Marriage proposals in a Pizza Hut.  Made over what is arguably the most disgusting looking food in the world it can’t even be called pizza at this point.  But neither the premise nor the pizza are even close to being the most grating things about this commercial.  It’s the fact that everyone’s wearing sweaters.  SWEATERS!!!  IN MALAYSIA!!!  Where it’s consistently 100-degrees year-round, with so much humidity, you could walk outside and do the backstroke.  This is the retarded standard of Malaysian advertising, of Malaysian creativity, of Malaysian cultural reflection – everything is poorly aped and incredibly shitty.  This Pizza Hut commercial is a perfect 30-second microcosmic film that sums up the country.
  • Gay and lesbian symptoms.  I.  Shit.  You.  Not.  Just keep in mind that these are guidelines that have been developed, ratified, and are being rolled out by the Ministry of Education.  This shit comes from the top!  Make sure you read the article in the link a couple of times over.  I’ve read it about 6 times now (woah, that might be a gay number!), and I still can’t decide which part fucks me off more.  Is the use of the term “symptoms”?  Is it the fact that someone actually came up with a list of these symptoms?  Is it the suggestion for “corrective measurements [sic]”?  Or is it the picture of the fucking asshole in the article that makes me want reach through my screen and beat the living shit out of his fucking stupid asshole face?  Could be any of those.  Most likely it’s all of it.  If Malaysia wasn’t such a tiny little pissant insignificant little turd of a nation, this rampant act of bigotry might incite some fairly significant outrage.  But as it is, no one gives a shit about the insufferable boil that is Malaysia so no one outside of the country draws attention when shit like this goes down.  And because no one makes a massive fuss about it, the powers that be live under this delusion that what they’re doing is perfectly OK and everyone else is OK with it.  What a bunch of assholes.

So what makes Malaysia stupider than other horrible countries around the world?  How’s it different from destitute countries full of despair like Sudan or Liberia?  In those countries, you live every day knowing full well that everything’s fucked and no one lies to you about it.  In Malaysia, there is an ever-present bullshit haze of hunky-doriness that somehow allows everyone carry along each day as if everything’s cool.  But underneath of it, EVERYTHING’s fucked, you’re fucked, the future’s fucked, and the impenetrable system that perpetuates an endless cycle of greed and corruption has been perfected.  That, for me, is the most hurtful thing about living in Malaysia – the grand lie and the forced acceptance of that lie.

I write this freely because I now live in New York.  If I lived in Malaysia, these words would likely tantamount to treason.  And I’d probably be locked up and beaten for it.  The government has been known to lock up and persecute citizens for a lot less.

But I needed to write all this down not because I’m angry or trying to be insurgent.  I’m past that now.  I’m writing this because I need to somehow exorcise Malaysia from my being.  Because enough is enough.

Fuck you, Malaysia.

 

P.S.   I’m grateful for my friends and family who are still in Malaysia, who despite my repeated urging, have chosen to remain there, either by choice or by circumstance.  I respect their decision, and I can only pray the best for them.  Besides, they’re the ones who keep me informed of all this bullshit.  And for that, you guys fucking rock.  You know who you are.

 

 

Let’s face it – Mad Men’s return hasn’t got off to a great start.  Quite the opposite, really.  I took a quick poll around the office the day after the show’s two-hour season debut and I think I got more thumbs-downs than I did thumbs-ups.  Which was weird considering how the interwebs seemed to explode with delight at Megan’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” performance (totally thumbs-up, amirite?)

Then two lazy, rather inconsequential episodes snoozed by.  Draper dreaming about banging the girl from Twin Peaks – really?  Betty (puke) getting fat and having a tumor scare – who gives a shit?  The show was starting to look pretty fucking grim.  Not the sort of series I was looking forward to.  This was turning into a downward spiral of pointless bullshit.

But then again, each season starts with a massive amount of hype, and it’s damn near impossible for any show to live up to that type of hype.  Which means each season I go through the same roller coaster ride – I’m pumped for the show, then I feel let down, which leads me to contemplate walking away from it, and before you know it, I’ve gobbled up another season.

Part of the reason I stick with the show is because it is so entirely self-indulgent for me.  I work in advertising.  With TV being completely overrun by cop shows and/or medical dramas, I like having one show that puts a spotlight on what I do for a living and what I love doing.  Not that Mad Men has any real sense of accurate representation of what I do on a daily basis.  It doesn’t really dive too deeply into the advertising side.  Like any good series on TV, it’s a show about flawed people behaving badly and making poor decisions.  This one just happens to use an agency as its canvas.

But self-indulgence aside, the true magnet of the show for me is the one character who is persistently under-appreciated in favor of Dapper Don.  Everyone – EVERYONE – loves Draper.  They love Jon Hamm.  Most people can’t pull the two apart.  They love Draper, they love his hair, his big arms, his chest fur, his swagger, his gaze, everything.  Fuck that.  Sure, he’s become the quintessential anti-hero in today’s TV, but four seasons in, we’re left with a hollow shell of what Draper used to be, and frankly, I’m tired of his shit.  I can hear the objections to this allegation already.  “He’s so dreamy” is no basis to worship a character on TV – that were the case, Draper’s become the Maroon 5 of Mad Men.

I’d be perfectly fine if Draper was written off the show.  Honestly, I would.

(from: LostInMyOwnAtmosphere)

Instead, I think most people are missing out on the genius of ROGER STERLING.  That guy fucking MAKES the show.  Sure, my fandom may have a generous slice of vicarious living involved, given that Sterling is an account guy and all, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he is easily one of the two best characters on TV today (the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey is the other, duh – and no sooner had I written that had I discovered that the Huffington Post drew a deserving comparison between the two).

Don’t get me wrong: Sterling is every bit as fucked up as everyone else on that show.  His sense of entitlement – having inherited the original Sterling Cooper from his father – matched with his brazen cockiness make for many, many cringetastic moments.  He’s put blackface on, had a heart attack, fathered Joan’s baby (we guess), wrote a memoir, married then quickly grew tired of his secretary, the list goes on and on.  And then there’s his dreading of age and irrelevance.

But as much as Sterling’s adventures are brilliant, his electric tongue is what makes him pure fucking gold.  Face it, Sterling’s lines are among the best on TV.  In last week’s episode, Signal 30, the absolute highlight of what was easily the best episode of Mad Men in ages was when Sterling advised Pryce on how to romance a client as they prepare to respond to an RFP for Jaguar.  It was mesmerizing.  The thought, the lines, the attitude, the delivery.  By the time Sterling walked out of Pryce’s office, I literally shot up and exclaimed to the missus, “ROGER STERLING IS A KILLER ACCOUNT GUY!!”  Whether or not that’s true is immaterial, Sterling’s scene was masterful.

Roger Sterling is single-handedly the most exciting personality on TV.  At the moment, he is the ONLY reason I watch Mad Men.  So if you haven’t been paying enough attention to him – and you know you haven’t  – it’s high time you became a Roger Sterling slut like me.

 

Like many others, I’m now in limbo waiting for the next season of Downton after ravenously eating up season 1 and season 2 in a hurry.  Thing is, I’m not even sure why I enjoy that fucking show.  When I think of Downton Abbey, the first thing that comes to mind is that I hate how each episode is written – I hate that an episode starts with some dramz but it always – ALWAYS! – gets tidily resolved by the end of that episode.  All wrapped up in a bow.  (Speaking of bow, what the fuck is up with O’Brien’s bangs?)

Whatever happened to having several arcs stretch across multiple episodes to let stories grow bigger and develop for our amusement?  Starting and ending shit within one episode is for the land of stupid sitcoms, bitches.  Stories like Cora’s baby or the disfigured Patrick with the Canadian accent (who oddly enough looked like a real-life version of South Park’s Canadians) lasted a mere 60 minutes.  Would it have been that hard to draw those out a bit longer so that more shit can happen to those stories?

Anyway, now that Downton’s gone ‘til at least the fall, we have Mad Men to fill the void.  I got so fucking tired of Mad Men towards the end of the last season, way, way back in 2010.  Maybe ‘cause there was a glaringly diminished appearance of Trudy on the show.  [Sidebar: Trudy is easily the hottest thing on television.  But then Megan came around, and that was cool, but then it went pear-shaped when Draper does a completely unfunny impersonation of Roger Sterling by trying to marry his secretary.  I guess a hint of the absurd is what keeps us on our toes, right?]

But can Mad Men properly fill the Downton void?  And that’s the way I see it, by the way – Mad Men is filling in the Downton Abbey void, not the other way ‘round.

Because I’m convinced that Downton Abbey is way sluttier than Mad Men.

Slutty how?  For starters, Lady Mary is with three dudes in two seasons – Kamel Pamouk, Sir Richard Carlisle, and Matthew Crawley.  Four, if you count the non-starter with Evelyn Napier (English accent AND a creepy girl’s name?  Must be evil).  The most screaming siren on Mad Men, Joan Holloway, only hooked up with two dudes, and one of them, she was actually married to.  Lady Mary Crawley?  What a trollop.

The proverbial heads of state are no better.  Look at Lord Grantham trying to shag a maid, while trying to semi-confess to some prior offense (when he tells Mary that she’s “not the first Crawley to make a mistake” – you know that shit’s gonna hit the fan in no time).   On the other hand, as far as what we know on Mad Men, Roger Sterling only hooked up with Joan before getting hitched to his secretary.  Roger Sterling is just the best character on Mad Men, bar none.

And then you’ve got those two hyenas, O’Brien and Thomas, on Downton.  I swear, those bangs on O’Brien are like the snakes on Medusa’s head.  And Thomas is a level of scumbag the likes of Mad Men haven’t even come close to.  There’s no Thomas equivalent on Mad Men.  Who’s the most evil person on Mad Men?  Let’s not talk about Draper, everything’s all me-me-me with him, he’s like a big child.  He’s not evil.  The most evil?  Pete Campbell?  Probably.  You put Pete Campbell up against O’Brien and Thomas, and you see who gets kicked in the nuts.  O’Brien killed an unborn baby, for fuck’s sake.  NOBODY on Mad Men has the balls to do that!

How about all the blackmail in Downton?  Between Carlisle’s threats regarding Mary’s shenanigans with Pamouk, and Mr. Bates’ evil hag of an ex-wife, it’s more like a Scorsese film than a period series.  The closest we got to blackmail in Mad Men was Campbell threatening to blow Draper’s Dick Whitman story.  Big fucking deal – what a non-starter that was.

Listen, I can go a million ways on this.  Besides, one’s set in York, and the other in New York – how far apart can these two shows be anyway?  The truth is, given the amazing array of poor decisions and bad behavior on Downton Abbey, I gotta say that Mad Men’s got a shit ton to live up to.  Something HUGE better go down this season if it’s going to measure to up to the guilty indulgence that is Downton Abbey. Maybe Betty kills Megan or something.  Or Pete gets splattered all over the road by drunk driving Duck (never trust a recurring character named after a water fowl, amirite?).  Fuck it, just bring a dowager on to Mad Men and we’ll call it even.

 

 

This evening’s silly conversation:

TW:  “Dude, when was the last time you used a QR code?”

Me:  “Actually, the last time I used one was this weekend.”

TW:  “Really?  What for?”

Me:  “Well, I bought a new coat and it boasted some fucking snazzy heat-reflection technology bullshit.  And it came with a tag with a QR code on it.  So I clicked the code and a video played on my phone showing how this heat-reflection technology worked.”

MS:  “And that was the clincher?  The video?”

Me:  “No, the clincher was that the coat cost $25.  Where the hell are you gonna find some space age coat for $25?”

TW:  “I dunno, I hate QR codes.”

Me:  “No, don’t hate QR codes.  QR codes are great.  QR codes are fucking awesome.  Hate the douchebags who misuse QR codes, don’t hate the codes.  I love clicking on a code, and then it takes me to some cool content that probably can’t be accessed some other way.  That’s the whole point of QR codes.  That’s when QR codes are cool as fuck.  Instead, 99 times out of 100, what happens when you get when click on a QR code?  You’re taken to some stupid homepage.  Like I need your fucking code to take me to your homepage, especially when you put the code right next to your URL – assholes.  And half the time, it’s not even a mobile site, and everything’s fucking microscopic on your screen.  Die, you mobilephobic site, die.  Or you’re taken to something that takes a day and a half to load.  Or you see a QR code in a subway car – what fucking genius thought that one up?!  It’s just such a gross misuse of QR codes.

“I tell you what – QR codes are the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade of the digital world.  You have something that’s all nice and cool and properly organized for you – you get to drink in the streets for an entire day, for fuck’s sake! – and you have an opportunity to do lots fun and cool shit with it, make it somewhat exclusive or special… But instead, you act like a complete imbecile and you misuse and abuse the fucking thing, and you treat it like a little bitch, and you end up puking all over your girlfriend’s sister and her best friend, and wind up in the ER, and eventually, the mayor’s gonna come around and say, ‘Fuck you, this is why you can’t have nice things, you shitheads.’  And this is why QR codes need to die.”

 

Everyone:  “What is wrong with you.”

 

Here are some words that need to be scrapped from use immediately.  Largely because they’re not proper words.  Just strings of letters fuckwits have crumpled together to make up syllables which make them think they sound smart.

“Deplane”.  Pretty much every other week I’m on a plane these days.  And every other week, some flight attendant will remind me of just how much I fucking loathe them.  “Plane” is a noun.   Not a fucking verb.  “DE-plane”?!  What the fuck do you do when you get on a plane?   Enplane?  What if you get on, come off the plane, then get back on it?  Replane?  Do fuck off, flight crew.  The only time it’s alright hear the word “deplane” around any aircraft is if you see Hervé Villechaize in the vicinity.  But given that he’s quite dead, there goes that loophole.

“Pre-board”.  Another air travel gem.  Arguably one of the stupidest phrases ever uttered by someone in uniform: “We’d like to pre-board parents with small children”.  Do you even fucking understand what the prefix means?  You’re not fucking pre-boarding anyone.  Pre-boarding is what I’m doing right now: standing at the gate, stupid.  Standing: that’s what pre-boarding means.

“Incentivize”.  Brilliant marketing wankery.  It’s such a lazy yet crafty way to sound so fucking smart about something.  Just add the “ize” suffix to some multi-syllabic noun, and voila, you’re big and clever.  Every time I hear someone in a meeting say shit like “incentivize” or “dimensionalize” or something bullshit wankspeak, I want to punch them in the throat.

“Preventative”.  Holy fucking shit, this isn’t a word, it’s cheating at Scrabble with two extra tiles.  The word is “preventive”, fucknut.  What’s mind-blowing isn’t the proliferation of the word in pedestrian vernacular.  It’s the fact that it’s actually accepted verbiage in some highly-regulated companies (e.g. pharmaceuticals, etc.) – you see it in their ads, their press releases.  Way to go out of your way to perpetuate poor grammar and make people think that you have a stutter.

“Online”.  Not in the digital sense.  But in the single file sense.  What the fuck is wrong with “queue”?  It’s a great word.  It’s proper English word, one syllable, but it rocks four successive vowels in it (OK, two, but you get what I mean)!!!  Even standing in line is correct to say.  But “online”?  Where the fuck is this line on which you’re supposed to be standing?

“Offline.”  Again, not in the digital sense.  Another bit of business wankery referring to a side conversation to be had at another time and place.  “Let’s take this offline.”  No, let’s take this term and stab you in the eye with it.  That word does not mean what you think it means, Vizzini.  The only reason we even have that fucking word “offline” is because we needed something to mean the opposite of “online”, again, in the digital sense.  Where is this fucking line from which you want me to get off?  Fuck you and your lines.

The poncification of food.  Not a word, per se.  The missus has been heading up the organization of her high school class reunion of late.  One of the venues provided her with a catering menu.  Apparently, in some effort to poncify themselves, they’ listed such culinary delights as “breast of chicken”, “fillet of salmon”, “prime rib of beef”.  Are you fucking shittin’ me?  Listen, separating the animal and its cut with a conjunction doesn’t mean you get to charge me a 50% premium for that same shitty dried out piece of chicken which I invariable know will taste like the sole of Doc Martens with a slight lemon zest.

Shit of bull.

[Originally posted February 2011]

Shit list

The irritating guy next to me at Starbucks whistling along to the piped-in music. Whistling douchebags are bad enough, this dickhead ratchets it up a notch – he works the vibrato in his whistle.  How much did I want to empty my scalding cup of coffee right on his stupid puckered-up face.  Once in a while, he’d break into the vocals and sing along as well.  Then I realized, he’s singing “You make me feel like a natural womaaaan!”  OMG, could you be a bigger asshole.  Stop faux-auditioning, ‘cause I know that’s what you’re doing.  You’re whistling and working what you think is a sweet soul voice, in hopes that someone glitzy producer’s gonna walk into this shitty Starbucks in midtown, hear the musical nectar filling the air, and right there and then offer you a recording contract, three bitches, and a Phantom Drophead.  Shut your fucking piehole, you’re in Starbucks, not in front of Simon Cowell.

Dwyane Wade and Siohvaughn Wade. Thanks to overeager clicking on links over the NBA All-Star Weekend, I somehow know the name of D-Wade’s (ex?) wife’s name.  And I am all the dumber for it.  All I do is wanna bash the heads of these two numbskulls together.  BOTH of you, that is NOT how you spell your names, for fuck sake.

Commercials that say, “Tell them so-and-so sent you”. What?! What the hell is that supposed to mean or do?  ”Go to that car dealership and tell them Ronnie Douchebag sent you.”  What am I, your bitch now?  I don’t even know you, you odd person on TV.  What kind of imbecile goes to buy a car from some creep on the basis that an even bigger creep from TV gave him a line to recite to the salesperson?  I guarantee you if you went to buy a new couch and told the salesperson that Billy Ballbag sent you, you’d get punched in head.  And you’d deserve it, too.  Why do we put up with crap like this?  Surely there are better ways to negotiate a sale.  ”Jimmy Dickhead told me that if I buy my car from you, you’d supply free porn for as long as I own the car!  No?  Really?  Right, how about I take the car with a grand off your asking price then?”  I smell a win-win proposition there.

People with driveways who insist on parking their cars on the street. And they’re always these big monstrosities, some fat lumbering BMW X5 or Honda Odyssey.  It’s never a sensible car, and never a small car, like a Smart car or some shitty old Kia or something.  It’s got to be just large enough to make sure you block the entire lane in one direction so that to go around it, you’re headed straight for oncoming traffic.  They make me wish I drove something really shitty that I could use to accidentally on purpose T-bone these cars right onto their well-manicured front yards.

Hypothetical conversations with wifey. Once in a blue moon, the idea of saying “screw this”, packing everything up, and moving away to some other city to start anew becomes a peculiar conversation between wifey and I.  We don’t really mean it, it’s one of those curious “what if” pointless conversations one has after three vodka tonics with dinner.  And when Boston comes up, she can’t understand why I wouldn’t live there if my testicles depended on it.  ”What about Boston?”  ”Dear God, no.”  ”Why?  Boston’s nice.”  ”No, it’s not.  It’s the most awful sports market imaginable.”  ”What?!”  ”You heard me.  You’ve got the Red Sox.  And the Patriots.  In the same place.  I’d rather snort a line of anthrax and wash it down with a beaker of ebola than move to Boston.”  End of debate, thank you very much.

Hershey Kisses. By far – FAR! – the single-most loathsome candy in the world.  Everything about it this stupid chocolate chaps my ass.  First of all, it’s goddamn Hershey’s.  Which means that as far as the chocolate itself goes, you’re pretty much eating brown lumps of drywall.  Hershey’s make the shittiest chocolates on earth.  They make chocolates the way Taco Bell make taco meat.  There’s a fairy dusting of chocolate, and the rest of it is made up of various space age plastics, a bit of carbon filings, and scraps of an old desk.  Anyone who thinks that Hershey’s chocolate is good has never eaten chocolate.  But that’s not quite enough to make Hershey’s Kisses Satan’s love candy.  No, the pièce de résistance is the wrapper.  Specifically, that little shitty paper tab tucked into the top of a Hershey’s Kiss.  That is the most pointless and irritating packaging ever to designed into anything.  I’ve got kids – who apparently were born without the sense of taste – and a wife – also, suffering from the same palate disability – who fucking love Hershey’s Kisses.  And I find these little paper tabs all over the house.  I’m constantly losing my shit about making sure these little paper tabs make it into the trash can, but true to form, everyone in the house has got a listening problem, too.  These little paper tabs are everywhere.  I wanna punch the guy who thought that these little tabs were a clever idea.  Lose the fucking tabs, it’ll still be a piece of shit chocolate wrapped in foil, Hershey.  Plus, you’ll probably save a ton of cabbage.  Win-win.  Again.