Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



Geek alert: the following extremely long post will most likely bore you to tears unless you’re a fan of comic books and/or reality TV. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Are you as excited about the new Sci-Fi Channel reality program Who Wants To Be A Superhero as I am? I submit to you that you are NOT.

I got wind of this show a couple of months ago. It was being created/hosted by Stan Lee who has, in recent years, demonstrated that there’s not a lot he won’t do for a buck. But, this guy created or co-created some of the most iconic superheroes known today: Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Daredevil… and the list goes on. So I’ll give him a pass. And if you’re looking for someone who is connected with the comic book world and is known by the general public, you can’t go wrong with Stan “The Man” Lee.

At first I really didn’t get the concept. It seemed like they were looking for people with real powers for this show. Not that I expected people to actually be able to fly or shoot laser beams out of their eyeballs… but I thought you’d see a lot of gymnasts, aerialists, weightlifters and the like.

But no. Oh no.

What you got instead (at least judging by the try-out segments of those who didn’t get on the show) was a bunch of kooks dressed up in homemade costumes claiming to be able to control people with their minds, shoot freeze-rays out of their fingers, stuff like that.

And it started to all make sense. Stan Lee is a comic book WRITER. He isn’t looking for people who could actually leap tall buildings parkour-style or lift 3x their own body weight. He figures he can embellish that part, what he really wants are people who are heroes in their heart. He wants people who will commit to wearing a silly costume in public while jumping through hoops (figuratively speaking). So let’s run down those who actually made the cut.

First, you have to acknowledge that this is a TV show first and foremost, so I’m sure the producers had more than a little say in who got cast. Since this is the typical living-under-the-same-roof-while-you-are-eliminated-one-by-one scenario, you’re going to want to have an interesting mix of personalities. That accounts for some of the casting… but not all of it. You have to also keep in mind that Stan Lee is in his 80s, and his sensibilities about what makes a costumed comic book hero are probably different than yours or mine. Stan Lee is old school, baby. What follows is some info stolen from the Sci-Fi website, and my opinions.

Name: Feedback
Super powers: Absorbs powers and abilities from video games that he plays; generates a feedback field that disrupts electronics within 15 feet; computer genius.
[My opinion of] Why he’s on the show: Because he’s clearly a big geek, and his costume is cool. I don’t think you can underestimate the power of a great suit.
Chance of winning: 65%. His head is in the right place, his powers are timely (at least in Stan Lee’s mind) and, again, cool suit.

Name: Fat Mama
Super powers: Can grow to five times her normal size when she gets angry.
Why she’s on the show: Comic relief. She has a utility belt OF DONUTS.
Chance of winning: 0%. She’ll go further than most people expect, I think, but won’t win. Take a look at Stan Lee’s history… how many heroes has he created that are overweight? The same as her percentage of winning: 0.

Name: Nitro G
Super powers: Super strength; super speed; flight; manipulates energy.
Why he’s on the show: Again, a decent suit with the addition of some kickin’ goggles.
Chance of winning: 5%. Clearly he’s doing the show for a lark, his heart isn’t into it.

Name: Lemuria
Super powers: Shoots laser-beams and fireballs; levitates; drains energy from people, animals and plants; hurls orbs of solar energy.
Why she’s on the show: Official reason: the producers posted three audition videos on the website and let fans pick who would compete; she won. Unofficial reason: the decision came from comic book fanboys and her costume shows off her boobs? You do the math.
Chance of winning: 45%. She’s into it, and has the advantage of being a fan favorite before the show even aired.

Name: The Iron Enforcer
Super powers: Densest bone structure of any human; mind-blowing "death punch;" wields an arsenal of high-tech weapons.
Why he’s on the show: Producers’ choice. He’s abrasive and sure to make for some good TV.
Chance of winning: 0%. This guy is typical of late-80s “weapon heroes.” Stan Lee doesn’t do weapon heroes; the closest he’s ever come is Iron Man who basically wore a whole-body weapon ONLY because he needed it to save his life.

Name: Monkey Woman
Super powers: High-tech weapons and gadgets disguised as bananas.
Why she’s on the show: Nice body, skimpy costume; more good TV, but of a very different sort than the Iron Enforcer.
Chance of winning: 35%. Stan digs the obvious hero names (Iron Man, guy who wears a suit made of iron; The Hulk, a guy who’s really big and, um, hulking) and he appreciates a little whimsy in his heroes.

Name: Major Victory
Super powers: Can levitate and is never knocked down; super-strength; can jump 375 feet straight up; can go 25 minutes without air; super-acute vision; can manipulate sound waves to create noises or throw his voice.
Why he’s on the show: Best homemade suit of the lot, actually has the body of a hero, down to the chiseled chin.
Chance of winning: 95%. Unless this guy really stumbles or the producers screw things up, this guy is smart money. He is IN TO IT, heart and soul.

Name: Cell Phone Girl
Super powers: Teleport from one active cell phone to another; eyes can take digital photos; download any information available on a computer (i.e., learn Japanese on the fly); use cell-phone waves to move physical objects; fires beams from her cell phone.
Why she’s on the show: Producers’ choice (and a nice ass doesn’t hurt, either). I imagine the conversation after her audition went like this:
Producers: Wow, we love Cell Phone Girl! She’s cute, and with the whole cell phone shtick, we can sell in some telcom sponsors! What do you think, Stan?
Stan Lee: I think the whole idea is fucking stupid.
Chance of winning: 15%. I’d like to say 0%, just because her entire concept is ridiculous, but since she made the cut she has a chance. But, she’s kinda making fun of comic book conventions, and that won’t sit well with Stan.

Name: Ty’Veculus
Super powers: Super-strength; super-speed; fire resistance; always detects lies because he can only hear the truth.
Why he’s on the show: Producers’ choice, adds to the diversity. Plus, he seems to be a little dim-witted, which always make good TV.
Chance of winning: 15%. I don’t think he has a strong enough personality to make Stan take notice. But, he has a odd made-up name, and Stan loves that kind of stuff.

Name: Creature
Super powers: Can heal others with fruit and raw foods; shoots fire-beams; wields a magical bullwhip; throws knives with unerring precision.
Why she’s on the show: Again, nice bod, skimpy outfit. Plus, she’s quirky bordering on annoying, which makes for, yep, good TV.
Chance of winning: 10%. I don’t think she’s really into it either, doesn’t really seem to get the super hero thing. Plus, Creature? What the hell kind of name is that?

Name: Levity
Super powers: Controls air molecules; creates force fields; shoots blasts of air that can penetrate concrete.
Why he’s on the show: Um, because he’s gay? This didn’t come out on the show, but the press kit seems to make a big deal out of the fact that he “fights for people who are ‘different’” and that he is “especially devoted to protecting gay people from harassment.” I think it’s because he’s the only person who has a coherent collection of powers. Stan likes it when all the powers work together for a reason, like this guy, who’s powers all stem from controlling “air molecules.”
Chance of winning: 35%. He gets extra points for being an animator in his day job.

I’m basing the percentages above on just what I saw on the first show. If these guys are smart they’ll quickly figure out what Stan Lee is looking for, and will adapt.


The first challenge was pretty damn sneaky. There was a plant (named ROTIART -- TRAITOR spelled backwards, get it?) in the first meeting of all the new superheroes, asking probing questions. This is where we learn that Levity is a animator and toy designer in real life. He and ROTIART have a conversation that goes like this:
ROTIART: So you make custom action figures?
Levity: Yeah, it’s a cool job.
R: I bet you could make an action figure of yourself if you win this show!
L: I guess I could, ha ha. That might make some money.
R: Yeah, you could become a millionaire selling your own image!
L: A millionaire. That would be funny!
So later in the show Stan Lee blasts him, saying that a superhero isn’t in it for the money, but rather because he’s a hero in his heart or some such bullshit. It seemed like entrapment to me. And really, I was a lot more alarmed by The Iron Enforcer, who went on at length about how he likes to kill his opponents with his giant gun. Stan also yells at Creature for just being on the show to "meet hot guys in tights." This strikes me as a little disingenuous from the guy who created Stripperella. But, Levity gets the boot before they even get in the new hideout which, in the irony of ironies, Stan Lee calls “the Bat Cave.”

But this first “challenge” does set the stage, and woe to the superhero who doesn’t pay attention to the lesson. Stan Lee is looking for superheroes. Not regular people who think they are playing superheroes on a reality TV program; he’s looking for the real deal.

See, Stan Lee is a little nuts.

And if anyone didn’t get the message the first time, the second challenge (the elimination challenge) makes it crystal clear. The heroes are asked to dress in street clothes and meet at a park. One by one they are given the word to burst into action, but first they have to find a place to secretly change into costume. Stan references Superman changing in a phone booth, and again, coming from the king of Marvel Comics, this blows me away. Once in costume, the hero races to a designated point, with the person putting in the fastest time winning.

However, as they run through the park they have to run past a little girl who is loudly crying and saying she has lost her mommy. It’s apparent that the real challenge is to stop and help the little girl. Four of the 10 heroes stop and help. I asked myself if I would have stopped. I like to think so… crying girl, I have children of my own… but I think most of the heroes were just focused on the goal. It’s going to be fun to watch them second guess everything for the rest of the show. Wait a minute… that hotdog vendor is out of change! Is the real challenge to help this small businessman?

That night is the elimination ceremony. Out of the six who missed the boat, three are put on the chopping block: Nitro G, The Iron Enforcer and Creature. I’m not sure how these three were selected out of all six. Nitro G gets the ax, mostly because he’s a bit of a dick, I think. And he’s not really into the spirit of the show. I mean, he changed into his costume in plain sight, for christsakes!

NEXT WEEK: New costumes! Dog attacks! Same Bat-time! Same Bat-Channel!

#147 In which our hero talks about housekeeping.

Both The Scientist and I like the house to be clean. Sadly, we are both terrible housekeepers. We wish we were better about it, but it’s wishing like I wish the hole in the ozone layer would close up, or I wish Ohioans would stop voting Republican. That is to say, things that we can’t change nor expect to change any time soon.

We each have our own issues. Personally, I am a piler. I tend to arrange my crap in stacks, and if there’s a pile of stuff, I’m more likely to just dump more stuff on top of it, not sort it and throw out what I don’t need. I think I’ve become better about it, and the only areas of the new house that really suffer are the office and one corner of the kitchen, where the new mail tends to go. And if the old mail is still there when the new mail arrives, well, I pile it up. The general lack of counter space in the kitchen only makes this more of a pain in the ass.

Now, The Scientist has an altogether different problem. My wife is a proclaimer. Every so often she’ll make a pronouncement like, “From now on, every Friday I am going to vacuum all the carpeting!” or “Starting tomorrow, I’m going to clean one bathroom every Wednesday, so they all get cleaned once a month!” What usually happens is that she follows through with the pronouncement once, maybe, then it falls by the wayside. Right now she’s reading this and saying, “Look, I try to do it, but sometimes I’m busy and it doesn’t get done as quickly or as often as I’d like.” To which I say, honey, that’s fine. But since it always goes this way, so why not skip the in-between stuff and just admit that you don’t want to clean?

So The Scientist sees my piles of crap and thinks, “Christ, why won’t he just throw some of this stuff away?” and I look at the rest of the house and think, “Jesus, didn’t she say she was going to vacuum every week?” The end result is that we just don’t clean very much.

But, there is one big motivation that gets us off our butts and makes us break out the buckets and mops: guests. Since we like a clean house we want to at least give the illusion that we keep a neat house… so there’s always a couple days of mad cleaning before people come over. And right now, since we’re having friends over for dinner tomorrow, the house looks great! And once I mop the floors tonight, the illusion will be complete.

This really is the answer to our problems. We don’t need to clean more often, we just need to have more parties.



Three things on my mind right now, coincidentally, all work related:

Bag women.

Can someone tell me why businesswomen need to carry so much crap?

My agency provides free parking. The lot is across a canal from the building, but there is a elevated, covered walkway connecting the two. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from my car to my office. And in that time, I see a lot of women heading to work. And more often than not, these women are encumbered with all sorts of bags, purses and what-not.

So, okay, I understand the purse. Women need to carry make-up and lady products, as well as money and keys and that sort of crap. What I don’t understand is why some women need to carry these gigantic purses, as if they may need room to store a human head and don’t want to be caught unprepared.

And then I see some women carrying gym bags, presumably full of workout clothes and a towel and water bottle. There’s a little gym/fitness center in the building, so that makes sense. But, some of the women I see clearly haven’t been to a gym in years, if ever. So what do you have in there? Do you bring a change of clothes just for the drive home?

And finally, I see women with giant leather bags overstuffed with documents and laptops and various and sundry work stuff. Now, I understand having to take home your work, I’ve had to do it every once and again; and when I do I sometimes bring my laptop home with me. But I see the same women carrying in the same portable office in with them day after day. Personally, I think if you have to take your work home every night, then you’re not managing your daily workload correctly.

So these businesswomen have a purse and a gym bag and a leather work satchel and a lunch bag…. It’s a little crazy. And to offset all the weight, some women have gone right to the rollerbag. Now, when you need a contraception with wheels to get you from your car to your office, something is very wrong.

Killer coffee.

I think the coffee at work is making my tongue numb. The agency provides free Starbucks. Now, I’ve never fallen into the cult of Starbucks, and the few times I have had their coffee I wasn’t so blown away that I was willing to shill out an extra $2/cup. So working here is the first time that I’ve drank a considerable amount of Starbucks. That said, I’m only drinking two or maybe three small cups a day.

I noticed that my tongue had a strange metallic taste a couple of weeks ago. I thought maybe I ate something bad or maybe my allergies affected my sense of taste. Then, since it continued, I started to think that since I bite my nails that maybe I was eating soap that accumulated under my nails, and it was damaging my tongue. I noticed that drinking coffee seemed to exacerbate the problem. Finally, yesterday it occurred to me that maybe the coffee wasn’t making the problem worse, maybe coffee was the problem.

So today, I’m drinking tea. We’ll see by the end of the day what condition my tongue is in.

Playing hooky.

I’m taking a half day tomorrow and The Scientist and I are going to the movies! Since she works this weekend she gets tomorrow off. So we’re going to go see X-Men III… a movie I wanted to see more than a month ago. I’m angling for a little afternoon delight too, if you know what I mean, but I don’t think the timing is going to work out. But that's okay, as long as there's time for the movie.

And that’s what life with kids has become… I’m more excited about seeing an actual movie in an actual movie theater than having sex.


#146 In which our hero covets his neighbor.

I’m starting to hate my neighbor at work. Well, not hate really… but rather, envy. He’s way too nice of a guy to hate. He came over last week to make sure his music wasn’t too loud… how can you hate someone so considerate?

He’s a quiet guy, really laid back. Doesn’t seem to have that “Hey! I want to be the center of attention!” personality that you often see in the advertising world. But the guy is constantly the center of attention! There’s always someone in his office, and they’re just chatting. Matter of fact, I just walked by a second ago and the hot intern was in there. Dammit! I want to be that guy!

The thing is, I’m shy. Those of you who know me probably don’t think so, but it’s true. Just ask The Scientist. More than once she’s complained that I don’t really engage others in group settings, at least, not when I don’t know anyone. And that’s true… if I don’t have something reasonably intelligent to say, I generally keep my mouth shut. I’m not good at small talk, really. I try, but it usually doesn’t get past the “Oh, so you two work together? That’s nice.” stage. I like to believe that once I get to know someone better, even a little better, then I open up. Well… not really open up, because I’m not one to share my personal life with anyone except really close friends (of which I have probably four, not counting The Scientist) but rather just become more animated. This has led to some people confiding to The Scientist that they find her husband “intimidating.” And honestly I’d rather be called “intimidating” than “boring” or “annoying” or “seems like a nice guy but would not shut the fuck up.”

And being that I am aware of this, I have tried to overcome it. I mean, I love working at this agency, and I want people to feel like they can stop by any time and chat. Once upon a time, I wanted co-workers to be intimidated by me, especially the account services staff. I’d huff and puff and bluster at the merest hint of confrontation or inconvenience on my part. But those days are past. Being laid off several times has taught me how fragile the working environment can be, and that I should really respect and appreciate everyone involved, especially the clients. I’ve taken these lessons to heart, and really hope that The Powers That Be no longer feel the need to beat this hubris out of me. Happy to be working! All smiles here! Let’s not have any more firings, okay?

But, as I’ve said, I’m just not good at the small talk stuff. I have trouble just walking into someone’s office who I don’t know very well and chatting. I’d like to, but I can’t. Or at least, I can’t without it quickly turning into an awkward situation. “Um, Craig, was there something you wanted?”

This was, in part, why I bought the sofa. I thought people might come and hang out just to, y’know, enjoy the luxury seating. But that has not come to pass. Now, my neighbor has been here for several years, so maybe I’m just jumping the gun. Perhaps I should wait until I’ve been here for more than four months before I start bitching about how I don’t have any friends at work, boo-hoo-hoo. Hmm… maybe instead of a sofa I should have bought a massage chair; that would have pulled ‘em in!

I just passed by and my neighbor has three people in there! And he only have one chair! And NO sofas! Dammit!


#145 In which our hero doesn’t feel like working.

I’m a copywriter. In addition to being expected to write complete sentences using correct grammar, I’m expected to produce concepts that are interesting and compelling, as well. Because of this, a lot of people think that I get paid for being creative.

This is not true.

I believe that anyone can be creative. It isn’t much of a skill, honestly. Thousands of people do thousands of creative things. So I’m not paid to be creative, I’m paid to be creative on demand.

That’s the real trick. Given enough time and resources, anyone can come up with a brilliant idea. Well, at least a decent idea. But set a deadline and most people freak out and can’t think of anything.

Right now, the demand on me is to write a four- to eight-page brochure. The job came to me late yesterday, and I only had time to read over the brief. So, I should be re-reading the brief and digesting all the support materials that came with it.

But I’m just not into it.

That’s the other thing I’m paid to do: write materials for stuff that doesn’t interest me. Again, lots of people can be creative with stuff that captivates their imagination, but their enthusiasm quickly fades when faced with something that bores them. This brochure is for a new kind of engine belt, and I’m having trouble mustering the same level of fascination that the client seems to process. So I’m putting it off. We need to show the client something by end of day next Tuesday, which means I need to have the copy done before then so the designer has time to create a layout. So I should really finish it up today or tomorrow.

And I’ll get it done, I’ve never missed a deadline before. But I’m just not that into work today. And I’ll tell you why. It’s because of this:

That’s a Magnavox 32” LCD widescreen TV. My work is giving this away today.

Actually, the agency is having a “Festival de Mexico” today, with Mexican food and drinks. Which is cool. But they also have a contest to win the TV above.

And I want to win that fucking TV.

There’s a big jar full of beans outside of HR. Whoever comes closest to guessing the number of beans inside, without going over, walks away with that TV. So I created a plan. I bought five bags of black beans and brought them to work with me. My plan was to construct a paper replica of the jar, fill it with beans, then count and win.

But, those HR fuckers threw a monkey wrench in my plans.

When I got to work today I found that the jar didn’t contain just black beans as advertised, but a combination of black beans and pinto beans. Which, if you haven’t already guessed, are two different sizes. Plus, the jar is large enough that there could be a baseball or something else inside to through off the count.

So, new plan.

At lunch I’m going to run over to the store and buy some pinto beans. Then I’ll make my paper model, fill it up and count ‘em.

Until then, I’ll try to focus on writing this brochure. Now, if it was a brochure for a widescreen TV…

2:30PM UPDATE: I made my paper jar and quickly realized that filling it completely with beans would be A LOT OF BEANS. So I drew a the one inch line, filled it with beans, and counted those beans. Which was still a hell of a lot of beans to count; 2,420 to be exact. So I multipled this number by six (the number of inches tall of the level of beans in the jar) and then subtracted 15% to account for the fact that the jar isn't really square, it's slightly curved on the edges, resulting in a slight loss of beans in the corners (I think). Plus, if I go over I lose no matter what, so it seemed wise to estimate low. Clearly this is only a half-step removed from pure guesswork... but I'm hopeful. I've heard other people talking and the number of 4,000-5,000 kept coming up. Which is crazy low if I'm even in the right ballpark.

Keep your fingers crossed.

FINAL UPDATE: I didn't win. The actual number of beans was 10,254. My guess was 12,342, putting me over by 2,088. Pfft.



Okay, you’re heard about this advertising on eggs thing, right? If not, look at this.

In essence (yes, it took a real effort of will not to write “in a nutshell”) the TV network CBS is working with a company that laser-engraves eggs. Like, eggs you buy in the store. They’re engraving their logo on eggs, and some witty stuff like, “Crack the case with CSI!” Yeah, kinda corny, but I give them full points for coming up with this new and original advertising medium.

However-- and the rant is just about to start, so hold on-- people on the Internet seem to be up in arms about this. Like it’s some sort of attack on the American way of life (I mean, we’re not talking about burning logos into American flags or something equally horrible, like letting gay people marry).

Laid Off Dad
wrote a little piece about it, which solicited these comments from readers:
Yet another reason to buy eggs at the farmer's market.


I hate Leslie Moonves

How about toilet paper? Nice white surface and daily exposure to the ummmm consumer. Certainly where most advertising already is heading, no?

It’s the last one that really got my blood up. Now, obviously I work in advertising, so my opinion may not be the opinion of the average person. That is to say, when it comes to advertising, mine is an educated opinion.

The eggs thing? Who really gives a shit? It’s an EGG. You crack the shell, you toss it in the trash, and you’re done. It’s not like CBS is shrink-wrapping the eggs, or otherwise making them difficult to open. Is it really so traumatic to look at a company logo while you’re making breakfast? I mean, you see the logos on the can of coffee, the stove, the box of cereal, the refrigerator, the newspaper, and all the other consumer goods that are part of our daily lives, right?

Personally, I think it’s clever. Not terribly clever, though. I’m a little unclear on the connection between eggs and TV… if it was, say, a McDonald’s logo that said “Try our new egg & cheese sandwich and we’ll crack this for you” it would make more sense. The agency that came up with this idea is trying to make it fit, but it only works okay, in my mind. That is to say, as far as communicating a message. On the side of getting additional exposure for the network, this thing has worked like nobody's business. The Internet is abuzz about it, and I’m sure we’ll be reading about it in the newspapers and seeing it in the news shortly.

But I’m getting off-track. The last comment above is trashing advertising in general, to which I take offense. And believe me, I know how easy it is to trash advertising, people have been doing it for centuries. My personal favorite is Mark Twain, who described advertising as "the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket." That comment is more than a little ironic, given how great a self-promoter Twain was.

So yeah... billboards clutter up the highways, there's more ads than articles in my magazine, there's too many commercials on TV... Let's consider that last one. You want to know why there’s so many commercials on TV? Because no-one will pay $8,000 for a 16” TV. See, all the content on TV has to be paid in some fashion, and our nation long ago adopted a paid advertising model to allow content to be developed. See, the alternative would be to pay for that content by charging excessive prices for the TV itself. That’s the computer software model, by the way. You pay a lordly sum for your software, and -- surprise, surprise -- new software comes out every year or so. Be glad this isn’t the TV model or you can pretty much guarantee that electronics manufacturers would make their products in such as fashion that they’d need to be replaced every few years.

How about paying $12 for a newspaper? Or $25 for a magazine? Want to pay $15 every time you watch an episode of your favorite sitcom? The money for that content has to come from somewhere, and if it wasn’t for advertisers, that money would come from YOU. See, advertisers pay huge sums to newspapers and magazines and TV networks in the hopes you’ll buy their products. And if you don’t want to buy them, all you need to do it turn the page or flip the channel. That’s it. I think it’s a pretty good deal, actually.

Is advertising becoming more intrusive? Yeah, it is. Is it a little obnoxious to open up a carton of eggs and see a company logo? I guess. But when you consider the alternative, maybe it’s not such a heartache to deal with a little advertising.



We took the girls to a real studio this weekend. The photos turned out absolutely amazing; we are thrilled with them. The Scientist talks about the experience over on her blog (complete with photo!) so check it out. Just know this: the one photo she has posted doesn’t even come close to capturing the cuteness of the entire set.

We also went to Target and bought frames. We want to start a photo montage on one big blank wall in the living room, but we also wanted to bring in photos to our respective works. And when I did so this morning, I noticed something strange.

I have three new photos with me. One of each girl separately (in a hinged frame), and one with Lily kissing Macey on the cheek. Is the kissing one adorable? Holy shit, you have no idea. So I start looking around to figure out where to put this photos. I have a little side table, but it’s generally covered with job jackets* and also holds my lamp. So I put the photos on my desk, facing me.

But then I realize that people who come into my office won’t be able to see the photos. And that doesn’t seem right. But then I start to ask myself, why does it matter? These aren’t their kids, the point is to have photos of your own children to remind you that your family loves you, right? It’s not a competition in which I need to prove that my kids are cuter than anyone else’s, right? Hmmm… or is it? Because I have a strong urge to show off my kids. I wonder if this is how those crazy Show Moms get started?

So I ended up making room on the little table for the hinged frame, and the other one is facing me on my desk. Well, mostly facing me… it’s canted so people walking in can get a taste of it, too.

It only seemed right.

* Every project that goes through the creative department has accompanying paperwork. At this agency it’s in the form of a big manila envelope. It’s been slightly different at other agencies where I’ve worked, but they all have job jackets. Inside there’s a brief from the client explaining what needs to be done, further instructions from the account executive, and sometimes sample ads or previous work or the like. Presumably, at some point when the work is done the jacket goes off to accounting to be billed. I have seven job jackets on my desk right now.


#144 In which our hero talks about getting fired (again).

Yesterday work was rush-rush-rush, but today I have all sorts of time on my hands. So I thought I’d write about something that I’ve been waiting to write about for some time: getting fired. Well, not so much getting fired, as being fired.

Being fired is a weird thing. I was trying to think up an analogy, and this came to mind: I once lived with a girlfriend for five years. When I finally pulled the plug, there was an extremely uncomfortable four days while I was still living there before I could move out and into my new apartment. About two days after the final shouting match/break up, I came home to discover that my (ex) girlfriend had changed the locks.

Being fired is like that. You can still come into the apartment, if you must, but it’s clear that you’re not wanted there. And while you are there, it’s very uncomfortable.

Having this feeling is relatively new to me. Before I landed my first real agency copywriting gig, I had voluntarily left every single job I ever had. Quitting was old hat, but being fired was all new.

I found it especially difficult the first time I was fired (i.e., “laid off.” I had an employer tell me once that I shouldn’t say I was “fired,” because being fired is very different from being laid off. And while I saw his point, it seems like bullshit semantics to me. At the end of the day you’re still lugging a big box of your crap down to your car and not coming back). Since this was my first real agency (previously I worked at an in-house agency, which isn’t the same thing at all) getting fired filled my head with all sorts of insecurities. Maybe I can’t really cut it in the advertising world! I made a big mistake leaving my support system behind and moving to Cleveland! The world has finally discovered I’m a fraud!

But more than that, I really liked my co-workers. I mean, not all of them, of course, I’m not Mother Teresa. But I did like my boss quite a lot, and I liked the president of our division. I even invited these guys to my wedding -- and they came! And the other writer and our graphic designer were great guys, too. I had hung out with them for drinks after work, and had been to my boss’s home several times for parties.

And that was the biggest kick in the teeth. After working with them for two years I though we were all friends. But we weren’t.

We were work friends. Emphasis on work. Once that common denominator was removed, we weren’t so much friends any longer. And that really sucked. I dropped a few emails, but didn’t get replies. I even kept them on my Christmas card list for a couple years… even though I was dropped from theirs right away. I wasn’t invited to any more parties.

Some of this was self-serving, of course. I wanted to remind them that I was still alive, in case a job did open up at the agency, or if they heard of one elsewhere. But I heard nothing from them, and after a while, I gave up trying.

In this regard, it was considerably easier to get fired from the next couple of places, since I didn’t really make friends with anyone. The one place was full of bitter and/or arrogant jackasses, so I wasn’t inclined to make friends with anyone anyway. And I was at the little Internet place for only two months, hardly enough to break the ice, let alone really become close.

In the case of the latter, some emails were exchanged, and invitations to “keep in touch!” were offered (and accepted). I kinda thought I would stay friendly with those folks. But, a short time later I found myself again employed in the area, and a couple of emails suggesting we all get together for lunch went unanswered.

But, I can’t really say I blame them. I mean, who wants to be reminded that their own job is in jeopardy, and could go away at any minute (like mine did)? Also, I’m a fairly bitter SOB when I get fired, so probably not the most fun to be around.

Oddly enough, I recently found myself on the opposite side of the equation (for once). The guy who got fired from my agency called me a couple of days after the fact. He wanted to know if I had any connections in the Cleveland advertising market (I don’t). I told him my experiences in the places I did work, and suggested other agencies I had heard good things about. He followed up with an email to thank me, and said to “keep in touch!” And for the first time, I started to really understand why people don’t.

First, it’s not like this guy and I are friends. We chatted some -- turns out we’re both comic book geeks -- but that was it. In the three months we worked together, we had maybe six conversations. But more to the point, I know what it’s like to be unemployed -- it sucks. And you have to use every resource at your disposal to land a new job.

And I don’t want to be a resource.

I don’t want to be a reference, or answer calls from a potential employers, or any of that shit. Part of it is that I’m lazy and can’t be bothered, but more importantly, if this guy really was a weak designer or slow or whatever, I don’t want to be associated with those traits. Because, who knows? I could be in front of that same employer in a month, and I don’t want anything to potentially soil that interview.

Plus, I’ve lived the unemployed life, and it is no kind of fun. And I don’t want to live that life again, even vicariously. Plus, in his email, he signed off with, “watch your back.” Being that I LOVE this agency, I’m more than a little turned off by anyone trashing it, even in such a mild manner.

So now I get it. I don’t want to hang with a disgruntled former employee any more than my former co-workers wanted to hang with me.

Once you’re gone, you are gone.



I’ve been getting the best porn spam lately. Since I have a Yahoo! account, I’m usually inundated with unwanted email, but their spam filters do a good job of keeping it out of sight. But every now and again I scroll through my “bulk mail” folder so see what’s there. And it’s been quite the treasure chest. I’m kept some of the best to share with you, because I love you that much.

Now, they’re all horrible misspelled to get past the spam filters (which they don’t -- good job, Yahoo!) and if you actually open up the message it’s the same boring “click here to visit our site” crap… but the subject lines are fantastic!

Delectable Gaay doing grandiose suckiing.

Wow, a “delectable” gay? And not just doing a run of the mill blowjob either, a “grandiose” one. Very impressive!

Youngest fascinating Sluts fuckeed by oldman.

Not just your average Sluts (why the capital “S”? Did this become a proper noun at some point?) but fascinating ones! Because I think the target audience for this message is really looking for a sparkling conversationalist.

Do you like well-favored Eighteen doing pulchritudinous blowjob?

“Pulchritude” is defined as “physical comeliness; beauty.” Don’t worry, I had to look it up, too. I find it really funny that some spammer somewhere broke open his thesaurus and randomly picked a synonym for pretty. I imagine a 75-year-old Oxford Humanities professor somewhere looking down at his rented date and saying, “Young lady, I wish to thank you for what was well and truly a pulchritudinous blowjob.”

Graceful Eighteens suckingg oldman cock!

I’ve come across (ha-ha) this reference to “oldman” several times, like it’s a new category of humanity. “Men, women, children and oldmen.” Or maybe it’s really Gary Oldman staring in their videos?

Have you ever seen glorious Ladies get fuccked in every holes?

Hmm… can’t say that I have. I mean, I’ve seen average ladies get fucked in every hole, of course, but not glorious ladies.

Esthetic Lady doing radiant bloowjob!

A radiant blowjob?! Awesome!

Do you like adorable Teenie doing gorgeous blowjobb?

How was your blowjob?
Eh, okay. How was yours?

All right, I’ve probably really screwed up the search engines now. For all of your pervs that came here looking for gorgeous and radiant blowjobs -- sorry, I can only offer you words. But I do hope you find them pulchritudinous.


#143 In which our hero talks about getting fired.

I feel like I’ve been through a lot of jobs in my life. A little quick math:

I’m 37.
I’ve worked, pretty much steadily, since I was about 16. That gives me 21 employed years. I think I bummed around at least a couple of summers in college, so let’s say 20 years to make things even.

In those 20 years, I’ve done the following for money:
  • Busboy
  • Dishwasher
  • Cook
  • Laborer*
  • Night Assistant**
  • Customer service phone rep
  • Copywriter
  • Insurance service associate
  • Freelance copywriter
*One summer I worked for the city back home. Now, when you apply for summer work at the city, it’s understood that you’re going to be stuck on a road crew that drives around town and patches potholes and/or lays down new asphalt. However, when I applied, I was placed at the city’s water treatment plant. Once you’ve worked at a water treatment plant, the phrase “solid waste” will forever cause you to break out in a cold sweat.

**At my dorm in college. “Night Assistant” was the term for dorm staff that worked, naturally, at night. We basically set up a table in the lobby and checked everyone’s ID as they came in to make sure they lived there or were the registered guests of someone who did. I lived in a co-ed dorm, and while OSU officially didn’t allow members of the opposite sex to sleep over in your room, they had a “24-hour visitation policy.” So, sex and discreet drinking are permissible, just no sleeping, okay?

Hmm… so, nine different things isn’t that big of a deal, I guess. And actually, the busboy/cook/dishwasher thing really should fall under one job, restaurant worker.

I used to brag that I had never been fired, that I had always quit a job for something bigger and better. But then I moved up to Cleveland about six years ago, and I’ve worked at six different places -- and only left one of them voluntarily. Two of those jobs were two-year stints at agencies, so clearly I’ve worked at some other places for less than a year. Or, in one memorable case, two months.

Anyway, this is just a preamble to say that I know a thing or two about getting fired. I’ve mentioned it here. And here. Oh, and here, too.

I feel like I’ve fine-tuned my Spidey-sense to things in the environment that might mean bad news for me. Like people suddenly vanishing.

So, it was a little alarming when I came into the office on Monday to find one of the art directors gone, and his office cleaned out.

Now, the agency I work for has upwards of 220 employees, so it’s a big place. Turn over is to be expected. And it’s not uncommon to get an email that says, “Please join me in thanking so-and-so for 2 great years, and congratulate her as she takes advantage of an opportunity elsewhere” or something similar. But, occasionally there’s also a terse email that simply states, “Effective immediately, so-and-so is no longer at the company.” And stuff like that happens, people get fired. So far there hasn’t been a catastrophic event (like losing a big account) and a resulting mass firing. And, I’ve also been happy to see that even as the account people come and go, not a single creative person has left the company.

That is, until Monday.

Now, I didn’t really know this art director very well. Since there’s about 20 people on the creative staff, I haven’t worked with half of them. But I did do one job with the guy, and I thought the results were really cool.

And you never know why these things happen. I mean, I get it, management isn’t about to share the reasons with the entire company, there’s privacy issues and all that. So it always ends up leaving more questions than answers.

Buuut… as I asked around, I started to get a sense that this wasn’t too surprising of a move. Here’s the thing: this guy was always the first into the office. And he was often still working when I left. I thought, now there’s a conscientious guy, a hard worker! But, it appears that it wasn’t so much a working religiously as working slowly.

More than one person remarked that the guy just didn’t have the needed computer skills. That he wasn’t as quick as he should be, and sometimes pulled in other resources to finish jobs that he should have been able to complete on his own. Like I said, I don’t know… the one time I worked with the guy it was a satisfying experience. But I see no reason to doubt what others have told me.

So, bottom line: this is the first of the creative team to go since I’ve been here, but it seems like it wasn’t without reason. And, since more than once I’ve been last one hired/first one fired, I feel like I’ve crossed a hurdle.

Which is good… because the last thing I want to do is lug that fucking sofa to the parking lot.



Last night at dinner, I told Lily “don’t give me any attitude” in regards to eating her carrots. Lily, I will remind you, is two years old.

What kind of future does this portend?

Now, she was totally giving me attitude… she wanted to play with her food, as she does every night. The Scientist and I have presented a unified front on the “don’t play with your food, eat it” issue. But still, Lily plays with her food. I think her amazing imagination just gets the better of her. She’ll can’t help but take a bite out of, say, a carrot, then notice that it’s in the shape of a crescent moon. “Look! It’s the moon!” she’ll shout, then hold it over her head. She also like to stab her Hello Kitty placemat in the eye with her fork.

I shudder to think that if she’s giving me attitude now, at two (well, two and a half, really) what’s it going to be like in five years? In 10? I know as a father it’s my job to raise her to be conscientious, polite, respectful of others and all that. If she’s a spoiled, bratty kid at 10 then you don’t have to look any further than her mother and me for blame. We try hard to instill the right things in her, so she’ll turn out to be the kind of kid we want to spend time with. It was with all these thoughts in mind that I made an important decision last night.

I need to fucking break this kid’s will right now.


#142 In which our hero discusses his evening.

The thing is, I had stuff to do.

This is Wednesday evening I’m talking about, of course. Because I have practice on Wednesday evenings. ANY other day of the week, it wouldn’t have mattered. But on Wednesdays, I have stuff to do.

So I come home after work and find The Scientist laid out on the couch. When I ask what’s wrong, she tells me she has a migraine.

Now, just let me say that I know what I should have said. I fully understand that one of the guiding principles in relationships is “don’t be a dick.” I should have said, “Oh no, can I get you a wet towel?” or “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry. Let me rub your feet.” But if The Scientist couldn’t move -- let alone mind the girls -- then that screwed up my entire evening. And, as previously mentioned, I had stuff to do.

So what I did say, was, “Since when do you get migraines?”

She reminded me that this happened before when she was pregnant with Lily (of which I have no memory, but I believe her). I sent her off to bed, called my friend (who I had things to do with) and told him I was in for the evening, and got down to playing with the girls.

Not that playing with my girls is a bad thing. I enjoy it. That is, except when Macey is teething. And Lily is whiny. And I’m trying to shovel some dinner down their gullets, and all Lily can scream is, “I want marshmallows!”

It was a little challenging. So when Lily said she wanted to get into the tub, I thought it would be a great diversion, and an easy way to get them to wind down and go to bed.

And, for a time, all was well. Both girls got washed, Macey splashed like crazy and got water everywhere, Lily played with her ducks. I was just finishing drying off Macey and getting her into her diaper when Lily said the two dreaded words that can make even the most stalwart parent tremble in fear when their kid is in the tub:

“I pooped.”

Now, Lily plays this game in which she fills up her rubber duck with water, and while squeezing it out she says, “The duck is peeing!” For the briefest of moments, I thought -- nay, I prayed -- that this was part of the game.

ME: Lily, did you poop, or did the duck poop?
LILY: I pooped.
ME: Really?
LILY: Yeah.
ME: (looking in the tub) GODDAMMIT!
I know, I know, I shouldn’t swear in front of my kids, but the thing is that this exact same thing just happened during Monday’s bath. Lily pooped, then I had to take out all her toys, wash them off, clean up the poop from the tub, then give everything a good bleaching… and now I was going to have to do it all again.

I was not pleased.

This even woke the dead (that is to say, my wife) and she stumbled out into the hall to see if she could do anything. Which, of course, she could not. So I sent her back to bed, got everyone clean, dry and dressed; fed snacks all around and got everyone to bed.

Turns out I was right -- I did have stuff to do. I just hadn’t realized that that stuff included a midnight scrubbing of the tub.


#141 In which our hero discusses his weekend.

So, the 4th of July trip: a success!

The girls were absolute champs. It’s an eight hour drive, and I had visions of having to stop every hour just to stop the screaming and to let daddy punch a tree or something to vent, but it wasn’t like that at all. We had the portable DVD player set up with EVERY kids DVD we own, and we dosed both girls with Benadryl before we left. The drugs didn’t knock them out like predicted, but maybe it kept them on an even keel. Dunno.

In the best of cases it’s a long-ass trip, but we hit congestion crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which added 45 minutes or so. Ugh, I hate that bridge. It freaks me out. Every time I drive across it (which, granted, isn’t more than once a year, at best) I can’t help looking over the edge to the water waaaay down below. It seems like there’s only a very thin guardrail between me and a plummeting death. I mean, look at this monster:

Don't look down.

Gives me the willies just looking at it. It’s even worse at night. And, naturally, one of the two bridges was closed when we got there (thus the back-up) meaning that I was driving with on-coming traffic blinding me with their headlights. Scary.

But, obviously we got there in one piece. The girls were even reasonably close to their normal schedules. The big party/family reunion thing on Saturday went very well. It was sunny, and not even disgustingly hot with the breeze. There were hard crabs aplenty, and ribs and corn and chicken and beer and just about everything you need to stuff your face on a fine summer day.

"Eat me."

The aftermath.

I don’t know The Scientist’s extended family that well, but I chatted with those I did know, and got to know a few others better. All in all, just about everyone is really nice. Some of my family, specifically, my mom and middle sister (and her husband and their two kids) came too. You may recall that this is the sister that has issue with The Scientist. So, I think she was predisposed to not enjoy the trip, and the fact that they got stuck on the Bay Bridge for an hour and they didn’t know anyone at the party… well, I haven’t talked to her yet, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t have a good time. Shrug.

And speaking of not having a good time… even though Macey was great getting there, she wasn’t having a good time once she got there. The poor thing has more teeth coming in, and they are clearly hurting her. So, Saturday night she woke up screaming at 2:30AM. Being that The Scientist trashed her back carrying our rotund bundle of joy all day at the party, I sat up with the baby and kept her entertained. Until 5AM when she finally dropped off.

And so it went, pretty much the entire weekend. She would be happy and playing one moment, screaming bloody murder the next. I felt bad for her, but other than the regular shots of Tylenol, there wasn’t much we could do.

But, clingy and screamy, she was still a hit at the party. As was her sister. They are both fat kids, and big for their size, with curly red hair. And, naturally, cute as hell. When people remark on their cuteness, I’m always at a bit of a loss as what to say. I mean, if someone were to say, “That’s a really cute outfit” I could say, “Why, thanks. I picked that out myself!” But it’s not like The Scientist and I styled our kids before the party… we pretty much rolled the genetic dice and got some good-looking kids. They could just as easily been ugly. And might grow up to be ugly yet. And even though The Scientist and I both have red hair, she can tell you how hair color is a multi-genomial trait or somesuch, and that, again, we just got lucky that they have red hair. But mostly, I just say “thank you” because that seems to be the expected response. It’s like when people tell me that my wife is pretty. “Um, thanks, I picked her out myself!”

The kids were just as good on the way home as the way there, with Macey sleeping several hours. A pretty relaxed trip, even if we had to listen to Little Einsteins Team Up for Adventure! a dozen fucking times. Ugh, I’ll never beat that theme song out of my skull. But it did provide for some fun for The Scientist and me as we MST3K’d what we could hear.
What’s up with Quincy and his “I cannot believe it!” ? He doesn’t believe anything. If I was Leo, I’d conduct his ass right out of Rocket.

You’re going to quiet a volcano with your flute? You read that in a book, genius?

I bet Leo lets June play with his baton, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, we kicked back and relaxed on Tuesday. It was nice to have a day to decompress after the big trip. And now, we’re back to school and work and the 16 hours in the car area distant memory.

Except for that damn theme song.