Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Gosh, kind of a lot has happened since then."

In the past 13 months:
_I've become a father.
_I've moved twice.
_I've paid back a huge debt that's all but exhausted my salary for 2 months.
_I've landed a new job.

In the next 2 weeks:
_I will move to Bend.
_I will scour Bend for a place to rent.
_I will hopefully move yet again to aforementioned place.

If not, then I guess I'm back up here.

Hopefully we find something quick.

I haven't had a routine in months. Everything is new, always shifting, never settling. A constant state of flux and motion, uncertainty and anxiety.

I keep telling myself that this is what I need, this is what has been missing from my life for the past two years.

I'm afraid again. Unsure of what's going to happen.
It's a strange feeling, the unknown.

You're heart flutters, it sits higher in your chest. It trembles, shakes your diaphragm, forces you to inhale.

You suck it in, hold it, confirm that you're still here, still fighting, and then you let it out.

And you do it all over again.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I happen to work at an agency that's so dedicated to serving their clients that they are willing to fold like the French in any major conflict.

Case in point:

The client is worried that the creative isn't targeting C++ users specifically enough. The project is to create an interactive campaign that targets coders (C++, FORTRAN, JAVA, Linux...basically all of them) in general, and pique their interest to learn more about a whole litany of software products that the client produces.

The reason the creative isn't tied specifically to the audience is because that wasn't what was originally requested; if we need to target C++ coders, there's a new solution that needs to happen that will resonate better among that audience. Sure, a simple copy edit can "target" that audience a bit more specifically, but it's not the right solution. It's a band-aid over a severed artery. There's a bigger issue here. If the creative isn't speaking to the audience you had in mind (yet didn't tell us to focus on them in the first place), simply shoe-horning a "label" on the creative isn't the solution. It won't resonate. It will most likely feel forced and (very savvy) site visitors will call bullshit on it.

To wit:

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

So what do we say when we present this rationale?

"No problem. We'll get right on it."

I know clients are illogical and at times unreasonable. But shouldn't we, as an agency, at least try to help them before they hurt themselves?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Just a little email...

Please, for the love of all that's good in the world, refill the coffee pot
after you've emptied it.

And yes, I'm aware of that some of you have mastered the ancient Peruvian
art of detecting when a pot is about to expire, thusly cutting off the flow
of coffee and your responsibility to refill the pot.

It also means that, as you happily walk away with your partially filled cup
of coffee, you've left the pot empty for someone else to fill.

Some of you may respond: "Well, I didn't actually EMPTY it, you see.
Technically, there was a little liquid sloshing around in the bottom, there,
so I'm off the hook."

This isn't a good excuse.
It doesn't work.
It's a loophole.
Don't abuse it anymore.

Or, perhaps you're one of the 17 new people we have here, and are simply
unsure of how to fill the coffee pots. Well, here you go:

1. Empty the coffee pot grounds into the little wastebasket marked, "Coffee
Grounds for Bob Fredrickson's Garden." Apparently, his herb garden needs to
be caffeinated like the rest of us.

2. Grab a filter. Put it in the filter holder thing.

3. Add two scoops of the corresponding coffee into the filter.

4. Slide the filter holder thing into the coffee maker.

5. Make sure the lid to the coffee pot is open, and push the "Brew" switch.

That's it.

Now go forth and stop screwing others out of their right to drink lukewarm

Remember: "If you kill it, refill it."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


It's stuff like this that makes me remember why I love advertising.

I wish I had a part in it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Where to now?

I’ll be honest: I haven’t written you back because, quite frankly, I didn’t want to. It was strange; for once in my life, I wasn’t waiting for a response.

I even enjoyed it.

In fact, last week I felt incredible, better than I had in a long time. And it was all because of you. Actually, it’s more because of the absence of you than anything else.

I felt vindicated.
Free of so much anger that I’ve always quarantined deep inside of me.

But then a conversation happened this weekend between my wife and my mother about my relationship (or complete lack thereof) with you.

And I realized something.

I’m doing exactly to you what you’ve done to me all these years: leaving you hanging, waiting for a response, wishing for a hint or clue or anything that would signal you still cared for me and loved me and wanted a relationship with me.

That’s probably why I felt so good; I loved the thought of you eagerly checking your email, a little part of you hoping to see my name in your inbox and then trying to nonchalantly shrug it off.

Maybe that email was actually really tough for you to write. I have to believe it wasn’t easy. After all, you didn’t seem to have any problems calling my wife and actually speaking more to her than you have to your own son in 10 years.

But you asked her for my address.

And you actually took the time to write. Sure, it was brief. Your emails and letters to me have never quite lived up to the hype my brain always conjured up about you. I was expecting an outpouring of honesty and sincerity and apologies. Usually I received a weather report for the Tampa and St. Petersburg region.

Which I cherished, by the way.

But still, you wrote. And for me to turn my back as you attempt (weakly) to start a dialogue once again, would make me no better than you.

And that’s something I can’t stomach. To be compared in any way to you goes against all fiber of my being. In fact, that’s how I’m raising my kid: to do the exact opposite of what you have done for me.

And the first step, like everything in life, is showing up.

Everything else?


Funny Porn Movie Title

"Large and in Marge."

As of right now, there's no way of finding out if this movie has been made or not. This is mainly because I'm at work and Googling such things would either get me fired or have my internet privileges taken away.

And then what would I do while I worked?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fuck the wheel.

"No need to reinvent the wheel here."

I heard this glorious phrase used not once, but twice yesterday.

Mind you, I work at what is supposed to be a "creative agency."

The first was during a presentation to a client. We were extolling the endless and bountiful benefits of our usability testing for web sites.

We were showing this (new) client some work created for a different client that had benefited from this wonderful testing.

So, naturally, we should do the same thing for this newer client. After all, we've got the process down, we know it worked before and that it will work again. It'll be very quick and painless. And there is was on the screen in orange, 24-point Futura: "No need to reinvent the wheel."

The other time was when I passed someone in the hall:
"Look, there's no reason to reinvent the wheel here."

I don't know what the context was.

Nor do I care.

Maybe, just maybe, the wheel isn't perfect. Have you ever thought of that?

How about looking at it from a different point of view? The wheel has already been invented. Why not invent something else? Something new. Perhaps something even better.

"Better than the wheel? Impossible! The wheel is the ultimate invention; it needs no updating. Why else do we cite it as an example? It's perfection!"

Here's a thought.

Why not at least try to create something better? Or, if not better, something original?

Something that we can mold and claim and own and cherish and love?

For once, let's do away with what we know.

Let's create something. Anything.


For starters, let's create a new process. One that encourages thinking and ideas over white paper and PowerPoint production. A process by which our clients and our agency as a whole can benefit and succeed.

And even believe in.

Agencies the world over do it. They are able to pay the bills and their employees by creating and producing beautiful ideas.

Of course, this agency talks that game. They've even dropped names like "Crispin" and "Wieden" and "Goodby" and that these agencies all, at one point or another, started small. And look at them now.

Well, unfortunately, we're not small. Far from it.

Boutique we ain't.

That doesn't stop the higher-ups, though. They keep talking the talk. But have yet to take that first step towards walking the walk.

Here's the thing. We could.

But not with our current process.

You know, the one that coaxes egos and maximizes process and widens margins and stifles imaginations and encourages turnover. The one that encourages quantity over quality, billable hours over original thinking. The one that fucks with your head and whittles away at your soul and deadens your desire to do great work.

That process sucks.

But it's not really process's fault. Process is, by it's very nature and definition, easy. It's a map. A guide. A way to go from point A to point B in as little effort as possible. No one loses their way.

That's a great thing when the end result is brilliance.

It's an abominable thing when the end result is uninspiring. At best.

Because that's the thing about process. It's a scientific shortcut of sorts. It's streamlined and efficient and lots of other business catchphrases that we are so often forced to use with our technology clients.

It's also staid.

It's familiar.

It's easy.

Unless the process is designed for and around the creation of great work. Otherwise, it's just means to an end, the path of least resistance.

Why must it be this way? How about some original thinking?

One word.


After all, doing something that's never been done before requires a person to feel--and enjoy--that sinking feeling in their stomach. The one that tells them that maybe this idea really isn't such a good one after all.

The one that says, "Screw the cost; we're doing it because it's the right way. It might piss some people off. Hell, we might even fail. But at least we tried to do it right."

But it's also the same idea that makes their pulse quicken and heart flutter and pupils widen.

Because they know that, a primal and visceral level, that their idea is a good one.

There's no path. No coordinates. No way-points. No way of knowing much it'll cost, how it will end or when it will turn a profit.

But that's the price of leadership.

Of doing something no one else has done.

Let's make our work unique and original works of art and technology and interactivity that benefit our clients and ourselves. Let's take a chance and move forward without any notion of what we'll find. Let's turn off the lights and stumble around with nothing but our senses and instincts to guide us.

Let's create something.

Let's reinvent the wheel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Andy's Choice

Let's call it an addendum to my previous post.

About a week has gone by since I wrote it.

And in that week, my mom has since joined the crusade to figure out what the hell is going on with my dad. Actually, it's not so much trying to figure out what's going on with him as it is to keep it from interfering with me.

To date, I haven't spoken to my dad in 9 years.

I think the last real conversation we had was back when I was going under the knife to get a small sample of brain tumor extracted from my brain stem to find out whether I had six months to live or 60.

Long story short, to his credit, he showed up, even pledging that he would be there the entire time. Well, the day before the surgery, I had a pre-op screening where the I had little pieces of my scalp shaved and then little sticky sensors placed in the newly shorn spot. Apparently this helps my docs not cut the wrong pieces out. Whatever. After the appointment, I flat out lose it; the stress and enormity of the situation came to a head and I let the world know by storming out of the hospital and breaking one of those automatic doors (hey, it's not my fault they close so quickly).

In the ensuing rant, I started peeling those little sensors off of my head and was screaming that I wasn't going through with it. Of course, I didn't mean it. Well, maybe I did. But I knew in my heart that I would be going back. Well, I left on a bus and took off for a few hours, leaving my mom and dad in what I have to assume was one of the most painfully awkward silences ever recorded.

Well, my dad took it to heart and immediately changed his departure ticket to the following morning. You know, the one that involved copious amounts of anesthesia and bone saws and honed scalpel blades.

Of course, I was pretty much devastated to learn that he was leaving, especially since I hadn't seen him for a while. But I nodded in agreement. After all, I did say that I wasn't going through with it. In the middle of the street. Outside of the hospital. With anxious patients and nervous security guards looking on. It was all very subtle. How else was he supposed to know I didn't really mean it?

Well, he leaves, they cut, they extract, I wake up four or five days later.

And he was the first person I called for in my haze.

Fast forward to this past weekend. My mom tracks him down, explains he needs to call us because something's going wrong. He calls my house, Jaime answers, and he tells her he'll take care of everything.

He never asks to speak to me.
Never asks about me.

Jaime tells him he's about to be a grandfather.

He tells her that's wonderful.

And now, a week later, I get an email. It basically summarizes that situation and that it has nothing to do with me.

Oh, and congratulations on December 11th.

So, the question is, do I write back or not? Do I open the door only to have him shut it when it's most convenient? Or, do I give him a little taste of his own medicine, and let him wonder what could have been for the next 9 years?