Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Song of the Day - June 30, 2009

Your Song of the Day is a stone cold funky classic from the Windy City that will, as they say, put a dip in your hip and a glide in your stride. It's impossible not to strut when you hear Willie Henderson's Funky Chicken, but you'll need Real Player to hear why this one is the cock of the walk. Enjoy.

Word of the Day - June 30, 2009

Your Word of the Day for today is eclectic, which is to choose from various streams or processes, or something from diverse sources. Kinda like my blog...

Worthy Award - Banner achievement in Banner ads

So many banner ads, so little reason to click through. So when you hear that one actually earned a Cannes Lion , you can't help but be curious.

So I'm pleased to say that this Pringles ad is not only Canne worthy, it's Words Worthy. It looks like just another dumb banner (a fact it eventually concedes), until you do its bidding and start clicking. Once you start clicking, you're compelled to work your way to the end, much like your favorite Pringles Flavor. Well, maybe you haven't. Man, I'm so embarrassed.

It's entertaining and, occasionally, absurd, making hay of other banner ads for their execution and results. But most important of all, it's delightfully fun. And much like the Pringles canister, you will eventually reach the end if you do click long enough. So congratulations Bridge Worldwide . You're not only Cannes worthy, you're Words Worthy. I know, I know, it's a big deal for you. Too bad I don't have any awards. I might could buy you a can of Pringles and bronze it...

Verse: And your ghost

And your ghost was seen
exiting a taxi cab
with a Promethean fire
in its eyes

And your ghost was seen
laughing too loud
at a careless remark
on the rooftop patio
of the Stache

And your ghost was seen
clutching an ebony pluot
on Sunday at Pete's
to see just how soft
its tart flesh was

And your ghost was seen
singing gospel a capella
to the tumescent moon
as it rocked itself
to sleep

And your ghost was seen
talking with your coworkers
as they took a break
for a cigarette
and gossip
on the corner of Hollis
and George

And your ghost was seen
rattling a dingy styrofoam
coffee cup begging
for change
under an awning of snow

And your ghost was seen
cradling the payphone
like a new mother
pleading softly
to come home

And your ghost was seen
on several occasions
on the waterfront
past midnight wandering
without you

Monday, June 29, 2009

Billy Mays

When I heard the news about ubiquitous TV pitchman Billy Mays passing away yesterday, I had two immediate thoughts:

1) I tend to get most of my news from Twitter these days
2) How sad it is that some hipster wannabe named Vince - he of the ShamWow and Slap Chop - is set to inherit Mays's throne.

A boisterous, garrulous personality, I nevertheless liked Billy Mays. He reminded me a lot of Al Borland character from Home Improvement. He an everyman who had credibility because he was very much like me or you, and he had a great enthusiasm for what he did. More important, he came across as genuine. You got the feel he really believed in the products, even if he was paid to hawk them.

When I see Vince pushing the Slap Chop, I don't get that warm vibe off him. It could be because of his arrest a few months ago related to an incident with a prostitute (no charges were filed). But I suspect it's more to do with the fact that he just doesn't strike me as a person I can trust. Mays, on the other hand, is someone I might have asked for advice at the local hardware store, and I'd have gladly accepted his recommendation of a good leaf blower or outboard motor. Vince, I wouldn't even ask for directions out of his neighborhood.

So long, Mays, and thanks for helping to make the world a brighter, shinier, OxiClean place to live...

Song of the Day - June 29, 2009

My Song of the Day selection is from the lean, mean pop machine Phoenix's new album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. These guys are the best exports from France since... Daft Punk? Justice? Camille? Carla Bruni? France has had a great run of pop and dance music of late, and these guys are about as good as it gets. So, let's all party like it's 1901 with Phoenix!

Word of the Day - June 29, 2009

Quintessence is your Word of the Day: it's the pure, concentrated essence of an item, the perfect expression of a quality. I think quintessence is a perfect expression...

Verse: The lovers are at it again

The lovers are at it again
with tongues sharp
as glass they pierce
the silence with staccato
cries that silence silence
and fall away like fear

The lovers are at it again
in the quickening pulse
of their deviant blood
they bellow, squirm
a naked ocean
that casts hungry shadows
on the grainy wall
that are illuminated
by the leering moon

The lovers are at it again
with every bated breath
and every barbed kiss
they defy and defile
decorum and convention
rage against loneliness
with their outrageous
all encompassing embraces

The lovers are at it again
they are legion and
they continue to multiply
a revolution by night
played out in a thousand
brazen acts of tenderness
hidden from the jaded eyes
of a million brilliant stars

Friday, June 26, 2009


So I try to bring my photo up and somehow I've lost that little element that tells you the title of my blog and what I do. If you are reading this and are very savvy, your help is appreciated.

Just so you know, by day, I put words in people's mouths, in their hands and on their websites. By night, I focus my energies on pop culture and poems. I'm a marketing communications person, and a very personable one, too. Here are my takes on current marketing campaigns, along with poems, A Song of the Day and a Word of the Day, too.

Verse: After

Originally posted in October 2007 on Facebook

When at last
you are awake
we will gather up
all your dreams
from last night's sleep
we will sweep them
from your pillow
we will comb them
from your hair
and we will sift
through them
carefully extracting
the nightmares
which we will toss away

the ones that remain
we will place them
in jars
like fireflies
or moonbeams
label them
and set them on
the window sill
so they catch the sunlight

and when, at last
they have ripened
we will set them free
to lift our spirits
on some dull
damp afternoon

Song of the Day - June 26, 2009

I wasn't going to do a Song of the Day today, but I decided to go with the obvious. Everything I could say about this is contained in a blog I wrote earlier today. Except to say that 1 million YouTube viewers can't be wrong. Enjoy .

Word of the Day - June 26, 2009

Today's Word of the Day was also my 2000th tweet. I chose Nascent, which is coming into being or being born, or starting to grow and take shape, like a culture or idea. I once used it in an article when I wrote for magazines to describe an organization. The gentleman I interviewed from that organization thought it was derogatory.

Organ grinding from Burger King + Hardee's

Friends, I am a marketer. I'm also a consumer. Which means I'm open to persuasion. I like creative that is sophisticated and subtle. I want to sense that there is an intelligence, a wit behind the effort. I want a reason to believe, a little wooing. What I don't want is clumsy, heavy handed pawing so I feel like I got worked over or used.

Frankly, friends, I'm feeling that way about recent marketing campaigns by Hardee's and Burger King. All of the qualities I talked about above have been rapaciously ripped from the playbooks of these two fast food chains. They want attention. They want to be talked about. Well, they have my attention, but I doubt they'll like what I have to say.

We have to start somewhere, so let's start with a promotional item for Burger King's Super Seven Incher . The new advert, which is labeled "It'll blow your mind away", features a very plastic looking lady, mouth wide open, ready to, um, enjoy a very phallic looking sub-style burger. The copy is full of innuendo that would be cheap; if it wasn't tired and borrowed: "Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame grilled... Yearn for more..." No mistaking it, it's food porn, or forn (pood would sound more unseemly).

What strikes me as odd is that, much like most recent BK ads, this appears to be geared toward a young, testosterone fueled, heterosexual male audience. So why the heavily phallic text? I can't see the appetite of that audience being whetted by a sandwich that is described much like male genitalia. Maybe it's meant to be subversive. Or BK just assumes it's audience is illiterate and won't read the copy. I don't know. It's leering, tacky and dumb, and it makes the sandwich sound unappealing. Speaking of which, I like how the words "It'll blow" appear on one line all by themselves, suggesting not oral pleasure, but a crappy meal. Which befits the crappy creative.

Aiming slightly lower, figuratively if not literally, is a Hardee's ad announcing its new Biscuit Holes. They are tubby little bundles of dough, or something, that look fried and are served (You thought I was going to say 'come', didn't you?) with icing. The slightly shaggy and not too young man who introduces these confectionery concoctions - a kind of poor man's Tom Green - does a man on the street bit to ask folks to think of a better handle for these gustatory treats. (You can actually do this at Hardee's NameOurHoles website .) What follows in the ad can basically be summed up as a series of euphemisms for testes. We get 'goodie balls,' 'Frosty Dippers', 'Sweet Balls', 'CinniNuts','TastiNuts', 'DingleBalls,''Melting Holes'...

Okay, so the last one sounds more like some kind of anal infection. Regardless, it doesn't make the prospect of eating them very palatable. I have this rule: the last thing I want to think about when I enjoy a nice snack is any part of the human anatomy, male or female. But what do I know? Seriously, Hardee's, if you really want us to associate your snack with the testes, why don't you package them in a sack? Again, insipid creative like this is enough to put me off my appetite. But since you asked for names, Hardee's, I'll bite. Call them Dingleberreez. There. Call me. The ball's in your court.

What do you think? Are they crass, or do you like the sass?

Verse: Two small poems

Both are inspired by Zen koans...

Some say hope
is difficult
like trying
to part the ocean
with a spoon

Some say hope
is effortless
like the sight
of crocus blooms
at the first sign
of spring

But what if
hope is
neither difficult
nor effortless
rather like rest
after a long journey
a glass of water
to quench the pangs
of thirst

the way of tea
is not so hard
to define
and not unlike
the maturation
of the mind
after experiencing
the shock of
the boiling water
it steeps
and its wonderful
essence is, at last

Michael Jackson

The first time I encountered Michael Jackson, he was a cartoon.

I watched his animated adventures with his brothers and dog each week. At least I think there was a dog. The show was interchangeable with so many other cartoon shows of the day, like the Globetrotters, except for those songs. I had no idea there was a real Michael Jackson behind those songs.

That changed in the late 70s/early 80s when I purchased Off the Wall. It had to have been 1980. It was summer and the album had been reeling off hits for a while. I wouldn't have been on the vanguard such that I bought it when it came out. Not possible. Too young. But I knew from what I heard on the radio that this was something else. Something unlike anything I'd heard before. Something, to borrow from LL Cool J, of a phenomenon.

I grew up, went to high school and junior high. Jackson became a superstar to the point where it seemed everyone was issued a copy of his album Thriller along with their birth/marriage certificate, home loan, etc. I didn't own it at the time. Jackson was not 'cool' in my circles, which leaned toward Iron Maiden and AC/DC. He was ridiculed for everything you can think of. But then, I didn't need to own it. Radio, parties, TV, everyone played his music. It was as pervasive as the air you breathe.

But this is a lot of me and my impressions. It's not anything about Jackson. So let me flip it a bit. Imagine a shy teen with several hits and more than a few fallow years as a solo artist behind him. Adulthood is looming and his career is tied to that of his brothers, mainly. He wants to break out, make a big statement. So he steels himself, approaches Quincy Jones and asks the venerable producer if he knows someone who can produce his next album. Quincy recommends himself.

You can give a lot of credit for the success of Off the Wall to Q's production, Jerry Hay's serpentine horn arrangements, Ben Wright's heavenly strings, songs by people such as Rod Tempterton and Stevie Wonder, the incredibly clean and catchy riffs laid down by a Brother Johnson, Rufus members and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. But that first song on the album was Michael's. Yoked to sentiments of the power of love, Michael works it like it's his one and only shot, kind of like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. Whatever you say, he's already won. The template for everything that would follow is right there, not just in his music, but in all R&B. The song has aged like a wine will. It gets better and better with time.

Even better, it leads into Rock With You, a ready-made from Rod Temperton that is like a gift right from heaven. As amazing as the song is, in anyone else's hands, it wouldn't feel so indispensable. Jackson plays suave and sure from the start. Trust him, you're in good hands. He colors the song with aspiration, with unlimited opportunity, with affluence. You, and he, can have it all, whether it's the good life or true love. There are no limits.

Thriller was the triumph, the take over. As an album, it's weaker than Off the Wall, but its high points advance, almost eclipse, the finest moments of Wall. Maybe it's just that Wall was my introduction. There couldn't quite be that same sense of surprise, of discovery, but there were rich rewards. The nervy stutter funk and venom of Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', the audacious Billie Jean (we actually took his side!) and the finely honed rocker Beat It were all Jackson songs, and were the best the album had to offer. More triumphs followed. Like Armstrong, he captivated a generation when he moonwalked on TV, and he transformed MTV into Michael TV, a forum previously closed to R&B. In doing so, he made R&B the dominant musical form.

There's a lot you can say about Jackson that has nothing to do with his music. I acknowledge that. Let me quote a song recorded by Jr. Walker: "We won't talk about that/because it's understood/everybody sees the bad/but what about the good?" The good is the music, which endures despite anything he did, or anything you can say about him, if you have ears to hear it. His influence reverberates through all of the R&B and hip hop you hear today. His legend is such that it seemed to intimidate even him. Releases grew more infrequent and more uneven, traded a bit on past glories, but he still could knock off a standard with impeccable ease when he took his eye off of trying to top himself.

The thing I realize is that all celebrities, like Jackson, are cartoons in our eyes. What we see is an illusion. We don't really know them. Their achievements are just as magnified as their failings. The closest that anyone could hope to approach even a piece of him is the vulnerability in his music, his voice. Like the tears that seem to well up in his eyes at the end of She's Out of My Life. You can almost hear the heartache. A heartache that went beyond any expressed in any song he wrote or performed.

That it was his heart that gave out seems appropriate, if too modest a cause to fell such a legend. And I think that's one of the reasons why people are so shocked. Through TV, radio, etc., Michael has been such a part of their lives, like family, that they can't conceive of a life without him, or that any thing so common could claim him. It just serves as one last reminder that, however larger than life he may have seemed, Michael was human, just like you and me...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Song of the Day - June 25, 2009

I only ever went fishing once in my life. I was about three years old. My dad took me up the lake behind our house to initiate me in what he thought was one of the many rites of passage a young lad like me should go through.

Being a bookish sort - okay a comic-book-reading-music-loving tyke - I really wasn't down much with his ideas of what young boys should be interested in: the outdoors, hunting, athletics, cars etc. And that included fishing.

There's a picture of me looking at the fish I 'caught' that reminds me of how crestfallen Charlie Brown was when he thought he killed his little Christmas Tree. I had taken a life that day, and I vowed I would live a peaceful life, never raising my hand in anger ever again. Okay, so I got in a scrap in junior high, and I once killed a mole, but I have been a hippy peacenik ever since.

Which brings me to the Song of the Day, which did win my heart the first time I heard it Fishing Blues by Taj Mahal. I purchased a live album of his from an antique store without knowing anything about his music and found that song so charming, I played it over and over again, taking several days to actually listen to the rest of the album. I thought it would just be bitter disappointment from there on in. I've heard many other artists do it, but any version I've heard from Taj cuts those. To use a bad pun, he always reels me in...

Tooting my own horn, again

Just wanted to share a little something I worked on recently with The Wright Agency in Saint John, NB - it's promotional item meant to get people to look at the community of Saint John in a whole new light. Go ahead, take your best shot!

Word of the Day - June 25, 2009

Your Word of the Day is natant, which the spelling feature on Blogspot and Twitter doesn't recognize, sadly. It's a word that basically means floating or swimming, typically on the surface of a body of water. When it comes to work, some days I'm natant; some days I'm being dragged under by a tsunami...

Verse: Chills

by the gelid glare
of a million stars
that float
like tiny glaciers
in the vast
ebony sky
the summer breeze
seeks refuge
in our modest bedroom
smoothing the sheets
like sand dunes
until, at last,
like a child
stirred from
a bad dream
it nestles
between us
for warmth
for reassurance

The Hut's forward march

It's human nature to want to reinvent yourself from time to time. Maybe you get a new hairdo, perhaps you get snazzy new shoes, or you get your teeth straightened and whitened. The reasons why you do it are varied - you want to feel young, you want to look more professional, you want to appeal to members of the opposite/same sex. In short, you just want to freshen up a bit so people see you in a new light, or see something in you they hadn't noticed before.

Companies engage in reinvention, too, only it's called rebranding. They hit a wall in terms of revenues, they feel neglected or taken for granted by the public. They make a few cosmetic changes or undergo a major makeover to get you to take notice of them again. Essentially, they want to rekindle the ardor they felt in the marketplace once upon a time.

For example, as I noted this week, Miracle Whip is courting edgy youth who want to stand out. And Pizza Hut is giving its brand a facelift by adopting the name The Hut at some of its outlets.

The company is hoping the new branding will staunch the flow of consumer dollars to such competition as small pizza joints, improved frozen pies, and prepared pizza products offered by your local grocer. Moreover, by switching to The Hut, the company hopes consumers will understand that there's more to the chain's menu than suggested by the old name.

Looking at the new logo, it's not drastically different. It still looks a lot like a candy-apple fedora to me. But I'm feeling resistance to the new name. For starters, it's not materially different from the old name to make me reconsider Pizza Hut. It's like the company is hedging its bets, trading on tradition even as it tries to go forward. Which would explain why the company is not, for now, affixing the new name to all of its outlets.

But the name, The Hut, also bothers me. When I think of a hut, I think of a small, dank medieval hovel fashioned from mud and straw where you go to quench your thirst on mead served from a hog's head, or something. 'The Hut' just doesn't have that cachet, that necessary freshness, to compel people to give it a second look. It feels at odds with the efforts the brand is making to court young people, such as having a Twintern tweeting about the chain and other items on Twitter. Yet when you consider that Twitter is mainly the domain of boomers, it starts to make more sense.

I could be wrong. Yum Brands, The Hut's corporate parent, managed to shift Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC. Despite jokes that the name change was necessitated by the fact that KFC didn't use chicken anymore, it seems to have worked out well. But first blush suggests this is more a matter of a brand deciding what the market wants and imposing it as opposed to renewing the brand based on consumer input. If it works, I'll be the first to raise a stoat stein of hydromel to toast its success. Otherwise, the company's going to have to work very hard to patch the leaks in its Hut.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Song of the Day - June 24, 2009

Today, I've picked To All The Lights in the Windows by the delightfully prolix and prolific Conor Oberst as Song of the Day. It's from his new album Outer South, which he made with the 'Mystic Valley Band'. I had some reservations about him when I first encountered his music. He seemed to me an artist very much in the mold of Neil Young: impulsive and eager to follow any whim that occurred to him to the point where he dilutes his talent and achievements. But apart from the Digital Ash in a Digital Urn excursion, Oberst has maintained a pretty solid batting average, never really tripping over his intentions or a lack of self-restraint unlike, say Ryan Adams, a cautionary tale for any musician if ever there were one.

Word of the Day - June 24, 2009

Your Word of the Day is irrecusable, which is something that should not be refused or rejected. The mastery of Coltrane, for example, is irrecusable. Don't believe me? Read my verse, or listen for yourself...

Verse: Morning Glory

Originally posted on Facebook in Spring 2008:

In the bustle and jostle
of the weekend market
you stood transfixed
by a small, colorful
packet of seeds

Morning glory
you explained
is a vine
and each day
it brings
another bloom
a replacement
for the flower
that faded the day before

So I, intrigued
purchased that small
packet for you
at the time
missing the symbolism
rapt as I was
with the warmth
of your evergreen eyes
and gentle smile

You and I
we will plant
those seeds
in spring
watch them
as they emerge
from the tender soil
to reveal new-found glories
with remarkable
quotidian precision
every flower, a reminder
of how it all began
of the moment when
our love took root
but most of all
a reminder
to be mindful
to give thanks
for each new day
and the promise
it holds
and to never long for
the ones that came
and went

Verse: Coltrane

There is little in which I believe apart from love, Zen and music. And when it comes to music, there is one name that towers above all others...

as joy
sheets of sound
sweep through
the room
like rain
effortless expression
rising above
the bedlam
the banal
in an elegant arc
like a diver
the notes beget
notes within notes
and plunge
deep into the heart
of expression
intense and divine
always reaching
this insatiable explorer
of ideas, of feelings
impossible to articulate
a master communicator
a poet, a priest
whose expansive canvas
by turns lyrical and romantic
harrowing and bleating
as if trying to transcend
the limits of sound
of meaning
an indomitable intensity
an urge to achieve
awareness, enlightenment
a peace, however brief
a clarity, a purpose
present and genuine
gone too long
and too soon
what more
is there to say
but, as the man
once said
let the music
speak for itself
and know
A Love Supreme

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Verse - Valentine

Composed for my lady - February 14, 2009

Your eyes
are infinite and invincible
like a summer softly sweet
no, let's say
maybe a green million miles
of meadows
or aisles of
crowned oaks, no
pearly strands of
effervescence in
a champagne glass or
tinsled stars against
the onyx canvas of
an autumn evening
or emeralds that do sparkle
like a sun-kissed sea
that's it, the sun
Certainly, they are not
unlike that distant star
for they stimulate
and illuminate me
a tiny satellite
in your vast universe
ever grateful for
the warmth of your gaze

Song of the Day - June 23, 2009

Once again inspired by events in Iran, I've picked a song that has deep resonance with me Garland Jeffrey's The Answer. Reminiscent musically of Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins (listen closely to that intro), it's a manifesto (thanks to Microsoft, I've been using that word a lot) that urges you, the listener, to create your own destiny, do what you dream of doing, and don't let the voice of others, the voice of doubt in side you, hold you back. It's the ultimate paean to the power of positive thinking, to free will. And it comes from one of the most probing albums on race in America ever recorded, brought to you by an artist whose diverse musical interests and heritage meant radio never knew where to put him. I say go out, get copies of Ghost Writer, Don't Call Me Buckwheat and Escpae Artist and put them among your most essential albums. BTW, the amazing video is by Godley & Creme, one-time pop stars who became the creme-de-la-creme - pardon the pun, of video directors.

Best Job in the World

The Best Job in the World campaign, created by CumminsNitro, was feted with the PR Lions Grand Prix by Cannes and Direct Lions Grand Prix at Cannes. Thought I'd rerun what I wrote about it in January on my website:

It’s pretty tough to live up to the billing of Best Job in the World. But that’s what Tourism Queensland representatives are promising in an effort to promote the Australian state.

Officially, the position is called Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. One lucky person will spend six months on Hamilton Island enjoying and blogging about its pleasures and receive $122,000 Cdn for his or her efforts. Gimmicky as it may seem, there is a real job up for grabs, and 11 people will be flown to the Island in May to compete for the position.

It sounds like my dream job, and thousands, apparently agree. Officials say they had 200,000 applications within 24 hours of the campaign launch. Equally impressive is the fact that Tourism Queensland has garnered millions of dollars in media coverage for what must have been a very modest investment. Thanks to stories on BBC and Yahoo the campaign has reached more than 29 million people, meaning greater awareness of and interest in Queensland.

Granted, that interest may not translate into immediate increases in bookings and tourism revenue, but I think the campaign will generate benefits over the long run. The content the blogger creates is likely to have more appeal or be more convincing to potential visitors than content generated by Tourism Queensland. After all, it will be content developed by an actual visitor blogging his or her experiences, all of which can be archived and used for years to come. Moreover, flying 11 contestants in to compete for the position is a shrewd move. It means there will be, potentially, 11 people spreading positive messages about the region to colleagues online and otherwise. And media from the markets where contestants live will likely cover the story, giving the campaign added life and reach.

Simply put, I think this marketing campaign is brilliant. And I’m not just saying that in hopes that Tourism Queensland will invite me down to see the beauty of the region first hand. Though I wouldn’t turn them down if they did.

Word of the Day - June 23, 2009

Today's Word was inspired by @KMWeiland on Twitter, who wrote a very impassioned article on her blog in defense of big and archaic words. So, for her, I offer the word prestidigitation, which is a fancy way to say sleight of hand, or tricks done by hand. See also legerdemain.

I Say Whip it, Miracle Whip it Good

As the Tower of Power once opined, 'Hipness is what it is/and sometimes hipness is what it ain't.' Well, one brand has made itself over a bid to be hip: Miracle Whip.

Miracle Whip has decided it's not enough to be distinguished from mayo - which you'll know from watching Undercover Brother is the condiment of choice for white people - no, siree. It wants to distinguish itself from... um, itself. So long to bygone odes to its tangy zip as performed by beefy burgers. Take a hike, ads that attempted to brand it as the choice ingredient for the erotic dreams of dumpy middle-aged foodies everywhere. Oh no. Miracle Whip has decided to reach out to the target group that everyone and their dog covets: the kids. And it thinks it has found a hip way to do it: a new commercial, all flashy and cutting edge, just like the kids like it.

Called Anthem , the Miracle Whip ad plays more like a statement of purpose or Manifesto (and certainly makes for a more coherent and clear manifesto than the one Microsoft deployed to premiere Bing). It lays out the philosophies that kids hold dear, not being quiet, not blending in, living fast, dying young and leaving a good corpse. Okay, on those last three, I lied.

The messages are delivered via edgy anonymous voice over artist and squiggly, chalky words that float on the screen over - what a surprise - very conventional images of food and fun until they are erased. It made me think of school, an image that always has a positive association and popularity among the young folk. So it's about as edgy and in your face as an Archie comic, or a puppy.

Funny thing is, if you come in just a second or two late on the ad, and miss the 'not be quiet', the squiggly chalk words on display seem to counteract the intent of the edgy voiceover guy. When he says 'We will not try to blend in', the magic screen says 'blend in.' When he talks about not disappearing into the background, the magic screen says 'disappear into the background.' It's like Miracle Whip is sending not so subtle or subliminal messages to the kids. Blend in, be invisible, eat our condiment, like it.

"We're not like the others; we won't ever try to be," says the voiceover guy, forgetting that most youth want to fit in, be accepted, or at least disappear in the background so the athletic kids don't haul off and wedgie them. Those who decide not to blend in generally do it when it is forced on them, so it become a perverse badge of pride. Which must be why Miracle Whip talks about itself as a 'mixed up blend of one of a kind spices.'

Let's put aside the fact that they put that text on the screen without any hyphens - rebels! - and deal with the substance of that message. Since a 'blend' is a 'mix', the copy is either lazy and needlessly redundant, or the 'mixed up' means that Miracle Whip doesn't know what it is or what it wants to be, apart from some vague notion of being unique. Since the ad never defines how Miracle Whip is unique, does not blend in, etc., I'll venture to say that mixed up must be referring to an identity crisis. Maybe that's what makes it unique - we don't know what we are, but we should would like it if you'd embrace us as fresh, hip and daring.

And therein lies the problem of such branding: if you and all your friends start eating Miracle Whip because you don't want to fit in, how are you expressing your individuality? The mind reels. Okay, Miracle Whip, I give in. You won't tone it down. But could you at least define what it is you won't tone down so I know why you are shouting about it?

Verse: When I was the wind

For my lady, as always, but inspired by a remark on Twitter by @ATsLady

When I was the wind
I coveted you
I chased you often
and everywhere
cleared vagabond
newspaper adverts
from your path
and vowed that I would
sweep you off your feet
however cliche

When I was the wind
I followed you
close as a shadow
swirled deliriously
around you and
tousled your hair
and when you were adorned
in beads of sweat
I played it cool
tickled the
clouds until they
loosed the rain
to slake your thirst

When I was the wind
I spoke softly to you
like a whisper
in a kiss
in fits of passion
I rattled your windows
and raced to the rooftops
to shout your name
and returned
bringing the scent
of baby's breath
and lilacs
to perfume
your quiet room

When I was the wind
I was as constant
as a restless
nomadic could be
despite my best
my wanderlust
proved too much
for me to contain
and I was gone
like a memory
like a summer rain

From time to time
I pass you
on the street
but your eyes
do not meet mine
you would not
recognize me now
after all my travels
I am ragged, thin
and haunted by
the recollection
of those dulcet days when
you were my one true passion
and I was the wind

Monday, June 22, 2009

Verse: Mountain

Old verse originally posted on Facebook:

At night
sitting cross-legged
on the floor

I close my eyes
and imagine
I am a mountain


crowned with snow
and ice water flowing
through my veins

mighty, majestic
until I open my eyes
and realize

I am a grain of sand
one of millions
pounded daily

by indifferent tides
in this often
unforgiving world

The Great Albums: Isaac Hayes - Hot Buttered Soul

Artist: Isaac Hayes

Album: Hot Buttered Soul

Release date: 1969

Original label: Enterprise/Stax

Appears in: 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

Summary: Soul man serves up new-style R&B

Background: Stax was a label in disarray in 1968. Otis Redding had died. The company's distribution deal with Atlantic came to an end and not only did Atlantic take back Stax stars Sam & Dave, it also laid claim to virtually every recording Stax had issued since 1958. So the powers that be made a bold decision: to create an instant back catalog by issuing approximately 30 albums and 30 singles all at once. Isaac, a preeminent Stax songwriter who'd already generated one failed album for the label, seized the chance to do a second album and make music the way he wanted to. In doing so, he rewrote the playbook for how soul could sound, even if he only wrote one song for the album.

Merits: Until Hot Buttered Soul came out, the LP format was an afterthought in the soul/R&B market. With very few exceptions (Sam Cooke's Night Beat among them), Soul LPs consisted of a couple of big hits unique to a particular artist surrounded by some covers of popular songs of the day. In essence, they were expedient creations designed to cash in on a top 40 smash or two. What Isaac did was take a handful of songs and virtually rewrite and reshape them into one unique and unforgettable artistic statement. Whereas most individual soul songs had tended to be 3.5 minutes in duration before, the four Isaac recorded for Hot Buttered clocked in as long as 18 minutes and as short as five minutes. He selected the songs he wanted to do and rendered them his way, building each on drama, melodrama, declamatory spoken word, rock guitar, cinematic flourishes, and several kitchen sinks. And he put it out without any singles. It should have been a commercial disaster. Instead, it became one of the biggest selling soul albums up to that time.

Highlights: Walk on By, which keeps walking righteous for twelve minutes of impeccably wrought heartache and a moody noir riff that puts a little swagger in your stride if you're listening to it on your iPod. Its haunted ambiance left no doubt that Isaac was well suited for crafting movie scores. Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymystic, Isacc's lone contribution as a songwriter, is a stone cold, sexed up jam that gives way to an extended interplay between the piano and rhythm section that bounces along like a basketball in Kobe's hands. By the Time I Get to Phoenix stretches out an intimate tale of leaving to such epic, near comic, proportions, you might actually be able to get there from wherever you are before the tune comes to its end with eerie church-inspired organ that, like street sweepers, washes all the hurt away.

Demerits: One Woman, the other track does suffer a bit for the fact that it does not aspire to the same lofty heights as the other songs that grace this album. Moreover, the approach Isaac pioneered here proved so effective, that he continued on with variations for a few years that, while very accomplished, began to feel a bit rote by comparison. Some will blame this album for ushering in disco and, in particular, Barry White, but I see that as an asset. Take that, Dave Marsh.

Alternate selection: Black Moses expands this concept out to two LPs, and though more doesn't always translate into better, it has some breathtaking moments, such as Going in Circles. Shaft is a must, if only to hear the crucial role Hayes played in in ushering in the modern era of movie soundtracks. Much of it is indispensable, but divorced from its context, it's not ass essential as, say, Curtis Mayfield's Superfly.

FYI: Walk on By was famously used in, and to promote, Dead Presidents. A music video was also created for the song. And both Walk on By and By the Time I Get to Phoenix were cut down to single length, performing very well on the pop & R&B charts. In fact, Hot Buttered Soul was a heavy hitter on the pop, jazz, R&B and easy listening album charts.

Untitled verse

too young
and too public
to have
your heart shattered so
completely as this
those who might not
have noticed you before
crowd around you now
desperate to provide
some comfort
some assistance
yet they can only
look on helplessly
as the blood
rushes to your face
not a blush
a kind of shroud
forms warm and wet
as if to offer you
some small dignity
or succor
in a time of
such great distress
even as it erases
your features
and exposes
your vulnerability
to us all

Song of the Day - June 22, 2009

Today's Song of the Day is, much like my Word of the Day, influenced by events unfolding in Iran. It's been 21 years since I first heard People Have the Power by Patti Smith, and it has remained a song I draw on in hard times. There's an incredible, almost limitless optimism that Smith conveys in this song. Essentially, she's conveying a closely-held belief or dream that we who do not have the reins of power actually can take control of our destinies, our world. Expressing it is her way of passing it on, inspiring others. In other words, in the confines of a five minute song, she wants to turn you on, to give you the power. Or more correctly remind you that it is in you, and to spread the word. Enjoy.

Word of the Day - June 22, 2009

Since I seem to be taking the weekend off from blogging, I'm borrowing my Word of the Day selection I made yesterday on Twitter: Fastigium. Essentially, it's the worst point in an illness. I selected it in my fervent hope that, maybe, the events the Iranian people are experiencing now represent a fastigium for them, and that things will get better. At least that's what I'd like to believe. The Word of the Day for Twitter and this blog will synch back up tomorrow...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Song of the Day - June 21, 2009

Time for Song of the Day. And since it is Father's Day, I've selected Horace Silver's Song for my Father. For my dad, who is not a jazz fan. Yes, Steely Dan borrowed the intro for Ricki Don't Lose that Number. Whether you are a dad or not, Enjoy.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Verse: Things she said

She said
they never tell you
what your heart is for
too often discarded
like an apple core
but let's not talk about that
it's like keeping score

she said
the situation is the same
they give you a cover
they give you a name
let's not talk of how
they bind you with grace
and it feels like blame

she said
I've been tethered
to someone else's dream
saddled with signs and portents
and I don't know
what they mean
but let's not talk
about that
it's such an ugly scene

she said
romance has no appeal
it's like a phantom limb
it strikes me as unreal
but let's not
talk about that
it's such a great ordeal

she said
the night is done
the game is rigged
the dealer's won
but let's not talk
about that
a new day has begun

Worthy Award- for June 19

If you have been reading this blog on a regular basis, you'll know I've been ranting about marketing, communications and public relations items that have rubbed me the wrong way. All that negativity does something to a person, to use impersonal language, so I've decided that I want to be positive for a change. Not only that, on a sustained basis.

So today, I'm starting something new - the Worthy Award. There's no real award per se - we're a frugal organization here at the Words' Worth lab - but what I offer is a shout out to organizations and individuals who are exemplifying or engaged in progressive, ethical, commendable or downright amusing PR, Marketing or Communications practices or campaigns.

Today, I'm giving the first Worthy Award to Pixar. Why? Because, and you'll need a hankie for this - the company fulfilled the dying wish of a 10-year-old-girl. It arranged a private DVD showing of its latest film Up for her. Seven hours later, the girl passed away. If that doesn't move you, you either have no pulse or no heart.

I don't know much about Pixar beyond what I see and read in the media, but it has always struck me as a company that is very committed to producing only the highest quality entertainment - entertainment that can be enjoyed by every member of the family. It has also seemed to me to be a company that sees its employees and their families as part of a big Pixar family. One Pixar tradition is to list the names of all the babies born to employees during the production of a particular film in the closing credits.

By responding to a call from a mother wanting to make her daughter's wish come true, Pixar reinforced the positive brand attributes I associate with the company. But here's what impresses me most about Pixar as regards this story: they declined to comment for the news story.

Normally, I'd say no comment is the wrong approach to take. In this context, any comment by Pixar might have come off as a canned self-congratulatory, opportunistic or self-promotional tract. That kind of false modesty where a company really wants to bask in the media spotlight for its own benefit. By design or inadvertently, Pixar let the family tell its tragic, yet touching, story without hijacking it.

Sure, the company may not have wanted to encourage more such incidents - it couldn't fulfill every such request - but I like to think it realized that this was not the time or place to solicit attention for a good deed. Besides, anything the company could have said would not have had the impact or appeal as the family describing just what that one act of kindness meant for a little girl. You couldn't ask, pay, or create a better endorsement.

So, let me wipe that pesky tear from my eye and say that, Pixar, you are truly Words' Worthy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great advertisements

Apparently, this first viral commercial has been up for several months, but it didn't get onto my radar. It's an ad for Bud Light that knows what guys want - Beer and pr0n - and takes the worst-case scenario for embarrassment so far over the top, it flips around and goes over several more times. Enjoy it here.

The second, which I was hipped to by Adland on Twitter via brentter is this Japanese ad for Adidas by TBWA/London. It's a guy employed by a breakup service and how his work starts to affect him. What I really like are the messages he delivers through his service, how poetic they are.

I know I should say more about why I like them, but I think great creative speaks for itself. That and the fact that poorly executed items provide more fodder to write about sometimes...

Song of the Day - June 18, 2009, with a bonus

Today's Song of the Day is the first time in a couple of days that I've embedded linky goodness. I thought I'd pick songs that never cease to make me smile today, and offered two such songs on Twitter. The first is an old song called Jolity Farm, and this version is done by the Bonzo Dog Band. As some of you will know, the Dogs were a British band that appeared on a kiddie show called Do Not Adjust Your Set. That program featured future Pythons Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and contributions from Terry Gilliam. So began a long association between the Pythons and Bonzo member Neil Innes, who wrote songs and skits for the troupe, and was a prime mover behind Idle's Beatles parody band, The Rutles.

The second song that never fails to make me laugh is The Rhyming Song as performed by the Muppets. If you haven't seen it before, I won't spoil it for you, but suffice to say that the whole thing dissolves in the kind of anarchy the Muppets were famous for. Enjoy!

Verse: Short, untitled zen-inspired items

A forest of stars
intensely contemplates
the dazzling serenity
of the freshly fallen snow

It may be
when I talk
that you won't
hear me
but later
when I am silent
you will understand

In the morning
trying to restore order
to an unruly bed
I shake the sheets
and the dust
of a thousand
spend and scattered
dreams unnamed
is released
into the air
like pollen
done with me
awake and alert
they seek someone new
to entertain
and enthrall
someone still
lost in the grip of
a solemn, solitary slumber

Word of the Day - June 18

Your Word of the Day is rigmarole, which is foolish or nonsensical rambling talk, or a very involved and time wasting procedure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Word + Song of the Day - June 17, 2009

Your word of the day is nonage, which basically means being of an age when you are too young to vote or sign a contract. So it means immaturity, a state I reside in more frequently than I care to admit.

The Song of the Day is one I discovered in my nonage - Simple Minds' Speed Your Love to Me. The music is as urgent as the title suggests. US success and large stadiums lay ahead for the minds, but they never sounded this compelling again.In fact, the whole first side - yes, first side; I'm a vinyl junkie - of Sparkle in the Rain, the album that features this song gives me more pure joy than anything by U2. Find yourself puzzled by that? Just wait until I unload unpopular music opinions I hold.

Verse: Attraction

Those whole lips
slightly parted
with yearning
and bereft
of all the impetuous
fleeting kisses
that were
visited upon them
now they do
approach my own
and urgent
and intent only
on extracting more

Verse: two short untitled poems from December 2007

A clear mind
is as rare as
a clear sky
something always
clouds the view

When the ruinous burdens of
my past troubles
and transgressions
became too much
for me to bear
I set them down
and soon found
it was easier
just to drag them around

The Great Albums: Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends

Artist: Simon &Garfunkel

Album: Bookends

Release date: 1968

Original label: Columbia

Appears in: The Mojo Collection, among other 'ultimate' music companions.

Summary: Paul Simon is prematurely nostalgic for time to come.

Merits: Despite the stab at something thematic on the LPs first side, this was perhaps the most straightforward and engaging of S&G five LPs. Simon kept his observations simple and his tendency for pedantry in check and Garfunkel went light on that all-too-precious choirboy voice he frequently deployed. First side combines state of the union, or is that disunion given the tenor of the times, in America, in relationships and spans a 'what's wrong with the kids today' plea to old age and death. Side two is a collection of songs that don't hang together quite so well, but, individually, they are alternately charming, probing or rocking.

Highlights: The haunted narrator of the spectral, yet soaring America who goes in search of something greater than himself only to find he's one of many anonymous questing souls. Though very much a 60s hippie 'find yourself' song, it's truly timeless. Hazy Shade of Winter is a lament for lost time and possibilities with a ringing hook and rock edge that reminds me of Oh Pretty Woman. And Overs is a short and bittersweet 'can't quit you' with very clever lyrics. Plus, There's the driving Mrs. Robinson. Coo-coo-ca-choo, indeed, and more sympathetic to the character than the movie it came from.

Demerits: For me, it's Garfunkel's Voices of Old People, a collage of recordings of old people made in New York and Los Angeles that is interesting, but interrupts the assured flow of Simon's songs.

Alternate selection: My reservations about Simon's songwriting, particularly in the context of S&G, and Garfunkel's vocals make this the only S&G album I own. Bridge Over Troubled Water has always seemed a little too precious to me, ditto their earliest work, but I do have a soft spot for Sounds of Silence, mainly because my parents owned it. Highlights of that album are the title song, I Am A Rock, Richard Corey, April Come She Will and The Leaves That Are Green. (At least, I think that's the title.)

FYI: The back half of the album doesn't follow on the Bookends concept because Paul didn't have enough related material ready for the album's deadline. Several had already appeared on singles.

Social Media - you're doing it wrong, GM

I read a guru yesterday (sorry, can't remember who) claiming that Facebook's days are numbered in part because corporations now 'get' social media. If GM is to be taken as a textbook example, I'd say Facebook has many hale and hearty days ahead.

As you'll know from a previous post, I am following GMreinvention on twitter, which touts itself as my window into the reinvention of GM. Basically, the stream of tweets is little more than GM pushing out news about the sale of SAAB, poll results that the Chevrolet Corvette is the car people couldn't live without, etc. Essentially, nothing earth shattering, and nothing you couldn't find reported in one of many other objective outlets. Oh, and no attempts to engage with or comment on tweets posted by Twitter users. As I've said before, so much for a 'new' GM.

Which brings me to a message I received from GMreinvention yesterday in my Twitter mailbox: 'Please enjoy the following video, which explains what the new GM is going to be like.' Excited that I was going to see something of substance - an actual behind-the-scenes look at the new company - I clicked on the link thoughtfully included in the email, only to see the one-minute commercial the company has been running on TV since it declared bankruptcy.

That's right. Instead of a real video with substance and insight, a video that sets the stage for a series chronicling GM's evolution from larvae to butterfly, the company serves up a self-serving ad I've seen several times. An ad that is built around a lot of big promises, but no evidence, of change. I certainly didn't enjoy the ad when I encountered it previously. I enjoyed it less when it was presented to me as an explanation of the new GM. It was misleading and I feel burned. Thus, this post.

I really don't mean to keep harping on GM. I know they have some cash flow issues. I know that sort of thing can occupy your time. So much so that the decisions you make in other areas are, well, compromised. Decisions like how to use social media. So far, to judge by GM's efforts on Twitter, they just don't get it or its potential to connect with consumers. In other words, when it comes to being a new company, GM's approach is simple: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. So choose to see all that sun in the commercial as a sign the company has seen the light. I think it symbolizes the fact that they're headed toward the light. Godspeed you, GM.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Song of the Day + Word of the Day - June 16, 2009

Sorry to do this late, quick + dirty, but the day got away from me, so ckearly I need a new leash.

The Song of the Day is a bonus song I listed in my Twitter feed - Al Green's Love + Happiness. I chose it because today people were encouraged to wear green in support of Iranians protesting the weekend election results. Since I exclusively wear black, I thought I should have a musical reference on Twitter. I figured that people might have thought I was trivializing the situation if I picked Green by Kermit the Frog, which would not have been my intent. So I selected a song to express my sincere hope that Iranians have an opportunity to experience Love + Happiness on thie own terms.

In that spirit, the word of the day is tenacity,which is the state or quality of being tough, firm, or persistent. Which I hope Iranis demonstrate and maintain in the face of an entrenched and highly unsympathetic fundamental regime.

Verse: Seduction

This exercise
is an exorcism
trying to extract
the venomous beauty

the raw purity
naked, vulnerable
and loathe to submit
to the thousand tiny
pen pricks I visit upon it
finds itself attired
in clothes that do not
quite fit or flatter
and laid out
on clean white sheets
now tainted with
indelible ink

Never quite
as I pictured it
when it's over
I denounce
distance myself
and despise it
is it any wonder
I turned my back
on it, on you
for so long?

Comfortably Dumb Comfort Wipe

"For over 100 years, we've been scrunching and folding toilet paper." So begins the low-rent ad for Comfort Wipe that has, with over 600,000 views on YouTube, become an interwebs sensation.

Well, no need to do that any more, citizen. There's now a new-fangled way to, um, see to your business and that is the vaguely erotic-looking device called Comfort Wipe. You want to believe you're watching some kind of parody. But this baby is real.

It touts itself as the first 'improvement to toilet paper as we know it since the 1880s' which is a bit disingenuous. First off, it doesn't actually improve the paper; it's just a new way to use the paper. Second, I'm pretty certain that toilet paper has improved since the 1880s with cotton softness, quilting and several ply replacing woven woodchips.

The thing is, when you watch the ad, it looks like a lot of extra work than just tearing off some paper from the roll. You take the paper, put it in the Comfort Wipe's receptacle, wipe and then you have to stand up and release the toilet paper from the device. Like shampooing, I'm guessing you have to repeat the process several times after, say, a big bowl of five-alarm chili. And I doubt you'd have much time to repeat the process safely if you do have to deal with that kind of mess.

But it's the really odd details and information that capture my fascination. The comfort wipe extends your reach a full eighteen inches for example. If you need that much reach, I'm thinking a Comfort Wipe may be the least of your concerns. Also, it's as easy to use as a shower brush, which is my yardstick for buying all products related to personal hygiene.

Yet the strangest moment comes courtesy of a rather large fellow who claims, "Being a big guy fellow certainly has its share of advantages. And its disadvantages." Don't expect him to tell you what they are either way. Apparently even he doesn't know, suggesting self-awareness is not one of the advantages. Just understand that 'being a big guy' with said advantages and disadvantages, the Comfort Wipe is a great product. No need to say more, big guy, I'm convinced.

One ironic moment comes when a 'with-it' mature woman with an accent vaguely like Estelle Harris - George's Mom on Seinfeld, tells us how Comfort Wipe allows you to maintain your dignity and your personal hygiene. The same dignity she sucker punched when she decided to appear in this ad. The other when another lady informs us that toilet paper is archaic and unsanitary. So, if Comfort Wipe is such an evolution, why does it need toilet paper anyway?

Ah, silly consumer. Why ask such questions? It's simple. The sanitary Comfort Wipe means you don't have to touch dirty toilet paper anymore. Which frees you to attend to other business while you do your, um, business. You can call your friends. Start a grocery list. Prepare a lovely sandwich. You decide. Except you do need to use your hand to operate it. Some advancement in 'toilet paper'.

Is three a magic number for Calvin Klein?

Who knew that New Yorkers could be offended by anything? Apparently they can be, or at least some of them. The source of their shock and horror a racy new Calvin Klein billboard featuring a young trio - two men and a woman - involved in a three-way couch tryst; a third man, in a state of undress that leave you wondering if he's coming or going - lies nearby on the floor.

Basically, Calvin Klein put up a billboard that it knew would turn heads, generate chatter - like this blog post - and garner media coverage from upset citizens galvanized by the notion that something is wrong in the world today, and can't we all just think of the children. Clearly, the strategy worked. The story's been picked up by several media outlets, and thus the CK brand has earned some free publicity.

It's not the first time that Calvin Klein has stirred up controversy and I suspect it won't be the last. It certainly has brought attention to a brand I don't think about much, and I'd wager has lost luster over the years. But here's the thing: controversy strikes me as about as effective as a brand definer as price. In other words, there's always someone who can be more controversial. At the end of the day, where does that leave you?

Moreover, the further you go, the more jaded and cynical people become about the 'scandal' you hope to create. It's like crying wolf. At some point, people tune you out, unless you respond by going so far beyond the pale that you do get their attention, which happens to be sustained and negative. In which case, you may find yourself in crisis communication mode - issuing apologies that may fall on deaf ears.

It's also worth considering this: if you strip away the controversy, what else is there at the heart of your brand? Potentially nothing. You've set aside the proverbial steak to concentrate on the cliched sizzle. In a way, you've taken your eye and the public's off of your true strength, whatever that is. And they become bored with you, and much harder to seduce.

Speaking of boredom, is it just me, or does the model on the floor in the CK billboard ad look kind of blase, as if even he is tired and turned off by the whole thing?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jerk Chicken

Asshattery. It's an affliction particularly common in advertising today, particularly men. It comes in many forms. There's the clueless enthusiastic asshattery of the guys in the Verizon ads who want to know just how many friends they can have in their circle, or something like that. There's the insensitive asshattery of the guy in the Bank of Montreal/Air Miles ad who determines that he and his 'wife' can take a dream vacation to Paris in their senior years, then plucks a gray hair from her head to tell her they are practically on their way.

But the asshattery in a new (Canada-only?) KFC ad for its Fully Loaded meal, which I'd link to if I could find it on YouTube, is in a class of its own. A twenty-something guy who has obviously managed to avoid learning any social skills, orders his meal and proceeds, like a five-year old, to back into patrons like a truck while making 'beep' noises. After jostling someone's grandpa and someone's beatnik aunt, he moves on. Cue laughs.

So, KFC is encouraging the young guys they are targeting to come into their restaurants, stuff their maws with a large carton overflowing with artery-clogging herbs and spices and make an ass of themselves as they embarrass and potentially injure other patrons? Behavior that would get them kicked out of any KFC? Or is it that KFC just sees this demographic as jerks? Jerks with money, but still jerks.

No, the ad suggests they don't think much of anyone in any demographic. It's lame, lazy and misanthropic creative, the kind that thinks boorish behavior equals humor. So come on in, millennial. Your Fully Loaded meal entitles you to make a total ass of yourself. Sad thing is, many people don't need much encouragement or a license...

Poem: Exile

(Originally posted on Facebook in December 2007 in a slightly altered form)

My life in exile
in the years since
my ignominious abdication
have been, to say the least

I've kept silent
holding no court
seeking no counsel
and raising no army

cloistered and quite
until our chance encounter
reminded me
of what I once had
and callously
cast aside

Song of the Day - June 15, 2009

I searched high and low so I could find a proper link to the Song of the Day I've chosen for #musicmonday on Twitter, but to no avail. Which is a shame because Direction by Grin is a hard rock gem that deserves a wider audience.

Grin, you probably don't know, was Nils Lofgren's first band. Signed to Spindizzy, a David Briggs (a long-time Neil Young producer and associate) imprint distributed by Columbia, the band pumped out four albums, earning only minor interest. Direction was a cut on the very first self-titled LP, released when Lofgren was in his teens.

The first time I heard this song was on an anthology I purchased in a cheapie bin in my local second-hand record store. As it happened, the album had a scratch that necessitated its placement in the cheapie bin, and it cut through this song.

Listening to the impassioned vocals and chiming guitar of Direction , I can't figure out why Lofgren didn't blow up big. Certainly, the Grin albums are all worthy additions to your collection, and at least a few of his A&M albums, particularly the self-titled solo debut, are essential, just like Direction. It was the start of a good career that should and could have been great if a few more ears had been kind enough to hear.

Favorite line in the song: 'Just be the shore/and I'll be the wave.'Can't tell you how many times I've wanted to steal that one... BTW, Lofgren might have become a member of the Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor left, but he apparently missed a phone call, or something like that...

Word of the Day - June 15

So, when I restarted this blog, my intent was to do a Word of the Day, which I have been doing on Twitter along with Song of the Day. I promoted that on the blog, but never bothered to start, until now. In honor of GM's Twitter feed, today's Word of the Day is solipsism. It's a belief that only the self is real/exists. People who use social media tools to talk about themselves and not engage in actual conversations are solipsistic.

Verse: Listening

Dreamtime coming on
like a distant thunder
if I'm not careful
it will take me under
adrift in the dulcet
slipstream of wonder
I keep listening to you

Brown sugar and cinnamon
the freckles that
adorn your skin
I tried
to count them all
but I gave in
Instead, I keep listening to you

The night has caught
a chill
the wind is stirred
against its will
nestled in your
misty windowsill
I keep listening to you

Cradled in your
crescent moon smile
I only meant to
stay a while
prolonged farewells
are not my style
and I keep listening to you

In the effervescing
streets below
the teeming traffic
begins to slow
could be a portent
what do I know
I just keep listening to you

They call this
the magic hour
the light retreats in waves
like a waning shower
warm and dry
in this tenement tower
I keep listening to you

The lilac permeates
the air
I catch your reflection
you look so holy
in that chair
so I keep listening to you

Darkness close
as a surgeon's glove
the stars assume their
usual positions above
I could have sworn
that you said love
when I wasn't listening
to you

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme GM

I've been wondering where GMs social media campaign is as it tries to reboot itself and its image in the eyes of consumers. Today, I get a notice on Twitter that GMintervention is following me (I'm @MrWordsWorth).

The stream, which started on June 4, is promoted as a window into the car company's reinvention. There are 40+ updates and they aren't terribly insightful. The company is basically pushing info that it must hope will drive people to GMs website for more details.

Not one of the 40+ updates is a response to or reflects an attempt to engage with users online. I know, it's only about a week and a half, but you'd think that GM would be using social media in, well, a social way.

Instead, it's like going to a party and running into someone who dominates the conversation with this and that of import to him, never stopping to consider that you might like to join in the conversation. He's too busy telling you what he's doing, he never takes a moment to listen to you to see how he can help you, or benefit from what you have to say. And if there were ever a time when GM needed engaged, supportive customers, it's now.

I'll be keeping an eye on the stream to see if GM reps do decide to actually turn their solipsistic chatter into a dialogue. But for now, GM, when it comes to social media, you're doing it wrong. A marketing expert needs to stage an intervention in this reinvention to actually prompt the company to be, you know, different.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Song of the Day - June 14, 2009

Okay, so I haven't been keeping up with this as I intended, but then I haven't started the word of the day on here yet, which I have been doing on Twitter. Anyway, today's song of the day for summer is Billy Stewart's rendition of Summertime. Love how he trills. Bet you'll be thrilled.

I'll even throw in a bonus - Animal Collective's Summer Clothes. Warning, video could induce nightmares. Do not watch if using medication...

Why can't we be friends on Twitter?

Social media. It's about being social. So it surprises me that there are people on Twitter who can follow me, but I can't see their stream unless I register with them as a follower.

I guess they think they are special. I guess they think that they have something proprietary. But it reminds me of the days in school when kids had gum but wouldn't share it. Or they picked me last for the team in gym class. There's something vaguely elitist about it. If you aren't going to be open and social, why be on Twitter?

My feed - @MrWordsWorth - is open to any and all to join. And if you aren't trying to sell me on something that will make me rich, or you have an interest that parallels one of mine, I'll follow you back. But if you are going to put restrictions on how social you are, then you're being anti-social. I say loosen up. Open up your heart and let the sunshine in.

Verse: Rebuffed

Once I wrote
I love you
in the soft
unsullied sand
but the jealous sea
came racing in
to erase it
with its mighty hand

So I wrote
I love you
in a bottle
and commended
it to the sea
three months
have passed since then
and it has not
answered me

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tooting my own horn

I just want to introduce you to Professional Artist, Muralist and Faux Finisher Annemarie Johnson. If you can dream it, Annemarie can bring it to life in a work that deftly marries vivid realism with dreamy romantic landscapes. I was honored to assist Annemarie in writing content for her new website, created for her by Orange A(Peel).

Song of the Day - June 12, 2009, with a bonus

Okay, I didn't put up a Summer Song of the Day here yesterday, so I'm going to do a two-for-one.

The song I intended to put up here yesterday was Fleetwood Mac's Albatross. Perfect music for millionaires with mansions and yachts. Some of you will notice the absence of Stevie, Lindsey and Christine. Some of you will know that the Mac has had quite the revolving door of members over the years. The only constants being the rhythm section for which the band was kind of named (It's McVie, not MacVie, after all). Fascinating stories surround the tale of the three guitarists who were in the band in the late 60s/early 70s Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwin, all of whom were gone by the early 70s due to religious, health and/or drug related issues. I remember playing their early music in a second hand store quite a lot back in the day and no one believed that the Chicago-influenced blues boogie emanating from the speakers in ale-brown tones was made under the name Fleetwood Mac.

The song for today is War's Summer. Apart from a few unfortunate references to the 1970s - the CB Radios - the song has aged well, like, say, a Riesling. Still has the power to intoxicate you with thoughts of warm, endless sunny days wherever or whenever you encounter it.

Verse: Postcard

(Originally posted on Facebook in March 2008)

I send
greetings to you
wherever you are
from this point
in my life that
I'll always recall
with fondness
but never return to again
no matter how hard
I might try
they say sometimes
you have to travel
far from everything
you know
to find your way home
Yet I have never
been anywhere but home
here yet not here
always arriving
never quite there
or anywhere
Gripped by a vague sensation
of displacement
of alienation
like I misplaced my life
among my souvenirs

Verse: Senses

In the falling soon
of the candied moon
I hear you

In the urgent rain
that strafes the windowpane
I see you

In the open sore
forged by the shadows upon my door
I see you

In the tangled scent
of the song that won't relent
I know you

In the anxious bed
where a brace of dreams are bred
I name you

In the truths bruised and raw
that reside beyond the law
I claim you

In the inarticulate speech
of the beauty I can't reach
I taste you

In the heat that comes
like a nectar to my tongue
I approach you

In the piercing sun
that interrogates everyone
I miss you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Verse: Master

(Posted in its original form in October 2007 on Facebook)

You who have disturbed
my long slumber
the comfort and contentment
of my complacency
to fill me with
an insatiable hunger
no nutrient could nourish
a thirst that no elixir
could ever slake

You have set me
once more
on a single-minded
solitary pursuit
to chase after shadows
and sparks of inspiration
in order to achieve
the perfect union
between thought and expression
and submit it to you
as would a pupil to a master
in the futile hope
that these feeble
overly familiar words
could capture and convey
my true intent
and thus be received
with all the warmth
of an impassioned embrace
not casual rejection

And each attempt
that pleases you only
results in temporary relief
until the anxiety takes hold
that this is an aberration
and cannot
will not
happen again

You who have
so inspired me

Twitter Magnets Poem

Did the following using the Twitter magnet poem application:

Thick and fleck'd with perfume
we remember his
miserable prisoner

The mountain and the molehill

I can't believe I'm saying this, but The Globe & Mail's Christine Blatchford is correct when she says there's nothing sexy in the leaked tapes of Lisa Raitt that I blogged about this week.

Yes, everyone has made a mountain of a relative molehill. But she's deliberately ignoring a plain and simple fact of human nature: we love to be outraged. We want to get on our moral high horses and condemn those who lack in what we consider to be decency, common sense, or what have you. So we welcome opportunities from politicos, the media, etc., to get riled up. And politicos and the media take advantage of our predilection for outrage to gain votes or get clicks. One big circle of misery that feeds itself.

Which leads me to the other thing that is human nature. Typically, we want people to share our outrage. Whether it is politicians eager to take down an opponent, media commentators like Blatchford, who invites us to share her outrage at our outrage, etc. There's safety in numbers.

That's why Lisa Raitt's comments have stirred attacks from Canada's opposition politicians, from talking heads, and from those individuals ever ready to write a letter of shock and outrage to their newspaper editor. We see a pulpit where we can make our holier-than-thou-how-dare-you proclamations, we step up and vent our spleen. It makes us feel good about ourselves to decry what we perceive to be someone else's stupidity, moral turpitude, insensitivity or failings.

Of course, in doing so, we conveniently ignore our own instances of gallows humor, backbiting or loose talk. And we become hypocrites, like Blatchford, who relies on our outrage as fodder for columns like the one I linked to, or me for calling us all on this.

What this controversy reveals, and this is not news, is how easy it is to stir up people's passions over even the most trivial or mundane items. So I'll repeat myself by saying that the more strategically you speak in any situation, private or public, the lest grist you give them. Which means people have to find some other nit to pick to satisfy their Jones for insult and offense.

Is Bing the sound of Fail?

Given all the lovely hype of Microsoft to launch Bing, I thought I'd check it out. After all, my attempts to find the top HR companies in the US through Google were producing questionable results.

So I go to Bing and type in several variations of keywords to find major US HR firms, and the results that have come back have been led by HR firms based in India. Every variation I've made has failed to come back with the sweet, sweet search engine candy I require.

Being one to make snap judgments in this high-speed era, I've determined that Bing is a decision engine after all. It prompted my decision to go back to Google. Can anyone sing its praises to convince me to give it a second chance?

Verse: Magnetism

(NB: I wrote this through a process of elimination. I poured a box of Magnetic Poetry on the table and placed the words that didn't inspire me back in the container. I arranged them like building blocks, filled in some spaces the available words couldn't cover and found that I had created something that sticks, much like those magnetized words...)

I recall
a moment
in spring
when a storm
of tiny pink
rose petals
fell from above
like want
in an easy
symphony, then
crushed beneath
languid eternity
and I could smell
their thousand
delicate whispers
enthralled by their
elaborate language
etched like sea spray
on your bare arm
like me, they worship
your cool, essential skin

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Additional thoughts on GM's bankruptcy ad

The GM bankruptcy ad, which I blogged about last week, continues to be a source of annoyance for me.

Sure, I've dismissed it as simplistic, obvious, uninspired. But there's something else that has been sticking in my craw. It's the fact that the ad is a very self-centered, unengaging piece of work. The company is talking about itself, to itself. It's all 'we'. There is no 'you.' In other words, it's business as usual, and this from a company that wants us to believe it has seen the proverbial light.

At the very least, GM could have taken a different approach to its self-promotion: it could have enlisted brand ambassadors. You know, the the consumers who have faithfully purchased GM for years and actually have something good to say about the company. It could have even solicited long-time employees, or happy GM dealer to sing its praises. Okay, the latter two are a bit far fetched. They would not be so easy to source, given recent circumstances, and their effectiveness is mitigated by the fact that there are likely many dealers and employees with an ax to grind. Anyway, you get the drift.

Here's why using faithful customers would have been the best approach. When you say something good about yourself, that's just self promotion. When someone else says it, that has some weight or credibility because it is an independent endorsement. So a happy GM consumer talking about why he or she has chosen and stuck by that brand is likely to be more influential than a slick GM ad with an anonymous voiceover talent singing the company's praises.

So, why not have GM consumer acolytes sing the company's praises in a commercial? Why not feature people talking about why they consistently purchase GM vehicles? Even better, why not have these customers speak to their reasons for remaining confident in and continuing to choose GM despite its dire straits? Such an approach would have provided the company with a novel way to acknowledge its status. Moreover, the sight of loyal customers pledging fealty to the company might have helped to rehabilitate the brand and boost the confidence or interest of undecided or negatively predisposed consumers.

GM could have rolled such an approach into a social media campaign, one where consumers go online, share their unsolicited brand experiences and enlisted friends and family to do the same. The company could have encouraged consumers to sign on as GM True Believers, create viral content and spread the word. But it apparently didn't. I haven't done the legwork, but the sources I read on a daily basis haven't reported on any much, if any, innovative social media initiatives being deployed in support of the bankruptcy ad.

Sure this is all off-the-cuff spit-balling, but I'd wager that a campaign built around brand ambassadors would have more relevance and more impact than the ad GM is currently running. And I maintain that unless GM does more to engage consumers, to converse with them, to be a different company than it has been, it will run out of gas.

Song of the Day - June 10, 2009

It's hard to do a Summer Song of the Day when it is such a gray day in my neck of the woods, which I refer to as Half-a-lax. But I made certain promises that I aim to keep. Today's selection is The Girl From Ipanema, as performed by Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto.

The version cut for Verve is probably the best known or most iconic. The version I present here appears to be from some kind of ski party film. Which doesn't help me make my case, but it does seem fitting given the less than summery weather I'm experiencing today. I know, it's not really summer yet, but we only get 3.5 seasons here, and most of that is winter. As a result, I pretty much consider it summer the moment that Victoria Day/Memorial Day rolls around.

I will say that this is probably the first Getz LP I ever owned, and until a few weeks ago, I owned it on CD. But a visit to a record shop in Maine turned up a mint original for three bucks and fiddy. And when I lovingly placed it on the turntable and inserted the needle in the groove with the precision of a vinyl junkie, the room was immediately transported to a more tropical clime and I had a drink with a parasol in my hand. Remarkable.

Apparently, the decision to add Astrud to the song happened on the fly in the studio when the track was cut. And though Getz gets top billing, he doesn't come in with his honeyed, breathy horn until about halfway in.

Since it was cut, the song has become a standard, and an occasional pop culture punchline. For example, it appears in a muzak form in The Blues Brothers. The girl who inspired the song, Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, even appeared on an episode of The Amazing Race when teams went to Brazil. Though recorded many times, I can't think of any as unique as the version by former McKenzie brother Rick Moranis - Enjoy!


Just a quick note to say that though my blogs originate in Canada (which some of you know as The Great White North, others as home and others as Soviet Canuckistan) I'm tired of fighting the Blogger spell check and submit to using US spellings. So if you notice that the way I spell humor and behavior has changed, you'll know why...

Verse: Still life

dedicated to FToddwilliams on twitter, who was kind enough to give me a line I was unkind enough to alter:

like a bracelet
a string of opalescent
pools circles the town
still as glass they
are silent witness
to the sun going down

perfectly manicured
emerald lawns
tremulous and whispering
with the wind
the trees rustling
with anticipation
as the evening sets in

heading to the basement
where he often entertains
having told his wife
he'd rather build
his model trains
plagued by the
thousand tiny doubts
that consume his soul
he takes solace in
the one world
that he knows he can control

upstairs she contents herself
with a bottle of merlot
hears the clock
chime in the drawing room
how quick the day does go
recalls three perfect children
forged like diamonds in her womb
each one a distraction
each one left too soon

one by one
like campfires
the streetlights
flicker and flare
the sweet perfume
of barbecue
permeates the air

she recalls him svelte
and limber
a dashing renegade
now grown soft
and poky
his courtesies
all decayed

he recalls her
bronze, smooth legs
her supple lips
her hair
and how her blue
eyes gradually froze
into a chilly stare

the pools
are black as hearses
the grass writhes
he plays
with his engine
she pours herself
some wine

now the clouds assemble
but the fireworks are delayed
and in that anxious instant
the rain comes on
like a cavalcade
and the pools
quench their thirst
the lawns
cease to sway
but the rain
cannot assuage his guilt
or wash her regrets away

Verse: Yearning

(Posted in altered form on Facebook in October 2007. There are certain constants in my poems: Rain, dreams, sleep, stars, the night, and the moon. Oh and love. I should expand my repertoire. Thank you to Lisa, the keeper of my heart and verse, for preserving it for me:)

Look at it
the moon
its silver, silken
so bruised
so lovely
and lonely
recalling how
we coveted her
we sang such
sweet songs to her
dreamt often
of her beautiful body

we seduced
and abandoned her
yet each night
she returns
her heart
with longing
that one day
someone just
might reach out
to touch her shimmering
visage once more

Be discrete when you tweet, blog, etc.

Yesterday, in commenting on the leaked conversations of Canadian Natural Resource Minister Lisa Raitt, I stressed the importance of choosing every word you say carefully, even in private conversations. It should go without saying, but it's also good advice to watch what you say in public forums.

Take this story , for instance. Israel Hyman suspects the fact that his home was burglarized could be linked to the tweets he sent to his 2,000 followers about his vacation plans. While he having a lovely time in Kansas City seeing concerts, his home was relieved of several thousand dollars of video equipment.

Maybe, just maybe, there is no relation between the theft and the tweets. But telling 2,000 followers you aren't home is an inadvertent invitation or advertisement to assorted nogoodniks to come and avail themselves of your prized possessions. It also, probably, isn't the kind of information you should be tweeting to 2,000 people, only some of whom you are likely to know in such intimate detail that you can name their favorite color, movie, first pet, etc.

And yet, even I have been naive enough to post Twitter and Facebook messages in the past month proclaiming that I was living it up in Maine. (At least to the extent that the law allows you to live it up in picturesque, rosy-cheeked New England states.) So, I'm not making an example of Hyman's mistake to show myself up as a hypocrite. It's more to acknowledge we are all capable (even me), at times, of revealing too much information in public.

It's easy to do, particularly with social media tools, which are built on immediacy. You can connect, in an instant, to hundreds, even thousands, of people around the world. People like and unlike you. People with differing views, beliefs and mores than you. People who may take offense at, or advantage of, the thoughts you express or the things you do, in part because they don't share your views, beliefs or mores. Other times, it may be because they do not know you well enough to gauge your true intent.

These people may not come to your house and take your electronics while you frolic in the Florida Keys. They could, however, pass you over for a lucrative contract or position based on something you've posted, and you may never know the reason why. They could use the material you post in ways you never intended or imagined. Or, they could damage your reputation or brand by disseminating that material to their colleagues. And I haven't even covered the potential for idea theft, copyright infringement, or identity theft from posting sensitive information.

It's such a drag to be the voice that says think before you speak, and a hard position to defend when I don't always walk the walk. But the more reflection you give to every post, tweet or snapshot you upload, the less you risk harm to your integrity, business or home tweet home. And that's one to grow on...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Verse: Escapade

(originally posted on Facebook in Oct 2007)

We swim through
the city at night
gliding along fluid neon lines
navigating the narrow confines
of the serrated spires
that rise like coral around us
held aloft
on curlicues of smoke
from cigarettes and chimney tops
looking down on
constellations of flickering headlights
entangled only briefly
by dangling conversations
we come to rest
in windowsills and fire escapes
before we are swept away
like dust
by the wind
drifting in a dense, dreamy mist
until we wake and find ourselves
stranded on these concrete shores

Kenny Rankin - RIP

On a sad note, folk-jazz performer Kenny Rankin passed away. Robert Christgau has credited him with inventing that genre, but I think he meant it pejoratively. Christgau's loss. Despite the disdain that so-called hipsters like Rolling Stone's critics evinced toward Rankin, he was an accomplished writer and astute interpreter. Often, he evoked a mood that I can only describe as akin to spending a weekend in New England in Autumn, and I mean that as a high compliment. Take a moment to read about Rankin and then take a moment to search out some of his recordings. Here he is doing Stevie Wonder's Creepin'

Song of the Day - June 9, 2009

Continuing the Summer Song of the Day series I started on Twitter this week, today's selection is from a guy who got himself out of a Jam to serve on a Style Council. Many Paul Weller fans were reluctant to embrace the soul stylings of The Council. Gien that he had been moving The Jam's sound in that direction, it's hard to see why, at least for the initial releases. Later, the project got bogged down in the same kind of pretension and disdain that was exhibited in the band's liner notes. But for a very brief time - 1983-1985 - Weller and co., served up some very tasty and politically astute soul food that, occasionally, reminded me of Mayfield. Long Hot Summer was among the best. It reminds me a lot of philly soul in a way. Only more bookish and British. Don't let this one pass you by...

Verse: Wordplay

I have it
on good authority
that these words
met by chance once

initially hesitant
and wary, they gradually
warmed to one another
recognizing that
they had much in common

after a long courtship
they consummated
their relationship
and although happy together
they gradually grew
quarreling over
their arrangement

Given to interjections
and occasionally possessive
they found the present tense
and mourned the past
which always seems perfect
in hindsight

Despite abiding affection
and respect
they chose to part
after a short sentence
yet remained
on good terms
reminiscing fondly
on the occasions when
brought together
by fate
about that sweet
brief period

Raitt gives Canadians something to talk about

Truth be told, I feel some degree sympathy for Jasmine MacDonnell. In case you haven't heard of her, she was the communications director for Canada's Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt. I use the past tense because MacDonnell has lost her job after leaving secret files at a TV studio, and misplacing a voice recorder containing a conversation between her and the Minister in the press gallery in Ottawa. Even so, it's understandable that resigned - willingly or with encouragement - last week. Two instances of misplacement involving potentially damaging material and it's hard to see what else she could have done.

What surprised me, as the story began breaking last week, was that MacDonnell is only 26. Given that she must have, at best, four to five years of experience, what were her qualifications to be communications director for a federal minister? Generally, communications directors, particularly for politicos, have a bit more snow on the roof, a few more miles on the road than MacDonnell, right?

Uneducated assumptions aside, MacDonnell was back in the news this week. She went to court with lawyers trying to prevent the Chronicle Herald newspaper from reporting on the contents of the recording left at the press gallery. The bid failed. The resulting article has created more than a few headaches for Raitt. In the recording, she apparently refers to a leak at a nuclear reactor that resulted in a shortage of medical isotopes as 'sexy' and airs her concerns about the ability of federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to do her job. Naturally, the story - and Raitt's comments - have been all over the media today, with a lot of political and public tut-tutting and pooh-poohing.

Allegedly, the conversation between Raitt and MacDonnell was recorded inadvertently, and you have to figure that Raitt assumed her thoughts on the matter were private. But here's the thing. Once you express your thoughts to anyone, there is always the risk they will become public, regardless of circumstances or your expectations of confidentiality. You'd think Raitt, being a public figure, would be well aware of the pitfalls of talking casually, even with close advisers. But she's not the only one to find out that words have a way of travelling beyond a trusted confidant or boardroom.

Raitt's experience is a timely reminder that you should always give due consideration to the message you want to communicate. What is it you are about to say, how will you say it, who will hear it and how will they react? Even if it's a private conversation, imagine what would happen if what you want to say became public. How would your colleagues, the media and consumers interpret it. In essence, choose your words carefully because you never know who is listening. Otherwise, you wind up with attention and scrutiny you don't need.

Speaking of which, you also have to be strategic in whether you try to quash a story such as this. Sometimes, efforts to suppress media coverage create the perception that there's something more to the story than meets the eye - even that you have something you want to hide. Journalists will probe further, potentially uncovering other vulnerabilities about you or your organization that would not have otherwise surfaced. Or, the story garners more coverage, interest and outrage all aimed at you - unwanted and negative attention that is sustained.

So think before you speak. And whatever you do, make sure you always keep your sensitive documents and recordings confidential. That way, you won't give people something to talk about, or wind up singing the blues, like Ms Raitt.

Samsung takes shot in the dark on Ozzy, shows it knows Jack

Watching Ozzy Osbourne devalue himself over the years - going from music's prince of darkness to (unwitting?) class clown - you have to wonder: how much lower he can go? Or how much lower will Sharon encourage him to go?

We've had a reality series. We had the seemingly flop variety show, which somehow managed to be worse than the Brady Bunch fiasco where they swapped Eve Plumb's nuanced Jan for Geri Reischl's Broadway stylings. His past makes him unsuitable to be a kiddie show host. And the likelihood that he might drop trou would make him a horrible team mascot. So that leaves pitchman for your products. The latest being an ad for the Samsung Jack phone.

You might think they called the phone Jack (See what I did there?) because it would make it easier for Ozzy to remember the product's name. Jack being the name of one of Ozzy's brood. Doesn't help that Ozzy seemingly can't pronounce Samsung, which sounds like 'Samson' from his mumbly mouth. Probably should have flossed after eating that dove. (Now there's an idea, Ozzy as spokesperson for Dove soap.) Ads tend to be more effective when your pitchman can enunciate clearly.

As you might expect, Samsung and Ozzy encourage us to laugh at the aging rocker. Ozzy is hard to understand. Ozzy kicks people out and curses at them clearly enough to be understood and bleeped. Ozzy discovers indoor plumbing. Oh, that lovable, slightly house-trained Ozzy. Will your befuddlement ever cease to bring us mirth?

Despite the fact that Ozzy has become a frequent and obvious foil, it is an amusing ad. Funny unless you think we're being encouraged to laugh at the toll that years of hard partying, rock and rolling, and bat eating have taken on his mind. After all, the creative is predicated on a phone so easy to use, even a seemingly addled, wizened rocker can use it. Which makes it the perfect accessory, whether you're committing the ultimate sin, or simply out for the evening to bark (maybe barf, if you're Ozzy) at the moon.

Still, it wasn't the phone I wanted to know more about at the end of the commercial. I wanted to know the name of his hair stylist.