Don’t call it a comeback… unless you want to make us feel worse

I was checking out at the grocery store yesterday (“bloggers – they’re just like us!”) and saw this on the cover of Us Magazine:

TAYLOR SWIFT: MY AMAZING COMEBACK!

Comeback? Excuse me… did I miss something here? Because the last time I checked, Taylor Swift had released five studio albums prior to her latest release, each one coming roughly two years after the previous one (and perfected timed for the late-October/early-November holiday shopping season, might I add)… and the crappiest selling one of them is quadruple platinum.

Am I the new Rip Van Winkle? Have I been asleep for the 20 years when Taylor Swift fell out of the public eye?

            

Have I entered a Twilight Zone where her every dalliance isn’t documented on a daily basis?

Are we now living in an alternate reality where T-Swizzle lost her entire $250 million fortune on orange juice futures?

What exactly is Taylor Swift’s “amazing comeback”? Coming back from her own private island, perhaps. Her newest release just sold 1.2 million copies in a week… in a day and age when people don’t buy music anymore.

Can’t wait for next week’s issue of Us, maybe they’ll have another great feature like:

Scrooge McDuck: My Amazing Rags to Riches Story!

 

Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy

On Friday morning I saw a very life-affirming presentation… from an expert on dying. Cole Imperi is a designer, but she’s also a thanatologist… an expert in death, dying and bereavement. And she has a great hairstyle.

She spoke at the Creative Mornings monthly breakfast lecture, about Big Death vs. Little Death (the former is when someone passes away, but the latter can be any significant change in life – a divorce, losing a job, etc. – and we need to mourn those too) and Big Voice (your ego) vs. Little Voice (your passion/purpose). She has spent countless hours with folks who are dying, and she said you can see the regret on their face, and 99% of the time it’s about things they didn’t do but wished they had.

Cole also had us all write a quick obituary, following the standard form (name, age, city of residence, job, hobbies, etc.). Then she asked if any of us felt like our obituary was perfect – we had accomplished everything we wanted to in our lives. Of course no one in the audience felt that way. So the good news is, we’re not dead yet.

We still have time to do what truly drives us. After all, as Dylan said, “he not busy being born is busy dying.”

Cole believes that better living comes from knowing dying. Jason Isbell covers that territory beautifully in a song from his new album, “If We Were Vampires.” Watch the interview after the song when they talk about the line “maybe time running out is a gift.” As Jason says, “maybe the best thing of all is death, because that’s the only reason any of us get up in the morning. It’s the only reason any of us fall in love. It’s the only reason any of us care about anything…. is because one day we’re gonna be dead.”

Happy Life Day! But not this Life Day:

 

 

 

Five-fidgety-finger discount

A couple of our kids deliver a weekly community newspaper… actually it’s just Gabriel now, Peter had to “retire” due to his work and sports schedules (pizza joint and bowling team, respectively, if you’re keeping score at home). Let’s just say the Forest Hills Journal will never be mistaken for the New York Times…. or the New York Post for that matter. Whereas the Times covers “all the news that’s fit to print,” the Forest Hills Journal‘s motto is “all the news that fits, we print.” But it’s great if you’re a Gladys Kravitz nosy neighbor type.

Each week they list all the home sales in the area, so you can find out exactly what that house down the street sold for. And they also have each municipality’s police report. This week, the Fairfax neighborhood was heavy on theft, especially in the 4000 block of Red Bank Road:

My favorite is Theft of figget spinner. I’ve heard of fidget spinners – they’re as ubiquitous as the Kardashians these days, and their popularity is just as inexplicable — but figget spinners must be extra fancy if they get their own category of theft. Maybe they are fidget spinners made out of gold nuggets.

Or better yet, fidget spinners covered in Fig Newtons.

I can see why someone might get sticky fingers (literally and figuratively) with those.

And why the major crime wave in the 4000 block of Red Bank Road? Need you even ask:

 

Monday I’ve got Friday on my mind

I’ve waxed poetic (OK, it was un-poetic… so sue me) about the death of Thanksgiving in previous years. It’s the only “pure” holiday left – a day set aside for gathering with friends and family to give thanks, with no (purse)strings attached. But since retailers can’t sell you something you don’t need on that day, they ignore it. As soon as the clock strikes midnight on All Hallows’ Eve (the “sell them candy and costumes and party supplies” holiday), retailers hit fast forward and skip right to Christmas (the “sell them everything that isn’t bolted down” holiday).

The day after Thanksgiving usually marked the starting point for the onslaught of the relentless retailing race. But every year, there are more retailers jumping the gun in an unceasing effort to get inside your pants (because your wallet is there, that’s all).

In the past couple of years, “Closed on Thanksgiving Day” has fallen by the wayside. This year it’s “Black Friday NOW!” mania, as witnessed by the ads in yesterday’s newspaper:

Believe it or not, I’m actually in favor of this trend. Because if “Black Friday” moves up to early November, maybe all the crass commercialism will be over before Thanksgiving, and we can actually enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas without the shopping hassles. Doesn’t that sound refreshing? So, without further ado, a couple of tunes for your shopping pleasure…

 

 

“You’ve got mail”

“Email can be fun!”… said no person ever. Actually, it can be fun. My old pal Steve Roemer runs a company in Greater Chicago that helps clients liquidate old machinery, equipment and inventory – not exactly the sexiest, most glamorous gig in the world, right? But his latest email to clients/potential clients shows that adding a little levity can get attention.

First he uses a fun subject line: Holy Sheet Metal Fabrication Facility Auction, Batman! If you’re a person of a certain age (and chances are most of his clients fit that demographic) that subject line is pure gold. Even if you didn’t grow up watching Adam West and Burt Ward in the campy Batman TV show, the “holy sheet” should grab you by the eyeballs and bring a smile to your face.

Subject lines are so important in marketing emails, and most marketers don’t give them any thought at all. They spend all their time on the body of the email – neglecting the fact that if you don’t have an intriguing subject line, the email might get deleted instantly, without the recipient even looking at the body copy. We’ve all done it: if you’re staring at an inbox with hundreds of emails, chances are you’re gonna click on the ones with engaging subject lines first.

Then Steve pays off the subject line with a fun visual, and some punchy (literally) body copy:

He throws in some compelling photos for eye candy:

And adds a few bullet points that highlight what his company offers:

In the words of the greatest TV sportscaster of all time:

 

In my day job, I send out a weekly all-company email, a digest of what’s happening around the company – HR reminders, meeting alerts, general “need to know” information, etc. In most companies, that’s an express ticket to Snoozeville. Most Boring Email Ever.

But I throw in goofy pictures, memes, links to obscure YouTube clips. I crack jokes, I poke fun at our executives. I put funny captions underneath photos of employees. Here’s are a couple of examples:

Movember is still growing strong… in some ways
Judging by the lip rugs we’ve seen around the office (and can never un-see…my eyes!), the 84.51° Movember teams are better at fundraising than hair-raising. Help them crush their goal with a quick contribution:
Image result for cheesy mustache

We have a section called “Celebrity Lookalikes” where we compare an employee to a famous person. And sometimes it morphs into “Celebrity Soundalikes”:

It’s always silly, it can sometimes be downright stupid… but the readership rate is off the charts. I can’t tell you how many folks have said “at my old jobs, I never used to read the corporate emails because they were so boring, but I really like reading yours.” That’s by design. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Or as one of my heroes Hugh MacLeod puts it:

Life’s too short to read boring emails.

 

 

Johnny B. Good. Very good.

“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”

“Hello, I’m Johnny Clegg.”

No doubt you’ve heard of (and heard the music of) the former. Chances are, you’re not familiar with the latter. But Johnny Cash is to country music as Johnny Clegg is to South African music. A pioneer, a trailblazer, a true icon. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to call him the Nelson Mandela of music. Back in the Apartheid era, teenage Johnny crossed color lines to learn music and dancing from Zulu men in Johannesburg, and eventually brought it to the world.

“They knew something about being a man, which they could communicate physically in the way that they danced and carried themselves. And I wanted to be able to do the same thing. Basically, I wanted to become a Zulu warrior. And in a very deep sense, it offered me an African identity. It was like a homecoming for me; I don’t know why, but I felt that.”

When he formed an integrated band – Juluka – with Sipho Mchunu, they couldn’t even play in public at first.  Eventually they landed a record deal and toured the world.

When Sipho got homesick and left for his Zululand home, Johnny formed a new band called Savuka, which means “We Have Risen” in Zulu. His songs were at the forefront of the fight for equality in South Africa.

“You could not ignore what was going on. The entire Savuka project was based in the South African experience and the fight for a better quality of life and freedom for all.”

One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen was Johnny Clegg & Savuka at a club in Cincinnati, circa 1993. For some strange, mystical reason, I too wanted to become a Zulu warrior that night. And I can’t dance worth a damn. The passion, the energy, the “goodness” emanating from Johnny and his band was palpable, and the tsunami of positive vibes swept up the whole crowd. “I don’t know why, but I felt that.”

Johnny Cash is gone. Johnny Clegg will be gone soon – he’s battling pancreatic cancer. He just wrapped up a brief U.S. tour and has headed home to South Africa, with one more gig in Cape Town lined up for this year.

NPR has a nice profile of Johnny’s career. (The quotes in this post are from that piece.) Please check it out.

Thank you Johnny, for sharing your music and your love with the world. Don’t stop dancing.

 

Hey kids, Dad is on the Facegram and the Tweetbook!

A new dad-centric, humor-based website called The Dad launched yesterday.

And I’m happy to say that I’m a contributor to the hijinks. (Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too!) The Executive Editor is a former co-worker of mine, and he was familiar with my irreverent all-company emails (there’s a phrase that doesn’t get tossed around too much), so he invited me to submit stuff for the new site.

Thus far, I’ve only contributed memes to the mix. Like this gem:

Heck yeah I ‘liked’ my own creation… vanity, thy name is dubbatrubba.

Yes, I realize I’m contributing to the dumbing down of America, nay, the world, by creating “content” that consists of goofy pictures and a caption. But it’s “shareable” and that’s how the world wide web works these days (or so I’m told). Eventually I hope to contribute a few Dave-Barry-style articles as well, maybe the random goofy video. 20 years removed from writing and performing comedy on The Gary Burbank Show on radio, it’s nice to be able to stretch those humor muscles once again. Now please hand me the Icy Hot… or better yet the Absorbine Jr.

Please check out The Dad online often, subscribe to the newsletter, and share it with your friends. Or your enemies if you don’t care for it. Thanks!

https://www.thedad.com

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/thedadonline

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Baller status

My oldest son wrapped up his football career this past weekend, on Senior Day at his high school.

He had never played organized football before his sophomore year. His school is small to begin with, and the number of players trying out for football keeps shrinking (the specter of CTE looms large, plus lacrosse and club soccer are gaining in popularity), so during his sophomore year they couldn’t field a JV team. That meant he spent his entire first season busting his butt in practice with zero chance of ever being on the field. In his junior year, he played for the JV squad. It would be easy to get discouraged when you’re older than most of your teammates, but he kept working. Off-season lifting. Two-a-days. Practice virtually the entire year… in addition to holding down two jobs this summer.

This past season, he started at right tackle for the varsity, played every offensive snap, and wound up making 2nd team all-conference. I’ve always been a bit anti-football as a parent… I DO worry about concussions and other injuries. But I have to admit that his football experience will serve him well in the game of life… you have to be patient, you have put in the hard work before you can reap the rewards, and there will be setbacks along the way… the ol’ “nothing good comes easy” adage. And I’m sure some of the friendships he formed on the gridiron will last a lifetime.

I’m super-duper proud of him (but not proud of the fact that I just used “super-duper” in a sentence). And I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the kid who was #76 in the program, but #1 in our hearts.

An Uber-relaxing weekend

This past weekend was Uber-relaxing for me… except I don’t find being an Uber driver (and an unpaid one at that) very relaxing.

  1. Friday afternoon: Pick up Peter from his class field trip at Northern Kentucky University, drive him home.
  2. Take Leah to the thrift shop so she could look for Halloween costumes, then drive her back home, just in time to…
  3. Take Peter to his job at the pizza parlor, and get home just in time to…
  4. Take Andrew and his friend to the junior high dance at school.
  5. Bring home Andrew, his friend and another friend (guess that kid’s parents found out about our complimentary ride policy), as well as Leah, who was attending the football game. Drop each kid off at their respective home.
  6. Saturday afternoon: drive Leah to a friend’s house so she could get ready for a classmate’s Halloween party
  7. Saturday evening: pick up Leah and 3 friends at the party, and drive them all back to their homes.

7 trips, a total of 14 different stops… $0 earned. I need more hustle in my side hustle.

Good thing these kids don’t know that I failed my taxi driver test:

 

Win or go home… actually more like win AND go home

Sorry to have back to back blog posts about baseball (you’re getting very sleepy….), but the recent spate of manager firings seems preposterous.

Dusty Baker – you finished first in your division in both years as manager of the Washington Nationals.  Congratulations! Oh, and one other thing:

John Farrell – you made the playoffs 3 of the 5 years that you managed the Red Sox  – including this year (and one of the other years you were out with lymphoma) – and won a World Series. Great job. P.S.:

P.P.S. We’re replacing you with someone who has zero managerial experience. Here’s some salt for your wound.

Joe Girardi – your Yankees made the playoffs in 6 of your 10 years at the helm, you won a World Series, and you lost in 7 games to the AL champion Astros this year. Fantastic. Here’s a gift for you:

Seems like anything short of winning the World Series is grounds for dismissal these days. That’s absurd. You can do a masterful job managing 25 millionaires over a 162-game season, but if your team is edged out in a 5- or 7-game playoff series by another squad that’s slightly better, slightly luckier, slightly hotter or all of the above, you get the axe?

I hope the Yanks, Red Sox and Nats all stink next year… that would be karma.