We’re through being cool

When I think of plastic hair helmets, I think of the band Devo. (Don’t we all?)

But the old codgers who exercise at the same rec center that I do always insist on having one of the TVs in the fitness room tuned to Fox News (a.k.a. Faux News). It’s actually good for my health, because I get so worked up about the tripe spewing from the talking-heads-with-trumped-up-talking-points that my heart rate is elevated before I even start my workout.

Having (unwillingly) seen many hours of these broadcasts, I realized that Fox anchors have Devo-style hair helmets too:

And if you peel back the onion, and study a bit about Devo, and what they are all about…

The name Devo comes from their concept of ‘de-evolution‘—the idea that instead of continuing to evolve, mankind has actually begun to regress, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society.”[8]

Devo’s music and stage shows mingle kitsch science fiction themes, deadpan surrealist humor and mordantly satirical social commentary.

… you realize that Fox News is the greatest ongoing Devo performance of all time. Well played, Spudboys!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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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Wake me when it’s over

“One of the craziest games you will ever see” said the TV announcer

“Wasn’t that the best game ever!?” said the Astros’ third baseman.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster” said the Dodgers’ manager.

“This is an instant classic and to be part of it is pretty special” said the Astros’ starting pitcher.

“The craziest game that I’ve ever played in” said the Astro who hit the game-winning two-run homer in the 11th inning.

8 home runs – a World Series record – including three by the Astros in extra innings, also a postseason record for any team. A game-tying home run on an 0-2 pitch in the top of the 9th against a closer who was previously untouchable.

And I didn’t see a lick of it.

My dad was a huge Dodgers fan, so I’m happy they’re in the World Series. I spent several summers in Houston and have relatives there – even went to one of my first MLB games at the Astrodome waaay back when – so I’m happy they’re in too. But the games start past 8 p.m. and typically go until midnight (or later when it’s extra innings). I know I won’t be able to see the ending, so why bother with the early innings? It’s like walking out on Star Wars before Luke flies toward the Death Star.

I know TV ratings (and revenue) rule the roost, but if MLB wants to capture the attention and hearts of the next generation of fans, they need to figure out a way to start the at least a couple of the World Series games earlier, or else it’s just the sound of one hand clapping.

 

Everything I need to know, I learned from the funny papers

Confession: I’m 52 years old, and I still read the comic strips first when I get the Sunday newspaper. (Kids, ask your grandparents what a ‘newspaper’ is.)

This past Sunday, there were two comic strips that I found quite profound… tucked in among the usual banal suspects like Beetle Bailey and Hi & Lois.

Pearls Before Swine is consistently very good, and Stephan Pastis really struck a nerve with this one:

Non Sequitur is another standout strip, and this one was outstanding:

You can keep your philosophy books… I’ll take my life lessons in nine panels or less, thank you very much.

Saturday morning cartoons

Saw this video earlier this week and it cracked me up. Hope you like it too:

 

Go-Go-Godin

I go to a lot of concerts every year. Yesterday I saw a different kind of rock star. Seth Godin is marketing wizard, a best-selling author, a brilliant blogger and one of the best public speakers I’ve ever seen.

Yes, this guy rocks!

He was in Cincinnati yesterday to give the keynote speech at an event called “Brandemonium” (because all of the good names are taken, apparently).

His presentation was ostensibly about how consumer brands can better connect with customers in the digital age. But really it was about life. About generosity. About art. About connecting. About overcoming fear.

His presenting style should be required viewing for any public speaker. Way too many folks try to cram a bunch of bullet points, charts and graphs onto their PowerPoint slides, and they wind up being a huge distraction to the audience… and a crutch for the speaker. Seth uses compelling visuals (one per slide) and a sprinkling of text to move his narrative along, so you can focus on the story instead of the charts and graphs.

I set up a blog a few years ago, and created a whopping total of about five blog posts in the first 18 months of its existence. Then Seth issued a “blog post a day for one week” challenge via his own blog, and that was exactly the kickstart I needed. (So if you don’t like dubbatrubba.com, blame Seth, not me!) He taught me that if you keep waiting for “perfect” you’ll squander your talent (using that term very loosely). “Ship your product” in Seth’s parlance means creating something and putting it out into the world.

I highly recommend you subscribe to Seth’s blog. You’ll get a daily email containing his latest blog post – most posts take just a minute or two to read, but the food for thought will sustain you all day long.

I know I sound like a fanboy. Because I am. You should be too.

We’re down one clown

A few days ago, the guy who played Bozo The Clown on TV in Arkansas during my childhood passed away. I vividly remember watching the show. I even more vividly remember thinking “this is cheesy” even in my not-fully-developed brain. The wacky hair. The obvious scull cap. The goofy “no right answer” questions he’d ask the kids, like “Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?” or “How smart is your mother, 100 or 45?”

Back in those pre-historic days, a tape recorder served as an entertainment outlet for my siblings and me. The first “comedy” tape (using the term very loosely) we ever made featured several Bozo parodies. But watching the tribute segments and reading the obits, I have a newfound respect for Gary Weir, the Arkansas Bozo for more than 25 years. He clearly enjoyed the work, and made sure that the kids felt special.

 

There’s a lot to be said for giving your all at your job, and focusing on your customers instead of yourself… even if your role is to be the clown.

Marketing 101

“Give your product an appealing name”

“Make sure the product photo doesn’t look like dog poop”