Cutting the cord

We dumped cable. Dropped it like a two-foot putt. Because I’m tired of paying a ton of money for it each month when I rarely watch it and the kids almost never watch it. I’m also tired of cable companies that offer better deals to new customers than to loyal customers. 

I’ve considered cutting the cord before, but never really found a Sling/Hulu/Netflix combo that had all the channels we wanted… live sports were using the missing link.

But YouTube TV has most of the channels we watch (no HGTV… much to my wife’s dismay… and my delight) and costs $40 a month. We dumped the TV and phone part of our cable “triple play,” kept our internet and signed up for YouTube TV. Now we’re saving about $80 every month. Sure, the picture isn’t quite as crystal-clear, and sometimes there’s a second or two of buffering, but that’s a small price to pay for paying a much smaller price. 

Cable providers are going to have to come up with a more enticing package than “get it cheap for a year, then pay through both nostrils.” If not, they’ll go the way of Blockbuster Video stores. 

Cornering the market on weird names

Believe it or not, I actually have to pay money to operate this blog. But I do it gladly so that you, the few, the proud, the dubbatrubba blog faithful, can get your semi-weekly dose of semi-coherent ramblings. You’re welcome (not sure if I should punctuate this with a question mark or an exclamation point…maybe I’ll do both)?!  

The company from which I bought the dubbatrubba.com domain (surprisingly, there was no bidding war…) is always trying to sell “extras” to me. Their latest pitch gave me pause: 

Whoa, I can actually get rubbadubba.com too? I’m thinking I should lock it down, and corner the market on goofy names. Perhaps later I can sell rubbadubba.com at a profit to Three Men In A Tub, LLC. 

But what really got me was the fact that “dubbatrubba.com” isn’t considered a premium domain, yet “batrepellant.com” is. 

Guess I’ll have to spend the weekend figuring out other ways to “monetize” my site. 

Save a forest without chaining yourself to a tree

This was dumped on my driveway recently:

So I’m dredging up a post from 2015 that’s still relevant today.

Every year, someone would drop a two-ton Yellow Pages book on our front porch… and they’d drop one on the porch of every other house on our street. And on every street in the neighborhood, the city, and the world for all I know. Seriously? Who uses the Yellow Pages print edition anymore? Marty McFly? Are they looking up “Betamax Repair Shop” in it?

BetaMax

Are they trying to hire a private investigator?

rockford_yp_ad2_by_aaron_tuell-d63w5ne (1)

Our gargantuan edition went directly from our front porch to the recycle bin, just like it has for the past  decade. But the prime directive of the green living trifecta is “reduce” (then reuse, with recycle as the last, least efficient option). So I found out that we can opt out of Yellow Pages print delivery. You can too. “Let your fingers do the walking” (archaic video reference is below) on your computer keyboard, and sign up here: https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/.

Tell your neighbors about the opt-out option too – based on the heft of the YP tome, we can save a tree or two per house, easily.

treehugger-love

 

 

 

Art for art’s sake, not for Martin’s sake.

Band of Horses was in town last night, playing a sold out show at Bogart’s. Having seen them seven times already, in seven different venues, in four different cities (including an amazing acoustic set/electric set show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville), I decided to sit this one out. So did my friend Dale Doyle (the original d2), who has joined me at five of those gigs. But Dale’s an artist, a graphic designer by trade, so he made an oversized gig poster just for grins.

Simply brilliant!

I had the pleasure of working with Dale for five years at Landor (where I also worked with other amazing artists like Keith Neltner and Tommy Sheehan). Dale was at Landor for 23 years, working his way up from entry-level designer to Executive Creative Director, thanks to his skills and his dedication to the craft. His reward for all those years of service? He was unceremoniously dumped earlier this summer. Call it layoffs or budget cuts, or a “reduction in force” or a “restructuring”… to paraphrase Shakespeare, bullsh*t by any other name would still smell as stinky. (Sorry Big Willie!)

Yes, Landor’s Cincinnati office was struggling to make their numbers, and that’s part of the equation. But the other part is why their “numbers” were probably unattainable in the first place. Landor is merely a cog in the universe of WPP, a publicly-traded company that’s the world’s largest advertising conglomerate. It owns scads of well-known ad agencies, brand consultancies, PR firms, media buying companies and digital agencies. For 33 years, WPP was run by Martin Sorrell, a man whose ambition was outstripped only by his ego. A shark who swallowed up other ad agencies whole, usually via hostile takeovers. A man whom advertising legend David Ogilvy called “an odious little sh*t.” A person who could squeeze blood out of a turnip, and was never satisfied with the revenue numbers and profit margins of the dozens of companies and hundreds of offices under his thumb. Last year, “Sir Martin” (he was knighted in his native England) earned 70 million pounds. His net worth is listed as 495 million pounds.

Artist’s representation of Sir Martin

Creative artists like Dale are a dime a dozen to him, and if it came down to keeping a Dale or earning an extra nickel, he’d take the latter every time.

Dale did get a severance, so he has a few months to figure out his next move. He also has a freedom he hasn’t enjoyed in two decades. The freedom to create art whenever the muse strikes. To use his talents for self-expression rather than marketing campaigns. To make a band poster just because. You can’t put a price tag on that.

Oh, and what of our friend Sir Martin? He was sacked by the WPP board earlier this summer over allegations of “personal misconduct.”

 

 

 

Writing is editing

This coffee mug pretty much sums up my work life over the past couple of decades:

“This tastes bitter…”

HT to my old ad agency pal BJ Hicks for sending the photo my way.

Thanks (is worth) a million!

Marketing doesn’t have to be all algorithms, browser cookies and geo-tracking. The human touch will always be more memorable.

A few weeks ago, we needed a new faucet installed in our kitchen, and the shutoff valves below needed to be replaced as well. (I can do the former, but the latter is well beyond my DIY skills.) I found a local plumbing company that came highly recommended on NextDoor (like a Facebook for neighborhoods). Everyone I talked to, from the office manager who fielded my initial call to the plumber who came to our house, was friendly. About a week after the service call, I received a thank you card from them via “snail mail.”

I’ve used plenty of different plumbing companies over the years, and this is the first one to send me an honest-to-goodness thank you. On paper! In the mail! Who does that anymore? You’d better believe they’re on speed dial for all future repairs. And while robots may take over many jobs in the coming years, I don’t think I’ll ever trust a Roomba lookalike to replace two water shutoff valves under my kitchen sink. So the plumber’s investment in a single, solitary thank you card will earn them hundreds of dollars. (But not anytime soon, I hope!)

Yesterday I got the new Wussy album What Heaven is Like in the mail from the band’s record label, Shake It. Included with the CD that I ordered were a hand-written thank-you note and a postcard.

It probably took about 30 seconds to scribble out the thank you note, and another 10 to grab the promo postcard (clearly an homage to Springsteen’s debut album) and package it up with the album. Extra time in the era of efficiency – would Jeff Bezos approve? Doubtful.

But those 40 seconds will pay off for years to come, in the goodwill they generate, in the warm fuzzy feeling you get from “hey, they took the time to thank me by name… that’s cool!” Shake It started as a local label, releasing albums by artists that they were passionate about, before branching out to set up a bricks and mortar record store too.  A record label and a record store… talk about tilting at millennial windmills! They know they can’t go toe-to-toe with Amazon on pricing, or compete with Spotify on music delivery. But by providing a personal touch, by caring about the music, engaging true fans, helping them dig deeper into their passions and exposing them to new artists, they can carve out a nice niche for themselves:

We carry some mainstream releases, but we specialize in independent labels from the obvious to the obscure – Chicago post-punk art-rock to Ethiopian boog-a-loo and all stops in between – rockabilly, vintage soul, r&b & blues, punk/hardcore, classic country & the best of the new breed, 60’s garage & psych, reggae/dub/rocksteady & vintage ska, krautrock, creative hip-hop & electronica, tons of straight ahead rock n’ roll & “alternative”, plus vintage bop, cool & avant garde jazz, cult soundtracks, Afrobeat/funk, “difficult listening” and much more. We’re introducing new releases and back catalog items every day, so there’s always something new in the bins.

You can keep your algorithms. I’ll stick with the handshakes.

Reviews of the new album are here and here(this one from my friend Gil Kaufman, who writes for Billboard). You can order it from Shake It here.

 

Evel. Pure evil.

As a 70s kid, I grew up with Evel Knievel on the brain. Motorcycle stuntman extraordinaire. (But “Skycycle” failure.)

It was the 70s. ‘Nuff said.

A perennial performer on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Jumping fountains, jumping buses, jumping a pool of sharks before Fonzie did.

Before Bodyglove wetsuits existed, people often wore their leather jackets in the ocean.

Evel was all the rage, and so were his toys.

Naturally my brother and I would attempt to emulate Evel. Usually that involved setting up a piece of plywood on a log as a makeshift ramp and attempting to jump over some obstacle on our Schwinn bikes with slick back tires and banana seats.

But once we just decided to try a long jump – sans bicycles – in our living room. We marked out a launch line and would track our landing spots, trying to jump a bit farther with each attempt (and probably making motorcycle “vroom-vroom” sounds with every launch). On my final attempt (and the reason it was final will become perfectly clear by the end of this sentence), I set a new record… but in true homage to my hero Evel, I got a bit wobbly on the landing, stumbled, lost my balance, and tried to stop my fall… by putting my hand through one of the panes in a living room window.

Luckily, my hand came out unscathed. But the window wasn’t as lucky. Because my father wasn’t much of a handyman and our meager household budget didn’t have room for repairs, we just thumbtacked a Hefty garbage bag over the missing windowpane. That damn garbage bag was up for years, a constant reminder of my failed stuntman career. Which is why I force my kids to take out the trash… the Cinch-Sak memories are simply too painful.

Why do you taunt me so?

On a brighter note, a few decades later, I stumbled again… but this time it was stumbling across a true gem of an album.

If you ever see this album at a flea market, buy it! It has excerpts of Evel interviews prior to the ill-fated Snake River Jump, and even a song sung by Evel himself (and I’m using the term “sung” very liberally). The album wraps up with this lovely ballad (and by “lovely” I mean “cheesier than a pound of Swiss”).

He can move a mountain

Leap across a winding river

Once he’s made his mind up, there’s nothing he won’t try

There’s something deep inside him, lusting for the thrills that drive him.

Yet he knows someday he’s gonna have to face that canyon in the sky.

I miss you, Evel. The world needs more risk-takers like you. And stronger windows.

 

Odds and ends

Some photo phun (and one deep thought) to start your week:

Only in California can there be such a thing as an “organic” blow dry. It’s just air, right?

 

G is for ground, and S is for… Second Floor? Maybe it’s the Willy Wonka elevator and it stands for Space…

If it’s truly a hand-picked team, why are they looking for folks to apply? They must not be very good at hand-picking. 

 

Love the “diversity” shot, but the kid on the lower left looks like he is being held hostage.

 

Clearly the language has changed since this album was released.

 

I wish another small, Jesuit university had made the Final Four, but this is a nice consolation prize. Ramble on!

But seriously…

[No need for a caption on this one.]

 

 

Addicted to this Pot, Instantly

My named is dubbatrubba, and I’m addicted to the Instant Pot. 

It’s a combination slow cooker/pressure cooker/rice maker/steamer/yogurt maker… I think it might even play karaoke tunes – I’ll have to check the manual.

I couldn’t help myself – all the cool kids were doing it, and I succumbed to the peer pressure. Oh, and there’s also the fact that a lot of recipes that used to take hours now take mere minutes. Hence the “Instant” part of the name.

A co-worker was the one who introduced me to it. She kept bringing in her lunches and raving about how good they tasted, and how easy they were to make. Her recipe for lentil chili is killer, dude! Of course, she’s a darn good cook even without the Instant Pot.

Now I can’t go a day without using it. As a veg-head, it comes in very handy. I make a big ol’ batch of black beans every week. I used to have to make them on weekends, because they take 10 hours in the crock pot. Now it takes less than an hour. I’ve also whipped up red beans with veggie sausage, the aforementioned lentil chili, curried lentils, mashed potatoes and a batch of veggie chili. It comes in handy when cooking for my 16-year-old son (the fitness freak) too. He eats chicken for lunch and salmon for dinner every doggone day, and it used to be a laborious process of thawing and baking. Now we can go from frozen to finished in less than an hour. We also use it for brown rice and hard-boiled eggs. And I’ve merely scratched the (cooking) surface of what it can do. Seriously!

I think you might even be able to make brownies, but searching for Instant Pot Brownies might get me busted in Ohio.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m jonesing. I need to go make another meal. Be back in an Instant!

 

 

 

The Creative Process, as explained by a penguin

I love comic strips. Wait, let me qualify that: I love good comic strips. Not the lame, one-tired-joke ones like Marmaduke and Beetle Bailey.

He’s a giant dog who acts human… hilarity rarely ensues.

One of my favorites is This Modern World – it’s a weekly strip that appears in Cincinnati’s weekly alternative paper, CityBeat (as well as 80 other papers, and online at The NationDaily Kos and The Nib).

Author Tom Tomorrow (a.k.a. Dan Perkins) typically deals with political satire, and those strips are brilliant – hence such honors as being a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist, 2013 Herblock Prize winner and winning the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Cartooning in 1998 and 2003. But one of his recent ones was about the creative process, and I loved it.

This pretty much sums up how my blog posts are created. And it shows.