What’s in a name? My childhood memories, that’s what.

First things first: I believe the Islamic State terrorist group is a rotten bunch of evil-doers.

Secondly, because of Point #1 above, I prefer that they be referred to as ISIL, not ISIS. Because I grew up watching Saturday morning TV in the 70s, so when I hear the name “Isis” I think of a cheesy show from back in the day:


Please don’t sully my childhood memories of Andrea and her ancient amulet by associating her alter ego with a terrorist organization. Not only was Isis Captain Marvel’s best friend, she was also a “dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of truth and justice!” Oh, and a darn fine rhymer.

O zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly.

The real Isis also brought a message of peace:

BTW, Secrets of Isis was the first weekly American live-action television series with a female superhero as the lead character (predating the weekly debuts of both Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman). And, the Isis character was created because the producers didn’t want to have to pay a comic book company for rights to an existing female superhero. In an interesting turnabout, DC Comics wound up acquiring the rights to publish an Isis comic book.

In interviews, series star JoAnna Cameron has stated that she hated working with the black raven on the series and asked the producers several times if they could write him out of the script.


If you have 20 minutes to kill, check out this heaping helping of cheese… the bear costume is so bad it’s good!


1 + 16 > 45




Happy President’s Day!

The media’s a circus, but we don’t have to be the clowns

Marketing guru Seth Godin really nailed it in his recent post about the growth of commercial media. And “growth” in this case means it’s spreading like a cancer. You should read the entire thing, and subscribe to Seth’s daily blog because he always offers some tasty food for thought.

But here (in italics) are a few excerpts I found particularly insightful:

They sow dissatisfaction—advertising increases our feeling of missing out, and purchasing offers a momentary respite from that dissatisfaction.

Much of that dissatisfaction is about more vs. enough, about moving up a commercial ladder that’s primarily defined by things that can be purchased. It’s possible to have far more than your grandparents did but still be deeply unhappy believing that you don’t have enough.

Hence a new iPhone release every year.

The media likes events and circuses and bowl games, because they have a beginning and an ending, and because they can be programmed and promoted. They invite us into the situation room, alarm us with breaking news and then effortlessly move onto the next crisis.

Hence the stories about shark attacks every summer, even though you have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime.

And now they’re being gamed at their own game, because the artificial scarcity that was created by the FCC has been replaced by a surplus and a race to the bottom, with no gatekeepers and with plenty of advertisers willing to pay for any shred of attention.

Intellectual pursuits don’t align with the options that media would rather have us care about.

A walk in the woods with a friend or your kids does the media-industrial complex no good at all. It’s sort of the opposite of pro wrestling.

Books are the lowest form of media (too slow, too long-lasting, no sponsors, low profit) while instant-on, always-on social networks are about as good as it gets. For the media.

If you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

Hence “click bait” headlines, fake news and trolling. In the 60’s Timothy Leary encouraged us to “turn on, tune in, drop out” but now it should be “turn off, tune out, drop back into the real world.”



Graeter’s Ice Cream is a family-owned company that has been a part of Cincinnati since 1870. Their small batch (hand-swirled in two-gallon “French Pot” containers), artisanal ice cream flavors have made them a local icon, and won the taste buds and hearts of ice cream aficionados from coast to coast. Their Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip flavor is far and away their most popular flavor.

Braxton Brewing Company is a family-owned company that has only been around a couple of years in Covington, KY, just across the river from downtown Cincinnati.

Last night, Braxton and Graeter’s unveiled their collaboration beer – Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Milk Stout.


The Braxton taproom was packed for the official tapping and release party. Lines went around the block, even in the frigid weather.

I went, partly to get my grubby paws on a couple of four-packs. Partly to witness the sheer spectacle of it. But mainly because I know the family that owns Braxton. I work with Greg Rouse, who is a print production genius at our company in his day job. His older son Jake interned with us several years ago, during the summer after his junior year of college. He graduated from Indiana University’s prestigious Kelley School of Business with a degree in Entrepreneurship and Corporate Innovation. Greg’s younger son Evan is the wunderkind brewer of the family, starting out homebrewing in the garage of their home on Braxton Avenue (hence the brewery name) and winning all sorts of awards. When Jake graduated from college, it completely made sense for them to start a brewery, with Jake as the “hustler,” Evan as the “hacker” and Greg as the production wizard (sourcing and negotiating prices on everything from hops to bar stools to old-fashioned ice cream parlor milkshake glasses for the Graeter’s beer). And Greg’s wife Tina helps run the taproom. They’re such great people, and I’m thrilled for them. Greg is a very no-nonsense kind of guy, but he’s admitted several times what a thrill it is to be able to work with his sons in a successful business.

Three cheers for family-owned companies. Braxton, may you continue to thrive a century from now, just like your friends at Graeter’s.

P.S. The beer is mighty tasty. The four-pack above is no longer a four-pack. Or even a three-pack. Chocolate is good for you, right?


What this country needs is a dream… and a matching t-shirt

Love the latest t-shirt from Neil deGrasse Tyson. Get yours here: https://represent.com/ndt/neil-degrasse-tyson-lets-make-america-smart-again-the-cosmic-perspective?store=startalkIn



Here’s the definition of traveling from the NBA Rule Book:

Section XIV-Traveling
a. A player who receives the ball while standing still may pivot, using either foot as the pivot foot.
b. A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may use a two-count rhythm in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.

But NBA officials rarely call traveling, especially on superstar players. Watch this clip below where Russell Westbrook takes about 5 steps before dribbling. What’s funny to me is how long it takes the ref to call it… seems like he only does it because the opposing team (and coach) are screaming for it… and how Westbrook gives the ref some side-eye after the call, like it was a bad call, when clearly he walked halfway across California.



2017 theme song

Ralph Lee “Mac” McCaughan is:

  1. the lead singer of Superchunk, a band I adore
  2. the lead singer of Portastatic, another great band
  3. a solo artist
  4. co-founder/owner of Merge Records, a bastion of indie rock and arguably the only decent semi-major label around.
  5. an insightful political commentator

Put them all together and you have this gem of a glass-half-full song for 2017: “Happy New Year (Prince Can’t Die Again)”


E.T., don’t phone home

Last night, a minor modern-day miracle occurred, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. (Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back.) I met up with four other adults for dinner and during the course of a two-hour meal, none of us pulled out our cell phones. Shocking! Amazing! Incredible! The five of us were connected by our work on freelance projects, but two of the folks there had never met each other before, and I’d met one person there just once previously, more than a year ago. So we weren’t exactly besties… which you would think would make us more prone to turn to the phone. But somehow we managed to muddle through, carrying on what is called a “conversation.” (Look it up, millenials. And try it someday!)

It made me think of a couple of things I’ve recently read about our phone addiction. Here’s an email from marketing guru Seth Godin:


And here’s an excerpt from Talking As Fast As I Can, a new book from Lauren Graham, where she’s channeling her inner old fogey, whom she calls “Old Lady Jackson”:


Amen, Old Lady Jackson. Stop by anytime for a cup of tea. We’ll chew the fat… and we won’t take a photo of the fat first to post on Instagram.





Fare thee well

2016 wasn’t exactly the greatest… and not just because we lost The Greatest.

Goodnight, sweet Prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Farewell, Princess.

Godspeed, astronaut.

So long, Starman.

“And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah…”

And the last shall be first

Call me a traditionalist (I’ve been called a lot worse), but I prefer baby names that are conventional (even Biblical). Yet it seems like the trend is running counter to that. Even if you ignore the celebrities (don’t do that, they crave your attention) and their outlier wacky baby names (Apple, North, Sky Blue, Bronx Mowgli, Pilot Inspektor, et al.), more people are giving their newborns what I like to call “last names as first names.” Which is all well and good – after all, these are their babies, not mine.

Image result for maury povich you are not the father

But I wonder if the parents have really thought through these newfangled names, especially on the girls’ side of the ledger. Because a couple of decades from now, if their daughters are traditionalists, they’ll wind up taking on a new last name…

Image result for marriage taking guy's name

And what happens if their daughter Riley Smith (“Riley” is #7 on the list of most popular girl baby names) winds up falling in love with a guy named Patrick Riley? That’s right, she could become Riley Riley!

What if Madison (popular name #18) Jones meets the man of  her dreams, and his name is  Jack Madison? What if Harper (#20) Collins wants to marry a dude named Ryan Harper? I know they say “love conquers all” but it would take a superhuman dose of love to overcome being called “Harper Harper” for the rest of your adult life.

Image result for marriage taking guy's name

Even going the hyphenated route would still be a bit confusing (Madison Jones-Madison? Sounds like a law firm.) Heck, even keeping the maiden name would probably cause some Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First”-style hijinks when you’re doing introductions in a social setting:

“Hi, I’m Patrick Riley and this is my wife Riley Smith.”

“I’m sorry, it’s loud in here, I didn’t catch your wife’s first name…”

“It’s Riley.”

“I thought that was your last name.”

“It is.”

“So what’s your wife’s first name?”


“No, not the last name, the first name”


“Riley is her first name?”


“And you’re a Riley too?”


“Then who is Patrick?”…

Maybe it’ll all work out, though. Maybe Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s daughter North West will marry a guy named Larry Starr. And they’ll live happily ever after (with their own reality show, of course).

Image result for north star