The Flicker Inside (3)

March 19, 2020



Maybe in high school, where after a few beers you became giddy and loose, laughed at TV commercials, enjoyed the wobbly feeling and loss of control. Hidden in back alleys and basements, you and your cohorts reveled in breaking the law. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Then drugs and alcohol became prerequisite to parties, dates, movies and concerts, the joys of those things no longer joyful without them. Using became the party. Then in lieu of the party. Then only it.

In college, your passion for writing and heavy drinking were one and the same. Oh, how you romanticized it! Your right hand on the keyboard your left hand on a drink. You were like Hemingway. Jim Morrison. To this day you still type with only one hand.

Upon entering the work force you listed drinking as a hobby on your resume, along with reading, writing and fishing. Such audacity. They hired you anyway.

to be continued…

Fire & Ice.

February 10, 2020


As a child you feared an impending ice age more than global warming, like the one you were taught befell the dinosaurs. You remember winter in Chicago as eternal, the city defined by it. Wind chill. Polar vortexes. Snowmageddon! From the car, you’d stare at the vast, frozen lake, observing the gulls huddled on chunks of blue-white ice surviving barely, or the poor soul walking his dog amid the ruts passing for sidewalks. Wondering if winter would ever end.

Now the world is on fire, heating up as if in a microwave. From California to Australia all is burning. It has become the new normal. You once read that a frog will sit in a pot of water unmoved by the flame beneath it, slowly boiling to death. (That this craven experiment might occur is not the point.) Unable or unwilling to leave, the reptile allows itself to die one degree at a time. Complacency? One of these days, you need to start driving an electric car.

(Author’s note: This is a small section from an autobiographical novel I have been writing for some time. It’s looking for a home. Thoughts? In the meantime, I appreciate your readership.)


Is Blogging Dead? was the title of the presentation directly before mine at SXSW. Asking and answering the question was a spritely woman from an aggregator website. I cannot recall her or its name. As I write this, at 35,000 feet, I also cannot access the Internet and provide you with that information. Yet, when I get home I likely won’t do it either. Not because the speaker wasn’t articulate, enthusiastic or charming. She was. But I’ve heard her rhetoric before. Blogging has died a thousand times in the last decade. “Nobody reads them.” I do. “It’s no longer a good marketing tool.” Was it ever?

If you think I took umbrage with her message because I am a passionate blogger you are partly right. But it was her insinuation –shared by countless others- that blogging suffers because it can’t “grow one’s brand” or create “viable revenue streams” that really fired me up.

Maybe if most of these critics were actually writers instead of Internet gurus and professional speech givers they would appreciate blogging like so many others and I do. Blogging does incalculable good for my wellbeing. Measuring it strictly by numbers seems harshly one-dimensional.

My point in cartoon form, by Hugh Macleod

While I appreciate a growing and loyal audience immensely, I also adore the mental workout blogging provides, regardless of audience size, both in terms of honing my writing skills and expressing myself.

If we are indeed “brands” then mine is a peculiar one. Expressing opinions on advertising, popular culture and miscellaneous is like working out in a mental gym. Joe Blow famously stated, “I write so I will know what I am thinking.” Well, I’m the same way. As a matter of fact I find I often become wiser on a particular issue just by writing about it. Sometimes, I literally change my thinking while addressing a topic. Imagine if other so-called “thought leaders” did the same.

I don’t believe Gidget the Internet Guru had any of this in mind when she harped on blogging. ROI obsession frustrates me. It’s why so many industry leaders come off as geeky pimps. To them, social media, Apps and the like are only as good as their ratings –whatever dubious criteria that’s based on. Which is bullshit.

Don’t misread me. I write for an audience. I do not journal like a college freshman. But exploiting my audience or going off track to get a bigger one is not this blog’s primary purpose. Nor is it mine.

Crocs and their widgets

Crocs and their widgets

As you may have noticed (or not), my blog has no glittery affectations on it. There is no Twitter feed or feeds of any kind, no AdAge ranking, or Google search. Besides a few links at the very bottom, I haven’t got an ad for any people, places or things. I roll sans widgets, with only my guardian angel (call him David, after the character in my novel), now biding his time as a logo.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been tempted to load my margins with nifty doodads. I see all the various badges and whatnots my daughters have crammed into their Crocs. I imagine how put together my blog would look filled up with links and portals. Lord knows my ego is dying to know what my Power Ranking is.

Yet I resist the temptation and, for the life of me, I don’t know why. If I’m not mistaken the more one attaches to his blog the more ways people can get to it. One practical reason I refrain from accessorizing my blog is that the appearance format I chose from WordPress (Ambiru) happens not to allow ornaments and advertising. Maybe they permit some but my few flirtations with the dashboard manager have indicated otherwise. Sigh.

Of course I could choose another theme. It’s not hard to do. But I like the one I’ve got. Do you, Gentle Reader, like the one I’ve got? After all, if you’re cool with it why should I even care?

One reason would be to get more people to visit Gods of Advertising. The shiny doodads promise to make that happen.

Or not. Somewhat irrationally, I worry that if I go commercial many of you will become annoyed and move on. (We do tell our clients to keep it clean. Should not the same standard apply to me?) I suppose I’m naïve enough to believe if I want more readers I need only write better posts. Foolish, I know. But such is the debate in my head.

So, Ambiru, I guess it’s you and me baby. 4EVA. By the way, WordPress claims this theme was created by a character named Phu Ly, a developer in London. I guess if it’s good enough for Phu it’s good enough for you. (Ugh, Sorry.)

The Gods of Advertising have spoken…for now.