Not The Target Market

School Shootings and Loneliness

Listening to the school kids who walked out of class to protest gun violence, or the kids who marched on the Boston Statehouse to demand more gun control, I was struck by several thoughts. One was that it’s wonderful to be passionate and idealistic and want to change the world at a global level. Another was that doing something loudly on a grand scale always feels good. You sense you are doing something important. (more…)

O Summer! Where Art Thou?

The ground is white. The trees are white. The sky is white. None of this is surprising as we’ve had three nor’easters in 10 days. Looking out, you would be perfectly reasonable in concluding it was the middle of January rather than the middle of March. (more…)

Pictures of Perfection Make Me Sick and Wicked*

The pressure to have a perfect house, perfect garden and perfect children used to arrive only once a month with the latest home/lifestyle magazine. The beauty of these old-style guilt trips was that they were eminently ignorable and small-scale. Only a few “perfect” families, houses or gardens were on display each month. And when you tossed the magazine, you were done with them. (more…)

More Creepy Data and Useless Marketing

Since the last time I wrote on poor marketing another really bad use of data has landed in my mailbox.

The state representative for this area of Massachusetts sent me a “Happy Birthday” postcard. Why? I have never met this man. Despite his picture on the card, I wouldn’t know him if I tripped over him. He certainly has never met me. Furthermore, I have never voted for him. As I am sure he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about me, a birthday card (with his picture on it) seems a little weird.  (more…)

If Skunks Come, Can Spring Be Far Behind?*

About a month ago, the small cluster of snowdrops by the chimney started poking up green tips. In New England, the end of January is not even within spitting distance of spring; but still, the little bits of green deluded me into thinking warmer weather was surely just around the corner. (more…)

P.G. Wodehouse: Entertainer and Educator

I have wondered for a long time why P.G. Wodehouse is left off high school or college syllabi. Now that students demand to be entertained rather than educated, Wodehouse would seem to be a natural fit as he certainly entertains. The beauty is that a clever teacher could also sneak in some education.

In 1939, Hillaire Belloc, no slouch himself when it came to writing and thinking, wrote: “Writing is a craft … Now the end of writing is the production in the reader’s mind of a certain image and a certain emotion. And the means towards that end are the use of words in any particular language; and the complete use of that medium is the choosing of the right words and the putting of them into the right order. It is this which Mr. Wodehouse does better in the English language, than anyone else alive…” (emphasis in the original) (more…)

First Words

The Moose’s articulation is starting to coalesce.

He is a chatty little guy and if you listen you can hear “Mama,” “no,” “dog,” “cheese” (his favorite food), “juice” (we enjoy a decaf Arnold Palmer at lunch), “all done,” “yum” and “up” among the general non-stop flow of syllables. He calls The Hunter “Ga Ga.” He understands everything we say. He has been rooting through my bookshelves and is fascinated by English Made Simple.  He carries it from room to room. He is ready. (more…)

Boys and Puddles: A Natural Affinity

Before ordinary football commercials are left in the dust by the super-expensive, super-hyped Super Bowl ones, I want to comment on one commercial I absolutely despise. Watching a lot of football (as we do in this house), week after week I have seen some really irritating ads. For most of the season the Verizon ones were top-of-the-pile irritating. Until this Volkswagon one came around. (more…)

The Medieval Origins of Groundhog Day

Depending on what century your mind lives in, today, February 2, is either Groundhog Day or Candlemas.

Two inches of wet snow fell last night and the temperature is supposed to plummet as the day goes on. Ergo that two inches of snow would turn to concrete if it not removed pretty darn speedy pronto quick. Rats.

As The Hunter and I cleared the driveway, the sky was gray – going from a deeper gray in the southeast to a lighter gray, almost luminous, in the northwest. The clouds were more like fog than clouds, and there were no shadows, or color for that matter – anywhere on the ground.  We were working away in an Ansel Adams photograph.  (more…)

Stalking Your Customers

Recent CVS mailer (with black black blobs blocking personal info.)

You would think that a large corporation like CVS with, one assumes, a fair amount of resources and money to spend on advertising, could find someone who actually knows how to use variable data intelligently.

Instead they hire someone who sends out this. (more…)