Ermahgerd! The Apocalypse is on its way out

The Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas has released its top words of 2012 and heading the list is the Apocalypse as earth’s citizens nervously went through the motions this year, fearing that it may indeed be our last.

Unless something really dramatic kicks in over the next two days, the vast majority of us should be around to greet 2013 and whether this will be “Lucky ’13” or not remains to be seen.

As a writer, I’m fascinated by words and I’m always looking for ways to expand my vocabulary. But I must admit, I haven’t used too many of the words on this year’s list including ‘ermahgerd’ which at first had me puzzled as to its meaning but when you sound it out, it’s just another way of saying OMG without texting.

Actually, ermahgerd didn’t make the list but it did receive a special mention as well as Gangnam style – this proves to me how out of touch I’m becoming with popular culture as this video has been seen around the world by millions. Once I saw it, I recognized both the song and the horse dance but was truly clueless as to the words gangnam style.

Bushmaster semi-automatic and fiscal cliff didn’t have enough mentions to make the Monitor’s list but they show up on many others. Other phrases like Eastwooding – the practice of addressing empty chairs and Frankenstorm – the moniker for hurricane Sandy also deserve honorable mentions.

So here’s the list of the most popular words of 2012. Use them soon before they’re expired.

After all, YOLO.

1. Apocalypse/Armageddon, and variations thereof – Now that the Mayan calendar has turned the page, people will stop worrying about the total destruction of the planet but be warned and be ready because you never know what’s just around the corner.

2. Deficit – fiscal deficit, attention deficit – there are many deficits we will continue to worry about and discuss.

3. Olympiad – the games came and went and now this term will be dormant until the next Olympics.

4. Bak’tun – A cycle of  144,000 days in the Maya ‘Long Count’ Calendar. This bak’tun ended on December 21, 2012, and now that it’s past tense, the word will be as well.

5. Meme – Internet Memes can best be conceived as thoughts or ideas rather than words, since they can and often do encompass sounds, photos, and text. Quite frankly, I don’t get this whole meme thing at all.

6. MOOC – Massive Open Online Course; the nature of higher education is changing and MOOC is the phenomenon to watch. Really? This was the first time I even saw the letters MOOC put together to actually meme something – oops, I meant mean something.

7. The Cloud – This post will live in the cloud. I don’t really understand the cloud but it does make getting data easier to store and access.

8. Omnishambles – The top word of the Oxford American Dictionary team, where everything, everywhere  seems to be in a state of disarray. Similar to this post.

9. Frankenstorm – Mentioned earlier – I didn’t know Hurricane Sandy had this name. I guess I wasn’t watching enough of The Weather Channel.

10. Obesogenic – An environment that tends to encourage obesity.  This past week, I have been indulging in obesogenic behavior.

11. Hen – The Swedish attempt to create a gender-neutral pronoun to replace him or her:  hen. Those crazy Swedes! I always thought hens dealt with chickens, not humans.

12. Derecho – A ‘land hurricane,’ with extremely strong, one-directional winds.  Another term from The Weather Channel that blew right by me.

13. Hashtag – The ‘pound sign’ reborn as the all-powerful Twitter hash tag. In my days, hash had a completely different meaning.

14. Drones – Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that are piloted remotely or by on-board computers. Watch out, soon drones will be policing our malls.

15. Fracking – The extraction of fossil fuels by hydraulic fracturing in rock formations, and injecting fluids to force the release of hitherto inaccessible hydrocarbons. This is a holdover from last year’s list. I didn’t use it once last year, didn’t use it this year and probably won’t in 2013.

16. Phobes – An opponent who is also a hater. More of a British word than American but it might make its way across the pond.

17. Superfood – Foods that are calorie sparse and nutrient dense. Fruitcake?

18. The 47 – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s characterization of the percentage of Americans who pay no Federal taxes.

19. YOLO – You Only Live Once – a term spoken quite frequently around our household.

20. Adorkable – An adorable dork – another term I never heard before I saw this list and I wonder if it’s good or bad to be adorkable.

So there you have it. Special thanks to the Global Language Monitor. I’m sure there are some truly adorkable voters who sat around, surrounded by superfood, creating an obesogenic environment where they cast their votes as drones hovered above them, waiting for the apocalypse to arrive.

Happy wordsmithing in 2013!

Resolve now to volunteer … for something

Volunteer opportunities are everywhere. With this being the season of giving, I thought it might be a good idea to remind us all to resolve now that in 2013 you will volunteer a little more of your time to some cause, charity, group, need or organization that could use your help.

Your time on this earth is short. You have time to give. So give.

Do something that you normally wouldn’t – serve meals at a homeless shelter, deliver food to the needy or donate your time to a hospice or an animal shelter. There are so many places and people in need. If you don’t know where to start, simply google volunteer opportunities in whatever city or area you live and you’ll find a wealth of options. Here’s a link for starters …

Or, take advantage of your own unique abilities. If you’re a creative person, find a cause you believe in, reach out and figure out how to help. If you have a knack for repairs or building things, there are many people that need your assistance.

You don’t even need any special talents to be a volunteer for some things … other than the willingness to help in some way, shape or form.

Too many of us go through our daily routines and they’re just that – routines. Sure, they’re good to have but it’s also easy to get stuck in a rut.

Get out of it.

Force yourself to get off the couch for one evening a week and do something different. Set aside one weekend day per month to donate a few hours of your time to something beyond the walls of your immediate family and friends. Obviously, they need your time as well – who knows, you might even make your volunteer efforts a family affair with multiple household members participating in some activity.

The key is to do something. Anything.

Make it a New Year’s resolution. And don’t break it.

You’ll make the world a little better than it was before.


Kenrick Advertising’s last Christmas

From time to time I said I would re-live some of my favorite memories from Kenrick Advertising. This isn’t necessarily a favorite memory – in fact, the whole evening is a bit of a blur.

The Denny Long era was actually very short at Kenrick Advertising.

In a span of 11 months, the third largest advertising agency in St. Louis became history. The former president of Anheuser-Busch took over not just Kenrick Advertising, but all of the Aragon Companies. At the time, that consisted of Kenrick, Aragon PR, Aragon Consulting Group, Kingsbury Graphics, MultaVista and Technisonic Studios. I believe another company was created after Denny’s arrival – Patrick Promotions – but that’s another story.

All I know is that once Denny arrived, things changed very rapidly.

I had been with Kenrick Advertising since September of 1980, arriving as a junior copywriter, fresh out of Mizzou. I was given a tremendous amount of opportunity in those first few years. Thirty days into the job, I had my first TV commercial on the air.

As Kenrick grew, I had the opportunity to grow as a writer and creative guy as well. By August of 1988, I was an Associate Creative Director working on local, regional and national accounts. We were doing work that was getting recognized in Advertising Age and AdWeek and were winning both awards and new business.

I was actually on the road shooting commercials for the Missouri Division of Tourism when Denny first took over. I came back from the shoot to discover I no longer had a corner office. We had appointed a new Creative Director and my office was the logical one for him to take.

There went my view.

I remember there used to be a lot of memos from Denny that would go out telling us of new changes.

Those memos always featured lots of ellipses … you know … those irritable dot-dot-dots that … when used incessantly … and often without any real thought behind them … will drive you crazy.

It was in one of those memos that we discovered there was going to be the first ever Aragon Christmas party to be held at … The Sheldon Concert Hall.

I had never been there before and was always up for a party so it sounded good to me.

When we arrived, there was kind of a lecherous looking Santa Claus who was there so we could get a memory of the evening by having our photo taken with Santa. At the end of the evening, we were all given our photos in a little framed party pic … though I don’t remember if  I actually brought mine home or not.

There was a band … there was plenty of food and drink … and lots of us not knowing exactly what to do other than to eat the food and drink the drinks.

I made my way to the men’s room and I remember standing next to Kevin Monahan and asking him if he had received his Christmas bonus yet. Kevin informed me that his Christmas bonus was going right down the drain … of the urinal where he was standing.

That was how I heard there would be no Christmas bonus that year.

In its place, we were a given a genuine Waterford crystal tree ornament. Coincidentally, I was told that Denny’s brother owned a Waterford crystal store. We were also given a cassette by the Anheuser-Busch Choral Group featuring … Denny Long … who was actually a very good singer.

As I said earlier, the rest of the evening was somewhat of a blur. I know that Denny sang a few songs with the band … including his favorite, ‘Moonlight in Vermont’.  I also recall that quite a few of us wondered what kind of New Year awaited us in 1989. Little did I know that my then fiance who accompanied me, would soon be my ex-fiance … and that every employee would be out on the street looking for new opportunities before Labor Day.

That was a long time ago. I always believed when Denny took over the Aragon Companies, that he tried to apply big business management skills to a smaller business … and it simply didn’t work. I never had anything against him as a person … If I saw him today, I’d be happy to see him and would wish him well.

When we put up our tree this year, I looked for my Waterford crystal ornament and couldn’t find it.

Oh, well … I guess it lasted a lot longer than my bonus would have.

Merry Christmas to all former Kenrickians and Aragonians … wherever you may be.

And this is the last you’ll see … of all these ellipses.


A little Christmas commercial break

A lot has been written about the recent tragedy in Newtown. People are calling for new gun control laws. Our mental health system is badly in need of repair. Like lemmings, we’re inexplicably heading over a fiscal cliff.

So rather than pile on with my own thoughts and opinions on all of the above, I thought I would take a few moments to track down some all-time favorite Christmas commercials and treat you to a little Christmas commercial break. I did this completely top of mind, simply trying to remember commercials that tied in the holidays with some simple product tie-in.

I’m only going to list five of them so as not to take up too much of your time (there’s still holiday shopping to do!)

If you have a few to add to the list, please do so by replying in the comment box.

Hopefully, a few of them will bring back some memories.

1. I’d like to teach the world to sing … watching this classic Coca-Cola takes you back to a simpler time.

2. Holiday greetings from Budweiser … the Clydesdales go on a romp in the snow. So simple, so memorable. Grab some Buds and watch.

3. Hershey’s kisses performing as bells … what a simple, wonderful idea. Makes me hungry for chocolate just seeing it.

4. Peter comes home for Christmas and makes some Folger’s coffee … this was made at a time when it was still okay to say Christmas in a commercial and not be lambasted for being politically incorrect.

5. Santa’s sleigh is a Norelco shaver … I thought this was my all-time favorite. It was the one that first came to mind (along with the dancing polar bears for Coke but I already included a Coke commercial). Upon viewing though, it was actually kind of a disappointment. I don’t remember all the hard sell that they had … but I do like how they changed their name to Noelco at the end! This YouTube clip contains the original commercial followed by updated Santa’s on the razor through the year’s.

Hope you enjoy and please add your favorites to the list!


Questions to ponder before the end of the world next Friday

With the predicted end of the world on December 21, 2012 only a week away, it got me thinking about a number of questions, none of which I know what the correct answer will be. Perhaps you will or maybe these questions will spark a few more of your own.

If you know any of the answers, please let us all know. You may be the next Nostradumus!

How exactly is the world going to end on December 21, 2012?

Giant fireball? Alien invasion? Nuclear armageddon? Sunspot flare ups that fry us all?

If December 21 is supposed to be Doomsday, is that according to Mayan time? So will those on the other side of the International Date Line be gone before we are?

What will the stock market do next Friday? Will there be much of a run on futures trading or none at all?

Will mortuaries and funeral homes see a dramatic drop in business that day? After all, why bother burying anyone if we’re not going to be around to attend the ceremony?

Will last minute holiday shoppers put off their shopping even longer? If you haven’t purchased your gifts yet, why bother now?

I have yet to hear about any TV specials with the big countdowns like you get on New Year’s Eve. Why haven’t programmers looked into such an event? I think if they could track down the cult that plans to be waiting for the arrival of a UFO to swoop down and take them away on some mystic mountain in southern France they could get some great TV ratings. Of course, who will care what the TV ratings are if we’re all vaporized or atomized or whatever fate awaits us?

I haven’t seen any advertisers jumping on the end-of-the-world bandwagon, either. I guess it doesn’t make much sense to have an End of Days clearance sale, does it? Everything must go! You bet it does.

Will there be a dramatic rise in crime next Friday or a dramatic drop? You could argue either way. What point would there be in robbing somebody since we won’t be needing to buy anything come Saturday?

Will confessionals see an unexpected leap in attendance next week? If we’re all about to meet our end, we better get a few things off our chest before we go.

Will bucket list places see a big leap in visitation during this next week? I’ve always wanted to play Augusta but I don’t think conditions will be very favorable for a December round and my potential ‘in’ to playing there has yet to materialize. I don’t think this time of year is very good for skydiving, either, at least in these parts.

Did students really apply themselves on their semester exams, knowing this may be their true last semester break? Are they putting off those college visits at least for this week and no longer really looking to the future?

These are just a few of the questions that got me wondering whether we should go ahead with our New Year’s Eve plans or perhaps wait until next Saturday to RSVP.

So what’s on your mind?

Please respond soon.

We don’t have much time.






Rectum? Damn near killed ’em!

A colonoscopy is no laughing matter.

But when you have one and everything in the end (literally) turns out fine, you can make light of the situation.

That’s how I celebrated 12/12/12.

I guess I wasn’t really thinking about the significance of the date when I booked my screening about a month ago.

This morning, The Today Show was featuring people born on 12/12. Bill McClellan had a great column today (—–while-it-lasts/article_d69a0a58-a84d-5e64-9afd-a20ea7dad2eb.html) pointing out the fact that we won’t have another month/day/year sequence until January 1, 2101.

Even though my results were positive (that’s in a positive sense, not a negative one), I certainly won’t be around to celebrate in 2101 – so today’s my last chance. Fortunately, Paul Zimny, a long-time friend of mine is having a little 12/12/12 party to celebrate his own birthday. Unfortunately, after having anesthesia, you’re not allowed to imbibe, but I’ll still be a part of the party.

Everything you hear about colonoscopies are probably close to true. Yes, there is an actual camera that goes snooping around your innards. But the actual procedure is almost a relief as it’s the preparation leading up to the process that so many people dread.

They had me drink this concoction called “MoviPrep”. Believe me, the name has nothing to do with preparing yourself to be in the movies. You start by drinking a 32-ounce container of this clear substance that somehow has the power to take everything in your stomach and turn it into liquid matter.

The instructions suggested using a straw so that it could bypass your taste buds on the way down. Good idea because previous experience had led to some major gagging on my part.

This time, not quite so bad. The curve ball was that with this potion, you had to have two sessions. One last night at 6 pm (a true liquid diet) and the other commenced at 2:30 in the morning. So while most people were sleeping, I most definitely was not.

It had been five years since my last check up (my how time flew) and I was advised last time to come back in five years. Same advice this time so in theory, I’m good to go – literally – for another five years.

With colon cancer being the second leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S., it’s a good idea to get checked out and if you’re in the above 45 age bracket and have been avoiding it, it’s a good idea to at least get a clean bill of health from your doctor.

Do it. There should be no ifs, ands or butts about it.

How to write powerful headlines that grab viewers and Google … guaranteed

Google’s search engines love blog posts filled with key words that get those spiders crawling all over your content. But knowing how to write powerful headlines with those easily optimized key words doesn’t always reel in the readers.

Here are a few tips just about anyone can use to write powerful headlines that will grab the attention of Google without necessarily losing your audience in the process.

(Maybe I’ve already lost a few readers who have no desire to write catchy headlines – they’d much rather read them followed by interesting insights into random topics that provide a momentary respite from their busy day.)

Hopefully, I can provide a little of both – some actual information, delivered in at least a conversational way.

Grab the reader’s attention

“How to” headlines have a long history of success, going back to the early direct response writing days of John Caples.

For those of you not familiar with John’s work, he wrote perhaps one of the most famous headlines of all time, “They laughed when I sat down at the piano. But when I started to play! -” I’m not quite sure about his punctuation, but it sure did reel in the readers – and generated response, too.

John had 35 tips for reeling ’em in but rather than list all 35, I’m including a link to an interview I found with him that is truly worth reading if you have a few minutes.

Use action words

The headline of this post also contained an action word – ‘powerful’.

I could have used the word ‘wimpy’ over ‘powerful’ and odds are, it might have pulled in even more readers. Why would anyone ever want to write a wimpy headline? Because it would get you to keep reading to find out. Problem is, I don’t think Google’s search engines are real keen on the words ‘how to write wimpy headlines’.

So I went with powerful. I could have used awe-inspiring or brilliant or amazing or some other superlative that would have you wondering what made the headline so darn good that you’d have to read more to find out.

Which is exactly what you’ve been doing.

Guarantee something

And what about that word, ‘guaranteed’ at the end? That’s another word that always garners attention.

He’s guaranteeing these techniques will grab viewers and Google? I’ve got to learn more. So you keep reading. That’s the job of the headline. Grab attention, promise something and make the reader want to keep on reading.

So what’s my guarantee?

Follow this blog via email and I guarantee you’ll enjoy what you read and if you don’t, I guarantee you can unsubscribe at any time.

Don’t overpromise

Using these simple tips won’t change the world. I didn’t say they would. By merely mentioning Google in the headline, search engines will do their job. Just how well, I’ll let you know when I see what level of views this post gets.

I wouldn’t recommend tossing Google’s name about too much, though. They like it a lot better when you write powerful headlines that grab viewers on your own accord.

So have it and have fun.



Two big ideas in St. Louis worth saluting

When I see examples of big ideas in St. Louis, it’s worth touting. After all, Big Ideas Start Here is the theme line for BloodLines Creative and I love to see big ideas at work that help move St. Louis forward.

Yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch had two articles that caught my eye and made me happy to see. The first was about how Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is now displaying original contemporary art.

There is no doubt that Lambert Airport has been on a downward spiral. Most times when you go there, it’s kind of depressing – it’s no longer a hustling, bustling airport.

St. Louis is no longer a destination city. We are flyover land and the airlines that abandoned St. Louis as a hub have done damage to this entire region as large corporations want to be located in cities that are easy to get to – St. Louis is no longer on that list.

The tornado that blew through Lambert sure didn’t help much, either. Recent visits to the airport tell you that it’s still in the recovery mode. But adding these new art displays is a big idea and I hope they continue to add more – especially if some of those works of art could be from local St. Louis artists. That would be a win-win situation. Great local art gets a showcase. Bored travelers get their eyes opened up to some of the talent that resides in this city.

Good job, Lambert!

The other piece that caught my eye was in the business section of the paper and it was such a simple idea it’s surprising it hasn’t been done before – but there are lots of things like that.

It involved the St. Louis University Center for Entrepreneurship and their first-ever Elevator Pitch competition – held in of all places – an elevator. That’s a big idea and congrats go out to Tim Hayden, the director of the center. Getting students involved in delivering an elevator pitch that accurately describes their potential company or product idea during the length of an elevator idea puts a nice bit of pressure on the student. They had to be concise, creative and memorable, delivering a solid presentation in the time it took to ride the 42 stories to the top of the Metropolitan Square.

From what I read, the contest was a big success. It got some local St. Louis business leaders involved. It got some soon-to-be graduating students more interested in staying in St. Louis to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

We need more of that.

Big ideas can come from anywhere.

I love it when they happen in St. Louis.

Let’s Grow St. Louis!

Targeted marketing – selling hand guns in the sports page

The gun culture is alive and well here in St. Louis, Missouri where business is apparently booming at Denny Dennis Sporting Goods. (

I listed their website which I visited and the site clearly shows they’re a store devoted to the hunting and fishing enthusiast. I don’t fall into either of those two categories but I have many friends that do. (The primary extent of my outdoor activities consists of occasional jaunts into the woods in search of errant golf balls.) But the full-page ad in the sports section of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives me a slightly different impression of the store. They list their holiday shopping hours which is very nice of them as they’re trying to make it easy for shoppers to stop by and pick up that special hand gun for the holidays.

There are a total of 27 products featured – apparently, fishing equipment isn’t a big holiday seller as there isn’t a single fishing item to be found. Seven of the featured products are hand guns and it’s the hand guns that get top billing in the ad.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s any type of hunting that involves a hand gun. Duck? Deer? Pheasant? Big game? Not to my knowledge.

Hand guns have one basic purpose – killing humans.

Bob Costas caught a lot of grief on Sunday night when he mentioned the US of A’s gun culture that is more prevalent today than it’s ever been. Guns are glorified in the movies and in video games. Every day, the local evening news seems to feature a shooting death and when something happens like the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who shot his girl friend and then drove to the Kansas City Chiefs parking lot and killed himself right in front of his head coach, it brings the whole issue temporarily to the forefront again.

Like Costas, I am not against banning gun ownership. People have a right to protect their family, their home or their property. But the gun culture of America needs a substantial overhaul.

Penalties for illegal possession have got to become more substantial. Hand guns have got to become harder to get. I’m sure a background check on Jovan probably wouldn’t have prevented him from obtaining his gun. That’s really not the point. There’s just something inherently wrong about our culture when you can find a holiday shopping ad that features hand guns as a suggested gift idea.

So as you’re doing your own holiday shopping, and you’re thinking about buying Mortal Combat or MadWorld or Grand Theft Auto III for your teen, please don’t. If you know there’s a super violent, shoot-em up movie coming to a theater near you, don’t go see it. And should you decide to shop at Denny Dennis for your holiday buying, skip the hand guns.

Buy a fishing pole instead.