Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's a Miracle Somebody Sold Miracle Whip This Slogan

Sometimes I wish I'd gone into advertising. Like now. Let's do it. As of right now, the advertising firm of Rombach+Rombach is open for business.

First on the docket is pointing out how very, very bad Miracle Whip is. As a thing you're allegedly supposed to put on food, but also as a chooser of how to advertise their dubious white stuff that I can still taste in my mouth, despite not having put it in my mouth for over 20 years.

Look at this:

Keep an open mouth? That's what you came up with? The ad people laid ideas on the table and you went with keep an open mouth.

Well, it worked. My mouth was open a little bit as I stared at that.

Miracle Whip, sit down for a minute. Listen. It's not that I don't know where to begin with pointing out what I find wrong about your ad campaign, it's that I'm not sure I'll know where to end.

Keep an open mind comes to mind, naturally. And those are words most often used by crazy people trying to wedge their foot in the door on the mind of a not-crazy people while they pass them a flyer or talk excitedly about how if you fold a dollar a certain way it reveals a terrorist plot or the benefits of an all-something diet or the one true path followed by only a few, probably because of their recruiting staff. And you've thrown in with that approach.

Sounding like you're trying to convince people of something you know they're not going to buy.

Like tangy, sort-of mayonnaise, in this case. Same stuff my little sister put on a sandwich at a banquet when we were kids because the guest of honor liked Miracle Whip somehow and my little sister, bless her, said really loud: "Eww . . . this mayonnaise is rotten." And then she wiped her tongue off with a napkin and I find that to be an almost universal reaction to your product, Miracle Whip. So you might as well have gone with the following for your new slogan –
"Eww . . . this stuff tastes rotten. But some people like it, for some reason. Maybe you're one of those people?"
And "Join the Cause"? It sounds like you're soliciting contributions for an animal shelter.

Is this a maneuver to announce preparations for bankruptcy? If so, very clever.

Here's the Rombach+Rombach alternative –
Think outside the mayo.
 Doesn't make a whole lot more sense than keep an open mouth . . . which, I forgot to mention, brings to mind people chewing with their mouths open. Just the sort of refined, elegant, image you're shooting for, I'm sure.

I'm going to have to cut this conference short, Miracle Whip . . . Mayonnaise just called and we're going to revise the text on their labeling. Just some minor tweaks. Like, "Refrigerate unless you want it to taste like Miracle Whip."

Call me if you want to discuss Think Outside The Mayo. My little sister probably has some good ideas too.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Three Wolves, Spelling Words and Airplane Noises

Here we have the latest model in the Furthermore newspaper column, with updated features like bouncing around to different subjects, an elk putting on a life jacket and what is meant to be constructive criticism in response to a Forest Service letter to the editor, seen here, that just struck me as needing . . . I don't know, more airplane noises. No offense intended. I've got a passel of Forest Service friends and realize it's a hot-button and testy business, this closing down roads. But, still. Massage those PR messages a little bit.

And Furthermore: Wallowa County Chieftain column, April 2012

            Set out on a steelhead fishing and rafting trip last week for four days on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde but the steelhead weren’t in the mood so we ended up playing a really long game of ‘splash’ where we threw things into the water with our fishing rods and didn’t expect much else to happen.

 Mike Baird did catch this steelhead, using the highly unusual technique of a carabiner and big rope.

            After a couple days of wetting hooks in the river we shifted to thinking of it as a wildlife viewing trip because of all the animalia parading around down there. Paul Arentsen, his brother John and Jeff Yanke had the biggest you-don’t-see-that-everyday when they floated up on an elk that had just taken a swim across the river to an unlikely spot where it was walled in by steep cliffs. The guys scratched their heads about this and looked over on the opposite bank to see three wolves laying down, watching the elk. Two black and one grey.
            The wolves decided a large blue raft was reason enough to scoot along, so they got up and headed for the trees. No collars or tags were visible and it happened too quick to get any pictures.
            The rest of us floated through a while later, wondering what the deal was with the freaked out elk trying to scramble up a cliff face. I assumed it was trying to get away from our three rafts, but now I bet it would have gladly climbed on board and put on a life jacket if we’d stopped to offer it a ride.
            Also saw mountain goats, bighorns, an otter, loads of deer, herds of elk, squadrons of geese and lost count of the bald eagles. Real pleasant down there.

 Here's a dandy trout I lucked into.

            Shifting gears here, the Oddfellows and Soroptomists did a brisk trade in Italian food at the spaghetti fundraiser and give a secret handshake thank you to all the good folks who came for dinner. If you splattered sauce on your shirt, new ones are available at the Soroptomist for twenty-five cents. I didn’t make it on account of that river trip but we did have spaghetti on the river. I tried to charge admission and turn it into a fundraiser, but met resistance.
            Also thanks to the Rotary Club for holding their spelling bee, where my teammates Ralph Swinehart, Rick Bombaci and I heard some words for the first time and flubbed others that are usually no problem with spellcheck. Sue Womack, Zanni Schauffler and Andie Lueders of the Health Care District team got the honors, then honored the Oddfellows roof project by donating their share of the loot. Thanks. Or if Don Swart was selecting the words here, arigato.
            Shifting gears again, I read with interest the letter from Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Monica Schwalbach, printed here in the Chieftain on March 8, about how pleased the Forest Service was that the public chimed in with thoughts on closing forest roads. I’ve read it a number of times and can’t find any mention of public opinion regarding public land having made a whiff of difference, pro or con. I do see mention of how we’ll be educated. Oh, good.
Just saying, Forest Service, in your future PR efforts you might consider throwing in at least a suggestion that public comments made it into the same room where the decisions were made. This one came across, to me at least, as condescending. Patronizing. Sounds like you’re patting people on the head who submitted an opinion, saying, “Oh, look at what you did here, glued macaroni onto construction paper to spell out your public testimony . . . how cute. We’ll put that on the refrigerator in the room where we don’t read things like this.”
            Just trying to help, Forest Service. Offering a little feedback. I know how much you like input from the public. So next time you’re doing output about input, maybe sprinkle in a specific or two hinting that comments from the public might have been considered, rather than just collected. I like a little pretense when I’m being force-fed. Make a few more airplane noises when you’re coming in with a spoonful of mashed peas and travel restrictions. You’re close, just need to fine tune those distracting airplane sounds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oddfellows Secrets Exposed

Community Service With Parmesan

*Couple things . . . Go eat spaghetti Thursday, March 22nd at Community Connections in Enterprise. It costs 8 bucks, I think, but that comes with dessert, garlic bread and the warm glow of knowing you have done a noble deed, chipping in to keep a roof over the bargains at the Soroptomist thrift store (motto: saving the world one quarter at a time . . . not really their motto but it could be.)

Second thing: I never know whether it's spelled Soroptomist, or Soroptomists

Thirdly, it doesn't bother me too much.

Pretty Sure Don Swart Makes Up Spelling Bee Words

Muchas gracias to Zanni, Andi and Sue, the dominating force at the Rotary Spelling Bee last week where Oddfellows Rick Bombaci, Ralph Swinehart and myself were thoroughly trounced and humiliated.

Well, not humiliated. But we lost badly.

Our hope to take home the prize came crashing down. We have to pay for a super-expensive roof and it would have helped. Then, prior to the championship round, the finalist teams were asked what their charity of choice was.

(cue stirring movie music. Something with an orchestra . . .)

"Oddfellows, Oddfellows, Oddfellows" . . . all teams named the Oddfellows roof project as their charity of choice and the lights exploded like at the end of The Natural just because so much amazing was in the air and it was really just a nice moment.

So thanks to Rotary and the winning hospital team.

Now here's my last column, which touches on these matters of Oddfellows and Soroptomisteses' and roofs. Or rooves. I can't believe we lost a spelling bee.

And Furthermore: Chieftain column March, 2012

I have infiltrated a secret society in Wallowa County and worked undercover for the past year to expose the inner workings of the shadowy organization known as “The Oddfellows.” They advertise themselves as a fraternal organization, dedicated to community service. That’s a laugh. I’ve read The Da Vinci Code. I know all about these so-called brotherhoods, with their secret handshakes and hidden stairwells, treasure maps hidden in code on the facade of the courthouse. Ancient symbols. Tom Hanks. Unlikely plot twists. Oh yeah, sure I’ll join your “community service organization,” Oddfellows. Wink-wink.

I have been summoned to monthly gatherings in the underground lair of a basement chamber in the Oddfellows complex. It’s cosy. Entrance is gained by three staccato knocks, a pause, then rapping out the tune of “Chopsticks” with your knuckles. A member inside then grants access with the code phrase, “Just come in, you don’t need to knock.”

These meetings appear to focus on eating dinner and talking about how they need to raise money to pay for fixing the roof. Symbolism, I’m sure. Oddfellow Steve Arment demonstrates a gift for the dark arts of barbecued meats and interesting casseroles. Kim Phelps presents items from his pantry that are more of an anthropology seminar than a potluck offering. I suspect at least one of his cookbooks was authored by Druids.

This Phelps character seems to be the brains of the operation. Also Kendrick Moholt. And Don McAlister. I’ve heard those three routinely use Latin words to make jokes that I don’t understand, but I laugh anyway so as not to blow my cover. Richard Hobbs is also a sharp one. And Ralph Swinehart, aka The Engineer . . . Rick Bombaci, Arment, Getty ‘The Falcon’ Pollard . . . really all of these guys are the brains of the outfit. Which leaves me greatly outnumbered.

I haven’t learned a secret handshake yet, but I keep asking and the guys tell me they’ll teach me one but they have to make it up first. These layers of secrecy are impressive. Like an onion ring. I must somehow gain their trust and keep them from suspecting my plan to let the world know exactly what goes on inside that Oddfellows Hall. I’m juggling with fire. Walking a thin tightrope.

They claim their objective is to keep the Oddfellows Hall open to the public. This seems to hold up. You can rent the building, next to the Enterprise Library, for $10 bucks an hour. So they’re not getting rich there. Just trying to keep up with heating the place. Taekwondo, belly dancing and ballet classes, concerts and lectures have all taken place on the main floor. The Soroptomist thrift store downstairs is where the traffic in treasure and priceless artifacts takes place. This arrangement is curious, because rather than disguise the fencing operation, they openly advertise hours when valuable items can be purchased far below market value. That money is then laundered in a clever scheme where the Soroptomists donate it to good causes and give scholarships. On the surface this Soroptomist ring appears to be run by an army of tireless volunteers who work long hours to benefit Wallowa County. In reality . . . well, that appears to be the reality. 

I’ve decided to go public with my investigation because the Oddfellows are plotting something big. I can feel it. And they’ve been talking about it.

The Oddfellows are counting on a big payoff from a shipment of imported Italian substances to be repackaged and sold to the public. “Operation Spaghetti Feed” is scheduled to go down March 22 at the Community Connection building.

I say we play along with their little game and see where it leads. You can gain access to this Oddfellow and Soroptomist “Spaghetti Feed” and see for yourself what these people are up to. Here’s a code phrase to get you in the door: “psst . . . here’s a little something to offset the hundred-thousand clams it’ll take to fix up that building.”

Monday, March 12, 2012

'Til Steelhead Do Us Part

Excessive postage alert: the following video/still photo montage has its main residence over on The Gearboat Chronicles page, but it's going up here because A) Just because. And B) Don't make me do another imovie project today.

Check out the Gearboat for the directors cut, outtakes, a Scooby Doo alternative ending and other special features. Those are dirty lies. But there are some other pics and so forth.

Anyhowz, here's me and Cam Scott fishing last week. He landed 4, lost one, which is caught on tape. I caught one, hooked in the pectoral fin (?). Hmm.

Thanks to Darren Senn for "Soutbound 395", a song about some highway not even remotely close to Imnaha, OR, but I just like the song. Get his record "I Gotta Get Organized." Now, NOW.