What I Did Last Summer

Everything. I did everything last summer. Want to know why I haven’t touched this blog in forever? Because I was doing everything.

Let’s rewind a bit. I began the summer chugging along professionally in a pretty sweet gig as copywriter/digital content specialist for Asher Agency. To sum that position up: I would come up with ideas for commercial campaigns. TV, radio, digital, print, whatever mediums we were going to use, and then the message or thought behind said concept. From there, I’d work with the other creative team members to shape it up into something that made sense and looked great, and we’d produce it. I’d cast actors, guide the graphic artists, write the actual “copy” or words (spoken by actors or printed on billboards, etc.), get it all produced, and then we’d throw it all out there into the world. The process is truly a satisfying experience, watching your ideas come to life, even if only for thirty seconds at a time or on a clickable strip of banner on someone’s website.

I must’ve been fairly decent at this, because I started getting nibbles. People inquiring as to my future plans. Recruiters asking “Hey, how happy are you at Asher?” Finally, an old compatriot called me up and basically offered me his job as creative director. He described the position to me thusly: “you’ll come up with ideas for commercial campaigns. TV, radio, digital, print, whatever mediums we were going to use, and then the message or thought behind it. From there, you’ll work with the other creative team members to shape it up into something that made sense and looked great, and we’ll produce it. Cast actors, guide the graphic artists, write the actual “copy” and then throw ‘it all out there into the world.”

Huh. So, of course I took it. A corner office with windows? A bunch of new business cards? Hells yes. So I took a new position doing pretty much what I did at Asher, only with more perks and a nifty title. So that was cool.

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Plus, I mean…a place to hang an old Robert August promo flyer (autographed!) and prop my Scottish claymore against a vintage photo of Fred Toenges?! SIGN MY ASS UP!!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

 

My wife and I also decided to sell our house. We had lived, with our two boys (Simon is 12, Rhys is almost 9) in a nice, old (built in 1920) home in the Oakdale Neighborhood in Ft. Wayne. Tree-lined streets, gorgeous old houses…and very narrow, busy streets. No back yard to speak of. Or front yard, for that matter. In other words, charming as all hell but not conducive to bike riding or football tossing or anything else that growing young men want to engage in. So, when the market heated up, Heidi and I jumped at the chance, trading the urban pulse of the ’07 for the serene spaciousness of the ’15. It was a long, hectic process, selling the old house. Folks can be very particular and selective, even in a sellers’ market. It was stressful, especially since we purchased our new (current) home before we’d sold the old one. But in the end we persevered, chalking up another adventure on the Watson Family history. (An adventure that yielded a three-car garage and the chance to hang hockey equipment up without carting it all to the basement after every practice or game.)

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Basically from this…

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…to this.

BUT YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT!

 

Actually, that’s not accurate. The “next” part. That’s not how this timeline played out. Sorry. I strive for realism, and that’s…that’s misleading. Clickbait nonsense. No, this is actually something that’s been simmering along for a while now, but in addition to my role(s) at a couple of different ad agencies this year, I had the opportunity to write for a fun, exciting new enterprise. The minds at Bound Publishing have come up with a mobile-specific reader, and are releasing serialized stories on it. One of the cool features of the Bound app (learn more here or find them in the iTunes store) is the ability to expand on the story via sourcebook entries, diary passages, bits of propaganda, etc. from the story universe. If you’ve ever seen the Star Wars sourcebook or any of the supplemental Lord of the Rings or Song of Ice and Fire materials, imagine being able to have those open to cross-reference whilst reading the novels or watching the movies. “Oh! The model that Luke is playing with is an actual Incom T-16…and later, during the Death Star briefing, he talks about bulls-eyeing womp rats in it! I always wondered what the T-16 looked like!” Well, the Bound platform is like that, with all sorts of artwork and specific expanded entries, and I was asked to write the sourcebook materials for a science fiction space epic called Purgatorio. Go get the app and download it and let me know what you think. It’s been a great experience, and the Bound guys have given me all sorts of latitude. It’s been pleasant and rewarding, in a very different way than the advertising life.

http://www.getbound.io

A mobile-based work of expanded fiction, based on a mobile-based FPS game. Welcome to the future, kids.

So a very full summer now gives way to a hectic fall, because, as many of you know, we’re at the cusp of hockey season. And I live with a hockey family. Both kids play, Heidi is a team manager for one kid’s team, treasurer for the other, and I coach the boys and play in my own ASHL beer league every Sunday. From now until April. And it’s awesome. And we wouldn’t change this life for anything. Which leads me to my other big news…

 

WHICH WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT TIME!!

 

Seriously, I can’t talk about it, but it’s pretty rad. Talk to you later.

Ad astra

Oh, yeah, and with everything else going on in my life…I’m starting a new job. I haven’t been talking too loudly about it, because since I am still at Asher Agency for a few more days. It seemed unprofessional to go crowing about my sweet new gig when I was still working as hard as I could to serve current clients. But enough people have asked me about it, I figured, well…time to crow about my sweet new gig.

 

As of June 21st I will be assuming the role of Creative Director at AdLab Advertising, filling the stanky, musty, fungus-ridden shoes of Shane Albahrani (his feet, dude…) as he transitions into the role he was born to play, the full-time radio voice of your Ft. Wayne Komets. He’s been running the show at AdLab for years. Now he tosses the torch to my hands, to hold high. (Habs fans will recognize the paraphrasing there.)

 

And while this new gig will be really, really sweet (a corner office! FOR ME!!) it will be very different, as the client list for AdLab is a bit more personal, local, downright homey, compared to some of the larger clients I’ve handled for the past three years. Not that Asher doesn’t have some of those types of clients: 3RRC, Turnstone, FWCS…there are tons of campaigns I have been so very proud to work on for those clients, and others. But with the enormity of Subway and some of Asher’s higher education clients always looming, it will be quite a change to do something different. I’ll be trying my best to help AdLab grow, to elevate our profile, to expand our scope and capabilities. It’s exciting. It’s challenging. And as a competitor, I love it. I can’t wait to roll my sleeves up and get to work.

 

As for my time at Asher, I can’t say enough good things. Dan Schroeter and Kelly Gayer took in a completely inexperienced copywriter and gave him a shot. Tom Borne said “Okay, sounds good.” Into the frying pan I went, concepting, writing, casting, directing, and producing all manner of print, TV, and radio spots. Over the last year and a half, I’ve added digital video and content creation, working alongside talented individuals like Morgan McIntire and Sean O’Leary and crafted digital and social media campaigns with Anthony Juliano, Brandon Peat, Brandon Wolf, Anthony Boyer, and Caity Rose. (In fact, if you see a video for FWA, Indiana Tech, or FWCS pop up on your timeline, there’s a good chance I did it, and those folks all added their parts to the process to make it work.) It’s crazy to sit back and think about how many wonderful people I got to know and love within the walls of that building on Wayne and Fulton. My work wife Jenna, my loveable uncle Larry…hell, I could go on and on and not mention everyone who has made my time there so enjoyable. So I won’t even try.

 

And of course, there’s Motia. Her alter ego has appeared in many of my science-fantasy short stories here in this blog from time to time, but the real AJ Motia is a hundred times as powerful, brave, smart, and kind. It was she who initially told me “I don’t know if you’d be interested in the Asher copywriting gig. It’s sort of entry-level.” But she also knew what I wanted to do, and she has been my champion every step of the way.

 

Finally, there’s my Sweet Baby. She and I are sat here on a Saturday, discussing life and how wonderful things are and what a strange, often trying trip it’s been for the last 13 years or so in Ft. Wayne. And how it really does feel like home, and we never want to leave. And how we can do whatever we want. And we will. And we love you guys. Thanks.

 

Excelsior!

Q & A, Part One

Oh, this year has been awesome so far, hasn’t it?  Man…things are happening, wheels are in motion, and ol’ Uncle Turner needs a break already.  (It sucks being old, kids.)

That’s why I decided to turn the tough part of blogging (inspiration!) over to you.  Over at my Facebook page, I asked you to ask me questions.  Nothing was off-limits, and you guys are so creatively insane and brilliantly stupid that I got some really good questions.  Too many to handle all at once, lest this be a 48-page blog entry.  Nobody wants that.  Hell, my radio consultant said the last entry was too long, so…let’s begin.

Ryan asks: Does God have feet?

An excellent question, and quantum physics teaches us that God both does and does not have feet.  Also?  This explains the dual nature of God as both male and female simultaneously.  Hence the old line about us being created “In God’s image.”  Whoa, it got really serious right out of the gate.  Let’s change gears…

"I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON'T STEP ON ME!!"

“I saw two pairs of footprints, and said HOLY SHIT, GOD!! DON’T STEP ON ME!!”

Mike submits: Do you think Hollywood should do a reboot or sequel to Real Genius? And are you available to play Chris Knight, cause Val Kilmer is fat now?

I’ve covered reboots and sequels in previous blogs, and I’d be down for a sequel to this film (one of my all-time faves) if they mixed it up and made Chris the professor or even the project lead at some company.  He’s lost his way a bit, and needs a young, brilliant student to bring him back to the irreverent Chris Knight we all know and love.  Alas, I am also old and fat, so it’ll prolly end up starring Ryan Gosling somehow.

Negative, ghostrider.  The pattern is full...of donuts.

Negative, ghostrider. The pattern is full…of donuts.

From Joe: Colecovision…best gaming console ever?

Son, you know that it’s a war between NES and Sega.  A very tightly-contested war, with no clear victor.  That being said, “Buck Rogers” on the Colecovision was incredible.

My brother and I called this level "Holiday Road" and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from "Vacation" as we played.  True story.

My brother and I called this level “Holiday Road” and would sing the Lindsey Buckingham song from “Vacation” as we played. True story.

Brian asks: Rick Flair or Stone Cold Steve Austin ?

No question, it’s always going to be Rick Flair.  Ask me again in twenty years.  It will still be Rick Flair.  WOOOOOOOO!

One of these guys dresses with class.  The other might be Goldberg.  I can never tell.

One of these guys dresses with class. The other might be Goldberg. I can never tell.

The music-minded Tuler submits: What’s your favorite local bands?

Ft. Wayne has a surprisingly deep well of local talent.  And like most Midwestern towns, it seems like there’s a bedrock foundation of cover bands, upon which a layer of metal and blues rock lays.  Then you get all the other genres sprinkled about like feldspar. (Geology, bitches!)  I have talented friends in bands like Beneath it All and Valhalla, standout metal bands.  KTR and Downstait are great, too. I’ve always figured Left Lane Cruiser would be a huge national act by now, and it boggles my mind that they aren’t as popular as, say Cage the Elephant (I know, different styles and such.  LLC isn’t easily quantified and packaged, so there’s that.  Perhaps I should’ve compared them to Leon Redbone instead.)  But my tastes are decidedly more punk-rock in nature, so I’d say that you can’t go wrong with Flamingo Nosebleed.  They’ve had (and totally earned) the opportunity to tour with the likes of The Suicide Machines and other “national” acts.  One could make the argument that they’re more popular outside Ft. Wayne proper, which is a shame.

Okay, running out of space, so let’s have one more, hopefully from someone too drunk to stand…ah!  Perfect.

Jake asks (slurringly): If you were half man, half sausage, which half would beer man.

Every man is half sausage and half beer and beer man, beer, man.  Beer.

Yes, this stock photo exists.

Yes, this stock photo exists.