Saturday, September 17, 2011

Optometrist: a man of vision.

        When I was eleven years old, I sent for a book advertised in the the magazine section of the Chicago Tribune. The book was called "Esar's Comic Dictionary" and to me it was a priceless treasure. "Esar's" was a book of humorous definitions. Here are a few corny examples from the Ds:

                             Duckling: an animal that grows up as it grows down.

                             Duel: pistols for two, breakfast for one.

                             Dumb: the stupid half of wisdom.

        Last week I bought a used copy for 50 cents at a sale at the Berkeley Public Library, and as I looked it over I could see how, from a kid's perspective, its sophomoric humor stirred my young mind to become a writer.

                              Impromptu: something carefully memorized to fit the occasion.

                              Incurable: a disease whose four stages are ill, pill, bill, and will.

                              Movie star: an actress to whom variety is the spouse of life.

       Thinking about words, playing with words, having fun with words. That's a copywriter. Creating pictures with words, changing the meaning of pictures with words, translating words into pictures --- that's what copywriters do.

                               Supersonic plane: a plane that passed the speed of sound and
                                                            approaching the speed of gossip.

                               Tiger: a cat that made good.

                               Tie: another thing that should be seen and not heard.

        With this reference book in hand, I wrote plays, stories, and eventually got into advertising. Where else can you make a living with puns and wordplay? Where else can you knock people out with a new idea expressed in a sentence or two, or make them laugh the first 30 seconds and cry the next?

         I'm sure that if there were no such thing as advertising or marketing, I'd be one sorry guy.

                                Advertisement: the picture of a pretty girl eating, wearing or
                                                         holding something someone wants to sell.

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