Branding, 2

Speaking of ‘branding’, I ran across this interestingly named barbershop today:


I don’t know what idea this is supposed to conjure in the average person’s mind, but to name a barbershop, one especially with ‘Hot Lather Neck Shaves’, after a woman whose claim to fame was her being beheaded is, well, a bit surprising.

I halfway expect it to be located next door to the ‘St. Joan BBQ’.

It wasn’t.

Lady Jane Getting a Haircut Lady Jane. Getting a haircut.



Branding, oh, how I hate thee. And clearly, I’m lousy at it.

In marketing classes around the country, professors are even now, I’m sure, pointing to a certain web site named ‘Somber and Dull’ as the worst possible title EVER for a blog that has aspirations of drawing thoughtful and engaging readers. It’s as if Coca-cola named itself ‘Brown Sugar Flavored Water’ and hoped to get people to drink it. I never buy dessert at a restaurant. Unless, of course, the restaurant is named CHEESECAKE Factory, and then I have to buy cheesecake.

Branding. It makes a difference.

I was with some fellow pastors the other morning and someone mentioned having read something I had posted on this blog. Some others, unaware that I had a blog, asked for the name of my blog so they could check it out. So I told them. Out loud. I don’t think I’ve ever done that hoping to get people to read it. One of them said something like, “Well, that’s inviting.”

Pastors are such sarcastic souls.

I explained the genesis and background of the title. (You can read about that here.) It makes sense. It’s a meaningful personal story based upon one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. And it once made for a pretty fun April Fools joke.

But it just does not have pizzaz.

So, if you have suggestions, make them. I’m happy to give each suggestion the sober, or somber, consideration it deserves. Especially if you are a marketing professor.

Getting the Red Out of My Eyes

I’m grateful to all of you who have come forward to support this blog. Because of your generosity the blog should now appear to all users completely free of distracting ads. PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THAT IS NOT THE CASE!

Somewhere in a distant time, in the mid-70s, a college professor returned a piece of writing to me with more red than the original black of my submission. I suspect she meant well. Perhaps she saw in me some potential that she was trying to hone and direct and challenge and improve. Or maybe she was simply tired of crappy student submissions and was taking out on me all her suppressed rage.

It doesn’t matter. The effect was the same: I quit writing anything other than what I had to write. This blog has always been my attempt to tentatively break free from the haunting of all that red ink.

There are not many of you who read this blog, but you who do, and now you who support it, have been a great encouragement for me to get the red out of my eyes. I am grateful.

Every writer who has ever discussed the craft challenges those who write to write daily, and to do so whether the fruit of that writing is good or bad. It will frequently be bad. I don’t have the time to write daily, or to experiment, or to even write all that I would like. But I can guarantee you that what I write will frequently be bad, but that I will press on nevertheless.

Thank you.

Those Ads

My blogging platform of choice is WordPress. The ‘price’ I pay for using the ‘free’ version of WordPress is that occasional advertisements get placed in my posts.


WordPress says that this is done ‘sparingly’, but I still wish they did not do it at all. Of course, WordPress has employees who, like the rest of us, like to pay their mortgages on time. So, I get it. I still prefer the ads would go away.

This could happen if I upgraded the site from it’s current ‘free’ to ‘premium’ status. That way the nice folks at WordPress can afford toothpaste without cluttering Somber and Dull with ads for the same. As a bonus, it would make me happy for a number of other reasons.

And yet, the cost to do this, on top of the other costs associated with this site, is more than I can justify. Which brings me to the pitch:

Perhaps there are some of you who might like to climb on board and help this site stay clean, neat, afloat, and ad free. To that end, I’ve opened a site for those who would like to contribute to Somber and Dull. If you follow that link and make a contribution, I can get closer to the $99 needed to subscribe to their service. That would encourage me, the ads would go away, and WordPress employees would still be able to buy their kids’ birthday presents. That’s good all the way around.

Contributions small and large can be made by clicking here. All will go to the support of this site. Amounts received in excess of $99 (a guy can dream, right?) will be used to offset other site related expenses, current and future.

And I just realized what I’ve done. I’ve placed an ad hoping to get rid of ads. I love irony.


“How many 13 year-old girls does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

That was the question that I used to ask one of my daughters when she was 13. I’ll let you think about the answer.

Recently a few members of my family were sitting in the backyard enjoying each others company, laughing, telling stories, roasting marshmallows. For some reason, I started asking Siri, Apple’s iPhone answer lady, questions, including this one: “How many Presbyterians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

“One thousand.” Siri promptly replied. “One to screw in the lightbulb and 999 to blog about it”

Perhaps we’d had too much beer; perhaps we were just drunk on the refreshment of being with each other. Whatever it might have been, we thought that was just about the funniest thing. Typing it now, it seems a bit dull. Nevertheless, it serves as a good foil for this post.

There have been a few who have wondered where I’ve gone. My last serious post to this blog was in May, 2015, and prior to that, posts have been spotty.

My answer is that I’ve been screwing in lightbulbs and leaving the blogging about it to others. At least that is what I like to think.Coming soon

There are those who have though continued to encourage me to write, and to write for this blog. I’ve certainly continued to generate ideas and consider issues I’d like to write about. That what I’ve written in the past has been to some degree helpful to some people does suggest that a blog is perhaps useful work. And yet it often asks for time that I do not think I have.

But the urging is having its effect. So with quite a bit of trepidation, I am rebooting the Somber and Dull blog. My goal at the outset will be no more than one post every week or two. Several are in an active queue; several hundred sit sketched and neglected. Time has been budgeted for developing a few of those, and so we will see where this goes.

I will try to be faithful to this. You will encourage that faithfulness by your comments and by directing others to read with you. I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.

And I’ll still screw in lightbulbs, just not as easily as my then 13 year-old daughter, who could do it all by herself:

“Just one. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her.”