I’m Chase Reeves. I collect and develop thoughts on how to make and live matterfully. Mostly for men. Make sense? Hmmm... lots of ‘m’s.

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A Copywriting Legend on Real Thrills


“Always shoot for the moon—it’s one of the few real thrills left today!”

Eugene Schwartz


Not that great of a quote. Mostly just a celebration of finishing this book.

Read it as research for a course I’m writing in Fizzle. It’s this out of print classic in copywriting. Much of it old and outdated, but tons of great morsels.

The examples and the tactics feel hard-sell-ish today. But there’s a few bits in here (some passages on creativity, his reverence for VW ads and the quote above) that point to a richer creative life for good ol’ Eugene.

Read it if you’re a student of ads and copywriting. Else, just do what everyone else who’s smart does and just pay attention to how Basecamp does it.

Good Work That Works Good

I’m working hard on Fizzle.co. Less people signed up over the summer, and now we need to get those numbers up. It’s a weird mode for your dad to be in… numbers and results are tough for me. I’d rather do what sounds fun and interesting and compelling. But I’ve learned enough about the importance of the balance: do good work that works good. Too much good work that doesn’t work good and I (you also probably) get moody, dumb, traction-less. But bad work that works good has the same effect. So balance it out if you can.


I created an Gmail address for my son (he’s 5 years old). Every month I send him a lil’ note. A picture, a story, an update on him and me, etc.

This morning the bit above popped out. “Good work that works good.” That balance sure is hard to find.

Joseph Campbell on the Not Striving Moment

“There’s a wonderful moment that comes when you realize, ‘I’m not striving for anything. What I’m doing now is not a means to achieving something later.’ Youth has always to think that way. Every decision a young person makes is a commitment to a life course, and if you make a bad decision, that angle, by the time you get [older] you’re far off course. But after a certain age there’s no future, and suddenly the present becomes rich, it becomes that thing in itself which you are now experiencing.”

Joseph Campbell

Why to Give a Thing Away

“So here you have it: a book that in­vites you to pay. Not be­cause you have to. Not be­cause you want to. Not even be­cause you should. Rather, be­cause the al­ter­na­tive—starv­ing the con­tent you en­joy—is against your interests.”

Matthew Butterick

Bill Murray on Secrets About Living

“I think the only reason I’ve had the career life that I’ve had is that someone told me some secrets early on about living. You can do the very best you can when you’re very, very relaxed, no matter what it is or what your job is, the more relaxed you are the better you are. That’s sort of why I got into acting. I realized the more fun I had, the better I did it. And I thought, that’s a job I could be proud of. It’s changed my life learning that, and it’s made me better at what I do.”

Bill Murray

“Men have become the tools of our tools.”

Henry David Thoreau in Walden


We teach what we’ve been taught.
We cut how the tool can cut.
We make how the tool allows the making.
We start at some unmovable starting point.
But it is moveable.

Execution Isn’t Good Enough

“If an ad looks good, that isn’t enough. An Attractive ad without an idea is just a decoration. Sure, the execution of any ad should be brilliant. Why not? But execution alone is not advertising. We encourage our art directors to think in terms of copy, much as every good copywriter thinks visually. It’s not important where the basic idea comes from—it can come from the writer, the artist, or the elevator operator. The important thing is that the advertisement, to do a job, must have a basically sound idea. Truly brilliant execution invariably grows from such an idea.”

Stephen O. Frankfurt


This guy was a creative director and eventual president of Young & Rubicam, a big ol agency.

But what I like best about him was his team was the one who came up with the tag line for the movie Alien: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Ugh, so good.

“Good work, done well for the right reasons…”

David Whyte

“Work does not have to destroy us. Work can be the way in which we achieve our fullest self.”

Jerry Colonna

Jerry Seinfeld on Marriage

“You don’t do what’s right. You do what makes the other person feel good.”

Jerry Seinfeld


The next line is, of course, “and the first step of that is lying.” This is a real good summary of marriage, though, and a thing I’d do well to improve on in my own marriage.

“Drums West” cut-paper animation from Jim Henson. This newly rediscovered short was created in Jim’s home studio in Bethesda, MD around 1961. It is one of several experimental shorts inspired by the music of jazz great Chico Hamilton. At the end, in footage probably shot by Jerry Juhl, Jim demonstrates his working method.


First:

The more I go back, back
See the first makers
When it was all new

Before rules
Before white men
Had their books

The more I go back, back
I see exploration
And boys and hearts

Before me
And now I
have their books


And now some still images from this paper animation:

(more…)

Billy Collins on Finding Your Voice

“You ‘find your voice’ when you are able to invent this one character who resembles you, obviously, and probably is more like you than anyone else on earth, but is not the equivalent to you.

It is like a fictional character in that it has a very distinctive voice, a voice that seems to be able to accommodate and express an attitude that you are comfortable staying with but an attitude that is flexible enough to cover a number of situations. The character I invented, if I had to describe him, is probably an updating of a character you find strolling through the pages of English Romantic poetry. He is a daydreamer, obviously unemployed, plenty of time on his hands, spends a lot of time by himself, and has an unhealthy fascination with his thinking process, his own speculations and fantasies. So he is not a really new character. He is kind of a remodeling of this earlier Romantic character, the poet who would find himself daydreaming on a wayside bench somewhere.”

Billy Collins


Great lil’ inner-view into someone responsible for several poems that make me laugh. Like this one.

Another quote I enjoyed:

“I thought I would be completely content if I was recognized at some later point in my life as a third-rate Wallace Stevens.”

If I called you a “third-rate so-and-so,” is there any so-and-so out there, any hero or iconoclast you admire, that you’d actually be proud grateful and proud of being compared to them in this way?

I see myself as a bit of a third-rate Merlin Man. Probably a fourth-rate Louis C.K. But i don’t think I’d be proud of being called those… they’re just true.

I think I’d be proud of being described as a third-rate Robin Williams or a third-rate Bob Goff (but that one needs some explaining… some day).

Depression’s Insights & Laughter’s Forgiveness

“I would call this condition clarity, not depression; humor and depression are two different, but not mutually exclusive, responses to it. I know we’re told to regard depression as a disease, its victims no different from people who succumb to cancer or diabetes. But because it’s a disease whose symptoms take the shape of ideas, it can get hard to parse out pathology from worldview. The Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert once told me that ‘there are people who have no delusions; they’re called clinically depressed.’ Depression’s insights aren’t necessarily invalid; they’re just not helpful. Depression uses clarity as an instrument of torture; humor uses it as a setup. Comedy tells us, ‘But wait – that’s not the good part.’ Depression condemns the world, and us, as hateful; laughter is a way of forgiving it, and ourselves, for being so.”

Tim Kreider via Kleon