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Insights on writing, editing, copywriting, marketing and more. How to win customers and influence people -- through the written word.

Updated: 2018-03-05T15:56:34.590-05:00


Muphry's Law and Poor Little Rich Word


Muphry's Law struck again this week. (Yes that's Muphry, not Murphy. See "Eating My Own Words.")Even though (or was it because?) I proofread it myself, the first line in my column went to print with a catastrophic error: Instead of "You can't be too rich or too thin," the first sentence said, "You can't be too rich or too poor."Argh! Besides making no sense, it killed the whole lead of the article. Thank Heaven, the layout guy corrected the online article. (I told him I'm going to call him before Yom Kippur to remove some other transgressions for me.)So, here it is again:Poor Little Rich Word“You can’t be too rich or too thin.” Barry Popik, contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), and the Sherlock Holmes of etymology, traces this slogan to several disreputable socialites.…Read more »[...]

The Wizards of Oys - Hamodia


The Wizards of Oys 

It was some Shabbos in our Flatbush apartment. My daughter Naama and family were in from Israel; my son Meilech and family came in from Lakewood, N.J. Friday night, Meilech…

Eating My Words: Muphry’s Law - Hamodia


In the first of these trips around the words, I quoted an essay by E.B. White. Reminiscing about when he revised William Strunk’s book, The Elements of Style, White wrote:…

It’s Over - Hamodia



It’s Over

I’m not a numbers person. The only thing for which I am indebted to the Arabs is coffee. Except for phone numbers, dates and prices, I rarely use numerals. I…

Spinning Yarns - Hamodia


Spinning Yarns

I’ve been noticing the word narrative in the news a lot. Taken at
face value, narrative means a particular interpretation or version of a
story. More cynically, narrative is an…

Wired Services - Hamodia Language Column



Wired Services

If you’ve ever visited Israel’s Knesset, you know that no good speech goes unpunished. Certainly not one as momentous as when Prime Minister Menachem Begin presented his new peace treaty…

Saluting the Sarge


I just called the Sarge. He's not feeling so great; can't hear with his left ear and the right ear isn't so great either.But he's still sharp as a bayonet. As soon as he heard my name, he thanked me for an article about Teddy Roosevelt I sent him a few months ago. And he promised to send me a copy of another article about TR.I asked about Veterans Day and he said he doesn't get out much anymore.For me, talking with the Sarge is a Veteran's Day Parade![...]

Lost in Translation - Hamodia


Lost in Translation

Pull up a chair. I’ve got a story for you. It was 1974. We were living in Yerushalayim, and my parents, z”l, came for Pesach. One day,in the old…

Dear Mrs. Shakespeare - Hamodia


Dear Mrs. Shakespeare

Dear Mrs. Shakespeare, Your son William is a bright boy and shows potential, especially in his writing assignments. We are even thinkingof asking him to work on the school…

The Fall of Comma-ism - Hamodia


The Fall of Comma-ismHarold Ross, editor of The New Yorker, was notorious for carpet-bombing the copy with commas. In James Thurber’s The Years With Ross, he wrote that a professor picked up a…Read more »[...]

A Ner Neshamah for Steven Sotloff, Hy”d - Hamodia


A Ner Neshamah for Steven Sotloff, Hy”dWednesday, September 3, 2014 | ח' אלול תשע"ד We’ve run out of words. President Obama called the Islamic State’sbeheading of Steven Sotloff, Hy”d, on Tuesday an act of “barbarism.” Secretary of State John Kerry called it “unfathomable…Read more »[...]

Mad Mimi goes big time


Mad Mimi was just bought by GoDaddy. See
Guess what!? GoDaddy Acquires Mad Mimi

But the prices and people are staying.
Compare active ingredient in Mad Mimi with Constant Contact.

If you're still sending your marketing email from your own email client, see this post. I wrote that before I switched to Mad Mimi. They are now my weapon of choice.

Poisoning the Cup of Consolation by Mordechai Schiller


[ T O P  S T O R I E S ]on mediaPoisoning the Cup of ConsolationBy Mordechai Schiller After being shocked, a devout journalist is reminded why he religiously avoids reading the "newspaper of record" [...]

Microsoft Protection Racket


Microsoft Protection RacketTuesday, May 27, 2014 | כ"ז אייר תשע"ד Pull up a chair. I’m going to let you in on a family legend. One day in the 1930s, a sales rep of the Abe Reles organization came into my grandfather's …Read more »[...]

The Face in the Screen - Hamodia


 Time to take a long, hard look.... The Face in the ScreenTuesday, April 8, 2014 | ח' ניסן תשע"ד OK… so your best friend — who works on 47th St. — calls you up to tell you he’s got an incredible deal. An offer you can’t refuse. Somebody just…Read more »[...]

Applied Righteousness: The Rescue Heard 'Round the World by Mordechai Schiller


[ T O P  S T O R I E S ]
past & present
Applied Righteousness: The Rescue Heard 'Round the World 

By Mordechai Schiller

They were the most unlikely of friends. As children, in another world, death brought them together. Now life brought them together once again

Saluting the Sarge


(image) I just got off the phone with the Sarge.
I called to salute Sgt. Arnold Rist on Memorial Day. Bless, him, even though he couldn't sound Taps anymore, he was out there in the wind yesterday, honoring his buddies in arms. If you don't know the Sarge, here's my tribute:

Salute to a Liberator
and a postscript: At Ease

The most important thing I learned from David Ogilvy


(image) I never met David Ogilvy. But he had a great impact on my career.

Kenneth Roman reveals the most important thing we can all learn from David Ogilvy:
Being edited by Ogilvy was like being operated on by a great surgeon who could put his hand on the only tender organ in your body. You could feel him put his finger on the wrong word, the soft phrase, the incomplete thought. But he had no pride of authorship, and he could be quite self-critical. Someone found a personally annotated copy of one of his books in which he had written cross comments about his own writing: “Rubbish. Rot! Nonsense.” He would send his major documents around for comment, with a note: “Please improve.”

Guy Kawasaki Goes APE on How to Publish a Book


Why would a celebrity author, at a major publisher, choose to jump ship and self publish his next book?

If you didn't hear of Guy Kawasaki, you heard of Apple. And if you heard of Apple, it is probably because of Guy Kawasaki.

Guy (disclosure: I'm not buddies with Mr. Kawasaki. But there are some people who it's more natural to call by their first name. It's also easier to spell. So please allow me the familiarity).... As I was saying before I interrupted myself, Guy might be called the High Priest of Evangelical marketing. That's somewhere between word of mouth marketing and word of soul marketing. It tends to happen to Apple employees and customers. You don't just buy a Mac or an iPad. You "convert" to it.

Guy was the guy who made it happen. He is the poster child for this new kind of marketing. His previous books Art of the Start and Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions tell the story and tell how you can become an evangelist.

Always tuned in to his followers (they're not just "readers"), Guy was horrified when his megapublisher could not perform the seemingly simple task of providing 500 free ebooks for a high-tech company. In response, Guy decided to self publish his next book. Veteran writer and computer geek that he is, he thought it would be snap. It wasn't.

The adventure--and more important--the secret handshake--is given over in the new book Guy co-authored with Shawn Welch: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur | How to Publish a Book

If you've ever thought about writing a book--especially an ebook--do yourself a favor and get a copy. You will be enlightened.



Salute to a hero on Veterans Day.
God bless all those who keep us free!

Here is a replay of my post about one of those heros, from

By Mordechai Schiller

Last November, JWR ran a profile of Dr. Arnold Rist, 65th Armored Infantry Battalion, 20th Armored Division, one of the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp. The article received an unprecedented amount of reader response. And if you didn't read it then, you should now by clicking HERE. (Letters for this living hero still encouraged).
Today, we offer a follow-up to the original article.

AT EASE by Mordechai Schiller

The Lewis Carroll guide to political debate


....There's glory for you!'
(image) `I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
`Would you tell me, please,' said Alice `what that means?`
`Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. `I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
`That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
`When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, `I always pay it extra.'
`Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
`Ah, you should see `em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side: `for to get their wages, you know.'
(Alice didn't venture to ask what he paid them with; and so you see I can't tell you.)

The Whistler on Yom Kippur


In case you missed this before--or even if you didn't. The best stories are meant to be told over and over. You learn that from your children. We can learn a lot from children.

As we go into Yom Kippur, let me wish you a sweet year of health, happiness, peace, prosperity, and nachas.

Jewish or not, New Yorkers know about Yom Kippur, or as Mickey Mantle once called it, "Yom Koufax." Public schools are closed. The centers of commerce and finance wind down to a halt. There's a sense of new hopes and beginnings.... and even a certain gritty spirituality in the New York air. Some 250 years ago, a little boy in Medzhibozh, Ukraine learned about Yom Kippur in a most unusual way.

To read the story, see Whistling at N'eila.

Happy New Year


Here's wishing you and yours a year of peace, health, joy, and prosperity.

High Holidays (1991) - the Dry Bones Blog

AT EASE -- an American Story


Happy Birthday America. And God bless all those who keep us free!

Here is a story about one of them, from today's

first person/ follow-up
By Mordechai Schiller

Back in November, JWR ran a profile of Dr. Arnold Rist, 65th Armored Infantry Battalion, 20th Armored Division, one of the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp. The article received an unprecedented amount of reader response. And if you didn't read it then, you should now by clicking HERE. (Letters for this living hero still encouraged).
Today, we offer a follow-up to the original article.

AT EASE by Mordechai Schiller