Brian Morrissey: Adweek Reporter on Running Ultra-Marathons, PigDogs, Man-on-Man Chivalry and More
Susan Bratton

Episode 12 - Brian Morrissey: Adweek Reporter on Running Ultra-Marathons, PigDogs, Man-on-Man Chivalry and More

Susan talks to Brian Morrissey, high-profile interactive industry journalist about how reporting has changed from his first job at Silicon Alley Reporter, through ClickZ to DM News and now Adweek. He talks about why embargoes and exclusives are useless in today's press reality and that he's learned to appreciate traditional marketers since writing for VNU. Find out what the number one thing traditional marketers understand about marketing that the interactive industry "just doesn't get." Brian also share what a good PR person should bring him to create a story and that his favorite area of coverage is about new ways advertisers are connecting through digital channels in a non-intrusive way. In addition to his weekly column in Adweek magazine, Brian is also the Senior Interactive Reporter for and a major contributor to VNU's first blog, AdFreak.



Brian Morrissey: Adweek Reporter on Running Ultra-Marathons, PigDogs, Man-on-Man Chivalry and More

Announcer:  This program is brought to you by


Susan Bratton: Welcome to Dishy Mix.  I’m your host, Susan Bratton.  I’m glad you tuned in today.  I’m on a run, with reporters, journalists, editors, people in the press, and on today’s show you are going to get to meet Brian Morrissey.  Brian is the senior reporter at Ad Week, where he covers the interactive advertising industry, something near and dear to all our hearts.  Brian has been in that industry for quite a long time.  He’s been with, before Ad Week he was with DM News, and then Click Z before that, and he started out at Silicon Alley Reporter.  I’m sure you all remember it.  Prior to working in journalism, he was a speechwriter in DC and we’re going to learn more about why he got into speech writing and how he got into the interactive media space.  He has some Master’s Degrees, and we’re going to talk about one of the unusual things about that.  So on today’s show you’re going to hear about “Simpsonizing” yourself; you’re going to hear about ad freaks.  We’re going to talk about potassium and ultra-marathons and Belgian beer, acrophobia, something called man-on-man chivalry, abolishing the penny, volunteering, and weird quirks.  And they’re all about Brian.

Susan Bratton: …[laughs] So we got right into inter-breeding and dog turds so far, on the show today… 

Brian Morrissey: …They speak both Flemish, which is basically Dutch, and French there.  I lived in the Flemish-speaking section.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  I know you didn’t learn to speak Dutch, because that’s all the [making guttural sounds] isn’t it? …What do you think it is about Belgian beer that makes it the best in the world?

Brian Morrissey: It’s strong.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s always… [laughs] That’s a good thing! …

Brian Morrissey: …I have a girlfriend.

Susan Bratton: Aha!  And how long has this been going on?

Brian Morrissey: About a year and a half.

Susan Bratton: And it’s feeling pretty good?

Brian Morrissey: Ah, yes.

Susan Bratton: Hmm, that was very… “YES!”  Now did you say that just because you think she’ll listen to the show?  Or did you tell me the truth?

Brian Morrissey: I told you the truth.

Susan Bratton: [laughs]…

Brian Morrissey: …What I’m not on board with is, if I’m in an elevator, there’s two guys on the elevator with me, all of us are getting off on the seventh floor, is some guy holds the door and makes you go in front of him.  I don’t get that.

Susan Bratton: That’s a power trip.

Brian Morrissey: It’s a power move?

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: Or it’s what? Holding the door for me?

Susan Bratton: It’s a control issue.

Brian Morrissey: So I call it man-on-man chivalry.

Susan Bratton: Mmm…

[music ends]

Susan Bratton: Welcome, Brian.

Brian Morrissey: Thanks, Susan.  Glad to be here.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, me too!  I am too.  I’ve known you for many, many years.  I’m trying to think how long.  I’ve probably known you since Silicon Alley Reporter.  When did you start there?

Brian Morrissey: I started there in 2000, right at the end of the dot-com mania.  It was already starting to go downwards, so it was a good experience to kind of see the industry go through some tough times.  I think right now we’re in some good times, but it’s very instructive to know what went on the first time around.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, no kidding.  And how did you get your job at Silicon Alley Reporter?  Did you work for Jason?

Brian Morrissey: I did work for Jason.  That’s Jason Calacanis, as everyone knows.  I had gone to Columbia, to journalism school and I was… actually it’s funny how I ended up in the industry.  I kind of, I mostly wanted to stay in New York.  I mean it was very much a lifestyle decision really, to cover this thing.  I knew I wanted to cover business, and you know at the time this was a dynamic interesting area.  So working for a startup magazine was definitely an interesting experience.

Susan Bratton: So what did you do?  Did you just apply to Silicon Alley Reporter and get interviewed and get hired, or did you know him?

Brian Morrissey: No, I did not know Jason.  Yeah, I just applied and had a few interviews, and at the time things were really good for journalists, so I had actually a couple job offers I remember.  But I just decided that there was so much going on, on the Internet that it would be an interesting field to get involved in.

Susan Bratton: And do you have any ‘crazy Jason’ stories for us?  Like what’s the craziest thing he did, that you remember?

Brian Morrissey: I guess the craziest thing… I don’t know if [it’s] one single thing…

Susan Bratton: It was like every day?

Brian Morrissey: Well, I mean it was, you know, the dog.  I think you know Jason, it seems like, at least in Silicon Valley days, everyone had their little shtick and their thing, and you know Jason’s thing was the bulldog, Toro.  And you know in a way it wasn’t totally a shtick, because Toro truly was everywhere, for good or for bad, and he did have a habit of leaving ‘gifts’ around the office.

Susan Bratton: So he crapped in the office.

Brian Morrissey: Yes, basically.

Susan Bratton: And that’s disgusting.  Do you have a dog now?

Brian Morrissey: I don’t.  I’m not a big fan of domesticated animals.

Susan Bratton: Not a big dog fan.  Well, you’re a fan of other humans.  We’re all domesticated animals, right?

Brian Morrissey: I guess so, in a way.

Susan Bratton: [laughs] So, yeah, so it must have been particularly disgusting to have Toro turds littering the office, huh?

Brian Morrissey: Yes, it was.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm, yeah, that’s unseemly.  I understand that.  Although, how was the bulldog personality?  I mean, you know them as [arrgghh!] fierce, you know, resilient, tenacious.  Is it true, that that’s what they’re like?

Brian Morrissey: I don’t think so.  I always kind of think of them as sort of tragic figures because they’ve been bred to a point that it isn’t practical; they can’t breathe.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: So I always thought bulldogs were kind of pathetic.

Susan Bratton: So in addition to leaving Toro turds, it made you sad! [laughs]

Brian Morrissey: Did they!  I think a little diversity in the gene pool might have done him a world of good.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.  Now speaking of diversity in the gene pool, what is your… ‘Morrissey’ is an English name?  Is that your background?

Brian Morrissey: It’s Irish.

Susan Bratton: It’s I… of course, there ya go.  It’s Irish.  So are you like a full-blooded Irishman and you have your tartan and all that stuff?  I guess that’s Scottish, isn’t it?  What the hell do I know?! [laughs]

Brian Morrissey: I don’t know; I think… that’s what my parents tell me, although I don’t know.  I always doubt those things.  I just think that everyone’s always ends up being mixed up with all sorts of different things.  But I think that’s… I don’t know; that seems a little bit more healthy than… everyone just inter-breeding.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.  [laughs] So we’ve gotten right into inter-breeding and dog turds so far, on the show today.  So let’s talk a little bit about your job at Ad Week.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: You are the senior interactive reporter.  You write for both the print and the online version, right?

Brian Morrissey: I do, yes.

Susan Bratton: And how often do you have to do a story?

Brian Morrissey: Every day.  I try to do probably a couple, maybe two, sometimes three. Online stories a day.  And I have a page in the magazine that typically is a single 1,000-word story.  And sometimes something happens that I’ll do another story maybe, and I’ll help out.  This week I did one full-page story, and then I also helped out with another story another reporter was working on.

Susan Bratton: And what was your story this week?

Brian Morrissey: My story this week was about rivals to Google, their marketing strategies for trying to catch up, because you know Google’s built such an enormous brand.  It’s about how Ask and Microsoft are trying some unconventional approaches to increase their search share, at a time when most people just… you know, they Google things.  So it’s an interesting marketing dilemma.

Susan Bratton: So you write for the online, and you write for Ad, the print version, and you also blog on Ad Freak.

Brian Morrissey: I do, yes.

Susan Bratton: You’re not the only one, though.  That’s not your, specifically your blog.  That’s kind of the Ad Week blog, right?

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  It’s something that we can all just… you know, it’s really, it’s kind of fun, you know.  As a writer you can write about things with a sense of humor, and in a tone that you know we don’t really get to do working for a magazine in a news organization.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.  It’s a lot more fun.  As a matter of fact, that’s where I read the blog post about “Simpsonize me”.  And I was all excited.  Now I don’t know if you did that post or not.  It might have been somebody else; I don’t remember.  Yeah, it was you!  Because it was you Simpsonized.  It was your image, right?

Brian Morrissey: I know what you’re talking about, but I didn’t… I couldn’t claim credit for it because I didn’t write it.

Susan Bratton: Oh, it wasn’t.

Brian Morrissey: I do know what you’re talking about.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, so I immediately wanted to Simpsonize myself and see if I would come out like Marge or what I…

Brian Morrissey: Were you able to do it?  Because I tried and my photo didn’t work.

Susan Bratton: No.  The site was down when I went.

Brian Morrissey: Well that’s the biggest problem with a lot of these like cool, interesting tools, is…  You know I then go try to use them.  If they don’t work, then who cares?

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: And I don’t know.  I wonder what kind of brand experience that is.  And that was a Burger King project, so that’s actually an interesting example of some stuff that I end up covering.  Someone like Crispin or Bogusky, they don’t actually have the capabilities to do most of these things, so they farm it out.

Susan Bratton: Outsource it.  Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: And you end up losing some control over whether the thing actually works.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  That’s always risky, isn’t it?  And so, I pitched you two weeks ago on three stories.  Like I got you on Mission, I’m like, “You bastard!  You didn’t cover my shit.” So…

Brian Morrissey: I linked to a story that I already covered it in the IT newsletter.  Does that count?

Susan Bratton: You linked to it in what?

Brian Morrissey: In our… actually, my other task is there’s the IT newsletter, which is a daily newsletter everyone should get.

Susan Bratton: I don’t get that.

Brian Morrissey: Oh, Lord.

Susan Bratton: What is it, Babe?  Tell me.  I want to get it.  If you do it, I want it.  What is it?

Brian Morrissey: Basically, it’s two to three, usually three, stories about digital advertising and media that either I’ve written or someone else here has written.  And then I also have a kind of blog-like section, where I link to different blogs and news sources that are also covering interesting issues.  Because you know I got a… I realize fully I can’t cover everything.  The days of like a reporter or a news organization thinking that they’re the only source are, you know, they shouldn’t have ever existed, but they’re over, if they ever did.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: So I did link to someone.  So I’ll forward it to you.

Susan Bratton: All right.  And how do we sign up for your IT newsletter.

Brian Morrissey: IT newsletter can be signed up for at Ad  I don’t think it’s as obvious as it should be, but…

Susan Bratton: Clearly!

Brian Morrissey: We’re changing our web presence, so that’ll change too.

Susan Bratton: So right now… So what kind of stories do you like to do?  Is there any particular thing you’re looking for, as a journalist in the interactive space?  Obviously you want to trump your competitors.  You want to get news stories.  We understand that.  Tell me about exclusives or certain angles that you like, or whatever that may be.

Brian Morrissey: Well, I don’t know.  I mean the exclusive thing is… I think it’s another sort of dying thing, the exclusive, the embargo.  Things of that sort, like I just find it kind of a losing proposition to try to play some sort of negotiation game with PR people for something.

Susan Bratton: But you hold embargoes.  You want to be pre-briefed, so you have time to think about it.  I mean to me an embargo is more like, “Okay, don’t release this until this day, even if you’re pitching it to people.”

Brian Morrissey: I know, but [xx] things I’m not all that interested in.   I mean I’m mostly interested in finding new ways that advertisers are connecting with consumers through digital channels, and hopefully, in non-intrusive ways.  So I know a lot of that, the things I write in the magazine are mostly trend stories.  And those are the ones I kind of like the most, but that’s my preference.

Susan Bratton: All right.  So if we come to you – I know a lot of PR people listen to these shows – they need to come to you with something that isn’t just about themselves, but is about a bigger story, and links to other things going on in the world?

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  That’s the only thing I’m really interested in.  I mean, because I understand, like look, everyone’s got different agendas and PR people want… You know they get paid in order to get publicity for their client.  That’s not my interest.  And if our interests can coincide, great.  But, yeah I’m not really interested in giving a certain company publicity.  I’m interested in like real stories.  And I think sometimes that’s missing forma lot of PR people.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  Well a lot of times they’re juggling multiple accounts and they don’t completely understand the landscape of the entire business and the proposition and how it feeds into it.  You know you have to be with a company as a PR person for quite awhile to kind o get that big picture and be able to be facile at describing an opportunity like that to a journalist.

Brian Morrissey: Right.

Susan Bratton: You’ve been really talking a little bit about how you think reporting has changed.  You know, you can’t live in a vacuum; you can’t necessarily get exclusives and embargoes, any of those kinds of things.  How has reporting changed for you, from Silicon Alley Reporter to DM News, to Click Z, to VNU now with Adweek?

Brian Morrissey: Well, I mean you know, you switch jobs and you switch focuses and you switch audiences.  So you know Silicon Alley Reporter was very much a startup, and I didn’t really know what I was doing or anything.  So I think I’m just a better reporter, I hope.  But I don’t know, I think the audience changes.  You know Ad Week audience; you know Ad Week is focused on the has-beens, obviously on the very traditional advertising industry.  And you know, that’s advantageous and disadvantageous.  But I think of it as a really good opportunity to take the world that we know very well, but that really, you know the rest of the ad industry, which is enormous, is just waking up to.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: I think sometimes, within the interactive sphere, it can be kind of myopic.  You know I think there’s so much that’s focus on the new, new, new thing and advertising and saying that the TV commercial’s dead and stuff like this, that I don’t know… the larger context is interesting to write for.

Susan Bratton: So what being at Ad Week has done is really open up your eyes to how massive the traditional industry is, because that’s the bulk of your constituency or readership now.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  And also how much the interactive industry can learn from it too.  I think there’s things like…

Susan Bratton: Right.  We’ve been telling them all the things we want them to hear.

Brian Morrissey: Well, the thing is, they don’t get it, they don’t get it, and like that’s… I have much less patience for that kind of stuff nowadays.

Susan Bratton: What do you think the interactive industry can learn from the traditional world of marketing and advertising?  What’s the number one thing we don’t get?

Brian Morrissey: Well I think the number one thing is that these brands aren’t dumb.  Like they’ve built these brands over decades, and it wasn’t by jumping on the newest thing.  It wasn’t by going to Tech Crunch or whatever, and like saying, “Wow! Widgets are going to be everything,” and stuff like that.

Susan Bratton: Although you have been covering widgets a lot lately.  I like widgets.

Brian Morrissey: No, I admit… I have been very… because it’s part of a larger shift that we’re seeing, which we can talk about.  But I think too many times the interactive industry is too focused on the technology, and that’s because it is tech-focused.  But it’s about a lot more than the technology.  I think a lot of times the strategy has been overlooked, and how brands get built.  And I’m just really learning this, because honestly the places I’ve worked before, I’ve…  you end up focused on the technology and on the implementation.

Susan Bratton: Absolutely.  Well, that’s a great time for us to transition.  We have to thank my Dishy Mix sponsors, so we’re going to take a break.  I wanted to let my listeners know that you can actually get text and transcripts of this show on  You can also send an email to me, at [email protected].  And if you’d like to call and leave a voicemail with comments or questions -- it’s something we could potentially air on the show -- you can do that by calling 206-350-5333.  We’re going to take a short break to thank our sponsors.  We’re with Brian Morrissey of Ad Week, and we’ll be right back.


Susan Bratton: We’re back, and I’m your host, Susan Bratton.  And I have Brian Morrissey.  Brian is with Ad Week, the senior reporter for interactive.  And we were talking before the break about his business and the changes that he’s seen in reporting, and what it takes to make a good story.  What I wanted to do now, Brian, was to move into… well I want to go back in time a little bit, and I want to talk about you and speechwriting and how you got into that and then made the transition into reporting.  So tell us whom you wrote speeches for, and how you decided like, what you… “Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be a speechwriter in Washington!”

Brian Morrissey: No, I didn’t…

Susan Bratton: That doesn’t happen!  Right?

Brian Morrissey: No, it doesn’t.  I don’t think so.  I hope it doesn’t.  Well, I had gone to grad school for a couple years, and I kind of came back and didn’t know what I was going to do.  I don’t think I was really qualified to do anything.  So I don’t know; Washington had always interested me and politics had, so the first time I got an opportunity to work for this group of speechwriters, ex-White House speechwriters.  And I started there; I was doing mostly research for speeches and then slowly started to do my own writing.  Some of it was speeches, but some of it was just writing op-ed pieces.  So I would like write an op-ed and then someone else’s name would go on it. 

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: I don’t know; I guess it’s a…  Mainly I did PR, I don’t know.  I don’t know what to call it.

Susan Bratton: Well it’s all writing, which is clearly what you love to do.  You were…  You have double Master’s Degrees.  Right?

Brian Morrissey: I do.  I have two.

Susan Bratton: What are they?

Brian Morrissey: One is in European Studies, which is kind of vague.  It was basically European politics and economics.  And the other is in Journalism.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  And for a while you went to the University of Luven in Belgium.  Is that right?

Brian Morrissey: I did, yeah.

Susan Bratton: Did I say that right, Luven?

Brian Morrissey: Luven, yeah.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  And so did you speak… What is it, ‘Belgic’? [laughs]

Brian Morrissey: ‘Belgish’, actually.

Susan Bratton: Belgish, did you speak any Belgish?

Brian Morrissey: No, they speak both Flemish, which is basically Dutch, and French there.  I lived in the Flemish-speaking section.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  I know you didn’t learn how to speak Dutch, because that’s all the [making guttural sounds] stuff, isn’t it?

Brian Morrissey: It is.  It’s very guttural.  I don’t know, I learned… I don’t know, a fair amount.  It was hard, because everyone spoke English.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: But I lived there for a couple years, so, I don’t know.  It was okay.

Susan Bratton: It’s a beautiful place.  And what town were you in?  Is it Luven?

Brian Morrissey: It’s Luven.  It’s about…

Susan Bratton: Where is that?

Brian Morrissey: …20 miles north of Brussels.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  Gorgeous.  And Brugge is absolutely one of the most beautiful vacation spots ever, don’t you think?

Brian Morrissey: It is.  It’s very like fairy-tale.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  And canals and everything, so pretty.

Brian Morrissey: Right.

Susan Bratton: What do you think it is about Belgian beer that makes it the best in the world?

Brian Morrissey: Uhm, it’s strong.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that’s always… [laughs] That’s a good thing!

Brian Morrissey: Well I think it’s just, it’s there’s… you know, there’s so much of it in a… you know it’s kind of like Silicon Valley, in a way.  You know, what makes Silicon Valley?  You know there are so many breweries in Belgium that inevitably you’re going to have a lot of great beer.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  And I just love it there.  And they’ve been doing it since what, like the 1200’s the 11… and you read about these.  You have a beer and it’s been making that beer for hundreds and hundreds of years, a thousand years, so they’re probably pretty good at it by now.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  I would say so.  But I think a lot of them too have ended up probably getting bought by Inter-Brew, or like a large brewery, so…

Susan Bratton: Yeah, a lot of rollups.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Do you still drink Belgian beer?

Brian Morrissey: The consolidation has already taken hold in the Belgian beer industry.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: Ah, I mean I do, you know Stella is so popular here now.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: They actually make that in Luven.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  Now how do you balance beer drinking with running ultra-marathons?  What is an ultra-marathon?

Brian Morrissey: An ultra… An ultra’s anything longer than 26 miles.  So it can be anything… I’ve only gone a 50k, so that’s 31 miles.  But you know, they go upwards to 100 miles or more.  I’ve never done that.  There’s a race actually on Monday that goes through Death Valley.  That’s 135 miles.

Susan Bratton: What’s that one called?

Brian Morrissey: The Badwater.

Susan Bratton: Wow.  And do you live in Manhattan?

Brian Morrissey: I do.  I live on the Upper West Side.

Susan Bratton: So how do you run in Manhattan?  Because you have to stop at every light?

Brian Morrissey: Well I don’t run on the streets.  We are…  One of the good things Robert Moses did and he did many bad things, was he made sure that we have parks.  So I run in Central Park, and I also run next to Riverside Park, which goes along the Hudson River.  I even run home from work sometimes.

Susan Bratton: And how long does it take, or how many miles is it running to and from work?

Brian Morrissey: It’s about six and a half.

Susan Bratton: Oh, that’s pretty good, six and a half miles.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah, it’s not bad.

Susan Bratton: And how frequently do you do these marathons?

Brian Morrissey: I only do about, nowadays, like two per year.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  Anything more than that is kind of looking to get injured, or just not feel good.

Susan Bratton: That’s a lot of running.  And I’m thinking you’re kind of in your early to mid-thirties.  How old are you?  I don’t know.

Brian Morrissey: I’m 34.

Susan Bratton: 34, yeah.  That’s about right.  So, are you noticing any changes?  Or do you feel like you’re still in your massive prime around marathons?

Brian Morrissey: You know, I don’t think I am anymore.  I thought I would continue to, but I don’t think I am anymore.  I don’t know, I think it takes longer to recover.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: And you know you get busier at work, and it gets harder.

Susan Bratton: Now I don’t know if you’re single, married… what’s your relationship status?

Brian Morrissey: [laughs] I’m unmarried.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah, but I have a girlfriend.

Susan Bratton: Aha!  And how long has this been going on?

Brian Morrissey: About a year and a half.

Susan Bratton: And it’s feeling pretty good?

Brian Morrissey: Ah, yes.

Susan Bratton: Hmm, that was very… “YES!”  Now did you say that just because you think she’ll listen to the show?  Or did you tell me the truth?

Brian Morrissey: I told you the truth.

Susan Bratton: [laughs] I love it.  Well that’s great!  How exciting for you.  I’m pleased.  Now there are some weird things you told me about yourself.  First of all, one is that you eat a lot of bananas.  Is it for the potassium for the running?  Or what, are you just like “Monkey Boy”, Freak?  What is it?

Brian Morrissey: Well no, I would say it’s the running.  I think a lot of runners eat a lot of bananas, but I like to have like three a day.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  That is a lot.  And you don’t have to… Clearly you’re not worried about your weight.

Brian Morrissey: And they’re very handy.  You know someone at his keyboard all day, other fruit you get all over your hands, but bananas come… you know they have a sheath and you don’t get your hands all messy and you can put it to the side and type.  It’s a handy fruit.

Susan Bratton: The packaging is perfect.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, it’s good packaging.

Brian Morrissey: I have one right now.

Susan Bratton: [laughs] Wait till the show’s over to eat it. [laughs]  So, another quirky thing about you… you just… there are a couple of quirky things about you.  I’m sure there’s a lot more.  These are just the ones you were willing to give up to me.  One is that you have acrophobia.

Brian Morrissey: Acrophobia?

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you’re afraid of heights.

Brian Morrissey: Oh, oh, okay.  Yeah, I don’t even have my vocabulary.

Susan Bratton: How did you get that?  Were you born afraid of heights?

Brian Morrissey: I mean it’s not like extreme.  I just wouldn’t want to be like on a fire escape, for example.

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Brian Morrissey: So, I mean I don’t feel comfortable with that.  But it’s not like I wouldn’t go on like a roof deck or something.

Susan Bratton: So it’s not a hugely limiting thing for you.

Brian Morrissey: No.  It doesn’t affect me.  I’m probably not even technically scared of heights.  Maybe I just don’t… I prefer not to be, I don’t know, in precarious situations.

Susan Bratton: This is going to take some deep therapy, I think.

Brian Morrissey: [laughs]

Susan Bratton: [laughs] The other… here’s the other freaky thing about you… you told me that you… this is insane, Morrissey, in-sane.  Babe, you got to fix this.

Brian Morrissey: What’s that?

Susan Bratton: You’ve used the same broken alarm clock for nearly ten years.  You have to turn it on and off with a pen?

Brian Morrissey: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Okay, that’s strange.  Tell me why this goes on.

Brian Morrissey: I have a red pen next to it.  I think, you know despite all the running, I think at the end of the day I’m probably pretty lazy, so I just haven’t bought a new one, and I’ve just gotten used to it.  And I don’t know, I think I kind of... it actually, it’s kind of difficult to do, because you have to like get the tip of the pen in there and… so it’s not an easy thing to do first thing in the morning, so maybe I like the challenge.

Susan Bratton: You know, I’ve always been really intrigued by those, like sound sensation alarm clocks, those ones where when it wakes you up it wakes you up to some… like the ocean surf or birds in the Amazon rain forest.  Have you heard about those clocks?

Brian Morrissey: Are those the ones that they do it like periodically, like they start with a certain thing?  I don’t know, I know that there are ones at like Brookstone…

Susan Bratton: They’re Brookstoney, yeah.

Brian Morrissey: They’re like 40 dollars and they’ll like start with just emitting a low noise, so…  Because I guess like it’s not good just to all of a sudden wake up like a bolt.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  I like a hug when I wake up.

Brian Morrissey: Oh, okay.

Susan Bratton: [laughs]

Brian Morrissey: I’m in a relationship.

Susan Bratton: You can get a hug.  Oh yeah, I wasn’t asking for you.  I’ve got… I’m in a relationship with my husband.  So I’ve got a kind of… I’ve got a built-in hug man.  Speaking of that, what is this thing about man-on-man chivalry?

Brian Morrissey: Oh, well, I think anyone who’s worked in an office knows it, although they probably haven’t recognized it, something that’s driving me nuts.  It’s a [game], if you’re in an elevator, I think if you’re in an elevator, I try to be polite.  I will let a woman get off before me and I think that’s polite and everything.

Susan Bratton: I like that.  I really like… I want to make as much money or more as any man.  I want to have all my… But I like the… It’s just a sweet thing.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.  It’s a nice thing to do and I’m entirely on board with it.

Susan Bratton: It is.

Brian Morrissey: What I’m not on board with is, if I’m in an elevator, there’s two guys in the elevator with me, where all of us are getting off on the seventh floor, is some guy holds the door and makes you go in front of him.

Susan Bratton: That’s a power trip.

Brian Morrissey: I don’t get that.  Either it’s a power move, or…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  It’s control.

Brian Morrissey: Why hold the door for me?

Susan Bratton: Control issue.

Brian Morrissey: And so I call it man-on-man chivalry.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.

Brian Morrissey: And there’s a surprising number of instances where it happens.

Susan Bratton: Are you going to do anything about it?

Brian Morrissey: I do.

Susan Bratton: What do you do?

Brian Morrissey: I tell him to get off the elevator.

Susan Bratton: [in Brooklyn accent] “GET OFF THE ELEVATOR.  You’re not holding the door for me!”

Brian Morrissey: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: [laughs]

Brian Morrissey: I want the doors to open and like all three guys to go, trying to get off first.  I think that’s the way it should be.

Susan Bratton: Everybody… Every man for himself, get the hell off the elevator.

Brian Morrissey: Absolutely.

Susan Bratton: I hear you.  Now, here’s another cranky thing about you: You don’t volunteer.

Brian Morrissey: I don’t.

Susan Bratton: Tell me why.

Brian Morrissey: I feel bad, that I’m punished in the shed.

Susan Bratton: That’s okay.  Not every… hardly anybody does.  I really don’t think you should feel alone in this.

Brian Morrissey: I don’t know what it is.  I’ve wanted to.  I did during college and then it didn’t work out so well.  And I tutored a kid briefly during Columbia, but I was supposed to tutor him but we ended up playing kickball a lot.  And then he didn’t so well on his grades and his mom blamed me.  All right, so maybe that kind of scared me off.

Susan Bratton: So you’ve had a volunteering incident.

Brian Morrissey: I guess so.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  Well I can see that.  I really can see that.

Brian Morrissey: Do you volunteer?

Susan Bratton: I do.  A little bit here and there.  So one of the things that I like to do… I think you have to find the right kind of volunteering.  Here’s what I do: Every year I adopt one or two families from a very poor area just outside of Silicon Valley.  It’s like South San Jose.  I adopt one or two families, and then I ask any of my friends… I find out what these families need.  These are families with children, usually quite a few children.  And I find out what they’re missing.  Sometimes they don’t have beds.  They’re on blow-up mattresses, or they don’t have sheets.  Or they need rolling suitcases because they get ferried around from place to place because they’re parents are in jail, or you know, all kinds.  I’ve got all kinds of stories; they’ve never had a bicycle, whatever.  And so I just assess these families and I find out what they need.  I talk to the parents or the grandparents or the caretakers or whoever it is.  And then I come back to my daughter and the other mothers of my daughter’s, in my daughter’s school, for her school peers, and I ask them to donate anything that they feel like they can.  Like I make a list, I make it really easy, “Here’s a list of things this family needs.  What would you like to contribute, if you’d like to contribute?”  And a lot of people say, “Hey, I do something else.  I’m not interested.”  And a lot of people say, “Thank you for making this easy for me.”  Then I take all the goodies, my daughter and I wrap them, or she’ll have friends over and we’ll all wrap them together.  And then we… I take my daughter with some of her friends and we go deliver the gifts, and we go to the house and we meet the children and we take pictures of them.  And then I share those photos back.  And I feel like that first-hand opportunity for my daughter and all her friends to see how another family lives is hugely [impactful] and she’s gotten her hands dirty.  Like last year I gave them the money and they went to Target with the list and they had to figure out, with this much money, here are all the things they need… What are we going to get them?  How many things can we accomplish?  And then they brought them all home and wrapped them.  And that felt fabulous for me.  And over the years I think it makes a pretty dramatic impact for my daughter.  So in that way, volunteering has been good for me, but it took me a long time to find that niche for myself, and something that I could really do and do well.  So I think it’s just time.

Brian Morrissey: Well, I’m still looking.

Susan Bratton: Yes, exactly.  And it will come to you, like I felt…

Brian Morrissey: I’ve thought about being one of the people… have you ever seen during marathons, the people that run with the blind people?

Susan Bratton: Oh, wow.  No, I haven’t seen that.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah, they basically get like tethered to a blind runner, so they kind of guide them through.  See I don’t know how it works with training.  I mean, that would be very interesting.

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  That would be an amazing, amazing experience.  Can you imagine how good you’d feel running alongside someone who was competing in a marathon, who was blind?  That would be so inspiring and you would feel so good about yourself.

Brian Morrissey: But I wonder if you have to train with them like all the time?

Susan Bratton: I don’t know.

Brian Morrissey: You’d really get to know the person.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, you would.  You better pick a good one.  Right?  Although most people…

Brian Morrissey: I’d want to like interview them.

Susan Bratton: Exactly.  Most people are beautiful inside once you unveil them.  Right?  Just like today.  This is what we do on Dishy Mix.  Right?  It’s neat to know about you!  You’ve got a girlfriend you’re totally jazzed about.  You run marathons.  You’re a banana eater.  You’ve got a freaky alarm clock situation going on.  I mean, who knew?  As a matter of fact, when I was trying to dig up stuff about you on the Internet and do my research, there’s nothing.  Like, I can’t even find a bio on you, dude.  Like there’s nothing!

Brian Morrissey: What do you mean?

Susan Bratton: Well I can’t find anything.  Like, where is all of this stuff about you?  You’re a bit of an enigma.

Brian Morrissey: Am I?

Susan Bratton: Yeah.  Well, no longer, because of course now we’ve revealed the Brian Morrissey, but yeah, it was actually pretty difficult.

Brian Morrissey: What were you looking for?

Susan Bratton: Oh, you know, just I was looking for your bio; I was looking for whatever.  I read some old stories that you wrote and things like that, but there isn’t much about you.  You don’t have a Flick’r site.  You don’t have a personal blog.  I mean there’s no real…

Brian Morrissey: I do.  I do have a personal blog.

Susan Bratton: What is it?

Brian Morrissey: It’s the Internal Pigdog.  It’s about running.

Susan Bratton: Internal what dog?

Brian Morrissey: Internal Pigdog.

Susan Bratton: P-i-g?

Brian Morrissey: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Okay.  So it’s a running blog.

Brian Morrissey: Mm hmm.

Susan Bratton: Oh, well see I didn’t find that at all.  And what about…

Brian Morrissey: You weren’t searching for “Internal Pigdog” I guess. [laughs]

Susan Bratton: Yeah, that one didn’t come up with me.  Well we’ll have to check that out and we’ll get to know you more.  So, we’re out of time for today.  I really have had a lot of fun with you, Brian.  It’s nice to spend some time getting to know you better.  And I just want to reiterate for those listeners who are interested, that you can call with comments or email comments, [email protected], and you can call at 206-350-5333.  Brian’s show will have text and transcripts on as well, so you can remember all these fabulous things about him.  And now you won’t be so unknown on the web, Brian, because this will be up!  Right?

Brian Morrissey: Optimized for search.

Susan Bratton: Exactly.  So, and we’ll also point to the Pigdog blog, so if you’re interested in connecting and you’re listening and you’re running right now, for example, it’ll all be there.  So, Brian, thank you so much for coming on Dishy Mix today.

Brian Morrissey: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, it was fun.  It was my pleasure.  I really enjoyed it.  You’re a great sport.  And we’ll have you back in a little while and see what’s been going on with you.  So for you listeners, who have tuned in today, thank you so much for spending the time with us.  We appreciate it and we wish you a great day.  This is your host, Susan Bratton.  Take care.


Announcer:  Find more great shows like this on