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I was born and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where I enjoyed an idyllic semi-suburban childhood. I graduated from Rutgers with a degree in history, then picked up a master's in journalism from the University of Illinois. At the latter institution I learned little about reporting but discovered the works of classic American curmudgeon H. L. Mencken.
In my twenties I held a number of typical jobs for an idealistic liberal arts graduate, including assistant editor of Rubber Age and managing editor of Container News. At Time-Life Books I was assigned to write about plumbing fixtures. After 18 months of gainful unemployment (during which I burrowed into dozens of great books and saw my first essays published), I survived seven years as chief copywriter at Barron’s Educational Series.
In 1985 I moved from New York to relatively bucolic Allentown, Pennsylvania. Why? I had taken a job as advertising copy chief at Day-Timers, the original producer of old-fashioned personal organizers. (People still wrote on paper then.) My work there won six advertising industry awards. In the evenings, after everyone but the night watchman had left for the day, I crafted my "disgruntled definitions" for The Cynic's Dictionary (Morrow, 1994) on my office computer.
Two years later I created The Cynic’s Sanctuary (www.i-cynic.com) to promote my book, but the site took on a life of its own – with lively message board conversations, my own monthly "tirades" and other fun features. I also wrote a weekly syndicated column, "Some Cynical Guy," for Upbeat Online. One dedicated fan even wrote a screenplay, I, Cynic, based on my writings.
After 14 years at Day-Timers, I called it quits and leaped into the perilous world of freelance writing and creative consulting. As Richard Bayan (my “serious” professional alter ego), I’m the author of the popular advertising thesaurus Words That Sell and its spawn, More Words That Sell, both published by McGraw-Hill. I'm also self-publishing three collections of humorous essays on Smashwords: Extremely Dark Chocolates, Lifestyles of the Doomed, and The World Is My Obstacle Course (available next year).
In 2007, in a valiant attempt to bridge the widening gap between liberals and conservatives, I created The New Moderate (www.newmoderate.com), a blog for "extreme" centrists. I’ve been interviewed by CNN, Psychology Today, Australia's leading women's magazine and numerous radio and TV shows.
These days you can find me living with my young son and middle-aged cat in a tree-shaded former stable in Philadelphia. I’m a longtime birdwatcher and one of the few people alive who can do a reasonably accurate vocal impression of Teddy Roosevelt. I'm available for freelance projects or contract work. Wish me luck (and buy my books!).