Monday, December 30, 2013

Rhymes With Lame*

Justin Bieber has gone off the deep end. The one-boy-band has launched a new album called Believe (that's for those NOT keeping score. I wasn't.). Now, I rarely point out the inequities of the super rich and/or famous because–at least in the confines of this blog–they don't weigh-in to my world. But that is about to change. I am appalled, disgusted and and mostly disappointed at the behavior and action of a young man who has grown up in front of us all. A guy whose destructive actions and horrific choices are damn near criminal. 

Oh sure, I know how the story goes. Young man, privileged with opportunity and excess without the wisdom or maturity—or moral compass—to navigate such things, becomes a victim of his own success. A bright star that inevitably burns out because the excess and absence of boundaries lead him down a self-destructive path that downward spirals into an endless abyss.

However, while we're on the "poor baby" pity party (maybe for Justin its 'poor baby-baby-baby—Ohh), we can keep a few things in mind while we are presiding over a verdict over this guy in the court of public opinion:

  • Justin is a vandal. In a recent excursion to Australia, JB decided to "Party Hard' in a plush hotel by tagging (spray-painting for the folks following at home), destroying hotel property and being a general nuisance to the other guests with him and his entourage. Way to go.

  • Justin is a bully. Recently, 'Biebs' spit off a balcony into crowd of adoring young fans. As if that wasn't enough, in a separate incident, he also urinated from the balcony of a hotel room, also onto a crowd of fans. Last time I looked, spitting on someone and peeing on them are the actions of a coward.

  • Justin is immoral. While in many circles (and counties) sleeping with hookers isn't the worst thing you can do, in most places it is illegal and contributes to to suppression of women's dignity. Sure what two consenting adults do behind closed doors is their business. However, let's remember his key demographic is teen girls aged 11–17. So the message there is... to get with Justin, you gotta be a hooker. Nice.

  • Justin is abusive. A short time ago, the Bling-boy was at a resort where he came across four young girls sunning themselves–again, a prime fan candidate–and proceed to single one girl out for her weight, remarking how she was a 'beached whale' and such. Really Justin? Did your overpaid posse of bodyguards give you that extra incentive to let this little girl know how you really felt?

  • Justin is Gordon Gecko. Much like Michael Douglas' classic 'money-over-everyone' super evil money man in the classic 80's excess film Wall Street, the Biebs is an unstoppable financial juggernaut. He earned just over $108 million in the last two years, making him pretty dang rich–and ruthlessly callous. Look, I know being wealthy isn't a crime, being a prick with endless pockets is pretty bad by any measure, though. 

Justin is on a one-way ticket to crash-and-burn-ville. He doesn't have a filter, a barometer of compassion or a sense of morality. I'm hugely disappointed in him because I thought he would be a better man than he's become. He has lost the respect of adults everywhere and his fans are bleeding away in droves. 

A simple closing thought to you Justin as we close out 2013. Want us to believe? Stop being such a tool and give us something to believe in. 

*Shame. Shame rhymes with Lame... 
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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Shush! I wasn't done.

Today's world is so ready to talk—and so ill-equipped to listen—miscommunication is at an all-time high. 

Every high school, college and HR Department should offer a once-a-year course in communication skills training, No one should be exempt from this one. It's stunning to me to encounter the sheer number of people who don't know how to properly communicate. Here's what I mean. Here's your basic conversational dynamic; you speak, I listen. Then, I speak, YOU listen. Simple right? Wrong. No one can seem to do this. No ONE. Not in 7.1 Billion souls on Earth can a single one of us seem to get this right. 

And it's getting worse. 

Not a day goes by when in my teenager-ridden home that at least half of them are talking at once. Let me repeat that. At least two of the four people in the room are talking at the same time, often at full volume (i.e., shouting). 

On Immigrants and Nukes and Shouting Real Loud

Recently, President Obama was speaking about new landmark developments concerning some spectacular policy changes in our county's relationship with Iran. Then, without provocation, several young people in the crowd start shouting—at The President of The United States!—about immigration policy reform. 

Are you kidding me? This is the leader of the free world you dope! Stop talking and let the man speak! He will get to your topic right after he shares how we might be able to avoid World War III by bringing Iran to the table to discuss nuclear disarmament. Kind of sounds important doesn't it? The hecklers would have thought so too if they had taken a moment to shut their mouths, open their ears and listen. 

In all fairness, the president handled himself in a cool and commanding manner, while reminding the hecklers that, "What I'm proposing is the harder path, which is using our democratic process" Obama reminds the passionate, yelling young man,"It won't be as easy as shouting, it requires using our laws to get things done." You can see the exchange, here.

The hecklers would have known this if they had simply LISTENED in their American history class, they would have known the office of the President is NOT a king, that laws are tradition of our democratic process and that means people discussing and voting on said laws to bring about change.

The Lost Art Of Listening 

So if the President can't get a word in on foreign policy, what hope does my living room have? What chance do co-workers have in the free exchange of ideas and concepts if two or more are talking at once? Or worse, when someone is railroading someone else in a conversation (this is when someone is speaking and another party begins speaking right over them before they are finished making their point). 

As I understand things, the exchange of ideas means only one person speaks while one or more listen. I learned that from the Baby-Boomers, the generations that lived through the depression, the American Dust Bowl tragedy of the 1930's and a couple World Wars. Not only do they know how to listen, I would argue they have a thing or two worth hearing, seeing as they have lived through nuclear scares, the overhaul of civil rights and horrific wars coupled with spell-binding social change. 

Children speak over each other, adults bulldoze conversations and even the President of the United States can't seem to get a word in edgewise. We may all be doomed to the horrible consequences of our inability to listen. 

The world, the very Earth itself is crying out for us to change our ways. If we raise generations that only speak and don't listen how will they know not to repeat the same mistakes of previous generations? The world seems to be the same powder keg as it always has been but fewer and fewer people are paying any attention because everyone is talking.

So I pose this question if everyone is speaking at once—in the room, in the country, in the world—then,  who's listening? 
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cats For Cash

Attention entrepreneurs! I celebrate my 100th post with a golden opportunity to give a poor defenseless, abandoned stray cat a new home–while making some mad cash to boot! 

I've lived in big cities my entire adult life. Everywhere I've lived has had a healthy supply of stray cats in almost every neighborhood. Now, I need to go down on record and say that I am VERY far from a cat lover, but my personal sense of humanity and my own nurturing nature says no animal should have to 'rough it' in a man-made environment. 

So as a potential solution, I propose the following 'Cats For Cash' initiative. Hear me out before you go all ASPCA on my backside. 

Cats are coy, lovable furry little pests… I mean pets, that cuddle on demand, fetch, roll-over, wag their tail when you pet 'em, hop around when you come home and.. oh wait, those are called dogs. Well, I'm sure cats do useful and lovable stuff, too, like scratch up your furniture, pee on your stuff–so you have to throw it out–and make you sneeze uncontrollably. 

Anyway you look at these fun-fueled hairballs, they deserve a home. Here's what I suggest:

STEP 1: Find a cat. Dip your head into any city alleyway and you're sure to find a treasure trove of homeless felines of every make, model, color and grade of aloofness. Pick your candidate and proceed to…

STEP 2: Say cheese! Take a pic of your new home-needy hair factory. Try innovative and lovable poses (example: getting into trouble with the laundry is always an attention grabber!). Pick 3-6 of your favorite pics and then you're ready to… 

STEP 3: Create your Craigslist Cat-for-sale post! Come up with an adorable name like Muffins, Uncle Cuddle-bottoms, Mr. Mittens or one of my favorites, 'Bob' (wait for it…). Once your faux feline friend has a name it's time to create your fun back story! Popular options are; you have to move to a country where cats are not welcome or you've lost everything and have to downsize and can't keep him/her/it. You pick the tale, then weave your storytelling magic. Next…

STEP 4: Cha-ching! Posting to Instagram or Craigslist is best! Ask for a modest–but believable fee–"$250 obo" for your little schnook-ums. When meeting the new pet owner, remind them that their new pet loves long walks, 'Frisky-Fiesta' brand canned cat food (sure it's pricier but hey, the li'l feller's had a hard life, let him live a little) and that their shot record is not up-to-date (after all you don't want to LIE). 

BONUS! This is also a great opportunity to clean out the closet. Old shoes, torn socks, grimy old soft toys and stuffed animals long-past their prime can have new life dropped off with your little bundle of departing joy. Just tell the new owner Captain Cuddles can't go a day without 'ball-ball'. 

STEP 5: Rinse and repeat. Now, the drawback (aside from this being horribly immoral and potentially illegal) is the fact that once you successfully complete this transaction, you may have to go undercover, wear a disguise, change your name, get a new phone number etc. 

But hey, just think of all that cash! 

The Bottom Line: This post is purely a matter of comedy. If you're seriously thinking that scooping up stray cats and peddling them to unsuspecting single ladies online is okay, well, you are far from being (ahem!) the 'Cat's Meow.'

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Why even go?

This must be what it's like to get old(er). TV commercials seem sillier and sillier as they obviously appeal to an ever-increasingly immature mindset. I'm reminded of a recent ad I watched featuring four clearly NOT athletic looking young men (one particularly obese) jump from scenario to action-packed scenario shooting unseen enemies and blowing up soviet helicopters with shoulder-mounted RPGs. 

In Las Vegas, no less. You know, where MANY soviet attack helicopters often terrorize people on a regular basis. 

One scene even has these bozos shooting automatic rifles at, again, unseen adversaries in orbit wearing space suits (spoiler alert! machine guns don't work in zero gravity). Soon the video game that sponsors this mini excursion into insanity flashes its Ritalin-deprived message of 'buy now!' All three of my teenage boys shout "yes" and pump fists into the air and high-five one another. Really?  

But I digress. 

As if to amplify my current state of cultural malaise, I remember a recent experience at my local cineplex. At the screening, three burly (and I'm being kind) middle-aged dudes spent the entire 15-minute trailer segment before the start f the film  telling each other–in regular voices–which movies they thought were 'dumb', 'stupid' or 'awesome'. Who does that? You know we can hear you, right? Thankfully, these three rotund connoisseurs of film avant garde simmered down by show time. 

Then the characters in the audience really show their colors. 

Half-way through the movie another mid-40's fellow movie-goer decided it was time to eat some cellophane-packed sugary treats that took what seemed like a week to open and pound through. The entire process was louder than the movie. How? How is it he doesn't think the rest of us can't hear this, let alone won't mind? 

Then there is the uh… 'portly' gentleman, who comes in late, sits in the front row and immediately falls asleep—snoring at full volume. Mind you, this is a 10 am film on a Sunday morning. We've all nodded off during a flick in our time, but wow. If you were that tired, maybe sitting in a dark room with comfy seats with a room full of strangers isn't the best game-plan for the morning. Why did he even leave home? Why did either this guy or his sweet-toothed, sugar-addicted co-movie-ruiner even come? 

Then I remember even more infractions. People, mostly women (sorry ladies)  who sit at half-court at NBA games texting and not even watching the event. Watch ANY NBA game for more than 6 minutes… you'll see them. Or concert goers who sit while everyone else stands, seemingly bored to tears. I've even been to school plays where parents are so busy texting and chatting they miss their own kid's performance. 

We have become so distracted, so overcome with the need to be stimulated, we can't even enjoy events MEANT to stimulate and entertain us. To me it's like going to a museum just to buy a pack a gum at the gift shop. Why even go? 

I'd love to hear other instances of distracted indifference, but I would imagine none of my readers ever make it this far into the blog.  Probably got some tweets to read or something. 

Nuff' said. Heading back to the corner… 
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Drastic Measures

How my new car revealed how long America has been going backwards.

Back in the day, when I was a wee-tyke, my teachers, my family, my whole world was buzzing about how we had to learn the Metric system. It was newer, it was faster, it was better. And it was coming. 


Then, the fabled lethargy of the American psyche took over our nation of Monday Night Football fans, who said in one collective, belt-loosening sigh; "Nah."

Fast forward to 2013. 

My beloved car of more than five years was totaled in an accident and I was faced with having to get a new vehicle while saying goodbye to the previous. The prospect for getting a very good deal on a used but reliable SUV came up. Perfect vehicle for my family, safe, good gas mileage, great features—except for one.

The readings on the car's instruments, screen and dials were all metric system.

You see, the vehicle was originally from Canada. Turns out that changing the vehicle's readings over to the English measuring system was both an expense and cost in labor. When the dealer proposed to give me a price break if I just accepted it as is, I opted to keep it Metric. Mind you, I know frighteningly little about the Metric system but if it's good enough for more than seven billion of us on Earth, I can learn it to. 

The "English Measurement System" the United States currently observes (and presently the ONLY country that does so), is archaic and sadly out of date. The metric system is faster, easier to grasp, and... wait for it... is what the rest of the planet already uses. I think you've got to be a certain kind of lazy to NOT adopt something that everyone else uses simply because you can't be bothered. That level of boneheadedness is rare indeed. 

There is a list as long as my arm concerning what is great about our country, but when it comes to keeping in step with the rest of the human race... at least in regards to measurement... our country comes off as a special breed of lazy, ignorant, self-absorbed a-holes.

While driving, at least my kids will be learning the basics of the metric system. You know, in case they want to travel or, gosh forbid, make a friend with someone in the world other then the ignoramus down the street. That Doe-doe probably still uses the English measurement system.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

So, you're "Gay"

13 year-old son (parading through living room with only underwear on): "Check me out – too sexy!"

17 year-old daughter (fully clothed): "Gross! That's sooo disgusting! Go put on some clothes!" 

13 year old: (laughs)

15 year old: "Dude, that's so gay–!"

This is where I begin to unravel. 

Me: "He's NOT 'Gay' he's naked." (In my attempt to explain that being naked has nothing to do with being Gay)

17 year-old daughter: "Stop being a retard! Go put some clothes on––!!"

Again, I am trying to keep my cool with the blatant misuse of derogatory labels. 
Me: "He's NOT a retard, he's naked! Please STOP using that language!" 

Three of my four teens-including the near naked one–look at me as if I filled my pants. I hadn't. 

Me: "Look guys, terms like 'Gay' are descriptions of lifestyle and completely inappropriate for use as an insult."

[Insert pin-drop silence audio here]

Me (again): "Also, the term 'retard' is derogatory and hurtful. You need to be more respectful. Why don't you find better ways to call each other bad things. Or better yet, don't do it at all–!" 

[Nervous snickers…]

Me: "You guys may think you're funny… but I'm not laughing." 

Name calling and bullying are no laughing matter to me. The practice of name calling is insensitive, mean and sprouts from ignorance and pettiness. Obviously there is nothing wrong with being gay and mental retardation is certainly nothing to laugh at. Let alone using the term to belittle or create insults from. 

What is most disturbing is the lack of thought or comprehension affiliated with all this hurtful slang. There isn't enough life experience between any of them to see that what they are saying is wrong in all kinds of ways. 

A strong round of lectures, extra chores and a disapproving air will be a part of my household for sometime over this. We will continue to discuss this topic as a family. It's an important topic and my children need to be FAR more open-minded than this. 

Being Gay isn't a detraction, it's a part of who you are, not some bass-akwards smart-mouthed slang. Something to be celebrated not denigrated over. Figure it out you little snits. Clearly, I have some work to do.

Not a proud parent moment for me at all.  

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why your phone is going to kill someone

Three days before the writing of this post my car was in a collision with a distracted driver. That's the term the police use to describe someone texting while driving. He ran a red light and plowed into the side of my carall because he was looking at a little screen full of text and not at his windshield. 

Our cultural demand for preoccupation continues as we look to find ways to fill every crevice of our day with some form of social or media-driven connectivity. If I turn off the fancy $5 words and say it a different way; we're all distracted. 

And we're all in mortal danger. 

How many times have we missed stop lights, stop signs, turn signals or had to break suddenly because someone in front of us isn't paying attention? Too many to count. It's because that driver is on the phone, distracted. I commute back and forth to work 50-miles a day round-trip. Not one day goes by where I don't see someone–on the freeway and on surface streets–texting while their car is on cruise control. These text/commuters aren't just teenagers either. They're often driving nice cars; BMWs, Mercedes, Porches, Acuras. 

Is the car in front of you going 50 mph in a 65mph zone? This usually means some suit is conducting a business call or some soccer mom is swapping cookie recipes on their cell and is completely oblivious to the rush-hour traffic all around them. Or it's the air-headed teen, too enthralled her own chatter about nothingness that she doesn't even notice she's drifting into your lane. 

Distracted driving is killing us. Literally. Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver making it the deadliest distraction by far. The more you drive the more likely you can be distracted. But don't take my word for it, here are some stats to keep you engaged:
  • In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers*
  • 387,000 people were injured in 2011 by motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver*
  • For drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent (that’s 1-in-5!) of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones* 
  • Engaging in visual/manual sub tasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increases the risk of getting into a crash by three times.*
  • At any given moment during daylight hours, over 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone in the US.*
We continue to hurt and kill each other in ever-increasing numbers because we're too busy sending and reading tweets and texts. Is it worth it? Is your update worth a human life? Or ruining your own for killing someone? I'm not perfect, I listen to pod casts and answer phone calls from my family and loved ones while driving, but always with a headset. While distracted driving is still a danger with a headset, at least both hands are on the wheel. 

To all those who persist in multitasking while driving I offer you this; you're playing with your life and the lives of all the others on the road. If you hurt or kill anyone I love or care about because you're too busy 'tweeting'–when I get to the pearly gates, I'm going to hunt you down and kick your ass. For all eternity. 

"Tweet" that.

* All stats pulled from: get informed and act like you know! 
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Friday, October 4, 2013

Top Ten iOS 7 Fails

As a lifelong Apple adopter (one could even say down to my core) I am he who hangs on every word from the voices from Cuppertino and I virally promote every new Apple software and hardware milestone. So you could imagine my personal levels of heightened shock and awe at the disappointing Apple adopter experience of the long-awaited—and long promoted—Apple iOS 7. 

For those non-Appellations or if you are one of the 143 people left in the developed world who know nothing about Apple products, iOS 7 is the operating system that runs Apple's legion of portable devices including iPads, iPods and iPhones

And I hate it

Why you ask? Well here are ten reasons I particularly loathe iOS 7 (cover your ears, kids): 

10. The User Interface – A nice light font, thin, airy look and clean design. Now where have I seen this before? Starts with "An" and ends with "Droid"? There's a name for this kind of emulation. Let's say it together; C-O-P-Y-C-A-T. 

9. Icons — The cool, graphically pleasing visual iconography of iOS 6 has gone from "Wow" to "WTF". The new icons aren't innovation, they're cheap clip art. Shame on you Apple. Shame. 

8. Peek-A--Boo see-through screens – No one needs to see through the screen they're looking at. It's annoying, it's unnecessary and it's a huge WTF to the developers. 

7. 3D Graphics Effects – When you rotate or move the screen on your device a visual 3D effect can be experienced and… wait, what? What is this, an mini IMAX movie? Why on EARTH would you spend THAT kind of development time and manpower behind… an effect. Again, WTF!? 

6. Non-Intuitive Functionality Changes – Did you know there more than a dozen Apps and countless YouTube videos created to SIMPLY to teach me how to do things I used to do without assistance? Closing Apps, previewing usage, Siri, and WiFi usage parameters. All new, and all for no good reason. Thanks Apple. 

5. WiFi connectivity – There are close to a dozen antennas in every model of the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C and 5S. Wanna know how I know? Because nothing network-enabled works without connection to a WiFi network. No App updates, no games or video, even some calls drop like a bad college elective. Wait, did you just say your phone has trouble making and holding calls? Wha–?

4. Introducing Siri – again – Look for upgrades to the previously Beta-only Siri software. Sure, now you can chose between a male or female voice. But it still 'eff's up' when I say things like "call home" or "nearest gas station". Now there are entirely new features for us to learn that Siri is incapable of performing. 

3. Can you say………..? – Have you noticed how long it takes to download info, access the web or even access Apps now? Some Apps I have to actually re-plug in my contact information to. Oh good, because I wasn't already frustrated enough with my iPhone's new shortcomings. Now I can remind all my Apps who I am again. Thanks Apple. 

2. Technicolor Terror – Why did Apple choose to take a perfectly clean, sophisticated color palette and make it more… gross? The child-like, basic color scheme is at best unappealing, though words like repulsive and painful also come to mind. 

1. Introducing, the not-so-smart Smart Phone – All this makes for a sordid user experience. Its a sad day when Apple, for the first time in it's history, forgoes its long-standing award-winning design, architecture and experience to follow somebody else's standard. Sorry Steve. It's all falling apart… fast. 

So why should you care? 

While there are an alarming number of reports of people getting motion sickness from the new screen animations (having a hard time with that one), clearly I am not the only one contemplating a reload of iOS6. 

Hopefully you don't really care what I think but you can view some of what I have shared as a wake-up call. Apple has lead the charge for innovation and uncompromising quality for so long, now without the company's visionary leader, there is no voice, no vision. 

Not staying true to Steve Job's vision of simplicity of design and innovative forward-thinking programming architecture just may well be the greatest fail of all. 

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Friday, September 27, 2013

stupid shoes

Every morning my son has to get up and get ready for school. If he was smart about it the night before, he would have his keys, his laptop, his bus pass, his cell phone, his lunch money and his clothes already where he can find them. Then all you gotta' do is brush teeth, shower and you're out the door like 'BAM'.

This of course is NEVER the case.

Yesterday morning I noticed he was uttering profanities under his breath, grumbling about where things were and was overall just surly. 

"Son why are you still here? You're going to miss the bus you need to get going…" 

My son replies; "...stupid shoes–!"

He is 15. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Great Escape

So there I was, fighting this zombie horde, summoning my allies and rallying my troops to my Japanese Samurai (see Samurai vs. Zombies) when suddenly, I heard the microwave go 'ding!' I paused my war on the undead and jogged into the kitchen to chastise one of my sons for prepping some hot cheesy snack product so close to dinner. Is he nuts? That's like, a billion extra carbs and stuff, not to mention that there are other predatory teenage consumers in my humble palace who are likely to try the same thing. One must be firm and clear when speaking with teenagers. One must be cautious. 

I then notice one of the other boys was in the living room, controller in hand, laying waste to a whole mob of bad guys in his video game–complete with graphically intense head-shots and stealth kills. Is this happening because all chores have also been conquered? Clearly, homework is done, dishes are spotless and the laundry I'm sure has NEVER smelt better (sniiiiffffff—ahhhh). Nope. 

It is then that I transform from fun Gamer-Dad to the world-destroying Darth Vader in like .0078 seconds (yes I counted).  Like Lucas' infamous intergalactic tyrant, I'm wind-sprinting through the narrow halls of my apartment, force-choking* insolent, lazy teens in every nook and cranny of my home-base as I utter in my best James Earl Jones impersonation "I have you now".

I soon gain the upper hand and the tattered remnants of this little rebel alliance that sprung up in my living room are vanquished. Demoralized. Defeated. 


I smile victoriously, deviously. "Today will be a day long remembered," I say coyly to a room full of sobbing teens, "it has seen the end of cheesy snacking, it will soon see the end of your defiant little alliance." Finally, with the routing of the rebels, I can return to my dark pursuits. Namely the beheading of countless Japanese Zombies and undead warriors. 

Then, just for a moment, I think to myself, 'what are you doing dude?' This gaming... this is greasy kids stuff. Grow the f**k up already and do something constructive and hammer or paint something, go buy some mundane stuff like soap, batteries or Brussel sprouts. Go wash your car or make sure the porch is swept or… something.

Then I come to my senses.  

I work all week long–I help kids do homework, cook, clean, make sure everyone has the food, money, resources and all the help and support they need to succeed. What the hell do I want to do any of that other crap for? Those things will get done. They ALWAYS get done. I then remind myself of all those people who spend their weekends–and their lives–doing stuff even THEY don't want to do. I just can't be that guy. I work hard so I can PLAY hard. Life is hard enough without having an outlet. 

So, satisfied that  an appropriate dinner is on the stove, chores are done and the rebel uprising has been crushed, I again hit the pause button and I return to my game–reassured I am doing EXACTLY what I should be doing. Here comes the next horde. Better bring my 'A' game, too. After all, those Zombies aren't going to kill themselves. 

*This is a dramatization. No children were ACTUALLY harmed during the writing of these events. Though a couple of them did come dangerously close a well-deserved swat. 

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Friday, September 20, 2013

When You Wish Upon A Star (Destroyer)...

All my life, I've been that guy. A writer, a designer an artist. It's in the DNA. Over the years, I've come to recognize a few things. First, integrity counts for a lot. Staying true to what drives you is imperative for a clear conscience and a clean vision. To pursue strong, innovative and passionate ideas is what makes for the best creativity–and ultimately–a fulfilling and successful life. 

The Walt Disney company has this down to a science. And it pays off BIG. 

Say what you want about the Disney Empire, this company consistently earns it's rep for delivering a strong creative product, time and time again. Even down to the properties they absorb like PIXAR animation studios, Marvel Comics and of course, the Star Wars franchise. From the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to a slew of story-telling classics including Snow White, The Lion King, Cinderella and Mary Poppins to only scratch the surface. I won't even mention the juggernaut of the new Disney Infinity toy/video game mash-up product that is just raking in the cash right now.

The Disney Empire is ever-expanding too; it also commands every move of a multi-billion dollar media network that includes the likes of ESPN, Disney and ABC. 

These properties live, breathe and thrive because the people in the mouse ears keep their hands off the process–and therein lies the key to creative success. If you are someone who visits this blog often or knows me, you know I have my issues with the any corporate juggernaut, but you gotta' give props where props are due.

It's often been said that it takes a good eye to recognize great talent but it takes a great one to keep it's hands off the work. 

I'm confident that Disney is driven by the bottom-line, like every other major corporation. Honestly, how could that NOT be the case? So many companies, even the ones in the entertainment biz, totally don't get the value of letting creativity breathe and thrive. Perhaps Disney knows (and still embraces!) the concept of letting craftspeople do their craft.* 

How great would it be if we were all required to do our jobs with an expectation for creative innovation? It's all any of us needs to succeed and the world offers so little opportunity for it. Kudos to Disney for getting big things to happen by making the small decision of letting people do their jobs with inspiration.  

The world isn't a perfect place, but we can perfect how we work in it and how we work with others–and you could do a whole lot worse than to have your boss say; "…make sure what you do is great and super creative—or else!"

So let's all wish upon a star (or for Star Wars fans, a Star Destroyer) and hope for a better tomorrow–filled with challenging creative endeavors. That's a better shot than most pursue in their professional lives. I realize the irony behind the  the concept of forced (see what I did there... "forced"? Huh? Huh?) creativity, but it's still better than the alternative. Okay, I've said too much, heading back to the corner...

* I'm sure the countryside is littered with tales of creative and professional horror about Disney's overbearing, heavy-handed and demanding internal practices and policies. My point still stands. 
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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Atlanta Got Conned

Last week, the city of Atlanta was conned. It was a sight to behold. The city's beleaguered police, first responders and order-keepers did their best but in the end, they were overwhelmed. More than 200 Klingons led the unbelievable array of out-of-this-world invaders. Close to one hundred Cylons, more than 300 members of the infamous 501st legion and scores of super heroes, aliens, ghouls goblins, wizards, elves, robots, Trekkies and Wookies.

And one bewildered single Dad from Phoenix, AZ along with one of his bestest buds from Sarasota, FL.

Go ahead and scoff (the closed-minded always do) but DragonCon 2013 was incredible. The freaks, the cosplay, the devilish costumes and whacked-out geekoids were out in full force and ominously everywhere—and that was just the airport!

DragonCon reported that more than 57,000 tickets were sold to attendees for the event. Last Saturday over 80,000 people came out to watch the DragonCon parade. There just aren't enough Geeks in Georgia to line the streets of Atlanta with that may excited bodies. Which means everyone went. 

No really, everyone?

To quote Gary Oldman in the classic crime thriller Léon (also known as The Professional here in the US); "Evvrrryyyyyoonnneee!"

Families. Grandmas, Moms and Dads pushing strollers, adolescents, teens and tweens. Burly beer swillen' dudes. Jocks. Dweebs. Punks. Chumps. Actors and actresses. Everyone was there and having a great time.

It used to be that if you liked comic books, fantasy, science fiction or anything related, you were a nerd, a geek or a weirdo. You were harassed. Maybe even beat up. I certainly was. But in Atlanta this past weekend, it was crystal clear, the world has taken a turn–and I would arguefor the better.

Share whatever negative opinion you have about geek culture–we have arrived. We now rule movies, TV, Hollywood, the Internet and the imagination of the world at large and of generations to come. And for at least this past weekend... the entire city of Atlanta. Not digging on geek culture? How's it feel to be in the minority? As the song goes; "...welcome to the new age". As for those that had some snarky comments to share about geek culture, we apologize but we simply couldn't hear you last weekend.

After all, a crowd of more than 80,000 of us "weirdos" were too busy having fun to hear your snide, judgmental remarks. Why not join us next time? We'd love to make it 80,001.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Please. Stop. Talking.

If you are under 23 years old, please know, you do have a voice. You have opinions and feelings, and thoughts and critiques and unique perspectives.

And yes, we're ALL kind of sick of hearing about them.

If you were born in the years of (or between) 1964 and 1981you are classified as a card-carrying member of Generation X. Those of us in Gen X remember earlier generations telling us empowering things like "children should be seen and not heard." That was mean and silences the sometimes very real value of a fresh, young perspective.

However, it also holds a certain wisdom.

My very complex social hive is a hodgepodge of media input, gaming, online connectivity, music and endless blathering and opinions concerning things that just don't matter. We cannot sit as a family and watch a movie or TV show without some one commenting, cracking a joke or texting their friends during the show. They talk over each other and talk during songs, discussion, movies, you name it. 

It gets worse, because it isn't just them, its adults as well. When did it become socially acceptable to talk–at full volume–during a movie in a theater? Or text someone during the show? It happens everywhere, during work meetings, corporate events and even church services, everyone's got something to say, and it can't wait. nO wonder our kids are so unfocused. 

To all of  you chatterboxes out there I have just one word for you that I think if you chose to remember it, would help the communication, no matter what form it takes, to be more easily understood. The word is:


Stop talking. Almost nothing at this particular moment is so important that the person right next to you needs to hear it… right now. So here's the skinny; I suggest five easy things you to can remember when someone is watching a movie, listening to a song on the radio or trying to listen to a teacher, supervisor, pastor or authority figure:
  • You are NOT funny. Save your drool comments for later. Shhh.
  • If you have something funny to say, see item number one, above. Shhh.
  • It is NOT okay to carry on a conversation with or near someone focused on something else. Shhh.
  • Remember during a show or movie, your phone has two neat features; airplane mode or off. Pick one!
  • This one is a real shocker: we are trying to watch/hear/learn. Be quiet!
Its ok to have 500 thoughts a minute. We just don't need to hear all–or any of them–at this particular moment. 
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