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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