The Write Stuff

Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, had to psyche himself up about writing .

“Writing isn’t so bad really when you get through the worry. Forget about the worry, just press on. Don’t be embarrassed about the bad bits. Don’t strain at them… Writing can be good. You attack it, don’t let it attack you. You can get pleasure out of it. You can certainly do very well for yourself with it!”

Douglas Adams

It’s great advice for any writer. This blog may be 99% “bad bits” but still we press on.

The note above and other Douglas Adams archival content will be published in a forthcoming book called 42. Read more in this article from The Guardian.

Don’t Peel Back The Onion

March Madness begins in earnest today. I took the day off from work to turn on (multiple TVs), tune in (CBS, TNT, TruTV and TBS) and drop out (of the Bracket Challenge).

It’s always fun to watch the games. But try not to think about how the players – who are the “content” for the $900 million that the NCAA will rake in during the tourney – aren’t getting a nickel.

According to the reports coming out of the Indianapolis area this week, players are being fed fast food, given free deodorant as a perk, provided with puzzles in the rooms they must isolate, and, on occasion, being given warm breakfast foods that have long since gone cold and no utensils to eat that with. In essence, college age kids are being shut in a hotel and given conditions that would make the average middle aged traveler lodge an endless series of complaints and demands to talk to the manager.

From this post on Banners on the Parkway

“It’s become clear to even the biggest NCAA apologist that we are playing this tournament primarily to deliver content to media rights partners,” said ESPN’s Jay Bilas, a former Duke player. “That’s what this season was about.“

Source: Indianapolis Star article

Enjoy the “redemption” story of Rick Pitino, who has taken his fifth team to the tournament. Pay no attention to the facts about why he left his previous coaching gig at the University of Louisville.

In June 2017, the NCAA suspended Pitino for five games of the 2017–18 season for his lack of oversight in an escort sex scandal at the University of Louisville involving recruits. Louisville’s national championship from 2013 was eventually vacated as well. In September, Pitino was implicated in a federal investigation involving bribes to recruits, which resulted in Louisville firing him for cause.

Wikipedia

Watch #8 seed LSU take to the court tomorrow afternoon, led by guard Ja’Vonte Smart. Don’t think about how LSU Head Coach Will Wade was recorded on a wiretap, talking about making payments to Smart.

I was thinking last night on this Smart thing,” Wade said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m [expletive] tired of dealing with the thing. Like I’m just [expletive] sick of dealing with the [expletive]. Like, this should not be that [expletive] complicated.”

ESPN had reported Dawkins had at least three calls with a number belong to Wade between June 19, 2017, and June 30, 2017. Smart announced his commitment on June 30.

“Dude. I went to him with a [expletive] strong-ass offer about a month ago. [Expletive] strong,” he said. “The problem was, I know why he didn’t take it now, it was [expletive] tilted toward the family a little bit. It was tilted toward taking care of the mom, taking care of the kid. Like it was tilted towards that. Now I know for a fact he didn’t explain everything to the mom. I know now, he didn’t get enough of the piece of the pie in the deal.”

Source

Enjoy the games. But don’t peel back too many layers of the NCAA onion, because it’ll make you cry.

Royal Flush

I’ve never understood the fascination with the British royal family. The only Queen from England that I’ve ever been even mildly interested in was the one that played “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

I take great pride in NOT knowing the names of the babies that have been born into “The Firm.” Honestly, I still get William and Harry mixed up, because I really could not care less.

Part of it is my lifelong aversion to pomp. And the Royal Family is all about that pomp. They have different giant, garish hats for every day of the year.

Whereas I’m more in this hat camp:

But I just don’t get why one family that inherited a bunch of real estate gets to rule the entire country… then again, I suppose we just went through four years of that in the U.S. of A. too, with King Donald.

Whereas I’m more in this King Don camp:

Mmm, rich chocolate and creamy filling… where was I? Oh, yeah, bitching about the British folks with the wacky hats. This article from the Irish Times really hits the nail on the head. I love the lede:

Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

Beyond this, it’s the stuff of children’s stories. Having a queen as head of state is like having a pirate or a mermaid or Ewok as head of state. What’s the logic?

Funny… and true. But these two sentences cut to the heart of my issues with the entire concept of a “royal family”:

The contemporary royals have no real power. They serve entirely to enshrine classism in the British nonconstitution. 

That’s it – enshrining classism. Sorry, if you’re trying to sell me a fairytale that says you’re better than me, and you get to reign over me because your great-great-grandpappy was a bigwig back in the day, I ain’t buying it. And I’m sure as heck not bowing down in front of you, or forking over my hard-earned cash to pay for your Disney-fied wedding. Go find a sorcerer to transform a pumpkin like everyone else does!

The Royal Family is a concept that’s played out. Time to shut down the circus and send the clowns away.

Emotional Transportation

Peter Guber is a movie producer. He’s produced many memorable flicks such as Rain ManBatmanThe Color PurpleMidnight ExpressGorillas in the Mist, and Flashdance. He’s also produced some clunkers, but he’s got a nice batting average. All told, the films he’s produced have grossed over $3 billion worldwide and received 50 Academy Award nominations. 

Oh, he also co-owns the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club of the MLS.

By the way, he’s also a bestselling author. His most recent book is titled Tell to Win.

Peter was a guest recently on Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally! and had a lot to say about the power of storytelling. Check out this excerpt.

I love that term, emotional transportation. (Clearly this blog is like a Yugo Taxi that’s running low on fuel, but still…)

“Resonant, memorable, actionable.” Yeah, that’s the ticket!

The full podcast episode is here. And Peter Guber’s article for the Harvard Business Review, The Four Truths of the Storyteller, is here.

Keep sharing your stories!

Down with crass commercialism, Up with People… still!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! Today I’m posting an “encore presentation” (don’t you dare call it a rerun) of a post that originally appeared waaaay back in February of 2016. That was a whole different decade. A more peaceful era. A time when we could congregate in large groups and see the bottom halves of people’s faces. “Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away…” 

I’m reposting it for three reasons:

  1. So the three people who read it back then can re-read it and chuckle anew (fingers crossed!). 
  2. So I can add the accent aigu to the e in Beyoncé. That grammatical faux pas has been haunting me for five years… neither Queen Bey nor Jay-Z has spoken to me since I published the original post. (OK, they didn’t speak to me before, either, but that was coincidence, and now it’s causality. Facts!)
  3. Because my feelings about halftime extravaganzas have not changed one whit.  (Don’t take it personally, The Weeknd… or is it Mr. The Weeknd? The Weeknd Guy? Sir The Weeknd?) In fact, I’m starting a Change.org petition to bring back Up With People. And I’m counting on all three readers of this blog to sign it. 

Please silence your cell phones, sit back, relax, and enjoy today’s encore presentation:

The Super Bowl to end all Super Bowls (at least until next year) is just a day away… and already I’m sick of the hype. Not the hype for the game – I’m oblivious to that after years of Roman Numerals being shoved in my face XXIV/VII (see what I did there?). I’m sick of the hype for the halftime show. Excuse me, I meant to say “The Greatest Halftime Spectacle In The History of The Universe” or whatever they’re calling this year’s gig. They went with the Chinese Restaurant menu approach this year – one from each column – Coldplay for the aging wannabe hipsters, Beyoncé for the soul sisters, and Bruno Mars for… well, pretty much everybody else. And of course they have a corporate sponsor, because there’s a sponsor for everything. I’m surprised they don’t say “This Geico commercial is sponsored by Bud Light.”

Call me an old fuddy duddy (merely typing that phrase makes me an old fuddy duddy) but I actually miss the early Super Bowls before the greedy tentacles of the NFL and advertisers hijacked the halftime show. For many years, the “entertainment” (using that term very loosely) was Up With People – a group of overly earnest teens singing easy listening versions of the day’s top hits. Sort of like an Osmond Family clone army. Sure they were super cheesy and super lame, but who cares? It’s halftime – time to reload on food and drinks.

Now that was quality entertainment! 

The struggle was real

Gather round, you young whippersnappers, and Grandpa’s going to tell you about the good old days when we had to struggle to listen to music.

I overheard some teenagers talking about how all their music is stored on McCloud. I don’t know too much about today’s technology, so I have no idea how they can store all their music on top of a fish-out-of-water law enforcement officer from Taos, New Mexico, on assignment in New York City, winning the begrudging admiration of his gruff, streetwise boss with a folksy approach to detective work, but that’s what the kids… Grandpa was talking, it’s impolite to interrupt… oh, alright, go ahead… Speak up! What’s that you say? Oh, it’s The Cloud not McCloud? Well, that still doesn’t make any sense.

Back in my day, we only had the radio and records. If you heard a song that you liked on the radio, and the Woolworth’s was already closed so you couldn’t buy the 45 rpm single, you had to wait until the radio station played it again.

If you were smart, you had your Realistic brand cassette recorder nearby, and you’d record the song right off the air.

If you didn’t know the name of the song or the band that played it, you had to wait until the DJ said the names, or ask your friends at school on Monday, because this is the only Shazam we had back then:

There was only one good radio station in every town, an FM station that played “album rock.”  But if you had an older used car as your first car, chances are pretty good that it didn’t have FM radio in it, so you had to buy something called an FM Converter and install it underneath the dashboard of your Dodge Cornet.

It’s probably a good thing there was only one rock station, because if you tried to tune in a different station on the FM Converter while you were driving, your car was sure to wind up in a ditch.

Eventually most cars came with FM radios, but there was no way to play your favorite albums in a car until the 8-track player came along.  

Meat Loaf rocks!

But since the songs on a two-sided album had to be spread out evenly across four stereo tracks on an 8-track, sometimes the tracks wouldn’t be in album order, and even worse, sometimes an 8-track would fade out right in the middle of a song. You’d hear a loud “ca-chunk!” as the player switched tracks, and then the same song would pick up where it left off. You kids probably can’t even imagine what a letdown that would be, if, for example, Peter Frampton was in the middle of his talk box part in “Do You Feel Like We Do” on Frampton Comes Alive, the song would sound something like this: “I wanna… CA-CHUNK… duck you!” (He didn’t say “duck” of course, I’m just cleaning it up for your virgin ears. Also, that Frampton song isn’t split up on 8-track, that would be an unforgivable sin. )

Oh, and if you missed your favorite song, you’d have to wait for the rest of the album to play through before you heard it again.

Then some smarty pants realized that we should have cassette players in cars instead of 8-track players. That was much better… even if your tape got eaten by the cassette player, there was still a chance you could rescue it with some Ticonderoga surgery.

But I’m still mad about the fact that on the cassette version of Led Zeppelin II, “Heartbreaker” and “Living Loving Maid” were on different sides. Good thing my high school buddy’s pickup truck had a cassette player with “auto reverse.” I became an expert at hitting the fast-forward button for five seconds and then hitting the “reverse” button to eliminate as much of the delay between those songs as possible.

I hear the kids talking about making a playlist by “drag and drop”… that’s how it worked in my day too. If you wanted to put together a mixtape, you’d drag your butt over to the Quasar stereo with the dual cassette deck, and drop in cassette after cassette of albums into the “playback” deck, laboriously cueing up your favorite songs just right before hitting “record” to transfer it to your Maxell blank tape in the “record” deck.

When CDs came along, it became easier to create a mix CD, but you still had to “rip” the album first, then “burn” it to a blank CD, and cross your fingers that the blank CD wouldn’t be a dud, useful only as a beverage coaster.

You kids and your streaming services and your satellite radio and your Bluetooth… you don’t know how lucky you are! Now get off my lawn, and don’t come back until I’m finished watching reruns of McCloud!

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