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!

When conspicuous consumption becomes ridiculous consumption

I’d never heard of the website Defector until a few days ago, and didn’t realize that a gentleman named Drew Magary has been creating a hilarious annual “Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog” for several years now.

So thanks to my friend Daniele for putting the 2020 Hater’s Guide on my radar.

From the Defector website – Illustration by Jim Cooke

It is, hands down, the funniest piece I’ve read all year. Bitingly sarcastic, and laugh-out-loud (yes, an actual LOL!) funny.

The language is a bit salty, but Williams-Sonoma has earned every curse word with their exorbitantly priced wares.

Look again at that price. Now lemme add a few more gratuitous exclamation points. A H!!!U!!NDRED G!ODD!!!AMN D!!!!OLL!!!ARS!!!!!!! For a box of Hungry Jack, a squeeze bottle, a spatula, an obligatory tartan tchotchke, and some goddamn syrup. Now I’m a pancake enthusiast, so I know that the market for pure maple syrup is highly volatile. But for $100, I could drive to Vermont and tap a maple tree MYSELF to get the goods.

Drew Magary’s comments on the WILLIAMS-SONOMA CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST GIFT CRATE

Read it and weep – because you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll be crying.

BTW, my exhaustive research (i.e. typing “Defector website” into DuckDuckGo’s search box) has revealed that Defector is a bunch of… defectors from Deadspin.

The Tom Petty Diet

You hear a lot about “eating clean” these days.

But what are you feeding your brain? Check out this clip from the Broken Record podcast — it’s an episode with Tom Petty’s daughter Adria, and she talks about how her dad fed his brain and nourished his soul:

I love that clip! First of all, I love Tom Petty, and I think this clip helps explain how he was able to continue to make great music for 40 years.

“He would feed the well with only this really, really good information, and take all the rest away. He didn’t really take a lot of noise and negativity into his diet.”

Adria Petty, talking about her father Tom

[Semi-sidebar: The Broken Record podcast is great if you’re a music fan. You’ll find interviews with established artists like Bruce Springsteen and Santana, and up-and-coming artists like S.G. Goodman and Deep Sea Diver. If you’re a Tom Petty fan, you’ll love the episode with Adria, as well as the interviews with Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench. Check it out.]

Even if you’re not an aspiring rock star, there’s a lot to learn from TP on how to “eat clean” for your mind, your heart and your soul. It’s way too easy to binge on empty calories… endlessly snacking (or doomscrolling) on tweets, spending hours at the all-you-can-eat Facebook buffet, sucking down pop culture listicles, stuffing yourself with “reality” TV, bellying up to the 24/7 news bar. There are countless temptations that can consume endless hours of your time on earth, and they mostly just weigh you down with “noise and negativity” as Adria put it.

Instead, take a cue from Tom Petty, and read a good book, watch a classic movie or a documentary, listen to some great music.

If you eat clean, you’ll feel better.

Wally-World… or zero degrees of separation

40 years ago, the movie Stripes started shooting in Louisville, Kentucky. And my buddy Walter was in it – he shot a scene with Bill Murray.

Walt’s scene is one of the first ones in the movie – he and another kid get in Bill Murray’s cab, then run away without paying the fare when they reach their destination.

White pants were “in” back in 1980!

A TV station is Louisville published some archival footage of the 1980 news story about the movie production. Wally’s interviewed in this clip:

You’d think that brush with stardom would be enough for one person. But no, that’s not how Walter rolls. You see, when Wally was just a wee lad, his parents were close friends with another family that had a son a year or two older than Walter. Kid’s name was Tom. Tom Cruise. I hear he turned out to be quite the party boy in high school.

Walter has a picture of him and Tom Cruise together, from Wally’s 6th birthday party.

Walter also was a high school football star in Louisville. And he’s been an attorney, a teacher, a football coach, and a border patrol agent. He’s packed a lot of action into his 56 years.

Ol’ Willie Shakes is right, “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”… but in my next life, I want Walter’s agent.

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