Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Football, as a sport, doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not that I don’t understand the rules—I do (for the most part)—but I find it odd that a “team” is made up of two completely different groups of men. With very rare exception (I’m thinking wide receivers who play cornerback or vice versa), no player plays on both sides of the ball. There are even two kickers with completely different responsibilities. Huh???
No other sport is like this. Baseball comes close with the designated hitter position, but excluding that instance, every player plays both offense and defense. And while soccer and hockey allow a team to pull the goalie, this is an exception versus a rule. Basketball, with its unlimited substitutions allows for some specialization, such as bringing in a 3-point shooter, but even that player has to play defense on occasion.
What’s my point? Bring back ironman football—the same guys play offense and defense. How different would that game be? How valuable is your slow-footed pocket passer as a Linebacker? How many cheap hits would a Cornerback make when he has to be the Wide Receiver on the next series?
Monday, August 29, 2011
I just had my fantasy football draft. It was miserable. I drafted several players with criminal backgrounds (Vick, Plaxico, Marshawn Lynch … the joke was that Burt Reynolds would be the coach), passed on potential winners, and, worse still, didn’t come away with any good keepers for next year. So pretty much my typical draft.
All that brings me to this week’s topic: Professional American Football. I say American because it’s funny. Also, I have issues with the sport. I’m not even going to touch the concussion issue, that’s not my area of expertise, but I will go into other aspects of the game, of which I have equally no expertise. What’s that leave? My opinion—the only thing you need to make a point in America. That and Internet access.
To kick things off, I'm sharing with you, dear readers, my fantasy team’s logo. The Seattle Two Nads. Crass. Slightly offensive. Darn-near perfect. Kind of like America.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
The indignities of flying are nothing new. Historians can neither confirm nor deny that Orville Wright pantsed Wilbur immediately prior to take-off at Kitty Hawk, saying, “What goes up, must come down.” Whoosh.
So perhaps it’s in this spirit of degradation* that I willfully submit myself to the infamous “pat down” every time I’m chosen for enhanced security screening. That and I like to be difficult.
Look, I understand the need for increased security. Actually, that’s not true. I understand the need for increased security FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Like everyone, I think I should be exempted. Can’t you see that I’m a good person???
To be fair, I do myself no favors when, after four days of not shaving, I look like a remote mountain man who has accidentally wandered into the security area. What do you mean I can’t take my muskrat blood on your strange flying machine?
All that aside, if you haven’t been through enhance security screening before, you’re in for a treat.
First, you get to send all of your belongings ahead of you through the x-ray scanner to sit out in the open, free for anyone. Does this help stop terrorism? Sure. Does this stop someone from walking off with your laptop, shoes, phone, wallet or muskrat blood**? Not really.
Then there’s the prolonged wait by the metal detector with the gate agent. The topics of conversation are so limited that you’re better off not saying anything.
Me: “Looks like it might rain.”
Agent: “Rain? Like ‘Reign of Terror’??”
Agent: “Sir, we’re going to have to probe you, alien-style”
Next, when it is your turn to get the “male assist”, they don’t even take you through the metal detector. That’s right: LESS security.
And finally, there’s the pat down itself. Much has been made of this procedure, and maybe it depends on the agent you get, but I’ve had to go through it twice now and, while not comfortable or desirable, it was not the traumatic experience I’ve been lead to expect.
Basically, they read a description of what is involved and then get your consent at various stages. If you’ve ever gone to a concert or a football game where you’ve been patted down, it’s like that, except that they grab a bit higher on the thigh and run their hands over your privates using the back of their hands—no cupping or hefting. And they give you a running dialogue of their actions the whole time—“I’m going to feel along your waistband now.” It’s as awkward for them as it is for you. Or at least for me.
Do they get a good sense of your body composition? Yes.
Is that kind of the point? Yes.
Is it a violation of your privacy? Probably.
Is it as bad as all that? No.
Do you wish you had hit the gym before going through it all? Kind of.
** Don't worry, it's under 3 ounces
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
My father and I were in line at the local hardware store as a cashier in-training, her manager, and then his manager, all tried to figure out how to ring up our two plus bundles of redwood planks.
As we waited, hunched over our hoard of boards, an older gentleman with a roll of insulation walked up and we explained to him that it might be awhile since we had apparently befuddled the whole store with our “difficult” purchase. He seemed pleasant enough in demeanor, but his appearance was a bit disconcerting. He had a nose like a buzzard, ears like a bat and was pale of skin and bald in cranium. If he had been clad in black instead of a grey “Member’s Only” jacket, he would have been the spitting image of Nosferatu.
When my father was called up to sort out yet another conundrum for the cashier collective, it fell to me to make small talk with His Greyness. He asked if I was a builder and I said, “No, I’m just helping my dad.” I then said, “wow, we’re sure having great weather today.” To which he replied, “This whole country is run by billionaires and millionaires. It makes me sick.” “Oh yeah?” I replied. Now it was my turn to be befuddled. He explained to me how California was run by some shadow group of billionaires and how corporations donated money to buy the candidates they wanted in office. “I just wanted to talk about the nice weather!!!” I screamed inside. Nosferatu moved in closer and started in on how donations weren’t really donations. He was sucking the life out of this routine trip to the store. I looked to my father for help, but he just kept pointing animatedly back and forth from the bundles to the price tag. I tensed up inside and shifted awkwardly from foot to foot. In the distance, the cashier said, “It’s the price for each board.”
“No, it’s per bundle!” I yelled out. Nosferatu fell silent. The spell was broken and he edged away. “It’s the price per bundle,” I repeated again, desperately, as though I was chanting an incantation to ward off evil spirits.
As my father and I loaded the lumber into our vehicle, I told him the story. “I just wanted to talk about the weather,” I said. “I have a feeling he would have talked about it no matter what,” he replied. Nosferatu had an agenda.
Monday, August 22, 2011
I miss the sense of place created by mountains.
You’d think you’d feel small and insignificant next to their imposing mass and vaulting heights, but to me they stand as roughly hewn testaments to the vastness of the world. The deepest plunging depths of the ocean become possible when soaring peaks nearly pierce the sky.
By contrast, the Midwest seems small and confining. The horizon line creates a finality that can defeat inspiration. The potential of Earth’s majesty becomes limited to the senses. Our highest points become as tall as the tallest tree. As distant as our field of vision. As cold or as warm as the seasons. And only as varied as the variety of people around us.
I do not need to climb the mountain. Knowing it exists is enough.
Friday, August 19, 2011
1. Being a drunk
Who made it popular: Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner, Bukowski.
Why it’s no good: It’s an old, shopworn conceit. Drinking does not improve your writing (only your perception of your own writing when reading under the influence). Drinking only serves to give you something to write about, a distinction I hope is not lost on you, dear readers.
2. Suffering for your art
Who made it popular: Oscar Wilde, Dostoyevsky, H.P. Lovecraft.
Why it’s no good: Dying poor and destitute is no way to leave a legacy. Rich people don’t name fountains after people who used to bath in them. Better to get a job that pays the bills and write on the side.
3. Being suicidal
Who made it popular: Hemingway (again), Virginia Woolf, Hunter S. Thompson, David Foster Wallace.
Why it’s no good: Did Virginia Woolf get to watch The Hours? No. Did Dr. Thompson get to see Fear and Loathing? Yes. What’s the lesson? People who kill themselves get boring movies made about their lives, whether or not they live to see them.
4. Being handsome
Who made it popular: That Tad Guy
Why it’s no good: You can teach grammar, you can teach punctuation, but, my dear readers, you can’t teach handsome. It’s better that you accept it now, lest ye fall into one of the previous three clichés.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
1. Know thy audience—the general public should get general questions and movie geeks should get nigh-on impossible movie questions.
2. 10 rounds of 10 questions each—Three easy, four medium and three hard; ideally the average combined score should be about 80%.
3. Keep categories general—“Sports” are better than “The Chicago Bulls from 1984-1988”—unless you know your audience
4. Stick to one topic or category per round—Don’t make the first question of every round “birds”, the second “the 80s”, etc.
5. Keep it moving—Have enough people on hand to score the questions and don’t read the questions in full when giving the answers
6. Be creative, up to a point—Name that tune and picture rounds are fine; “I’ll tell you how a person died and you tell me who they were” is very, very bad (I’ve seen this firsthand)
7. Only have one possible right answer—Write and rewrite until you get all of your questions worded just right
8. Trivia above all—One or two additional fundraising activities, like 50/50s or Heads/Tails, in between rounds can be fun; a live half-hour auction is not (I’ve seen this firsthand as well)
9. Have fun—Create an entertaining night out and people will come back year after year
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
1. Stay indoors. Seems obvious, right? But 87%* of all sun-in-the-eye incidents occur outside of the home.
2. Wear sunglasses. All the time. Indoors, outdoors, on a bus with Gus. You never know when the Sun will flash you. Kind of like Gus, actually.
3. Cover your head. The least effective method can also be the most stylish, especially in regards to wide-brimmed hats and hooded sweatshirts in summer.
4. Wear an eye patch. Studies show that an eye patch, when worn properly, can reduce sun/eye encounters by as much as 50%.
5. Join the Mole People. They claim to be the ultimate “underground” movement, but I found them to be smothering and too intolerant of other sources of light—case in point, this website.
6. Damn your eyes! Stop eating carrots. Sit too close to the TV. Shoot a BB gun willy-nilly. Basically, put your eyes at risk with every turn and the sun will be the least of your worries.
*Or 88%, depending on which made-up statistics you prefer
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Reviewers of all kind—movies, books, restaurants, et al.—should list out their favorites—let’s say top 13—so that the audience can know whether or not their tastes will match up. Even better, reviewers should create multiple lists based on each genre and include these with every relevant review*. Furthermore, these lists should be organic, as tastes inevitably evolve over time—what was thrilling in our youth is oftentimes cringe-worth to our present day selves. Which will probably be the case when I look back on this list a year from now. Or not.
1. The Life Aquatic
2. Hot Rod
3. The Fountain
4. Lars & The Real Girl
5. Stranger Than Fiction
7. Beer Fest
9. The Ghost Writer
10. The Visitor
11. Son of Rambow
12. Vicki Christina Barcelona
13. Gone Baby Gone
*Tangentially, I am surprised that movie reviewers remain unspecialized in a particular genre. Most feel qualified to review any movie that crosses their screens. While this is fine for the general public, I expect more from someone whose job it is to provide context and not just opinion (yours truly), which, sadly, is exactly what most reviewers provide.
Monday, August 15, 2011
1. Really, really white
3. On White
4. New Black
6. Sweet mother of pearl!
7. Egg white substitute
8. Death by vanilla
9. Arctic polar bear
10. Bleached Teeth
14. Summer in Seattle
16. Slightly racist
Friday, August 12, 2011
To "flesh out" an idea is to add meat to the bones of the skeleton. It is an apt metaphor.
To "flush out" an idea is to grab a newspaper and head to the bathroom. And maybe eat some more fiber. It is an apt metaphor only if you hate the idea and the person who came up with it.
Many people think these are "homophones". They are not. They do no share the same pronunciation or, as we've established above, the same meaning.
That is all.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
This is a bike I bought for $40 off of Craig’s List. So far the number of flat tires I’ve gotten riding it equal zero.
Another bike I have, one that cost roughly ten times as much, has gotten a flat tire every 1.3 times I’ve ridden it.
If Tad rides his $40 bike every other time and his expensive road bike once in a while, how many @#$%ing flat tires will he get over the course of his lifetime?
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
“A collection of thoughts for first time CDs from those who have been there.” That’s the cover blurb from publisher ihaveanidea. I would add that the major theme running through the book is, “being a creative director requires a completely different skill set than the one (writer, art director) that got you promoted in the first place.”
A quick, simple book that can be read cover-to-cover or just picked up from time to time for some quick inspiration. You get the sense that everyone was sincere in their desire to help new managers, although some CDs were much better at following the premise than others. My advice would be to pick the thoughts you like and disregard the rest. (On a side note, Jim Haven and I crossed paths for a month at an agency in Seattle. Or I think that was Jim. It’s been a while.)
Most of the advice can be narrowed down to a few common themes:
-Be a coach
-Stop working and start delegating
-Set clear expectations
-Create a culture of trust
-Learn how to listen and motivate
-Take care of problems early
-Get comfortable selling ideas
Apparently the folks at ihaveanidea don’t know any women or proofreaders. I was disappointed that they didn’t find at least one female CD to interview and that there were a number of typos. Also, some of the CDs took long walks down memory lane didn’t go anywhere. And the advice got to be a bit repetitive near the end of the book. What I’m saying is that the book could have used better creative direction.
Buy, read and pass along. While it’s not a reference book you’ll go back to time and again, it is worth reading if you’re just starting out or have been at it for a while and want to look like you’re doing something billable while you’re slacking off.