Archives for June 2011

Paralysis- Indecision Is A Decision

English: A photograph taken by me of a Garrard...

English: A photograph taken by me of a Garrard Turntable/Record Player, Model 1212. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is an old turntable in my garage and a box full of vinyl…records that is. It is a large collection of 33s and 45s and a dozen or 78s that complete it. Presumably the needle on the turntable is still good so there is no reason why I couldn’t take it inside the house and listen for the tell-tale hiss that it used to make just before the music started playing.

Not more than ten feet away from me is my kitchen and its blue pearl granite counters. We put those in five years ago when we remodeled the kitchen and it is one of my favorite features. There is something about the way the light reflects off of it that I really like. I think that it is because it reminds me of the ocean and that is always good for me. The feel of the sand beneath my feet and the sound of the surf are soothing.

There is a bottle of whiskey on the counter and I have this very strong urge to go pour myself a drink. I have this vision of myself recreating the scene in Casablanca right after Ilsa walks back into Rick’s life. Since I don’t have Sam to play As Time Goes By I think that it might be nice to set up the turntable and listen to something on it. Of course I am not really up to pulling the turntable out of the garage so that I can Macgyver a connection to my current sound system.

It is faster and more efficient to select a playlist on iTunes and to let that roll. I think that while I consider what to listen to I’ll share one of those clips from Casablanca, which is still my favorite movie. Since I can’t embed it I’ll have to provide you with the link and ask you to promise to return here after you watch it. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything. Go watch and I’ll be here when you get back.

Are you back yet? Good. I have one more scene for you to watch. They jacked it up a little bit at the end, but it is still worth watching. One of these days I am going to have to do nothing but blog about Casablanca. Look at the quotes here and you’ll see some of the finest writing I have ever read. Granted the acting makes a difference but so does life experience and that is a story that isn’t going to be told today.

And now the first intermission

I learned a long time ago that indecision is a decision. Change is sometimes very frightening and it is often easier to try to stay where you are then to take a risk by making  change. It is tied into that devil you know versus the devil you don’t thing. I am well qualified to talk about this because I have had several key moments in my life where I held still and didn’t make a decision. Since I haven’t been granted the gift of second sight I can’t say whether this was for good or ill. Still I can say that for someone who has lived a life of few regrets those that I have are tied into this.

Second intermission

I had the privilege of seeing 5 Ray Charles concerts and I only wish that I could have seen more. Ray was a fine artist who put on a fantastic show. I have a deadline looming over me so I am going to tie this up with one more Ray Charles video and one by Johnny Cash. I’ll be back later with another new post.

More Proof That Great Headlines Don’t Matter

Blog Machine

Blog Machine (Photo credit: digitalrob70)

After seven years as a blogger I can guarantee that the headline on this post will generate more than a few pageviews. Many of you will recognize it as linkbait and click anyway. Bloggers love to read and talk about blogging.  I do too but sometimes I have to get away from it. This blog that you are reading, TheJackB is chock full of good information about blogging. This post is going to cover a variety of topics and since I touched upon blogging let me share a few things with you.

Shonali has a nice post about tools that you can use to make blogging easier for you. Those of you who live in California should read Jessica’s post about bloggers, Amazon, eBay and sales tax.

My pal Superman shot over a link to a company that turns RSS feeds into podcasts. It sounds pretty cool. I haven’t had time to really play with it yet but I will. I am on the fence about letting my kid get a Mohawk. I used to be dead set against it, but I might consider it during the summer. My guess is that I’d probably end up saying no, but the fact that I am open to it surprises me a little bit. Might have to blog about that so I that I come up with something more coherent.

There is an interview with some crazy dad blogger at Soulati’TUDE. Got in a fight with that guy more than once- it is probably the most difficult opponent I have ever had because we are so evenly matched. I love coffee far more than I should but not so much that I’ll pay for the special Cat Poop Caffeine Cup of Joe. But if you offered me a cup I might try it.

In one of my posts I used this quote from In My Life:

“But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more”

I was surprised when I received a comment telling me that they were beautiful words. They are beautiful but they aren’t mine. I suppose that this is another case where I can yell at someone for being older than me. If the words didn’t exist I might have come up with them or maybe not.

Gini and the crew are talking about the Google + Project. It is an interesting idea but I am not so sure. Watch this video and tell me what you think.

Speaking of videos I ran this one about the social media revolution earlier but it bears repeating

I am ready to get out of Dodge and thinking about ways to do it. This might be a good option. Parents have great stories, even if they are degenerates who root for teams that rhyme with meltics and matriots.

And now my friends I bid you adieu and adont do like I do unless you enjoy voodoo. Don’t ask about that last line- three hours of sleep and limited coffee wreak havoc upon me.

Help Me?

Lonely

The so called blogging experts tell me that I am doing this wrong. I don’t spend enough time working on my headlines or try hard enough to fill my posts with the perfect mix of SEO laden content. I post too frequently and don’t focus on any one topic.

The words you read here are filled too frequently with the sad, simpering sounds of unhappiness and people don’t like that. Nor do they like it when I fill my screen with kind of light-hearted goofy insouciance that makes some people guffaw and others grumble. I am not supposed to write about religion because I offend too many people when I say Happy Holidays or pepper my posts with Jewish jargon.

And let’s not forget that the political posts that populated this place infuriated so many. The blogging experts didn’t like that. Hated when I excoriated Palin and asked how I could support Bush. Railed at me for saying that Obama’s foreign policy made me crazy and asked how I could praise him for popping Bin Laden.

No can we forget the wacky people who wander in and try to post 1,987 comments accusing me of barbarism for supporting circumcision. Did I mention that I was called juvenile for telling them that foreskin doesn’t protect the penis from an errant tooth.

If you have made it this far than it is probably clear to you that I am a cranky, crotchety curmudgeon who might be in need of a vacation.  Actually I just threw in cranky, crotchety curmudgeon because I like the sound of it. Blame it on the Lewis Black bit I am listening to right now. It is one of my favorites.

*******

Sometimes I step away from the blogosphere because the noise begins to grate on me. It is the sound of 1,987,748 posts about how to be a better blogger, 392,283,322 about PR, 567,789 on how to use blogs for SMBs and of course a billion on children. The problem is that sometimes it feels to me like all I hear is broadcasting- there is no back and forth.

And sometimes when there is the back and forth between blogger and community it is nothing but inside jokes. That is cool. I get it, understand it and appreciate it but sometimes I still feel like I am on the outside looking in.

So I step back and disconnect. I take a deep breath and look around the world. I am no different than most of you. My life is moving a million miles a minute and in order to maintain my sanity I just need to slow down and breathe.

*******

Yesterday I saw something that has stuck with me. I walked out of the Target on Sepulveda and saw a man lying on his back.  Another man stood over him waving his arms wildly and yelling, but I don’t know what he was saying. The six lanes of traffic between us drowned out his words and made it impossible for me to tell if he was happy, sad or angry.

He looked like he had been on the street for a while as did the man who lay just in front of him.  I was in a rush but for a moment I stared hard at the man who was on his back and tried to determine if he was ok.

I watched three kids walk by him and measured their reactions. They didn’t react in any way other than to walk around him. I decided that the guy who lay on the sidewalk was ok and that this was simply where he had chosen to rest. It wouldn’t be the first time that the sidewalk had been used like that and probably not the last.

So I got in my car and drove off to take care of other errands. But all night long and most of today I have felt conflicted about it.  Have I grown so accustomed to seeing homeless people that I no longer am shocked or disturbed by it. And I wondered if maybe the man who was standing was yelling “Help Me.”

*******

My daughter asked me what I thought our lives would be like when I turn 50 and I laughed. I said “different” and she asked for a better description. It is a solid eight years away which in some respects is far too close for comfort. I am not nearly old enough to think of 50 as being anything but old. Yet I realize that it doesn’t sound as old it used to.

She looked up at me expectantly and I told her that when I am 50 her brother will be in college and she’ll be a high school girl. She smiled broadly and I asked her to stop growing up so quickly. She smiled again and said “even when I am big I’ll still be daddy’s girl.”

All I could do was hug her and smile. The little things in life sometimes have the biggest impact.

Know Your Own Worth Part II

Stupid

It is the middle of the week and some of the boys and I have taken advantage of unwanted freedom to grab lunch and share war stories. While we wait for our table we head over to the toy store that is located in the same strip mall. My kids love the place and will be jealous that I got to hang out there while they were in school but that is ok because it is really a place for adults. It is filled with all sorts of toys from our youth that are now considered to be collectibles. Who knew that one day Stretch Armstrong would be worth more than a couple of bucks.

We wander the aisles and make cracks at each other to “keep your hands in your pocket” or “you’ll shoot your eye out.”   The few moments that we get to spend inside the store are good because we are not thinking about the nonsense that is making our hair fall out and keeping us awake at night. The experience reminds me a bit of  and episode of The Twilight Zone called “Kick The Can” in which residents of an old age home find their own fountain of youth in a kid’s game.

Moments later we wander out of the store into the California sunshine and stand in the parking lot lost in our thoughts and then head back into the restaurant for lunch. The place is packed and I wonder if in some ways this isn’t particularly emblematic of a city like Los Angeles. It is the middle of the day and the majority of the people in there are dressed in jeans, t-shirts and other casual attire. One of my companions is a television writer and I make a crack about this being the hot spot for creating a new reality television show.

He smiles and says that it is entirely possible and I respond by suggesting that we better listen carefully so no one steals our ideas. He gives me a quizzical look and I tell him that I am pissed off with Thomas Edison because I could have invented the light bulb. He says that I am being ridiculous and I agree, but still it is not my fault that Old Man Edison was born 100 years before me. Really, if I had been given a chance I could have invented the light bulb and a bunch of other things. I am tempted to sue his heirs and he asks me if I really want to engage in a nuisance lawsuit. I tell him that I don”t but I like to think that they would give me a million dollars to just go away.

The waiter takes our order and while I wait for my turkey sandwich I down two cups of coffee and talk about getting stiffed by a client. I was hired to do two jobs but only got paid on the first one. They ask me for some more details and we talk about how irritating it is to chase clients for money. One of the guys asks me if I am going to try to take the deadbeat to court and I shake my head no. It is not enough money to warrant that sort of recourse but too much not to be cognizant of not having it. But more than anything else I am irritated by the principle of the manner. You hired me to do a job and I did it.

We share more stories and I mention that it seems to me like many companies are trying to get away with free consulting. I explain that in the course of a job search I have noticed that prospective employers are asking for candidates to do more than submit references. They want us provide marketing plans/pieces, ideas for sales collateral and more.

Our attorney friend says that he doesn’t see anything wrong with it because he always offers an initial consultation for his clients. I tell him that it is different because we don’t get to retain the rights to what we submit. If I go that route company XYZ can take my idea and run with it without offering any sort of compensation. In theory I could try to construct things so that they can’t take my ball and run with it but it is not easily done. They aren’t doing this during interviews, instead they are asking for it as part of the screening process for candidates.

I know what I am worth and what sort of benefits a company will gain from hiring me. It is a two way street and I am unwilling to work for free. I don’t apply for positions at companies that ask this of me.  The attorney nods his head in agreement and we dig into our food. During the course of the meal other stories are shared and it is clear to all of us that we are still fighting an uphill battle. There are lots of people fighting for jobs and many companies are still using younger and less experienced personnel.

The meal ends and someone says “that this too shall pass” and heads nod in agreement. But hidden in the silence are the questions of “when will it pass” and “how much damage will be sustained while we wait it out.”

Watch Cookie Monster Cure Writer’s Block

I rarely suffer from the dread disease known as Writer’s Block, at least not in the conventional sense. The world is filled with blog fodder so it is not at all difficult to locate a topic. The issues I have aside from having a sick and twisted sense of humor are a bit different than not being able to find the words to put down. It is easy to apply pen to paper.

No what bothers me with more frequency than I care to think about is my distaste and disgust with the words that I write. The moments where I look at the screen and silently read something that is stilted, awkward and ineloquent. Moments where I scrunch up my face and shake my head because I know that I am capable of producing something far better.

Moments of utter hypocrisy. Why? Because I teach my children that as long as you tried hard it is ok to have a bad day. I teach them that sometimes they don’t have to hit it out of the park, that a lay up is worth as much as a dunk. But I don’t always follow my own rules, my advice is best served to others because I don’t listen to anyone let alone myself.

So what does this have to do with my pal Cookie Monster? It is simple really. When I get frustrated and feel like I am slamming my head against the wall I look for distractions. Simple things that take the edge off and make me smile.

Cookie Monster is a hero. He is a stud. Dude can walk into any bar/party/event and be guaranteed that half the women there will fight for his attention.Not bad for someone with big googly eyes, a scratchy voice and a body who will only know a six pack by virtue of standing next to a refrigerator.

Cookie Monster isn’t complicated. He knows what he likes and isn’t bashful about trying to obtain. I support that sort of confidence. I am a fan of those that are willing to chase their dreams. Doesn’t hurt that I consider Cookie to be a contemporary of mine, after all we burst onto the scene at the same time.

If you think about it, it is kind of inspiring. Forty-two years of eating cookies and whatever else he can shove down his gaping maw and not one single health issue. Hell, I admit to being jealous. I can’t eat like that anymore, not without paying for it.

But I digress. The whole point of this post is that when you are frustrated because you can’t find the words or don’t like the ones that are you are using all you need is a brief distraction. This was mine and now if you’ll excuse me I have to return to the work that actually pays the bills.

Thanks again Cookie for being a good friend, you have helped me more than you know.