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Even My Dreams Taunt Me With Stories

Dream

Everywhere I turn, someone’s flapping their gums about the amazing power of storytelling.

It’s a universal, deafening drumbeat bent on convincing all of us that it’s time to recapture the lost art of sharing stories.

OK, I hear you. I believe you. I even agree with you.

But to be honest, I’m a bit storied out.

That’s why I was particularly miffed (amused, actually) the other morning when I realized that my dreams were complicit in this storytelling conspiracy.

It dawned on me as I was trying to process the previous night’s dream and finally grasped the fact that I dream in stories.

Yes, my unconscious mind strings together a mishmash of mismatched characters, locations and themes. It weaves them together into a messy, but unmistakable story – probably with a moral that escapes me altogether.

I always neglect to write down my dreams, so I can’t even recall most of them. But when I do, I usually enjoy my mind’s ability to jumble up details and play fast and loose with logic. Accuracy rarely seems to be a priority with these tomes.  

Imprecise as it may be with details, though, my mind seems to be constantly trying to tell me stuff, and its megaphone of choice is the good old-fashioned tale.

Bet that’s true for you as well.

Which only reinforces the notion that, at our core, we are wired to communicate and connect through stories.

Guess that makes perfect sense, as life is pretty much a series of unfolding stories, complete with plot twists, tension, climaxes, lulls, and a final denouement.

As for those bandwagon-jumping story evangelists? I’ll try to be more patient with them. Even if they’ve found a way to invade my dreams.

 

Tresselgate vs. Weinergate: Dueling Deceptions

Scarlet Sweater-Vest Meets Not-So-Mysterious Crotch Shot

These are the tales that sustain cable news networks.

In one corner: squeaky-clean coach from one of the most storied collegiate sports franchises steps down in a blaze of cover-ups and ethical misjudgments.

And in the other corner: cocky politician with grand aspirations admits to sending a series of lewd photos of himself to various young women on Twitter.

Prior to being scandalized, these “gentlemen” didn’t have a whole lot in common.

Yet through their deceptive ways, they will forever share a special bond.

Strange bedfellows, as it were… 

TRESSEL                                               WEINER

Conservative…………………………………………………Liberal

Christian………………………………………………………..Jew

5’8” (with platforms)………………………………….6’0”+                       

58 years old………………………………………………….46 years old           

Midwest humility………………………………………….East-Coast brash

Married for decades……………………………………Married for less than a year

Four kids……………………………………………………….No kids

Fellowship of Christian Athletes…………………Subcommittee on Public Housing

Heckled by Wolverines………………………………..Heckled by a Pack of Wolves

Resigned (under pressure)…………………………Vows not to resign (under pressure)

How’s Your Stuff?

Pitcher

Ah, baseball. That wholesome, all-American pastime on par with hot dogs, apple pie, Chevrolet…

…And a whole lot of stuff.

Ask any major-league pitcher about his most recent performance, and he’s bound to use the term “stuff” to describe it.

Like it or not, stuff is the universal idiom in the MLB pitcher lexicon. It’s as if they have a contractual obligation to weave the term into every media interview.

These multi-million-dollar athletes, who devote nearly every waking moment to fine-tuning their technique, get away with explaining their performance with a breezy, “I just didn’t have great stuff today.”

Wish I, who earn a tiny fraction of their take, could get away with similar breeziness. But something tells me the following response just won’t fly:

“Gee, sorry (boss/client/CEO), but I missed the mark on that (article/plan/project) because I just didn’t have my best stuff yesterday.”

I think it irritates me most because baseball – like any sport – provides such an extremely personal and emotional experience for fans. When a pitcher struggles, I want him to own up to it, express some passion, have a more substantial explanation.

I’m not looking for a pitch-by-pitch diatribe, just something along the lines of: “You know, I was really disappointed that the velocity of my sinker was lacking, but my change-up was as good as it’s been all season. I know what I need to work on.”

Apparently, that’s too much to expect.

I have a similar disdain for the shenanigans of professional weathermen, whose absolute lack of accountability permits them to consistently bungle forecasts and escape scot-free. It makes me wonder why, if meteorology is indeed a science, it’s still such a crapshoot.

But I digress.

No doubt, baseball has its share of quirky terms and acronyms – everything from balk to ribbie to grand salami. But none of them is as vague and meaningless as stuff.

And apparently, the term is reserved exclusively for pitchers. I challenge you to find a batter, fielder, coach or umpire who uses “stuff” to describe his performance. 

If I were a sportscaster, I wouldn’t allow major-league hurlers to get off so easy. I’d demand they explain what they really mean.

Don’t think I’d last long on that job. 

So I’ll turn the tables and ask everyone else: How’s YOUR stuff?

Pitcher2

 

Boys Gone Wild

Is it just me, or has there been a recent rash of high-profile males caught with their pants down (some quite literally)?

From actors, to politicians, to religious figures, this current crop of powerful thugs sinks to new lows of lowness.

Arnold

Starting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose career has progressed from The Terminator to The Governator to The Impregnator. Apparently, he fathered a love child with his housekeeper (fresh on the heels of doing the same with his wife), and he co-existed peacefully with all of them until it all came crashing down. [Open the floodgates of other supposed mistresses.]

John_edwards

Moving on to John Edwards, that titan of virtue whose $400 haircut was the least of his indiscretions. This one-time favored son had his own affair and love child, all while his wife was battling cancer. Now he’s on the verge of facing indictment for using his presidential campaign money to hide his torrid affair.

Ricardo_seppia

And finally, the most tragic, disgusting, reprehensible thug of them all: Father Riccardo Seppia, an Italian Cardinal who has been working with the Pope on reforms to address pedophile priests. In the ultimate horrific irony, this “man of God” was just arrested on pedophilia and drug charges. Allegedly, he bribed a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young. vulnerable boys. “I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are OK. Look for needy boys who have family issues.”

I’m disgusted and I’m angry. 

Being a man means honoring your vows, taking responsibility for your life, and living with integrity. 

These jerks missed the mark on all three counts. And the consequences of their irresponsible behavior are far-reaching. 

Are You a Modern-Day Chicken Little?

Learn the Danger Signs of a Sky-is-Falling Persona

Chickenlittle2

According to the fable, Chicken Little believes the world is doomed after an acorn falls on his head. “The sky is falling!” he proclaims to everyone he passes on his way to see the king.

CL persuades others to buy into his tragic belief, but eventually this chick loses all credibility.

I’ve seen my fair share of modern-day Chicken Littles. For them, everything is a fire drill – even mundane, insignificant drivel. And, they believe, it all deserves immediate attention.

Folks initially take heed and treat them with respect, but eventually, they tune ’em out.

Because most offenders aren’t even aware of their “issues,” here are some handy danger signs to watch for:

  • “High priority” is the default setting on your Outlook account.
  • Your life plan is modeled after The Battle of Midway.
  • You call in sick to work when it’s partly cloudy.
  • You find Lady Gaga’s music to be quite understated. 
  • You’ve never forgotten that nasty flu shot from 1993.
  • Your mother’s great uncle once met the Pope.
  • Each time you watch “The Wizard of Oz,” you’re convinced the Wicked Witch will finally kill Dorothy.
  • You were one of those kids who believed he was dying everytime he got a bloody nose. 
  • You’ve heard the sun is gradually burning out.
  • You think you have the most amazing dog ever.
  • You can’t spell (or say) the word “subtlety.”
  • One time, during that terrible snowstorm, you nearly fishtailed.

Chicken-little

P.S. The same principles apply to Henny Penny as well.

 

See related post: My Exclamation Point

The Weirdest Part of Weird Al

Is anyone else puzzled by the enduring career of nerdy musical ‘artist’ Weird Al Yankovic?

Decade after decade, this accordion-playing, polka-loving purveyor of pop parodies just keeps banging out mildly clever derivative hits.

His latest creation is “Perform This Way,” a spoof of current pop phenom Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Recent reports that Gaga refused granting Al permission to use her song escalated into a frenzy he skillfully dubbed The Gaga Saga. Alas, it was apparently just a misunderstanding, and the sweet Lady has given the green light to include the single on Al’s “Alpocalypse” album (his 13th!), scheduled for release on June 21.

Collective sigh of relief.

Although some artists have previously denied Al access to their work (Prince foremost among them), others report being quite flattered by his request to rework their tunes (including Michael Jackson, Madonna and Nirvana).

And so far, the 51-year-old’s prolific parodies have sold more than 12 million albums, including six platinum records and four gold records, as well as garnering three Grammy Awards and nominations for nine others.

Ironically, Weird Al’s musical career has outshined and/or outlasted many of his targets: Joan Jett, Toni Basil, Billy Ray Cyrus, Robert Palmer, The Knack, Coolio, etc., etc.

He’s a fascinating character, to be sure. 

Some interesting factoids about Mr. Alfred Matthew Yankovic:

  • valedictorian of his high school senior class.
  • earned a degree in architecture from California Polytechnic State University.
  • practices veganism.
  • opened for acts as diverse as The Monkees and Missing Persons.
  • directed music videos for numerous other artists, including Ben Folds, Hanson, The Black Crowes and The Presidents of the United States of America.
  • named as the top artist that should be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a 2009 Rolling Stone poll (followed by Rush and The Moody Blues).

But for me, the weirdest part of Weird Al is that he’s still piloting a thriving musical career.

In a fickle industry that relegates artists to the bargain bin with relative ease, this nerdy gimmick of a guy has exhibited real staying power (although I’m fairly certain his CDs are available in many a bargain bin).

Don’t get me wrong…I’m grateful for any ’80s pop singer who is still considered relevant in 2011. But given the chance, I’d really like to trade Al in for someone along the lines of Pat Benatar, Level 42 or The Go-Go’s.

So again, I ask: Is anyone else puzzled by the enduring career of nerdy musical “artist” Weird Al Yankovic?

Pumping Up with the Partridges

The_partridge_family-show

You can learn a lot about a guy by checking out the music on his iPod.

Mine includes a diverse mix of classic rock, ‘80s pop, Christian worship, current artists and a few left-field head-scratchers thrown in for good measure.

I primarily use the device to fuel my early-morning workouts, and this eclectic tuneage caters to my audio cravings du jour. Buried within this mix, however, is also an unexpected favorite that has made its way into heavy rotation. 

While my fellow muscle-heads are jamming to Linkin Park, AC/DC and who-knows-what-else, I’m often cranking to the sunny strains of “I’ll Meet You Halfway” and “I Woke Up in Love this Morning.” Nothing gets my blood pumping quite like a Partridge Family chorus. I’m partial to the Up to Date album, which is the one that showcases all the Partridge birthdays on the cover (David Cassidy’s is this Tuesday, by the way).

Although it’s been well documented that the Partridge recordings actually feature Cassidy, Shirley Jones and a bunch of unknown studio musicians (rather than the complete TV family), I’m still a sucker for those catchy choruses, cheesy lyrics and infectious harmonies. Besides, I always did suspect that Tracy Partridge couldn’t shake a tambourine to save her life…

I think of my guilty pleasure as the musical equivalent of mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s comfort food that brings back positive childhood memories and contentment.

Unfortunately, it’s probably also grounds for my immediate dismissal from the neighborhood gym-rat association.

What the heck, it’s worth it. C’mon get happy.

 

Let’s Get Phygital

Phygital

WELCOME TO THE PHYGITAL FUTURE.

So reads the bold greeting on the corporate website of Momentum Worldwide.

The intent of this marketing agency’s declaration, I’m guessing, is to position the firm’s talents in helping its clients understand and effectively synthesize “physical” and “digital” media. 

No question that’s a valuable asset for a marketing agency these days. But the fabrication of a ridiculously clunky word to express it, is laughable (at best).

I’m not sure I know anyone who wants to embrace a “phygital future” – with or without Momentum.

Nevertheless, the agency has launched a phygital blog, a phygital YouTube channel, and of course, has applied for a phygital trademark to prevent any phygital thieves from pilfering the term. After all, Momentum “has been phygital since 1987” and “is the first and only marketing agency for the Phygital™ world.Touché.

I wish this amusing scenario were an isolated example of marketers run amok, but it seems to be part of a larger trend of creative agencies mashing up two real words into a single — often ludicrous — made-up word.

Cohn & Wolfe likes to call itself “bigtique” (meaning, I suppose, that the firm embodies both the creativity of a boutique agency and the depth of a global powerhouse). I wonder what’s wrong with just stating that fact without resorting to gimmicky word play.

It was the intersection of “Traditional and “Digital” that spawned Tradigital Communications, a firm that “helps companies solve the internet marketing puzzle.” I’m betting their top name choice was Phygital Communications, but it was already taken.

And, a China-based marketing communications consultancy has capitalized on all the “glocal” hoopla with the creation of Glocal Strategy. Oh, how I pity the poor receptionist… 

English has more than a million words, but apparently, we’ve exhausted all effective combinations and must create unique amalgamations to illuminate our creative brilliance.

Seems like blatant abuse of a living language to me. 

In fact, it’s positively absurdiculous

Olivia-newton-john-physical

 

 

 

This Fool’s Dilemma

Istock_seriouswithcone

For a guy who seldom takes anything seriously, April Fool’s Day presents quite a quandary.

You see, I live my life through a perpetual barrage of jokes, fibs and short-term fabrications. Ask any of my colleagues (past or current), and they’ll likely attest that whatever comes out of my mouth is not to be trusted – at least not without careful scrutiny.

So what’s this poor sap planning to do on this annual hoax-welcoming day? 
Join the crowd for some “business as usual”?

How ho hum is that.

Nope, this year, I’m going rogue. My goal is to endure April 1 without exuding a single shred of revelry.

I’ll live like a total dullard. 

And I’ll do it all on a Friday.

Now don’t taunt…

 

iPad 2, You Complete Me.

Ipad2

After last Saturday’s crushing denial of Apple’s newest coveted device, I debated whether I would subject myself to the same barbaric ritual two weeks in a row.

Honestly, it wasn’t much of a debate. The stubborn, competitive side of me beat the rational, level-headed side hands-down.

This time, however, I was wise enough to understand the table stakes before going into battle. I arrived at the mall at about 5:30 a.m. (beating my previous time by more than an hour). My reward for this lunacy was to earn spot #5 in line, which quickly slipped to #7 when two “friends” of those ahead of me arrived.

My position was a definite improvement from last week’s placement (#25), but it would be a few hours until I found out whether I would be walking out a champion or a stooge.

Thankfully, I walked out a champ. As did most of the roughly 100 co-fanatics standing alongside me. Not only had the store received a healthy shipment of iPad devices the afternoon before, but they apparently were welcoming a second shipment as we were standing in line. It was a good morning to be a lemming.

After several rounds of handing out vouchers to match individuals with their chosen model(s), the doors to the store officially opened. I must say the process was quite well-organized, and the Apple team could not have been more accommodating and friendly. One of them even high-fived and congratulated me as I left the store.

So what did I do when I arrived home? Did I tear open the box, fire that puppy up and begin savoring all of its innovative goodness?

Nope, I laid down and took a nice long nap. It had been a long morning.

And when I awoke, did I scurry to begin exploring the device I had worked so hard to secure? No chance. I had errands to do.  

Looks like it might take awhile for us to become acquainted. 

Applecrowd

Some of my peeps.