Sunday, December 05, 2010

USC vs. UCLA -- A Bedtime Story

Last night was the USC vs. UCLA football game.

The 80th meeting in one of the most storied rivalries in college football.

And I fell asleep.

I went to USC.

I played at USC.

Well, I sat on the bench at USC.

The point is, USC football is one of the few things I get passionate about.

And I fell asleep.

It’s not that I don’t care anymore.

Or that I don’t care because we’re on probation this year.

And yes... I said “we”.

It may be 30 years since I wore the uniform, but I still say “we”.

So, yes... I still care.

I care enough to say “we”.

And I care enough to have watched every game this year.

And last week, during the game against Notre Dame, our other big rival...

I did _not_ fall asleep.

I stayed awake during every heart-pounding, frustrating moment.

At one point, I even screamed at the top of my lungs...

Scaring the crap out of my daughters...

And probably any neighbors not tuned into the game...

Which was likely most of them...

Since USC and Notre Dame were not exactly “in the hunt” this year.

In some years, everybody who cares about football knows when USC and Notre Dame are playing.

This year, not so much.

But that game still got my blood pumping.

And my daughters running for cover.

And the neighbors dialing 911.

After we lost to Notre Dame, I was numb.

I was depressed.

Maybe not clinically depressed...

Which would have been an improvement, actually...

Because then I would have had some medication at my disposal.

Instead, I had to resort to philosophy.

I tried telling myself “it’s only game”.

Key word... “tried”.

Problem is, I don’t believe that.

It goes much deeper than that.

It’s something...

Hard to describe.

When you care so much about something, it defies description.

My ex-wife used to ask, “Why do you love me?”.


Who can answer that question?

I love you because... I love you.

You might even come up with a list of things you like about the person you love, but how can you say “why” you love them?

Or why you stop loving them?

When my wife decided to end our marriage, I asked her, “Why do you want to get divorced?”.

Her reply...

“I’m as surprised as you.”

Not only is that a unique answer for ending a relationship...

It pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying.

We don’t know why we love somebody... or stop loving somebody.

It’s the same with sports.

Or anything else you’re passionate about.

Why do you love to...


You just do.

It’s the way it is.

It’s part of who you are.

For you, it’s part of the meaning of life.

Maybe you couldn’t care less about sports...

And by the way, did you notice I said “_couldn’t_ care less”?

Could _not_ care less.

When you don’t care about something, you could _not_ care less, right?

But a lot of people say... “I could care less”.

I _could_ care less.

When they really mean, I could _not_ care less.

And whenever I hear somebody say “I could care less”...

It bugs the crap out of me.


I don’t know.

It just does.

It’s just like anything else that I do or don’t care about.

Ask me why...

I don’t know.

All I do know is that when I’m emotionally involved in a game, and somebody says... “it’s just a game”...

It’s insulting.

Even if you couldn’t care less about sports, surely there’s something you’re passionate about...

(And stop calling me Shirley.)

Think of how you would feel if somebody told you that one of the most important things in your life wasn’t all that important...

“It’s just your kids.”

How would that make you feel?

It doesn’t matter if it’s sports, or whatever it is...

If it’s important to you... it’s important.


End of story.

So, last night, during the 80th meeting in one of the most storied rivalries in college football... even though it meant “nothing” as far as bowl games and national championships and any other measure of a season’s success... it meant something to me... and to the players and coaches... and to the people at the game... and the fans watching the game on TV... it still meant something... it wasn’t “just a game”.

So, then... why did I fall asleep?

I have no idea.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rattling Thoughts (After Falling Off The Mountaintop)

Yesterday, somebody deleted a comment I posted on Facebook. Fine. Everybody's got their sensitivities. And even though I thought my comment was an amusing, harmless little joke, the person who deleted it obviously disagreed. To make myself feel a little better, I proceeded to delete that person as a "friend".

Oh, if only things were so simple IRL (that's "in real life", in case you didn't know).

What's upsetting me more than the deleted comment is that fact that this garbage is still rattling around in my brain a day later.

I have better things to do with my thoughts.

I'm old enough to know you can't please everybody. No matter what you say, somebody's not going to like it.

Then why is this tiny event continuing to pop up in my head?

At this point, it may be the like the exercise of trying not to picture a purple elephant. The more you think "don't picture the purple elephant", the more you picture the purple elephant.

So, the more I'm trying to force myself to forget about it, the more I'm thinking about it.

Whatever the reason, I know this will drift out of my skull soon enough. What I'm hoping is that a little blog-rant on the topic will make it go away sooner.

This little social mis-interation is really no big deal in the whole scheme of things. Especially since I've been feeling so good about life lately. I've been "in the moment" a lot... not letting the past drive me, and not worrying about the future. The thought that we are all "pure consciousness" (planted in my head by another Facebook friend) has been making me walk lighter, and the fact that all humans on the planet are constantly participating in the creation of the world's events in "the eternal now" has been a prevalent thought and feeling.

How can I be floating along in a state of wonder and bliss, only to be thwarted by a deleted Facebook comment?

Maybe it's because I wasn't being confronted with anything. So even the simplest little annoyance, in contrast to joy and wonderment, has gotten blown out of proportion?

Whatever the reason, I'm feeling better now... as planned. Writing helps. I need to do this more often. Only when I do it more often, I want to have more important and positive things to write about.

That's the plan... next time... positive stuff.

[Therapy session complete.]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In The Long Haul and In The Moment

I'm in this for the long haul.

No, really. I mean it this time. Forget all of the times in my life that I stopped and started... and stopped... and started... and...

You get the picture.

What's different this time?

It's hard to explain. But I'll try...

This time, I've come to the realization that there's no point in stopping. I'm no longer in denial. This is what I really want to do...

Whatever "this" is.

I've stopped in the past because...

[Long Pause]

I'm not exactly sure.

[Another Long Pause]

Maybe it's because I was too ambitious? Things weren't happening "fast enough", I got frustrated, and stopped?

Yeah, that sounds good.

[Yet Another Long Pause]

Maybe it's because I wasn't tough enough? Things were happening "too fast", I got scared, and stopped?

Yeah, that sounds good.

[Heavy Sigh]

You know what? I really don't know why I've stopped and restarted so many times in the past. And right now, I'm got a feeling that I'm on the verge of yet another epiphany...

It just doesn't matter.

Yeah, that sounds good.

And right now, I also just realized that my latest epiphany was long ago immortalized by Bill Murray's character in the movie "Meatballs". He's obviously not the first person to utter those words. If I'm not mistaken, the first person to coin that phrase was some dude writing on a wall in a cave.

It just doesn't matter.

Now, I'm not saying nothing matters. Far from it. What I'm saying is that the past doesn't matter. How I got here doesn't matter. The reason(s) I've stopped pursuing my dreams all of those times doesn't matter. All of that baggage and guilt and regret is useless.

It just doesn't matter.

The only thing that matters is this moment.

Yeah, that sounds good.

And in the immortal words of a wise man from thousands of years ago...

"No duh".

As trite as it sounds, it needs to be repeated...

The only thing that matters is this moment.

We humans keep making the same mistakes over and over again because we forget the simple stuff. And the simplest, truest concept of all is that we only have this moment. It's the only time we can ever do anything. Try as mightily as we want, and we can only do something _now_.

The past is gone. We let it rattle around in our heads all the time, but in reality, it's gone. Letting the past drive our lives is like letting the wake drive the boat. The boat creates the wake. Not the other way around.

The most important thing is to "be present". Stay "in the moment". Be conscious of the "eternal now".

Ironically enough, I think staying in the moment is also the best way to stay on course for the long haul. It makes life more enjoyable. There's less chance of getting overwhelmed and frustrated when the past and future aren't being piled on top of the present moment.

Yeah, that sounds good.

Friday, April 09, 2010

To Tweet, or Not To Tweet... Is That a Question?

I was having so much fun tweeting @CraigyFerg (Craig Ferguson), but now the fun has come to and end. That's okay. I'll surely find other fun things to do with my life. It's just that I was enjoying coming up with new Tweet ideas everyday, and it lit a fire under my ass to focus on doing what I really want to do, and...

I'm going through a bit of a letdown.

Not a major one. But a letdown, nonetheless.

Funny how that little activity of conjuring up 140 characters (or less) per day was doing so much for my pysche. Seems silly when I write about it. Especially considering that all I was doing was spewing what turned out to be Twitter SPAM.

At least, that's how some people saw it.

I never thought about that aspect of it. I mean, Craig gets hundreds of Tweets every day. And some of his followers Tweet at him multiple times a day. Can me sending one carefully crafted (and sometimes maybe even clever and amusing) Tweet actually be considered SPAM?

Well, the more I thought about it (after it was brought to my attention by one of the more active members of Craig's Robot Skeleton Army [RSA]), the more I realized that it was probably doing more harm than good. I'd started copying my Tweets to his staff members, too (oddly enough, at the advice of that same RSA spokesperson... odd because she told me I was SPAMming, but then advised me to Tweet at the Producers)... which, as I degrade into some strange combination of cascading punctuation in this paragraph... led me to the conclusion that I needed to stop.

Yeah, I'm confused, too.

Not only is my wording and punctuation awkward, so was that whole RSA interaction. I hadn't thought about the sub-culture of people out there who are so invested in a daily basis with the whole RSA mish-mash of interactive Tweet streams.

I was just having fun with my little tweets.

Little did I know I was being judged (and sometimes... BLOCKED! ... NO - not THAT!) by a subset of the RSA subculture.

I've seen this before... on the Internet, and in real life.

It's nothing new.

It just hadn't dawned on me that I was in the same kind of realm as the dreaded (to me) message boards. There are people who live on the boards (and/or twitterville), and can have the tendency to behave as if they "own" the thing they're talking about. They feel like they're the authorities... much like the experience I had with the USC Football message boards a few years ago. It starts out innocently enough, with a bit of lurking, then a post here and there, followed by the inevitable drama that ensues when you unwittingly break one of the tribal rules.

Anyway, I'm getting way too much into the psychology of the message boards and/or tweets. The bottom line is that I'm changing tactics. Even though part of me thinks "to heck with them"... it is their world, afterall. I can go back to being a fan of Craig and his show on my own terms, in my own living room, not being accused of being a SPAMmer, not being BLOCKED by the RSA elite... like I was up until a few weeks ago.


The only reason I even started tweeting @CraigyFerg in the first place was because I just got a wild hair up my ass to do that one morning. And the next day I did it again... and then again the day after that... for fun... and hoping that Craig might actually notice... and respond. What I don't know is whether or not he even read any of my tweets. And if he did, whether or not he liked them, saw them as SPAM, or didn't give a rip one way or the other.


I'll get there.

Focus, I mean.

Here tiz...

I'm going back to approaching this the right way. And by "this" I'm talking about getting booked on the show. I sent an email to the Producer yesterday, and he responded this morning. Very nice of him to respond so quickly. Unfortunately, he's forwarded my email to a person I already emailed a couple of times in the past... and she never replied. I understand this is showbiz, where you don't normally get contacted when you don't get a gig. But I think this kind of inquiry should at least be acknowledged... as the Producer was kind enough to do today.

Who knows, maybe it'll be different this time. Maybe getting my email forwarded from the Producer will lead to a response from the person who books the musical acts. We'll see.

In the meantime, rambling this post is helping to shake me out of the post-tweet letdown I mentioned earlier. And another this is helping a lot, too...

Playing my guitar, singing, working on songs... that's part of my "core self". And that's where it's all at. When the opportunity arises for me to pop my talk show cherry, I'll be ready.

What am I saying... I _am_ ready.

But you can never bee "too ready", right?

The point is, practice makes perfect. And practice makes me feel good.

And ain't that the whole point of all of "this"...

Whatever "this" is?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I'm The Only One That Can Occupy "My" Spot

"There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be ... it's easy." -- John Lennon

Sometimes, a single thought can cut through all of the supposed complexity in the world. John had it nailed with that line. You can only be where you are, and that's where you're meant to be.

It's easy.

And it's connected to some thoughts that occurred to me yesterday...
  • I'm the only one that can occupy "my" spot.
  • I'm not in competition with anybody for "my" spot.
  • Nobody is taking "my" spot.
  • I'm not taking anybody else's spot.
To reiterate and regurgitate...

If it's truly "my" spot, I'm the only one that can have it. There's no competition for it. If it's mine, it's mine. Likewise, if it's yours, it's yours.

It's easy.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tweeting @CraigyFerg to be a Musical Guest on His Show

Can I get a spot as a musical guest on "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" through a Twitter campaign... directed solely at Craig Ferguson?

Stranger things have happened.

Much stranger.

Did you know there's a legit TV pilot being shot right now (starring William Shatner), that's based on a guy's Twitter account (@shitmydadsays)?

With that in mind, here's what I'm doing...

A couple of weeks ago, I sent the following tweet to Craig Ferguson (aka @CraigyFerg)...

According to "The Aladdin Factor", if I simply ask, @CraigyFerg will have me as a guest on his show! But what if Craig hasn't read the book?

Okay, so it wasn't exactly sent _to_ him, but it did mention him. And when you mention somebody on Twitter, there's a chance they might see it. Considering the number of tweets containing @CraigyFerg on any given day, that chance may be slim... but it's a chance, nonetheless.

When I sent that first tweet, I had no plan to send any more. It was just a thought I had that morning. Can't even remember what triggered it. Maybe nothing in particular triggered it.

Does everything have to be "triggered"?

Then something happened.

I had the idea to post a tweet @CraigyFerg every day.

That was at least partially triggered by Conan O'Brien's successful Twitter campaign that's led to him selling thousands of tickets for his "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour".

Granted, I don't have quite as many followers as Conan, so it's comparing apples to oranges. Or is it big-ass apples to tiny apples? Or millions of apples to a handful of apples?

Whatever the case may be, it's not exactly a level playing field.

And my "campaign" is not directed towards my followers. It's directed towards one person.

Even though my "strategy" is a bit different from Conan's, and the odds of success are obviously a bit different as well, we're both dwelling in the same "market space". Yeah, I don't know what that means, either. I'm not much for suit-speak. It just came out, and I decided not to backspace.

Point is... it's a whole new world. Conan (and other celebrities) can leverage off of millions of followers, directly contacting their fans, bypassing the gatekeepers and middlemen who once held a monopoly. And I can use the same communication pipeline to try and get the attention of a single celebrity (or one of his staffers).

Screw the "odds". This ain't all about probabilities... measurable things... quantifiable things. There's something cool about having these connections happening, without regard to the odds.

And there's already been some unexpected, unmeasurable byproducts to come out of these daily tweets (now at 16 consecutive days, by the way)...

+ It's helping me focus.
+ It's inspiring me.
+ It's increased my interaction with my Facebook friends.

Not only that, but I'm truly starting to believe... make that, I'm truly believing... that this will lead to a spot on Craig's show...

Or something better.

That last part is what I've learned through various self-help gurus (e.g., Jack Canfield... author of the aforementioned "The Aladdin Factor", from my first tweet @CraigyFerg). They say that when you come up with affirmations, you should end with "or something better". It opens your mind to other possibilities. We don't always get what we're asking for, but the process of asking often leads us to something even better.

I'm excited to find out where these daily tweets will take me... because I'm determined to keep tweeting until something happens. And then I guess I'll continue tweeting (or using whatever other communication channels open up in the future) until something else happens.

Of course, there's more to life than tweeting. In between tweets, I'm getting back to the creative matters at hand... the things that make me happy... the things I can control... like, playing my guitar, singing, writing, reading...

Speaking of reading...

I just finished Craig Ferguson's book "American on Purpose". A lot of it hit close to home. For one thing, he wrote about getting to a point in his career where he started doing the creative things that he could control (e.g., writing a novel), because he was fed up with people shitting on his projects... when he even got so far as to get money from people to do projects. And he's not far removed from where I'm sitting right now... and where I was a few years ago. It wasn't that long ago that he went through divorce(s) and debts (see: me a few years ago), and wasn't getting much work in Hollywood (see: me... period).

And this ties into the "or something better" thing from above...

He got his first big-time role on The Drew Carey Show after bombing on an audition for a different show. He wasn't even going to go to the audition (since it was a Hispanic role, and he's Scottish), but a friend encouraged him to go anyway. He said he did a terrible Hispanic accent, but a guy chased after him and asked him to audition for a different show... which turned out to be the pilot for Drew's show.

I don't tell the story as well as Craig. I recommend buying his book if you're interested in being truly inspired.

But the point is...

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". -- John Lennon

Craig Ferguson did not leave his home that day to audition for The Drew Carey Show, but that's the show he ended up being on for eight years. And, as he wrote in his book... it changed his life.

A similar thing happened on the way to his late night talk show gig. It wasn't something he'd been pursuing. It just popped-up... and rather than me trying to regurgitate his story again like I did a couple of paragraphs ago, I'll once again encourage you to buy his book...

As kiss-assy as it may sound.

You know what? I don't care if it sounds kiss-assy. I just finished reading his book, and it was great. He's a really good writer, and his story inspired me. And one day, I hope to shake his hand and tell him that in person.

In the meantime, I'll have to settle for my tweet-a-day regimen, hoping to get his attention, and get a spot as a musical guest on his show...

Or something better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rules for Hollywood? (2009 - Avatar & Paranormal Activity)

It recently occurred to me that 2009 may have provided the two furthest ends of the spectrum in filmmaking success in a single year...

"Avatar" and "Paranormal Activity".

When you think about these two extremes, it's hard to believe that there are really any rules in Hollywood for what it takes to have a successful film.

Okay, so this really isn't breaking news. "There are no rules in Hollywood." Fine. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

All I'm saying is that 2009 may have been the best illustration of that fact.

The budget for Paranormal Activity was somewhere in the neighborhood of $15k (yes, that's "k", as in "thousand"). The technology was primitive (at best). The director had no experience. Expectations were low (to say the least). Marketing was mainly via social networking (at least initially). The movie has grossed in the ballpark of $200 million.

Not a bad ballpark for a $15k investment.

The budget for Avatar was about $200 million. The technology was ground-breaking. The director had a lot of experience, including the previous all-time high-grossing film. Expectations were high (to say the least). Marketing was mainly "old school" (e.g., commercials and talk shows). The movie has grossed over $2 billion.

Not quite the same return on investment as Paranormal Activity, but not too shabby.

So, when I hear advice from various people in the industry saying, "You must [fill-in-the-blank]" or "You can't [fill-in-the-blank]"... I have a hard time taking any of this advice at face value. What they're saying me have been true for them at one time in their careers, and it may be true again.

Or it may not.

It's like Newton's Law of Hollywood...

"For every piece of advice, there's an equal and opposite piece of advice."

That's not to say nobody knows what they're talking about. Experience should count for something, right?


But how much (if any) does experience matter?

On the one hand, a film (or writer, director, actor, etc.) can have tons of experience, and be involved in a flop. On the other hand, a newcomer can skyrocket to the top.

I didn't intend to rhyme. That was an accident.

Like much of what happens in Hollywood.

There are some people who have great track records, producing more hits than misses... but nobody's batting 100%. Nobody has this thing totally figured out. The big studios produce some garbage, and the indie world creates some masterpieces.

Speaking of indies...

I've read some articles about death of indie filmmaking. They go on and on about the details of how the funding sources and distribution channels have dried up in recent years, and therefore it has become harder for indie filmmakers to survive. While I can't argue these facts (not being an indie filmmaker myself, I don't know enough to say if it's true or not), I have a hard time buying it as an overarching generality.

Or, put another way...

Did you hear the one about "Paranormal Activity"?

Distribution channels and funding sources may be changing, but come on... who really understood those things in the first place? And I'm not just saying this out of my own personal ignorance. There's a story about some college professors who traveled West in an attempt to map out the economics of Hollywood...

And traveled back East even more bewildered than when they'd arrived.

There may... I repeat, MAY... be some rules to follow in order to be successful in "THE INDUSTRY". But the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it's just a lot of free-wheeling poker playing.

To me, that's encouraging.

If nobody REALLY knows what's going on, then people down here at my level know about as much as everybody else.