Olfactory Overtime…

She is wondering why I used that soap

She is wondering why I used that soap

Adjusting to the single life is a process. I’m still trying to master things like a cleaning schedule, budgeting/timing of grocery purchases, and cooking for one on the nights I don’t have my daughters. Every so often I encounter gaps in grocery shopping and I forget to toss something on the list.

My most recent infraction was running out of shower body soap (for dudes). In true form of problem resolution, I adapted and overcame the problem by running upstairs to my daughter’s bathroom and using their soap. This is the part where I mention that it’s Olay Soothing Cucumber Cleaning Body Wash. The soap smells very nice but is more marketed toward feminine users. Now, I’m secure in my manhood and not threatened at all by such nonsensical caveman thoughts of resistance, so I used it. This was no big deal to me as I’ve worn many hot pink Barbie Band-Aids to work and I even sported a Little Mermaid MasterCard for a while. You should have seen the looks of indignation on the faces of gas station clerks as they scoffed and thought to themselves “pervert”.  All of this comes with the territory when you are outnumbered and the proud father of girls. I know I’m bias, but they are by in far amazing creatures and I love being the father of them.

Anyway, I headed out to conduct my normal chores and I periodically noticed throughout the day people making comments about the way I smelled. The comments were all very positive. What made me stop and pause was a brief encounter at Wal-Mart.

I was walking to my car and noticed a woman (with a little girl about the age of 4) trying to fit a large entertainment furniture box into her hatch back car. It was slightly starting to rain. I headed over to the lady and grabbed the other side of the box and began to help hoist it into the car. I’ve found over the years not to ask people if they need help because pride typically defaults them to say “no, I’ve got it”.  I make it a policy to just jump in when I see someone needing help and just do it.

I had set my bags on the ground near the little girl and I reached down to grab it when I was done helping. The girl sniffed and said, “You smell like my mommy. Do you use the same perfume?” My immediate response was to laugh because I knew right away what she smelled was the soap! Her mother was embarrassed and I explained that it was okay. For some reason I felt the need to recount to her my choice of soap that morning. She gave me one of those looks like I used to get from gas station clerks when I whipped out the Little Mermaid credit card. I immediately regretted sharing my personal soaping issue with her. I promptly aborted to my car.

I learned that if I was to smell pretty, use that soap on a day I’m just sitting at home relaxing.

The Zen Zone…

RelaxOne of the most under valued tool of any IT professional is the good old fashion ‘Shutdown or Reboot’.  It’s a common joke about how these are the go to solutions when our computers go on the fritz, but there is good reason for it.

You see, operating systems have integrated memory management algorithms (math for us Fisher Price types) that are constantly running.  The OS has to multitask your open Facebook page to spy on your old high school flame, that game of Angry Birds, the email you started about why you need off work to finish watching the House of Cards series and even those random Google searches about whether Carrot Top got plastic surgery.  Every time a task is opened and closed, the OS does the best it can (within nano seconds) to put all of the files back where they belong for future reference, all while recording in a temp log what was done and for how long.  When the computer is shutdown and rebooted, all of those temporary files and mathematics are reset and cleared thus making everything run slightly snappier because the system has less to track due to the fresh restart.

I know what you’re thinking.  What is God’s name does this have to do with writing or life?  Simple.  It has everything to do with it.

Our brains are super computers with the best known operating system.  Despite all of that, we need a reboot.  Think about modern society in how bombarded we are in a given day with information.  Now more so  than any other time in history we are having to process tons of information which is constantly being throw in our face.  We have transcended the Information Age and entered the Processing Age.  We have so much popping up all around us on our smart phones, advertisements, our kids, bosses, tweets, blog posts, etc… It’s enough to make your head explode.  That is why it is vital we shut the world out every so often as a chance to reboot to clear our heads from the trillions of tasks that inundate us every second of every day.  This not only important for mental, spiritual and physical health.  It will do wonders for your creative health as a writer.  Even if you don’t write, you may find creative ways to solve some of life’s most frustratingly sticky problems.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to watching Tommy Lee Jones be happy at an awards show.

iCringe….

stevejobs1I read the biography of Steve Jobs (shortly after his death) by Walter Isaacson and it was an incredible book.  It was an unbiased life snapshot of one of the most geniusly ruthless people to grace the planet.  I was excited momentarily to find out that the book was adapted for screen in an upcoming movie titled jOBS.  I was less excited to find out Ashton Kutcher was playing Steve Jobs.  Now I am super bummed after seeing this recently released clip.  The acting is lame, the timing is off, this conversation never took place, his portrayal of Jobs is totally off base, I could keep going but will let the clip stand for itself.

Even Steve Wozniak agrees with me.  He tries to save face at the end of the article stating that only one scene has been released and it might be good.  Yeah, right.

Here is the article and clip:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-207_162-57565930/steve-wozniak-says-scene-totally-wrong-in-ashton-kutchers-jobs/

I’ve not been this disappointed since Brad Pitt destroyed my beloved World War Z book to movie adaptation.  In case you are wondering, much like iRobot, the only things the book and movie have in common is a name.

The only shining news today was the potential of J.J. Abrams directing the next Star Wars.  I’ll be mad though if the whole story takes place on a mysterious island with lots of lens flares.

Golden Girls Are The New Rage…

the-golden-girls-0My oldest daughter is a tween and headed full on into teendom.  Being a young parent I think you are more in tune (at times) to certain cultural shifts as you watch your child rage into adolescents.  There are numerous examples that come to mind like having to explain to her what an arcade is.  Or why we use the term “rewind” on a movie (VCRs) versus “reverse” making more sense with Netflix streaming or Blu-rays.

This weekend she (my oldest) had a sleep over party for her birthday at my house.  I stayed locked in my bedroom as seven tween girls loudly rocked a party.  My job was simple. Stay out of the way, don’t crack jokes, feed them and fix things as they broke (believe me there were broken things).  In case you were wondering, these rules were dictated to me on a 3rd grade reading level by my daughter before the event.

So, I wake this morning to find many of them (of course) stayed up most, if not all of the night.  What were they watching? The Golden Girls.  They were even having spirited conversations about which character is the best.  I knew the show had a resurgence of popularity within the last few years, but I asked them about it and found that kids love (and watch often) the Golden Girls.  Who would have thought that a show about senior women living in Florida after the deaths of their husbands would have been so popular with 12-13 year olds?  Of all the 80’s sitcoms I would have never guessed that one.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Golden Girls, but the demographics seem off to me.  I thought Night Court would have been a stronger contender.  Or even Designing Women. Or Alf. Or Growing Pains. Or Who’s the Boss. I’ll stop there.

Maybe The Big Bang Theory will be popular with my grandkids and we can have something in common?

 

I’m Breaking Bad…

bbI have a terrible habit of getting on the bandwagon of good TV shows late or after the fact.  Many friends have told me things like, “You’d love The Big Bang Theory” or “You’ve got to see Firefly!” and I almost always immediately dismiss them.  It’s like I have this innate rebellion of not wanting to like what the masses like.  I hate to say it, but I am often wrong to listen to that rebellious internal voice and hold out.  Thank God we live in a world of DVDs, Blurays, Netflix and DVRs.  It allows me to quietly discover what many already know without too much embarrassment.  The only exception is at the work lunch table when I happen to blurt out some exciting tidbit from season 3 of a show when everyone looks at me like I just pooped my pants because they are all on season 5.  Often you then have to endure the smirk of elitism as they say something like, “You just wait. I won’t spoil it for you.”  It’s funny how trivial things are that separate us into micro caste nowadays.  It used to be things like having food or a castle.  Now it’s whether you’ve seen the latest Homeland.

My latest well duh discovery is Breaking Bad.  Holy crap is how I would summarize this one!  I put it off for a long time because I didn’t think it would interest me.  Although I do the love the premise of a chemistry teacher taking up meth manufacturing to help his family after a cancer diagnosis.  Don’t worry, I didn’t give anything away that you would not have read on the back of a DVD case.  See what I did there?  Yeah, elitism.  Don’t get too made at me.  I don’t get to say something like that most of the time as I’m almost always on the receiving end.

So what is it about Breaking Bad?  It has all of the elements that I hold dear.  Great story-line, in-depth characters, and a steady development of both.  Also, most every episode ends in a cliff hanger.  That would be torture if I was watching it in real time and having to wait till the next week.  Instead, it creates an internal battle of whether to watch one more on Netflix or head to bed despite having to rise early for work.  As tough as this is, it is one of the advantages to being a late bloomer when discovering these great shows.

I know there are a lot of episodes and the series is not complete (in season 5 at the time of writing this) but do yourself a favor and watch them.  If you value any of the things above then you will enjoy it.

Jumping Sharks…

Yes, Happy Days at one point actually had the Fonz jump over a shark while on water ski's in a story - hence the phrase

Yes, Happy Days at one point actually had the Fonz jump over a shark while on water ski’s in a story – hence the phrase

I have daughters and along with that comes a propensity for keeping up with and viewing things that I normally would not in an alternate universe. While at times I may get a glance from a friend wanting me to flash my “man card” if I happen to know details about America’s Next Top Model or even who Tim Gunn is from Project Runway, I am secure enough in my masculinity to dismiss such musings. Instead, I take such opportunities to learn all I can about new things which I might never have been exposed to. You never know when facts or cultural tidbits might help your writings.

We have watched Glee since season one. We fell off that bandwagon and recently got back on when my oldest wanted to catch up on them as they have been collecting dust on the DVR hard drive. After she caught me up on all of the character updates in the story line, we jumped in. I was floored. What in the name of Hades are the writers of that show thinking!? It’s horrible! That’s saying something since at the height of it’s popularity the show was not considered strong with in-depth fully developed stories. The show (now more than ever) is riddle with shallow characters, cliche’d stories elements, error’s in script continuity, horrible acting, etc…

Repeatedly I would look at my daughter and tell what was going to happen next. Not that I expect to be cerebrally stimulated by such a show, I felt intellectually insulted at what the writers were attempting to do with the story. Am I mad? No, of course not. I would be if it was a show that was near and dear to my heart. It does however demonstrate that anything can be destroyed by mindless zombie writers just trying to cash in a check to get a story complete. Fox Network, can you say cash cow?

Be mindful of this with your writing. Always be on guard for stupid elements that have been used time and time again. Embrace the healthy critiques of friends who read your work and point out such atrocities. Always be driven to tell a story you want to be told. Always keep your readers guessing and challenge the norms of story elements. It is okay to attempt to what has been done before, just do it well.

kurt_hummel_glee

Evolution…

Some of the most interesting people I have ever met are those that are in a constant state of change.  They embrace it and flow with it.  By listening to stories of their past and even watching in the present, you can see this process of constant evolution take place.

I once read that life is best viewed as a river.  It is constantly flowing in one direction.  It never ceases and never stops moving.  Life is best mastered when you let the river’s flow move you without resistance.  The same must be true of a writer.  We have to not only embrace change but allow it mold us into something different.  Something that we were not before.  Without this process our stories will remain the same.  I’m in the midst of evolution right now and I can tell you that not only in life is it difficult but in writing as well.  The goal should always be to become stronger through these processes and learn.  To swim against the the current of change is futile and exhausting at best.  How are we to get anywhere without moving forward regardless of how scary or painful it might be?