Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sincerity in the emerging age of Transparency.

When I first think of the word transparent, it somehow sparks a negative feeling. We talk about transparent people, usually in a bad way.

"I can see right through you."

I call the "slut" transparent, when they go to the party under the guise of innocent mingling.
I call the "schmoozer" transparent when they go to the party just to meet new friends.
I call the "stoner" transparent when they, at first, playfully deny the desire to smoke free weed.
I call the "cynic" transparent when they don't go to the party at all.

AND I call myself, the "critic," transparent when I criticize these people for attending the party that I am also at.

The more I understand these people and these things the more i realise that Transparency is a given. No matter how hard we try we will never be able to hide every secret that we have in our souls. There will always be someone wise enough to see it and dig it out.

I have no desire to discuss why am I am so critical. It is easier to simply be a critic. But the truth will always out. It doesn't take a wise man to know that I criticize those things I am jealous of.

I am transparent in that sense.

So why deny it? Why pretend it doesn't exist? Why perpetuate the anger, the criticism, the lashing out, the frustration, all the things that stem from those feelings that I try to hide from the world?

Why is it that so many of us would rather act out, than look in?

Why is transparency, something as undeniable and as much a part of our nature as breathing in and breathing out, considered BAD?

I believe its because we, as people, like to have our secrets. Not gossip, not stories. We have secret feelings, secret urges, secret desires, secret FEARS that we would rather not talk about. Because, if we talk about them, we will have to deal with them.


Ask any alcoholic.

If we are SINCERE about our feelings, they become real, and they become something we have to deal with. And frankly, that is very scary. AT FIRST...

This morning I watched Senator Obama's speech on race in its entirety. It was truly a work of art, written by his own hand. In 37 minutes, artfully using the metaphor of Race, he showed us his true wisdom. He showed us that the only way to solve any of our problems, be it political or personal, is to first accept that they exist. In this growing age of transparency, when most people see on their laptop and at their fingertips, anything they want, the only way to survive, is to be sincere. To deny labels and facades in favor of looking deeper. Anything less is a step backwards.

The only way to deal with transparency, is to do things that are worth seeing.

That is not to say we can not have fears, but we must not deny them if we want to move forward. We wear these labels and put up these facades because they are easier than dealing with our fears. I would rather be "the critic" than admit that I am jealous and scared to try things for myself. Because "critic" is something easy and tangible. But this is a facade, and can be easily seen through. I can't be afraid of what lies beneath "the critic."

Only when we deny our fears does "the slut" remain one.
Only when we deny our fears does "the schmoozer" remain one.
Only when we deny our fears does "the stoner" remain one.
Only when we deny our fears does "the cynic" remain one.
Only when I deny my own fear, do I remain "the critic."

When we admit our humanity, these labels go away.

We can admit our fear and try to love.
We can admit our fear and try to work hard.
We can admit our fear and try to live.
We can admit our fear and try to hope.
We can admit our fear and try to TRY.

We can all be people that are worth seeing through to the core.

And we can do it together. We can be more than "sluts" or "critics." We can be more than "white" or "black." We can be a society of people trying to be PEOPLE. But we have to stop pretending, and we have to work hard.

Please watch Barack Obama use this idea to get us to admit to not only the unspoken racial injustice that still thrives, but also to the unspoken fears that we may have in general as a country. To push, instead, for much needed sincerity to thrive in an undeniable age of transparency.

Because we aren't fooling anybody.

This speech is truly a gift from a wise man:

Don't be afraid to admit your fears. It is the first step.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blu-rays and Barack Obama

The Renaissance diner on 9th avenue has become a favorite spot for midday breakfasts and stimulating conversation. Amy and I were the youngest people in the restaurant this morning as we arrived a bit too early for the young gay boys who usually frequent there, instead joining the happily retired crowd. We chatted, we ate, we got some free orange juice, and we continued our conversation out into the street. Amy had been telling me about the elephants that had walked past her apartment on 34th and the conversation found its way to Planet Earth. I offered to lend her my copy as I had recently begun recieving the series from netflix on Blu-ray.
She asked what I thought of this still slightly mysterious entity known as blu-ray. I said it was basically the cat's pajamas. Or better yet, it was the cat's suit and tie. And I capped off the conversation by saying how much the success of blu-rays gave me hope for the career of another slightly mysterious entity known as... Barack Obama.

Amy looked confused.

I didn't blame her... I explained:

For some reason I have been tying the two together in my mind ever since I had bought the blu-ray player. The machine was to be one of the first major purchases I would make using my own money (the TV is another story, I will forever be in debt to my father for a great many things). So, seeing as I was about to throw down a few hundred hard earned dollars on a next generation gadget, I wanted to do my research! This was, after all, a very important decision.

I always thought it was silly to throw my money at something I don't know anything about.

I had never been one for advertising. If I was, I probably would have left Best Buy with brand new HD-DVD player. Instead, I spent a few hours on the internet trying to figure out what the difference was between the two.
In case your not a nerd like me, I should tell you that the DVD is going bye bye. HD-TVs need HD discs to truly be HD. Why spend $2000 on a HD(high definition)-TV if your not gonna use it to its full potential?


The two choices for HD discs are Blu-ray and HD-DVD. They are not compatible with each other so you have to pick one or the other. Well, it didn't take much research to understand what each of the two would do:

They do the exact same thing.

And I thought, What's the big deal? Why was there even a competition?! And like so many people seem to be asking about our current Political dilemma:


Well, a few websites later I got down to the nitty gritty of the HD debate. It was true that Both formats would perform with exactly the same quality.
Blu-rays could hold almost twice the content. You would in essence have the potential to get more bang for your buck. This seemed like a "DUH" choice for me. I immediately decided that:

All other things being equal, I obviously had to choose the option that contained more Substance.

***I'm including this video, in case you don't quite understand my nerdy-tech stuff. Ignore the price difference, go to the store and you'll see it doesn't exist. And ignore the fact that girl does her math wrong in the end when she calls it a draw, because, actually, she has blue ray winning by 1 point. Keep in mind the political innuendo of this post when you watch as well:


I bought my blu-ray player that week and never looked back. Do we see where this is going? It wasn't hard for me to understand why I am had made the choice. I had done my research and the result was undeniable. So,

I bought the blu-ray player and I support Obama because if the only difference is how much substance there is, no one wants to get short changed.

But the question was still there. How did we find ourselves having to make a choice between the two?

If HD-DVD and Mrs. H.C. held less content that BD and Mr. B.O. why were they both in the running?

It draws back to what I said earlier. If I had been one for advertising, I should have been sold on HD-DVD simply because of the name. Amy brought up the idea of a dynasty. DVD and the Clintons were indeed dynasties. They have been around for a long time and there was an undeniable familiarity with the two names. Thus, by default, the average American should simply trust the name HD-DVD because they trusted the original DVD.

Just as they should trust Hilary Clinton because they trusted Bill Clinton.

And this isn't necessarily a bad thing, because HD-DVD and Hillary are both very competent at what they do. Just as an HD-DVD would deliver a brilliant performance in the next generation HD-TV, so too would Hillary deliver a brilliant performance to the next generation of a changing country.

But the HD-DVDs began to lose their grip on the market and one by one the studios began to sign on with blu-ray.

Here was the hope. The hope that for the first time the American people were becoming informed enough to choose something based on more than a name and great ad campaign. Blu-ray and Barack Obama came out of obscurity with something that every American wants.


More than a name, more than the expected, more than an ad campaign. They gave us more bang for our buck. More content. More substance. And the people knew what choice to make.

And I felt very proud of my choice. Because I knew that when something is this important, its not enough to be TOLD what to buy and who to pick. Its not enough to choose based on familiarity. We don't want to be tricked into a choice.

You gotta call a spade a spade,
And you gotta call a shovel a shovel.
They both dig holes, but one just does more.

I laughed out loud when I saw a woman give a speech asking consumers not to give up on HD-DVDs after three major studios switched support to Blu-ray (sounds familiar Clinton fans?).

So I found the answer to my question, we are being forced to make a choice because the powers that be are so shocked that Americans have begun to think for themselves. They don't want to give up the power and name recognition they have enjoyed for so long. At least not without a fight. But as Willy Shakespeare said:


Obama '08
You might not know the names well, but look 'em up... research. The choice is undeniable.

I found this video while I was searching for a video to explain the difference between the two formats. Same sentiment as this post, political innuendo and all, but much more entertaining:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Out with the Old, In with the Youtube

Everywhere you go you see disdain on the younger peoples faces when approached with the idea of paying for something that should be free. People buy one bottle of water and fill it up from the tap all week. Because, duh, its water! We need this to live, don't try and charge us for it. I've noticed that most of the people who come up to my desk at work and ask me where they can get bottled water are over 35. That is not to say all 35 year olds ask for bottled water. Its the same 35 and overs who also have to ask me how to find something on the internet for them because they "just don't get computers." And that's when I defined to myself what Our gap was.

For starters, It wasn't computers. Contrary to the popular myth on the part of the younger generation... most people nowadays, of any age, can run your basic computer. You can even teach them a few cool tricks to show to their friends:

"No No Judy, you have to RIGHT click it and a little menu pops up!"

But even if they aren't computer literate, that's not what trenches out the gap. No, what makes the gap is this:
When they sit down at their computer with their newly purchased 20 gig external hard drive and top of the line wireless mouse, there is still one thing that scares the bejesus out of them.
Its The .com Gap.

"Out with the old, in with the new," is... well... old... so throw it out. For our generation its "Out with the Old, in with the Youtube." These people just don't get the internet. And so they are never on it.
At least, not for any other purposes than checking email, opening funny pictures that come in their email... and occasionally venturing into that mythical know it all creature known as Google.
And this is where the gap begins. To be more specific, The .com Gap is mostly due to what I like to call "The Youtube"... more later.

I kept thinking, The .com Gap (not to be confused with is just a reflection that we are the products of our parents, those lovable hippies. Free love and drugs for all. And I thought, the key word there must be "free." They thought that there were somethings in this life that should not cost money and that we should share and share alike. Love, happiness, sorrow, desperation, life, existence, and any other such thing that comprises a human being. Unlike the children of the post WWII generations who turned out to be apathetic deuchbags thanks to their parents who wore the happy 50s facade not so well... we turned out to be people who actually kind of liked each other. Why cant we all just get along? Why can we just make each other laugh... oh but we can.
On The Youtube.

That is the beauty of it. To know there is a community out there who simply wants to share the human existence. They don't ask for anything, just that you watch them if you want to, and you do the same in return. as if to say "Anyone who wants to know about me can know about me, I want to know about all of you" We're all in this thing together...
That is reality.
Survivor is not... Sorry.

I thought, is that the gap? When entertainment is free are we free to entertain? To do whatever we really think and feel? If there is nothing at stake then there is no reason to do anything other than what you want. But when money enters the picture, out goes the true human existence.
Hence do we have two generations, one that wants you to pay for your happiness, and one that doesn't?

No, thats not it, lets not start crying Communism here. There is a big difference between a livelihood and a life, duh.

Still, I kept thinking that what we are seeing with Youtube, Tivo, the original Napster (which started it all) and DVRs being offered almost as standard with cable hookup, is a cry from the next generation telling companies that we refuse to pay to feel the gamut of emotions far beyond the reach of our everyday lives. Cause if people really are trying to better themselves, the next step is understanding the world at large. And that is what these let us do. We don't care about your product. It wont make us happy. So shove off. *three Tivo clicks*
We would rather share these things.

I started to think about the idea of what grammy award winning singer/songwriters could write if they didn't have to worry about being dropped from a label? Or if more actors could be merryl streep or daniel day lewis and just do whatever the f*ck they want! Thats the point right? Let art be art, and let existence exist? We are all the entertainment we need, and we shouldn't have to pay for it.

This is the Barack Obama generation. They don't want a politician that's been paid for. They want who they want. And no amount of clever advertising will change their minds about it.

This is the Family Guy generation. Who wouldnt be told by the muckity mucks that something they loved wasn't allowed to come back.

This is the Whole Foods Generation. People who don't care if they saw the label in 20 commercials, this nondescript Whole Foods bag of cookies is what they want to get.

Heck, they want it so much they'll even pay for it! THey donate to barrack obama, they pushed family guy dvd sales through the roof, they made whole foods a chain. What a crazy idea, people paying for the things they want without having to be told by someone else what those things are?

And that was it.

That was the message we had learned from our parents. It wasn't for things to BE free, it was US to be free to choose what we want when we want it. To spend our money and live our lives the way we want to, not the way you tell us to, which is for your benefit and not ours. It was the ads. Youtube, commercial free... just enjoy yourself. You are never forced to watch an ad, unless you want to. They don't even have those annoying ads that pop up and block the page.

The .com Generation just wants the freedom to choose for themselves. We want to know that the possibilities in our life can be as endless as the internet. Cause we've tasted it, and we want more. Just type whatever address you want and go there, its your money and your life. We are another generation of human pioneers. Not of uncharted lands, but of the uncharted ideas about communities being made of and paid for by free flowing individuals, not product placement.

Because sometimes, I just dont want a Redbull, no matter how much you tell me I do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Muckity Mucks

Some people have passion. Some people have business savvy. And some people fall right in between.
I like to call them "The Muckity Mucks." People with the right combination of talent and business savvy who can parlay a decent horror movie into a mediocre horror franchise.

Upon being asked for advice on how he got where he was, Steve Martin once said:

“Be so good they cant ignore you. And I just think that if somebody’s thinking 'How can I be really good?' people are gonna come to you. Its much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties."

I breathed a sigh of relief... I am simply no good at cocktail parties.
And then I began to think about the way I had been approaching my life. Was passion more important than savvy? Can you really hope to get ahead in this world if you are simply no good at cocktail parties or was Mr. Martin simply re-cock-ulously lucky?
The quote and the pondering made me think of a conversation I had with my father years ago.

My dad is a professional poker player. He has been for 30 years. You don't know his name, he's not on TV, he's never won the World Series of Poker. In fact, half the time, he doesn't enter it. His one small claim to fame is the fact that he is one of the winning-est Seven Card Stud tournament players in the world. Needless to say Seven Card Stud is hard to televise, and thus, no one cares about it. But in the poker world, he garners a great deal of respect. I asked him about his tournament career once. I vaguely remember the conversation but the gist of it was this:

Tournaments are a crap shoot. So he only enters when KNOWS he can win it. Some players have entered 500 and won 50. He enters 10 and wins 7. The percentages are not hard to figure out.

I have always asked myself is life isn't just a big game of poker. Should we pound away day after day and play as many hands as we can to try and get ahead, or simply wait until the cards are set and you know its the time to throw your chips in?

In recent years Dad has found himself associated with the TV Muckity Mucks. These are the types that run networks and studios for a decent amount of time until they are blamed for this or that unavoidable dip in ratings and are subsequently fired. This cycle is as reliable as spring, summer, fall, then winter. After he produced his first poker show (two Muckity Mucks ago), it only took three years until he was producing four shows on three different networks. Lets call it a case of "Be so good they can't ignore you." The muckity mucks came and went. Dad's shows were always picked up.

I've gone to the Muckity Muck cocktail parties with him a couple times. We usually sit at our own table in the corner, eat all the crab legs we can stomach, and mumble to ourselves. For me, the nosh is always good, the names always forgotten.

We had spoken on the phone the other day and he was telling me about a wrap party he had attended a couple nights ago. After a few too many glasses of wine, Dad and another poker player were laughing about the fact that wine makes my him pretty useless as far as trivial knowledge goes. He could never win jeopardy drunk. Especially sports... needless to say this party was being thrown by the sports branch of the network. He was at the Muckity Muck table. Muckity Muck #1 began to razz him.

Muckity Muck #1: Name five active baseball players!

(Dad is silent)

Muckity Muck #2: Name five baseball players from any era!

Dad: That's easy! Babe Ruth... and... uh.... huh....

Muckity Muck #1: Name five active football players!

My dad couldn't even remember the most recent Super Bowl MVP. (I reminded him on the phone that it was Eli Manning)
Now, this was especially embarrassing because apparently Jerome "The Bus" Bettis was sitting across the way, and my dad was unable to name any football players. Needless to say he had no idea who that was (and neither do I). The table erupted in laughter and pointed him out. "You don't know Jerome Bettis!? Everyone knows who Jerome Bettis is!"

My dad threw his chips on the table.

He looked at the room. Aside from their table there were 25 other people there.
He did some math.

He turned to Muckity Muck #1 and said:

"OK... I'll give you $50 a head. Excluding this table, for every other person in here that knows who he is, I give you $50. And for every person who doesn't, you give me $50"

The table went into a frenzy, every one wants in on the action. My dad begins to think that maybe he made a huge a mistake. He let them all take the bet, he was drunk lol.
Muckity Muck #1 stands up and announces to the room

"OK everyone, we need you to help us settle a bet! Raise your hand if you know who the NFL player nicknamed "The Bus" is!" (Muckity Muck #2 protests that saying he was an NFL player wasn't fair to my dad, but the damage had been done)

There was a pause, and at the NBC sports party, only 4 of 25 people raise their hand. Muckity Muck #1 is in shock... He tries to give a couple more clues to help people recognize who Jerome Bettis is. Only one more person raises his hand.

Note that the man had been IN THE ROOM.

Dad let them off easy. They only had to give him $200 a piece instead of almost $600. They were still shocked. He kindly explained it to them.

"I see the ratings for football. About 31 million people watch Monday Night football. 31 million out of 350 million, so about 1 out of 10, should know who this guy is. So about 2 people in here should have known, now I took into account that we with a select group of clientele, so maybe double your odds to 4, which is being generous. I was a HUGE favorite to win the bet."

This being said by the man who could only muster up the name of Babe Ruth.

Muckity Muck #1 looked at him.

"Mori... something in your brain just doesn't work the same way as the rest of us."

That... is being so good they can't ignore you.

And I realized, maybe when you have that kind of passionate drive for something (like poker.. or simply knowing the odds), all the razzing at all the cocktail parties in the world doesn't change a thing in the scheme of things. Sometimes the best thing to do is just wait around until you know its time to put your chips on the table.

Later that night I was talking to my friend Tim about Barack Obama. Playing devils advocate he suggested that perhaps the man had just gotten ridiculously lucky to get where he is. And I realized:

Luck is nothing more than opportunity... and like Mr. Steve Martin says, if you try to "Be so good they can't ignore you" when the opportunity comes along, you are gonna know what to do...

The Muckity Mucks will come and go. Some people do whatever it takes to get their name out there and keep it out there. Some people win 50 tournaments out of 500 and enjoy the desperate fame. But the real pros, the ones who sit down and think

"How can I be good?"

will always win more than they lose. That's poker, and life I suppose.

I only went to two days of auditions in the last two months... I got 4 callbacks... 4 for 4.
Whether or not I booked them didn't really bother me, sometimes the cards just don't fall your way. But I breathed another sigh of relief,

maybe I was doing something right.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Kate Nash

I decided i was going to spend last night hanging out with myself. i downloaded a kate nash album (who i had seen on conan or leno a few nights earlier, or maybe david letterman... depending on what my mood may have been) and listened to it twice. it was refreshing to listen to something new. my ipod seems to have been stuck on the same mix for the last two months. needless to say there are 63 songs that i am now quite familiar with... none of which i felt like listening to. the kate nash album seemed like an exciting new place to go for the night. but more importantly than simply being new, turns out it was new and good, and that is always a plus. the usual late night snack of smart balance peanut butter spread on 12 grain bread was something short of delightful.
i was two thirds of the way through my second time listening to the album when a small bomb went off in times square. and for those who werent aware of where i live *looks out the window and admires his neon tan*... nuff said. so, it was loud, it was long, and i was stoned. at least, stoned enough to hear this and wait three seconds prepared for the shock wave to smash my window and give me lukemia. three seconds past, i was alive. thank (insert diety here). slightly less stoned, i turned on the tv to see what the fuck was going on. turns out lots of infomercials and 90s sitcoms were on (this, of course, was not a new discovery, just an observation). i turned to the channel where you can spy on the city. every few seconds it shifts between different cameras throughout manhattan and lingers extra long on times square. there were a number of police cars about three streets down from me. traffic was flowing. nothing really wrong.
no one was hurt except for uncle sam who had been residing on the poster at the military recruiting station that was vandalized.
i say vandalized cause nothing really happened, just a loud bang and broken glass. it was a top story on the army looked very brave. in a slightly less popular story, real bombs killed real people in semi-real israel. suddenly my loud bang and pause for aftershock seemed silly. i got one text message early that morning from jill asking if i heard the explosion in times square. she filled me in. in short, nothing really exciting happened today. no wait! i bought my first energy efficient light bulb today!