Friday, January 31, 2014

Pitch just about Perfect…

Admission time: I love Pitch Perfect. Yes. The movie about a cappella singing.

No, it is not a Glee clone or a High School Musical rip-off.

No. It’s not. Seriously.

You see, that’s what I thought it was when Vicky first recorded it. She wanted to see it and I said, “You go right ahead but don’t think I’m going to watch that nonsense.”

Vicky is very tolerant about my dislike for some of her stuff. I think that comes from her dislike of much of my stuff: music, movies, books, sometimes my skin – you name it! So, she was perfectly fine with my need to avoid the flick. I stayed upstairs and played video games while, downstairs, she enjoyed the film.

At one point, I had to come downstairs to refill my drink or something and caught about two or three minutes of the… and you know what? It wasn’t half bad. I mean, I didn’t think it was great but it wasn’t half bad.

So, I agreed to watch it with Vicky on the provision that I could bad mouth it all I wanted.

The only problem was… I couldn’t. My face was stuck in a permanent grin.

You see, I thought this was going to be another one of those “we’re such cool, young movie stars that we can make whatever shitty musical crapfest we want and you will love it” kinds of shows, such as the aforementioned Glee and High School Musical.

Sure, Pitch Perfect is derivative of what came before but only in so far as it recognizes the mixture of performance/sports movie tropes. Then, it shreds them. Rather than being a movie about cool kids who do things perfectly, it’s a movie about nerds who screw up. But it is so infused with joy – and the hipster in me can’t believe I’m saying this – that you can’t help but be on their side.

On top of that, the movie is flat-out funny. It looks for every joke and it finds them. Sometimes, it even goes too far… but I can look past what is probably an overly ardent dedication to a puke joke.

Anyway, there you go. Vicky and I watched Pitch Perfect about five or six times now. I’ve even bought the fucking soundtrack.

It’s not like me to enjoy something so populist, so downright appealing to the masses… but I can’t help it.

Pitch Perfect, you’re just about pitch perfect.

Friday, January 24, 2014

“Writer” does not equal “Child Molester”…

So, I’m at a local tire shop this morning getting new tires put on my car when the guy asks me what I do for a living. I hate that question because, to be honest, I don’t really do anything.

I mean, I write. I can’t avoid that. Look at all my books, audiobooks, etc. etc. etc. Yes, I write. But I hate admitting it.

Even when I said it, I mumbled it a little, as if I was on the fucking sex offender list or something! “I’m a (pause) writer.”

What the fuck is that?

I don’t really like talking about being a writer because, honestly, I don’t make a whole lot of money doing it. Right now, my career is still in its infancy in a way. I’m building an audience. I’m not a big-time writer.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer… right? (Sure - easy to say after I just wrote an entire paragraph of qualifiers...)

I try to remind myself of that but then I am hit by all the years of having people tell me I shouldn’t think too highly of myself. From childhood until early adulthood – you know, the formative years – I had people tell me I wasn’t that great, from my best friends in high school (or so I thought) all the way on up to my own mother. And, yes, this had an effect. Vicky gets so irritated about how I shy away from any kind of attention – it’s a pain in the ass!

I should be soaking it up. Reveling in it. But every time I come face to face with who I am, I am positively embarrassed. Hell, even if I was a big-time writer, I'd still be embarrassed because of what the above-mentioned folks used to refer to as being "full of myself." There's just no winning!

I know that’s the wrong way to live.

I’m working on it. Honestly.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Furniture, Networking, and where I went wrong…

A lifetime ago, in the city of Irvine, California, I used to work for a company called Linksys.

This was long ago, mind you, before Linksys was owned by Cisco, before Linksys was owned by Belkin, before Linksys was owned by… who’s buying it next?

I worked with a guy named Mike who was our Marketing Manager. I worked as a Technical Writer but had started as a Marketing Writer and still wrote marketing pieces when our Marketing Writer who wasn’t very good with marketing and could only write technical information needed a little help. Frankly, I always found myself on the short end of demotion after demotion and disciplinary action after disciplinary action.

I always wondered why things didn’t work out with Linksys when clearly – and I am not bragging here – I was a valuable asset to the company. I could write better than anyone else on staff. I came up with catchier taglines. I was a catch!

Mike didn’t think so. He would tell me how he intended to keep me in technical writing as a kind of marketing purgatory. He wanted me to suffer. He would say, “You’re going to keep churning out widgets for as long as I tell you to churn out widgets.”

It was a fun place.

And I always wondered where things went wrong. And then, recently, I found myself at a Staples store with Vicky. She was off taking care of her business stuff – Vicky is a fucking mogul, make no mistake – so I wandered over to the networking gear. Sometimes, I like to see how much progress has been made in my old line of work so I’ll go check out the networking gear and… Nothing. Same old shit. Frankly, the networking business has been pumping out the same old shit, with just an incremental improvement here or there, for nearly a decade.

Back when I was at Linksys, Mike would bring in the entire marketing department for these round-table discussions about where networking was going. He would talk about how your refrigerator would be networked so it could tell you when you were out of milk. Your TV would be networked so it could tell you when a show was on that you wanted to watch. Your sofa would be networked. Your catbox would be networked.

And then, Mike would make the mistake of asking us what we thought. What were our opinions on his prognostication about the future of networking? Everyone would speak up loudly, telling Mike what a genius he was. Of course, catboxes would be networked. It made perfect sense! Milk had to be restocked! Shows had to be watched!

… except for me. I would sit there with a red face, holding everything back, and Mike would see me and he was ask, “Ken? What do you think?”

And I would take that as an invitation. “You’re crazy,” I would tell him. “People can just check their refrigerators. They can look at their TV listings. Sofas? Catboxes? You are out of your fucking mind!”

And for some reason I just couldn’t fathom… I never got ahead.

The fact is, I never fit well in a place like Linksys. I was a round peg and all they had were square holes. I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t want to blow smoke up someone’s ass. I thought people wanted honesty… they don’t.

I can see now why I never made a lot of friends in business. I thought people wanted honesty. Sadly, that isn’t quite the case most of the time. Vicky has found herself in business opportunities where honesty is valued. In marketing, you better take that shit somewhere else.

That was a long time ago, of course. And now, I’m pursuing the “writer” thing. I’ve learned to temper my honesty with a little bit of tact. After all, Mike was right about the TVs, just not exactly on how they would be networked. All the same, I still hate people who are just looking to have smoke blown up their assholes. And to think, I’m in the arts now.

What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Side: Kids Today...

This month, My Side looks at Kids Today... and the people who endlessly complain about them...