Thursday, November 27, 2008

An Amazing Animator

Over the last many years (almost 2 decades actually… time is flying by) I’ve been connected in one way or the other to kids entertainment. Children’s music and kids video primarily, having sold, marketed, packaged, funded or helped in development.

I still troll about online looking for new and emerging entertainment products and keep a special eye out for unique or innovative filmmakers, animators, story tellers and other creative types. As a quick aside, check out http://www.crackle.com/ for some interesting new online shows. I have to admit my favorite is “The Roadents,” a series of animated shorts about two guinea pigs traveling cross-country in a 1983 Winnebago.

Back to the post. Last week I came across a very interesting and exciting animator out of Spain, Carlos Lascano. He uses 2D and 3D hybrid animations, live-action content and other techniques to create a surreal environment that pulls you into a new reality. The emotion he evokes with his drawings and without a word of dialogue is impressive also. I hope you enjoy these four projects I’ve embedded from his site.




















Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Are Worship Leaders Performers?

The purpose of a worship leader and worship band should be, in my opinion, to produce a beautiful background symphony to our personal and corporate praise to God.

On a few occasions I get distracted by what appears to be a Bono wannabe performing during worship. I find my mind wandering, wondering what in the world the goofball is trying to do or be, and then- times up- and I realize I never did enter into a focused time of worship.

I found this great quiz on a neighbor blog (http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/) that I thought perfectly captured the essence of the distracting worship leader.

I’m guessing any score above a 30 is troublesome. Enjoy.

Does your worship leader…

1. Have a faux hawk hair style? (+1)
2. Have more product in his hair than your wife? (+1)
3. Have Rob Bell style black rimmed glasses? (+1)
4. If the glasses are not prescription, but just for effect add (+2)
5. Attend the Catalyst Conference? (+3)
6. Perform at the Catalyst Conference? (+10)
7. Own Puma, Vans or Diesel sneakers? (+2 per pair)
8. Wear jeans on stage? (+1)
9. Wear designer jeans on stage? (+2)
10. Wear Wrangler or Rustler jeans on stage? (-3)
11. Have a goatee? (+2)
12. Wear one of those Castro revolution looking hats? (+2)
13. Drink coffee on stage? (+1)
14. Drink some kind of coffee you did not know existed? (+2)
15. Bring a French Press on stage and make his own coffee during service? (+5)
16. Have a handlebar mustache? (-3)
17. Play Frisbee but hates getting all "sweaty?” (+1)
18. Have a haircut that covers one of his eyes while singing? (+1)
19. Own a white belt? (+2)
20. Own suspenders? (-3)
21. Wear a scarf with a t-shirt? (+1)
22. Wear a winter knit hat even in the summer? (+2)
23. Ever cover My Chemical Romance songs? (+3)
24. Drive an Audi or VW, silver of course? (+2)
25. Use the words, "postmodern, relevant" or "emergent?” (+2)
26. Cringe a little when people say the "H word?" (Hymnal) (+3)
27. Ever said some form of the phrase, "That song is so 1990s?” (+1)
28. Own a Grizzly Adams red and black flannel shirt? (-2)
29. Have a child named after a fruit, color or number? (+2)
30. Reference Norwegian punk bands you've never heard of? (+2)
31. Wear a tie? (-1)
32. Wear a tie as a belt? (+2)
33. Look as if he might exfoliate? (+2)
34. Have a man bag or European Carry All? (+2)
35. Bring said bag on stage with him? (+2)
36. Have a tattoo? (+2)
37. Have a visible tattoo? (+4)
38. Wife accompany him on stage and play tambourine? (-4)
39. Have experience playing in a punk new wave band? (+2)
40. Know the names of all the people on the scripted MTV show, "the Hills?" (+3)
41. Refuse to drink anything but Vitamin Water? (+2)
42. Cause your wife to ever say, "he needs a barrette for his hair"? (+2)
43. Have a nickname with "the" in it, as in "the edge?" (+2)
44. Own every Nooma video? (+2)
45. Have a soul patch? (+3)
46. Refuse to play barefoot on stage until he gets a pedicure? (+2)
47. Refer to California as "the left coast?" (+2)
48. Currently subscribes to Dwell or Details magazine? (+2)
49. Own a pair of lady jeans? (+2)
50. Twitter you from his iPhone? (+2)
51. Have a toddler that dresses cooler than you? (+2)
52. Wear graphic t-shirts over button down, long sleeve shirts? (+2)
53. Ever say "we got a hot mic here"? (-4)
54. Shop at the Gap? (0)
55. Shop at Urban Outfitters? (+2)

The highest possible score is 107.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prospek’s March by Coldplay

Coldplay is not just one of my favorite bands of all time (primarily for amazingly simple yet haunting melodies, words that MEAN something, and an undeniable coolness that transcends most other rock/pop bands), they also are living the new way to succeed in the music business.

Its rather simple, really. I call it a rock/pop 12 step program:

1. Work tirelessly to craft memorable and sweeping melodies and hooks.

2. Build a solid foundation of repeating phrases and hooks that make it easy to quickly remember and hum/sing a song even after the first time you hear it.

3. Play cities, towns and venues of all sizes. Not just the big halls- play in the 500-2000 seat halls too.

4. Get to KNOW your fans. Talk to fans regularly. Hit them with emails and newsletters- not just to sell stuff, but to inform us of the music, the tour, free downloads, new pictures, media appearances, and more.

5. Provide a regular flow of new music. THIS IS THE BIGGIE. Don’t go up to the mountain or ivory tower, get inspired once every couple of years and then slowly bless the fans with 10-12 mediocre songs with one good cut every two years. Feed us intravenously. Keep it coming. New tracks trickling throughout the year. New mixes, new music videos. KEEP IT COMING!

6. Build your song structures in such a way as that average people that play guitar or keyboards can learn and play them easily. They are a sub-sub-core of the fan base and will stay with you for years.

7. When appearing on television or in other media be REAL. Don’t by coy, try to fake humbleness, poverty or being like the average guy. Embrace your talent, celebrate with the fans, give freely.

8. Keep lame celebrity type diarrhea of the mouth comments about politics to an absolute minimum.

9. Embrace a real cause that has a decent chance of making the world a better place. By the way, this does NOT include anything that has to do with global warming or PETA.

10. Let all the members of the band contribute and shine.

11. Write lyrics that make people wonder, think, feel, hurt, move, cry, and live life.

12. Show the people you LOVE what you do and you’re having fun.


Check out the NEW Coldplay EP “Prospek’s March” released today. It's truly brilliant.

Incidentally, it's released only a few months after their brand new full-length "Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends" (masterpiece), and just a few short weeks since the last new single and other bonus cuts they've put out.

Genius, these Coldplay guys.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Day Reba McEntire Used My Bathroom

I initially posted this on October 28th, the day after Reba was filmed on location on the DigitalRich Ranch shooting the new Brooks & Dunn music video for Cowgirl's Don't Cry, but I think Google Alerts popped up in her manager's inbox and some feelings were hurt.

I was asked to take this down for a few weeks. I've noticed some news stories since the CMA Awards about Reba performing with Brooks & Dunn and some YouTube behind-the-scenes stuff about the shoot, so I figure it's safe to repost.




************************

Today was the day. It all started about a week ago when an unassuming young gent named John knocked on our front door. He asked my wife if he could come in and take a few pictures of our house. He'd heard we had a nice and spacious living area and they wanted to see if it would work for a new Brooks & Dunn (w/special guest Reba McEntire) music video.

Michelle came downstairs to my office to get me, and I did the proper vetting. I asked for his business card, what production company he was with, etc, etc. We let him in and he took a few pictures and left. I wasn't sure we'd hear from him again, but he emailed me a few days later.

He told us he wanted to stop by the house with the director to look around and we said ok. About 10 people showed up and walked around the kitchen area talking about possible shots. They ended up wanting to shoot the scene here and John contacted me the next day with their offer. I countered with double what they offered, and we settled for 1/2 way between the two numbers.

The advance crew showed up today about 10:00AM and got to work. The most important thing to get done first seemed to be set-up for catering. The tables went up, along with about 35 chairs or so. Unfortunately they picked the coldest day so far this season and eating outside was just a bit frosty.







While the catering guys were hard at work, the rest of the crew started arriving and used part of our land as a make-shift parking lot.




They started to set-up the production trucks, generators, outside lighting (shining into the kitchen), and other necessary work to get the right look inside.





Then it was lunch time. Catering provided a rather tasty rice-stuffed chicken breast, salad with all the trimmings, wild rice, and broccoli and for dessert a rather tasty Boston cream pie.


Here we see the piano room, after everything that was not needed in the great room was moved into it to make room for the interior lighting and camera. I wasn't aware they were going to do all this. It was a bit of a shock, but they were very careful.


Here you can see one of the lighting set-ups and the camera in the edge of the great room looking into the kitchen and dinette area. Reba arrived about this time and they used our master bathroom to do her make-up and touch up her hair. This was unforseen, and of course was the one room my wife DIDN'T clean up before the shoot.


And here is the second interior lighting set in the dining room looking through the foyer into the dinette. The young girl there is an actress that played Reba's character's daughter.



And, finally, the money shot. Here is Reba's character answering the phone, ostensibly getting horrible news, and her daughter seeing her mom distressed comes over to hug her.


And we're done. The crew left by 3:30PM after packing up everything and using digital pictures they took prior to the shoot to make sure everything was put back in its place. We did a walk through with a couple staff guys to make sure all was ok. We told them it was, they left, and then my wife realized they took our fruit bowl (making its screen debut in the photo above).

I called John on his cell and they rushed it right back over.

It was a very interesting experience, but if there is a next time, I'm not coming down off my number.

Watch the video here: "Cowgirl's Don't Cry" by Brooks & Dunn






Friday, November 14, 2008

Brave Girl

This morning started with my regular cup of coffee, and morning internet news read to check on the state of the world around me. One of the sites I check had a link to a great story about a girl outside of Chicago with liberal mom and a conservative dad that was brave enough to find out what happens when you swim upstream in popular culture (and public schools).

Enjoy the read… it is enlightening and fast one that will leave you thinking.




Tolerance fails T-shirt test
John Kass, November 13, 2008 (Chicago Tribune)

As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we're all united now, let's consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment.

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

"McCain Girl."

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told us. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

"People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it," Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

"Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said," Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' "Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican."

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing," she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

That's when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed.

The next day, in part 2 of The Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment, she wore another T-shirt, this one with "Obama Girl" written in blue. And an amazing thing happened.

Catherine wasn't very stupid anymore. She grew brains.

"People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," Catherine said.

Some students accused her of playing both sides.

"A lot of people liked it. But some people told me I was a flip-flopper," she said. "They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' "

But she sure did, and she turned her journal into a report for her history teacher, earning Catherine extra credit. We asked the teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, whether it was ironic that Catherine would be subject to such intolerance from pro-Obama supporters in a community that prides itself on its liberal outlook.

"That's what we discussed," Cassin-Pountney said about the debate in the classroom when the experiment was revealed. "I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done? The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."

Catherine never told us which candidate she would have voted for if she weren't an 8th grader. But she said she learned what it was like to be in the minority.

"Just being on the outside, how it felt, it was not fun at all," she said.

Don't ever feel as if you must conform, Catherine. Being on the outside isn't so bad. Trust me.
- John Kass

This type of thing will get worse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeling Like An Outsider In Your Hometown

This morning I made the 5 minute journey to Hillsboro Elementary and Middle School for the annual thanksgiving lunch for parents and their kids.

For a mere $5.00 you get a Styrofoam plate with scoops of turkey, stuffing and gravy, green beans, a roll, chocolate milk and a mini-pumpkin pie. And each year I take one bite and throw the rest away. At least you get to spend a few minutes with your kids during the school day.

Like most schools, we have to sign in as visitors when visiting and get a little VISITOR sticker so we don’t get stopped by the school police officer (who has actually busted my wife once for forgetting the sticker and sent her back to the office).

After lunch, I stopped by Puckett’s for some lunch. The kind I could actually eat. It’s halfway between the school and home and is a frequent stop for a bite to eat, some groceries, or a fill-up at the gas pumps out front.

I took the chance to have a nice draft beer with my meat and two (brats with onions and peppers, mashed potatoes, green beans) since I work out of my home and my company policy, which I wrote, does not address consuming alcohol during the work day or on company property.

When I finished I stood up to throw away the trash and couldn’t spot the large garbage can that usually sits between the dining area and grocery store at Puckett’s (If your ever in the Nashville area, make the trip to Leiper’s Fork or Franklin for a burger or pork BBQ platter at Puckett's - it’s worth the trip for the food and ambiance). I stood there for a second looking for what had become of the garbage can when the gent sitting next to me offered some kind help:

“The garbage is right over there next to the drink station.”

And then the truly perplexing question this nice guy asked:

“Do you need directions anywhere?”

Hmm. I answered no, and headed out to the car. I was confused for a second as to why I was asked this question but quickly forgot about it. As I pulled into my garage a few minutes later and unbuckled my seatbelt, I noticed the sticker still on my shirt. Visitor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall Blues?

“SAD” is a pretty humorous acronym for seasonal affective disorder. Obviously a forced one. SAD is known by its more popular names winter depression or winter blues. It’s a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter, repeatedly, year after year.

This morning after my normal racquetball set of 4 games against Gary, I came home to brew some coffee and start the work day. I had a few minutes with Michelle and apologized for being “poopy” the last couple of weeks.

She said she thinks I have SAD since I get like this every fall. Really?

I asked her if she was joking and she said no- that I get kind of down and cranky this time every year. I just don’t see it, but it’s true that those kinds of things are rarely recognized by the person exhibiting the behavior, so I’m taking to heart her suggestion.

I’ve spent a few minutes thinking about what this might be… what is going on in my head that might be repeating each year? What it might be I think is time. A simple yet eternally complex thing that is all around us but can never be seen, touched, captured, stopped, or changed. It’s just moving along some massive linear path pulling us along in a giant wake.

The ending of another year, and the change and death that accompanies it (trees, leaves, bright hot sunshine, grass, etc) probably triggers a deep process in my mind. A recognition that this life is fleeting.

I remember the intense joy fall would bring as a kid. It signaled Christmas break from school, coming snowstorms and free days, lack of responsibility and a freedom that children just can’t seem to understand and appreciate until it’s slipped from their fingers by the time they hit high school. Fall was Halloween, candy, Thanksgiving, friends, tackle football in the yard, bb-gun hunting in the woods trying to walk quietly over oceans of fallen leaves, and no more mowing the lawn for 5 or 6 months. Oh. Fall.

Now at forty-two fall signals different things. It still has a good side for sure… Halloween is about watching the kids enjoy it. The postponement of yard work is nice, and the relaxing days of Thanksgiving and Christmas week are certainly ahead. But there is a down side now.

Fall makes me remember my kids are getting older by another year, and they will be out of the house faster than I can imagine. It reminds me of loved ones no longer here, of the temporal nature of this life. It’s flying by so quickly.

I guess as I sit here and free-flow type out my thoughts I would beg to differ with Michelle. While I would agree that I may have seasonal affective disorder, I don’t think it’s really a disorder. I think it’s rather normal to pause, remember and reflect- and with that will always come sadness and joy. And I don’t think its depression. While my mood is certainly altered, it really is best described as somber and thoughtful. With a dash of crankiness thrown in to be honest. And it passes.

As I see life move by, it also causes me to think about the Author of this life. The one Who is always there with me as I recall life and its joyous and sad times, and Who is preparing me in ways I can see and others that I don’t yet recognize, for the life to come.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Last Words

I’m a fan of quotes, all kinds of quotes, and especially those that illuminate and underline truths that are self-evident if we just took the time to slow down and think.

I sort of collect them- I even have a word file that catalogs hundreds of quotes that made an impact on me, and still do when I read over them. I wanted to catalog them on the blog and back in 2006 posted them. Links to those quotes are in the label section under, you guessed it, “Quotes.”

I have the priviledge of serving as a pre-screener for the 2009 Nashville Film Festival. My responsibilities consist of screening dozens of films (my specialties are feature-length, animation, shorts and young filmmakers) and commenting on several criteria including writing/story, talent, directing, production value, etc. The screening ends with a thumbs-up (yes, lets show it in the festival) or a thumbs-down (nope, not this year). My screening notes are added to the larger group of pre-screeners and consensus rules the outcome for each film.

This morning I wrapped up the final film in this, my third, batch of projects to screen. Near the end, one of the supporting actors had this to say while laying in her death-bed and recalling the broken relationship with her daughter:

“Oh Inga, my Inga. Fire in my kiln. My love would want to stay and finish my work and heal all the cracks and grazes and imperfections in my love until I have made it perfect. Maybe even just a part of me, the part I gave to you.”

It struck me as beautiful this wonderful cool crisp fall morning… as the world around me prepares to die, and make ready to live again.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ch-Ch-Changes

To quote David Bowie, “Don’t want to be a richer man…ch-ch-changes.”

Change has begun. And we can see it right before our very eyes.

Right after the election, Barack Obama’s new website for his “Office of the President-Elect” www.change.gov, listed this new agenda item for his leadership plan:

“Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.”

As the writers of a popular political blog (www.sweetness-light.com) wrote, “Someone should tell Mr. Obama that…the Constitution now forbids involuntary servitude.”

And here is the referenced Constitutional amendment:

Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Suddenly late last week the agenda has CHANGED on www.change.gov. It CHANGED to:

“Obama and Biden will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year, and will establish a new tax credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.”

The change? A realization that involuntary servitude is not cool (or legal. President Lincoln made sure of that), the elimination of the concept of volunteerism (now you get paid for the service, $4,000 A YEAR for 100 hours of service- a rate of $40/Hour).

By the way, how is that paid for? Short answer- hold onto your wallet.

NEWSFLASH! Oh, wait…it CHANGED again. Late Saturday night the entire Agenda on www.change.gov disappeared.

Its gone. Bye-bye. C-U-L8-R. It’s been replaced by a generic agenda that essentially says… “stay tuned… change is coming.”

Great.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is It Christmas Tree Time Already?

Last night we had a family gathering celebrating my B-I-L’s birthday. Dinner at Macaroni Grill (with a couple glasses of their half-way decent house Chianti), and then back to my sister’s place in Spring Hill for cake and presents.

When we pulled into their neighborhood I was a bit taken aback to see a couple houses with Christmas lights up around the house.

The real shocker was to see a full Christmas tree up with lights and trimmings inside one of the houses.

Really? On November 8th?


It’s still nearly 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. Just a bit past a week since Halloween.

I don’t frequent malls, but I suspect this homeowner even beat Sears and JC Penny.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Words That Irritate

Just over a year ago I wrote a post about verbal pet peeves- the phrases I hear people say that DRIVE ME CRAZY. How interesting to read a news item today that covers the same subject, from Oxford. I seem to keep pretty good company.

Enjoy- it's a quick read:

Oxford compiles list of top ten irritating phrases
A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University.
By Charlotte Bailey

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused.

The book's author Jeremy Butterfield says that many annoyingly over-used expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and "synergy".

Other phrases to irritate people are "literally" and "ironically", when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: "We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism – and the same seems to happen with some language."

The top ten most irritating phrases:
1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science


I must admit I've recently used six or seven of these.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Who Is John Galt?

Hooray!

After more than 20 years of wishing and dreaming it finally looks to be a reality. One of my favorite books of all time (and one of the most influential in my life) is in pre-production:

Atlas Shrugged.
http://www.baldwinent.com/prod_atlasshrugged.html

Rumored talent for key roles? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. If that happens, there will finally be a movie they do that I'll want to see.

Here’s the synopsis of the book’s character JOHN GALT:

John Galt is the heroic main characters in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged, although he is absent from much of the text. Instead he is the subject of the novel's oft repeated question: "Who is John Galt?", and the quest to discover the answer.

As the story is revealed, Galt is discovered to be a creator and inventor who embodies the power of the individual. He serves as a counterpoint to the social and economic structure depicted in the novel. The depiction portrays a society based on oppressive bureaucratic functionaries and a culture that embraces the stifling mediocrity and egalitarianism of socialistic idealism. He is a metaphorical Atlas of Greek mythology holding up the world and namesake for the title Atlas Shrugged.

An engineer by trade, Galt's actions include withdrawing his talents, 'stopping the motor of the world', and leading the 'strikers' (in this case the captains of industry) against the 'looters' (in this case the mob rule of strikers and the common man). The storyline unfolds by exploring rumors and legends about the identity of the Galt. The Galt's actual identity is learned only after a prolonged search by Dagny Taggart. She is the female heroine of the story, with whom Galt has a romantic relationship. Galt is also referred to in the story as the Mystery Worker.

The son of an Ohio garage mechanic, Galt left home at age 12 and began college at Patrick Henry University at age 16. There he befriended Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld. All three of them double-majored in physics and philosophy. They were the cherished students of the brilliant scientist Robert Stadler and the brilliant philosopher Hugh Akston.

After graduating, Galt becomes an engineer at the Twentieth Century Motor Works where he designs a revolutionary new motor powered by ambient static electricity with the potential to change the world. Like Ellis Wyatt, he creates what many had for years said was impossible. When the company owners decide to run the factory by the collectivist maxim, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", Galt organizes a successful labor strike (but this time getting employers, inventors, businessmen and industrialists to go on strike against statist laws that violate their rights), proclaiming his promise to stop the motor of the world. Galt begins traversing the globe, meeting the world's most successful businessmen, systematically convincing them to follow in his footsteps; one by one, they began abandoning their business empires (which, Galt convinces them, were doomed to failure anyhow, given the increased nationalization of industry by the government). This strike forms the backdrop of the novel as the mystery which protagonist Dagny Taggart seeks to uncover, with Galt as her antagonist (the novel was originally titled The Strike).

Secretly, these captains of industry, led by Galt and banker Midas Mulligan, create their own society—a secret enclave of rational individualists living in 'Galt's Gulch', a town secluded high in a wilderness of mountains in Colorado. Taggart accidentally finds the town—and a shocked John Galt—by crash-landing a light aircraft while pursuing Quentin Daniels.

Since everyone across the country is repeating the phrase, "Who is John Galt?", it is natural that many people have attempted to answer that question. The phrase becomes an expression of helplessness and despair at the current state of the novel's fictionalized world. Dagny Taggart hears a number of legends of Galt before finding the real John Galt and eventually joining his cause, and learning that all of the stories have an element of truth to them.
- From Wikipedia

Of course I also learned that this story has been bouncing around studios and filmmakers for more than 20 years with many false starts. Based on current political affairs, my guess is it will make it this time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

How Wireless Printing Ruined Christmas, But Makes For A Nice November

I am a boy at heart. And boys love toys. And I have plenty.

Not the kind of toys many other men have like snowmobiles, jet skis or hunting and fishing gear. Mine run a bit more techie.

I have a collection of no fewer than 8 digital music players. I sit at a desk with 3 computers, 6 monitors, 2 printers, 3 scanners (including a flat bed, negative and print scanner), video and music editing software suite, the latest Blackberry (I don’t want an iPhone, so I got the Blackberry and an iTouch), tons of woodworking tools, a commercial grade mower for my 11 acres, cameras, and so much more crap it sometimes makes my head spin.

My wife dreads Christmas and my birthday. She has no clue what to get me.

What brings me the most joy though are the little things. A leather journal, a fountain pen with an old fashioned ink well, a coffee/cream mixer or a cool innovative miniature stapler. Yes, I can be as weird as the next person.

This Christmas she thought of the ABSOLUTELY PERFECT Christmas present for me. The problem was that when she bought it online she printed out the receipt on the wrong printer. It printed wirelessly on one of my office printers downstairs and I found the receipt.

Telescoping BackScratcher. $10.00. 100% perfect, and 100% me.

I told her I found the receipt and we decided I’d get my gift early.

Yes.







Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Wow- I'm an Idiot

My prediction was wrong. Dead wrong. My wife is frustrated with me because I assured her that Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina would swing red, and it would all come down to Colorado- which would swing red at the last minute late into the night. And she trusted me because I'm so frequently right.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Blue wins the night. I should have taken to heart the following quotes:

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."
Sir Alexander Fraser Tyler

And this change, that is happening right in front of us, will lead to the following:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights (and the money... I added this part) of the other forty-nine."
Thomas Jefferson


Out Of The Mouthes Of Babes

Yesterday our kid’s schools held presidential elections. In both Franklin High School and Hillsboro Elementary/Middle School John McCain won handily.

My 7 year old girl, R, cast her vote for McCain.

When asked why she didn’t vote for Barack Obama she said, without prompting, “because Obama would take more of our money, and we don’t really know much about him. And, because he doesn’t have any experience.”

They are always listening, those little ones, aren’t they?







Monday, November 03, 2008

Crazy Girls

I have four daughters. They are all insane. The evidence?

Exhibit A: Video evidence


Exhibit B: They all said it was ok for me to post this video.


I love them dearly, but they sure can be goofballs. And I love that about them too.









Sunday, November 02, 2008

Facebook Phenomenon

I signed up with Facebook a few months ago when my oldest daughter said she wanted a Facebook page. I told her I’d check it out for a few days and report back to her.

It was easy to set-up, load my profile pic, connect with friends, and start getting inundated with mostly insignificant up-to-the-minute updates from hundreds of people.

I’ve found LinkedIn to be a great resource for professional networking and have even made a few business deals or at least connected the dots on deals through this site. Facebook on the other hand is most assuredly not professional.

To put it into a high school analogy, LinkedIn is the classroom and Facebook is the hallway between classes. Loud, crazy, chaotic. A pinball existence where the ball launch is the start of the day (with people posting at 5AM “I’m up!” or “Going for a run” or even “I’m not feeling well so I’m going to stay home from work and rest between trips to the bathroom”), and immediately the inane comments and updates begin.

If you remember back to the atmosphere of those few minutes between each class in the high school hallway you’ll faintly recall the randomness of comments, yells, the bumping into people and dropping books, the hand-holding and the quick conversations and news updates about where to hang after school or who’s gonna fight who. It’s a blur.

Just like Facebook.

In the last 15 hours I’ve learned the following about my Facebook connections (and this is only about ¼ of the total status updates):

…is up drinking the java (whats so new about that), and writing one of the last chapters of the long overdue book
…thought she was getting up late, but then realized she has an extra hour today
…has odd halloween candy
…had a wonderful dream that Rick Leach was the new coach at Tennessee
…is getting ready for church
…is happy for the time change finally!
…is awake....not sure why
…is saying iPod lives again! I won't have to run in silence!
…It was nice to have the extra hour's worth of sleep. And I'll be able to run in the daylight.
…Front row at concerts - awesome! Front row at the movies - not so good.
…hangin with cody at pizza place.
…is wondering if she will ever learn to make pumpkin cookies that halfway resemble pumpkins.


…is full from soup, football and friends....what a night.
…is so grateful that we get an extra hour tonight...and that the fall fest was a hit.
…is tired...tired....tired...and is deep in the southlands of Alabama.
…misses Halloween already.
…is setting the clocks back. I love this day!
…is typing.
…is laying in his hammock at the end of an amazing day w/ his III chickens...and just heard a COW moowing!
…study study study!
…is having a fire and smores with the ones I love.
…is all dressed up and ready to go.12 hours ago - Comment
…is paying bills.
…is cleaning out my closet and drawers...what a fun Sat.
…is takin' it easy tonight
…Our house has been invaded by ladybugs. There are hundreds on the windows and sills.
…is on her way home to grill some Costco steaks for dinner with John!
…is stuck in a dress and had to bend in crazy ways to get the security tag off so i could get out of the dress.
…is watching Curious George again and again and again.
…is getting ready to eat lasagna and watch Psycho when Aidan goes to sleep.
…I've procrastinated as long as I can. I need to process 66 emails, then pack for Chicago. I have a flight out in the morning.

And the most interesting that would most certainly be categorized as “too much information”

…is slinking off to bed with wife in tow.

I have Facebook in my “Start The Day” Internet Explorer tab/group. Every morning I click the group and about 15 pages pop up on tabs for my morning read/update time. Facebook is now off the list. I think a 2 times a week glance is about right.