Thursday, April 28, 2011
You be the judge:
One thing that I am loving about Hollywood these days: It has become less about how much money you are going to pay me, and more about making great things.
Sure, there are still plenty of money-grubbing whores out there, but there are more and more awesome things being made without a lot of the old 90's egos showing up.
Just a few people who were in this video:
Neil Patrick Harris
John C. Reilly
That is probably about half of the famous people that are in this sucker...I think it is GREAT!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Most people in their lives become pretty good (at least) at one thing. Maybe you are good at selling insurance. Maybe you are good at playing foosball. Maybe you are Michael Jordan...whatever. That isn't the point. When you become good at something, you start to recognize the true talent that people have in your profession. Take for example your average NBA basketball player. That player would look at someone like Michael Jordan and say, "Damn...that guy is good". Now are talking some serious talent here.
Very, very rarely, do we ever see someone who is so far in front of the competition that the race isn't even fair. I struggle to find a comparison here. For a while there, Tiger Woods was so good at golf that it almost seemed unfair....but he didn't win them all. Sure, he was good, but we wasn't unstoppable. Look at what Roger Federer did in tennis...great, by anyone's measuring stick, but not unquestionably dominant. I could go on an on.
There is one person, though, who is, without any doubt whatsoever, 10x better than the best that ever lived at what he does. We use the phrase "He couldn't hold a candle..." pretty often, but in this case, no one even comes remotely close to what Les Claypool is able to do with a bass guitar.
Some of you probably know that I have played bass guitar for quite some time now (almost 20 years). I, in no way, consider myself to be good. I am good in the same sense that driving a car for many years makes me a good driver. In actuality, I am a safe driver with lots of experience, and that in many ways describes how I play bass guitar. I am safe and have lots of experience. The one thing that playing bass for that long gives me is a pretty good authority to recognize talent when it is present.
Les Claypool's farts are better bass players than I ever will be.
Watch this video:
The things that Les does are impossible. Literally impossible. And that is just what he is doing with his bass. He sings. He scats. He keeps rhythm. The dude is sent from an alternate dimension, specifically to play bass. Just watch at how easy it is for him. He doesn't even have to try.
I promise you that if I tried to play what he is playing, I would have to slow it down to about half speed, and I would still have trouble getting 50% of it right. He was specifically designed, engineered, and wired to play bass. I hesitate to call him a freak, because he seems to have a very level head...you know how some people are really good at something, but it seems to have taken away other, more important attributes? Like the guy in high school that could breeze through math class but couldn't put a complete sentence together without pissing himself?
Yeah, that isn't Les. There really shouldn't be any way he can do what he does with a bass guitar. Trust me on this one.
So, using your authority in what you are good at, who are your leaders? Who sells the hell out of insurance in your area of expertise?
Thursday, April 21, 2011
My daughter (8) plays the cello. Well, she plays notes on a cello. I wouldn't say that she is to the pint where you could call her up to record your next emo hit. But she does fairly well, and is even getting pretty good for a 2nd grader.
The cool thing is, she is starting to experiment, and that is usually when a musician starts to take off...because they are enjoying the instrument. She comes home every day from school and religiously sits down and plays whatever three or four songs she is working on. Usually, she just hammers her way through them as quickly as possible, playing them at a ridiculous tempo just to be done with them.
Last week, something cool happened...she started playing the theme from Jaws. You know...duhh duhn. Duhh duhn...dundundundund...and so on. It was really neat to hear her work her way through it.
This week, I noticed something even cooler...she is transposing keys. She is playing the same song on different strings, which changes the key. Now that is progress! To make that easier to understand for you non-musical folks, songs can be played in a multitude of different keys, as long as the notes are played in the correct place. For example, you can play a song on a guitar in a different key just by playing the same song two frets up. It makes the song go up a register, which might make it easier for someone to sing, for example.
Anyway, by doing these kind of things, she will become much, much better at cello, because she is starting to enjoy it. Much like the way a kid will become better at baseball when they want to hang around the fields after practice and throw with their friends, or the way a kid who carries a soccer ball around with him will probably become better, just by proxy.
It is fun to be a dad, I tell you what!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Yesterday might have been the scariest moment of my life. Seriously.
My wife and I play this game where we are constantly changing who picks up our daughter from school on a daily basis. Sometimes I get her, sometimes she does. Sometimes we have to work out last minute things and one of us has to rush up there, so there has been some confusion in the past.
But nothing like yesterday.
I was at home, working. I looked at my watch and it said it was 2:25, and I usually leave the house at 2:50 to get my daughter. Her school is about 3 miles away from our house, so it takes me no time to get there. My iPad pleasantly chimed to remind me that I had an appointment in 15 minutes, so I headed to my office to get ready. Then it hit me...my appointment was scheduled for 4:00. I looked at my watch, and it still said 2:25. It had completely stopped and I hadn't realized it.
If you have done the math here, I am now 45 minutes late to pick up my daughter from school, and my wife wasn't getting her. I called my daughter's cell phone to see if she was still waiting, and I heard it ring upstairs, which means she forgot to take it to school. So, I jumped in the car and sped off to the school, hoping that she was just waiting for me, or maybe had gone into the school to wait.
She wasn't there.
Normally she waits at a picnic table at the corner, and we pick her up from there. No dice.
I look inside the school (the doors were already locked). She wasn't there.
I checked with the after school program. She wasn't there.
So, my mind is starting to work a little faster. I am not prone to panic, so I haven't lost it yet, but it is starting to get there.
I checked with her cello teacher...nothing. I checked with her homeroom teacher...nothing. No one had seen her.
As a quick aside, my daughter is pretty smart. She isn't normally the type to just go wandering off. That thought started to worm its way into my head, and that made me nervous. We have talked numerous times about not going anywhere with strangers. We even have a code phrase that she is supposed to ask for if she doesn't know the person, and if they don't know it, get out of there and find a responsible adult.
So, I have about 4 teachers, an assistant principal, myself and my frantic wife on the other end of the phone constantly searching for her. I told the AP that I was going to drive towards the route that she might have decided to walk home, but I was sure she wouldn't have done this. It is just too far, and you have to cross three pretty major roads to get there.
I jump in the car and start driving, frantically looking on either side of the road for any clue that she might have gone through there. In my head, I am already preparing my script for what I am going to say to the police. I imagined hearing the Amber Alerts breaking through on the radio, and knowing that they were looking for my daughter. I was paralyzed with fear as I drove home, going just slow enough to see if I saw her walking down the street.
I pulled into my neighborhood, pleading to any deity I could think of to please make her be ok. I pulled into my driveway, and I noticed that the front door to our house was slightly open, which gave me hope. I walked in the house, and I heard her sobbing in my office, as she was trying to send an email to her mom to figure out what was going on.
So, she was ok, and I was completely flooded with the highest sense of relief you could ever imagine. Her face was red and sunburned from the walk, and she was exhausted. Three miles. 8 years old. Crossing who knows how many lanes of traffic. Not only that, but she knew how to get home, which (after my fear had passed) I was somewhat impressed with. I am pretty sure my 14 year old son couldn't make it home from his school on his own. He never pays that much attention.
In the end, everything was fine. I was relieved. But do me a favor and talk with your kids and make sure they understand that they can always go back to the school and find a trusted adult to help them. We had planned for every contingency imaginiable, except for that one. Just know that their brains will work in weird ways under stress, and if the perfect storm ever happens, they need to know what to do.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Last night, my kids and I were watching an old episode of Family Guy (I know, right...father of the year).
It was the episode where Peter joins the Renaissance Fair to be a knight. There was one callback joke based around Margot Kidder and how she kind of went crazy. I would post a video of it but I can't find it.
Anyway, my kids didn't get the joke (hell, I barely got it), but my daughter didn't just let it go by. She asked me about it, and I told her to look it up. The only information I would give her is that the name of the woman was Margot Kidder.
As I sit here typing this, my 8 year old daughter is reading to me facts about Margot Kidder, bi-polar disorder, Vincent van Gogh, and Helen Keller. She is seated across the room with her netbook on her lap.
How freaking lucky are kids these days to have access to every piece of information they could ever want, whenever they want?
If I wanted this information when I was her age, it would have been fruitless. Maybe, just maybe, I could go to a really big library and look up past issues of People magazine to find out what happened to a certain actress, which would have led me to an encyclopedia about bi-polar disorder, and so on...my daughter just got all of that information in 10 minutes. At 8 years old in 1984, it would have been an entire day's worth of work, and that would have involved my mom driving me to a library out of town.
I no longer weep for our future.
Ok, I will admit it...my activity on here has been, for lack of a better word, shitty. There is a good reason why, though....I have always really struggled with what kind of stuff to put on this blog. Should I keep it edgy? Should I keep it homely? How much information should I reveal to the world about my family, etc.?
Just to give you an example of my paranoia, I strictly refuse to comment on YouTube videos, due to the simple fact that someone could probably figure out who I am, where i live, and what school my kids go to if given enough time and willpower. Why piss people off on a forum that doesn't matter?
Which brings me back to this here blog and why I never update...I usually just don't want to tell all the good stuff. Now, before you get the wrong idea, I don't secretly run a Waste Management company, or have these skeletons in my closet that I am afraid of. In fact, I am probably one of the cleanest guys you will ever know. I don't do drugs, nor have I ever done drugs. I have never even smoked a cigarette in my life. I drink the occassional beer, but haven't overdone it in quite some time. So, you probably aren't going to get a lot of juicy stuff out of me.
Within the last year or so, I have discovered a wonderful blog that has truly inspired me, day in and day out, to be a better father to my children. You will find it here. The guy who does this blog reminds me a lot of myself...loves video games, loves his kid, and tries to do things that make him a better person. Then it hit me...this guy is revealing quite a bit of personal information about himself and his family, and it isn't hurting him or anyone. In fact, it is making them better. So, here I am...the new blogging machine. At least, that is the goal.
I have two kids. One of them is a freshman, about to journey into the vast wasteland that is high school. The other is in 2nd grade. Both of them are quite smart, and not in that whole "my baby is so smart!!!" kind of way. They are verified by independent evaluators smart. Chandler, my son, absolutely destroyed his PSAT and is in very select company. Last month, my daughter was asseded for the G&T program at her school. So, I am told they are smart.
Now, before you go off and start thinking that I am about to go on this rant about how I am the reason they are smart, hold on just a sec. I would never consider myself a lazy father...but I do think that 98% of all of the BS that parents do for their kids has nothing to do with how smart they are. All the flash cards, Mozart in the womb, early childhood programs, etc. are just huge time wastes, in my opinion. Your kids reflect you day in and day out, and the best thing that I can say about my kids is that they are hard working and they truly aim to please. That, in my opinion, is what truly makes a person successful, is that their goal is to make others happy. Both of my kids truly respect their teachers (although we have had some dicey moments with the freshman, but overall we are still good), and this leads to good grades. I know that sounds oversimplified, but it is the truth. Now, back to the reflection piece...this is my number one flaw in life, but most of the time, it is an advantage. I aim to please...I can't say no to anyone. My wife hates this about me. If you need help moving, just ask me...I won't say no. If you need someone to watch your dog for a weekend, just ask me. I won't tell you no. I can't do it. I have overcommiited myself so many times, it is sad, but this is what makes my kids tick.
I love my kids to the ends of the earth, but that doesn't really make me any different than 99.9% of all parents out there. I am sure you love your kids too...just remember that what you do is the biggest indicator of what they will do. If you smoke, so will they. If you yell at the waiter at a restaurant, so will they. The old adage of do what I say, not what I do, will never work with your kids. So remember, if you hug your kids every day, sit down and eat dinner with them every day, and tell them that you love them every day, they will do the same. And usually, that means they are going to be pretty good at being adults, too.