Saturday, August 23, 2014

Karl Urban, Pranks and Alienation

Moderator closing out Karl Urban panel at Wizard World (paraphrasing here): "What we learned today, Chicago, is that you don't want to get in a prank war with Karl Urban."

In some cases, you may not even be on the same movie or set. Sounds like a high chance of becoming collateral damage.

Pranks cited included:
  • During filiming of Lord of the Rings, Viggo Mortensen calling Urban's agent 2 am local time, impersonating Urban. Mortensen, as Urban, stated something to the effect that he couldn't get on the plane for an appointent [or shoot]. He had lost his lucky red socks, and he NEEDED them. Mortensen then just hung up. The agent called Urban soon at 3 am local time, waking him up from sound sleep, trying to coax Urban to get on the plane, they would by new lucky red socks. At 3 am. . .and Urban never mentioned whether he really has lucky red socks or anything like that.

  • In a prank on someone else, I think his driver, urban smeared peanut butter all over their windshield wiper. Later, while driving in the rain, the driver used the wipers. It smeared the peanut butter all over the windshield so bad that the driver had to pull to the side of the road clean up the mess.

  • There was something about someone smearing honey, peanut butter and whatever else sticky they had available on a traffic cone. They put the cone in someone's parking space. Suffice to say, they came to park their car. The mark made ready to get out of the car to move the cone. Instead somone else had come along. Thinking to be helpful, they moved the cone then end up with a mess on their hands.

  • On the set of Almost Human, (I miss that show more than I expected I would), Michael Ealy became some frustrating collateral damage. During a prank targeted at someone else, on the way out to a date, dressed quite nice, Ealy got smeared with a lot of some liquid that wasn't water. Hopefully that didn't ruin the date!
I've listed only a few of the pranks. All of them were hilarious, I'll admit, even if some edged closer toward dangerous. The panel just about dissolved down to retellings of pranks and the audience cracking up.

Funny and entertaining as it all sounded and probably was (or not), hearing about all these pranks got me thinking. These actors and other famous people that go on tour probably feel a bit of alienation and estrangement. They have to spend a lot of time away from home and other pretty drastic uprootings on a regular basis.

Ive heard about pranks from enough showbiz types in interviews to know that Karl Urban doesn't have a unique relationship with pranks. Also look at all the partying that these people do. Consider the stories of alcoholism and drug abuse that sounds more prevalent in this community compared to the general population.

People in the general population often engage in these activities and fall into addiction. I don't doubt that. It really seems much more frequent among these people engaged in such unrooted lifestyles/careers.

Many in the general population feel jealous of famous people. People living such mobile lifestyles and seeing the world receive much envy. These people in the general very likely have their own issues of alienation to deal with.

Their everyday alienation has its own characteristics: instead of going all over the place by someone else's dictates all the time, the general population more often than not doesn't have ulutimate free choice where to live. In many ways, they end up selling their time to prepare for jobs and careers then working those jobs and careers for someone else.

Even if they're contractors or self employed, they still sell themselves, just with more responsibilities to file taxes. Not many people become independently wealthy. Even if they do, they reached that point and maintain it by exploiting others and putting them into a state of alienation.

Retirement has its own batch of alienation issues.

Underneath that jealousy and envy for people like Karl Urban in showbiz, the general population very likely doesn't realize the alienation felt with that lifestyle. I know I hadn't until recently. TV episodes and movies about showbiz types experiencing alienation always bored and pissed me off. How come these types of people couldn't appreciate their success and jetsetting.

It took an NPR news story awhile ago to get me to understand that these people CAN feel alienated. Forget the story and when I heard it.

Hearing about the pranks and some other stories from Karl Urban yesterday, though, got me thinking. All this pranking, partying, addiction, etc. really could present itself as a form of alienation. . .and Urban didn't sound like anyone who has lost control and immersed himself into these activities in a way that gets in the way of living.

All of it just seems like a way to stay sane. They feel the pressure to perform, perform well and, if anything, to LOOK attractive. Just look at the tabloids and the reviews of performances all over the Internet.

Further throw on top that these people don't have a steady home and, even if they do, they may not spend a lot of time there. Their work associates change all the time when they finish one project and move onto the next.

I won't say these people in showbiz necessarily live better or worse lives and jobs than the rest of us. I just want to raise consciousness, among my readers and myself, that famous people that we often envy are PEOPLE, too.

Very likely, they experience alienation, too, and don't live a paridisiacal life that sometimes imagine them living. Sometimes their paradise just ends up a symptom of not having a grasp on their lives, like we all feel to various degrees.

[Signal sucked at the conference center that hosted Wizard World. The huge crowds overwhelmed the wireless data feeds. No one knew if we actually had a WiFi connection or what the sign in key for it was. It had become pointless to even try using Internet on my mobile until most everyone had left at around 8 or so in the evening. I plan to add my usual frills later.]

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Couple of My Thoughts on How to Survive and Succeed at Dating, Sales, Pitching and Job Searching

I haven't had to "Play the Game" for 12 years now, but here's a couple of my thoughts on dating and rejection:

1. If you've learned to stay sane while job searching, pitching stories or anything sales-related, it can be something like that. I'm not one to promote objectifying yourself or other people, but this is one of those places that it can be beneficial. Stay true to yourself, don't oversell, like yourself and respect other people, beyond that, it's marketing, sales and not getting caught up in closing the deal or things not working out.

One thing I've read and learned: some sales people focus so much on closing ALL their deals or that BIG deal that they don't evaluate the chance at success. They just keep pushing, spending money, losing time, etc. etc. on something that will never close and may slip through their fingers the next time the client is looking to make a purchase or renew the deal.

Most successful sales people work through references and the easy, profitable sales. Quality and receptiveness above quantity. The 80/20 rule - Focus on the 20% of your customers that make you 80% of your revenue compared to the 80% of the customers that make you 20% of your revenue.

As for the pitching ideas or job searching, the sanest thing to do there is send off the pitch or cover letter/resume. Forget you did it and work on the next pitch/resume. If it's something you REALLY want, maybe you'll follow up or something, but only if you REALLY want it. Otherwise, forget it until you get a call back for an interview. Do the interview, send a thank you e-mail/letter then forget it. Move onto the next prospect/sale. Keep prospecting/selling/pitching until you land the closing or job. Forget your inquiries until they come back to you.

2. The other thing is to always be observant of opportunities and jump on the ones you want. Don't hesitate to ask dumb questions. One thing I read the other day: "If someone compliments you on something you've done, ask them if they've got a project or job that will pay you to do it." Someone will inevitably have something for you.

In other words, if you see someone looking at you the whole night at a party or something, take action. In that situation, it doesn't even have to be snazzy or clever or anything.

My equation for success in this situation: Try to have a small conversation until you find something in common then Compliment them (You're pretty) then mention something you have in common (when I first met my wife, I said "You like Buffy") then make your move (something as simple as "Can I kiss you?"). If they're receptive, they'll totally go for it.

3. Move quick. Try to get a date the first time you meet them or very soon after. No one likes the phrase "The Friend Zone," and people can still avoid it. Nonetheless, the more you skirt around the issue, the more the other person will get confused, tired and just give up if they aren't sure but think you might be interested. Other people plain just don't know you're interested. Expressing your interest is something to be clear about.

And I don't mean telling them you love them or any crazy extravagant or disrespectful proposal or expression of feeling. In the beginning, we're all floating on clouds and melodramatic. Expressing our true feelings at that time can scare someone. I'm just talking about asking someone out on a date, following my step 2 of making moves and such. The crazy propositions and expressions of love are when you're both head over heels over each other and struggling to just think about everyday things.

4. If an opportunity for fun and adventure with someone pops, say "YES!" and take it. If it's someone or something that you can't stand, say no. But if you're not sure, don't have opinion and just plan plain neutral, say "YES!" and see what happens. It could turn out to be real fun. Worse that can happen is a break up eventually.

5. Don't get stuck in a rut. Try something new. If you're with someone and after a degree of serious analysis, if it's not working, end it. If you've been with someone for awhile, though, take time to analyze whether it's working or not. Trying to address objectively to figure out if it's really not working or just something you're feeling in the moment. But if you haven't made any serious commitment, end things and move on.

6. Be cool. Don't get worked up over things. Have fun. No one likes someone who's thinking too much or sweating.

The rejection might not be about you unless you make it about you. If you can learn something about it, cool. My main lesson was express interest and try to get that first date quick. You can always figure out stuff later.

If there's nothing to learn, though, don't fret and just move on. Life is too short to get caught up in self doubt that doesn't lead to growth, self doubt over stuff that other people don't mind and also, it's too short to being a dick and disrespecting other people.

7. Another important lesson/thought from my experience: Whatever you do, DO NOT dump someone in public.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Help Launch Uncanny: A Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

My wife, Michi Trota, is Managing Editor of the new, just announced yet-to-be-published, Uncanny Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine. They tapped her the for the position a couple months ago.

This project excites both of us a lot. Uncanny not only provides Michi a great opportunity. It will also contribute quality stories, poetry and critical analysis and reflection on science fiction, fantasy and nerd and geek culture to the community. A worthwhile project indeed!

Michi will work with some amazing people on the magazine's staff, too. Lynne M Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, the publishers and editors-in-chief, both have many publications and projects under their belts. In addition, they have both received award nominations and actual awards. These two have experience and know their stuff!

I could probably write a ton more. Honestly, though, I'd just be recapping their tweets, website and Kickstarter campaign. I've had my nose to the grindstone with work and my own projects so much that I haven't had the opportunity to learn much more to provide further insight.

All the above said, I urge everyone reading this entry to visit the Kickstarter campaign page for Uncanny and contribute toward their goal. Uncanny will provide much contribution, insight and thoughtfulness for the Science Fiction/Fantasy and nerd/geek communities. We never can have enough.

The Kickstarter campaign has done pretty well since it started Tuesday. As of this writing, they broke the $18,000 mark with a goal of $26,000. Every little bit will help. They also have some fun rewards for contributors, like
  • A first year's subscription at $25
  • Having a SFF writer/personality review a move/TV show/book of your choice for $100
  • Signed art for $150
  • Manuscript critiques for $200
  • Dinners with editors and authors for $250
  • Guaranteed entry into a workshop with Mary Robinette Kowal for $250 (her workshops usually fill up within minutes)
  • . . .And more!
All these fringe benefits make for great reasons to support Uncanny. The best reason, though: a great product for release to the public that will provide hours of entertainment and food for thought.

Go now and provide support!