Friday, August 26, 2011

How to Deserve Thousands of Followers

For many, social media is a way to connect, stay informed and follow the comings and goings of those people whose lives are more interesting than yours. But, who are those people? They are the humans among us who are more important, more together, more hipster than you.

Etiquette and accepted social mores? Nonsense. There are no words or feelings out of bounds. Grammar and punctuation? For amateurs. Spelling? Bah! Who needs it when we have numbers and symbols to guide the less enlightened to the proper path?
But, you cry, they are so cool! I want to be one of them!

Well, if you must... here's what you need to do, you sad, sad little gnome.

1.) Be Snarky
First and foremost among the rules for imposing your world view is to set up the basis of the conversation. Don't ask if Kim Kardashian is dumb. Say it! And then follow up with your assessment of her level of dumbness. Comparisons are good here, too. Bag of rocks, dumb as a stump, etc. It doesn't matter if she's beautiful, built like a brick sh*thouse or making a bajillion dollars, she's still a loser, right?
Don't be afraid to use your superior intellect to eviscerate a celebrity, politician or media personality. You don't know them, and they aren't really real people with feelings and families, so what's the harm? Everyone does it, but you can do it better!

2.) Don't Let People's Feelings Get in the Way
Nobody who crosses your path should be safe. The kid serving you over-priced and oh-so-trendy coffee, the driver in front of you at the light, or anyone who dares to take up what you think is an extra moment of your time are perfect targets. Question their parentage, their lack of breeding or their right to exist in the same world as someone as cool and hip as you. They don't even have iPads, (or worse, they have a model older than yours), so who cares how they feel? Besides, they aren't reading your posts, and you can safely tackle these and other earth-shattering dilemmas from the comfort of your futon, without having to face them after blasting them. Or, even better, you can see them tomorrow knowing that you ripped them a new one on Twitter last night.

3.) Treat the Language as Your Personal Punching Bag
All of those rules, common tenets and expectations of spelling, punctuation and grammar that you were forced to learn in school are worthless. You haven't held a pen in over a year, so don't let any of that other crap stand in the way of you expressing your greatness. To, too and two are now simply 2. Are, our, you and I? We have single letters that sound the same, don't we? Phonetic spelling is so hip anyway. "Those other people" who can't understand what you post... u n i bth no te don matta... haters.

4.) Narrow Your Focus, Widen Your Expectations
Whole Foods out of your favorite soy-based, gluten-free pasta substitute? Bastards! Complain about it online. Everyone can afford to shop there, so you are providing a valuable service. Well, everyone who is anyone shops there. Make sure your post tells them how stupid, inane or unfair you think it is to inconvenience you, right after remarking on the situation in the Sudan.

Don't worry, being hip automatically qualifies you to comment on any issue that manages to encroach on your fish-eyed viewpoint. People starving in a war-torn region deserve your pity, unless they come here and drive the cab you find yourself in after three too many apple-tinis. Then, their lack of ability to manage a language as simple as English is worthy of a flaming, albeit posted, retort.

And, don't forget to speak in your own sphere-of-influence jargon. If someone doesn't understand, too bad. They would if they were as cool as you.

5.) Make With the Charitable Outlook
Bono thinks starving kids in third-world countries are important, and so should you. Take a stand, join a march and make sure your followers know just how altruistic you are. How magnanimous you can be is tempered only by how many questions on specifics you can dodge. There's always Google, so you don't really need to know anything about your favorite cause-du-jour, anyway. The important thing is that you care. Or, appear to care. Or, whatever.

There you have it. Follow these rules and you'll be well on your way to thousands of friends, followers and circlings. Just remember, you are, and always will be, so much more together than they are. As long as you can have your half fat, half latte mocha frappichino... all is right with the world.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Volunteering for a Good Cause

While I find it hard to say "no" to my wife for anything, it would have been unthinkable this weekend. After all the help she has provided with my latest production, (scheduler, costumer, mom-wrangler, puppeteer, seamstress... the list goes on), I would have really felt like an ungrateful slob had I refused to help out with the event she had arranged.

Our local Applebee's provides non-profit groups with a great way to raise funds by allowing us to arrange a Pancake Breakfast. My wife Gina scheduled one for our church, and today was the day. That meant being up, showered, dressed and in the car by 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I know for some of you, that doesn't sound like a big deal, but for someone who rarely falls into bed before 2 a.m., there is really only one word for it... $@#@^%&@*@!

Still, having worked in the restaurant business for over a dozen years served me well. It didn't take long before I felt right at home plating food, washing dishes and making sure our "servers", (the children of our adult volunteers, pressed into service), were moving along and doing their jobs.

Granted, we had one dish on the menu, and a house full of folks who were ready to be pleasant and patient, (this was a charity effort for our church, after all), so it wasn't the hard-charging fast pace of a real restaurant on a Friday evening. Nobody ever fell "into the weeds", and we didn't have to "86" anything. We got all of the adrenaline and the feeling of 'making it happen' without all of the downsides to serving other people food.

It was kinda fun watching the pre-teens grumble over having to wrap silverware, ("We have to do ALL of these?"). The kind of fun one has as an adult, watching kids get the barest glimpse of real work.

I don't want to post pics of other people's kids here without their permission, so it'll have to suffice to say that all of the volunteers, adults and kids, did a great job! Tom at the coffee machine, Gina and I on the line and Margo making sure everything was as good as it could be. All of the kids who served and smiled, even though they were tired and out of their element... you made it special.

We pulled in a good chunk of $$$ as a donation to the good works that our local church does, (and they really do some great things for the community), and we all walked away feeling that we did something of value today. It was fun, it was hectic and no, I wouldn't trade my present life for my past life in this business, but, I have to say... it was worth getting up today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Caterpillar's Tale production notes VI

Last minute script changes, shuffling the characters around and one really cool camera angle later, today's scenes shot for "A Caterpillar's Tale" are destined for the editing deck.

While the actors looked at me with blank stares, I explained how we would be shooting things out of sequence, in order to adhere to our hard-stop time. Being stage actors, they are used to starting a scene and plowing through to the end. This is, no doubt, a strange and disconnected way to perform.

Being kids, they have parents who expect to pick them up at the time that I said we would be done. So, in order to make that happen, I needed to shoot in groups of segments, guaranteeing that no one but me knew what was going on.

And, as a side note... I shot everything I needed and was still finished ten minutes before the hard-stop time! Yay me!

But as a director, I know what I want in the way of shots, and as an editor, I know that more is always better. So, to the all-too-familiar sound of me saying, "Great! That was terrific... let's do it again," we bounced around our script.
We have one actor scene left, two more scenes with the puppets, and this thing will be solely the province of the editor, (me). I know, I know... I'm a geek, but I find that to be pretty exciting!