A place for my personal writing.
Sometimes I write to a prompt,|
sometimes I like to write free.
Regardless of how it starts,
all of it comes from me.
|PROMPT: Reveal a superpower you'd love to have and what you'd do with it.
I'm a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to the idea of superpowers. The powers I'd love to have are all things that I'd use for every day functionality. Would it be cool to be invulnerable or invisible? Sure, but my daily life doesn't involve getting into a lot of physical altercations or sneaking into places I'm not supposed to be. Would it be useful to have a healing factor? Absolutely. But, again, it feels like a waste of healing abilities to only need to recover from the occasional knick from a kitchen knife while cooking. I'd be tempted to choose immortality, but I think - on a long enough time horizon - being unable to die would be more of a curse than a blessing.
The power I'd love to have is either telekinesis or teleportation. While the latter would definitely be useful on a daily basis for avoiding the commute and visiting exciting places around the world, it would largely depend on the particulars of the ability. Could I take other people with me? What happens if I teleport into something by accident? Does teleporting have an audible or visual component that would make it obvious to everyone around that I just popped up somewhere.
That's why I think I'd probably go with telekinesis. The ability to move things with my mind would be incredibly useful; I'd never have to get up to get something out of the fridge again. I could unload the car and carry all the groceries upstairs with one trip. I could levitate myself and theoretically fly. I could really freak people out with a Ouija board.
In a modern world where superpowers are unheard of and there aren't Avengers and X-Teams running around all the time, I think telekinesis would be a subtle, very versatile superpower to have. Of course, if the world is overrun with superpowers and heroes and villains battling one another and destroying cities every other week, I might have to reconsider that invulnerability thing.
|I'm not actively participating in the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" this month, but today's prompt caught my attention so I thought I'd do a little unofficial blogging and answer today's prompt anyway.
PROMPT: Take us through a day in your life at your job/career. Talk about some of the more important responsibilities you have as well as what your major tasks entail. It’s always interesting to see how others work
For anyone that doesn't know what my job is, I work in the business and legal affairs department of a movie studio. My specific job is to oversee the screen credits for all of our feature films and television series. In a nutshell, I'm responsible for:
Making sure the screen credits are accurate and delivered on time.
Making sure everybody is credited who needs to be.
Making sure our credits adhere to all legal requirements (contracts, guilds/unions, company precdents, etc.)
Communicate credit/legal requirements to other departments (marketing, finance, distribution, etc.) so everybody knows what requirements/restrictions are in place.
Review all ancillary materials (trailers, TV spots, posters, concession cups, merchandise, billboards, radio spots, co-promotional assets, etc.) to make sure legal requirements are being followed.
Ultimately, that means my job consists of two major parts: (1) working on the credits for our current shows, and (2) reviewing stuff to make sure those credits are right. What that looks like practically is a whole lot of time sitting at a computer, responding to emails and calling people on the phone.
The things about my job that are probably the most difficult are that I'm the only one that does what I do at the company, so I don't really ever get a break. Vacations, sick days, etc. are still spent near my phone and computer because anything I put off for a day or two ultimately is still something I'm responsible for handling. And since we're shooting movies all over the world at all times of year, the emails and requests are pretty much 24/7. If I work a normal 9am-6pm, there's a good chance that I'm still getting 20+ emails between the hours of 6pm-9am from the production shooting in Australia, or a location scout in South Korea, or coworkers at the sound stages in Atlanta who are getting caught up on emails before they start shooting for the day.
My work is basically a consistent deluge of questions and requests and clarifications on things, and I have to figure out time to actually work on the credits (review contracts, update my credits documents, work with our titles vendor to output actual credit files for the show, etc.) in between.
I start most mornings getting caught up on the emails I've missed from the night before. Answering the handful of questions that came in, keeping up on what's going on where in the world. I try to get started early enough that I can get some credits work done on one of our shows before marketing gets up and going, because once that happens, I'm getting a constantly flow of about 100-200 emails a day with assets to review.
"Please look at this set of character posters and let me know if there are any problems."
"Here's a press kit for the new movie, are all the credits right?"
"These are six different versions of the teaser trailer. Any issues with any of them?"
"Here's a set of 250 collectible trading cards. Are these okay?"
"Please review these 1,200 set photos and let us know if any of them should be removed from the keysets."
The tricky part is that a lot of these requests come with different deadlines. Some I have several days to address, others need responses within 24 hours, if not faster. So I'll set aside blocks of time to work on the credits (30-60 minutes at a time) where I can focus and make some real progress, and then I'll transition back to my emails and see what's come in over that period of time. I'll look at the deadlines attached to each request, respond to the time-sensitive ones right away, make a note of which ones I need to go back to later, and then transition back to doing the credits for one of our shows for a bit. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the day.
I'll usually check in at least once later in the evening, just to make sure nothing critical popped up during dinner and the kids' bedtime routine. And then I'll wake up and check my email first thing to do the same.
It's a really, really demanding job, but I also love what I do. Being able to contribute something tangible to the movies I enjoy watching as a fan is an amazing feeling, and my job has such a diverse blend of responsibilities that I never get bored. If I get tired of staring at contracts and credits documents, I have materials to review. If I get tired of materials to review, I have correspondence and calls with other departments to return. I get to talk to vendors and the producers and pretty much everybody at the company in some capacity or another. For a desk job, that's pretty cool.
|I was recently asked to name five people that I admire, and why. Never one to pass up the opportunity to formulate a list of some kind, I decided to give it some thought and actually post a non "The WDC Soundtrackers Group" blog post for once. For the purposes of this list, I'm going to try to come up with people from a variety of sources or disciplines, and to help narrow it down, I'm limiting it to people who are currently alive. In no particular order:
Kevin Feige. Is it wrong to put my boss on this list? Honestly, though, I greatly admire Kevin for both his talents as a producer, and the way he conducts himself in business. He's a visionary and a consummate professional. Most producers at his level (i.e., the very top of the A-list) get sidetracked by things like fame, big paydays, etc. But he always appears singularly focused on just doing the job of making good movies. The success and consistency of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unequivocally one of the greatest achievements in the history of the film industry, and the MCU wouldn't exist without Kevin's steady, guiding hand. As someone aspires to produce film and television one day, he's one of the role models that I look up to.
Amanda Gorman. The youngest and most recent addition to this list, I discovered her like most people during her recitation at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. For someone so young, she has an amazing facility with words, and a remarkably wise and sophisticated worldview for someone her age. Poetry is one of those things that I don't feel that I do particularly well, and I don't particularly connect with in most cases, but hearing her poetry made me realize how impressive the medium can really be. She's on this list because, quite simply, she's able to do something with words and concepts that I'll never be able to do (but wish I could).
Ezra Klein. I consider myself an intellectual, but Ezra Klein is on another level. I'm consistently blown away by how smart he is, well versed in a number of different spheres of knowledge, and able to talk with people from all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of expertise in an intelligent and rational way. While I don't agree with all of his positions on the issues, or his approach to everything, I always find myself intrigued by what he's thinking and talking about.
Barack Obama. He wasn't a perfect president by any stretch of the imagination, but the thing I admire most about our 44th POTUS is his eloquence as a public speaker, his commitment to public service, and his over-arching optimism. He's the first politician in a long time that feels authentic in his beliefs and the way he carries himself, whether I agree with him or not. I fully admit that this might be because I grew up getting familiar with politics during the waning years of the Clinton Administration and the missteps of the Bush Administration, so it's entirely possible that my admiration for Obama stems from the fact that he's the first politician who seemed decent, intelligent, and well-intentioned.
Dolly Parton. If you think Dolly Parton is just a country music singer, you don't know Dolly. She's also a songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, philanthropist, and humanitarian. She plays nine musical instruments, has a theme park named after her, is worth half a billion dollars, and is a member of Halls of Fame in a number of different disciplines. Between her professional success across a variety of mediums and her personal efforts to make the world a better place, I don't know how you can't not admire what this woman has accomplished during her seventy-plus years on the planet.
If you aren't familiar with any one of the individuals above, I'd definitely recommend reading and learning more about them. They're all accomplished, interesting people, whether you find yourself on the same side of the political spectrum or not, and whether you identify with the work they do or not.
|Inconvenient birthdays abound,
interconnected by our existence.
In ways both mundane and profound,
inevitably creating resistance.
Nothing like a child's birthday,
negating anniversary activities.
Nor will a holiday be quite as gay,
needing to split its festivities.
Over a long lifetime,
one birthday inconveniences more than most.
Once you've commit a crime,
on your eighteenth birthday you're toast.
Venues around the country agree,
verdicts are severe as a result.
Verily, if you do wrong at that apogee,
visualize being tried as an adult.
(16 lines, Trolaan )
|By the time the human population on Earth rounded the corner on eleven figures and headed straight down the interstate toward fifteen billion souls on the planet, something had to be done. That something was Retirement. Not to be confused with lowercase-r "retirement," which was still the age at which most people left their professional careers to enjoy their twilight years, capital-R "Retirement" was the age at which you were eliminated from the human population.
That age was 75. Sure, people tried to buy themselves more time, or went on the run, but for most, your 75th birthday was also the day you died. You had ten years to live your life after you retired, before you were permanently Retired. And thus the nations and the planet they existed on sustained their growth, unencumbered with caring for the elderly for an indeterminate number of years before they finally gave up the ghost.
Gus was well aware of all of this as the final six months of his 74th year elapsed. As an affluent member of society, he had exhausted all of the options that rich people tend to try when they're faced with a problem. He tried to see if there was someone he could bribe. He paid high-end attorneys and lobbyists to try and change the rules or find an exception. He considered how far his considerable assets could get him if he went on the run.
He was in the process of liquidating those assets in the final days of his life, preparing to live as a fugitive, when one of his attorneys called. His attorney had heard rumor that there was another way to live past 75 with his identity, assets, everything intact. The attorney confirmed that a retired friend of Gus', a former international banker named Walter, was in fact alive and well at the ripe old age of 84. It turns out that Walter hadn't suicided himself, or availed himself of the government's "humane" methods of euthanasia, or gone on the run. He continued to live it up, the lowercase-r "retirement" phase of his life about to turn the corner into an unheard-of second decade.
Naturally, Gus insisted on setting up a meeting. He had to know how Walter had accomplished the impossible.
Two days later, Gus was sitting across the table from Walter at a secluded cafe in London.
"Yes," Walter was saying. "I did find a way to extend my years on this planet. It wasn't easy, and the cost is high."
"You and I both know cost isn't a concern," Gus urged.
"I'm not talking about money," Walter said. "It a price paid by the soul."
Gus smirked. "We both know my soul is pretty much as unsalvageable as yours at this point."
"I will relay to you what was relayed to me. Like you, as I approached my 75th birthday, I looked for some way, any way, to stave off the inevitable. Like you, my research led me to an old friend who apparently defied the odds and found a way to extend his life. Like you, I met with this person on the day of my 75th birthday."
Gus leaned in, eager to know more.
"My friend explained a loophole in the Retirement Statute. If you're willing to help enforce the Statute against others, for every Retirement you carry out, you get another year of your own."
"That's amazing," whistled Gus. "Yes, absolutely. Where do I sign up?"
"That's the thing," Walter said, with a hint of sadness. "It's a loophole that's now so widely exploited, it's hard to find candidates anymore. That was the case when my friend told me this nearly ten years ago, and it's only gotten more difficult."
Gus felt a tingle of foreboding crawl up his spine as Walter continued.
"My friend sought me out. Planted all the clues that led me to him so that, on my 75th birthday, he'd have an easy mark. As it turns out, though, I wasn't as easy a mark as he anticipated. I was able to gain the upper hand, kill him, and thus spent the entirety of my 75th year figuring out how to add another year. And another year after that, and another after that."
Gus was sweating. He looked around for something, anything he could use as a weapon, or something to defend himself with.
Gus gulped. "So how does this work now? Dueling pistols? Knife fight in the street?"
Walter clicked his tongue. "Well, my friend and I have one very important difference. He believed in giving his marks a sporting chance so that, if his time was up and someone like me earned their spot, that was how it was meant to be. Me? I'm not really that sporting. I poisoned your tea before you even sat down at the table."
Gus looked at his empty teacup and at his hand which was beginning to shake.
"Sorry old friend, but you understand." Walter continued. "I'm sure you would have done the same to me if our positions were reversed. After all, we both have unsalvageable souls, don't we?"
Walter stood up to leave. Gus tried to stand as well, but found that his legs weren't responding. His vision blurred, and his head was spinning.
"Don't worry," Walter said, patting Gus on the shoulder. "I used a synthetic toxin that I'm told is relatively painless. You'll lose all feeling in your body before your lungs and heart give out. In the meantime, enjoy the ambiance. This cafe really is delightful."
Walter shrugged on his coat, produced his wallet, and left several bills on the table.
"I'll leave a little extra for their trouble when they have to dispose of you," Walter said, giving his old friend a little salute. "Oh, and Gus? Happy Birthday."
|On March 20, 2020, my daughter turned one year old. There were big plans that involved for this first birthday: tasty treats, games, and a big party with friends and family from all over, including grandparents who were going to fly in for the occasion.
There were just two teeny tiny problems with these big plans.
First, the week prior, pretty much the entire state went into quarantine because of COVID-19. Flights had to be canceled, plans to gather were scratched, and businesses didn't have anyone working to fulfill the orders for the treats and other things we had ordered. We literally went from, "Yay, big celebration!" to "Looks like we're celebrating at home" almost overnight.
Second, for those of you who still remember the early days of the pandemic, this was also in those first few weeks where people were freaking the fuck out and panic buying everything. You'd go to the grocery store (assuming you could even get in thanks to the long lines) and entire shelves would be raided. No toilet paper or paper towels anywhere. No milk, no dry or canned goods, no basic necessities like, for example, the ingredients for a birthday cake, or even a prepackaged cake mix.
We were quickly headed for a first birthday with no people, no treats, nothing.
Thankfully, we had enough raw ingredients at home to make a semblance of a cake. Flour and sugar, the last of our eggs, some of our precious little milk left... I even made a chocolate frosting by melting down chocolate chips and old Hershey chocolate bars. Some of the ingredients were pretty old and stale, and we had to use regular sugar instead of powdered sugar for the frosting, so it wasn't the best cake I've ever made... but it was her first time having anything chocolate and, well, she seemed to think it was okay.
After what started as real discouragement about all the things the pandemic had taken from our daughter in terms of experiences for her first birthday, we ultimately walked away from the day really treasuring the simplicity of what we were forced to make do with instead. Rather than a big party with lots of friends, it was a small, intimate celebration with just the four of us. Rather than a ton of presents and pomp and circumstance, we opened the small handful of presents we had already purchased, wrapped in holiday and other non-birthday wrapping paper that we had available already. And rather than buying fancy, professionally-decorated treats, the whole family participated in making a cake together from scratch.
It wasn't the birthday party that any of us had hoped for just a few weeks prior, but in looking back on that day I'm not sure there would have been anything else that could have made it as memorable as it was, even against the backdrop of panicked scrambling to adjust to living in pandemic conditions.
|After 9.5 years at our current apartment community (3 years in our first unit, then the past 6.5 years in our current unit), we're officially moving! It's been almost two years since we started fostering-to-adopt our kids and after a global pandemic kept us largely at home for half of that time, we came to the realization that we might need a little more space than our cozy little two-bedroom, two-bath, 950 square-foot apartment can provide!
We ended up getting a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath townhouse with just over 1,800 square feet of space. It's a big step up, both in terms of the type of place we're renting, and the amount it costs, but I realized that it definitely follows a pattern we've set for ourselves. When we first moved down here for college, my wife and I spent about 10 years living the "student" life (i.e., small, cheap, and not-very-nice apartments). Once we both had solid jobs and were on our career paths, we upgrade to the apartment complex we currently live at, which is an upscale "young professionals" type place: luxury amenities (i.e., quality finishes in the apartment, a community that has features like pools, gym, outdoor activity space, etc.). And now, about 10 years later, we're leaving this behind for an "urban family" environment: a house-sized place, albeit one with a higher population-density than single-family homes in the suburbs.
I'm excited to see how we make use of our new space. I'll have my own bedroom/office that will allow me to continue to work from home without my desk being in the middle of the living room. Our kids will each have their own bedroom. The place has a nice soaking tub in the master bedroom, and a ginormous pantry that sure beats the limited cabinet space we have in our current kitchen.
But this process has also reminded me of how much I hate moving. Which is strange because it's been almost seven years since we last had to do it, but once I started to schedule the movers and work my way through the checklist of things to do, it all came rushing back. Moving is a huge pain, and there's always something else that needs to be done. No matter how well organized or prepared, something will definitely fall between the cracks and require fixing later.
Still, based on our past track record, hopefully this place will hold us over for a number of years until we're ready to take the next step, which is actually buying a single-family home of our own. I just hope that it's not another ten years until we get to that point!
"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | Day 21
by Justin Bieber
Full Lyrics ▼
I have a love-hate relationship with Justin Bieber. Which is to say that I mostly hate him, but I occasionally hate myself for loving one of his songs. Every so often he does manage to come up with a really good song that I find myself listening to on repeat, and this is the most recent one of those songs. I definitely think he's matured as an artist (and only moderately so as a human being), but it's still hard to admit that I actually like a Justin Bieber song in public. Still, I can't deny that ballads like this tend to find their way onto my playlists from time to time.
"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | Day 20
by Blake Rose
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Blake Rose is an interesting artist for me because I actually don't like a lot of his other songs. Usually when I like an artist, I find a handful of songs that I like and listen to after coming across a first song that really speaks to me. In this case, I really, really dig this song, but that's about it. I've tried at least a half a dozen other songs by Blake and I'm not just that into them. Maybe he'll come out with something else that really connects with me but for right now he's a one-hit wonder on my current playlists.
"The Soundtrack of Your Life Challenge" | Day 19
"My Heart Won't Let Me"
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I found LANY on Spotify when I recently started looking for other artists like A R I Z O N A and The Band CAMINO. They popped up with a number of different songs and I've been listening to them a lot lately. I enjoy a good alternative rock love song and these guys have some pretty catchy songs. I haven't listened to a wide variety of their songs yet, though, (just the couple I already know I like), so I think I'm due for a deep dive through their discography at some point.