Friday, July 28, 2006
Next week, MTV turns 25 years old. Chances are, though, you won't see any celebration. MTV knows their market-teens and 20-somethings. They are one of the few entities that still holds true to their roots: entertainment for the younger generation. Since their 20th anniversary of the beginning of MTV didn't really make a big difference to the average viewer, they've realized that promoting their longevity doesn't really matter to their viewership. Smart marketing move on their part, don't you think?
I am one of the first of the MTV generation. And, I know this is hard to believe, but MTV has benefitted my life greatly. How, you may ask, can a station that is famous for Ren and Stimpy and The Real World and Beavis and Butthead do anything positive for anyone? Easy - MTV has, for years, made me laugh. Laughter is precious. MTV has, in my days as a sighted person, shown me visual art mixed with music - a combination that, surprisingly enough, wasn't fused until the 1980s. MTV has shown me different cultures, lifestyles and people-something that wasn't real prominent when I grew up in a small mid-western town. For all the bad press MTV and the entertainment industry gets, I just want to say that my life is better off for having been part of the MTV generation.
Before I spent a week counseling at Camp TAMBO last month, one of my buds asked, "Why does a 31 year old man want to go to camp for a week?" Because where else can I eat s'mores that aren't of the Pop Tart variety? Where else can I go to bed smelling like a campfire? Where else can I get sun burnt, tick-bitten and go without a shower for days on end and, of course, love it all the while?
I get "re-juveniled" every summer, whether it's through TAMBO or Camp Miniwanca in Michigan, but those truly ARE kid camps. Still, who can deny the benefit that going back to childhood (temporarily) can bring? Come on! Let your inner child out! Just because you're past puberty doesn't mean you have to act like an adult!
Thursday, July 27, 2006
This was a featured human interest story on NPR this morning. Yet, what struck me more than the rich history of the shop was the relationship between father and daughter. A chemist and an artist don’t seem to have much in common on the surface and maybe they don’t, in general, either. Still, this father/daughter duo finds a common love in the colors and materials that have helped to create some of the most well-known art in the world.
If you think about the relationships in your life, chances are, you’re friends with someone who has virtually nothing in common with you. I know I not only have friends like this, but some relatives, too. So, what do you do? You find that simple thread between two people, some piece of common ground. Paint, literature, American Idol (though I wouldn’t suggest this one)…find something you share with another and help the relationship thrive from that common love.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Seriously, this was an amazing opportunity to re-connect with some of my speaking colleagues while learning new ways to get my message into the ears of more audiences. Simply an amazing experience!
Thanks to all the new friends I met along the way, and to the keynoters and breakout session speakers who filled my feeble little mind with tons upon tons of knowledge. I can't wait for the winter workshop!
Monday, July 17, 2006
I just got off the phone with an automated 45-second survey. It asked about half a dozen questions that require yes/no answers: do you support stem cell research? Do you believe marriage should be between one man and one woman? Do you consider yourself pro-life? Do you consider yourself a Republican? Do you consider yourself a Democrat?
I gave my yes/no answers to these questions, all the while thinking back to my methodology class at Missouri State back in '99. What did I learn from that class? That, just through wording a question, one can manipulate the answer. And, I was fairly impressed that these questions were simple, straightforward and there was simply no room for interpretation. Are you pro-life? Yes or no, that's the only answer you can give. None of this wishy washy stuff of, "Well, I think it should be kept legal, but morally and ethically, I don't agree with it." So, again, I was impressed. Then, all that fell apart. The final question was(and I think I quote this accurately), "Have you ever donated to a political campaign, a non-for-profit agency or a church?" What kind of question is that? I had to answer yes. But, could my answer be misconstrued? Abso-freaking-lutely! I mean, because as a kid I would drop coins into the offering plate at church, does that mean I'm in the same boat as George Sorros donating to the Democratic party? Since I gave a donation to the Seeing Eye, does that make me no different than religious organizations that donate to the GOP to try to overturn Roe vs. Wade?
Look, everyone is allowed to his or her political leanings and opinions. Those differences are what make the world go around. Yet, when a question is so stupidly worded, how can we actually get a pulse on what Americans think and feel? Just keep that in time next time you see some stat telling you the opinions of Americans.
Thanks again - you are all so great for coming out and supporting me!
Sunday, July 16, 2006
In today's STL Post-Dispatch, there was a "message" from the family and friends of the deceased. They thanked everyone for their support and kindness during their loss, but asked that people please stop telling the family, "I understand how you feel because I also lost my friend..." Blah blah blah. Anyone who has gone through a tragedy of any type can relate to those who want to "do good" by offering words of empathy and support. However, all too often, people are drawn to a phrase like, "I know what you're going through..." or "I know exactly how you feel..." Uh, no, no you don't. Until you've lived in that other person's skin and suffered the losses they have, then there's no possible way they one can know another's pain.
Furthermore, do you see how this changes the dynamic of the interaction? I'm hurting. You tell me about one of your losses. I, then, give you sympathy... yet, I'm still the person hurting! Ugh! This is one lesson I'd love to drill into peoples' heads: there is never, ever anything inappropriate about saying, "I'm sorry for your loss" to someone who is grieving. Never, EVER put yourself in the role, whether purposefully or inadvertently, of switching the sympathy to your own situation.
Now, when people do this... why? Personally, I think it's just because people struggle with what to say. So, they try to relate it to something they know. And that throws off the entire interaction.
Props to the grieving family for saying it like it is: no, no you don't know how it feels, so stop saying so.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
So, in our recent spicy debates, I've thought how my personality is - I have to finish things. I have to drive a point home. I have to beat the dead horse until it's actually buried underground, concrete poured atop the corpse, a skyscraper erected above it and the building filled with people. This is not one of my better traits, as you might imagine.
In thinking of this most recent disagreement, my mind went back to a book I read a few months ago, "The Dirty Girls Social Club" by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez. Ooo! Dirty girls! Sounds tawdry, doesn't it? It's not. The novel follows a group of Latina women, now in their late 20s, from the days they met at an eastern university.
One of the women is just getting involved in a new relationship. Posturing, feeling it out, deciding if this guy is "the one." In listing his qualities, she talks about how he disagrees. He states his position, she says hers, then he simply accepts that there is a difference of opinion and drops it. Respectable! And almost impossible in my case.
It does get down to the question, "What is worth fighting over?" and, while I'm sure this debate I'm in isn't worth fighting over, I think of that scene from the book for a little guidance on how I maybe, maybe someday might be able to handle conflict better. Hear it, accept it, drop it. Hard as that may be, there's no doubt that it's the healthier way to be.
As always, below par versions of songs by Johnny Cash, Springsteen,
Buffett, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan are the order of business.
If you've got nothing better to do, and you're over 21, stop on by!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
During the last election, Sen. Obama received an E mail from a constituent who also happens to be a college professor. The professor said that his beliefs were in conflict with what Sen. Obama's political stance is, yet, he still may vote for him.
However, there was one catch: something the professor read on Sen. Obama's web site.
Apparently, the Senator's staff had created the site using the (as he stated) "boiler plate" rhetoric of his party. The web site statements conflicted with a speech recently given by the Senator and were, in fact, insulting to the constituent.
THIS is where Senator Obama showed character as few politicians do: he looked at his stance, his speech and the wording on the web site. Which one was not congruent with the others? The web site. And the wording was changed immediately.
Do any other politicians have this much character? If so, we certainly don't hear it in the headlines – and that is shameful. This makes me wish I lived in IL and could vote for the guy!
To read the full text of the speech, click here:
Monday, July 10, 2006
This question was posed by Dave Glover and Glenn Beck on 97.1 FM here in The Lou. I listen to the Dave Glover Show almost every day when I'm in town and I can truly, truly say that this show has enriched my life and knowledge bank more than any form of media ever has. It's due to thought-provoking questions like this that make me stop and say, "Huh...I wonder what I WOULD tell that 15 year old Marcus." There are a million things that this 31 year old version of myself would like to share, but let's face it - we can't swallow large amounts of information. So, I think it'd all break down to this - I must speak to that kid on the level where he could receive the information. No long, drawn out philosophical discussions about life, love and the human experience are going to stick in his head. So, what I'd tell him is this, "Kid, the Beatles said it best, Ob La Di, Ob La Dah, life goes on." Yep, Life goes on. Simple and what is quite possibly the most universal of all truths. What would you tell the 15 year old version of yourself? Is it the same thing you'd have said a few years ago? Think it'll be the same five years from now? Either way, just be sure you're living the advice you'd give yourself - no one likes a hypocrite.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
and you can find my article right on the home page, along with some other great stuff! Check it out and thanks, JT!
This is a great site and you'll probably find other such articles from yours truly,
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Yet, one thing I didn't know about Foster was that he died at 38 years old with mere pennies in his pocket - all his earthly possessions able to fit into a fist. Sad, considering he's one of the most classic songwriters to be born on American soil... especially on America's birthday.
So, here's why I'm writing about him! John has been nominated for the Energizer Battery "Keep Going" Hall of Fame and is one of ten finalists. Quite an honor! The thing is, to win the contest, we need to help John get votes. As many as possible. That's where you come in! Please visit John's web site:
And vote for him! You can also do this through the energizer.com site, but come on, stop by John's site and take a look at an amazing story while you're there! Also, drop him an E mail and let him know you're a friend of mine, or leave a comment on the blog - we want him to win this and know where all his support came from! Thanks, folks!
Monday, July 03, 2006
Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird
The "indecent" CBS drama "Without a Trace" for which the Federal Communications Commission is proposing a $3.3 million fine of the network and affiliates was apparently complained about by only two (at most) actual viewers of the estimated 8.2 million who watched it that December 2004 night, according to FCC records that CBS cited in a June filing to the commission. Those two (and 4,209 complaints from people who apparently only heard about the show) did not start arriving at the FCC until 12 days afterward, which coincidentally was the day that a family watchdog organization began alerting its members about the show. The same CBS program had aired in 2003, with no complaints. [Reuters, 6-14-06; MediaWeek.com, 6-13-06]
Look at these numbers - does this really spell out a problem of the decline of America? If you look at the numbers from the "wardrobe malfunction" at the Superbowl a few years back, you find very similar numbers of folks complaining (i.e., hardly any). What does this tell us? That the media likes to make mountains out of molehills.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Fox News is currently running a segment where accomplished Americans share experiences from their childhood that helped propel them to success. Bill Russell had this to say and I thought it was quite profound and a lesson for us all:
A Special for Young People
By Uma Pemmaraju
Sunday, July 2 at 10 p.m. ET, FOX News presents
NBA great Bill Russell says he doesn't feel comfortable being described as an icon or a legend. He simply says his greatest achievement is that, "I am my father's son. My father was my hero." When he was about 5 years old, Russell's father talked to him in very interesting way. He describes a conversation where his father said, "If you decide to be a ditch digger here in this town, find out how well you can do it. What I want for you is that after you've done it for awhile, they'll be people in New York, California and Florida talking about how well you do your job." Russell's father meant that whatever you do, find out what's essential to make it good or successful and not only excel at it, but use your imagination and see how far you can take it.
Despite his towering height, Russell is a soft-spoken and gentle man who really wants to reach out and help young people who often don't have parents or a mentor to turn to. He believes that his success as a champion basketball player is simply one chapter in his life and that his life is meaningful in so many other ways whether it's spending time with his family or working to help youngsters who have dreams of becoming basketball stars. Russell says life is full of possibilities and often thinks about his mother's advice: "You can't know love unless you love yourself."