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The Job Interview

image by Mike Stivers (mikestivers.com)

This is a sketch comedy script I wrote that displays the heightened tension that one may face during one of the most stressful of events-the job interview. Taking inspiration from my own anxieties during many of my failed interviews, this provides both a catharsis for me and hopefully a chuckle or two for the audience

Click on this Medium.com article to read more.

Analyse De Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain

created with Adobe Spark

This is a brief analysis on one of my favorite movies of all time, Amelie. I’ll explain how the main character qualifies as a Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl and how it reveals the stark differences between European and American cinema, specifically with regards to sexuality.

Click here to watch.

The impact of digital technology in entertainment

created with Adobe Spark

This is a very short video project I made about the impact of digital technology in entertainment. I briefly discussed the history of the evolution of entertainment media, its current state, and what the future will hold for us as media consumers.

Click here to listen

My Tirade on Education…and whether it matters or not.

Featured image from article on Don Miyada by Angry Asian man

Original article here from my Medium.com webpage

So, my first day attending Liberal Arts Core Foundations class in Brandman University, I was told to free-write about education using this prompt:

“Education is not bucket of shit you fill up. It’s lighting a fire under your ass.”

This is the diarrhea that spewed out of my brain:

“Education sure isn’t a bucket of shit you fill up, but it sure is a light to fire your ass up.  It’s what gets you to think on things you would never think of and allows you to gain perspective on multiple areas of thought such as psychology, philosophy, social issues, political issues, etc. Most extroverted people talk without thinking. While that’s ok in a bar or with friends joking around, not so much when in a formal setting. It behooves you to know what you’re saying and say what you know, and when you know more than 5 areas of a subject, you are better able to elucidate your take on things and explain how you came to those conclusions better. Education can launch you over walls and over those who try to climb with their clumsy words.”

Not too bad when pressured to write for about five minutes and a fair bit of editing. (ok maybe a looot of editing)

Contrived as it may look, Past Me made a point. We don’t go to school with the purpose of filling our heads full of knowledge and leaving it there until it dries up into a disgustingly crusty, god-awfully foul pile of, well, shit. We light it and throw it at people, fresh, ripe and reeking.

via GIPHY

That’s probably not the best metaphor to use, but I’m using it anyway. (hasn’t stopped me so far)

But yes, we go to school to study up on history, sharpen our skills for rhetoric, practice our techniques on discourse and prepare ourselves for the cold, brash, real world.

Or at least we should. Honestly, I wish I should have, when I was younger. This is where I veer off to rail about our broken public education system but, that requires research and that’s too much work. I mean I could just “Google” it but, blech, sifting through ads and SEO-optimized articles that look legit but are really just platforms for right-wing (or left-wing) hyperbole just wears my perpetually tired brain down.

But that’s the dilemma. How to teach that deliberate but non-threatening lesson to the young folk to discuss and debate with civility, rather than fling feces at each other…like figuratively (and sometimes literally). And, for those older types like me who got the lecture late, (or more likely tuned it out then but wish they hadn’t now) it becomes less of a teaching moment and more of an exercise in restraint, or release for the more introverted types.

From personal experience, the whole “not being able to teach an old dog new tricks” thing isn’t true…it’s just takes a lot of time, patience and banging your head on a wall to learn that trick. But, if you don’t mind having a head bleeding on all sides, with knowledge of course, it’s well worth the pain.

Where am I going with all this?

The UNCF slogan of “a mind is a terrible thing to waste,” is and oldie but still a goldie, and applies beyond the African-American community. It’s never too late to get educated to have the cerebral ammo to defend yourself against demagogues that try to persuade the weak-minded to fight and die for their side, and simultaneously dissuade the ill-equipped to avoid the battles altogether, leaving a war won by those you wish shouldn’t have.

Hell, I’m still doing it, and although I might have a concussion…

…what was I talking about again?

The Role of an Individual With Regards to Problems in Society

image from reference.com/world-view/role-individual-society-de1717591b9aad6b

INTRODUCTION

I feel there is a general impression that things today are still bad, despite current statistics saying otherwise

via GIPHY

– Current unemployment rate: 3.9%

– Have friends and family struggling to find work

– Last reported U.S. poverty rate: 12.7%,

– Significant decline from 2010, but still 1.7% higher than lowest recorded figure of 2000

– Still see homeless roaming my neighborhood

So, despite current statistics, do we have to “do our part” to make the world better?

via GIPHY

Why?

  1. Ethical reasons: Helping others is just the right thing to do
  2. Sociological/self-interest reasons: Helping others raises your social status
  3. Physiological reasons: Helping others is good for your health

ETHICAL REASONS

Pope Pius XII poses for his 80th birthday portrait in his Vatican apartments in front of a painting of the Lake Albano at Castelgandolfo, near his summer residence, in 1956. (Image by Bettmann/CORBIS.)

Pope Pius quote: “Human beings are naturally social creatures.  We cannot live properly human lives without participation in societies or social human groups of different kinds” (Ryan, 2018)

Simply put, the Golden Rule.

Maybe not this “golden rule” (via GIPHY)

To put it in another more self-serving perspective, how about the phrase, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine?”

Also, being perceived as one who serves others before themselves does put you in a good light.

via GIPHY

SOCIOLOGICAL REASONS

image from leadership.mit.edu

Renowned organizational psychologist Edgar Schein: “People are motivated mainly by economic incentives for their own needs, desires, satisfaction and survival.” (Haski-Leventhal, 2009)

Similar to Pope Pius XII’s statement, except . . .

Pope Pius XII – Kantian/deontological point of view: morality of an action depends on the intrinsic nature of the action. (Conway & Gawronski, 2013)

Ed Schein – Utilitarian approach: morality of an action is determined by its consequences. (Conway & Gawronski, 2013)

Regardless of one’s ethical motivations, altruistic emotions and behaviors may be related to good health.

via GIPHY

PHYSIOLOGICAL REASONS

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine article“It’s good to be good,” says helping behavior leads to . . .

  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Increase in creativity, imagination and openness
  • Decrease in negative emotions that lead to depression (Post, 2005)

For the significant amount of evidence supporting the aid of your fellow man, there doesn’t seem to be an argument against it, unless . . .

Owner: Leonard Peikoff | Credit: Ayn Rand Archives

. . . you follow Ayn Rand.

COUNTER ARGUMENT

In her book, The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) she defines and advocates rational selfishness as “Values required for human survival, not the values produced by the desires, feelings, and whims or the needs of irrational brutes, who have never outgrown the primordial practice of human sacrifice”

Axl Rose put it best when he said, “If you hunger for what you see you’ll take it eventually. You can have everything you want but you better not take it from me.” (Guns N’ Roses, 1987)

via GIPHY

If you can remove all emotional reaction from their statements, they kinda make valid cases.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, most of us are unable to remove emotion from anything, let alone their message.

Yes, we should do our part.

via GIPHY

As long as we’re smart about it.

Power of the People through YouTube

Image from Web Design Courses Singapore

It’s almost global knowledge that Hollywood’s blockbuster movies have generated a dominant cultural hegemony that echoes America’s image as the world’s greatest superpower.  A notable example is 2004’s disaster epic, The Day After Tomorrow.  In the final scene of the movie, the new President Raymond Becker, begins his speech with the traditional ‘my fellow Americans’ even though it’s obvious that he is addressing the world; as if America speaks on behalf of the global community (Langley, 2012).  Hollywood has succeeded in selling America as a utopian society that is devoid of errors (Andrew, 2014).  And even though the internet did not become mainstream until around 1999 (Spiegel, 1999) Hollywood continued to sell the United States as the undisputed leader of the free world (Langley, 2012).  Until one event led to the tipping of the scales, the birth of YouTube.

The domain name “YouTube.com” was activated on February 14, 2005 with video upload options being integrated on April 23, 2005.  Six years later, it became the 3rd most visited site in the world, next to Google and Facebook (Cayari, 2011).  It is also the first major website dedicated for uploading and viewing of videos, putting creative power in the hands of the individual, and not the industry.  The traditional medium of Hollywood dominating visual media isn’t quite yet on the verge of extinction, but it’s starting to struggle maintaining its dominance as the United States’ representative to the world.  One no longer needs writers, editors, producers and a sales team to build content (Solis, 2014).  Power is going to the people, with YouTube as their main weapon, with heroes such as Felix Ulf Kjellberg of PewDiePIe fame to wield it.

Although I give deference to PewDiePie as the de facto ambassador of YouTube (even after the fallout from his anti-Semitic joke), I am not a fan, nor do I care to watch other personalities like him such as Smosh or the [Jake and Logan] Paul brothers.  At the risk of sounding like and elitist hipster, I’d like to say that I’m more partial to:

Kiva.org and similar non-profit organization can easily spread their message through Youtube and the internet in general.  They no longer need to pay television networks to air their commercials, or promotion firms to sell their business.  All it takes is the knowledge of web design and digital media analytics, to turn up in Google’s search lists when typing “non-profit.”  Although movie companies and TV networks still have the market on mass media, the world wide web allows the transfer of information to be independent from them, and it balances the power of the haves and have-nots closer and closer together.

Full-Stack Storyteller?!! What were you thinking?!!

There was a time when I thought calling myself a full-stack anything was clever. Once I got over myself, I realized how flimsy a proposition that was. I don’t know enough about the inner workings of publishing to equate storytelling with software development. I put so much energy yet so little thought into crafting this narrative. I’m no unicorn, rockstar, or ninja. That’s why I had to rebrand.

While I still believe that the “jack-of-all-trades” label got a bad rap, it doesn’t matter. Most job recruiters of all fields of employment don’t have that impression. Although the generalist vs. the specialist argument progresses in many industries like software, the consensus leans towards the latter.

Nevertheless, I will continue my writing career abiding by three critical lessons.

  1. Repeated, multiple, and diverse experiences lead to richer stories.
  2. The story and the teller have to be clear, concise, yet captivating.
  3. The rule of three is . . . ah this joke is so stupid. I have no habit, superstition or compulsion to write things in threes (I don’t think).

Lesson 1: Variety

Bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and many other books. An full-stack storytelling inspiration.
Bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown series; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; In Her Day; and many other books. Image from Penguin Random House

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” -Rita Mae Brown

I held two jobs in the service. First, as an aircraft mechanic, I learned attention to detail by editing and rewriting several pages of policies and procedures. Then, as an analyst, I understood clarity through preparing intelligence reports. Based on those two widely diverging career fields alone, I could claim to be a full-stack airman. I collaborated with as many people as possible in both areas, both within and outside my field. As these relationships grew, so did my ability to tell stories. And while the military supplied me with time to grow in my comfort zone, academia educated me to expand out of it.

I’ll be honest, up until recently, I thought of an MBA as my “golden ticket” to a six-figure career. It also happened to be the shortest path to the degree I could complete. However, the most meaningful thing to ever happen to me on this path had to do these academic projects. I rediscovered the budding creativity I’ve always had and the artistic flair I wanted to grow during that time. I wrote a sketch comedy script, a short story, and a poem. In all honesty, they were school projects I had to complete. However, I’m glad to have done it and proud of what I made. These professional and academic experiences shaped me to become a full-stack something. But, I needed one more crucial element.

Lesson 2: Audience-centricity (is that a word?)

Austrian management consultant, educator, and author. His quote on communication gets to the crux of how to be a full-stack storyteller.
Austrian management consultant, educator, and author. Image from Wikipedia

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” – Peter Drucker

Communication is not only key, but also lock, handle, door, room, and oftentimes the whole house. Although I learned a lot from college and the military, As a lifelong learner, I need more. I have yet to receive formal instruction in media strategy. Therefore, as a full-stack storyteller, one of my goals is to be a communications management professional (CMP). The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) issues these certificates on behalf of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

In the meantime, one of the best classes I took on Linkedin Learning was Shani Raja’s “Writing With Flair: How to Become an Exceptional Writer.” He touts that the ingredients to the secret sauce of writing are simplicity, clarity, elegance, and evocativeness. The storyteller did their job to easily digest the plot, empathize with the characters, follow the conflict, and enjoy the resolution. Flouting this list will be the only time I will stray away from the rule of three.

Speaking of.

Lesson 3: Strategery (oh what, that’s a word?)

Eric Walters is the author of "The Rule of Three," one that full-stack storytellers follow.
Eric Walters has written almost 100 novels for young readers since 1993. (Penguin Random House Canada). Image from cbc.ca

“Crisis doesn’t change people; it reveals them.” – Eric Walters, Rule of Three (why do I insist on letting this joke run?)

It’s telling that I chose a quote about “crisis.” Truth be told, I’m in a few at the moment. Not only financially (though that IS priority one), but also ideologically. What keeps me going now is that I have a wife and child to support (thus, finances are my main focus). Needless to say, the writer in me continues to beckon.

I still want to bring back that creative spark to set a fire under me and unleash a blaze of expression. It’s something that I have lit many times but haven’t been able to keep burning. When I wrote, “Once again, a new start,” and “A Re-think of the ‘New Start,‘” my state of mind was, shall we say, messy. For now, it’s less of a mess, but it still needs some work. But, it is also a sign that I have some other things I need to worry about before setting out on this journey.

If I’m going to be a full-stack anything, it will first be as a father, husband, and breadwinner. Perhaps when I have those pillars set straight, I can work on the fourth as a writer.

How “Casablanca” led to the “Glass Ceiling” (and if or when it’ll be broken)

If you ask a movie nerd about Casablanca, he’ll probably talk your ear of about Rick, Ilsa, and Louis not being able to escape their past.  But if you approach Laura Fraser, a freelance writer for Salon.com, her account will most likely consist of her experiences with a city and culture where the public world belongs to men, but the private one belongs to women, like she wrote in Under the Veils of Casablanca.   Most of us are unable to remove our ethnocentric views that women feel so oppressed in the Muslim world.  Fraser hints as how, even though there’s truth to that view, it doesn’t mean that they are complacent with that idea.  If there’s one thing women all over the world have in common, it’s dealing with the double standard of being viewed negatively when one is ambitious.

Renowned sociologist, Christine Williams writes “In patriarchal societies, there exists a “glass ceiling” that prevents females from progressing to the same level as their male counterparts.  Some consent to this limitation, while others aim to break through it.  Those that choose the latter now need to come to terms with the fact that if they do want to climb that corporate ladder, they’ll be perceived as aggressive or ambitious, which is viewed negatively with women as opposed to men.  If they are willing to continue the climb, they own that façade of ambitiousness, whether it is in their nature or not.  Women such as Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff may have more nurturing sides, but it is reserved for only their family and closest friends.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, women deal with a global issue that especially plagues middle to lower class families:  violence against women.

According to the Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, nations in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Arab states were shown to have the highest gender inequality, which is one of the main reasons United Nations General Assembly created the aforementioned organization.  Their goal is to identify, address and remedy and prevent issues stemming from this problem.  Much of their meetings during the Fourth World Conference in Beijing focused on violence against women and implementing good practices in combating and eliminating it.  One such issue is honor killings, where the woman is blamed for her own rape and executed as a result.  Although this is only prevalent in most third world countries in South and Southeast Asia, other issues such domestic violence, sexual abuse and human trafficking still exist in more “developed” nations.

It is through these organizations, as well as independent journalists such as Laura Fraser, that we become more informed about the different attitudes and beliefs that women have all around the world, but also bring up the commonalities that they share.  It saddens me that much of what they share is negative, harsh and violent.  Perhaps one day, women’s issues won’t be as unsettling as it is today.  I just know it won’t be tomorrow, but someday.

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