On Learning to Use a Hammer

When I was in Africa, a carpenter tried to teach me how to properly drive a nail. He showed me how to hold the hammer so that its weight would do all the appropriate work. It was up to me to practice and make sure that I was using the hammer in an optimal way.

I couldn’t do it. My nails were driven halfway into the wood and started to bend out of shape. A little tap from the left. Some cursing. A lot of taps from the right. I just couldn’t figure out how to use the hammer.

I watched the carpenter drive a nail like Mr. Miyagi. I attempted to mimic exactly what he was doing. I tried to hold the hammer the way he did. The nail still went in crooked. I finally determined that the problem was the hammer and that I should buy a new hammer.

Political Aesthetics

I am completely intrigued by the process of modern politics: Look good, promise everything, say nothing, and attack the opponent.

I don’t often share what I think, but here is a cartoon summing up a few thoughts regarding the Romney/Obama debate.

I have friends on both sides of the “color” divide (I’m not talking race). They regard “their” candidate with religious fervor, holding them up as the savior of the people. But ultimately, the only difference between “the candidates” is the color of their tie. The results will be the same until we the people realize that change does not come from an elected politician or an official political party. It comes from the convictions of individuals, exercised for the benefit of those around them, in order to create a more humane and beneficial society for all.

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned From Reading Comments On Local News Articles

10. People are rude regardless of the technology used to moderate the comments.

9. People are rude regardless of whether they have a valid comment to be made or not.

8. People are rude in their ignorance and in their intelligence.

7. People are rude in their rebuttals, exponentially increasing as the chain of sub comments grows.

6. People are rude because their cause/politician/puppet/pundit/person is the target of criticism.

5. People are rude and find clever ways to stand out in a sea of rudeness.

4. People are rude because it’s easy to hide behind a digital avatar (even if it’s their own).

3. People are rude and I’m pretty sure, based on the comments, it’s the fault of Democrats / Republicans / Christians / Jews / Muslims / Buddhists / Scientologists / Media / Guns / 1% / 99% / Left / Right / Center / Gays / Straights / Blacks / Hispanics / Japanese / Chinese / Bankers / Humans / Aliens / Writers / Journalists / Reporters / Pundits.

2. People are rude because digital civility has yet to be needed.

1. People are rude.

(Feel free to add your own or be rude to me in the comments of this post)

Stock Photography: The New Face of Hemorrhoids

The latest billboard in town is about fast, painless relief for hemorrhoids.

I have nothing against hemorrhoids or Advanced Gastroenterology. My beef is with stock photography and the nausea-inducing ease at which a pretty girl can be transformed from: “Give me surprise” to “Surprise, you’ve got hemorrhoids.”

I doubt this lady got into the business to appear on a hemorrhoids billboard in Vancouver, Washington. I’m sure she has grand aspirations for her career.

But, until she makes it big, you can buy her on iStockPhoto.com for your next advertisement. Perhaps I’ll buy this image to advertise my business because nothing says telling your unique story like a stock photo used by a gastroenterology clinic.

*I found this lovely Instagram photo on Google Images. I would love to credit the photographer, so let me know if this is yours.


Milking the Trilogy

Ever since The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy it seems that filmmakers and studios are attempting to maximize and extend the profits and storytelling capabilities of works of literature. Long books are becoming two part epics, trilogies are becoming quadrilogies, and what was once a bastardized art form of ruining the novel in visual form has become a humongous business model.

Harry Potter, Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and Twilight all have been extended into multiple releases in order to “tell the story.”

However, the fate of some series died on the first attempt: The City of Ember, Lemony Snicket and The Golden Compass come to mind. Other series have been revived a few different ways, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, only to have the marketable stories told  (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and leaving the rest to the imagination of the reader.

Hollywood, stop milking the trilogy for the sake of profit. Everything that is in a novel will not translate to the silver screen. Especially glitter.


Modern Ramifications of Illiteracy

People wouldn’t be reading 50 Shades of Grey, Bone or Steve Jobs.

That awkward moment of silence in church where a new song is sung and people can’t read the lyrics would increase.

IKEA instruction manuals.

People wouldn’t be able to comment on all of the annoying status updates they “saw” on Facebook, Twitter or a random blog.

More and more people would accept what they heard on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Bill Maher or Bill Moyers as the truth.

Libraries would become a place of scorn and embarrassment by the literate instead of a place of refuge and learning for all.

History would be rewritten to be concrete and clear as opposed to the paradox that it is.

Propaganda would be embraced for its entertainment value.

We would be okay with incorrect statements of equality such as 1% > 99%.

I am Grateful for Literacy

I am grateful to be literate. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t have an insatiable appetite for reading and consuming knowledge.

As I become increasingly aware of my level of literacy, I embrace the reality that there are others struggling with the foundations of literacy.

With that, I offer these encouraging words from Jeff Smith, creator of Bone: “I learned to read because I wanted to know what was going on in Peanuts.”

I remember my dad reading The Chronicles of Narnia to me as a kid. I remember reading Stephen King’s The Stand, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and thousands of other books over the years.

It has never been easier to read.

It has never been more difficult to find the time and necessary focus to read.

Literacy can start with comic books or reading to your kids.

It just takes the desire to know what Charlie Brown is saying.

Elites, Snobs and Trolls

What I love most about learning is reading a word like egalitarian because immediately I go to the dictionary and confirm that it means what I think it means. Side note: I misused the word pontificate in a conversation once and haven’t heard the end of it, so I look things up to make sure.

Egalitarian simply means upholding a belief in the equality all people.

It is often preached, but rarely practiced.

Instead, we get elitism.


And troll-ism.

Elitism says I’m better than you because of what I have, what I am, who I know, what I know, where I work, and that I don’t need toilet paper because I have a bidet.

Snob-ism, a made up word, says that my stuff is better than your stuff because I have it and you don’t. It also says that your stuff will never be better than my stuff (even if it is). In many ways, it is a lot like elitism, and for purposes of this blog post, they can be interchangeable because what matters is the last paragraph.

Troll-ism, another made up word, says that my beliefs are right, you are most definitely wrong, and I will hide behind my digital avatar, tearing you down for attempting to build a bridge between two polarities or partisan views. Trolls live underneath bridges and I also think they don’t like new bridges being built because that means territorial troll-gang fights on social network commenting systems used by local and national news organizations, but I digress.

I dislike all three of the above attitudes. No, I hate all three of those attitudes. They make me angry when I witness them in others and in myself. Yes, I am human. I have moments of elitism, snob-ism, and troll-ism. I don’t like it, but thankfully I have friends that correct me when necessary.

Elites, snobs and trolls only hurt people with their actions and words because they are above correction and human decency. It’s one thing to justify your viewpoint with a freedom of speech argument, but the reality is that there will never be a constitutional right to be an asshole.

You’re Not Freelancing, You’re Running a Business

I had a friend recently congratulate me on the success on my freelancing business. Initially, I was very appreciative. Business has been increasing this year, thank you for noticing. However, after thinking about it for awhile I realized: I hate the word freelance.

Dictionary.com defines freelance as “working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company.” In other words: a worker that can’t commit. At least that is what I hear.

The reality is that I am not freelancing, I’m running a business. I am no different than any other business out there. I work for different companies at different times as do all businesses. Differentiated market segments are no different than multiple businesses. The size of a business and whether it is on the Fortune 500 list of businesses doesn’t matter either. It has no reflection upon your label as a freelancer or a business owner.

The truth is that I am permanently employed by one company: Chris Martin Studios Inc. My own. I started it, registered to become a for-profit corporation in Washington state, filed the necessary paperwork with the IRS to be an S-Corporation.

So, for all of the designers, developers, artists, and entrepreneurs out there being okay with the “freelance” label: Own the label of “business owner.” You might just thank me, and you might not be expected to work for free. Because after all, free is the beginning of freelance.

The Glue Factory

I get a little tired of all the talk about the next generation. They are going to be world changers. They matter more than the rest of us. They will fix what is unfixable.

The adoption of this language, primarily heard in religious communities, shows we have given up and put our very present reality into the hands of kids. We live vicariously through the lives of the youth because we have failed to realize a life worth living for ourselves and others. We place a tremendous amount of pressure on the lives of kids to become adults sooner, when what they really need is time to be kids and not take life seriously.

However, there is a deeper problem. The current leaders have decided to skip a generation and give the blessing of power and control to their grandchildren, not their children. Is it because they have failed miserably in raising their own children and want to make up for it in the lives of their grandchildren? Or is it about control and manipulation?

I am not ready to pass off my responsibilities to the next generation. I may not have been passed the torch from the leadership around me, but I have the desire and passion to attempt to make the world a better place. I may not be a world changer in the eyes of the generation in charge, but the world is often changed by the unexpected forces no one sees coming.

I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to fix today. I don’t want to wait five years for the world to be changed by the youth. Change starts today with my own life, with the lives of my friends and family, and with the fire that burns deep within me.

I’m not ready to go to the glue factory, how about you?

After The Peak

TotalFilm.com posted an article about George Lucas hinting at Indiana Jones 5, specifically how he is currently searching for the film’s MacGuffin (think Ark of the Covenant, magic rocks, the holy grail, and crystal skulls).

I would consider myself an avid Indiana Jones fan.  Raiders of the Lost Ark was an impressionable film growing up and for a time I wanted to be an archeologist until I realized archeology was nothing like the Indiana Jones films.  I learned about how disappointing reality can be compared to the magic of Hollywood thanks to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  I remember traveling to Petra, Jordan where a few scenes of Last Crusade were filmed.  Excited to see the facade of “The Treasury” and anxious to get inside to the cavernous interiors where “only the penitent man shall pass,” I climbed the stairs and entered a small, completely boxed-in room.  I guess I wasn’t penitent enough.

Fast forward through the disappointment which was Crystal Skull and ask the question:  What will you do after your career peaks?

A lot of film directors have peaked, Lucas being one of them, Spielberg another.  They changed the way movies were made early in their careers, but now they release movies that make audiences shake their collective heads and wonder, “They thought that was a good idea?”

In addition to really bad ideas, some directors hang onto their past work, not willing to let the films speak for themselves in the context of film history.  Okay George, we get it, you can make a movie from the 70’s look like every decade since.  Let it go buddy.  Star Wars is a good film.  It’s not perfect, but it was groundbreaking and cutting edge in the 70’s, and the fact that it singlehandedly influenced modern cinema should say something.

A lot of creative professionals start their careers hungry to change the world.  Some find success by experimenting, asking questions, and never letting the answers coax them into a career-oriented laziness.  Others find success and lose touch with reality over time as they believe the press clippings regarding the greatness of “__________.”

Everyone has the potential to be someone.  However, they also have the ability to know when enough is enough, hang up the towel, and try something new.

What are you going to do when your career peaks?  Will you look at what you have done and see how you can repurpose it for a new audience or will you search for something new that echoes deep within your soul?

Perhaps the MacGuffin eluding Lucas and Spielberg is retirement.