Monday, January 16, 2017

Welcome to Kakistocrastan




I learned a new word today reading Paul Krugman's Op-Ed in the New York Times about the war of words currently taking place in social media and traditional media between Georgia's Representative from Atlanta, John Lewis, and our PEOTUS, Donald Trump. The word is: kakistocracy.

Here's the word kakistocracy used in a sentence by poet James Russell Lowell, who wrote in 1876: “Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Finna-lly


No that's not a typo.

I learned a new word today. Finna. It struck me as an appropriate word to write about on my Fighting Finn(a) blog. It's a slang term that apparently the young people are using these days. It's the equivalent of "gonna." As in, I'm finna avoid my work by learning youthful slang terms and then blogging about them. 

Or as my Granny Helen used to say, "I'm fixin' to..." This is an expression that also means "gonna," and in Granny's Helen's case might be followed by: "I'm fixin' to go out to the barn" to "I'm fixin' to feed the chickens" or "I'm fixin' to make some chocolate pudding." 

I learned this term by climbing down a rabbit hole that somehow led me to a YouTube channel hosted by Olivia Jade, the daughter of  Lori Loughlin who played Aunt Becky on the 1908's sitcom Full House. Probably the most famous Becky other than Becky with the Good Hair from Queen Bey. 

Or me. 

Happy 2017!

 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Things We Do for Love

When our son was a little boy, we took him to New York City's famed FAO Schwartz toy store. We would go there many times over the years until Will's interests turned to gaming and electronics that were scarce at FAO Schwartz. 

On our first trip, we bought him a remote control airplane. He was so excited about it. We took it immediately to Central Park where we planned to fly and fly it until we needed to head back home. As is often the case in life, things didn't go according to plan. On its maiden voyage, the plane flew into an immense evergreen in the park and came firmly to rest in the tree's branches. 

Will was distraught. His beloved plane just sitting up there taunting him. My husband started throwing things up in the air to try and dislodge it, but the plane was really stuck. We came to the conclusion that one of us should climb the tree and try to shake it loose. The tree was one of those good climbing trees with loads of branches evenly spaced. How hard could it be?

I tried helping my husband up to the first limb but he was too heavy. It would have to be me. Me and my black patent leather shoes were going to climb that tree. With my husband's help, I made it easily to the lowest branch. Once inside the giant tree, I actually felt pretty safe. Branches were everywhere, leaves were everywhere. How could I fall?

I shimmied up that tree and shook the branches until the plane was freed and fell to the ground. Well done me, pat on the back -- until I looked down. 

My husband and I are both pretty terrified of heights. We're the people clinging to the inner edge of the Empire State Building Observation deck saying, "I'm good. I don't need to see it."

As I sat there probably three stories up in that tree, I thought the same thing. I'm good. I'll just stay here. But of course, I couldn't. It's a strange thing adrenaline. The overwhelming feeling that pushes you as a parent to do crazy things for your kids. 

I think my husband started to realize what was happening because he was talking to me like a hostage negotiator, calmly yet firmly reminding me that I needed to get down from that tree. Like most things in life related to fear, it's that first step of letting go that's the hardest, like learning to back dive when you're a kid. That's scary stuff. 

I climbed back down that tree by looking up. It's the only way I could make it. I listened to my husband and son on the ground and I climbed back down that tree at the pace of a giant sloth. I felt my way onto branches, stopped frequently and still considered from time to time that possibly the fire department might show up and rescue me.  Dear FDNY can't you hear my silent distress call?

That was really a proud moment for me as a parent. I did it! I climbed that freaking tree.

NB: Much later in life I would agree to go ziplining through the trees in Mexico with a guy named Loco in charge of securing our harnesses. He was missing part of his ear. But that's another story for another day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Will, You Are Surrounded by Music




If I think about how fast I'm moving through life, not a second to think, not a second to reflect - it really should give me pause. One nice thing about sending my only kid to college is I suddenly have some time to reflect. Of course, I've filled that time with more stuff to do like house painting, weeding, cleaning and laundry. But every once in awhile, something strikes me as being sort of unbelievable, that I never saw a connection when there were so many connections to see. Like the role music has played in Will's life.

Our son Will was born with magnificent hair. Truly, it was a sight to see. Beautiful, thick black hair that his nurse immediately parted to one side. My brother nicknamed him "Tiny Elvis," a name that's stuck with him to this day.  It was a reference of course to Elvis Presley's famous pompadour, but Elvis was also a heckuva singer.

When Will started preschool at this crunchy Raleigh Montessori school, there was a young hippie dude named Chris who would sing and play guitar with the kids. Will loved Chris. One day, Chris pulled Rod and I aside and said, "I think Will has perfect pitch." He meant Will sings in perfect pitch. Only 3 or 4 at the time, I thought, "I think you might be hitting the reefer a little too hard there, Chris." I can tell you that I completely forgot about the conversation until much later in Will's life when when I saw him get up on his middle school stage and sing and play the guitar for the first time in public. 

Really, it was shocking. I tell this story all the time. When Will asked me what I thought about singing by himself in the 9th grade talent show, I honestly thought it would be the equivalent of middle school suicide. I was picturing the absolute worst, my usual MO for pretty much anything that involves change or risk or courage. 

But Will has great courage. He's not afraid of risk. He taught himself a song on his guitar, practiced his vocals, put on jeans and a pressed white shirt, and got on stage. It was silent. And then he played - Crashed by Chris Daughtry. And he was AMAZING! I couldn't believe the kid making that sound was my kid. The crowd went wild. The girls were screaming. It was one of the best moment's of many I've been lucky enough to share with Will and family. 

There were other signs all along of the music that surrounded Will. When he was a baby, we randomly spotted singer Marcia Ball in a Raleigh bagel store and got her to autograph a napkin of all things for him. We framed it and put it in his baby room. 

As a toddler, he was obsessed with singers Patty Griffin and Susan Tedeschi. I would play their music and he would sit in his car seat saying, "Again!" I heard Rock Me Right so many times, I thought I'd never want to hear that song again. Thank goodness it was Susan Tedeschi and Patty Griffin I had to hear over and over. Will sang and sang all the time. It was reassuring as got older and his door was always closed. I could hear him singing and know he was alright.

My dad and his wife took us to New York on several occasions and there we stayed in the swanky Peninsula Hotel. Alanis Morissette was standing in the lobby one time, spotted Will and started making baby talk and waving to him. We had a brush with Natalie Cole there and rode the elevator one time with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. "Aren't you Yo-Yo Ma?" I asked. About Will he said, "I am. But more importantly who is this young man?" And he shook Will's hand. 

Some time after Will left for college, I went through his baby book. In it, I found his horoscope from the day he was born, May 24, 1998. The first line reads, "You have unusual voice, sense of drama, ability to solve problems belonging to others." More signs of music, celestial signs now. 

My mom plays piano. My husband sings, my dad sings, even my brother and I can carry a tune.  My brother's wife, her dad is a big band leader - the Sammy Kaye orchestra. Her sister is a singer. Music is everywhere in Will's life.

I don't know how I missed all these connections to Will and music. Now that's he's studying music at Loyola, it all makes perfect sense. When Will started taking guitar here in Fairfield, his first teacher was this serious guitar player Al Ferrante who had previously played with people like Edgar Winter. He also taught John Mayer as a young man. 

John Mayer's official bios refer to Bridgeport as his hometown and I'm sure that's where he was born because Bridgeport Hospital is very near our home. But he actually grew up on the mean streets of Fairfield, CT where we live now. He studied guitar and went to what is now Warde High School, then music greatness. I'm hoping Will can really make it in music, like John Mayer make it -- with possibly less womanizing. 

Here's Will knocking it out of the park in middle school

NB: I remember what prompted this blog now. I was rummaging around in the basement and I found a woodcut my husband did in design school. It was the image of Wynton Marsalis. Kind of a weird coincidence don't you think? He grew up in North Carolina but decided to do a woodcut of a famous New Orleans musician over 30 years ago and now his son is becoming a musician in New Orleans. Weird. Cool weird. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Disney And Matricide: A Change of Heart?


My husband and I saw Queen of Katwe this past weekend and it's a departure from typical Disney films in a major way - the mother doesn't die, or isn't already dead or missing. As a young mom growing up watching Disney films with my son, I kept wondering why do all the moms die in Disney films? I mean it's everywhere. From Bambi to Finding Nemo -- a story arc that spans decades. 

Queen of Katwe is a Disney formula departure, but it's almost too much. First of all, the lead character Phiona's mother is played by the amazingly beautiful and probably too young to be Phiona's mother, Lupita Nyong’o. Then Nyong’o comes across as an overly tough single mom of four children with little confidence in Phiona's chess game as a way to transform their family. Phiona's chess coach played by David Oyelowo really plays more of a parental figure while her mother's character is focused on the day-to-day survival needs of her children. 

In Disney's favor, Phiona's mother lives until the end of the film and is paid her due by her children, her daughter's chess coach, and her community. It feels pretty forced but I'll take it over the typical  dead mother storyline Disney has used all too often.  

I'm always a proponent of a girl power film and this is one of them. Getting better Disney. 




 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rosé Is the New Kale


Twice this week, rosé has been the wine of choice at events I attended, and it made me think, "How did rosé become the new kale?" There was a time when pink wine was considered laughable, made by Sutter Home or the one in the box. But in 2016, rosé is no laughing matter. 

Take for example, this recent rosé story that appeared in Vanity Fair which claims rosé really took off in in the Hamptons about 3 years ago, where it is now known as "Hamptons Gatorade." Others blame social media for rosé's insane rise to fame. Or Miraval, the winery co-owned by Brangelina -- the former Mr. and Mrs. Brad Pitt. Whatever the reason, rosé is the toast of the town and according to Forbes, USA Today, and UK's The Guardian its popularity knows no bounds. Here's an interesting quote from a rosé detractor responding to recent news,  
"Or maybe it’s this article from The Guardian that revealed that rosé sales in the UK have doubled, doubled in the last year, mostly through sales of a kind of rosé slushie called frosé. First of all, if a wine trend is driven by slushie sales, that’s a red flag. Also, these are British people—they’re supposed to know better."

The question in my marketer's mind is how does something like a wine varietal or say a common leafy green like kale become the hottest product on the market? It's the concept of The Tipping Point put forth by Malcolm Gladwell in his original bestseller.  Even  Malcolm Gladwell was at one point the darling of the literary world -- the rosé of storytelling for marketers like me. 

This is a subject matter I'm going to be exploring more in depth because I think there's something fascinating about it and most of me thinks it has absolutely nothing to do with marketing skill or dollars. Mostly, it seems to be about blind luck. But I could be wrong. 

Perhaps it was the work of astute rosé winemakers in Provence banding together in a secret pact to push their wines to meteoric fame. Or the brosé movement. Surely you've heard of this?

"Last month, Details magazine observed that more male drinkers were 'pounding pink. Rosé is kind of like online dating,' Sam Daly, an actor, told the magazine. 'What was once a faux pas has become the norm. It's become universally accepted among men and women. It's kind of like the beer of wine.'" 
Like the beer of wine. Now we're getting somewhere. Kale must be the iceberg lettuce of greens. And quinoa is the white rice of weird starch substitutes from the Andes. 

I'll keep you posted. And enjoy a glass of rosé as summer comes to a close. 

NB: A long time ago, I worked in a newsroom with Malcolm Gladwell. He honestly looked like a junior Republican in the making with short cropped hair wearing blue blazers everyday.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Go Pokémon Go


I see them everywhere now. Young people roaming the streets like zombies trying to catch a Pokémon. I had this long conversation with my hair stylist about how you play. She explained PokéStops/Gyms to me and why so many people are wandering around aimlessly waving their phones in the air. Why they stand on street corners turning in circles looking for paw prints. 

I've never played the game, haven't downloaded the app. I like the idea of kids getting outside -- that's almost revolutionary thinking for gaming company Niantic. It feels like an old-school scavenger hunt with virtual creatures overlaid on the real outdoors. 

I know there have already been some stupid and tragic events that resulted from playing Pokémon Go. On the stupid front, two adults broke into the Toledo Zoo in the middle of the night and were later arrested. On the tragic front, Pokémon Go players are being robbed or worse of their expensive phones while out at night playing the game. 

A group of my son's friends have been going out at night in Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport to play Pokémon Go. I've been in Mountain Grove on my own during the day, and while beautiful, it's also a bit scary. Like "no one can hear your screams" scary. 

In two weeks, our son leaves for college at Loyola New Orleans. I told him, "Listen Will you need to be careful in New Orleans if you're playing that game. You can get in trouble quickly in a place like New Orleans."

He nodded his head as if in agreement. Then he said, referring to himself and another friend headed to Tulane as a freshman, "Me and George are going to Pokémon the shit out of New Orleans."

Great.  Another relaxing thought for me as Will heads to Loyola NOLA in the fall. Pikachu that!