Monday, January 23, 2006

"It Is What It Is"

Another “interesting thing” about me that I would like to add to the list below is that I am the singular human being that coined the phrase “it is what it is”.

Now the phrase has become so popular that you probably think I’m crazy. That may be true, but hear me out.

As I was negotiating a deal for a project in 2000 contract talks sort of stalled. All of the participants from my side came to me and questioned our tactics to no end. It was always we should do this or we should have done that. Rock, why are we here right now?

“It is what it is”

“What does that mean?”

“I said, it is what it is”.

And the point to all of these folks was that a certain situation or development can’t be ordinarily explained one way or another. Ok, the client is ill-informed. Their people do not understand what is really going on here. They are afraid. We are the big private company. It is an unknown. This is perfectly natural.

It is what it is.

And that means deal with it. Life and business is not simple – while everyone wants to adapt various equations to how things work, life is not science and neither is business. Sometimes you just have to have perseverance and/or an angle that ultimately works. But usually it just involves time and outlasting the other option. There is no single magic bullet. It is frankly just hard work and doing the best that you can. And if that can meet what the other party wants, you win – or live to play another day.

These same guys I worked this deal with swear to a man that they learned a lot from my “ism’s” for this project – another one was “keep working the deal” – the deal will never end unless you give up – anytime I speak to them now this always come up on how we won two marquis projects in the same year against much stellar opposition – because, frankly, we just “kept working the deal” and they now understand “it is what it is”. Seriously. And they are grown-ups.

Now I hear the phrase all of the friggin’ time:

Steve Smith, WRCarolina Panthers – “Why did you get smoked by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game?’

“It is what is is”

Kobe BryantGuard, LA Lakers, and accused rapist, – how did you score 81 points in one game?

“It is what it is”

Wha? Where are my props bro? And exactly how much did you pay off that poor chick in D-town?

To me, “it is what it is” is a mild form of “Be the Ball” from Chevy Chases’ character in Caddyshack. “ Danny, ….be the ball, Danny.” That is more of a directive in what to do in a situation as opposed to a state of nature – but it implies a situation that may not be very manageable – “Be the Ball”. Be what gets it done. Because, if it is that type of situation…

….it is what it is.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

For BrookeDudeChick

Five Weird things about Me (because BrookeDude tagged me you SoCal girrrrl).

1) I have the uncanny ability to figure out which celebrity you are realted to, if you are related to a celebrity, even if your vague clues are clueless - ANWHERE ANYTIME. So , if you are related to somebody please send me your cloudy clues ASAP. By the way Cheech rules - who we discovered last week is related to our friend BrookeDude. But check in on Brooke here. We are all thinking about you.

2) Ever since I reached adulthood, people have told me I look like Tom Hanks – or somebody’s brother – I get the latter all of the time. People actually rush up to me at the airport and go “hey what’ s going on?” and its like “I’m sorry I don’t know who the hell you are”. Just this week in Fresno – “Hey dude, don’t I know you” “No man, but I get that all of the time”. I am EVERYMAN. Fairly weird. Regarding my buddy Tom Hanks – at one company I worked for, every time I got in an elevator with one Vice President he used to go on and on about how I looked like Tom. All day long. Now we do share similarities – bad fluffy hair, small but piercing eyes and expressive faces. I think I have a bit more swarthiness in me but I do have fun in seeing how we may still look alike as we age – and it is sort of true. But I don’t get the Tom thing as much anymore – but I am very familiar somehow to a whole broad range of people in very public places – for some weird cosmic reason.

3) I have a bit of “compulsiveness” about me – and I’ m not sure this is the right term. But as a kid my parents used to drag me around to open houses and when I sauntered through one I would find myself compelled to, like, touch all of the walls of a certain closet because I thought I had to. What is that? Does anybody else feel that? I sort of willed that away as a kid as, stupid finally, but now when leaving on business trips I sometimes find myself coming back to this house after driving away to check on the stove or a window et al. And when leaving with Deb for a movie or something I do leave her waiting by the car for more time then she would like as I’m checking on things. It’s not near as anything as when I was a kid – but I find myself “over checking” myself a number of times.

4) I have a bit of an oral fixation. This was a fun term to use on girls in college – and anyway you look at it I am fairly oral – but it used to be wads of bubblegum as a kid and then as I worked in restaurant it translated to toothpicks. I need a supply all of the time and I can categorically now tell you the consistency of any toothpick in the land. Old girlfriends and others knew how I have may have been thinking about them if I included a toothpick or two in a letter. And Deborah knows where to get one at anytime.

5) I am such a girl when it relates to celebrity’s gossip and Golden Globes and all of that stuff – love E!People magazine is a staple for me on a plane instead of the Wall Street Journal – I am a media whore and the best that you will see. The Oscars in our house is just like the Super Bowl. Must have been because my parents watched them as well and I can still remember hearing “Rod Steiger – In the Heat of the Night”. Now as a ten year old I have no fucking idea what this means but it seemed damned exciting – and this has translated over the years as something special.

Love the Red Carpet, y’all.

Get well Brooke – we miss you and your wit.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Insert Your Blonde Joke Here

This picture has been going the rounds - the Texas Longhorns score in the Rose Bowl and a USC cheerleader does what she has been trained to do - she cheers - only its for the wrong team. See how the other cheerleaders react to her?

Now I'm sorry for the cheap blonde joke. The reality is I have always been attracted to the petite brunette types all of my life but the girls I have really seriously dated (and currently live with) have all been blondes. So go figure.

What does that mean?

(Five wierd things about me coming up Brookedude)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Boss - and an IPOD Rush

So why does somebody post a 30-year old rock ballad/anthem with Dickensonian lyrics in the wee hours of Friday night/Saturday morning when he's really supposed to be funny and entertaining? Well, its because 1) its my favorite time of the week, 2) I've always been a Springsteen fan for as long as I can remember, and 3) I was on a roll with the IPOD that night.

IPOD owners may know what I'm talking about. Now, at best, I'm forty-ish, which means I grew up with the great big headphones and the wall of sound we called a stero system. When one wanted to get his groove on this primarily required standing before a cabinet of black metal, chrome and lights with headphones the size of desert saucers connected by a black umbilical cord that seemed to get caught into everything and was always kinked up and non-cooperative. Frankly thinking back it always seemed like I was on some great moonwalk or outside the space shuttle trying to fix a styrofoam tile. You're sort of disconnected from reality - and looked sort of goofy as well. And of course you could only really play what was on the album, eight-track, cassette tape, cd et al. Not much a random field here. So you always chose what you heard. That was fine and we liked it anyway.

Along comes the IPOD. Lightweight, comfy and transportable. Now when the need for speed hits me I can be standing in the kitchen, outside in the backyard or out in the streets chasing after the garbage trucks. I am autonomous. So that, in itself, is gold.

But what I really like is the shuffle feature - and I always have it on constant shuffle - so I'm going from Dylan to Aimee Mann to Stevie Ray to Kiss to whatever..... but I have also uploaded full albums and sometimes you find your self just flipping through tunes trying to find something that hits you - even over songs you really like because it just doesn't fit the moment.

But I was on a roll the other night where everything was just gold, and maybe from another time and place, and that's when Jungleland hit me - one of Bruce's charismatic urban melodrama's played above the clean lines of the E-Street Band - that builds and builds with gritty emotion - and then when he suddenly drops it down to a song break of starkness and sadness you can almost swear you can feel the windgusts of a cold Jersey night. This was of course off the Born to Run album released in '74/75 when it all really started. I must have listened to that song 10 times that night.

You see as much as I have been a huge fan, and as many times Bruce's words and music reflected alot of what was going on in my life - and kept me on the brink of sanity (like when I was working in Saudi Arabia in '85 and Born in the USA was one of a few things I clung to for Western sustenance) - I was fairly bummed about his visible participation in the last election. Without getting into politics and hyperbole, you just don't want to see "your" guy up there standing in front of those throngs in Madison, Wisconsin a week before the election with some guy from Massachusetts. If you want to do Live Aid concerts, great- you want to feed the world, great - but don't campaign for specific people - unless its for your church board. You're bound to piss half your fans off. And they won't reach for your music as quickly as before...the bloom fades - nah, it just pales.

But last Friday - with the aid of the IPOD - it was like playing that album in my bedroom as a 17-year old all over again . And a bunch of times later.

It was like old times.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tonight in Jungleland

"The rangers had a homecoming in Harlem late last night
And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine over the Jersey state line
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The Rat pulls into town rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down Flamingo Lane
Well the Maximum Lawman run down Flamingo chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl
And the kids round here look just like shadows always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand
Down in Jungleland

The midnight gang's assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night
They'll meet 'neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light
Man there's an opera out on the Turnpike
There's a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops, Cherry Tops, rips this holy night
The street's alive as secret debts are paid
Contacts made, they vanished unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted explode into rock'n'roll bands
That face off against each other out in the street
Down in Jungleland

In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the D.J. plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners
Desperate as the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and they're gone

Beneath the city two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender in a bedroom locked
In whispers of soft refusal and then surrender in the tunnels uptown
The Rat's own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the street's on fire in a real death waltz
Between flesh and what's fantasy and the poets down here
Don't write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead

Tonight in Jungleland "

-- Bruce Springsteen (if you didn't know already)

Don't tell me you're not running for your albums right now......

(can somebody tell me how to put music to this!)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Vince Young is a Freak"

Or so says USC quarterback Matt Leinart after last night's stunning loss to the Texas Longhorns (and their freakish QB) in the Rose Bowl. His quote after the game was something like "well I still think we're the better team but when you have a freakish player like that....". Vince Young did what he did in last years Rose Bowl which is to run through defenses like they are macaroni (hold the cheese).

Frankly USC should have put a stranglehold on the game early on but they were a bit too arrogant and jacked up and made critical mistakes - forsaking an early gimme field goal by going for it on 4th and 1 (first quarter) and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush's brainheaded move in trying to lateral the ball on Texas' 20 after he made an exhilerating backbreaking 35 - yard run. The MO was clearly theirs and they could have run all of the Longhorn fans out of the stadium by halftime - but they squandered it and let Vince Young and UT back in it to give them a chance in the end. In case you are living on another planet Texas won with 20 seconds left in the game on a 15-yard run on 4th and 5 by , yes, the freak. 41- 38. Sure would like that field goal right about now.

I, of course , am now incurring the wrath of all of my Texas friends who CAN'T BELIEVE I would root for USC against them. As I try to explain - while USC lost the National Championship last night, LA just lost their Super Bowl.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It Never Rains in Southern California

Actually it never really does - this is a picture from Napa (or NoCal) this week - you know - the wine country. I sat next to two nice older couples (old Ags) on the plane ride home, who were going on to Napa for an adventure in wine-tasting. I'm sure they are finding the local varietals a bit too, er, wet to their taste.

But it really doesn't ever rain in SoCal - such that when we really do get a storm, as defined by most people with a Webster's, then it really causes a conondrum for the neighborhood. Which is why everyone yesterday could say with such authority "this is the first Rose Bowl Parade that has ever had rain in the last 50 years". Unbelievable really. That's a parade-goer right there below. Must be a Longhorn fan - good for him - and look at all of his buddies (it will be like that after the game tommorrow, too). We went to the parade two years ago - thank god we picked a dry year.

When I moved out here in late'97 LA had El Nino (I still think of Chris Farley on SNL portraying El Nino: "What does El Nino mean?" "Uh, it means uh 'the...uh...Nino!") and it rained pretty good through January and February. Well being from SoTex (Southern Texas) this was pretty normal - I remember spending full months of March sloshing around from class-to-class in college.

But for SoCal this was an anomoly. The next five years - no rain. And when a sprinkle might be on the horizon the weathercasters would warn of a "storm". No, not a real storm - you might see a cloud in the sky - but not a drop of precipitation. Us out of towners would have to learn real quick that when they sometimes freaked you out like that on TV that it really was bidness. Steve Martin had it right.

Really what you have to watch out for are the quakes and fires. And you see the fires come from this cyclical nature of no rain - it rains once a year and then brush grows because of it and then it doesn't rain for 350 more days and it burns up. And then when it rains everyone goes oh that's great but it just means more brush will grow to dry out and burn baby burn - that is called the Southern California Hydrologic Cycle. And then if it doesn't burn it will slide.

But I'm okay, we're high on a paved hill and on rock foundation. Our biggest fear are Jehovah Witnesses. Knock on wood.