Find diversity in your writing

A few months ago I had the distinct privilege and pleasure of speaking about the subject of writing (and politics) with Professor Caroline Heldman’s Elections and Campaign class at Occidental College. While I clearly expected the discussion to be centered around politics, especially the campaign process, I didn’t expect that the students would have such an interest in the art of writing. They peppered me with questions about the craft of writing during and after my presentation. It was a real gratifying experience for me, interacting with such eager and passionate minds. I was extremely pleased to see that these college students were interested in the art of writing and how they might utilize the written word to express themselves and do something productive and positive with their lives.

Professor Heldman’s class is focused on being an agent of change in the world, and how everyone can make a difference with the choices that they make. It is refreshing to see that a teacher like Professor Heldman is educating college minds about the potential of being an advocate for social change and a combatant against injustice in the world. She understands that a sea change can develop and evolve when a single individual decides to improve the world by being an agent for change. It doesn’t matter what the cause is, as long as it is aimed at fighting inequality and social injustice. At the very least one’s interests should be geared toward trying to make the world a better place.

This brings me to the subject of diversity in writing. I think as a writer you should strive for variety in the subject matter of your writing. It doesn’t matter what your interests are, as long as you have some to write about. If you’re a political, creative and business minded individual like me then you will appreciate this discussion. I started out writing short stories when I was younger from pure imagination. As I grew older I started to understand the value of writing about something of substance. I think that happened to me when I began working in the broadcast news business.

Find value in writing about different subjects. Believe me everything you learn will serve to inform, or educate you, making you a much more evolved writer.

Recently, I contributed some movie news articles to Examiner.com. You can find them here.

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Kraft gave me Super Bowl Ring too!

Cash, Kraft & BLING

In light of the recent news that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin allegedly took Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl ring I thought I’d share my own Kraft/Ring story with you. It involves my encounter with the Patriots owner in Las Vegas some years ago. See, I met Kraft at the Stardust hotel after seeing Don Rickles’ show. It was seemingly the unlikeliest of introductions with the affable, extremely hospitable Patriots owner.

To provide some back-story, and context, I was in Vegas for a friend’s bachelor party. The best man was John Stamos, so the weekend was his creation, and had the feeling of an episode straight out of the hit TV series Entourage. It was a good time, filled with gambling, drinking and clubbing. Maybe looking back on it now, I should have been expecting the unexpected, like meeting Mr. Kraft. In fact, the weekend turned into my ultimate Patriots experience. I’ll explain….

As part of our scheduled entertainment, Stamos arranged for us to go see Don Rickles’ comedy act at the Stardust. It was a great show. Rickles was on his game and hilarious. At the conclusion of the show, Rickles addressed the audience, thanking certain notable individuals for coming. And, to my complete surprise one of the people he thanked was Robert Kraft, who was there with his wife, Myra. In fact, Kraft was seated in the booth right next to ours. All of my friends knew that I was a Patriots fanatic, and nudged me to go say hello. However, as I started toward Kraft, I was informed that we were heading backstage so that Stamos could say hello, and introduce us to Rickles.

A few minutes later, while we waited outside Rickles’ dressing room, Kraft arrived with Myra in tow. So, of course I approached him. I told him I was from Massachusetts and a big fan of the team. He and his wife were very nice. The Krafts and I spoke for a minute, mostly about the team. Then Mr. Kraft told me that he had to go visit Don Rickles in his dressing room and would speak with me later. I thought he was politely giving me the brush off and I would never see him again.

A short time later, we were ushered into Rickles’ dressing room. We went through the pleasantries with Rickles. We took a few pictures. Rickles was very accommodating. Moments later, Kraft approached me, holding out his fisted hand. At the time, I didn’t even know that Kraft was still in Rickles’ dressing room. Kraft was grinning proudly as he held out his hand. I didn’t know what to do. So, I opened my hand. That was when he gently deposited his shiny Super Bowl ring into my hand. BLING!!!!! My jaw dropped. Wow!

I stared at the ring in utter disbelief. When I came to my senses, I slid the ring onto my finger. My friends snapped pictures. One of them is included in this blog. The ring is an awesome piece of artwork. It was heavy, big and really shiny. Can you say “BLING”!!! My friends and I stood there admiring its luster. After our curiosity subsided, I looked around for Kraft, but he had completely disappeared. I think he had stepped away to chat with someone. But I had no idea where he was. So, I just stood there wearing the Patriots’ owner’s Super Bowl ring. It was pretty cool. Then it struck me… Had Kraft gifted me the ring? Did he want it back? I was secretly hoping that he didn’t want it back. I mean he was gone, and the ‘BLING’ was in my possession. I asked my friends if I was supposed to keep it. They didn’t know. They joked that Kraft had gifted me the ring. I wanted to believe it. And, so, there I stood, perplexed by Kraft’s extremely generous gesture. I mean, just trying the ring on was a really cool experience.

Unfortunately, ( I say unfortunately because I secretly hoped as anyone would that I was being gifted the ring.) Kraft finally reappeared and retrieved his ring. No. I wasn’t going to pull a Putin and keep it. I was happy for my fifteen minutes with his prized possession. Btw, it fit my finger really nicely. :)  After some more conversation about the Patriots, Mr. Kraft and I parted ways. I thanked him for letting me try on his ring. We shook hands, and he smiled, and disappeared with his wife into the night.

You would have thought that this would have been the highlight of my evening, right? Guess what? Not even close. A few hours later, we went to the club Tao at the Venetian, and that’s where I met Tom Brady. That’s right. I met Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. Actually, he introduced himself to me. Crazy, right? I know. It was like some Patriots fantasy come to life. I not only got to wear the Super Bowl ring, but I got to meet the man who was the architect behind winning that esteemed ring. What prompted Brady to say hello to me? Apparently, someone in our party had learned that Kraft and Brady were in a private room in the club and notified them of my fanaticism for the team.

Meeting Brady was like something out of a daydream. I was standing at our private area near the dance floor and Brady appeared out of the artificial fog, stuck out his hand and said hello. It totally caught me off guard. I think I was practically speechless. My friends were in shock as well. There we were… Brady and me chatting by the dance floor. At least I think we were chatting, because I felt like I was at a loss for words. I was so off kilter that I forget to ask someone to take a picture. Brady and I spoke for several minutes. I told him that I had met Kraft, and got to wear the ring. Then Brady politely excused himself, turned around, took a step and literally disappeared back into the fog.

So that’s my Patriots story. It was quite a night, and quite an experience. It’s certainly an experience that I will never forget.

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The Great Gatsby

great_gatsby

Writer/Director Baz Luhrmann’s captivating rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby takes you on a ride and never let’s go. It is quite simply a beautiful cinematic picture. I saw it in 3D and the story just popped off of the screen right into my lap. While I prefer the 1974 Robert Redford version written by Francis Ford Coppola, which was filmed in Newport, Rhode Island, this latest incarnation was very well done. A small caveat is that Luhrmann’s adaptation is slightly more style over substance. What the picture lacks in story narrative it most capably makes up for with dazzling cinematography by Simon Duggan. It is a vibrant, brilliantly photographed portrayal, yet highly stylized version of Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece.

While this isn’t necessarily a negative and I thoroughly enjoyed the picture, I thought that Luhrmann was a little heavy handed with his stylistic approach. You sometimes forget the main thrust of this romantic love story because you’re so caught up by the vivid colors and non-stop action bursting and exploding all over the screen. However this also serves to keep the picture from being weighed down by the heavy dramatic moments. After all this is a serious tale about hope, love and loss. Yet, this is a dangerous pitfall that Luhrmann sidesteps masterfully. His practically perfect pacing and attention to detail is superb, right down to the iconic 1920’s costumes altered from the Prada and Miu Miu fashion archives.

Some of my favorite moments were the accurate depiction of the period; the flamboyant Jazz Age, fancy cars, lavish parties, elaborate costumes, ornate and extravagant estates and bleak looking undeveloped geography. Luhrmann does an adequate job of luring us into the story and taking us back in time. That being said I also felt that the Special Effects and CGI made the real ‘imaginary’ world melt away at times and transform into a surreal plastic landscape rendering it as artificial and unbelievable. The original picture kept its drama anchored and rooted within a genuine and realistic context which made the story seem more authentic.

All of the actors seemed to hit their marks with credible and well crafted performances.   Leonardo DiCaprio stepped nicely into Jay Gatsby’s shoes, bringing a compelling intensity to the role. Tobey Maguire was also very good as Nick Carraway. Carey Mulligan brought a subtle sensitivity and was perfectly suited for the Daisy Buchanan role. And I thought that Joel Edgerton had a scene stealing turn as the arrogant Tom Buchanan.

I highly recommend Luhrmann’s Gatsby. It is an entertaining dramatic thrill ride worthy of the price of admission, even in its steeper priced 3D version. I think that Fitzgerald would have enjoyed this adaptation. I would suggest seeing this in the theater rather than waiting for it to come to DVD, PPV or cable. The scope and breadth of this period piece is well worth seeing on the big screen. You can find Baz Luhrmann’s narrated ‘Anatomy of a Scene’ here.

Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures.

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Do You Love Your Smartphone?

Galaxy S4 vs. iPhone 5

Who doesn’t love their smartphone, right? Although, did you know that 9% of all Americans don’t even own a cell-phone. Hard to believe, huh? But it’s
true, according to a Pew Research Center survey. I write about that new survey, as well as other tech/gadget devices as a contributing writer to Examiner.com. If you’re into learning a few things about technology, and the tech world, then feel free to check out the following articles I’ve written:

You can learn more about the top dogs in the smartphone arena, where I pit the Samsung Galaxy S4 against the iPhone 5.

And, if you’re looking for a good, long-life battery case for your smartphone see my article on the mophie.

 

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