July 2012

pop culture&television31 Jul 2012 10:54 pm

Previously at theTRu. I decided to create master lists of pop culture media nuggets that have grabbed and held my attention. Like a variation on the game Scattergories, I’m picking one entry for each letter of the alphabet. And just to clarify, these are not intended to be thorough reviews or examinations of each item, just a quick mention of what it’s about and what I like about it.

I started with TV and we’ve already covered A-F in part one and G-P in part two. We’ll finish up today with Q-Z.

Q is for Quick Draw McGraw. Okay, to be fair, it’s been a long time since I watched an actual Quick Draw McGraw cartoon, but this serves as a placeholder for all the “classic” cartoons of my youth brought to my tv screen by the studios of Hanna-Barbera. Whether it was Quick Draw, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, Captain Caveman, Tom & Jerry, Yogi Bear, The Super Friends, or (the list goes on and on), this was when cartoons were cartoons and their humor wasn’t at the expense of respect or authority. These shows all pretty much hold up today.
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pop culture&television29 Jul 2012 11:10 pm

Previously at theTRu. . . I decided to create master lists of pop culture media nuggets that have grabbed and held my attention. Like a variation on the game Scattergories, I’m picking one entry for each letter of the alphabet. And just to clarify, these are not intended to be thorough reviews or examinations of each item, just a quick mention of what it’s about and what I like about it. I started with TV and today I’ll tackle G through P.

G is for Grimm. First things first. Yes, I do still watch Glee. It’s not my choice here, however, because it’s increasingly only for the songs and even the songs are starting to lose my interest. Now, onto Grimm. This is a bit more of a sci-fi show than I would typically gravitate towards, but the special effects (which can be pretty gruesome at times) and the clever fairy tale hooks keep me coming back. It’s also a great picture of man’s search for identity, significance, and purpose.
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business26 Jul 2012 11:24 pm

Not too long ago, I wrote about the decline of grammar in the office, based on a Wall Street Journal article and I promised to return and address what appeared to be a central argument against the adherence to grammatical standards. The WSJ article quoted a marketing VP as saying (essentially) that grammar is less important than sincerity and clarity. As if there’s really a tension between the two.

The point of using proper grammar is to reduce confusion and speak, not only intelligently, but also clearly. And what can be more sincere than spending the extra time on a document or email to make sure it best represents your message and your company? To me, informality (on some level) also indicates a lack of respect.

I can also see the point being made that grammatical gurus have a superiority complex and seem to be talking down to you, but I think even that is a sign of bad writing. No, proper grammar doesn’t automatically make for good writing, just correct writing. There is a difference and perhaps that will be another topic for another day.

For today, I want to bolster my argument for learning and using grammar in the workplace by looking to a Harvard Business Review blog post, in which the author explains why he won’t hire you if you can’t use proper grammar. Sure, it may seem logical if you’re hiring writers, but Wiens extends that “zero tolerance” policy to every position, citing (among other things) that people who don’t take the time to properly construct a sentence probably won’t pay attention to other details necessary for successfully completing their work duties. Other nuggets of wisdom from this post: “Good grammar makes good business sense,” “Good grammar is credibility,” and “your words . . . are a projection of you in your physical absence.”

Great advice and a great (quick) read from HBR. I highly recommend you give it a look. (PS. Bonus points if you understand the title of this post).

peace… love… bdg…

pop culture&television25 Jul 2012 11:09 pm

Here’s a goal I’ve never had before (sarcasm). I want to write more consistently and it starts here. I have begun work again on the redesign for the main site, but that’s still probably a ways off. So, until then, we’ll start right here with a series of posts called theTRu’s A to Z’s.

Basically, I’ll be selecting one piece of pop culture media that has my attention for each letter of the alphabet. These lists will eventually be living lists – updated periodically when something new takes over, but for a good baseline, I’ll plan lists for each of the main media forms of the day – TV, Movies, Music, Online, and Books. It’s a daunting task, but I’m going to take it one step at a time, and the first step is TV – A to F.

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Bookshelf22 Jul 2012 11:14 pm

Implosion by Joel C RosenbergI’ve never read a Joel C Rosenberg book before. My understanding is that they are typically novels that blend political and supernatural events to provide insights into the world of prophesy and its intersection with modern days. They are books that I always say I’m going to read, but somehow, in some way, I always end up getting sidetracked and haven’t yet gotten back around to reading them. I have a few of them, really, I do.

Anyway, when I heard about Implosion – which was apparently a long time ago – I was immediately interested because I recognized the knowledge and perspective an author like Rosenberg could bring to the table in a discussion of American politics and economics. Sure enough, Rosenberg lays out the current situation in no uncertain terms and provides a thorough, albeit bleak view of our nation’s current state of affairs and its outlook in the coming years. Convinced that we are indeed living in the “last days,” Rosenberg deftly weaves in threads of prophesy as expected and addresses questions that concern any number of politicians and people who call America their homeland.

And then, Rosenberg apparently empathizes with me and gets sidetracked. I won’t call it “bait and switch,” but the book takes a distinct topical turn and takes an entirely different tone. Implosion, a discussion of the woeful state of America’s economy, becomes an urgent call to repentance, renewal, and revival. Given it’s tangentially related as a recommended response to the current situation, boiling the “discussion” down into sermon-y soundbites is unexpected (at least from my perspective).

While I enjoy the historical journey through the First and Second Great Awakenings, I missed a critical analysis of fiscal policies that may or may not address the current economic crises. Though I appreciate the altar call and detailed list of steps to restore a right relationship with God, I expected… Actually, I don’t know what I expected, but by the end of the book, I had pretty much forgotten all about the financial crisis and the potential of an economic implosion and maybe that’s really the point of the book. Maybe it actually was a bait and switch after all. Maybe it’s okay.

peace… love… bdg…

Bookshelf&business&leadership17 Jul 2012 10:58 pm

Sherman – The Ruthless Victor by Agostino von Hassell
I’ve whole heartedly enjoyed the Generals series because each book has opened my eyes to the story of an heroic historical figure and detailed some practical and important leadership practices. And I’m honestly glad the editors included this entry in the series as well as it reveals the other side of leadership – one I’m far more familiar with.

Sherman was something of a scoundrel. One of those weaselly folks we all work with at some point in our lives who does everything they can to take credit for anything good that happens while disappearing completely when things go awry. Sherman did this at pretty much every turn of his career, military and otherwise. He failed time and time again in business and avoided military assignments he deemed destined for defeat. However, on the positive side, he did persist and he did eventually succeed. Unfortunately, even in his success, he failed as a leader – possibly because he was so determined to be loved by all and paranoid that he was hated by all. Despite his acumen for leadership, he chose to let his soldiers cross the line of humanity time and time again, justifying it as best he could.

Another great read from the series and another reminder that we need better History curriculum in schools.

peace… love… bdg…

business06 Jul 2012 09:20 pm

The Wall Street Journal recently discussed the growing lack of business writing skills in the office. Their Work and Life column, This Embarrasses You and I* by Sue Shellenbarger points out that about half of companies recognize this as a problem and are taking steps to address these concerns by adding training programs to their professional development plans. But in all honesty, does grammar matter anymore?

Obviously, as a writer, I think grammar and good writing is essential to a successful business practice. Good writing is essential to communicating and communication will make or break your organization. I’ve witnessed first hand how quickly a team can break down because its leader fails to communicate well. When job functions and goals are left to assumption, the adage about “assume” rings true. And that’s just internally.

If you factor in external, or client-related, matters, communication is even more important. Early in my professional career, I received some advice from a contractor that’s stuck with me through the years. If a client tells you they want a boat, it’s not enough. You need to find out what kind of boat – size, shape, intended use, etc. – before you begin the work. Vague, or simply poor, writing can make it impossible to get the job done right and satisfy your client’s needs. Likewise, you must be clear in your communications, so your client understands what to expect from you. This includes marketing materials, website content, contract proposals, written deliverables, and everything in between. If your writing isn’t professional, there’s no reason to believe your work will be either.

The remedy? Hire a writer. Self-serving, I know, but in all seriousness, it’s good to have a writer or two around the office to ensure consistency and professionalism of all your written materials. As an added bonus, some writers will even talk to the other team members and rub off on them over time. Expect more on this topic soon, as I want to tackle the issue of “sincerity” vs. “professional” – two qualities pitted against each other in the WSJ article under the guise of a generation gap.

Now I need to convince someone to hire this writer for their company.

peace… love… bdg…

Bookshelf03 Jul 2012 12:03 am

Viral by Leonard Sweet It might just be me, but sometimes, when I’m reading a book, I feel like reaching through the pages and throttling the author. Or, perhaps something less violent, like shouting my arguments and wrestling in a debate akin to one of the many sports talk shows I frequently watch. Such is how I feel when I read books like Viral.

It may be simply that Sweet comes across as arrogant by insisting to use words that cost significantly more than necessary. Or perhaps it’s less personal. Perhaps my angst is driven by the faulty premise I see over and over, one that is also derived from arrogance, in a sense. It seems the thesis of Viral rests on the foundation of believing that modern society has surpassed all of history’s previous generations in splendor and sophistication. It is the belief that our modern technology has avanced the human race is finally positioned to take its rightful place as sons and daughters of God. In truth, we’ve always been there.

Sweet posits that the current tools of the digital age have unlocked the power to spark a revival among the next generation, dubbed Googlers. Unfortunately, (rather, what was particularly bothersome to me) this belief leads Sweet to villainize Gutenbergers and ignore the faults of Googlers. Though Sweet offers some interesting potentials for Twitter, Facebook, and the like, he fails to fully address motives, intentions, and practicalities.

It’s a rather one-sided glimpse at what the future may hold. And, though it also seems short-sighted, it’s a provocative read, one that spurs on an inner debate dialogue, if you’re into that sort of thing.

peace… love… bdg…