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Showing posts from November 27, 2011

Communicating the Brand -- Writer's Poke #344

I first became a fan of KISS in 1987. I was 14, and Paul Stanley was 35. That year, KISS actually received a fair amount of video airplay on MTV, but I have to admit that Stanley seemed old.
Mariah Carey released her first record in 1990 at the age of 20; she is a few years older than I am, but I never viewed her as “old” in the same way that I viewed Stanley as old. Not until I viewed her new video with Justin Bieber.
The “All I Want for Christmas” duet with Bieber is a remake of Carey’s 1994 Christmas release. It’s not unusual for artists to pair-up, and the song has some respectability as a contemporary Christmas classic. But why does the now 41 year-old Mariah Carey want to sing a duet with 17 year-old Justin Bieber?
Bieber is the butt of many jokes, but somebody is listening to his music; and somebody is helping to make him rich. Carey may suffer from Peter Pan Syndrome (I will never grow old), or perhaps she recognizes that Millennials view her much like I viewed Paul Stanley, and …

Ends of the Earth -- Destination #8: Vladivostok, Russia

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit.
What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comment. 

Destination #8: Vladivostok, Russia
Something attracts me to the idea of visiting places where nobody else goes. I’m sure many Americans go to the places I’m mentioning on my Ends of the Earth Top 10 list, but I don’t personally know anyone that has visited Barrow, Alaska, for instance; and I only know three people that have visited South Africa. These places aren’t impossible to visit, but people generally need a very specific reason – or a very passionate drive – to visit them.
Just to name a specific place, I’ve selected Vladivostok, but more generally, I could simply say “Siberia.” When I read Colin Thubron’s In Siberia, I become fascinated with the idea of visiting what I had always imagined to be a vast snow-covered wasteland. Siberia is not a wasteland, of course. Well, not completely, but it is vast…

A Meaningful Life Philosophy: Sponsored By… -- Writer’s Poke #343

Gary Ruskin and Juliet Schor’s “Every Nook and Cranny: The Dangerous Spread of Commercialized Culture” points out an interesting survey result. “In 2003,” they write, “the annual UCLA survey of incoming college freshman found that the number of students who said it was a very important or essential life goal to ‘develop a meaningful philosophy of life’ fell to an all-time low of 39 percent, while succeeding financially has increased to a 13-year high, at 74 percent.”

Why the disconnect here? Couldn’t “succeeding financially” be a “meaningful” reason for being? Apparently not, or at least UCLA students don’t recognize it as such.

So, we live to make money. Money itself has no value except for what it can buy. And what do we want to buy? Cars? Clothes? Electronics and Toys? A nice house? In other words, stuff. I like stuff, you like stuff, and we’ll work long and hard to earn enough money to buy the stuff we want. The secret “they” never tell you is this: Buying stuff is a no-win prop…

Ends of the Earth -- Destination #9: Barrow, Alaska

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit.

What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comment. 

Destination #9 -- Barrow, Alaska

All I know about Barrow, Alaska, I learned from watching the zombie flick 30 Days of Night. In other words, I know nothing about Barrow, Alaska.
Barrow is the northern-most city in North America, and its main claim-to-fame may be that it’s the biggest city in the National Petroleum Reserve.  As far as I can tell, the city has never been attacked by zombies, but polar bears have been known to drop by for unexpected visits.
Current population is 4,000, and apparently folks have been calling Barrow and the immediate area home for the past 1,000 years. This amazes me, as there were probably countless other places that people could have homesteaded back then, and yet out of all the places in the world, they selected Barrow? Amazing. Did these people cross the Bering Strait and j…

Ends of the Earth -- Destination #10: South Africa

The Earth is more or less a big, blue ball, and balls don't have ends.

Nevertheless, we speak of the "ends of the Earth," and when we in the West speak of the "center," we're usually not referring to the Earth's core. The United States, after all, is "the most important country on Earth." Everywhere else is only important in terms of its "distance" (physically and otherwise) away from us. (I don't actually think the U.S. is the center of the world.)

I have a special love for the ends of the Earth; in my imagination at least, I picture worlds much different from the one I live in; sometimes I hope I never have the chance to visit any of them, because I don't want to be disappointed to find out that "there" is very much like "here."

If I had the means to visit the ends of the Earth, here are the ten places I would visit.

What ten "ends of the Earth" places would you like to visit? Leave me a comme…

Encounter Yourself -- Writer's Poke #342

Kids learn incredibly annoying songs, and some of these songs stay with us for the rest of our lives. One such song for me is “This Land Is Your Land,” which according to wikipedia “is one of the United States’ most famous folk songs.”


Why did my grade school decide to teach us this song? Was it for the geography lesson, so that we could learn about “the Redwood Forest” and “the Gulf Stream waters”? I don’t know, but I do know that most of us thought the world began and ended at the county line. That is to say, most of us didn’t travel much further than Terre Haute, Indiana, which was the “big city” located less than 30 miles away from our hometown of Casey, Illinois (population 3000).

Every summer, Chad talked about how his family spent their summer vacation in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This was a big deal for him, and for us, too, really, as most of us didn’t have the opportunity to travel even that far. Kids made do by playing little league baseball and swimming at the city pool.

T…