30 Songs for November: Day 3 – Dice

Finley Quaye - Dice“Dice” is one of those songs that evokes autumnal mood. The ethereal tones by William Orbit, the melodic guitar motif, and swelling vocals of Finlay Quaye and Beth Orton create an environment few other songs can achieve. “Dice” feels like an artistic departure for both Quaye and Orton in terms of style, but it works beautifully.


30 Songs for November: Day 2 – Your Spirit’s Alive

This #30SongsForNovember project has reinvigorated my love for music. I’m digging through playlists of my favorite bands to pull out songs that have resonated with me over the years. Since I have been writing so heavily as my primary source of business, I tend not to listen to any music while working; I save it for car rides and housework.

Today’s pick comes from one of my all-time favorite bands, the Dropkick Murphys. The song “Your Spirit’s Alive” was written in 2004 in memoriam of a friend the band lost to a motorcycle accident that year. I think I partially identify with the song’s message because I lost my brother the same year. There is more to it, though. The song has this rapid pace, an incredible energy that makes you feel great to be alive. You cherish every moment. Invigoration is the essence of the song. What more appropriate song for today, Los Dias de los Muertos, Day of the Dead?

30 Songs for November: Day 1 – Welcome to My Nightmare

I thought I would try something new for the blog to see where it would lead. Possibly some new inspirations for myself and others. November has always been a special month for me. It starts immediately following the fun of Halloween and segues into the holiday season while autumn peaks here in Connecticut. A time of transition and reflection of the past year, and celebration of my birth, though I’m thinking it’s time to pass on that as I get older.

welcome to my nightmare coverMy first pick is “Welcome to My Nightmare” by Alice Cooper, released in 1975, a staple in his live shows today. The album by the same name marks his debut as a solo performer. The band Alice Cooper were together 1968 until 1974 producing four unforgettable albums Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out, and Billion Dollar Babies.

I remember watching Alice on TV when I was really young not knowing who he was, but the songs and stage theatrics stuck with me, definitely an early inspiration leading to my foray into dark fiction and horror. He had some crazy evening TV special for Welcome to My Nightmare I happened to catch and I loved his Muppet Show appearance at that time. I rediscovered him in my early teens and have been a fan since.

Here’s a live concert performance of the song circa 1990, during the Trash era.

My dream job

Storm cloud | source: instagram.com/dtgriffith/I was recently asked by my friend, former MFA classmate, and successful entrepreneur Joe Klemczewski, PhD, what my dream job is in terms of stepping into a company and how I would contribute to improve it. This is a question I’ve heard in various forms on job interviews, which has never been easy for me to answer. After reviewing what I had written in my response to Joe, I thought it would be worthwhile to share and elaborate on my final dream job answer here on the blog.

While it’s hard to pinpoint a specific dream job title and role, I want to ensure that I am contributing in a meaningful way, like helping employees by creating growth opportunities and a positive culture, giving back to a community through volunteerism and donation of goods and services, and improving the business’s bottom line, of course. That said, I would take a holistic approach to any type of business, big or small, by addressing the following broad areas:

  • Branding, which includes public perception that goes far beyond logo design and corporate identity, such as how employees interact with the public, how products or services are presented, and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  • Publicity, public relations, and corporate communications. These tie directly to branding, in how brand initiatives are communicated internally among employees, and externally for promotions and in crisis situations, to name a few.
  • This, too, falls branding umbrella: the elevation of products or services wherever there is an opportunity to improve public perception, improve quality, and increase profitability.
  • Work with marketing, sales, and creative teams along with other stakeholders on strategy to achieve the above points.

Within the points listed above tactics and projects would include, but are not limited to: all forms of advertising, web and social media, print and out-of-home media, streamlined internal networks like CRMs to support these initiatives, implementing collaborative tools for employees to improve productivity and efficiency, improvements to the product and service development and management, and corporate storytelling.

I realize this is a broad scope description of a dream job with several functional verticals, but it is how I perceive businesses I become involved in. Everything listed above can be boiled down to my two core skill sets – creativity and communication. These endeavors are applicable to large multi-national corporations and small independent book publishers – the objectives and thought-processes are the same regardless of the scale and the methods are adaptable.

Some may call this commercial development or holistic branding; I’m sure there are more that aren’t coming to mind right now. No matter the term, this is what I do … this is my profession.





Persistence of selective memory

63cbb1da25f911e2ba8122000a1de2e1_7I came across one too many memes today glorifying the past, how it was a better time, how everything now is just not that good. Or if we grew up in a certain time, that made us “awesome!” What started as a short Facebook rant on these memes quickly changed to a message about appreciating what you have now, that things always change.

I have a blood-thirst to address the pedestal cassette tapes are put on in several of these memes. Tapes were awful. I owned many cassette tapes as a kid and I hated them – not for the incredible music they contained, but for the tape player jamming, stretching, and wearing they were known for. I can’t count how many collective hours I spent on repairing cassettes with cracked cases and wrinkled tapes, the closest pen or pencil being the indispensable winding tool as I delicately straightened a tape tangled around heads, spindles, and gears it had no business making contact with. The frustration they caused me does not equate the good ol’ days, I thank the world for digital recording.

Progress is inevitable, not that it always creates something good. In this example newer technologies like CDs and MP3s rendered cassettes obsolete. I still cringe when I find one buried in a junk collection, but that’s beside the point. Vinyl, which in theory should have been replaced by cassettes, has made a resurgence in this digital age, notably for the medium’s natural quality of analog sound that is hard to replicate in digital. Similar to the plumbing fixtures in your bathroom, some old technologies can withstand the test of time, with some subtle tweaks in materials and manufacturing, of course.

One such “good ol’ days” meme.

There is a selective magical memory that is often called on by these memes, often comparing how the good ol’ days were less dangerous in that we could all go to bed without locking doors or free from newer precautionary behaviors like riding a bike without a helmet. Crime is not new, it’s no more or less a thing then a century ago, even a millennium ago. Burglars still break into houses when they see an opportune times; their motifs and tactics may have changed, but the crime has not. Designing protective gear for sports, fighting, and hard labor is nothing new either, so why complain about protecting a child’s fragile skull while zipping down a street with friends?

These memes are filled with a vast assortment of examples for any given era they are referencing clearly specific to the childhood of the author. I could go on and on, but everyone should have grasped the point several words ago. I’m sure the authors’ intentions are good, so I’ll avoid any further disparagement.

Here is my ultimate message to you and everyone not reading this, whom I hope will hear it by word of mouth: change is constant. A broad-brushstroke ideal notion cannot define how everything is worse or better off between one era and another.

You can hold on to memories, cherish the great times, but don’t spend your energy longing for those cherished circumstance to recreate themselves. Every moment is a product of that era and location, the technology and culture, and, most importantly, the participating individuals and their frame of mind. It’s completely random. Resisting inevitable change is as effective as pushing the hands on a clock backwards and expecting to return to the past.

Embrace the now and enjoy what you have. Learn from the past and apply it to your future plans.

Happy New Year!