Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Worst Song I Have Ever Heard

I first heard this song on episode 301 of Coverville and was happy to see it turn up on the music blog Loudersoft.

Because bleeding ears need good company, I now present ODB and Macy Gray singing "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart."

You've been warned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back to Reality

For the unsuspecting, the previous blog entry came from Alex at Balding Angrily. He is doing amazing and fun things with his blog by having blog swaps with various people. If you would like to read my entry on his blog, it is here.

For those of you who read the Christmas letter, you know we are doing home repairs and sprucing up our house for sale. This is proving to be a much bigger project than we originally thought. Not to mention the fact that I spent a few months on the road for work, and managed to get precious little done from 2000 miles away.

We are making headway, moving things into storage and finding places to stash our stuff. Some neighbors will now have (for a few months, at least) a piano to for their daughter to learn music on. I asked one of my friends if he would not mind holding onto my wine refrigerator (and the wine therein) as well as my surround sound system while we allow all prospective buyers to tromp over shiny new hardwoods. My friend responded with a hearty, "Heck yeah! That is what friends are for."

While we are packing up stuff and moving it out, I am putting a few of my books on eBay. Most of them (ok, all of them) are old comics, but I did happen onto one art/photography book from Dave McKean that someone else is selling on eBay for $125.00. That surprised me, but when I remembered that there were only 3,000 in existence and that that Dave McKean has gone on from doing photography and art exhibit books to directing movies like MirrorMask, it made more sense. Maybe someone wouldn't mind paying the low low price of $99.99 for such a book if it came from me.

Anyway, here are the listings. If you live in the Dallas area, I don't mind meeting you and waiving the shipping fees.

Also, I Have a Giant Blue Bull Named Babe

The first thing you need to know about me and my brother when reading this story is that we put the “wuh” in “wacky.” We see an opportunity for a prank, and we commit to it. We do not divert. We do not swerve. We do not detour. We head down that Great Road of Prank full throttle, potholes be damned.

My brother and I met in New Orleans for a connecting flight to Atlanta for DragonCon ComicCON. One would think that it would be easy enough to find a direct flight from Dallas to Atlanta, but Southwest Airlines only flies out of Love Field. If you know Texas, you know that The Wright Amendment is the biggest piece of bullshit legislation next to the misnamed Defense of Marriage Act. But I digress.

My flight getting into New Orleans was delayed, so I had to run through the airport to make the flight. Wubba was already on the plane. I picked up a lunch of cold-cuts, brie, fois gras, pistachios, croissants, and hand-churned butter imported from Sweden and packed in into a cooler that I proceeded to swing hither-and-thither through the concourse as I ran. (I may have knocked over a book display at a newsstand, but I won’t admit it.)(I will admit to hitting a pug in a baby carriage with a bow on its head only because that’s just sick.)

(If you’re asking, “How did a pug get in the concourse?” this was before 9-11 when they let concealed Molotov cocktails and semi-automatic weapons on the concourse.)

(Okay, I lied about the pug, but wouldn’t it have been funny if that had happened?)(No, not "funny-ha-ha,” but "funny-seriously-Robert-get-on-with-the-story”-funny.)

(I’ve always wanted to say “semi-automatic weapon.” Thank you, internet.)

(And I’ll get back to the story when I’m good-and-ready.)


I arrived at the gate just as they were closing the concourse door in clichéd fashion, and begged the gate-keeper let me on the flight. She or he did, and as I was getting on the plane, holding aloft my cooler of foodstuffs so as not to hit the blue-hair with the weathered face sitting in first class, Wubba saw me and yelled, “Dr. Turnage! Thank Mary and Holy Joseph you made it with the heart!” The flight attendant asked me if I really was a doctor, adding that they’re usually informed when a transplant organ was going to be on board; apparently, they have a special fridge up front that they store the hearts in.

Somehow I convinced her that I was indeed a doctor. (Again - pre-9/11.)

Twenty minutes into the flight, a passenger ten rows up from us started going into cardiac arrest. The flight attendant that I duped before asked if I could do anything for the passenger, so I went up to talk to the passenger. (Remember - Wacky. And. Committed.)

The passenger was red and sweating. I pounded on his chest, and I blew into his mouth. I grabbed the nearest box-cutter, ripped open his shirt, and made an incision vertically down the center of his ribs. I took the bone-saw I happened to have with me and cracked his ribs. I reached into his chest and massaged his heart. He had already fainted from the intense pain. The passengers around us were drenched in his blood. Pieces of bone and flesh dripped from the fresh-air valves above the seats.

His heart stopped beating. I yelled to the flight attendant who had become my makeshift surgical assistant, “Get my cooler. Now! Whore!” I added the “whore” because I felt that Dr. Turnage, the character I had assumed, would be the kind of guy that would throw out wild, unsubstantiated claims about another person’s dirty sex life. “This man needs a new heart!” I would find out later that the heart had stopped beating because he had bled out.

I opened up the cooler only to remember that I wasn’t REALLY a surgeon, and that the cooler didn’t really have a heart in it. I cut out his heart with the box cutter. I opened up my container of fois gras, and just kind of shoved it into his chest. Then I sprinkled the pistachios on top. No one was questioning my obvious authority because earlier I had shot everyone’s eyes out with my concealed Molotov cocktail. Because the brie wasn’t going to be any good without the fois gras, I threw that in his chest also.

I cracked his chest back together, and sewed it up with shoestring. Lucky for me, the plane crashed in a fiery ball leaving my brother and me the only survivors, so no one found out about our little prank.

Pure wackiness.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Where I will Be This Saturday

Hello all. You have registered for La Reunion Workshop at the MAC!

Please be there at 10:45 AM to check in and get a good seat. The
workshop will last until 5 PM. Presenters are professionals in their
field and a wonderful cross-pollination of ideas and techniques will be
presented between scriptwriting for comic books, film, and plays.

Lunch will be provided by Tin Star, and I have ordered vegetarian,
chicken, and beef options as well as chips and salsa.

After the workshop, there will be an evening get-together at the
fabulous Belmont Hotel located in Oak Cliff. Directions to the Belmont
will be available in the workshop program. We will have poolside
access and a gorgeous view of downtown Dallas to reflect on the day
and have post-workshop conversation. This will be from 7 PM to 9:30

Please don't hesitate to let David Hopkins or me know if you have any
questions about the workshop or post workshop reception. We look
forward to meeting you all and having a great time on Saturday.

sarah jane semrad
executive director

I don't have a HDTV, but yet I desire a HD Camcorder

Kurt Vonnegut 1922 - 2007

Kurt Vonnegut passed away.

I have a million stories about how I've loved his work (two favorite novels - Cat's Cradle and Galapagos), but the one I feel like sharing is more about his fans.

Back when I frequented bars and ordered vodka martinis, I happened to be at a bar and I happened to order a vodka martini.

When the bartender handed it to me, he said, "Breakfast of Champions."

To which I responded, "Kilgore Trout is on the loose again." Then I doodled an asterisk on a napkin and held it up.

The bartender said, "I've been tending bar for 20 years and you are the first person who got the reference." The rest of the drinks that evening were free.

Kurt Vonnegut inspired his readers. He got them thinking in ways they hadn't thought before and he got them willing to talk about things they normally wouldn't talk about. Every Vonnegut fan I have met has been thoughtful, interesting, and good to be around.

Despite his cynicism, he brought out the best in his fellow man.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This American Life Story Idea

Last night my wife and I attended a sneak preview screening of Hot Fuzz. Our local free weekly newspaper gave out free passes, and somehow I got my hands on one.

I have not trolled for free passes in a long time, and being in a crowd of free pass junkies reminded me of a This American Life story idea I’ve had for a few years now.

Every week, the local weekly newspaper has a series of ads telling you how to get free movie passes. Go to such-and-such used book store at 10 am to get passes to one movie, go to this-and-that nail salon at noon to get more passes.

There are people who hit all of these places in search of free entertainment. Lines usually begin a few hours before the passes are offered, and people have nothing to do but stand there and make small talk.

There is sort of an uneasy camaraderie – the people in line don’t want to give out personal information about each other (seriously, would you want someone standing in line for free passes to Grindhouse know where you live and work?), but they all have this urge to talk… to talk about movies.

Some of the strangest movie conversations I’ve ever had I had when waiting in line for free passes and then waiting in line again to get into the first-come-first-served sneak preview screening.

If they were going to make a movie out of your life, who would you want to play you?

Which biopic would you like to see the most?

If you were going to make the highest grossing film of all time, what would it be?

My favorite answers to that last question include:

“Something with space and girls in it. Something like Earth Girls are Easy II: Even Easier”

“Something with a yodeling, baseball playing bear in it.”

“I have no idea, but it stars Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Wilford Brimley as the Spirit of Christmas.”

[Cue guitar music.]

Hollywood Pitch Fest II: The Sequel

Click Here for the First Hollywood Pitch Fest

“Imagine a black Wall Street executive. A Will Smith/Martin Lawrence/Jamie Foxx/Bernie Mac/Chris Rock/Eddie Murphy type. He is at the top of his game. He’s made it to the big time, but he’s still street.”

“He can command a board room, but still has a little hustle in him.”

“Exactly. He’s a career guy on his way up the corporate ladder. But then his company decides to open a branch office in Indiana and they decide he should head up this project.”

“Why would they want to open an office in Indiana?”

“I don’t know. Tax loophole or something. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that he gets transferred out to the country, where his fast-paced jive talkin’ city ways go up against the slow paced small town feel of the state.”

“A fish out of water story.”

“Right. But only for him. Because his wife and kids - they love the place! His wife becomes the head of some ladies social group. His son becomes a star basketball player. His daughter starts dating one of the most popular kids in school.”

“And it all drives him crazy.”

“Hilarity ensues. HIL. AR. IT. Y! It practically writes itself. And the best part is the name – Hoosier Daddy!??!”

“I smell box office.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How a Religious Outlook Makes You a Crabby Moviegoer

When discussing one of the many things that went wrong in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, director Terry Gilliam explains one of the problems in religious terms – one of his assistant directors had a “Catholic” management style, while Gilliam had a more “Protestant” management style. Where Gilliam liked the give and take of ideas, of people challenging authority, and everyone working together out of a common goal, the assistant director liked blind obedience, no back talk, and everyone working together towards a singular vision that happened to be his.

Needless to say conflict arose. Can you imagine the situation – the boss asks you for your ten best ideas and his assistant humiliates you for sharing them?

I have a friend who blogs about his occasional struggles with atheism. He is an atheist/agnostic, but feels occasional pangs of guilt that he attributes to his Catholic upbringing. In one of our email exchanges, I talked about how, being raised Protestant (and Texan) makes me very reluctant to submit to any received authority (like the type commonly associated with Catholicism) without at least a little bit of questioning/testing of the boundaries, and if I were raised in an environment of, “don’t question, just obey” I, too, might routinely struggle with the whole idea of God. (When I say Catholicism, I really mean acting superstitiously or only from knowledge from authority. Superstition is not limited to one set of beliefs.)

I also pointed out that my “Protestant” attitude aligns nicely with a rich Judaic tradition of arguing with anything that will stand still long enough. I pointed out several examples in the Old Testament where God tells a prophet or a leader to do His Will and the person responds with an, “Aw, come on. Get real.” And sometimes, this person even wrestles with God.

Then I related this attitude to my inclination to challenge my waiter every time he tells me, “Careful, hot plate.”

“Oh, I’ll be the one who decides how hot it is.”

This rambling preamble is to establish why I absolutely loathed one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth.

As I get older, I think the movies are getting better on the surface but much worse in the subtext. Pan’s Labyrinth is a movie that is the most recent example of this trend. While on one level, I can describe the acting as excellent, the cinematography gorgeous, and the special effects magical, I can also describe the themes presented as fundamentally offensive.

The story involves the whimsical adventures of a girl during the Spanish Civil War. She moves to the countryside with her one-dimensionally evil military step father and her equally one-dimensional suffering, yet beautiful mother. While there, she meets magical creatures and goes on magical quests. The idea is that if she succeeds on her quests, she will be rewarded by being taken to a magical kingdom far away from her war-torn world. Naturally, the film encourages us to want that girl to get out of there as fast as possible.

One of the biggest crises we have in a heavily mediated world is deciding to what degree we choose to ignore reality. It is painfully easy to create a media bubble for yourself and ignore the reality in the world. So to put out a film that expresses both the hopelessness in working to make the world better and couple it with an idea of salvation through escapism is dangerous.

Seriously, can you imagine the director of Pan’s Labyrinth as a Presidential Advisor? “Believe in fairies with all your heart, Mr. President. Believe in them and make them real, Mr. President. Don’t ever let go of your dream. Fight for it at all costs, even if people have to die. Wait and see. Magic will happen because you are magic. You have to believe.”

So that bothered me. The classic hero’s quest ends with a return. The hero, with a newfound knowledge, works to make the world a better place. In this film, however, the heroine’s quest ends without a return. Instead, we are supposed to celebrate the fact that the heroine has escaped from the world. She goes to a magic land of gold and fairies and hairy, big-cheeked fauns.

I totally reject that thesis. We shouldn’t celebrate escapism or preach it as a solution for anything.

Another thing I found morally reprehensible was the way that all the quests given to the girl were all based on blind obedience to absurd, fairy tale rules. (Here is where my Atheist/Agnostic/Former Catholic friend and I agreed to disagree, because this part struck me as the “Catholic” thinking behind the film.) All of the girl’s quests run along the lines of “Feed these three stones to the frog in the hole beneath the tree. Just do it, because it is important for you to do it.” For me, that attitude does not seem too far off from, “Eat this cracker, kneel, and cross yourself. Just do it because it is important.” The kid doesn’t even think of uttering my favorite word when I was that age, “Why?”

I am all for ritual, but I don’t do blind adherence to ritual. If you give me a set of instructions without a rich, symbolic subtext that makes sense, I just won’t “get it” and will argue. And even if I do “get it” I may still argue and grouse about it because I’m ornery that way.

The fact that all that is expected from this kid is obedience bothers me. My Atheist/Agnostic/Former Catholic friend is quick to point out that this is not Catholic because all of the symbols (the magic tree, the mandrake root, the faun in the labyrinth) are not Catholic at all - they’re pagan. Which makes me think of all the differences between Monopoly and Star Wars Monopoly – the pieces may be different, but the rules behind it all are very similar.

The final hot button the movie pushed had to do with the wartime morality presented. The director is known for doing comic book movies – stories that don’t really dwell in subtlety or moral gray areas. I think they are very entertaining… until he decides to depict war situations. This is one of the most egregious sins of the film – simultaneously presenting a “war is hell and should be avoided” scenario while adopting the “good guys can do no wrong and bad guys should be wiped off the planet” attitude that starts wars. The story is so unsubtle that the villain of the film goes through a facial disfigurement worthy of a Dick Tracy nemesis. This ridiculous exaggeration is presented with all sincerity and earnestness – as if the audience is not smart enough to think for themselves and realize this person is bad because he tortures prisoners and is mean to his wife - he must be disfigured as well.

Two scenes that exemplify this black-and-white attitude are the two battle aftermath scenes. When the Spanish soldiers win and verify that the dead are indeed dead, we are treated to image after image of close-up faces getting shot. When the rag tag communist rebels win a battle and get to shoot the evil, nasty faceless (haha) soldiers in the face, the camera drifts away, focusing on less vicious matters. It is as if the director laments that such good, pure, salt-of-the-earth people have to stoop so low as to do the same things the evil, torturing soldiers do.

Eventually the story culminates with a noble lynch mob chasing down the disfigured villain – imagine the Hunchback of Notre Dame but without the irony or insight. The crowd hates the ugly, deformed creature, and they are perfectly in the right for wanting to kill the evil evilness of it.

As if that ham-fisted image wasn’t offensive enough to intelligent viewers, we are treated to a cheap cultural stereotype to wring that last bit of moisture out of our ducts – the movie ends with a beautiful Spanish woman throwing her body on a corpse, wailing away over the lost, lost soul. Catholic symbolism, indeed.

But seriously, when you hear (non-Michael Medved) people review movies, do you ever hear, “I really disagree with the filmmaker’s worldview. I find the messages of the film offensive and morally reprehensible.”

No! You hear things like, “The actors were good,” or “You call that a British accent?” or “The gun-for-a-leg thing is just stupid.”

Because people don’t want to hear about message or debates on worldviews – they only want to know if the movie is good or not. And to talk about the filmmaker’s project or the message of the film is moving into the realm of “religion and politics.” It just isn’t nice conversation and should best be avoided. So instead we focus on things we can agree on – special effects and accents.

Which brings me back to Terry Gilliam, whose latest film seems to consist of little more than special effects and accents. Tideland is really a mess. I was unsettled before the movie even began, because the DVD starts out with a creepy little introduction by the man himself. Terry Gilliam stares out of the screen at you and tells you that you might not like the film, but for him it was a life-changing experience where he discovered that he really wants to be a little girl. Then he locks his eyes to yours and begins to chant, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” The screen fades to black, but I honestly think he kept thanking the audience for a good two hours after filming stopped. I would have not been surprised to find that that after the film ends, we fade in to see Terry Gilliam still going, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

This film is not what I would call good, but it didn’t offend me the way Pan’s Labyrinth did. Both films have preteen female protagonists in horrible situations. Both involve jumping back and forth between reality and fantasy. But in Tideland, the girl’s fantasy life helps her cope with reality, not to escape from it. Part of Gilliam’s project is to show how someone can be in truly horrific situations and still maintain a sense of purity and innocence. So what he does is put the little girl through increasingly horrific situations and then show how she remains pure throughout.

In one way, the whole movie is like a magic show where the magician keeps coming up with newer and more inventive traps for his lovely assistant to escape from. And then he starts taking suggestions from the audience, “Should I put her in sexual peril? Clap your hands if you want me to put her in sexual peril!”

But he is not telling you how the world works as much as he is presenting a situation, showing how a specific character deals with the situation, and then expecting you to discuss it. He has his take on the situation, and lets you know his take, but leaves enough room for discussion about the movie afterwards. There is a respect for the audience that is missing in Pan’s Labyrinth.

Here’s a good example of what I mean about Tideland – anyone who has seen Lost in La Mancha knows that Terry Gilliam’s number one defense mechanism is laughter. When anything goes wrong, he begins to giggle in a way that suggest both Woody Woodpecker and that odd Great Uncle your family doesn’t want to play with.

In Tideland the girl reacts to situations of total distress with squeals and giggles. Now, you can agree with the director and say that she retains a sense of purity in the face of corruption, or you can take the point of view that she has lost a little bit more of her not-so-great hold on sanity.

But there is room for discussion. There is room for argument and an exchange of ideas. It is like someone nailed a set of 95 theses on the door of the church, and asked for comments.

And that is what I like about it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Going Baldly Where No One Has Gone Before

One of the funnier, insightful, and entertaining blogs I read is Balding Angrily by Alex.

I met Alex on the Filmspotting boards where he is the moderator. Adam and Sam, the Filmspotting guys, routinely heap praise on him, telling him how kind he is, how helpful he is, and how they couldn't be the internet force they are without him. They call me their Nemesis and openly mock me on their show.

But there is an affinity here - Alex and I are like long lost 3rd cousins. We both live in Dallas. We both have blogs. He is an architect, and I have been in buildings.

He has proposed a blog-switch for a day, singling me out.

And I have tentatively accepted.

I already have some ideas of what I am going to write, and I think he has some ideas for what to do with this space. So stay tuned, you 5 readers of this blog! Something cool is about to happen.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Me and My Pal

We are nice and cuddly, but don't make us angry.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Burger Kingification of Popular Cinema

The number one question I got when I walked around in my bright red AFI Dallas Film Festival Volunteer T-shirt was this, “What should I see?”

The festival had nice booklets for people to review.

The local press wrote about the festival weeks ahead of time. They made recommendations, listed out films they wanted to see, and even provided a group of trailers ominously missing from the AFI Dallas website.

But people still wanted to know what was good.

That is the joy and the terror of the Film Festival – you have no idea what the movie is going to be like. No one has seen it. You get to be the first. With this comes a certain amount of risk – it might be a real stinker or, even worse, a drug-rape-kill “comedy.” But there is also the very real chance that you will see something special and wonderful, a secret film that makes your heart warm every tine you think of it. (Case in point - My wife and I had an amazing time at a festival seeing the Adrienne Shelly film “I’ll Take You There.” It is still one of our favorite movies, even though it never got distribution. We love it even though no one else has even heard of it.)

But this got me thinking – you have the summary of the film before you. You have the trailer. You can use the International Movie Database to find out the filmography of all the actors, the screenwriter(s), the producer(s), the director, and even the cinematographer. But somehow this is not enough. You need to look someone in the eyes and have that person put his or her reputation on the line by recommending a movie.

Why don’t they trust all this information? Because too many times, they’ve been burned by the film summary, the trailer, or the resume of the talent involved. The movies are marketed to everyone, but the truth of the matter is that they’re made for niche audiences. And if you are in the mainstream but not in the niche, you will probably walk away from the experience disappointed.

This is a symptom of what I call the Burger Kingification of the movie industry.

For those of you who don’t follow fast food marketing, Burger King has adopted the business plan of ignoring the mainstream. Rather than put effort into following popular diet trends (such as serving salads, focusing on healthy foods, or serving anything Atkins of South Beach compliant), they just want to focus on the super-user. By catering to fast food aficionados, the company would (in theory) make more money than making something for everyone. Because only the fratboy demographic (a male age 17 to 24) would think of a sandwich named Meat’normous and think of it as a digestic challenge instead of something that should be fed to your enemies in hopes that it clogs their arteries.

Anyway, as more people who grew up on movies start making movies, a bit of genetic drift occurs. You watch films from Martin Scorsese and Brian de Palma and learn that they grew up watching movies by King Vidor and Alfred Hitchcock. And you watch movies by P.T. Anderson and Quentin Tarantino to learn only that they grew up watching Scorsese and de Palma movies. So you have someone riffing on someone riffing on someone riffing on Hitchcock. Or John Ford. Or Fritz Lang.

Sometimes it works, but more often than not, it comes across as a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy – just a mess. But a mess that is cherished and adored by the cool person who has the wherewithal to get the in-joke or who has been raised by Showtime, HBO, and Cinemax.

It even has gotten to the point where film directors pat themselves on the back for driving mainstream, Middle America out of the theaters. As if upsetting everyone except the niche audience was a mark of artistic integrity. The sad truth of the matter is that embedding yourself deeply in a niche is not a sign of artistic integrity as much as it is immersing yourself in an echo chamber. Cynicism and naiveté are not mutually exclusive.

One of the conversations I had with another AFI volunteer was about the movie Cake. He said he didn’t understand why the movie sold out when it looked stupid. I mean, what were these people thinking, spending their time and money watching a romantic comedy about a wedding? Why would someone even want to make a movie like that?

I asked him how much money "My Big, Fat Greek Wedding" made. THAT’S why someone would want to make a movie like that. It seems like an anomaly because so rarely is a movie made for the mainstream. Movies today are made for core and niche audiences. The Burger King Super-Users.

To try to make this point, I asked him if he wanted to see Grindhouse.

Hell, yes.

What about your mother and your grandmother? Are they just as excited about Grindhouse?

No way, man.

But would they go see Cake?

I guess so.

Well, ok then.

So I’m on Twitter now

For the record, I think, on a conceptual level, Twitter is another stupid attempt to reduce everything conceivable experience to the point where it will fit on a bumper sticker.

But someone invited me to join, so… yeah. I joined. The same thing happened with MySpace. Someone I know got on, asked me to get on and, whoa, there I am.

So far, it is not as painful as I thought it would be, although the character limit in the post is driving me crazy. (Plus the word "twitter" also sounds like a description of facial tics. As in, "I know when I've been working too hard because my left eye starts to twitter." It doesn't sound like a fun place to be, emotionally.)

The best thing about the Twittering experience is the way I can embed the results into the ol’ blog here. (Look on the right and you’ll see that little Twitter box that doesn't really, you know, twitter.)

I write and edit material all the time, but only a little bit of it shows up on the site. I have a backlog of half-finished blog posts on my C: drive and haven’t posted anything in days. And don't get me started on the backlog of podcasts. Seriously, I have close to six hours worth of audio on my C: drive that has been screaming to be edited for months.

To fill the gaps between real blog posts, I put out links to other material – internet videos primarily. But now that I have this Twitter thing going, I might just stick to that instead. So at least people will know I’m doing something even though this blog doesn’t indicate it.

We shall see how it works out.

Wherein I Pretend I am Seth Godin

For those of you who don’t know, Seth Godin is a marketing guy famous for his innovative, cutting-edge ideas like, “Be honest” and “The best way to get your customers to trust you it to not be sneaky.” For marketers, this goes against every natural instinct. So sometimes they call him "controversial" and "flaky."

His blog is an interesting read, even if you are not a business or marketing person. Many times he talks about bad customer experiences or ineffective business models companies use, and he has inspired many bloggers to follow suit.

Those first two paragraphs are just a set-up for the real blog post, which begins here:

I was in a business meeting the other day, where someone insisted that all the business needed was a good round of search engine optimization. “If our company appears at the top of a Google search, we’ve got it made.”

I immediately thought about my latest experiences with Google. I’m seriously in the mood for a new camcorder and am mulling over the Canon HV-20, the Sony HDR-HC7, or waiting a year when the new cameras (complete with more powerful features, better picture, and a lower price) come out. (That last option is my wife’s choice.) So, I routinely perform Google searches for HV-20, HDR-HC7, and “Save your money and make your wife happy.

While performing these searches, I noticed a new little feature in my searches – McAfee SiteAdvisor puts little “checks” or “X”es next to the sites that come up in the search result, letting you know if these sites are really legit or if there have been customer complaints about the site (excessive pop-ups, spyware installed, poor customer service, etc.). And wouldn’t you know it, but all the sites with “X”es by them turn up in at the top of the search.

So getting to the top of the Google search results through search engine optimization is only the first part. The second part is being honest and not trying to screw your customers. The internet may be large and vast, but word travels fast on it.