Category

Business and Work

All Entries Business and Work Communication Humor

Putting Lipstick on a Pig*

May 17, 2017

As someone who’s written professionally for a number of years, I’ve always added spice to my work by writing in clear, succinct euphemisms – terms the average businessman or woman understands. Instead of going back to the drawing board for each game plan, I like to hit the ground running by thinking outside of the box.

I’ll usually begin by going after customer-centric, low-hanging fruit, getting my manager’s blessing with subject matter, to avoid getting thrown under the bus. After years of working with difficult editors, I’ve found drilling down and touching base with management helps deliver more bang for the buck when the marketing department keeps moving the goal posts. For instance, last week, I got the following note from my senior editor:

“I got your email and wanted to let you know that you’re on my radar. This time of year, I usually don’t have the bandwidth to circle back around with all hands on deck; especially when there’s an 800 pound gorilla in the room. But that’s par for the course. I want to take time to run your idea up the flagpole to see who salutes, before you spend time getting your ducks in a row. While I understand that your idea has legs, I think it’s important to slowly move the needle forward by putting on the record to see who dances. read more

All Entries Animals Business and Work Entertainment and Show Business Humor Pets and Animals

You Can’t Teach an Old Flea New Tricks

April 20, 2017

If you’ve ever tried breaking into show business, you know how hard it can be. There are countless auditions, disappointments and the relentless competition from other actors. Maybe you should try it as a flea!

The Birth of the Entertainment Industry

Records of the earliest flea circuses date back to 14th Century Asia, but they didn’t hit their apex in popularity until the 16th Century in Great Britain. While there are over 2500 species of fleas, Louis Bertolotto found only the females of the Pulex Irritans species worthy of a place in his line-up: “…I have found the males to be utterly worthless, excessively mulish and altogether disinclined to work.” Hmmm… some things never change.

In the beginning, finding fleas to audition for parts in his show was relatively easy – largely due to poor hygienic standards and the number of mangy dogs running free in the streets of London. But, as people began to bathe regularly, circus owners had to pay as much as half a crown per flea. Considering that the average life span of a flea was only several days to weeks, this represented a very poor return on their investment. One circus owner who toured Europe with his traveling show depended on his wife to send him new shipments of entertainers in envelopes through the mail. That worked well until Postmasters began vigorously hand stamping all letters and parcels. read more

All Entries Business and Work Entertainment and Show Business Humor Technology

Foley Secrets

April 20, 2017

The scene in the Hollywood movie is a leather-jacketed hero who scuffles with a bad guy, walks through the snow and then guns his motorcycle engine before zooming off into the night. But, what really happened was the actor’s double punched a roasted chicken with a rubber kitchen glove and squeezed two balloons together while walking on a sandbox filled with cornstarch. That’s showbiz…

Things Are Not What They Seem

For most of us, the sounds of a movie are as entertaining as the visual experiences. But, unbeknownst to most viewers, the lion share of sounds and special effects are not captured at the time of filming. Instead, they’re either recorded in the studio by highly imaginative technicians called “Foley Artists” or pulled from a library of pre-recorded sound bites that are stored on computers until the sound is mixed for the movie.

The term Foley Artist began as early as 1927 when Al Jolson’s movie, “The Jazz Singer” became the first “talkie.” In those days, the dialogue of the actors superseded virtually all other sound or music recorded for the film. It wasn’t until the early 1950s that movie studios discovered they could enhance the overall quality of the movie goer’s experience by adding specialized sounds that were purposely stripped away during filming in favor of an actor’s spoken lines. read more

All Entries Business and Work Humor

The Mother of All Boredom

December 7, 2016

I have no idea why the bank hired me. Apart from a warm body and pulse, I didn’t have a thing to offer Ferneyhough Savings. They didn’t have much to offer me, either. Unless, of course, you count the $9.65 an hour entry level tellers make. To be honest, I didn’t even want the job. I was just trying to survive until ski season.

Bank tellers are a dying breed that have succumbed to a lethal combination of online banking, electronic deposits and Square Cash. Unlike my counterparts of the 1950s who actually worked for a living, I spent the majority of my day staring into space. Occasionally, a waitress would come in with a wad of cash and $234 in loose change she collected from tips. Once in a while, a kid would want to cash in his piggy bank, but that was about it.

This wasn’t the first boring job I’ve had. I’ve worked dozens of dead-end gigs while working my way through college. I’ve counted ball bearings, patrolled Six Flags parking lots in a chicken costume, watched paint dry, and inspected plastic tubing. At least with those jobs I was doing something. Figuring out ways to look busy as a bank teller was a whole new slice of pizza. read more

All Entries Business and Work Entertainment and Show Business Humor

The Wilhelm Scream

December 7, 2016

In the early days of the film industry, it was hard to find a good scream. Before the invention of sound bites, directors who needed a blood-curdling shriek from actors often got rather paltry sounding yelps. That is, until Private Wilhelm entered the scene.

In the 1951 war classic Distant Drums, a soldier is dragged under water by an alligator as he wades through a treacherous Florida swamp. After the filming was completed, sound engineers recorded a series of screams that were added during post-production. Two years later, in The Charge at Feather River, a soldier named Private Wilhelm (played by Ralph Brooke) takes an arrow in the leg. Similar to modern sound engineering processes, the Distant Drums scream was resurrected from a vault and added to Wilhelm’s impalement scene.

What became known as the Wilhelm Scream is actually thought to be the handiwork of a popular television and screen actor named Sheb Wooley. He and other actors from Distant Drums were asked to contribute various sound bites to the film. Wooley later went on to play in classics such as High Noon with Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales and the hit television series Rawhide. But it was Wooley’s contribution to radio, the hit song Purple People Eater that ultimately overshadowed his success as the originator of the Wilhelm Scream. read more

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.