Christmas has come and gone and soon we’ll all be striking the holiday-decorated sets of our homes. Which always brings sadness to me because I feel guilty dragging our artificial tree out to the curb for garbage collection.
It looks so natural, so real, it seems a shame to throw the darn thing out!
It seems to me someone should come up with a greener way to deal with artificial trees. It not only seems wasteful, but it also harmful to good ol’ mother nature.
I know what you’re thinking– why not just burn the artificial tree? Well, I’ve tried that in the past and ended up with singed eyebrows and a stink I couldn’t get out of my clothes for months.
So, I’ll do like the rest of America and throw my beautiful, expensive artificial tree on the trash heap of humanity.
I wish someone would come up with a recycling program for artificial trees. Maybe that’s what I’ll ask Santa for next Christmas.
Ah, the classic Christmas movies: “Miracle on 34th Street”, “White Christmas”, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “A Christmas Story”… our family watched none of these on Christmas eve.
We watched “The Deer Hunter” instead.
The movie had come from Netflix well over a month ago and had been lazily sitting in the basement; a 3-hour monster lurking in its envelope. The time had come to unleash the beast.
I was the only one in our family who had seen it, but it was so long ago that the memories of it were more a fog than concrete images. I did sort of recall the film was pretty intense. As I watched it, I thought maybe I hadn’t seen the entire film. Maybe I’d just seen chunks of it.
"The Deer Hunter" is a bit more intense than "It's A Wonderful Life"
This was the film that made director Michael Cimino red hot. His next film was the legendary bomb “Heaven’s Gate” that cooled his career down quickly. “The Deer Hunter” was released in 1979 and won five Oscars, including best picture.
It’s a pretty terrific film, albeit one that could use some major pruning. “The Deer Hunter” is slow to develop. Scenes linger, linger, then linger a little longer. A mood is set, relationships are established, plot points are planted, but it all could be done tighter, would be done tighter if it were made today.
This is a buddy film, a war film, a love story, a coming of age tale, a think piece, a tragic tale. Hmm, maybe it does take three hours to do all that.
Most of the alleged Western Pennsylvania steel mill scenes (where the buddies live and work) were shot in northeastern Ohio, where I’m from. The Youngstown, Steubenville, Cleveland area do an excellent job playing Western PA. They’re as authentic as cold Rolling Rocks on a beaten bar. However, the scenes of “The Deer Hunter” tracking bucks with his rifle do not fare so well. The alleged Pennsylvania mountains are overplayed by the grandiose vistas of Washington state. Come on Washington state mountains, dress it down a bit–– the Pennsylvania mountains are not that beautiriffic.
I won’t get into the story except to say some pals from the steel mills enlist to fight in Viet Nam. It does not go well. Lives are forever changed. War is indeed hell.
If you haven’t seen “The Deer Hunter”, check it out. Classic performances from Di Nero, John Cazale (what a mug on that guy, the quintessential character actor), John Savage, Christopher Walken (before he developed his odd speaking inflections) and Meryl Streep.
No, it won’t become a Christmas tradition to watch it in our house, but it does get the Netflix envelope back into the mail.
Merry merry and happy happy to all.
I wish I could have sent every person in the world our family’s special 2008 Christmas card, but I didn’t have all your addresses and I was pretty low on stamps. So, here it is on the worldwide internets for your holiday viewing pleasure. Thanks, and merry happy happy to you and yours from us and ours.
OPENS TO THE INSIDE
FLIPS OVER TO THE BACK (written by son, Jack)
Job hunting is not for the timid.
(Why spend a fortune going to some university, beauty college or ad school? Here’s everything you need to know about getting a great job in advertising. Kindly make your tuition checks payable to Patrick Scullin.)
Next to dying a slow, painful, miserable death while “MacArthur Park” is playing on the radio, hunting for a job has to be one of the most traumatic events we humans ever face.
Because changing jobs is always frightening, let’s discuss the stages of job hunting in as intellectual a fashion as we can muster on short notice.
Stage one: “I’ve got to get out of this hellhole.”
How can you tell you’re in a go-nowhere job? Be on the lookout for little signals, like a boss who continually tells you, “You’re in a go-nowhere job, pal, and as long as I’m in charge, I’ll see to it your genius is squashed like a fat mosquito hitting a ‘67 Buick going 120 mph!”
Or, a representative from local Lumberjack’s Union who pleads with you to stop generating ideas. “For God’s sake, man,” he says with tears welling-up in his eyes, “how many more Foamcore trees must we senselessly slaughter before you’ll quit this madness? Can’t you see, you numbskull, you’re in a go-nowhere job?”
Whatever drives you to the conclusion it’s time to go, it’s time to get on to stage two of the job hunt: “Getting the ol’ book out and about.”
When it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter if you’re Lee Clow or Joe Blow, we all live and die by our work. Of course, Clow’s got the better reel, but he can’t touch Blow’s print or flash banners work, no sir.
Yours? Mine? Ours.
The best way to put together a terrific portfolio is to collect samples of the very best work. Conservative people believe the work should be restricted only to those pieces that you yourself actually created, while the more liberal approach embraces the idea that anything created by one of your own species is fair game for inclusion into your book. Whatever. The main thing is to put together items that can fit into a portfolio case (which generally restricts the inclusion of actual-size billboard samples).
Many job hunters wonder if they should have headhunters working on their behalf? Yes, by all means! How else can you find out about those incredible opportunities with “the next Fallon” (which happens to be in Texarkana of all places) or “the great creative revolution happening over at Lackluster, Mediocrity & Snores.”
Do whatever it takes to get your book seen by whomever, whenever in wherever. As they say in the penguin exhibit at Hank’s Appliance Repair Shop, ‘You can’t win the lottery if you don’t have a ticket–– preferably the winning ticket.’
Once the potential agency has seen your book, they’ll want to see the person who owns it. Which brings us to stage three of snagging the big job: “The Meet & Greet.”
Most creative people despise interviewing because it generally involves answering tough questions like: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years, and if you are a time traveller, please also give me the name of the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl and World Series Champs.”
“Who was known as ‘The Perky President’, and what was the name of his Secretary of Defense?”
“If two trains leave Chicago, one going 45 miles per hour and the other getting 2.45 miles per gallon of diesel fuel, which one will have the higher trade-in value?”
“What is your creative philosophy, and how does it mesh with the notion of existentialism?”
“You want coffee, a Coke, or something? Remember, there is only one right answer.”
The secret to successful interviewing is to interview right back at them. When they ask a question, it’s no time to play defense–– fire one back. Here’s a sample from an interview I had back in ‘95:
HE: So, Patrick, tell me about yourself.
ME: Hey, where you’d get the cool picture of the ugly lady with the dorky kids? That’s hilarious, man!
HE: This picture? That’s, uh, that’s a picture of my family.
ME: Oh, uh, really? Well, aren’t they the handsome bunch! I don’t suppose you work many late nights, no, sirree––not with a great gaggle of good lookers like that to get home to…
For some reason, I didn’t get that particular job. They were looking for someone with more package goods experience or something.
Another interviewing secret is not to tell them about those voices that only you can hear. Because in a funny way, many people find it hard to believe pets and inanimate objects have chosen you as their primary communication vehicle. These people may be jealous and may not want to hear about the upcoming swift sword of justice you will soon be delivering at their command. Evil doers must pay!
Providing they love you and your work, you’re on to stage four of scoring your dream ad job: “Negotiating the Package.”
Me, I’m old fashioned, so I generally think paychecks are a nice perk. With a little clever negotiating on your part, maybe you can swing one of these “my time for your money” arrangements, meaning you’ll get paychecks on a fairly regular basis. Pretty sweet, eh?
Some other niceties to negotiate are free electricity, Christmas day off, four tons of gold bouillon and an 18 pack of Knox Beef Bullion (it’s like drinking a steer). Usually you’ll get three out of the four; most employers are sticklers about working on Christmas day. Go ahead and take the job because even if it does turn out to be another hellhole, soon enough a headhunter will call telling you about nirvana in Texarkana.
Happy hunting, and remember pets and inanimate objects are watching so be good.