Category Archives: Everything I Know I Learned From Television

5 Strong Manic Impressives You Should Know And Love

I’m often surprised when people who seem much different from me (together, disciplined, grown up) admit to sharing my Manic traits. Since it’s sometimes hard to identify someone’s style, I thought I’d give you some examples. So for purely academic reasons, here are 5 strong Manic Impressives you should know and love.

Popeye The Sailor Man

Popeye showed several strong Manic Impressive traits. He was an advocate for others with a strong sense of justice.  He was assertive, and would take action when others wouldn’t. While they cowered and ducked for cover, Popeye stepped up to take down the bully.

And he had a strong sense of self. With his own personal branding statement, “I Yam What I Yam,” Popeye was a strong, confident, somewhat existential, working class poet-philosopher.

He was also a bit forgetful and got in his own way. Ever watch him babysit Sweat Pea? Constantly allowing that tyke to wander into traffic, construction sites, and other life-threatening situations.

And yes, he was a substance user. Possibly an abuser. But like all Manics, Popeye needed to be inspired to perform. It may seem like a weakness, but let’s face it, when Popeye downed his spinach, he always kicked ass. He made no excuses for it either – it was right there in his theme song – “I’m strong to the finish, when I eats my spinach, I’m Popeye the Sailorman!”

Peter ‘StarLord’ Quill, Guardians Of The Galaxy

“Starlord” as he wants to be called, models Manic behavior in several ways. He is a rule breaker. He is a smartass. He starts out as a delinquent and falls into his role of Guardian by accident. He usually means well, but often falls victim to his bad habits and dysfunctional childhood.

And like Popeye, he relies heavily on inspiration. But instead of using a substance to trigger his inspiration, StarLord’s trigger of choice is music. This is an extremely Manic trait.

But not just any music. The R&B pop hits from the 70’s, the favorite music of his mother, who died when StarLord was just a kid. There’s a reason Manic Impressives can never seem to get enough attention, and it’s often rooted in childhood abandonment issues.  This guy is a classic Freudian fuck-up hero.

But like most Manics he is completely loveable. Even when he’s breaking all the rules, you just want him to win. Because he’s a scamp, he’s audacious, he thumbs his nose at authority, and he loves his mama. All the qualities we love in a hero.

Anthony Dinozo Jr., NCIS

You may not have realized this one because he’s in the by-the-book field of law enforcement, he’s a former jock and, yes ladies, he’s extremely handsome. But look at his behavior on the job. He’s a classic smartass constantly needling his co-workers and getting slapped in the back of the head by his boss.

Tony is irritating.  He gets under people’s skin with his constant razing and hazing. But he’s impressive. Not as a specialist like his computer geek sidekick or martial arts badass love interest. He’s a generalist who uses his intuition and perception to solve murders and identify the killers.

He too uses the arts as inspiration, and often makes breakthroughs in a case with his extensive knowledge and obsession with cinema, often to the great annoyance of those around him. To them it looks like he’s screwing around. But he’s actually using his knowledge of popular culture to think outside the box, in a highly imaginative way.

Tony, though often inappropriately playful at work, is a strong leader. But his antics lead others to underestimate his work ethic and intelligence. A true Manic Impressive, he never lets the seriousness of his profession get in the way of a good time.

Deadpool

Wade Wilson, former Special Forces badass turned super-antihero, is a vulgar smartass. And like most Manic Impressives, he uses his biting, dark humor as a weapon, and also as a shield, to protect his tender feelings and insecurities.

He is one seriously fucked-up dude, having become a mutant in an effort to cure his terminal cancer. But the disfigurement caused by his treatment creates incredible self-doubt, a trait common among Manics. So he covers it up with his costume and his raging sarcasm.

Deadpool’s need for revenge drives him to do regrettable things, and to many people he comes across as a total a-hole. But underneath his mask is a deeply misunderstood soul that longs for the intimacy he constantly pushes away in his relationships.

But oh is he impressive. Not just in his fighting ability and his quest for justice. He is impressive with words. His profane, guttural, wicked humor puts him in a class all his own. This guy is hilarious, with a wit sharper than his weapons of choice  – two razor-sharp Japanese katanas. Deadpool is a deadly smartass’ smartass.

Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, MASH

Hawkeye Pierce, an amazingly skilled physician, was the heart and soul of the team at the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Though an inveterate rule breaker and prankster, Hawkeye was a dedicated, conscientious, and deeply caring man.

He just found the conditions of a field unit in the Korean War too much to bear at times, and did what any good Manic Impressive would. He attacked the stupidity of the army rule-makers and installed a moonshine martini still in his tent.

He never lost sight of his mission, to care for the sick and wounded, but he went out of his way to poke fun at his leaders and make an untenable situation  as human and compassionate as possible. This meant taking on every chance to seek justice, and making a pass at every attractive woman in sight.

Without Hawkeye’s brashness, the downtrodden and low-ranking personnel would have had to suffer in silence. But he was their champion and took his role seriously, in true Manic fashion. He mocked, ridiculed, pranked and shamed anyone who put rules above logic, and order above decency.

Hawkeye was a strong leader, and a huge smartass. But everyone loved him for it, and the show (and movie) would have been unwatchable without him.

Leading By Example

All five of these fictional characters were strong leaders, and constantly put themselves in the spotlight when it mattered most. They sacrificed their own comfort to make life better for others, and took advantage of every opportunity to seek justice and punch lines.

If all of us can just channel their energy, bravado and humor in our daily lives, the world would be a much happier and funnier place.

 

 

 

How To Find Lost Things

How To Find Lost ThingsManic Impressives often struggle with things. Organizing them. Keeping track of them. And often, finding them. It is estimated that the average Manic Impressive will spend 7.2 years* of his or her life searching for lost things. (*Okay, I totally made this up.) Which is why we need to know how to find lost things.

The answer can be found in the second act of the cinematic gem, “Dude Where’s My Car?” Ashton Kutcher and Seann Willam Scott play stoner party boys that come out to the curb after a night of fierce partying to find their car is missing.

After Ashton delivers the movie’s title line, Seann gives him the solution that all of us need to use whenever we lose something:

“We need to get back into the state of mind we were in last night. That way we can retrace our steps. Sense memory, simulated perception, altered conscious memory retrieval. Discovery Channel.”

Yes, Discovery Channel indeed. Continue reading How To Find Lost Things

Always Think Before You Move

Always think before you move - Cuba Gooding Jr. as Eugene BrownEugene Brown screwed up bigtime. He landed in prison for 18 years for sticking up a bank. But in prison he got lucky. He had a mentor who taught him to play chess, and to always think before you move.

This became the metaphor Eugene used to earn his redemption.

He used it to reflect on the decisions that led him to prison. He stopped blaming others, took responsibility for his actions, and began to work on himself. Playing chess helped.

He learned to see all the possible moves on the board, then to make moves based on smart decisions. Which moves would strengthen his position? Which sacrifices were worth making? Which gambits could he afford to offer or accept?

Always Think Before You Move

I learned about Eugene Brown lying on my couch watching the movie of this life story, Life of a King, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. It was pretty damn inspiring.

Every move in a chess game, like every move in life,  has consequences. Continue reading Always Think Before You Move

Time To Count Your Blessings

Count Your BlessingsA major tragedy hit the Bay Area last Friday night. A fire broke out in a warehouse with 36 people trapped inside. Known as the Ghost Ship, this building was home to a collective of young artists and musicians who’d built a community to support the arts. Sadly, this was a preventable tragedy and there will be plenty of blame to go around. But while this community mourns its loss, it’s time for you to count your blessings.

Major events like this cause us to check ourselves, and be grateful that we aren’t the folks suffering the loss. But the idea to count your blessings has far-reaching benefits beyond the momentary display of empathy for others.

Successful people make a practice of looking back each year to acknowledge where they’ve done well. They feel gratitude and give thanks. But they don’t do this because they’re touchy-feely types trying to game their way into Heaven.  They do it because when you count your blessings, you receive more blessings.

What?

Yeah, that’s right. The more grateful you are, the more you’ll have to be grateful for. There are two ways to see this:

1) The more you focus on the good things in your life, the more good things you’ll see. This will put your mind in receive mode for good ideas and opportunities.  Next thing you know you’re coming up with all kinds of good ideas, and your confidence and positivity will attract people to you. They will tell you YES.

2) Sometimes we get so focused on what we’re not achieving, we get down on ourselves. We don’t see what’s right with things, and while we’re bemoaning our poor fortune, good fortune passes us by. Because when a pissy attitude leaks out, it will repel people from you. They will tell you NO.

It’s Like That Febreze Commercial

Continue reading Time To Count Your Blessings

The Reverse Of An Idea Almost Lost the Series

The Reverse of an IdeaAll Hail the Chicago Cubs. After more than a century of futility and broken dreams, Cubs fans are dancing on Waveland Avenue. Their team finally overcame the curse of the Billy Goat and Steve Bartman to win their first World Series title in 108 years.

Last night’s Game 7 was a nail biter for Chicago fans. The Cubs blew a 3-run lead late in the game. Closer Aroldis Chapman made a mistake, throwing low and inside, right into Rajai Davis’ wheelhouse. Davis hit it out of the park, sending the game to extra innings and Chapman to the bench.

Fortunately for him, the Cubs rallied in the 10th, and from the dugout Chapman watched his teammates pull out the game and win the series.

The same thing happened in the 1957 World Series. In the 9th inning of Game 4, Hall of Fame Braves pitcher Warren Spahn was trying not to blow a 3-run lead. With two men on and two outs, Yankee slugger Elston Howard stepped to the plate. Braves manager Fred Haney came out to the mound to give Spahn this helpful advice: Continue reading The Reverse Of An Idea Almost Lost the Series

From Goat To Hero in 5 Innings Or Less…

sfworldseriesringcpIt’s the MLB playoffs and I have to give a shout-out to my SF Giants. They beat the NY Mets last night in a one-game wild card playoff, their first step to getting back to the World Series. Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game shut-out and Conor Gillaspie hit a 3-run homer to win it in the 9th. It was a very exciting finish.

I write this mainly to get a rise out of my cousin, a die-hard Mets fan. But I also write this because of a Manic Impressive baseball moment I witnessed 30 years ago.

On September 14th, 1986, San Francisco Giants’ manager Roger Craig made a fateful decision. He asked his catcher, Bob Brenly, to cover third base for an injured player in a game against the Braves. This set the stage for one of most stunning personal performances in Major League Baseball history.

To that point in the season, Bob led the National League with only 3 errors in 101 games as a catcher. But in the fourth inning, Brenly tied a Major League record. He committed four errors on just three plays, allowing the Braves to score 4 unearned runs. It was the lowest point in his 871-game MLB career.

Back in the dugout Bob did not hang his head. Nor did he lose his temper like his teammates expected. “I was known to take my anger out on the bat rack,” Brenly said with a laugh. “I think they were expecting a snap.”

What happened next was pretty strange. Continue reading From Goat To Hero in 5 Innings Or Less…

4 Advantages Olympians Have Over You And Why It’s Okay

OlympicRingsNo matter how cynical I’m feeling about the world, when the Olympics come round every fourth year I get fired up. Those athletes living out their dreams on my TV gets me shouting USA, USA, USA!

Sure, their stories of sacrifice and triumph can seem cliche. But don’t you love seeing hard work get rewarded on the world stage like I do? Of course you do. Just make sure you don’t compare yourself to them, because it’s just not fair.

Olympians have huge advantages over you.

They have incredible athletic genes. You’re built for comfort, not speed. They look good in skin-tight spandex no retail clerk should ever be allowed to sell you. And besides their natural talents, Olympians have four huge advantages over us Manic Impressives.

1) Super Successful Parents – No offense, but your parents are kind of lame compared to the parents of Olympians. These parents get up early to take their kids to practice, work two jobs to pay for gear, and are disciplined, motivated role models.

Many are stud athletes like Michele Carter’s dad. Michele was the first American woman to win gold in the shot put since 1948. Her dad Michael Carter won the silver in shot put back in 1984, then won 3 Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco Forty Niners.

Your dad’s got a league bowling trophy, does he? Sorry, not in the same galaxy. Stop embarrassing yourself. Continue reading 4 Advantages Olympians Have Over You And Why It’s Okay

How Visualization Saved Me From Failing

airport+parking+free+parking+generic+lotManic Impressives are brilliant with words and ideas. But we often struggle with things. Especially the organization of things. Given our special relationship with time, showing up on time with everything we need is something we can never take for granted.

Which is why my recent trip was challenging all my weaknesses.

After 15 minutes trolling the gigantic airport lot, I found a parking spot, gathered my things and headed toward the shuttle bus. Backpack over my shoulder, suitcase in one hand, the other hand swinging free. Halfway from my car to the shuttle my free hand signaled my brain – “Hey, where’s the thing I’m supposed to be holding?”

Crap, left my horn in the trunk! How could I? I was heading to a gig and had spent hours practicing. How could I forget?

I hustled back to the car, grabbed the case, and made it to the shuttle feeling a bit stupid. But then I started feeling smart again. I hadn’t failed. I had remembered. But how had I remembered? Continue reading How Visualization Saved Me From Failing

Getting From Here To There Like American Ninja Warriors

Warped WallI had a secret fantasy when I started this blog. I would put things out on the interwebs and people would flock to read it. Then publishers would call and I’d have to quit my job to go on book tours and talk shows. Kinda like when you buy a lottery ticket and fantasize about all the things you’ll do when you’re suddenly filthy rich.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants this. To get to that magical place right now, without having to put in all the time, work, and struggle. Getting There. I’m sure everyone does this to an extent, but Manic Impressives do this a lot. We are impatient when it comes to results. We don’t want to hear about discipline or paying dues or the Happiness of Pursuit.

Screw all that. We want it now.

Truth is, wherever we are now is a place called Here. And we’re Here because of all the little choices we’ve made over time.

Like a lot of you dreamers, I also want to be propelled quite suddenly to There, miles ahead of where I am now. We Manic Impressives can’t help it. We want to get There, now. Because we know it’s possible. We see lots of people on our TVs make that huge leap, get discovered, and bam, they’re There.

Like the guy from the walk-on line at American Ninja Warrior, who suddenly finds himself at the top of the Warped Wall, hitting the buzzer, and getting through to the next round. Fans cheering, commentators gushing, instant fame and success. It happens.

So when this comment landed on my site, I was ready to embrace my new audience and celebrate my success:

“Hello there! This blog post could not be written any better!
Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
He continually kept preaching about this. I will send this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!”

Sure, it was from a person I didn’t know, with a username of Interesting Hen Recipes, but he clearly got my message and was already spreading the Gospel of ME. I was on my way. Continue reading Getting From Here To There Like American Ninja Warriors

ExhaustDead

ExhaustDead You ever watch “1000 Ways to Die” on Spike TV? It’s about all the crazy, stupid and disgusting ways people get themselves killed. Sort of the Darwin Awards for television.

In Way to Die #108, an abusive guy plans a nasty surprise for his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend. He’s outside a restaurant in his car, lying in wait for them with his paintball gun, ready for revenge.

But like most of the geniuses on this show, dude has done something stupid. He’s parked his car up against a pile of trash with his motor running. His car’s exhaust pipe gets clogged, exhaust backs up into his car, he starts feeling sleepy, badda boom badda bing, he’s starring in an episode of “1000 Ways to Die”.

Cosmic Justice.

The show has a dark sense of humor. At the end of each vignette they come up with a snarky title and slap a Way To Die # on it. The titles are usually sarcastic, bad puns, read in a mocking voice over. This one, Way To Die #108, is called,  “ExhaustDead”.

I saw this over the weekend and had a good laugh. But today, just a few days into the work week, I find myself feeling “ExhaustDead”. On the phone with my friend Ed, I describe myself as “bone weary”,  and “spent”. I can’t even sit upright to enjoy the Warriors bludgeon the hapless Rockets. I must watch this thrashing from my bed. Continue reading ExhaustDead