Category Archives: Everything I Know I Learned From Television

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 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

Performance Anxiety


Sometimes good sense comes to us from the unlikeliest places. Like this new sitcom, Life In Pieces. In episode 17, the mom is freaking out because her daughter Sofia is not practicing for her piano recital. Mom is reliving all the bad memories from her own childhood recital, so she talks with her daughter to spare her the humiliation she endured as a child.

Mom: “Your dad and I are concerned that you’re not practicing. I used to play piano when I was your age but I don’t anymore because nobody made me practice and I wish that they had.”

Sofia: “Well, no one’s stopping you now, go ahead.”

Mom: “I had a recital when I was your age, it did not go well. And I regret that.”

Sofia: “Mom, don’t worry so much. It’ll be fine, I promise.”

So the family assembles in the audience, prepared for humiliation and tears. Sofia delivers a cringe worthy performance, but the moment passes when the boy after her wets his pants and leaves the stage in shame.

LIP Audience

The family gathers backstage to console their daughter, who, strangely, does not seem fazed by having just bombed her recital. Continue reading Performance Anxiety


MazeThis is Maze, the devil’s protector, from the new TV show Lucifer. She’s a demon in the form of a very hot, dangerous woman. She’s stuck in Los Angeles watching Lucifer’s back while he’s on vacation from Hell sorting out some personal issues. At one point Maze takes Lucifer’s brother to a coffee shop called Beelzebeans, and explains why she loves it.

“This is my favorite place in the city. Look at them on their laptops, writing the next great screenplay, torturing themselves with the dreams, they know, deep down, they will never achieve. Reminds me of home.”

Home for Maze is Hell, a place souls go to be tortured. At least here on Earth, tortured souls have a chance at redemption and the ability to achieve their dreams. No, it’s not easy, and there is plenty of struggle in store for those of us who listen to the Muse and pursue our dreams of writing, performing, and being more than we are.

But in Hell there is no Muse. Only Maze, the demon who loves to see the suffering that comes from self-doubt. As long as we mortals listen to the Muse and chase our dreams, we are safe. But in the quiet moments when we are not striving, we are vulnerable. That’s when self-doubt can creep in and whittle away at us. Continue reading Self-Doubt

4 Simple Strategies for Staying On Target

StayOnTargetOver the years I’ve learned a few things about myself and how to get things done. This has been a slow, evolutionary process. Oddly enough, what got me going on this was something I learned from Star Wars. Remember the final battle sequence in the first Star Wars movie? Luke Skywalker had to drop a shot down an intake valve on his final desperate approach over the Death Star to win the battle and save the Rebellion.  His wing commander was shouting through his headset these powerful words:

Stay on target, stay on target!”  

This has become my mantra, and it’s helped me develop these               4 simple strategies for getting things done: Continue reading 4 Simple Strategies for Staying On Target

Weird Design

Predator 2

Remember this guy? This is Predator, star of the 1987 movie named, aptly enough, Predator. It was a bit of a cult hit, and spawned two sequels, two spinoffs,  and another film currently in the works.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse “The Body” Ventura head up a team of mercenary badasses hired by the CIA to head into a steamy jungle to snuff out some bad guys. They hunt and kill the bad guys, only to find they are being hunted themselves. By this weird Predator thing that can turn itself invisible and likes to hunt and kill humans for sport.

There’s only one Predator against six heavily armed, Special Forces-trained killers. But soon the commandos are hunkered down, scared out of their wits, and getting picked off one-by-one to their gruesome, gory deaths. Finally it all comes down to Arnold and Predator, and well, you can’t have a movie franchise if you kill off the star, so Arnold finds a way to kill Predator and save himself.

Predator Commandos Continue reading Weird Design

Jon Voyage

Jon Stewart

Tonight it ended. 16 years of the finest, most objective American journalism disguised as a comedy show. The greatest political and social satire of our generation. Jon Stewart signed off after his 2599th episode of The Daily Show, the most trusted source of news for Millenials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers alike. Though the show will continue, it will never be the same, and neither will we.

There has been a vast disturbance in the Force…

A stand up comedian from New Jersey, Jon worked the comedy club circuit for years as he tried to climb the show biz ladder. Appearances on MTV led to a short stint hosting his own show in the mid 90’s. But after 16 episodes it was back to guest appearances and one forgettable role as an “enhancement smoker” in the stoner feature film, Half Baked.

Then in 1999 the role of a lifetime showed up. Jon took over as host of a little watched show on a crappy cable channel hosted by Craig Kilborn (remember this guy? No?).  He turned The Daily Show into a category all it’s own, put Comedy Central on the map, and collected a Grammy, two Peabody Awards, and 17 Emmys along the way.

Jon, as Stephen Colbert aptly described him, was, “infuriatingly good at his job”. He became a force in American politics and shaped  the national discussion on a range of issues. He called out business leaders for corruption, politicians for hypocrisy, and Fox News for lying.  He became so influential that President Obama called him to the White House twice to consult on media.

He also discovered and launched the careers of some of the smartest, funniest performers you never heard of before the Daily Show, such as: Continue reading Jon Voyage