Popular vs. Best

This from the great Seth Godin last month:
Seth’s Blog: My most popular blog posts this year.

My most popular blog posts this year

…weren’t my best ones.

As usual, the most popular music wasn’t the best recorded this year either. Same for the highest-grossing movies, restaurants and politicians doing fundraising.

“Best” is rarely the same as “popular.”

Which means that if you want to keep track of doing your best work, you’re going to have to avoid the distraction of letting the market decide if you’ve done a good job or not.

That’s true. I would hope that none of my posts are terrible, but occasionally something hits big — or has legs — and I’m left scratching my head. Sometimes, it’s when something hasn’t gotten a lot of play; sometimes it’s when another person directs people to it; sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.

Whatever it is, I’m always grateful that people read what I put out there. I’m particularly gratified when someone takes the time to comment — even if it’s just a simple “thanks.”

As I think about this, I have always found that this idea of popular and best rather curious. I am immediately reminded of a time a few years back when I received a “significant award” for news writing. I couldn’t believe the story that was picked won. I had written much, much better stories that year, I thought.

What I learned about best, popular and the fickle nature of audiences I learned by developing audiences for the theatre. These things translate:

1. Treat all assignments equally.
2. Always do your best work.
3. Be proud of your efforts.
4. Say “thank you” and mean it.
5. Be grateful and and a little bit humble.
6. Never, ever believe your own P.R.

If you think that those things have nothing to do with popularity, you’d be wrong.

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot

 

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot.

I don’t, as they say, “do football,” but this piece just solidifies my love for Chris Kluwe, one of our most vocal allies.

David Miranda Is Nobody’s Errand Boy

David Miranda Is Nobody’s Errand Boy.

This is a really well-done long-format piece from BuzzFeed on the continuing David Miranda/Glenn Greenwald saga. I find it hard to be objective about this because I feel so strongly that Miranda is being singled out for his partner Greenwald’s role in the Snowden/NSA leaks. It’s an egregious use of power from the U.S. and the U.K., IMHO.

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David Miranda and the title card for the BuzzFeed story. | Photo: Jimmy Clark for BuzzFeed.

Our Bullying Culture

 

Seth Godin

Seth Godin

Seth’s Blog: Sure, but he’s our bully.

There have always been bullies among us, and it’s worth taking a moment to see how our culture has built a role for them to be useful heroes. Taught or not, bullying keeps showing up.

We often (for a while) view bullies as powerful or brave or important–as long as they are ourbullies. Richie Incognito, Chris Christie, Rob Ford—each has a long list of supporters, people who have defended a particular bully as a passionate man of the people, as doing their job, as the visceral anti-elite, winning a battle that’s worth fighting for.

This is an excellent piece by Seth Godin, one of my Top Five “deep thinkers” in strategic management and communications issues.  We talk so much, especially in the LGBT community in recent years, about bullying, the effects of bullying and the teen suicides caused, oftentimes, by bullying that we tend to think that bullying is something that won’t happen after we run the gauntlet that is high school.

In other words: it gets better.

Well, for many who are bullied, it does get better, but for others, the bullying continues. You, as an adult, may be a bully in your workplace whether you realize it or not. I was, in fact, shocked when a co-worker once told me that I had such a “forceful personality” that they wouldn’t want to contradict me for fear that they would be seen as potentially wrong.

I was shocked because I don’t have that view of myself at all. At heart, I’m still the very short, stocky, gay 11-year old with glasses who couldn’t hit the baseball worth a damn and who was picked last in gym class. How could I possibly be that person that others perceived me to be?

The truth is, it bothered me enough to change my management style; to make sure to be as inclusive as possible; to encourage others to render an opinion counter to my own, even if I am the “boss” in that situation. Simplistically, this is often reduced to “speaking truth to power” but there’s more to it than that.

Writes Godin:

In your organization, there are no doubt bullies who can win their point, increase their power and defeat their enemies. … But it’s pretty clear we can create organizations that don’t tolerate it, creating an environment where the bully is never the hero. We probably ought to try.

The more we all check ourselves and recognize bullying behavior in our adult lives, the easier it is for us to create a bully-free society for the next generations. Vying for a little less power might be a good thing.

All My Children Gets the Axe Again

It’s not every television series that can boast (?) of being cancelled more than once, but that’s the case with the once-perennial fixture of early afternoon viewing, All My Children. While there hasn’t been “official” official word from the show’s producers Prospect Park (at least publicly as of this writing), tweets from star Debbi Morgan (Angie Hubbard) expressing thanks to fans have been widely circulated and quoted by generally reliable sources such as Michael Fairman On Air On Soaps and retweeted by Cady McClain (Dixie Martin).

(Update: Cady McClain [always a class act, BTW] confirms via Michael Fairman.)

The cast of the "new" All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

The cast of the “new” All My Children included many familiar faces, including original cast member Ray MacDonnell and longtime co-stars Cady McClain, Jill Larson, David Canary, Julia Barr and others. Image: Ferencomm/The Online Network.

There’s going to be a lot of snarky fan reaction on the Innerwebs in the coming days and weeks along the lines of:

  • I knew it wouldn’t last.
  • Why couldn’t it have been every day?
  • I didn’t want to watch on Hulu.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to get it on my computer, so I gave up.
  • They didn’t have Erica Kane.

And here’s what I have to say about that, quoting that wonderful singer-songwriter Phoebe Kreutzboo frickin’ hoo.

Honest to God. I’m just happy to see someone try to do something differently. I was appreciative of the opportunity, as a viewer, to meet these characters on this new canvas for a while. To have produced 43 episodes in this new format is not a loss, it’s a win. Producers are finding more and more ways to interact with audiences through the Web than they ever have before:

  • Cady McClain made a cool short movie;
  • Freddie Smith, Shawn Christian (DOOL) and company are making a web series;
  • Indie phenom Adam Goldman is producing his second brilliant web series;
  • Broadway’s Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead produce, script and star in a smart web comedy
  • Kit Williamson and Van Hansis (ATWT) starred in Williamson’s exceptional web program….

I could go on and on. But to the naysayers, just remember, small, closed minds have never discovered new worlds, written great novels, played great music, developed cures for disease or launched the next life-changing app. They laughed at Edison, too, you know.

Pine Valley
It was terrific to see folks like Cady McClain and Debbie Morgan and Darnell Williams and Jill Larson in old familiar roles — even the never-count-him-amongst-the-dead Matthew Cowles — but it was even better to watch some terrific new talent like Eric Nelsen and Denise Tontz and Rob Scott Wilson emerge and breath new life into characters whose names, but not much else, were familiar to longtime viewers.

So, again, we write the elegy — and eulogy — for Pine Valley, but we move on, figuring out what’s next and where we’ll be tomorrow and what we’ll tune into then. Something new. And different. The world still turns. Well, as it were.

______________________________________________________________________

Recent Ramblings on All My Children:

Thought for the Day…

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. This, plainly stated, is your language…

In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me – my money – was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle….

Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong…

—Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union address of 1860.

P.S. – For a comically tragic account of the goings-on in Washington, find a copy go Jon Stewart’s opener from the 9/30/13 Daily Show. Brilliant.

Aaron Hicklin on Steve Grand: His success as an out gay musician couldn’t have existed decade ago

Aaron Hicklin on Steve Grand: His success as an out gay musician couldn’t have existed decade ago | Out Magazine.

There’s something infectious about hanging out with someone whose life is on the brink of change. Grand was like a boy who’d won the golden ticket — well-behaved and gracious, and enjoying every minute. It was one of his first public performances, and the fact that it was in an opulent Chicago institution that’s received every president since Harry Truman spoke volumes about where America finds itself in this particular moment.

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Out magazine’s Aaron Hicklin chatting with Steve Grand in Chicago. |Image: Out magazine.

Technology, says Out’s Aaron Hicklin, that’s what we’ve got to thank for Steve Grand and for the plethora of entertainment options from across the spectrum that are now available to us thanks to the Innerwebs.

It’s a lovely article. Read it. 

Also, search around for Hicklin’s Q&A with Grand from that event. I’ve seen it, but I can’t recall where. Towleroad, maybe? Anyhow, it’s a nice interview. The cut above has a video embed of Grand playing his debut, All-American Boy, at the Hilton.

Below is a link to a recent piece I did, featuring a video embed of his latest, Stay.

Steve Grand Would Like You to Stay

 

One First Word

Me, on Facebook this morning….

The view from here: Bashar al-Asad is gassing his own people and we’re about to intervene militarily, Putin and Friends have made Russia one of the most scarily anti-gay places on earth but the IOC is not moving the Olympics because, like the jews in 1936, we don’t care enough about the homos we’re sending, journalists’ families are being harassed by governments because of the Snowden leaks, the entire Western portion of the country is on fire, the Do-Nothing Congress is gearing up for another utterly meaningless fight on the utterly meaningless debt ceiling, Pakistan, the Taliban, Iraq, Iran, fracking, Keystone XL, AQAP…. and if you listen to the American “news media” you would assume that the only two stories happening in the world are Ben Affleck being cast as Batman and how Miley Cyrus lost the plot at the VMAs.

Some days, everything annoys me. This is one of those days.

And so it goes.

NPR Says Julia Child Was Wrong — Um, I Don’t THINK SO!

Julia Child Was Wrong: Don’t Wash Your Raw Chicken, Folks : The Salt : NPR.

I’m open to being proven wrong, but I think this is a lot of bloody hokum. The comments are more prescient than this article.

If there was, in actuality, an epidemic of food borne illness from washing poultry, there would be more of a hue and cry about it. The fact is, the reason there is so much wrong with food today is because modern agribusiness has done a fine PR job convincing us that this the CHICKENS’ FAULT and not the fault of the MASS PROCESSING AND SLAUGHTER INDUSTRY.

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Sorry, NPR. Julia Child was never wrong. Image|Paul Child/PBS

Solve the problem by (A) buying your chickens from an organic farmer/butcher or (B) not eating chicken. Telling you not to wash a chicken is like telling you not to wash e coli-ridden bagged lettuce, which you shouldn’t be buying either. HOW HARD IS IT TO RIP UP LETTUCE, PEOPLE?? I’m done ranting, I’m going to go wash a chicken.

I’ve been called out on my near-reverance for the late Ms. Child more than once, but I’m here to tell you, if you study cooking, if you study food, if you study kitchen technique, you will never find a better teacher.

I’m a pretty fine home cook, if I do say so myself. Julia Child taught me how to be fearless in the kitchen and how to marry flavors and, most importantly, how to cover up mistakes with good humor and an extra bottle of wine.

My advice, always, to fellow mortals: don’t fuck with Julia Child.