Saturday, February 26, 2011

Star or Part of the Team?

So, it is time for the Academy Awards. It is one of my favorite nights. Who will win? Who deserves credit? Who was the success? There are several groupings of people competing for the prize: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Screenwriter, Supporting Cast and so on. It doesn't stop there though. What makes a film the Best Picture? Is it the standout performance by the lead actor or was it a compelling story. Is it the director's mastery of cast and camera or was it the people who had the vision and the money to make it possible. After all it is the Producer who gets the award for Best Picture. The Producer owns the film.

I am faced with these questions in my own world. My design firm has suffered the loss of several talented people. We had finished design of several great projects that are now under construction. My lead architect on some of the work now has his own firm. My lead Interior designer now has her own firm. I had two interns that labored hard on some of these projects and worked out important details. Whose project is it? Who deserves the credit?

It has happened many times before in my life. I would interview for a school project while competing against a former employer and a former partner at the same time. My PowerPoint shows some of the same work. I tell the prospective client that "I" was key the the success.
It is like Brando saying that Francis Ford Coppola would not have a movie if not for his acting.

I was thinking about all this last weekend and went to church in Fort Worth. The preacher brought up an always interesting passage: "Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease being part of the body........." (1st Corinthians 12)

The Best Picture is not BEST just because of the actors or the director, but also the writers, camera techs, and the people that made the movie possible.

The Best School is not best because of the designers only because if someone had not secured the project, or paid for the project or created the team or .....

We are not all hands.

If "The King's Speech" wins big this year it is for many reasons including the fact that once upon a time a King stammered.

So fellow travelers we are ALL in this together looking for a good idea to bring to life.

mike turns loose

Today I came to another place where "two roads diverge" (the old fork in the road). I cleaned out the basement at my office. I had collected drawings and files from projects for over 40 years! It was time to quit "hoarding". It took three dumpster loads. All together I tossed about 90 boxes of files and hundreds of sets of drawings and tracings that span every firm that I have been part. There were some designs that I enjoyed tossing, but there were many that I always thought I would keep, but know that they just take up space. I did keep some very sentimental projects. One was a college church design. Another was the first home I designed, and another was the first church project that I ever got to see constructed.

I have worked for the last two days with a lump in my throat. Tossing the past is not easy for me. I am my father's son. My dad never threw anything away!

I have to because my life is entering its next chapter. There is no room. It is time to travel light. If all this stuff had been destroyed by fire, I wouldn't have missed it. BUT, it is the revisiting each drawing, each file and each memory that weighs heavy on my emotions.

I do treasure the memories of some wild experiences like OSU Gallagher-Iba Arena, Laureate Hospital, Muskogee County Courthouse, NSU Muskogee Campus, OSU Tulsa Campus and on and on. These drawings were the albums of my past.

I will not be passing this way again.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I am #4, who are you?

We went to see "I am Number 4" tonight. I was a little disappointed though because I thought it might be about the Dallas Cowboys.

It is a fun popcorn movie. It is sci-fi. It is very now. It has some off hand humor. The movie is about an alien teenager who is being hunted on earth by the bad guys from his planet. (a little like Terminator). Seems there were 9 good aliens that escaped, and the first three had been killed thus "I am Number 4". It sets up perfectly for a sequel, and I hope enough people see it to require one. It has a good use of special effects and it has some good school bullies don't know who they are dealing with scenes.

One reviewer called the movie: "Twilight for Guys".

Beware of the Beagle.

I give it **3/4 stars.

2011 movie #9

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unknown: Great title

I needed a movie tonight. I could not wait for the weekend. There are a lot of unknowns in my life right now, and my brain is full. We went to see "Unknown", the new movie starring Liam Neeson. It follows the current trend of action thrillers by not letting you know what is really going on. It's all UNKNOWN. I will not say much about the story, but I enjoyed it and it caused my mind to engage the story. So, it was a good evening. It has car chases, fights, fancy hotels and guessing.

If you are wondering if you would like this movie filmed in Berlin, I offer one and only one hint: "Bourne".

I give this movie **1/2 stars out of five.

2011 movie #8

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life or something like it!

Last year I read the autobiography of Paul McCartney and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the story of the Beatles and beyond. So, when the Rolling Stones guitar player, Keith Richards released his biography, "Life", I thought it would be fun to learn about the Stones, too. WRONG!

I can say I have been a fan of the Stones, but not Keith Richards. I now know clearly why.

Mr Richards is very proud of his drug use, his many arrests, his sex life and of course the thing he loves the most: Himself. He spends much time talking about people he does not like because they are ego driven and self absorbed and he tells the stories in such a ego driven and self absorbed way. Everyone is faking but him. He after all is the real leader of the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger is just the singer.

Things I did learn:

1. They started out wanting to be a Black Chicago Blues Band. They loved American Blues and did not want to be a rock band. They could not figure out the "black" part.

2. When they got tossed out of hotels, it was usually planned. Their manager would call the press to say: "If you want to see the Stones throw out of Hotel X, be there in 30 minutes." They wanted to be the bad boys, and they wanted to be the opposite of the Beatles. They enjoyed being dirty (physically and socially). They liked it when the press would say, "Would you want your daughters to be with someone like this?"

3. They got along fine with the Beatles. John and Paul gave them their first British hit. The bands would talk to each other before releasing a new single so that they would not compete.

Things that disappointed me:

1. Like me, Keith Richards lost a child. I started identifying with him as he stated that this is the hardest thing that someone can endure. But then he starts saying things like: "I don't even know where the little bugger is buried or if he is!"

2. He is a soulless person.

3. He is a Jerk.

4. He laughs at everyone that is not him.

5. He loves drugs more than anyone.

I have been skimming the last half the book, looking for something worthwhile. The search is hard. but almost over. If you are interested I would gladly loan out my unabridged CD and not expect them back.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Swing Low

I was getting ready to do a talk about Oklahoma music and I am starting with the story of a song. When I was in Elementary school, we had music class where we learned historical songs. Among the songs was "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" which was always portrayed as a Negro Spiritual equated to slavery. It became popular again while I was in High School because Joan Baez had recorded it and it was used during the Civil Rights Movement.

What I did not know then was that it was written by a Choctaw freedman (Wallis Willis) in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) before the Civil War. He was looking at the Red River on Oklahoma's border with Texas and the thoughts of the Jordan River came to him and the story of the Prophet Elijah being taken away to Heaven in a Chariot.

It has been said that the song has a hidden meaning about the "Underground Railroad" but who knows. It is equally effective.

One interesting note: In 1988 UB40 recorded the song for the English Rugby team to use as a theme song for the year. They won the World Cup.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Go With It! It will be fine!

I like every other Adam Sandler movie. This is the "other" and I liked it. Sandler likes sight gags and crazy side kicks: Done. Sandler likes sassy kids: Done. Sandler likes good looking women in his movie: Done. (see photo. I offer this ONLY for proof. This is NOT gratuitous.) Sandler likes to have pal, sports guy, Dan Patrick for a cameo: Done. Sandler likes good premise and happy endings: Done. Sandler likes to have fun: Done.

Sandler is a plastic surgeon who wears a wedding ring to pick up dates! He lies about to get sympathy and it works until Ms. Perfect, Brooklyn Decker, calls him on his lie. He gets his assistant, Jennifer Aniston, and her kids to aid the lie. (Think "I love Lucy" or "Modern Family".) The supporting cast including Nicole Kidman and Rocker Dave Matthews is a hoot!

I give this movie ***stars.

2011 Movie # 7

Friday, February 11, 2011

Company Men and me

Last year at the movies included, "Up in the Air", the George Clooney movie about a guy that flew around the country helping companies "downsize". This year's movie is "Company Men" which covers the other side of the table. What do you do when your world gets turned upside down? What if you are a key member of the company. This movie follows families that suddenly loose their jobs and those and around them. Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Craig T. Nelson are spot on in their portrayal of changes in life. This movie takes place NOW. It is about the current recession.

I know what you are thinking: This sounds so depressing! Maybe, Maybe not. I gave me a lot to consider, I made me realize that their are many, many people in the boat. THERE IS HOPE AND LIFE AFTER.................

I deeply appreciated this story. It is R because it is Life. There is profanity but such language is easily understood. This movie is real.

I give this movie *****stars out of 5. It won't be a monster hit because and subject and older cast, but there won't be a better movie about current life.

2011 Movie #6

PS: It will make me take more time with strangers. We are all in this together. And I AM a Company Man. More about this later,

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shine the light

I was listening to some music yesterday and turned my IPod to Sugarland and their new CD "The Incredible Machine", A song written by Jennifer Nettles called, "Shine the Light" latched on to me and did not turn loose. It is a long lyric and here is a part from the center of the song:

I will shine the light.
When your worries they won't let you sleep
And rob you of your days.....
And you've looked in all directions but you
Still can't find your way.
When you just need someone to remind you that it's
All gonna be ok I will shine the Light.
I will shine the light.

I will shine the light.
When you're staring down your demons
Weighing in your darkest night
I will shine the light.
Sometimes we jump into the great unknown.
Sorrows we all have to walk alone.
Waiting there in the end is a heart that calls you friend.
That's me clapping the loudest welcoming you home.

It is a great song. YOU need to download this.

It also reminds me of a shorter song by David that starts like this:

The LORD is my light and my salvation--
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life---
of whom shall I be afraid?

Joe Huff and the Matadors

I saw this poster today on FACEBOOK. My facination with music started one Saturday in the 50's when I went to Muskogee with my Mother to shop. The local music store had "Joe Huff and the Matadors" playing on the back of a truck parked by the store. I thought they were as cool as it got. That was about 400 vinyl albums, 400 cassettes, 600 cd's and several hundred concerts ago!
Notice the cost: $1.50

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Do I take this call?

Saturday afternoon, I was watching the Oklahoma State University Basketball game on TV when my IPhone rang. I looked at caller i.d. and the name was that of the superintendent of one of the schools I work for. We designed a new gym that was completed before this school year began. Instant panic set in.

Why is he calling on Saturday? Did the gym collapse under the weight of recent snow storms? Did the gym floor flood? He is as big an OSU fan as me, why is he calling in the middle of the game? This can't be good! Oh, Crap! (These thoughts were in a nano-second.)

I answered the phone.

He called to tell me that an Internet site dealing with Oklahoma high school athletics called "" had published an article about the new gym and said how great it was, how it was designed so that people can set on the plaza by the concession and eat at tables while watching the game, and that the lighting was the best of any high school gym, and other stuff.

I missed some of it because I was regaining my breathing, but I said, "I was afraid that you were calling with a disaster story." He said, "No just the opposite."

I liked that call!
This small Class A school is the envy of their competition and so far the gym doesn't leak!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reading about the Future

I was reading the new copy of "Newsweek" and a article by Blake Gopnik titled, "The Dirty Secret of Apple's Design". He talks about how Apple's creations like the MacBook Air, Ipad and Iphone aren't so much sleek, grand futuristic design as the design takes a back seat to function. He states that these products "could be the first hints of a design so new, it barely exists."

He begins this article stating that he is writing it on a MacBook Air.

I set there thinking about his comments about the future of Apple and technology. The future is so here. If all you see when you read an Ipad or use your IPhone is a sheet of glass with images, you have succeeded in moving from pages of paper to image based life. I think about my grand kids and that what they use for computers and phones may be as simple as an implant under their skin that connects straight to the brain , optic nerves, etc. Or they will watch life like 3d images that take them into the event. Apple is just preparing us for what's next.

I have grown up with books, newspapers, spiral notebooks, and record players. I am writing this post on my MacBook, about a story in Newsweek that I read on my Nook Color!

My, My how time flies!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Poseidon Adventure in a Cave

Cabin Fever got the best of me today. The only way to get rid of it was go to a movie. AND, like fever does sometimes, I did not have good judgement. We went to see the next James Cameron 3D adventure called, "Sanctum". It is about some adventurers who were exploring the world's deepest cave, something I have NO interest in ever doing.

The movie reminded me of two things.

1. The movie should have been called, "Tension". Tension is the name of a Song by Todd Snider where he has the line: "Just when you get to the part in the movie where the bad guy kills off all the under-developed characters, the good guy kills him off!" In this movie the bad guy is the Cave.

2. The Movie could have been called, "Poseidon Adventure in a Cave". Remember in Poseidon when the few people left were crawling through the ship, they kept coming to places where they needed to get from Point A to Point B. The game becomes, "Okay, which lame person dies this time."

The 3D is wasted. A dark cave doesn't change much in 3D. There aren't even any sea deep monsters. It's just a tense movie of people crawling through a cave or under water. Half the characters didn't even want to be there! And when the popcorn ran out, neither did I!

The break was good, but I have had plenty of tension lately and did not need theirs. I did for get mine though because I set there thinking, "Who wrote this?"

I won't spoil the ending for you. But no one had to cut their arm off (127 Hours) to escape, but suicide and mercy killings are great fun. It is Rated R because they use the F-word for no apparent reason about 5 times (two in the opening minute) and there is a lot of close-up dying.

By the way, if you really like this movie, don't tell me!

I give this movie *1/2 stars because the movie was warm and the popcorn was good.

2011 Movie #4

FYI: Sanctum means: "a place free from intrusion" which I take to mean the Theater showing this movie.

Life isn't Fair

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian." Dennis Wholey

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Drumline, Live (living large)

We had season tickets to shows at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. It was a neat idea where out of the almost 30 different shows, you could pick the events you wanted to see. Create your own season tickets. Saturday was the last of our shows, "Drumline, Live". It was based on the Movie, "Drumline", a story of Marching bands at Southern Black Universities and Colleges. The attention is put on the drummers in the movie, but the live show showcases Brass, Drumline, Drum Major, and Dancers. But if you think the presentation is only about "halftime shows", you would be wrong. There was a Motown/Soul Music section with the cast playing the part of the Supremes, Ray Charles, James Brown and Michael Jackson. The choreography and dancing as spot on. They did a Big Band skit, they honored the roots of percussion with an opening about the Drums of Africa, and they did some drumming that reminded me of "Stomp".

The cast of almost 40 was made up of former Band Members of colleges in the South. I would say, by the program, that about a third were from Florida A&M.

This was a fun, uplifting program that showed the connection of one type of music to another.
The two Saturday shows were sell outs and very interactive. When the show ended the band marched into the lobby and put on another show while we filed out! GOOD TIMES!