Pauseandblog: Perception

SC_004I’ve been watching a TV show called perception, which in many ways is just another in the long line of buddy cop shows that have come along in the past three years. You’ve no doubt seen at least one odd pairing of police, FBI or CSI and their helpful, off the books consultant.  Although Monk and Castle and The Mentalist may be among the most famous, both cable and network TV have been pairing odd experts with law officials to solve crimes for years.

Having both expert and novice work together in TV land gives them a reason to have to explain the stuff we might not understand otherwise.

On Bravo’s Perception, the expert helping the FBI is an Ivy League professor of psychology, but also a schizophrenic, and the delusions and voices he hears, usually help him solve the case. It’s an odd three way dynamic with an imaginary muse.

In this series, there is almost always an opening scene or two where the good doctor is in class teaching a lesson, coincidentally similar to the case he’s consulting on, or about to be.

The premise reminds me of how the sitcom Seinfeld originally opened and ended with Jerry doing his stand up routine at the top of the show and an extra punchline at the end, which were supposed to indicate to us, the answer to that age-old question every comic writer gets; “where do you get your material?”

I enjoy these sequences on Perception because it’s a field I’m fascinated with; the brain. His mini classroom lessons are actually educational. In today’s lecture, he begins by asking a student; “What have you done with your hair?”. He continues; ” It doesn’t matter how your day is going, often all it takes is one off hand comment to ruin it.”

This is so true, and one of the qualities I’m working on in my life.  Joy can be crushed so easily by another, with simple words, often not even intentionally. A question can begin a doubt loop that breaks your confidence and exposes it as a lie. I have this problem, and I also have been known to ask the kinds of questions that cause this grief in others.

Of course, it is almost always just in our head, and reframing can dissolve the negative thoughts. It just takes practice.

The next phrase he utters is what made me pause the TV and blog. “That’s because our brains are hard wired to remember the negative interactions better than the positive…”

Can this be true? I had to un-pause, and re-play the scene just a bit more to learn. The rest of the clip got more technical as he talks about unhappiness being a choice. This hits home with me, and my own personal writings and theories have been saying this.  I didn’t realize it was chemically and instinctively an uphill battle. I just though it was me.

In some ways, having physiology to blame means it’s not my fault.

Thank you Perception. Your scene may have changed my life.

Jeff Goebel
Mental Icarus

 

Pauseandblog: The Dead Body Reveal

TV inspires me to pause and blog often. I used to enjoy watching TV with someone, so we could pause and chat, but now that I live alone this is my compromise. I share with my blog.

Today I watched the opening pre-title scene of a recent NCIS episode.

(Yes, maybe that makes me old, if you believe the online chatter than NCIS is this generations’ Murder She Wrote, watched only by seniors.)

I’ve been a fan of the ensemble characters since season 1, but this blog he nothing to do with the show. It’s more about the genre of the DB reveal.

Far too many shows on TV these days open the show by revealing a dead body. Almost every show in the late prime time television spot opens almost every episode by revealing a dead body, for which the characters then have an hour or two at most to solve.

These opening sequences have a wide variety, and most frequently the scene has nothing to do with the rest of the show. It stands alone, as one or two random people, living their everyday unrelated lives, just happen apon, dig up, witness or otherwise discover a dead body somewhere. As actors, they get the privilege of a speaking role credit, despite having less than a minute on screen time. It’s a great first role for anyone.

My mind likes to think of the off camera work behind the scenes and I’ve often wondered about these opening reveal scenes. Most shows mix it up and have at least one or two episodes a season without an opening dead body reveal, but for the most part it is a murder show staple. I use the term “murder show”,  while others probably consider softer wording, like crime drama, cop show or detective show procedural. The commonality is that they’re all solving murders in one way or another.  Prime time has a lot of death. Everyone is killing everyone.

The massive demand for random and unrelated body reveal scenes must be difficult to keep writing, week after week, show after show. I ponder; do directors and writers buy and sell those scene scripts separate from the show? It seems like a perfect opportunity to separate the entire scene from the rest of the production. An amazing opportunity to give guest directors a chance, or pay back favours by casting your brothers daughter. Whenever I see a fresh new face in a DB reveal opener, I wonder if it was a gift role. I wonder if some writer wrote that reveal and sold it. I wonder a lot of things.

For writers, I have to believe they would welcome creative ideas for this part. It’s totally less important than the show plot, and could easily be farmed out or even freelance purchased.

I think it might even be a neat marketing ploy during sweeps week to have a more famous name director do the opening reveal scenes, perhaps for a whole evening or week of reveals, or maybe theme them in stunt casting and shared scenarios.

Can you imagine Tom Hanks being directed by Woody Allen discovering a teenager who was pushed in front of a train on next week’s episode of NCIS.

I probably should have come up with more youthful examples to try to regain my stance that I am not a senior citizen. Oh well.

In the preview I watched tonight that inspired all this, I saw a distracted man texting while driving, drive over his dead body before the credit roll. A meaningful public service announcement built into the DB reveal. That’s great. They’re finding a way to make them less useless. A DB reveal that teaches us about life.

I wonder if the driver of the car was somebody’s nephew.

Jeff Goebel
NOT A SENIOR CITIZEN

Hitler Died a Happy Man

I dream a lot, as most people do, but I like to think my dreams are different than many people’s and I tend to remember my dreams pretty well. In the spring, my dreams can be even more elaborate, and very dialogue intensive. It’s 5:31 as I write this post, and I just awoke from an interesting dream, inspire by the single line of dialogue; Hitler died a happy man.

The setting is this. I was in English class, sitting next to Jeff Cruze. He and I got along, and were having several conversations throughout the dream. The class had just learned his secret, which was that we was in fact Tom Cuises’ half brother, and he’d been sent to public school while his brother got all the riches of private school because he was born out of wedlock during an affair, and Tom had done a movie. Although the class was surprised by this, I wasn’t, because Jeff Cruze looked pretty much like an older version of Tom to me. As he told his life story, he mentioned; “Hitler died a happy man”.

This quote peaked my interests and I asked him where it was from. “Did you just make that up now?” I asked.

“huh?” was his reply?

“Did you just make that up, off the top of your head, or did you quote it from something? It sounds too profound to just be a throw away line you made up” I continued.

Before he could answer, I opened my flip top desk, and pulled out my foolscap paper and began to write this down.

In my mind, the scenario of the classroom played on, and I remembered a background story for myself in that setting. I was actually my own age, a 50 year old version of me in that class too, and I was not a good student. I was there, merely as a muse to my writing. I had paid tuition to be there, not for the class itself, but for the inspiration to write. For exactly this reason, to be in the right place at the right time for somebody sitting next to me to utter something inspiring, and then for me to begin writing.

I ignored the actual classwork. Jeff Cruze next to me, had even asked me about which project topic I was writing about.

“huh?”

“What topic did you choose? Are you in Miss Wilson’s group?”

“Oh”, I replied. “No. I don’t do the assignments. I’m just here to write my own stuff”.

And I picked up my pen, and started to write; “Hitler died a happy man”

The pen I grabbed was a part of the dream too. It was a classic Bic 4 colour ink pen. One with black, blue, green and red switches at the top you pushed downward and that ink tube came out the single whole. It was a popular invention back when I was a kid, and I happened to have seen they’ve come back into style this week while I was shopping at Staples for office supplies. I remembered this face in the dream, and incorporated it into the story. The pen was clearly not mine. It was in my desk, and I was about to start writing with it, when I thought to myself, this pen is somebody else’s and I am about to use it. They may see it, and notice it because it’s so clearly a special thing, there might be some question as to whether I stole it.

I decided to pre-empt any possible situation, and so I turned to the class and made it a show. “Hey, did you guys see they brought the Bic 4 colour pens back?”. I showed it off proudly as if it was my own recent discover, which of course it was, but this display made it appear as if I’d found, and bought this pen myself. Surely this would trick anyone else missing their pen into believing this one was indeed mine.

“yeah. I just saw this one at Staples yesterday. They have two models. The original like this, and a new one with four different colours. It’s not exactly the same as the original, but it’s clear they’re trying to revive a nostalgic memory”.

That was my show. I then went back to writing my journal, with the idea that it was settled. This was now my pen, and nobody would try to dispute that.

As I touched the pen to the paper to begin, I realized that the plastic tip that held the ink into position had ben broken and was missing. No doubt this was why the original owner had abandoned such a cool pen.  BUSTED. I was now trying to write with a pen that was clearly, not only identifiable, but useless. If anyone inquired, I would have to explain why I was using an old style other pen now… and now the pen I had just proudly shown off. What more, I would have to admit to the original owner, if they showed up – that I had just lied to everyone and tried to pass their pen off as one I’d just discovered and bought as my own.

Luckily, that guilt was too much for me, and I awoke from the dream.

bicIronically, this was in fact, the premise of the entire concept. Sometimes, in a bad situation, running away is the answer. Death can bring happiness. Hitler died a happy man. He avoided the awfulness that was around him. When I heard (dreamt) that single line, the vision of a man killing himself to avoid something worse seemed profound. It cheated the end game, and he escaped punishment for his sins. I know very little of Hitler the man of course, and I didn’t want my story to be about him. As a unified earth, we are all taught to hate the man, and despite any qualities he may have had as a leader or artist, or writer, we are taught by history he was a bad man who did very bad things. All people with the name Hitler changed theirs, and all the towns cities with German names changed theirs, except I think for the little Canadian town of Swastika Ontario, that decided not to, because they were Swastika first, an they liked it.

Anything that ever happens in our world that is in any way evil is compared to him and his team of Nazi solders. Hitler is the only real superhero style arch villain of our time. An everlasting symbol and logo of all that is bad. We are told we must never forget, although logically, forgetting could actually be the best thing to do.

I don’t really think Hitler died a happy man, and this story isn’t even really about him. It is about the dream.

The vivid memory that I did use high school as a muse to my writing. I did exactly as pictured here in my vision. I would hear something a student or teacher said, and I would pick up my foolscap white paper and my Bic 4 colour pen, set to blue 99% of the time,  and start writing. I wrote a lot back then. Almost all of the content for my first series of books was written in high school when I was supposed to be doing work. In science class, I wrote a detective series about a man named Warren Peace, and I wrote my first book of one page monologue adventures called “BOOK, a no name product”., which is self published and still available online.

They all started the same way, with a single thought or a title. I put pen to page and wrote. It was neat to re-live that for a moment this morning at 5:30am. I woke up with a single thought in my head, and started typing. It was a happy memory. Oddly, about a mass murdering horrific massacre… but with a happy ending.

Hitler died.

 

 

[EDIT: I looked it up. It wasn't a quote. My dreaming head did just make up the line in that moment in this dream, and  Tom Cruise does not have a bastard 50 year old half brother, that we know of.]

 

Just kidding.

At today’s lunch, I was inspired to think about some pranks. I didn’t have the guts to do anything, but I must have been in some weird mood to think of them.

The first one would have been on three 40 something ladies who came in to the fast food chain,  just to rush to the rest room. One of the ladies made note of the clearly posted sign alerting everyone that the rest rooms were for customers only, and the dominant leader of the group waved her hand as if to magically make the sign null and void, exclaiming we never saw that sign.

My imagination had me knocking on the restroom door, and in a deep voice, calling out; I hope you’re going to be buying something, and then taking my seat again as if nothing happened. All possible outcome scenarios delighted me.

I did nothing.

They got away with their crime unnoticed by anyone but me.

Next up, I witnessed a foreign student roaming, and take a seat at the last open booth, passing by 4 tables better suited for a single diner.

He dropped off his napsack and placed his burger tray down and scooted off to the restroom.

In my head, I conjured up two scenarios for him. At first, I thought it would be funny if he returned from his side trip to find me seated at his table across from his chosen position, either quietly eating and drinking my meal as if I hadn’t noticed his plate and drink, or even bolder, eating his fries and drinking his drink like it was my own.

Of course, both these options were far bolder than I would ever stoop to trying, so I conceived a milder prank, and debated commenting to him; while you were gone, that man over there came up and licked three of your fries. It was the strangest thing.

This could possibly cause a reaction that involved far to many unknown variables so again, I did nothing but imagine.

Other group tables opened up before it was an issue, so he too escaped with no consequence.

My meal was entertaining in my mind, and then I wrote this post.

You are not your farts

As is often the case, I read something, and it inspirers a thought stream in another direction.

This morning, I was linked on Facebook to the following article, in reference to a discussion they’d been having online about sharing your life experiences with depression or medication online.

http://everybodyhasabrain.tumblr.com/post/81825984249/can-i-ask-why-its-not-good-to-define-yourself-based-on

It started me thinking about my process and how I like to share. It started me thinking that online cross posting, and sharing is the new way to tell stories.  Stories that are not ours. It’s a lazy form of communication, but it’s become vital to our happiness.

We love to share. We need to share. In fact, we feel now bad when we can’t share something cool. I find myself missing the LIKE and SHARE buttons on real life. I see an accident or a cool stunt being performed, and I am actually sad that none of my friends saw it. It was a one shot deal, and unless I tell somebody, it will be lost forever.

Stories are how we used to share. Now we just click.

When I look back in time, even three years, my Facebook feed was filed with posts about people and their lives.  In fact, the original Facebook status updates FORCED you to use the word IS.  Jeff Goebel IS… Dave IS… We had to answer with an action. A statement telling everyone what we were at that moment.

Now, in 2014 I look at my Facebook feed and almost nobody is leaving text. Instead of Jeff Goebel IS… I see mostly JEFF GOEBEL SHARED THIS POST or JEFF GOEBEL LIKES… We have transitioned from storytellers to delivery people and our world has become a world of personal referrals.  If Jeff Goebel likes it, it’s got to be good.

Here – look what made me smile. Maybe it’ll make you smile.

Can you imagine, as a child sitting around a camp fire, if we’d just said; “Here to tell Tonight’s ghost story, is acclaimed actor; Morgan Freeman.”  Sure, it would have been awesome, but we’d leave the camp without having gotten to know who we were. Other people’s stories reveal so little, compared to our own.

I’ve very choosy with my shares and likes. I understand that this is how many people will get to know me online; not from my personality so much as my tweets. Wheat I choose to share BECOMES my story, and it had better give the right impression… because I’m not going to be there when you read it. I’m no longer sharing our NOW together. The time between post and read can be lengthy. I have no control.

I’m sharing content; other people’s stories, much easier to pander to a specific demographic audience.

Just now, as I read the article about farting, I wanted to share it with two people. First, my instinct to share it with a female friend with whom I’ve had previous conversations about how funny farting can be, and second; my social worker councilor.

The impulse share was merely keyword based, and not genuine. The content of the article was less relevant and more driven by – I enjoyed it, and it has the word fart in it, so she’ll enjoy it, and I’ll get the smile credit. I have several keyword based share friends, flowing in both directions. If I see the word Subaru in something that made me smile, I share it with those circles. If I see an iPhone gag that made me laugh, I share it with those circles.

The second share instinct was the one that made me sit up and start writing. I wanted to share something cool with my therapist. The concept of therapy is new to me, having only had two visits, but it’s enough for me to have bonded and developed a profile of what kind of shares I think she may enjoy. In my head, this share would help her. A story she may use to help others. A re-share is a valuable reward. When they “like” or re-share it’s the silent approval. It’s not as rewarding as seeing and creating a smile to me, but I can imagine it in my head and gain almost the same satisfaction.

Without the possible rejection, an imagined smile is pretty much guaranteed.  I pass off my share, and assume the smile. It doesn’t even matter how they really react, in their NOW, far removed in the future.

That’s why it feels so good.

I shared, and in my mind, have helped create scores of smiles for generations to come. All because I read something, and was the one who recommended it to someone else.

It has been this way for ages. The joy of a new thought or discovery is always exciting to share, and the story tellers have the power.

Religion spreads so fast because we get to enlighten the ignorant and educates them with a story so wonderful it explains everything perfectly, as long as you don’t question it. Somebody else’s stories never have to stand up to question, because you are not responsible for anything beyond the re-telling. The fun part.

If I discover something you don’t know… I get to give the gift of the story, and receive the payoff of the excitement of new ideas, without any consequence.

That’s why I always like personal stories. People. I’d rather see your art, then the trinkets you’ve bought to resell. I’d rather hear your stories, than a friend of a friend. I get to ask questions, and you get the joy of reward, yourself. I’d rather tell my stories.

Sadly, most people are not yet great storytellers. I’m working on that

Jeff Goebel

April 7, 2014

8am.

 

The Medium used to be the Message

The World Evolves.

The medium used to be the message, but today the audience is the author.
The world is the medium and the message.

Media is finally created by, and received by both parties. The watcher is the content producer.

Reality TV now exists in multiple forms. On networks, it’s still created by producers and isn’t really reality TV, but we also have the Internet, and online – REAL reality exists. Video created by the people for the people… or for nobody.

Everyone has a truth
One man can be a church
A lie travels fast

Regular people can build an audience, and maybe even a fanbase. They often become addicted, just like reality TV stars have been known to become.

When we get an audience, we crave a bigger audience. Laughter, or worship is addictive.

Sadly, some also get famous unwillingly in this new world where it’s OK to laugh and share literally anything funny.

Slipping on a banana was always funny, to everyone but the fallen – but today the moment isn’t lost in the moment. Today we can click a button and re-live the humiliation over and over and over and even make somebody totally unrelated to the act, except they were the ones that uploaded the clip, filthy rich with 6,000,00 views, and an upbeat tune to make the fall even funnier.

A new phobia emerges!

A new fear of being caught on camera and becoming an Internet sensation overnight. The terror of being viewed and mocked by Howard Stern in the morning, or Jimmy Kimmel Live late that very night or other countless comedic monologues.

Without your permission or awareness, the world is laughing at you, as you fall into a hole in a kitchen, or walk into a water fountain while texting… or slip on a banana peel. If you’re very unlucky, they turn you into an extra funny meme and your 15 minutes lasts for weeks – ever.

A clown.

I will remember the Double Rainbow guy forever and not remember who won the last season of Survivor, Idol, AGT or next top model. I watch those shows, but I forget the winners almost instantly. I remember the STAR WARS KID and the guy that sings CHOCOLATE RAIN.

I remember the “RIDAY FRIDAY” singer much more than I remember whoever was the musical guest on SNL this past week.

World media has become as famous, or more famous than the big TV Networks, but TV is learning. They’re trying to merge the two. They bring YouTube onto the TV, and discuss the top stories, and make an extra punch line or two out of the already funny… again.

Each night we have shows that try to recap the days Internet memes and sensations, but I’m always pleased when I’ve already seen the YouTube videos or VINES or other clips that Chris Hardwick plays @Midnight or TOSH.O makes fun of this week. It means I’m current, and for some reason, at age 50, that makes me happy. I know who Miley Cyrus is, and was – but I also know Grumpy Cat and Keyboard Cat.

I don’t want to be famous.
I just want a few fans.

Orange Origin

Orange

This color’s name derives from the Sanskrit word for the fruit naranga. (Yes, the color orange was named after the fruit, not the other way around). This transformed into the Arabic and Persian naranj, and by the time of Old French to pomme d’orenge. It was originally recorded in English as the name of the color in 1512.  Before then, the English speaking world referred to the orange color as geoluhread, which literally translates to “yellow-red.”

My reason for picking it as my favourite:

My father worked at Cadet Cleaners, a Toronto based dry cleaner, and their logo and corporate colours were orange. We had a lot of orange around. I liked Orange Crush, Halloween and all things orange.

GO64. Commodore 64 Newsletter

COMPUTER IMAGE – THE SILENT KILLER

This is an article I found today, written for the Georgetown Ontario Commodore 64 users group.

By Jeff Goebel  Circa 1985

A reputation is a strange thing. Most of us spend much of our lives either trying to create a good one, or erase a bad one. Although reputations are generally specific to each individual, occasionally people confuse reputations with stereotypes. This is especially true in the commercial marketplace, were an image can make or break a company; or both.

Take the Commodore 64 computer for instance. Although you might not realize it, the computer has one of the biggest immages of any computer. Depending on what you want a computer for, this stereotype may work in favor of, or against the Commodore. The way the public views this computer has certainly changed over its two year history.

In the fall of 1982, Commodore shocked the computer industry with the annoucement of their new personal computer; the Commodore 64. The computer industry took immidiate notice. Commodore had already shocked everyone the year before when it released the VIC 20 for under $500 and now it looked like they were doing it again with the first 64K computer under $1000. At that time, the APPLE II computers were standard with 48K or less, but sold for more than double the retail price of $895 for the Commodore 64 and has still not mastered colour.

The new machine sold quite well in the beginning, although there was almost no software for it. It was bought by serious programmers and software designers, because of it’s unique built in operating system, superior SID music synthesizer chip, and 16 colors. Because of it’s basic similarity to the popular PET computer, users groups like TPUG (Toronto Pet Users Group) had no trouble converting PET programs over, to satisfy their continually growing membership.

As time passed, and computer sales steadily increased, more and more commercial software became available. In the beginning, the first titles to appear were conversions from popular APPLE, VIC, ATARI and PET programs. Anything that had done well on other computers. The more software that becames available, the more people bought the computer, and the more Commodore 64 owners there were, the more software was written.

Just as the market was settling down a bit, and other computer companies had lowered their price, and raised their standard models all to 64K, Commodore shocked them all again, by slashing the price on the computer and distributing it through MASS MERCHANDISING outlets like Eatons and Simpsons. Soon followed Zellers, Towers, K-Mart and even Canadian Tire. The computer became available everywhere. Suddenly the market changed.

No longer was this computer a product to be purchased only in computer stores. it could be picked up at a discount store just like a washing machine or stereo. This image of a computer as a regular piece of furniture certainly helped to increase Commodore’s sales. The figures make both the Commodore VIC 20 and the Commodore 64 the biggest selling computers of all time. The computer is cheap and redily available. Custommers who don’t want to shop around can walk in and take one home.

In moving to the MASS MARKET Commodore have seperated themselves from the rest of the competition in the serious computer marketplace. Although the computer is the same it’s image is new. It’s no longer SPECIAL. Many more serious programers don’t even look at a 64 when they are looking for a computer to buy. Although the 64 can almost definatly do anything they require a computer for, they rule the Commodore 64 out claiming; “IT’S A GAME MACHINE”. Ironically, most apple owners will do their best to prove that their computer is as good at games as anything else. The companies know that a strong game or non-game stereotype misses out on the other half of the market.

Serious computer buyers are like serious stereo buyers. People who want top quality “state of the art” equipment don’t often shop at department stores. Even if the same equipment is sold at specialized dealers. It’s always a good idea to shop where there is a certain degree of knowledge behind the counter. In the big chains, you’ve often got to purchase blindly. Your salesperson is often a recruit from the shoe department.

Unfortunately, many big computer dealers are no longer carrying the 64 line anymore. It’s become increasingly difficult for a one store dealer to compete with huge corporations purchasing for 500 departments accross Canada. When the computer itself retails about 9% above dealer cost, it’s simpler to “JOIN THE BANDWAGON”, and badmouth the unit as a “TOY” and try to talk the custommers into buying a $4000 IBM system with a much healthier markup.

It s obvious that Commodore doesn’t really care this goes on. It makes no difference to THEM, why people are buying their computers, just so long as people ARE buying them. So what if they lose a little respect from the so called EXPERTS, respect doesn’t pay the bills. Commodore enjoys being on top in the sales department. They like to keep the market changing. They invented a new LOW end market with the VIC 20, and then the 64 was released and the MIDDLE END computers all dropped a notch closer to becomming the new LOW END. I suspect they’ll soon release another industry shocker and bring the HIGH END computer market prices down as well. The new AMIGA/LORRAINE sounds like it just may do that. Who knows. Perhaps in the year 2000, you may be playing SPACE INVADERS on a 2000 MEG Computer. Naturally, it’ll be reguarded as another Commodore “GAME MACHINE”.

EDIT: Commodore went out of business.