Week’s highlights

Some of the things that caught my interest this week:

  • Brain PickingsMy Heart. The openness and closedness of a heart is one of those things I’ve pondered for several years. Long before the emotional breakdown in 2016. This children’s poem beautifully covers the spectrum of heart acrobatics in a sparse way.
  • A throwback to The OC. In this interview with Olivia Wilde she chats about the perceptions of including a queer character on the early 2000s pop culture juggernaut. (I still own the series on DVD).
  • Pollution is a problem in our National Parks. I’ve only recently begun exploring the outdoors – last three or so years. So the National Parks have grown in my purview, and I even entertained becoming a park ranger for a time. Caring for our natural resources, and the places we’ve set aside to visit the wilds, is of crucial importance.
  • Booming Broadway. The NYTimes reports, spoiler alert, another record year for performances on the Great White Way.

Effective management

What does a manager do? How does one motivate employees? When does a supervisor make the leap into leadership. These eight steps are hallmarks of leaders:

  • They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  • They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
  • They developed action plans.
  • They took responsibility for decisions.
  • They took responsibility for communicating.
  • They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.
  • They ran productive meetings.
  • They thought and said “we” rather than “I.”

Making space

Everything we do is a matter of finite resources. Some things may be abundant, and others may be scarce – but nothing is infinite.

To allow room into our lives for new possibilities, we must be willing to make room for them. That means not overextending our time, not collecting more than we need, and not encumbering ourselves merely to fill a void.

Music consumption

Driving from a to b one day, I was thinking about the radio. I’ve had satellite radio for about a year, mostly to listen to Symphony Hall, Metropolitan Opera, and Broadway, but it isn’t a necessity. Early on, there was just wireless telegraphy. Over a century of radio broadcasting, with the first 60 years shaping the nature of music and entertainment.

Then it started to change. The take-home market, bootlegs, and audio recording devices for personal use. Not a phonograph, but cassette. As the size of data decreased, the ease of consumption increased. Now, thousands of songs are instantly available from the phone you’re carrying, likely hooked up to your Bluetooth in the car. Not thousands. Not millions. Every song ever recorded is virtually accessible in some way through most mobile devices. Not needing to carry cassettes, or cds, your tastes can expand, but your curatorial sense may be reduced.

We rarely listen to complete albums any more, so maybe we miss gems from our favorite artists. But we’re constantly exposed to new artists, ones we may have missed otherwise. As in all other arenas of modernity, it’s a trade-off we’re still learning to come to terms with.

Memorial Day

Today we pause and think on those who came before. Those who gave their all to make a difference.

Sometimes I wonder if the mentality has changed, and what do memorials mean to people. A few years ago I was touring Auschwitz, and the cold bleakness of the grounds stands as memorial to those who lost their lives there. I remember thinking how unimpressive it looked, and yet it stays with me. In its unassuming way, it burrowed into my mind and makes me think about the decisions I make.

I believe that is the missing element of memorial – that we don’t let what it means change us. We nod, give thanks, and say a well-wish one day of the year, but the other days we go about unchanged. Memorials stand for something bigger than itself, as Memorial Day stands for something bigger. To let it change you should be the intention for the day, and to maintain that change throughout the year.

On Aladdin

Saw the new Disney offering on Friday. Aladdin’s live-action film, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith, was received with mixed reviews. Myself? I’ll give it a three-star rating.

The movie musical was strong in cinematic ambience, but musically it felt stunted. I often have problems with movie musicals in contemporary cinema. Classics seemed to fare much better – Singing in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, or Oklahoma, for example.

One musical element of the film I did greatly enjoy was the Bollywood-style choreography in several of the songs. The adaptation gives a more authentic Arabian style, even if it is still lives entirely in the fantasy realm.

Some revisions to the script also gave more body to Aladdin and Jasmine, and both Massoud and Scott performed well. Smith also added flair to the performance, though competing with the voice talents of Robin Williams would be a challenge for just about anyone.

Individual performances varied from meh to good. No character was a breakout, however the cgi-renderings of Abu, Iago, and Raja very nearly stole the show.

Last week

Last week was a hard one. It never seemed to coalesce into something resembling free time. It was two days of training, followed by three 11-hour workdays. After a weekend that was filled with more work, volunteering, and an awards banquet, I didn’t have a chance to work on much actual work – the creative stuff.

I’m looking at my spreadsheet, and realizing that I need to be better. But, we all have that week sometimes, when nothing seems to go the way it’s planned. So pick it up, brush it off, and start over. Now is better than later.