Thursday, January 31, 2008

Make a Good First Impression on Someone for Godsakes

Having done my time in Corporate America, I happen to be in a position to offer a few pointers on putting your best foot forward when first entering a office. But why listen to a simple man opine on business comportment when you can hear what the Almighty Lord has to say on the subject? Or, to be more precise, the Lord as interpreted by the Christian Stewardship Ministries, an organization dedicated to utilizing the Bible to teach career management. Think of it as your MBA by way of the G-O-D. Or perhaps as the business bestseller Who Moved My Cheese? with the subtitle God Did, and He Won't Give It Back until You Stop Touching Yourself. Or maybe the Left Behind book series as written by Dale Carnegie. Or as Tony Robbins with the gift of transubstantiation.

The following are just a few of the highly instructive examples from Christian Stewardship Ministries' purportedly helpful manual, "How to Make a Good First Impression." As you read each quote remember to keep asking yourself, "Do I feel bad enough about who I am?" According to the CSM, your answer should be a healthy and hearty "Oh man, not even close."

1. Posture and Carriage
"While posture and carriage may not seem very spiritual, they are definitely a critical part of a first impression. Work on one area at a time. For example, maybe you need to deal with excess weight. If so, you need to know how to do it. If you know God wants you to lose weight, then recognize your failure to take charge of this problem as disobedience. Confess it as sin and ask God to help you change your behavior."

So you know those ten extra pounds that you've been carrying around? The ten pounds you needlessly knock yourself about again and again only to make something completely inconsequential now seem utterly insurmountable? Well, apparently they're an affront to God. Yes, according to the wise folks of CSM, God wakes up in his--oh, let's say duplex since he'd probably enjoy the light from the 14' tall windows--and gazes down upon your form only to shake his head in disgust and perhaps mutter something along the lines of "Ewwwww."

In other words, it's religion as it was always was meant to be--in the guise of a jackass junior high gym teacher calling for "one more lap from the fatties."

2. Keep Grooming and Clothes Appropriate
"A somewhat controversial grooming example is length of hair. Some feel that the Bible disapproves of long hair on men. Others feel no such constraints. The critical question is: What does God want you to do? If you run the risk of causing others to stumble, the question may become not what your rights are, but what your responsibilities are. You may have the right to have long hair and still find that God wants you to surrender that right. And certainly, if you are trying to make a good first impression on someone for God's sake, and they would not be favorably impressed, you might want to rethink your position."

Upon first reading, one cannot help but wonder how late in the editing game was the word "hippie" removed from the first half of the paragraph. Upon a second reading, one cannot help but notice that the focus is solely on men. Apparently the CSM believes good Christian women should spend their time not in an office but rather at Wal-Mart or, if they are not so blessed, McRae's. And upon a third reading, one cannot help but ask just how long can one man's hair be to "run the risk of causing others to stumble"?! Has the Crystal Gale look suddenly become the must-have 'do for today's fast-rising male executive? Is the CSM given to hyperbole? Is it just being snarky? Or do they honestly feel that long hair on men is not only a threat against decent society but also one step closer to people engaging in sexual congress with machinery?

3. Converse with Genuine Interest
"Our conversation includes not only what we say, and, equally important, what we do not say, but how we say what we do say."

To which one can only say, "What did you say?" But the advice continues unabated and unprovoked:

"To the extent you can identify and share common interests with the other person, you will likely leave a good first impression. And to the extent that you can comfortably identify your relationship with the Lord in your conversation, you are likely to solidify a good impression. Even an unbeliever will be left with a good first impression if he senses that you are comfortable in being casually open about your relationship with the Lord."

For who among us has not quickly warmed to a new acquaintance who felt comfortable enough to say aloud, "If we're all going in on a pizza I'd like ham because God put us in charge of all the animals in His dominion, especially the tasty ones." Perhaps the only thing that could provide greater comfort would be if a stranger were to walk up to you with his pants around his ankles, holding a funnel and a ferret, and said, "Little help?"

In conclusion, should you truly wish to succeed in business, apparently you would do well to let God be your mentor...or wing-man or whatnot. Or, to put it in the words of the CSM:

"You cannot just decide to have God shine through you to another person. You have to concentrate on being who He wants you to be, so that He can make Himself visible through you."

Oh, and always make eye contact when conversing with a business associate. That way God can see directly through your eyes into the other person's soul to know if that individual is truly worthy of the Henderson account.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January Is "National Mentor Month"

With the month less than two days away from retirement, I thought it was time for...

How to Find a Mentor Who Will Guide You Professionally, Advise You Every Step of Your Career and Quietly Hang His or Her Head in Shame When You Blurt Out During a Business Meeting, “Them Donuts Free or What?”

The year was 1200 BC in Ancient Greece. Playwright Eurischylus’ latest theatrical magnum opus, And Then at the Last Minute the Gods Came in and Made Everything All Right Much to the Delight of the Chorus, had wowed the critics (including a young Frank Rich) but closed in two weeks after both failing to attract the coveted male teen audience (which, given the life span of your average Greek citizen back then, was around age eight) and having to compete with Disney’s newest original musical production, a remake of Medea done with ponies. Meanwhile, the great god Zeus still managed to elude paternity suit after paternity suit by picking up women in the form of a swan, a Holstein bull and, according to one plaintiff, a rather aggressive ring-tailed lemur named “Toby.” And, most important of all, the Trojan Wars had begun, amid much media speculation that the rescue of Helen of Troy was merely a political front for the true cause of combat, olive oil.

Prior to setting sail for Troy (which eventually resulted in a harrowing 20-year sea adventure later characterized as “just a hair better than a Carnival cruise”), Odysseus faced a difficult decision. Either he could leave his son Telemachus in the capable hands of his aged, trusted advisor Mentor or Odysseus could leave the child in the care of own no-account Uncle Slackass, who spent his days talking about putting together a prog-rock band and his nights inhaling the fumes at the oracle of the Delphi with his fellow students from air refrigeration technical school, having “visions.” Fortunately, Odysseus chose Mentor, who in turn gave Telemachus knowledge both applied and theoretical so that he may succeed in life. Otherwise, Odysseus might have returned home from the Trojan Wars lo those many years later to find his only son shot-gunning ouzo and idly making notes for a film in which all of the major roles would be played by Star Wars action figures.

In short, choosing a mentor to help guide your career is not enough. You must select the right mentor, all of whom share the same well-defined characteristics:

• The right mentor is like you, only better: My own mentor articulates my concerns and career plans so clearly and at such a higher level of understanding than I do that I'm now afraid to open my mouth ever again, for fear of causing chimps to snicker with derision. He also dresses with far greater flair than I do, associates with a far more enviable circle of associates than I know and, unlike me, would never be caught at a corporate dinner requesting a doggie bag and a “to go” cup of wine. In other words, the more your mentor makes you look at yourself with utter contempt, the better.

• The right mentor is a person of substance: The ideal mentor provides more than just advice. He or she offers the moral and philosophical wisdom necessary for one to make the right decisions. Think of Master Kan in the 1970’s TV series Kung Fu. Remember how Kan would teach young Kwai Chang Caine (an obviously American David Carradine) that “weakness prevails over strength and gentleness conquers” only to then have his protégé press his bare arms against a boiling cauldron of oil for reasons Kan would only explain with a bemused shrug? Remember how Kan would have his eager charge try and try again to snatch a leaf from his 103-year-old arthritic hand, chuckling heartily every time he failed? Remember how Kan would repeatedly “pants” Caine in front of all the assembled Shaolin priests? True, some would remark that Master Kan had clearly gone insane with old age and was now finding delight in tormenting the only supposedly Chinese man to make Marlon Brando’s character in The Teahouse of the August Moon look pure Asian by comparison. But those of us truly in the know realized Kan was doing what any good mentor would do—ensuring his protégé didn’t wind up being a pussy. After all, it’s a tough world out there and Kan wanted to make certain that his young charge had the wherewithal —the cashews, if you will—to handle any obstacle that may come his way.

• The right mentor knows his or her limits: A good mentor will instinctively know their boundaries of involvement in your life. He won’t call you in the middle of the night crying over ex-lovers. He won’t ask you to cover their rent “just this once.” And He won’t interrupt your important questions with “Does this look like a pimple or a canker sore to you?”

Finding the right mentor is crucial, not only for the obvious benefits to your career but also for the collected knowledge you may one day share with others. For in the near future a young up-and-comer may turn to you for guidance and hopefully you will be able to impart something more insightful than “Don’t touch the skim milk in the pantry fridge, understand? That’s mine.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's Strip, Yesterday's Inspiration

The strip in question:

The reference in playback:

There are many, many things one can say about the seminal two-part appearance of The Doobie Brothers on 1978's version of "Must See TV," What's Happening!

First, while most music performers make only a small cameo when guesting on a sitcom (usually a brief chat with the main character backstage or at a pretend charity concert), The Doobie Brothers practically turn their appearance into an episode of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert (thus requiring the What's Happening! scribes pen no more than ten pages of dialogue). Second, the episode makes one wonder how on earth did the word "doobie" ever get past the censors (although any censorship of the band's very name would have made the guest turn impossible, as it did with the Circle Jerks' unaired appearance on Barnaby Jones). Third, the episode also makes one wonder why a band that would soon go on to score a number one album ("Minute by Minute") and a Grammy-winning number one song (the Michael McDonald-droning "What a Fool Believes") is performing in a high school auditorium (though hazy memory cites a possible pretend charity event or the chance one or more of the band members attended the fictional school). And fourth, one (well, this one) can't help but notice that the above clip fails to show the episode's thrilling backstory, wherein Rerun scores front-row tickets by promising some shady characters to bootleg the concert, only to get so swept up in the music that he drops his hidden personal cassette recorder--right in front of the Doobie Brothers!

And so, without any further ado, the thrilling denouement to "Doobie or Not Doobie" (the first part premiering 30 years ago yesterday):

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quotes from Godzilla’s Own DVD Commentaries

“You probably can’t tell, but that’s not the real Tokyo I’m trashing.”

“With the first Godzilla film we really had something important to say. I’m not sure if the same holds true for Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.”

“Man, did we butcher A Doll’s House with this flick…”

“My real name is ‘Gojira,’ which is a combination of the Japanese words for ‘gorilla’ and ‘whale.’ ‘Gorilla Whale’…Why didn’t they just call me ‘Fucking Ugly Fat Ass’ instead?”

“I think the worst part of my becoming a ‘good guy’ character was working with all those kids…I tell you, if the children are our future I don’t want to wake up tomorrow.”

“Wait, I don’t recall seeing Raymond Burr on set. What gives?”

“The original title of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla was Godzilla Meets Mechagodzilla. It was suppose to be my big entry into romantic comedy. We even had a great ‘first date’ montage set in a carnival. Cotton candy on the chin and everything. But then the comment cards came back from the screening…”

“It’s amazing how often William Faulkner refused screenwriting credit.”

“Who…who am I fighting in this scene?…Is…is that the San Diego Chicken?!…Christ, I’m glad I was drunk for most of the seventies…”

“In the Japanese versions of the films you could clearly make out everything I said. Right here, for example, I’m making an impassioned plea against chlorofluorocarbons…”

“Kong’s people had been itching for us to do a buddy film for years. If I had known what a slave to Meisner that son of a bitch was I never would have done the movie.”

“Wrenching sense of dislocation, oblique narrative structure, casual sex and drug use, Leonard Cohen soundtrack, Bud Cort—nothing captured the auteur spirit of 1970’s filmmaking like Godzilla Flees Conscription…”

“What can I say about Gamera that hasn’t already been said in a court of law…”

“I actually have a small cameo in the 1998 American version of Godzilla. That’s me in the background having trouble swiping my Metrocard through…”

“Back in my day we didn’t have any of this ‘J-horror’ nonsense. No ghosts, no shamanism, no freaky, stringy-haired girls muttering God know what…You wanted to scare people? All you needed was me, a nemesis and scenes from my last six films.”

Godzilla’s Big Day Out was the first and only time I played a retarded character, mostly in hopes of scoring an Oscar nod. I still crushed buildings, but this time it was purely accidental.”

“The ‘atomic testing’ origin story was the studio’s idea. They figured no one would be scared if they learned of my idyllic childhood in New Rochelle.”

“After five years of filming and only 12 minutes of usable footage we finally had to can Kubrick…”

Destroy All Monsters was sort of like our Ocean’s 11. Simply everyone was in it! Me, Mothra, Rodan, Kumanga, Peter Lawford…”

“I don’t remember who played the scientist in this one…no offense, but the actors all pretty much looked the same to me.”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sally Forth: A.K.A Beatrix Kiddo

I just want to take this moment to draw attention to Sally's Kill Bill, Volume 1 attire, courtesy of the gurus of daily syndication coloring. Had I known this would occur I would have outfitted Sally with a Hanzō katana and upped the strip's death toll above its usual "zero."

Odder still is how the outfit recalled a certain dumbass remark I made on rec.arts.comic.strips almost four years ago. Spooky? Of course not. We're talking about a comic strip here. But that very remark serves as a special callback to me for what else it touts near the end.

Will be writing more soon!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Previous New Years Predictions

While visiting my parents over the holidays I unearthed a treasure trove of New Year's predictions I had made over the many, many years. At first I thought it would be fun to look back and see just how close my prognostications were. I thought wrong. But damn it if I'm going to let all those man-hours go to waste so please enjoy the following "So-Close Predictions":

In 1985 Vanessa Williams will be forced to relinquish her crown, thereby ending her long and troubled reign as Queen of England.

In 1988 the California Raisins will sweep the nation, then Canada and finally Mexico, assuming complete control of North America by August.

In 1993 President Bill Clinton will sign the Brady Bill, ensuring continuous economic support for Florence Henderson, Eve Plumb and Barry Williams.

In 1994 a leading sports figure will be charged with multiple homicide, leading many to wonder how things could have gone so horribly wrong for the Philadelphia Phanatic.

In 1981 music television will come to cable, signifying the electrifying return of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall will be torn down and replaced with an invisible force field and heavily armed cyborg guards.

In 1997 the movie "Titanic" will shatter all records, becoming the most successful direct-to-video film to date.

In 1991 the Cold War will finally come to an end as we all hail our new world leaders, the Dutch.