Monday, September 18, 2017

Essentials for a perfect blaxploitation film

From an LA Times article that is no longer online (author unknown at this time):
Stick it to The Man: Black paranoia is usually right in there. There’s usually this conspiratorial thing that The Man is plotting your doom. There’s a lot of real blaxploitation movies that involve a plot to exterminate black people. It’s a constant storyline. In these movies, white people spend 95% of their time coming up with plots against black people.

White people by the pool: Every one of those [’70s blaxploitation flicks] depicted white people beside a swimming pool. We actually had that scene, but we cut it. A lot of times they were older character actors.

Speed over quality: A lot of the time you had your money and you were getting this movie done no matter what. In ‘Black Caesar,’ an actor had a mike cord wrapped around his leg in one shot, but they just kept going. Stuff stays in the movie. They had one, maybe two takes, so if the boom mike snuck in there, they left it.

Vietnam: The blaxploitation era sprung out of the post-Vietnam time, where the brothers were not treated right in Vietnam and they came back to no jobs. A lot of the heroes were cats who came from Vietnam and had soldier-type skills that they used to take down The Man or clear the streets of drugs.

Ex-football players: In blaxploitation, an ex-football player was automatically an actor. He was the equivalent of the rapper today. There was even a movie called ‘Black Six’ that was just six football players and that was how they advertised it. They even sold the players’ team position in the trailer.

Sex: The movies were always sexually charged. It was the ’70s and the sexual revolution time.

Kung fu: Martial arts is a big thing in blaxploitation movies and that [includes a] love affair with kung fu. A lot of the blaxploitation heroes didn’t know kung fu, but they wanted to try the moves anyway.

The awkward love scene: These football players were told to act all tender with a woman on camera and they always seemed uncomfortable. When they had these moments, you could see them pushing to get there.

The convenient back story: Anything you wanted the hero to be, he was. The CIA was in the story? The hero used to be in the CIA. Orphans were in trouble? The hero had been an orphan.

The exploding car off a cliff: Cars always exploded for no reason.

Bad physics: When somebody got shot, they would often fall the wrong direction.

Random theater actors: You had really terrible actors alongside these theater actors trying to be drug dealers, but they’d over-enunciate everything.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My profile said I should apply to Hooters

I've been looking for a new job recently. This is not a big secret. My bosses told me the budget for my job ends in December. They know I am looking and they are helping where possible. So not a secret at all.

As part of my job hunt, I have signed up for various websites that send me alerts when openings match the keywords of my resume. 99.9% of the time, these emails are accurate, sending alerts for military analyst, financial analyst, or business analyst positions.

The other day, however, I received the following alert:

Merchandiser? I guess that's sales and business.

Business Analyst for a HealthCare company? Makes sense. That's the field I am in now.

Brand Ambassador? That's marketing, I think.

Hooters Girl ....

How did they come up with that?

I'm sure I would do a great job. I think I have what it takes to fit in.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

17 life lessons learned in Afghanistan

I found a list I wrote before I left Afghanistan in 2013. On it, I wrote all the words of wisdom I heard in my 14 months in that country. Each of these lessons have helped me in the years since.
  • Keep people excited - In order to be listened to, you have to keep people excited about what you are about to tell them
  • Learn - continuous learning is essential
  • Understand Subject Matter Expert's level of knowledge - when asking questions, understand how much information you can get from a Subject Matter Expert. Don't badger a Subject Matter Expert if you have reached the peak of their knowledge. If they don't know, they don't know.
  • Stay relevant - not only should you continuously learn, but you need to keep your face out there. A smart person who is never seen is irrelevant.
  • Credibility - Credibility is huge but also very fragile. You never want to be see as not credible.
  • Listen - Listen to what people want and what they are really asking for. Don't jump to conclusions. Many times people don't know what they need. Ask questions if needed.
  • Try to understand from other's intent / perspective - this goes hand-in-hand with listening. Showing empathy and understanding what people need goes a long way.
  • Look into the politics of emails, policies, and messages - look at what is said and what is not said as well as who emails are sent to. If someone CCs a supervisor, that's important. If someone CCs your supervisor, that's even more important.
  • Love what is - Also known as "embrace the suck". Deal with life the way it is handed to you, wishing things were different will get you nowhere.
  • Control only what you can control - Another perspective on loving what is, but this in regards to exerting power or change on an issue. Likewise, know what you can't control and understand why.
  • They don't know - Most people do not know what you know. They might be clamoring for information, but not have it. It is your job to inform them.
  • People aren't dumb, just uninformed - Similar to the above, but insulting people who don't know isn't the right answer, even if they are defensive. Walk them to the right answer, even if it means diffusing their anger.
  • Difference between a leader / manager / supervisor
    • Leader: Vision
    • Manager: Acts on vision
    • Supervisor: Insures direct functions are done
  • People with Master's Degrees should be able to manage 9 things at a time
  • It depends - the typical answer for every question. Everything depends. Only commit where you absolutely have to and for what resources you absolutely have to.
  • Acceptable Risk - There will always be risk. Likewise, we have many ways to mitigate risk. But we don't want to overcommit our valuable resources to reducing risk to zero if we can operate with a level of acceptable risk.
  • Freedom to fly or fail - Give people the a chance to step up. If they fail, they at least had a chance. Don't stifle their growth.
  • 2nd and 3rd order effects - Very important. What will the reaction be to your actions? Try to minimize unwanted repercussions. Don't act without learning how actions can set another chain of events.