Friday, November 11, 2011

I Am Not a Resource

I haven't posted in quite a while. [CHOOSE YOUR EXCUSE HERE.]

But I am motivated to write for three reasons.

First, Amazon reminded me I haven't posted in forever and they'll dump my blog from Kindle availability if I don't. It's not that Amazon is threatening or foreboding; they just make a good point. The fact that they charge a monthly fee for blog subscriptions is stupid, and it's why I have no Amazon subscribers, including myself. I would actually pay a fee to Amazon to offer my blog through the Whispernet and not pass it along to readers. I'll recommend it and see where it goes.

Second, my friend and wonderful artist, Katayoon Zandvakili, @KatZandvakili publicly threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to have something posted by Friday. OK, in all honesty she sweetly said "if you post your blogs, I'll post too!" I'll be checking her blog tonight whilst enjoying Keith Morrison's contradictory storybook-style narration of a triple murder on NBC's Dateline.

Third, I nominated myself for Baltimore's Mobbies awards. Not this blog because it's been too quiet here -- and I'll hope for a nomination next year by someone other than myself because this thing is rocking -- but I did nominate my personal Twitter account, because I am very active enough on that, and bust out jokes that make me laugh.

Fourth, I actually have something to say. And I apologize for misleading you with suggesting there were only three reasons. Oh dear. I apologize again, because I didn't suggest or infer but indeed actually stated there were "three reasons."

So what DO I have to say? Simply this...

Dear corporate world: I am not a resource. I am not human capital. I am a human fucking being. When discussing "Who's gonna do this work?", please refer to me, and my fellow human beings, as "people."

How hard would that be? Not very.

I wanted to say "Dear whorporate world" but realized since I grab the cash off the nightstand every other Friday, the whore is me.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

TV's New Fall Season 2011 - Spreadsheets and Analysis

TV is my first love. And I'm a spreadsheet guy. I've written all about my obsession with both TV and spreadsheets here.

For 2011, I've done it once again. Poring through the various network and cable sites, TV blog sites, and the best episode guide on the Internet (, I've taken the last few weeks compiling the following:
  • A list of network and cable TV shows returning this fall, complete with the season number, network, premiere date and scheduled air day.
  • A list of shows coming later this season.
  • A grid for each day of the week with the shows, times, premiere dates and season number
  • A grid for each day of the week with each show, times and dates for episode tracking
  • And something new: a list of shows cancelled/ended in the 2010-2011 season
Get the Fall 2011 TV Collection of Spreadsheets here. If you just want a PDF of shows and premiere dates, that's here.

One of the things that disappoints me the most each year is investing my time in new programs that really capture my interest, only to have them cancelled, often in mid-story.

I was curious if it was common across networks, or if some may be more likely to cancel. Here is a ranking of the most shows cancelled after one season in 2010. Not ironically, NBC turned out to be the biggest loser, with 11 cancelled new shows, 3 of which had unaired episodes.
  • NBC - 11 shows cancelled (3 with unaired episodes)
  • ABC - 7 shows cancelled (2 with unaired episodes)
  • FOX - 6 shows cancelled (1 show with unaired episodes)
  • CBS - 5 shows cancelled
  • Toon - 3 shows cancelled
  • FX - 2 shows cancelled
  • AMC - 1 show cancelled
  • CMT - 1 show cancelled
  • CW - 1 show cancelled
  • Starz - 1 show cancelled
  • Syfy - 1 show cancelled
  • TBS - 1 show cancelled
From my list, that's a total of 40 new shows cancelled, 29 from the Big Four. I wonder how many will fall this season.

Of the programs cancelled, I was most disappointed to lose four very well-written and brilliantly acted shows:

  • The Chicago Code
  • Detroit 1-8-7
  • Lie to Me
  • Men of a Certain Age

Just a thought: I believe American cable needs to carry Canada's CBC, even if it's lagging behind the true release schedule, just like they've arranged with BBC America.

Anyway, I hope you find this helpful or mildly interesting, or you feel better about yourself knowing you don't suffer from such an obsession. Or high-five if you do!


Friday, August 12, 2011

Representin' the Improv Nation

Maybe there isn't an official Improv Nation, but I still feel part of one.

This weekend, the Baltimore Improv Group is hosting its fifth annual Baltimore Improv Festival at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore.

I took some improv classes a few years ago to help with my writing, and to deal with stage fright (as a guitar player, not an actor). I made friends, joined a troupe for a while and learned a ton. I'm going tonight to see my good friend and former troupe-mate Chris Kojzar perform with Training 4 Prom, as well as to see other outstanding troupes, both local and visiting. They include Mr. Licorice, Michael Loves Greg, Population: 6, Plan B and Gus!

I'm also going to reunite with friends who are former classmates/troupe-mates. Like I've found with the writers community, improv is also a very welcoming, supportive and fun collection of talent and love.

Throughout my training, I remember constantly hearing "it's not about being funny." But as a performer, I craved the laugh. Over time I realized it's not about trying to be funny. It's not set-ups and punch lines. It's about honesty. The funny or the dramatic moment comes from an honest approach. Owning the character, the situation, the moment. Don't think it through. Be it.

The funny comes because it's not forced.

Here's an improvised example:

"Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Tonight we need your help with setting our scene. Can someone give me an occupation?"


"We'll go old-school with cosmonaut."

"Now we need an activity..."

"Campaigning for prom queen!"

"I think we have a winner. Campaigning for prom queen."

It's not just the random hilarity of mish-moshing things that may not ordinarily go together. For this particular scene to be successful, the actors simply need to own it. And support each other. Now, everyone is waiting to see how the cosmonaut will campaign for prom queen.

I would probably attack this with a terrible Russian accent that would quickly devolve to Scottish/Latino.

"Nyet! Nyet! I want them toooo think I'm sex-ay, not a slut...ese."

Losing the accent is fine, as long as you don't let it go. Personally, I love how the accents change over two or three minutes.

I also learned if you're not having fun, no one's having fun. Simple, maybe even obvious-sounding advice, but I started to pay attention to everything I watched, and how I handled myself. When I got flustered, or too nervous, it blew the scene. And that doesn't mean you have to be smooth or perfect. Having fun, ESPECIALLY with the screw ups, connects you with the audience.

I often hear "I could never get up there." I thought the same thing. Nerves are natural but when you realize everyone is there to have a good time, and aren't expecting gold but often find it (and are delighted when they do), you really can do it.

Another bonus: I can't remember shit. With improv, there is nothing to memorize. Blank slate. Have fun!

Improv has helped my writing tremendously for two reasons. First, it gave me techniques to get out of my own head and really start to create. Secondly, it gave me a full appreciation of what it's like to be an actor with crap writing. I don't ever want to leave the character with bad lines, or worse, nothing to say at all.

So if you're within 200 miles of Baltimore, I strongly encourage you to hit the festival this weekend. Passes are cheap. The shows are phenomenal. And there are lots of classes for any skill level. It's truly one of the best things I've ever embraced.

And don't just take my word for it. Steve Kaplan thinks so, too. And he's a comedy genius!

Hope to see you there! Yes and...

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Got a Haircut

Sorry, but I think it's funny when a bald guy gets a haircut. Shortest post ever. But it is a post. And now Nick Heyward's voice is in my head (classic 80s reference).


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pathologically Pathetic

What is wrong with me? How is it that it's been nearly two months since I've posted?

This took me 30 seconds to write. Granted, I'm not really saying anything but at least it's not two-months old.

Here's a quick thought: Facebook is slow today, Twitter is down and my Yahoo! server is blocked at work. Three problems that didn't exist for me a mere three years ago, from three services which are absolutely free to me. Except for the $700 iPad device from which I access them. No, it doesn't make me look cool. Yes, it actually has changed my life and I'm now 90% paperless.

This is a picture of me phoning it in. See, I'm even too lazy to be clever and just went with the literal.

I would like to vow that I shall no longer be pathologically pathetic and post more frequently, but I had the nerve to create a page called Daily Amusement that I last updated in December. So we both know I can't be trusted.

Until we meet again, [INSERT CATCH PHRASE HERE].


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Alli Is Not Your Ally

Although it seems to be promised, you can't have everything in a pill. And the long-term effects of what drugs can do to one's body, prescribed or otherwise, often aren't revealed for years.

GlaxoSmithKline is offering their latest miracle, Alli, the FDA-approved weight loss pill.

Just watch this ad and then we'll chat...

In their latest television advert, Cheryl Hartvigsen says, "As a pharmacist, I knew it would be safe because it's approved by the FDA."

Now there's a confidence-booster, because the FDA has never approved anything they later had to recall that may cause us harm. Except for all of those meds that ended up causing us harm that have been recalled. They even have a dedicated site of recent recalls.

Don't get me wrong. I want the FDA to review pharmaceuticals (holy crap, I spelled it right without spell-check!) - but with funding that relies on taxes, we get what we're willing to pay for.

Ironically, in the same commercial block I just saw the Alli spot, I also saw an ad for a law firm seeking Reglan users (now suffering from Tardive Dyskinesia) for a class-action lawsuit. Of course in advertising, lawsuit ads that replace the pharmaceutical ads just means more revenue.

Ms. Hartvigsen goes on to say "My husband's a doctor. And if he didn't think Alli was safe, he wouldn't let me use it."

This one really struck me. One, I guess we must assume he's an MD and not a PhD. Even so, his non-appearance is also a non-endorsement. Although it isn't illegal for doctors to endorse drugs in direct-to-consumer advertising as long as its disclosed (usually in fine print you can't read even if you were to pause it on a 60-inch, 3-D, high-definition home theatre system), it's discouraged by the AMA. So they may have smartly chosen not to have her husband appear in the ad. Yet, hearsay is inadmissible in court (according to all of the legal TV I love to watch) and in advertising, in my opinion.

Two, she assumes since he didn't stop her from taking it, it indicates it must be safe. Because doctors never lie. And neither do husbands.

Three, "he wouldn't let me use it" is just an uncomfortable expression - this is scripted so they worked very hard on word choice. If he is prescribing for family members, it brings its own set of legal/ethnical questions; plus, she the pharmacist and he the doctor (indirectly) receive financial compensation for this endorsement. Not exactly objective. Or did she mean he allows her to use it? For me, that can be interpreted as permission/control, even if it wasn't intended. Perhaps I need a pill for not letting the details go.

I'm not a doctor but for what it's worth, if you need to lose weight and have issues with diet, seek out a nutritionist, not a pill. Join or create a support group to reach your goals with family, friends or coworkers. Go to a gym. If you can't afford a gym (financially or life is just too busy), take a daily walk. If you can't take a daily walk, take a weekly walk.

I can see the recalls now. Can you?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

TMI on the FB

People post too much information on Facebook. This is not a revelation, I know. And I'm not even referring to the terribly personal gems like "I just had another pap smear. Here's the JPEG..." Or "Prostate exams are a pain in the ass. Here's the JPEG..." That's information I think we can all agree does not ever need to be shared, even with your doctor, on Facebook.

No, I mean save something to talk about for the times when we meet up for coffee.

I went to a happy hour recently with some friends and coworkers, and they basically recited my latest news back to me. And I to them. And then we stared at our drinks, with nothing left to talk about. 'bout them Bears?

Don't let this happen to you. Leave some news, anecdote, pic or political rant for the social networking that's live and in person.

My shortest blog ever.

I feel better!

P.S. That's the Lucida Grande Facebook font, downloadable for free right here.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Dream Big: Tear Down. Rebuild. Repeat.

With the right feedback, an open and receptive mind, and a willingness to just start doing that thing you want to do so badly, I believe you can achieve your dream, whatever that dream might be. Like a champion of run-on sentences. ;-) I've actually had three big dreams. And two have been realized, so far.

Before I get to the two I've achieved, I'd like to talk about my current dream: writing for television. And for my scriptwriting friends out there, I'd like to start with a quick review of a course I recently completed, entitled: "Beginning Television Writing", taught by veteran show runner William Rabkin online at Writers University.

The class was great! It lasted four short weeks. There was some reading and discussion around the franchise of a dramatic series (what makes a show special in its genre), which was all very helpful and interesting, but the main focus was getting you to pick a current dramatic series and start your spec.

The one book requirement, which I had read and enjoyed before I took the course, was Successful Television Writing, written by Rabkin and his former partner, Lee Goldberg. I highly recommend it.

If you want to be a TV writer, you need to demonstrate you can write for TV. So you must write a script for a new episode for a program currently on the air. Although this may seem a bit circular, it's not uncommon in the arts. You want to be a novelist? Where's your novel? You want to be a rock star? Where's your CD? Think of it like a demo reel, or an artist's portfolio. You need to demonstrate you have talent, not just passion and drive.

I've spent the last few years studying television and film writing, story structure, script formats, writing techniques and the industry itself. But I haven't been doing enough of the most important thing: writing.

I took this course because it got me prepared to confidently write my one-hour dramatic spec. I ultimately chose Castle. For a great list of shows to spec right now, check out Jen Grisanti's suggestions in Heather Hale's Which Show Should I Spec? article.

I wrote three story ideas:

Nerder. The body of a white-hat (good guy) computer hacker is found dead the morning after an underground hacking contest. A cast of introverted, eccentric and seemingly harmless geeks are the main suspects, but as Castle and Beckett dive deeper, we learn our victim had uncovered a government conspiracy and Castle theorizes he was assassinated by either the U.S. feds, or an overzealous black-hat competitor.

Last Will and Testaments. A wealthy socialite, who was absolutely hated by her family and staff, dies of seemingly natural causes, but the autopsy reveals she was poisoned. When two different “legitimate” wills appear, the theories start flying. Castle believes it was a contract hit from a charitable organization that stands to collect millions according to Will #1, and Beckett believes it was the daughter, who stands to inherit everything from Will #2. We also learn the socialite had a warm side, and was anonymously funding a young man’s life, who turns out to be her biological son. The DNA will prove the daughter was actually her niece, who poisoned her own mother the same way our victim was murdered, when she was only a teen.

Copycat. Jake Tower, a writer from Castle’s past, has been accused of murdering his ex-wife – following the same methods in Castle’s latest novel, which hasn’t been published yet! Castle never liked Tower, who stole Castle’s first love (the victim) and always felt he was a plagiarist. Things get creepier when Castle learns Tower has stalked Castle though the years and “plagiarized” his life. Tower charms Beckett, spinning Castle off of his game. Beckett discovers the real murderer is someone else Tower crossed.

I fleshed out Nerder into a one-page summary. I'm a geek and it's in my wheelhouse. And Bill kindly shredded it to pieces and convinced me it's not the spec to write. Although he did like my favorite part: a bar-code tattoo on the unidentifiable victim that could only be seen under a black light.

And that's why I took this class. I don't want flattery, I want criticism. Bill was fantastic. He was accessible, direct and encouraging. But you only get out of it what you put into it. I missed the first week due to a business trip and had to make up for lost time when I returned.

Bill actually liked Copycat. So I wrote that into a one-page summary, and he gave me some notes. And then I changed the story based on those notes and it became even better.

Copycat (revised). Charlotte Stein, an old girlfriend from Castle’s past, has been murdered – by the same methods in Castle’s latest novel, which hasn’t been published yet! Charlotte’s ex-husband, Jake Bulinsky, is a struggling novelist and the prime suspect. As they dive in to the case, things get disturbing as Castle learns Bulinsky (pen name Jake Tower) has stalked Castle though the years and “plagiarized” his life. He’s creepy, but is he a murderer? Beckett somehow pities Tower, spinning Castle off of his game. As if Jake hasn’t caused himself enough trouble, new enemies are about to be revealed.

I now have a fully outlined story (you're welcome to read the one-pager if you like), and am "beating" out the scenes. Writing the actual script is the last step. I took this course because I needed to light a fire under my ass to knock out a spec, and I wanted honest feedback from an experienced television writer and show runner. And I got just that. The fear is gone; the writing is happening. And don't think I won't get some more feedback once this spec is finished. I'm talking to you, Xandy!

My advice on prepping for this particular class (it runs often): pick the one-hour drama you're interested in specing first. I spent a lot of time analyzing and considering very cool shows - I recommend you know which you really want to write for prior to beginning the class. It will leave you more time to write, and get some great notes. Bill also has a new eBook coming out in March for the Kindle called "Writing The Pilot", which I will definitely buy - it's my next goal after finishing these specs.

I don't know about you, but I am the type of person who loves to prepare when I'm going to take on something new. I love to read about it. I love to talk about it. But I'm often reluctant to really do it because I'm afraid of embarrassment and failure.

Well, guess what? In my humble opinion, you can't learn and grow without doing both.

In this class, I had to put myself out there. And missing the first week, I only had three to get something out of it. If I didn't write, I wasted my money and my time. In three weeks I picked a series, brainstormed three stories, and fleshed out two. And now I'm writing my spec. I also have three stories for Modern Family, and now have the tools to write my spec for that show as well.

After some reflection, I realized that I've been successful in two other areas by finally diving in, making mistakes, seeking and enjoying support from family, friends and colleagues, and embracing harsh but extremely valuable constructive criticism.

At the age of 15, I decided I wanted to be a radio announcer. I loved music and I loved the radio. When I was alone, it was my best friend. My favorite TV show was WKRP in Cincinnati. I listened to radio in the car, on the beach, mowing the lawn and in my room. I really learned guitar by playing along with the radio. And I was gifted with a baritone speaking voice. I was repeatedly told I had a nice voice and should be on the radio. I believed it.

How does one get on the radio? I started on WUMD-AM, UMBC's campus station located at 560 on your AM dial, where demos and auditions weren't required. Just tuition and a good attitude. And the latter was optional. I. Loved. It! I knew I had made the right career choice. I was on the air at college for four years. I was program director. I was the station's general manager. I couldn't wait to really get on the air. Where would I start? New York? LA? San Francisco?

Here's the thing. Having a pleasant speaking-voice doesn't get you on the air. A great demo tape does. My first demo tape was horrible. All my friends and family were very excited for me, and very kind. But I needed to hear the truth. My first tape was way too long (nearly five minutes). The breaks were atrocious, and the gaps in between were wide enough to drive a fleet of semis through. And, most importantly, I wasn't being myself.

I met a man by the name of Darius Pope who worked for a local NBC TV affiliate in Washington, DC, and had years of radio experience. He was the friend of a colleague and listened to my tape. And he told me it was shit. He said I sounded like I was trying to impersonate everyone I had ever heard on the radio, and I would never get a job in radio with it. And he was absolutely right.

But he wasn't insulting me. He was telling me what I needed to hear.

For your listening horror, here's my first demo tape that I actually sent to some of the biggest stations in the country. And not surprisingly, it didn't get me anywhere.

But Darius didn't say I'll never make it. He was telling me why that tape wouldn't help. And then for reasons I still don't understand but am eternally grateful, he took me to a studio and helped me produce a new tape, and coached me to sound like me.

Here it is (just a little over two minutes long):

But Darius didn't stop there. Once I had the tape he told me to pick up the phone. Start calling local stations, ask for the program director, tell him -- not being sexist here; it was a very male-dominated industry -- that I just graduated and would love to be able to send my résumé and demo tape.

What? Cold call? This will never work. I called 10 stations. I spoke to at least six program directors and several were hiring. I landed two interviews and then my first radio job at WFMD-AM/WFRE-FM in Frederick, MD. All in the span of like eight weeks. And all because I got the feedback and encouragement I needed - I listened to it and acted upon it, and I didn't give up.

After working at WFMD for a while, I went back with Darius and made an even better demo tape. You can hear that here:

Funny thing happened though. The job paid very little. And when I got on the radio, I had nothing to say. I had no real control over the music. I was supposed to speak as little as possible, unless I was reading the news (which was fun to rewrite into small bytes). If I wanted to make it into a better market, and support a family (I was about to marry at the time), I'd have to schlep from city to city and pay my dues. For years. I had little confidence in my humor those days, and I made the difficult decision to bow out. But I achieved my dream, and I was on the air. And I DJ'd at a few bars for years, where I had total control over the music, free beer and brought in some extra cash.

So after the radio gig, I worked for various companies doing various things, but always computer related. I've been a computer nerd since I was a kid. But I was just working. It wasn't my passion. But in 1995, all of that changed. After seeing Sandra Bullock in The Net, I had a new dream: I wanted to be Sandra Bullock.

OK, not exactly Sandra Bullock, but her character Angela Bennett. A software tester. OK, not just a software tester, but a genius software tester who could run three PCs at once and identify the weaknesses and critical defects in code. It may not sound glamorous, but I thought it sounded pretty cool.

With the help of a recommendation, I got a job on a tech support line. In seven months I learned the company's software, and its flaws. With another recommendation I moved into the IT department. With lots of great mentoring, continuing education, perseverance and trial and error, I became a senior software tester, and a senior requirements analyst, and after a lot of prepping and fear, I even became a coder. All because I didn't give up, I had great mentors, and I got the feedback I needed.

And it's been fun, and it pays the bills, and I enjoy my job. But it's not my big dream. That's scriptwriting. And I'm totally convinced I will break into television writing. But only by continuing to write, seeking and heeding constructive feedback, embracing the encouragement along the way, and paying it forward once I get there.

So what's your dream? And what are you doing about it?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Not Writer's Block: It's Muddle Age

Muddle Age? That's a typo, right?


OMG. What could that be? Did you read it on WebMD?

No. I made it up. But it's real, man.

It's when you double your age and realize, "Aw crap. No way. I'm not going to live that long."

For me, it's 94. No matter how organic my food, or how awesome my downward dog, it ain't gonna happen.

I live to write humorous posts (humourous for my Canadian/British friends; humerus for my pre-med). And it's not like I just stopped laughing, but I've been to five viewings/funerals in a span of eight months, and it kind of kills the buzz. Repeatedly.

In my mid-twenties, all my friends were getting married. In my mid-thirties, all my friends were having babies. In my early forties, it was mid-life. And now in my *mumble* *ahem* *cough* not-early forties, my friends are losing their parents. Luckily, mine are doing well in the blue/silver/beet-haired mecca we call Florida.

Don't get me wrong. I'm blessed to be here, to have known all of these people, and to still have my parents. But it's been kind of crazy, and I'm really hoping it's not a pattern. Not another "I'm at that age..." And laughing at Snuggies, idiot politicians or Family Guy just hasn't done the trick.

But the fact the term "muddle age" hit me when I was brooding about my writing hiatus inspires me, whether it's my own ability to persevere and think up goofy shit, or a little divine intervention giving me the nudge I've been pining for. Or maybe I overheard it.

But I just blogged about it.

♬ Bang your head / Muddle health will drive you mad ♬

Muddle on, fothermucker. Muddle on.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

It's the Playoffs: What Are You Wearing?


Why would I ask such a question?

I'm totally serious, but not in a fashion sense. It's not about having officially licensed gear, your own nickname name on your jersey (with your age or #1), or squeezing one's body into Under Armour® like an overstuffed sausage casing. What I mean is consciously selecting what you wear to help your team on game day.

Tomorrow my Baltimore Ravens are playing the Kansas City Chiefs. And when it's game day, I have superstitions. When it's the playoffs, they're off the charts. And they're stupid. I don't really believe what I wear or don't wear has any impact on the game, but it allows me to feel a part of the game.

So I wear purple Hanes® (anyone else hear Hendrix?) boxer briefs, pictured...yeah right.

I also don a Ravens shirt or jersey. The problem is, I only have two shirts and there's a good chance I haven't gotten to the laundry. I won't wear dirty clothes. And I don't buy jerseys every year so mine are usually of former players. Now, if it's of a retired Hall-of-Famer, big props and we're headed to the Super Bowl. But if it's a released hack, or someone who plays for another team, I think that's actually bad luck. So then I might go with something that reflects team colors. Luckily, white is always an option if my time is the visitor. --Wow, I am a lazy-ass fan. These athletes work out all week and I can't even schedule a load of laundry.

There's no way I'm alone in this, so 'fess up, people. What do you wear on game day?

Monday, January 03, 2011

My Favorite WTF Commercial

I realize that acronyms like WTF are ridiculously overused, but I don't know what else conveys my reaction to this particular ad more perfectly every time I see it. And because I still see it several times a day, I am compelled to comment. Also, because I'm incredibly opinionated, I feel compelled to comment. It's from a company called InventHelp®.

Don't get me wrong. I am a strong believer that it takes many failures before you reach success; otherwise, you're not really trying. And I'm very impressed with inventors and entrepreneurs. I even had my own business in the 90s. The statistic I heard quoted the most was: "Ninety percent of all businesses fail in their first year." So when I made it through my first year, I thought I was in the clear. Then I learned, "And after that, another 50% fail in the second." Suck.

My business lasted four years. It was fun and challenging but it just didn't provide a reliable, steady income. The only reason I started it? After being laid off in the recession of '92 (that wasn't acknowledged until '93), and 75 unanswered résumé submissions, I had to make more than Unemployment Insurance offered. OK there were only 74 unanswered submissions, but I really dodged a bullet not accepting that one job offer, which is a blog in itself.

My company was AlphaNumerics, a data/writing/computer service. Basically me for hire. It's still registered, and I still have one client.

Back to the commercial.

Here's a transcript:

"Do you have an idea for an invention or new product? Bill Schafer, co-inventor of the Splash Wash did. He came up with the idea while watching his children play. InventHelp submitted his idea to Wham-O®, maker of toys like the Frisbee® and Hula Hoop®. To find out how InventHelp can help you to try to submit your idea to companies, call for free information."

Now if it just stopped there, you might think, "Hey! They helped Bill. I have a great idea. Maybe they can make me rich!" But they close with this last friendly disclaimer, and not at a hundred words a second like so many other ads. And it makes me laugh every time:

"Bill Schafer made a financial gain with his invention. Bill's experience is not typical and most inventions are not successful."

Who would pick up the phone after that buzz kill?

P.S. My favorite Wham-O® product ever is Trac Ball®.