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Tina Fey vs The Kardashians

June 7, 2013
English: Tina Fey at the 2010 Comic Con in San...

English: Tina Fey at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While mowing the lawn and listening to my beloved Nerdist Podcast the other day*, host Chris Hardwick remarked that Tina Fey was a great role model as compared to The Kardashians. This made me stop in my grass clippings strewn tracks.

Who ever considered The Kardashians role models and why would that be your other comparison point?

I was immediately enraged that the two entities (yes, I’m going to refer to the group of Kardashians as a single life-form, I’m not sure they could exist outside of their unit) were even uttered in the same sentence. On the one hand, you have Fey who has crafted an incredible career since leaving the Philadelphia suburbs:

  • graduated from the University of Virginia
  • honed her comedic skills at The Second City Theater in Chicago
  • nine years of stellar work at Saturday Night Live where she became their first female head writer and created an iconic Sarah Palin impersonation
  • achieved critical acclaim for developing the 30 Rock television show
  • adapted the screenplay in Lindsay Lohan’s last decent movie (Mean Girls)
  • wrote the New York Times bestseller Bossypants
  • won seven Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards
  • one husband, two kids

The follow-up isn’t how The Kardashians compare as role models, but rather, why the hell would anyone compare the two?

You compare Tina Fey to Will Ferrell, Christopher Guest, Ben Stiller, Maureen O’Hara, Albert Brooks, Bette Midler, Norman Lear, Lucille Ball, and Mark Twain.

You compare The Kardashians to Dane Cook, Spuds McKenzie, the E-Trade baby, The Fast and Furious movie series, Chicken McNuggets, and any other television show in the E! network.

Trust me, I get what Hardwick was doing, he was looking for an option as polar opposite as possible to compare Tina Fey. But it was jarring, and not in the way I think he meant it to be.

If I was having a conversation with Fey and mentioned a comparison to The Kardashians I would hope she’d spit in my face for sullying the sentence. Of course, she wouldn’t because she’s down-to-earth and self-deprecating. Whereas, if the situation were reversed, I’m sure any of The Kardashians would welcome the comparison’s construction and immediately offer parallels to Fey’s work.

You know, because I write a blog so somehow I’m the content equal to Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Gaiman and Chuck Klosterman.

I guess the other thing that bothered me was that Hardwick’s comparison rested on the premise that someone, ANYONE, would actually look to The Kardashians, individually or as a whole, as a role model. Unfortunately, I think that may have actually happened: “Farrah Abraham: ‘Teen Mom,’ Porn Star, Business Student.” No really, Bloomberg Businessweek wrote an article about former Teen Mom reality personality Farrah Abraham, who concocted a fake “stolen” sex tape with a real porn studio (for $1.5 million) to boost her waning notoriety, and is now enrolling in business school.

While I’m all for people making money and going to school, tell me this doesn’t sound like the Kim Kardashian path to success?

But who’s to blame for the power of The Kardashians? Consumers. Anyone who watches their shows, buys their products, runs Google searches about them, and (annoyingly) writes about them on their blogs. Yup, I’m now as much to blame for the continued existence of The Kardashians as the E! Network, Ray J., O.J. Simpson, tabloid magazines and the Internet.

I don’t know, maybe we need The Kardashians as a counterpoint to Tina Fey. But please, no more Kardashian knock offs, the world absolutely doesn’t need that.

[*And by the other day, I mean June 3, 2012 when I first started this particular blog post. Lately, I’ve had a bad run of completing any of my personal writing , so I gave my Facebook friends the option to choose any of the 11 drafts I had started but hadn’t finished. I think as penance, they forced me to write about The Kardashians. Lesson learned. But hey, it worked.]

Pope Benedict XVI resigns and offers one last gift of Church policy

February 11, 2013
Pope Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedictus XVI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t speak to the theological implications of Pope Benedict XVI resigning the papacy, but I’m not surprised by his decision to do so. In embracing the past, this pontiff has actually been quite progressive. A papal resignation may be his most forward thinking decision and greatest legacy.

Despite a sound mind, his predecessor Pope John Paul II was in failing health for slightly more than the last decade of his life. It was his decision to continue his papacy in spite of his obvious illnesses, perhaps as a symbol of perseverance. As a symbol, he was a strong pope, but perhaps not universally effective.

Pope Benedict XVI has been less about personal symbolism and more about structure – rules and policy. His papacy brought tweaks to the Church, many to make it more efficient while shepherding it into the new millennia.

This act of resignation is likely his greatest gift of policy, the acceptance of papal resignation in the modern church and the template to do so successfully.

Perhaps only he and his famous discipline could do such a thing. The last papal resignations took place during the great schisms of the Middle Ages, where multiple popes  literally tore the Church apart. For Pope Benedict XVI to successfully resign the chair of Saint Peter, he’ll need to completely remove himself from the position. Resigning is only the start.

Pope Benedict must show in his actions that he completely leaves the office, doing nothing to inspire schism. I believe he alluded to this in his resignation letter – “…I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”

Pope Benedict XVI will have to live a contemplative, perhaps even monastic, life – no audiences, no visitations, no books, no public letters, etc. He must do more, and thus less, than just leave the office of pope.

Ironically, this may be his greatest challenge, not in act but in acceptance by others. This cleric has always possessed an almost cult like following. As the famed Cardinal Ratzinger, I knew more than a few priests who were dedicated to his guidance, of course always within the faith of the universal Church. It is likely there will be those who choose to follow the Pope Benedict XVI even in resignation, as opposed to the new pontiff. This is the real danger of resignation.

However, considering the manner in which he has conducted his life from young man to Church father, I suspect this pope is among the few people who understands that the ramifications of his actions out of office will be just as weighty, possibly more so, than his actions in office.


Mass murder in Connecticut; the fault of apathy or obliviousness?

December 14, 2012

This latest school shooting, in Newtown, Connecticut, has once again rattled parents and concerned citizens across the country.

We’ve already begun to hear hollow words about sympathy, hugging our kids, praying for the families, controlling guns and how to deal with mental health issues.

Except I’m not sure any of those things make a difference.

I think we’ve all become too isolated, too xenophobic, too cowardly. We all shy away from each other’s business. We criticize, wash our hands and then turn away from potential dangers around us and our communities.

We’re all taught now to not get involved, it’s not your problem, if there’s an issue – call the cops, but whatever you do, don’t take care of it yourself. Don’t take the responsibility. Don’t take the risk.

Here’s what that kind of thinking breeds: shocking deaths, because people were left unaware or unprotected from the dangers nearby.

I have a 4-year-old son that spends 10 hours a day in a lovely, rural daycare. It’s run by truly salt-of-the-Earth people who I know will care for my son like I would. I hate that he’s there. I hate that I need to rely on others to care for him, but ultimately, that’s my reality.

Because of that and because I know nothing about the parents and families of the other students, or for that matter the personal relationships of the teachers, I need to rely on all of these people that they know there’s no psycho in their midst – someone who might also open fire in that beautiful and loving daycare.

I can only be certain of my son’s protection if I know that everyone who surrounds him is in everyone else’s business. That they all know where the crazy exists. Where the possible/potential dangers lie. Who’s getting divorced, who has an ax to grind, who’s off their meds.

We need to care about these issues. We need to be scared of the possibilities. We need to be aware.

Does this mean we’ll become a police state? No, just the opposite, protecting our own communities mean we control our own destinies, not that we’ll be beholden to our protective Big Brother overloards. It’s when you give up that responsibility that you become a police state.

But lets face it, gossip, the human intel, is just half the battle.

It’s the inaction that ultimately results in death.

How often do you see families or communities take real action when confronted by potential dangers. Those days are gone. We’ve become institutionalized to only allow legal authority to protect us. I’m not talking about vigilante justice, I’m referring to REAL community policing. Ferreting out and dealing with the monsters in our midst.

There was a time, truly not that long ago, when a community was expected to protect itself. When danger was in its midst, the community dealt with it. Doesn’t that sound like a foreign idea now? Like if we actually did that, WE’D be the ones in trouble?

I have a friend who has two members of her family that are quite mentally ill, more than functional, but always making the wrong decisions in the heat of the moment. It is not unreasonable to think they might snap and kill the entire family – young children, siblings, parent. The tales I’ve heard to this point are nothing short of a horror story.

I truly believe, that if this was 60 years ago, those two people would have mysteriously vanished. Nothing would have ever been said. But the problem would have been handled, for the benefit of the family.

And now, we’re 180 degrees in the other direction, where quite literally the inmates run the asylum. Where people of good conscience feel handcuffed about what they can do. Where others simply say, “there’s nothing I can do about it.”

We’ve lost our conviction.

I’m not saying we declare war on the mentally ill. I’m saying we stay aware and vigilant. I’m not calling for the murder of those who MAY be dangerous. We don’t need the pendulum to swing back the other way completely, but we do need to embrace our protective nature. That we put the protection of our loved ones above the disquiet we feel about getting in other people’s business.

These monsters exist. The police and mental health specialists cannot predict where they’ll appear or who they’ll attack, but we know who they are. Unless we’re completely oblivious, we know where the danger resides. It’s not a mystery.

I know who exists in my life that is a potential threat. I have to hope and pray that if I saw the signs of danger become apparent I would do everything to protect others from potential harm, family and strangers alike.

We must take back responsibility for our communities. We must protect ourselves against the dangers that exist. We must be aware and watchful. And when the time comes, we must have the nerve to act swiftly.

I promise you, if a member of my family or my circle of friends ever commits an atrocity, it will happen because he or she killed me first.  Or because I let you down.


Prager and Carolla in Philly

October 14, 2012

Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla play the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia on October, 13 2012.

The Philadelphia 48 Hour Film Project, July 13-14

July 2, 2012

Only because I so rarely get to be seen on camera, a clip of me chatting up the Philadelphia 48 Hour Film Project on CBS3’s Talk Philly July 2, noon broadcast.

48 Hour Film Project In Philadelphia
(I kind of wish the embedding tool would work)

If you’re interested in joining the competition on July 13-14, 2012, register here!

The nature of friendship breeds success

June 13, 2012
They are probably best friends since they were...

They are probably best friends since they were kids. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think the most important element to true friendship is openness.

When I look back at all my relationships, the hallmark of each one was that the other person and I felt comfortable with discussing any topic or element of our lives.

I have a wide range of friends, all from VERY different backgrounds, all with very different perspectives on life. But the one unifying element of my friendships  is how open we are with each other, no topic is taboo. There are the things we want to talk about and the things we HAVE to talk about.

If I screw up, I know I can talk to friends about it without fear. Oh, they’ll come down on me for being stupid, and then they’ll help me figure out the mess.

This openness doesn’t come from close proximity or regular conversation. I might go months or years without talking to one friend or another, but it doesn’t matter. I know I can leap into any subject and the conversation will be beneficial, whether it be a neutral topic, a blessing or a colossal screw up.

In the relationships I have with people who aren’t open and receptive to discussing our collective lives, there always exists a sense of reservation, which often breeds distrust, whether warranted or not.

However, openness and honesty with each other breeds the feeling of being part of a collective effort.

I’m not suggesting you have to unload everything onto your friend, it just means you can. These relationships based on openness are a great resource, because each of us have a different perspective, which can be useful in figuring things out. This isn’t to say you’re going to get good advice from your friend. Several of my friends are morons, I wouldn’t take their advice on certain topics if you paid me, but the process of the conversation and their unique point of view helps me to see the bigger picture in whatever issue I’m trying to master.

You know what kind of person who makes mistakes repeatedly? The person who thinks they know exactly what they’re doing and doesn’t engage someone else for an opinion. These are all the people who “whatever” you when you approach them with an issue.

I routinely go to people I trust for advice because they have life experiences I’ve never had, they’ve been through things I don’t understand. To not go to SOMEONE in both good and bad situations is a recipe for failure.

Does this kind of openness require the element of friendship? Not at all!

I think being open and engaging is a hallmark of most successful people. Folks who naturally share a back and forth with others seem to have a good handle on the world. I don’t think that means everyone they meet becomes their friend, but I do think it creates positive experiences and opportunities.

Therefore, the hallmark of friendship is also the hallmark of success.

Sheldon forgot openness in his algorithm, mutual interest doesn’t breed friendship or success. As he later finds out.

I’d like to thank…

May 31, 2012

I walked a year ago, but it took another year for this little piece of parchment to show up.

It occurred to me recently (after receiving my parchment in the mail a year after commencement) that while I’ve finished my thesis and received my Master’s degree, I never publicly acknowledged everyone who was such a huge help in getting me from point A to point Z. It was a long journey and there are a few of people to thank.

My thesis featured a dedication page, but since the likelihood of anyone actually laying eyes on it are nil, I figured I’d reprint it here on the blog – a slightly more public venue than Rowan University’s Keith & Shirley Campbell Library database.

I won’t bore you with the whole thesis, so onto the thanks:

I dedicate this body of work to…

My wife, Jennifer, who figured out how to pay for this fool’s errand of a degree with little financial support and no guarantee of a big payoff at the end.

Pat Serey, Patricia McKernanGina Williams and Volunteers of America Delaware Valley who fully (and financially) supported my initial decision to achieve this degree.

Jim Austin and Pepper Hamilton, LLC, who supported my decision to achieve this degree.

Francesca Regan, Angela Anderson, and Martha Kostack, my co-workers, who made sure I had the time and focus to complete a very laborious final semester and thesis process.

My sister-in-law Janet, who taught me more about research tools in 90 minutes than an entire course dedicated to the same topic.

Dr. Joseph Basso, my thesis advisor, and professors Ed Moore and Larry Litwin who kept me inspired during my entire Master’s degree run.

My parents, John and JoAnn Walsh, who laid a solid education foundation for me that I hope to pass on to others.

And finally, my son, Jack, who helps me understand where my priorities lay.

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