Advice for 2016 and beyond

Whatever you do, have fun doing it. If you don’t, no one else is going to have fun for you.

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Yes, everything that happens in movies is real.

The first part of this story comes from Anne, a friend of mine who lives out in L.A. She was attending a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] early screening of The Martian and Matt Damon was there to be part of an audience Q & A after the movie was over. Anne enjoyed the movie, but the part afterward… not so much.

The first person to ask a question was decked out in a dress like she was on a first date and piled enough compliments and adulation on Damon before she asked him anything that the upcoming question might as well have been, “Are you single?” Anne said it was actually a decent question, but the 2 1/2 minute Matt Damon lovefest before and afterward kinda tarnished the result.

The second question gave Anne a pretty good idea of how calm and relaxed some actors can be for the sake of their fans. Not only can they handle people who sound like they want to run up onto the stage during the Q & A session and do all sorts of unmentionable things to them in front of the audience, they handle questions after The Martian like, “Did that really happen?”

Yes.

I mean, no, the events in the movie didn’t happen, but the question did. Anne’s heart sank in her chest and she immediately became saddened for the Screen Actors Guild: there are people who present that kind of public image and have the SAG title attached to their names.

Again, he delivered a calm and relaxed response, which in this case was that it wasn’t a true story, but scientists are doing a lot of research about how to produce food, water, oxygen and whatnot so they could potentially send people out to Mars for a few months, etc. Uhhh… in case you didn’t know The Martian is about someone being on Mars, I guess I should have added a spoiler alert before this paragraph.

Suffice it to say that actors have to deal with a lot of dumb questions, but it inspired a group of us to come up with one for the next Q & A session that would include Matt Damon. For those of you who don’t know, he’s currently working on a fifth Jason Bourne movie that’s supposed to be released in 2016.

The question we came up with wasn’t, “Did the stuff in that movie really happen?” That question should be saved for a silly person who wants to indulge in another lovefest. Nope, we decided she should get the microphone and ask Matt Damon, “How many people have you killed with your bare hands?” Mic drop, walk away. Q & A session complete.

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Beauty and the Geek psych evaluation

Last week, I got a message on here and on Facebook from a high school student in New York. The full story (that she explained in full a little later) was that her psychology teacher had seen Beauty and the Geek, assigned groups of kids in his class to watch different seasons, then gave them a few options for an assignment after that.

One of those options was to interview a former cast member, so because her group liked me the best (Yay!), they found a way to contact me, we sent a few messages back and forth and I eventually had an hour-long chat via Skype with three high school psychology students. They sent me a list of questions ahead of time, giving me time to think about my answers, so I got to tell them a couple of good stories and I like to think I dropped a couple of interesting knowledge bombs, too.

Some were basic questions that I might get from anyone: Why did you audition for the show, how has it affected your personal life, what would you have done with the money, etc. One question I liked that had an answer they probably didn’t expect was #7 on the list:

Some individuals may feel that receiving the money as an award corrupts the experience. Do you agree with this? In other words, are you glad that you didn’t win?

“No.”

Aside from the obvious “I would have liked to win”, I don’t think it corrupts the experience. It may affect how you approach it: you may be there for the experience or you may be focused entirely on winning the money, but either way, your goal is set, you know what you’re trying to accomplish. If everyone is there solely for the experience and the money is introduced a few weeks in, that could corrupt it. People’s behavior could change because their goal changes. (I suppose “corrupt” is a personal judgment—you consider money a negative factor—but it definitely alters the experience, for better or worse.)

I also liked the final question, #10:

What was going through your head when you found out that high school students wanted to interview you about a show you did 10 years ago?

Initially, I was flattered. “They like me, they really like me!” Then I was extremely curious. “What was the process that went from ‘high school psychology class’ to them contacting me about a potential interview? What kind of terrible teacher would force their students to watch that show?!” (Plus there was the little voice in my head reminding me, “I’m over 20 years older than these kids… God, I’m old.”)

It was really nice that they’d seen all the episodes recently, so I could tell them stories relating to their questions and they knew exactly what I was referring to (the quotes below are approximate, but you get the idea):

  • [One question on the students’ list was about whether I’m still into the same activities that I was ten years ago.] “Remember when someone mentioned ‘going out only two times a month’? That was me.”
  • “We were allowed to tell girls anything but the truth about why we wanted their phone numbers, so Chuck was the smartest out of all of us because he came up with the best lie!”
  • “I let Scarlet yell at me after the outdoor challenge for a long time because I agreed with her. I knew I screwed up.” [I proceeded to give them a list of things I could/should have done differently.]
  • “During the Aftermath, the producers were giving people some of those questions. The girl who asked Joe on a date was 14 years old.” [Joe called her afterward and got to talk to her dad.]
  • “They didn’t show all of the questions because someone asked me about how the Boy Scouts responded after my ‘meltdown’ during the outdoor challenge. I think they specifically worded the questions to see what kind of emotional responses they could get.”

Finally, toward the end of the interview, one girl asked me for five adjectives that best describe the experience for me and there’s no question that “memorable” belongs on that list.

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Happy 10th anniversary of our broadcast premiere!

June 1st, 2005. A lifetime ago (assuming that you’re younger than ten years old). 14 faces appeared for the first time on the WB. Well, aside from all the promos that aired up until the premiere, but this was the first time the faces were on-screen for longer than thirty seconds during a commercial break.

To Eric and Cheryl, Joe and Erika, Brad and Krystal, Bill and Lauren, Richard and Mindi, Chuck and Caitilin, and of course Scarlet: Happy anniversary, everyone. It was an honor and a pleasure. Yes, at times, it was really unpleasant, but overall, an honor and a pleasure.

Everyone say Cheese!
The cast of Beauty and the Geek, Season 1

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I’m a TERRIBLE rebel

I made that rebellious Facebook post last week about the Scout Stores being closed on Memorial Day, thinking, “If that’s really a fireable offense instead of writing me up or something, that’s just sad.” Then I looked at the email more carefully.

cease all activity on your social media channels immediately and for the next 24 hours

What didn’t occur to me until after I came back from Memorial Day weekend is that the email was sent on Wednesday morning at about 10:30. I saw it when I got to work at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, meaning the window for being a rebel had already closed a couple hours ago. (If it’s any consolation to myself, I’m pretty sure trying and failing to be a rebel isn’t a fireable offense, so my employment status should be safe.)

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Anti-gay policy is “unsustainable”

Robert M. Gates, the President of the Boy Scouts of America said it at the National Annual Meeting on Thursday: the ban on gay adult Scout leaders is “unsustainable”. (If you want to watch the membership policy part of his speech, skip ahead to 8:41.)

In the last post on here, I explained that I’ve been managing the Facebook page for Twin Cities Scout Shops. I’ve been responsible for almost all of the content there, so after reading about this yesterday, I was planning to go in to work and ask Sally, the store manager, if I should post a link to a website on the page. Make it objective and informative, don’t try to put any spin on it, just “Here’s what happened.” Then I checked my email.

One of the first messages had the subject heading, Note to cease social media activities immediately. “Hmmm, this might be relevant to what I was going to ask Sally…”

BSA social media channel managers,

As a result of today’s announcement from Dr. Gates, please cease all activity on your social media channels immediately and for the next 24 hours (instruct any of your other page admins to cease activity, as well). Do not post additional content during this time. Please reschedule or delete any content that you have pre-scheduled for delivery over your channels during this time.

Given my rebellious nature, I posted something on Facebook anyway. Sure, it may have just been “We’re closed on Monday because of Memorial Day, have a great weekend”, but it was still rebellious, dammit!

But the fact that I wasn’t allowed to write about it at all on my work Facebook page means I feel free to address it as much as I’d like on my blog. I don’t plan on being overly abusive or stomping on anyone’s toes too hard, so please don’t fire me, Boy Scouts! I still love you!

And that’s been part of my issue the last few years. I was happy when the BSA decided to lift their ban on gay Scouts. I think it’s a good organization that can have a strong, positive impact on kids for their entire lives. It was disappointing that they didn’t include gay leaders in their decision, but I was happy with any kind of progress.

Meanwhile, some people were returning their Eagle certificates, swearing they’d never wear their Scout shirts again, decrying the organization for making such a poor decision. No one ever said anything to my face, but I still felt it personally. I’ve been a part of Scouting for most of my life: I started as a Wolf Scout when I was 8, went all the way through Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, then became an Assistant Scoutmaster when I turned 18. I’ve maintained that position for the last twenty years, so it’s been an important part of my life for decades now.

No, I wasn’t happy about the ban against gay leaders—I know plenty of gay men and women who would be good leaders and excellent role models for kids—but that didn’t mean I was going to cast all those years of Scouting off to the side.

Suppose someone is a staunch Republican, holds that title with pride, votes a straight-party ticket every election, etc. But that person’s beliefs might not align completely with the party’s. Maybe he thinks that there should be limits to gun rights or women should have more rights over their bodies or whatever. Does that single issue make the person not a Republican? No. Similarly, I don’t agree with the ban against gay leaders, but that doesn’t change the fact that I think the BSA is a positive organization that does a lot of good and I’m not going to abandon it. Now there’s a possibility that it might not be an issue for very long.

The biggest concern right now might not be the members; it might be religious institutions. Scout troops and Cub packs have chartering partners, many of which are churches in various areas. Those churches may object to gay leaders. If they decide to decry the Boy Scouts, those troops and packs could fold. To them, I would ask to apply the same analogy as above. You may not like a policy change, but liking it and accepting it can be two different things. Ban gay leaders in your own troops? Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean it should be an organizational standard.

So I’ll be following this issue carefully. I’m hoping for the best, preparing for the worst, which is… who knows? I’m hoping that the Boy Scouts will step up, choose their own fate and make it a good choice. Make it the right choice. If they don’t… I still love you, don’t fire me!

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