Sunday, February 20, 2011

What If There is No Tomorrow? There Wasn't One Today!

*This week's title comes from one of everyone's favorite movies, Groundhog Day. Seriously, is there anyone who doesn't like this movie? This movie has become so embedded in our pop culture that I can't remember if the concept of Groundhog Day as something repeating itself over and over existed before the movie, or if that's a result of the movie's popularity.

Anyway, last Saturday, I went out for what I had planned to be a five-mile run. The weather was supposed to be clear, with temps in the low fifties. Now let's get something straight right now. I hate running. Despise it. I do not lose myself in my thoughts, because there is a single thought that overwhelms all others -- how much longer until I can stop? However, I love FINISHING running. And that is why I do it.

I quickly realized it wasn't going to be my day. There was a terrible headwind, and with the wind chill, the temp was down closer to 40 than 50. After about a mile, I decided to cut the run to three miles. Seeing as I haven't really started my training for the 2012 Olympics in earnest, I figured that would be OK. Two miles into the run, I was headed uphill on a relatively busy road, one that I'd run on hundreds of times before, when I lost my balance on and face-planted, half on the hardpack shoulder, half on the roadway. As I stumbled, I knew there was no traffic coming, but I knew that it was a pretty crappy place to eat it.

In a shining example of shameless human vanity, I checked to see if anyone had seen me fall before I checked the extent of my injuries. I had jammed my shoulder, wrenched my hip, and scraped up my hand and knee. Luckily though, nothing serious. And far more importantly, no one had seen me bite it. As I finished off the run, it got me thinking about a strange week I had back in 2008, about a month before my daughter was born.

The strangeness of that week started during a run that day as well -- on that same road, in fact. It was that day I realized that much of what we experience is out of our control. Within ten minutes of leaving my house on that April afternoon, I was chased by a dog and someone in a passing car threw a cup of water on me (at least I hope it was water).  

The next day, I was on Interstate 95, driving to a law conference in northern Virginia, when I found myself in the midst of an unbelievable police chase, the kind you see on Cops. I saw at least a dozen police vehicles giving chase. The suspect vehicle, a small compact, zipped around me in the breakdown lane doing about 90, and a state trooper roared past a few seconds later, nearly clipping my front left bumper. I briefly swerved to avoid a collision with the police car, and I was lucky I didn't lose control of my car.

Two days later, while I was still at the conference, our dog got loose, having slipped through the back gate (which I had forgotten to latch the day I left for the conference). She'd been gone for a good thirty minutes before my wife (eight months pregnant and caring for our then-2-year-old son) realized she was gone. The dog made it about a mile, but very luckily for us, she happened across a kind family that was good enough to check her tags, upon which our phone number was stamped. 

All this happened in the span of about seventy-two hours.

Here's the thing: I am a textbook worrier (wisely, my wife did not tell me about the dog incident until after the dog was safely back at home). I worry about the stove being left on, about our furnace exploding, about my plane crashing, about my son falling from the top of the monkeybars, about any white conversion van I see on the street -- because, seriously, who drives white conversion vans other than child molesters? So this was a particularly troubling week for me in that it showed me, at least on some level, that there is not a whole lot of point in worrying about things.

It's pretty unsettling to realize that for all the worrying you do, you might still have an out-of-control dump truck out there with your name on it.

So naturally, I'm worried about that.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I've Just Been Handed an Urgent and Horrifying News Story!*

Two urgent and horrifying news stories, actually. Except they're neither urgent nor horrifying. 

First, here's a fun interview I had with Nina Diamond from Independent Publisher magazine.  Nina, a terrific person and a great writer, has been a big supporter of the Novel video since the beginning and was one of the first folks with a large audience to really help it spread. 

Second, here's a long piece in today's Wall Street Journal about the animated video craze, which is sweeping the nation like Baby Fish Mouth**, with a few nice paragraphs about my videos and a Star Trek quote from my agent.

And with that: It's Miller time! Except Miller sucks, so it's Sam Adams time!

*From Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, one of the funniest movies of the last 10 years. 

**Yeah, if you didn't catch the Baby Fish Mouth reference, it's because you're young and your life is still awesome and carefree.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Interview with a Vampire*

*I'm the vampire in this scenario, if, in addition to "undead immortal who feasts on the blood of the living," vampire also means "bumbling fool."

Since I posted the Law School video in October, I've had the chance to do a few interviews about all the shenanigans that have ensued, including two interviews just in the last week. I'm more than happy to do them because I figure the more exposure I can get for this blog and for the videos, the better it will hopefully be for my long-term writing career. Plus, they ask you a bunch of questions about your favorite subject -- you! It's good for the ego. *patting ego on head* And all the journalists I've talked to have been extremely nice and very patient with me.

But one thing has become very clear. I'm not nearly as smooth and polished as I once hoped I'd be, I'm super nervous, and I'm in constant fear of screwing up the interview. Quite frankly, if a journalist pressed me on the issue, I'd probably confess to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, a crime that occurred more than 40 years before I was born. I have visions of embarrassing myself, my family, my friends, my new agent, and anyone who's ever been associated with me. When the interviews conclude, I look back on them and imagine huge slanderous swaths of career-ending quotables that have poured from me like icy home draft Coors Light. I even had a nightmare over the weekend about it.

I try to relax and tell myself that these are supposed to be fun interviews about a fun topic and that I'm not an "anonymous source from the Pentagon" talking about ominous troop movements. But no matter how much I practice in advance or prepare myself for the questions I think the interviewer might ask me, when the interview starts, I feel like I'm blathering on like Chunk from The Goonies after he's been captured by the Fratelli gang.  I always secretly hope that they want to do the interview via e-mail, so I can take my time in crafting my response and perhaps sound like less of a moron.

When you're a lawyer or a writer, or both, at some point, you're probably going to imagine yourself giving big-time interviews on the courthouse steps or on the Today Show (making Natalie Morales laugh her ass off, of course). I've pictured it myself, and I thought I would be good at it. So it's a rude awakening to realize you need to drink about a gallon of water at the end of an interview because you've sweat through your shirt and that you have absolutely no recollection of anything you've said.

In the meantime, I will happily give as many interviews as are asked of me.

Someone hand me a stick of Old Spice.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Today's Blog Post Has Been Brought to You by the Letters G and B. And The Number 31.

One of my most popular written columns was And Now... A Word from Our Sponsors, in which I reviewed a bunch of commercials that aired in primetime on NBC one night last summer. So I thought it would be fun to do another one about a sample of the Super Bowl commercials, the supposed best of the best.

Off we go, this time with a quick hit on each commercial. I stuck to the ones from the first half, where the big money is.

1. Bud Light (Hack Job)
I find it funny that Bud Light used the phrase "Hack Job" in a commercial about its own beer.

2. Doritos (Pug)
Celebrating dog abuse. Who's the target audience for this commercial? Michael Vick?

3. Doritos (Finger Licking Good)
Nice work, guys. Now I'll have that repulsive image in my head every time I think about buying your chips. Might as well have shown me the dude puking up a bag.

4. Pepsi (Can Thrower)
Hilarious. Girl-on-guy domestic abuse is so funny. Imagine one where the guy throws the can at the girlfriend. 

5. Bud Light (Product Placement)
We can't sell it on quality. Maybe we can sell it on quantity.

6. Universal: Fast Five movie trailer
Explosions. Girls in skimpy clothing. Cars going fast. Yeah, Hollywood sounds hard.

7. Pepsi (Shooting Cooler)
More violence from Pepsi. Can we get some social workers down there?

8. Doritos (House Sitting)
Raising the dead. Raising the dead. Worshipping false idols. Scary.

9. Hyundai Elantra
I watched this commercial twice and immediately forgot what it was about. There's $2 million they're never going to see again.

10. Bridgestone (Reply All)
As someone who always thinks he's hit Reply All for every e-mail he's ever written, I'm a big fan of this one.

11. Chevy Volt
Good Lord. It's a car that DOESN'T USE GAS. If Chevy really needs an ad to sell it, then we have bigger problems than we realize.

I love their warning that the web content is unrated. Really? Do you need to warn anyone about web content anymore? And thanks for saving me the exertion of typing the letter "m."

13. Budweiser (Tiny Dancer)
Total rip off of the Coke - Grand Theft Auto spot from a couple years ago.

14. Teleflora (Faith Hill)
Jokes about girls' racks still have to be funny. Oops.

15. Paramount (Transformers 3)
Well, my son was a fan. He's five.

16. BMW (X3)
No, no. We're not stealing your jobs. Just your market share.

17. Motorola (Xoom)
Look how cool we are with the crazy spelling of our phone that was obsolete in 2009.

18. BMW (Changes)
A David Bowie song. Original.

19. Coca Cola (Dragon)
Seriously. Is there no dispute that Coke cannot resolve?

20. Paramount (Thor movie trailer) Another big hit with the "Unable to Read" demographic in my house.

21. Volkswagen (Darth Vader)
Volkswagen to all other advertisers: Suck it.

22. Snickers: Roseanne Barr
On behalf of a grateful nation, we thank you.

23. CareerBuilders: Monkeys
Funny in 2000. Not so funny now.

24. Paramount: Super 8
A movie from the guys who made Lost and Cloverfield? Yeah, here's my $10.50.

25. Chevy (Cruze with talking Facebook status updates)
I warned you. Facebook is forever.

26. Paramount (Captain America) 
I'm sensing a theme here. There are no original ideas left.

27. (Will I Am, Black Eyed Peas)
Something strangely familiar about all these big-headed animated characters.

28. The Daily (iPad App)
Jesus. Is it halftime yet?

29. Volkwagen (Racing Beetle) 
This is where Volkswagen stands at home plate, watching its majestic homerun sail over the left-field wall, all but ensuring that the Chevy pitcher is going to throw at the next batter's head.

*Chevy impatiently tapping its fingers on a smoked glass tabletop*

Oh, and congrats to the Green Bay Packers and particularly to Aaron Rodgers, who pulled off the impressive double, taking out two douchebag quarterbacks (Favre and Roethlisberger) with one victory.