Thursday, December 31, 2015

From 2015 into 2016

Firstly, concerning my 2015 resolution

So there's this novel I've been working on since my last semester of college when a bunch of girls in my writing workshop class told me that they loved one of my short stories and wanted more. At the end of last year, I made the resolution to finally finish the first draft of that novel in 2015.

Today is the last day of 2015, and while I did finish the first draft of a novel this year (for the first time), it was for a completely unrelated story that I started and finished during the month of November for NaNoWriMo.

While I admit it's a huge bummer to not have a draft done of that college story yet, I'm proud of what I have accomplished in writing this year. I've written a 50,000 word novel from beginning to end, gotten a freelance job writing for a video game that I truly believe in, and am so incredibly close to finishing that college story that I can taste it!

And now, everything else 2015

This year, I've also been making more friends of coworkers than I thought I would, purchased a house along with my lovely wife, adopted the most adorable and fun dog on the planet, and continued to try eating more vegetables.

As far as my hobbies go, I've read several books (The Girl on the Train, Orange is the New Black, The Black Echo, The Girl with All The Gifts, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Survivor, etc.), seen countless movies (Mad Max, Star Wars, Ex Machina, Nightcrawler, Inside Out, Brooklyn, It Follows, Whiplash, The Guest, John Wick, and so many more), listened to a hell of a lot of music (Halsey, Grimes, The Weeknd, Panic! At The Disco, Melody Gardot, Purity Ring, Nero, and holy crap so much more), but played mostly one video game (Xcom: Enemy Unknown).

So, what about next year?

More. More of everything. More novel drafts, more freelance opportunities, more fun at work, more projects on the house, more playtime with my dog, more books to read, more movies to watch, more music to thrive on, more Xcom (the sequel comes out soon), and - of course - much more time with my amazing, caring, fun, can't-survive-without-her wife!
Maybe not as many more vegetables, though. We're starting to get down to the really weird ones.

Oh yeah, and a million times more Tactical Laser Tag. It has seriously been too long since I did that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 - A Recap

You see that up there? That's the tentative cover for the first novel I've ever finished writing. Somehow, I did it. Somehow, I wrote over 50,000 words in thirty days. Somehow, I won NaNoWriMo 2015.

How difficult was it?

It's weird to think about, because on one hand, the entire process was incredibly hard for me, especially when I would have a moment (and there were many) where I knew in the marrow of my bones that the novel wasn't good enough, and that everything I had written so far just wasn't living up to my expectations. On the other hand, though, the entire month's worth of writing seemed to fly by at the speed of light; I'd be writing one day, then look back in the novel to clarify some previously-established information only to be amazed at how far back I had to go to find it because I'd written so much!

Again, I owe it all to my hour-long lunch break at work, the uncomfortable cold weather which encouraged me to stay inside and write rather than going out for some fresh air, and most importantly my own discipline. You can see on the official word count charts below that I kept a pretty steady pace to stay on target every day while always compensating for a missed goal due to a busy weekend.

Is it any good?

The easy question to be asked when telling people that I've finished writing a novel in thirty days is, "is the novel good?" but I stand firm in my answer that whether or not the novel is good isn't the point, the point is that I worked hard at something I love to do. By writing an average of 1,697 words per day, I was practicing and (hopefully) slowly improving at my beloved craft. Creative writing isn't something you just can or cannot do, like any other skill it takes practice and determination to improve. That all being true, I consider myself to be my harshest critic, and let's just say that there will be revisions.

What now?

So where do I go from here? Well, I've still got to finish my years-in-the-making novel about a college-aged girl who winds up in a scandalous romance. It was my last new years' resolution to finish my first draft of that novel by the end of 2015, so I suppose I'll take this discipline I've developed and point it in that direction while I let The Dream House sit in the back of my mind for a month until I'm ready to re-open it and get to the revisions.

For those interested, you can read the current synopsis for The Dream House and even take a peek at a small synopsis here, just bear in mind this is a rough first draft.

Check out these related blog posts:
My First NaNoWriMo - 2013
My NaNoWriMo 2014 Recap
Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2015
Final Preparations for NaNoWriMo 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Final Preparations for NaNoWriMo 2015

The concept for my next novel has changed (and hopefully improved) dramatically since my last post about preparing for this year's NaNoWriMo. I suppose that's why they start the official planning period a whole month beforehand.

Whereas I had intended for my 50,000 word novel to be a rewrite that was more-or-less completely loyal to last year's concept, I discovered while outlining that there was barely any sustainable conflict inherent in the idea. You see, I wanted to write about a kid with problems going to another world that seemingly has everything he ever wanted, only to realize that the things he thinks are most important to him can't really make him happy. That all sounded well and good until I sat down and tried to actually plot out the novel. I suppose someone (more talented than I) could make that work, but I humbly realized that I could not.

With time until NaNoWriMo only growing shorter, I had to rethink everything.

I shed away every bit of the plot that I thought I wanted to write until I was left with only the core of my idea. I then brainstormed a whole new story around that core, one which had ghosts of the original idea, but was otherwise entirely new:
"Thirty-something year old Gideon Bradfield has won an all-inclusive dream vacation for two to the world-renowned and extremely exclusive Somnium Domus tropical resort. Though his wife's demanding job has prevented her from joining him on the trip, Gideon still hopes to take the opportunity to work on rekindling their marriage. On the flight to the island resort, Gideon meets Christopher, a charismatic, intelligent, and angelically handsome young man also taking a solo vacation to the famous resort. The two become fast friends, and the resort is everything Gideon could have ever dreamed of, but over time things begin to sour; his wife won't answer or return any of his calls, he's haunted by familiar but strange lucid nightmares every night, and he just can't shake the feeling that there's something not right about the Somnium Domus. What he uncovers will make him question his vacation, his marriage, his new friend, and his life itself."
Those of you who read the original synopsis may see the parallels here; Christopher is essentially the same character as Chris from the original synopsis, after all, and honestly even the plot is pretty similar when you boil it down. What's different is the focus. By metaphorically shifting my perspective two inches to the left, I was able to see a plethora of possibilities that I was blind to before. Sometimes two inches make all the difference.

I've successfully crafted a plot outline and will be spending this last week of preparation fleshing out my character and location outlines. NaNoWriMo begins this coming Sunday, November 1st. Though I'll be busy writing the novel, I'll try to blog at least once during November with a progress report.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2015

Ahoy people who read my blog!

Last year I said this about this year's NaNoWriMo:
"Perhaps next year I will take NaNoWriMo much more seriously, and really dedicate myself to meeting the 50,000 word goal. I can't help but feel incredibly accomplished and enthusiastic about the future, and I wonder what novel I might be working on next year."
By some miracle I've actually gone and done this. That's right. I'm back in — deeper than ever.

I may have failed in the past — twice, no less — but this year will be different! This year I shall write a 50,000-word novel in only thirty days! Huzzah! I've already started filling out character sheets, drafting up an outline of the plot, and brainstorming every possible facet of my future novel's structure, composition, style, tone, and all that other cool stuff. This is happening! For real this time!

What's my novel about, you ask? Well it's actually going to be a complete rewrite from scratch of the novel I attempted to write last year. Why, you ask? Because it started to suck since it was written completely by the seat of my pants (not sure what that phrase means, will have to look up later). Also I'm pretty sure that writing entirely in first-person present tense is proof of hell on Earth.

So here's my synopsis for the novel, which I hope is proof in itself that my writing has improved since last year and this novel actually stands a chance of, you know, not sucking:
"Overburdened with the stress of school and the recent deaths of several of his loved ones, 17-year-old Thomas crosses paths with a mysterious twenty-something-year-old man named Chris who is the spitting image of everything Thomas wishes he was - unquestionably attractive, muscular, confident, easy-going, and adventurous. Amazingly, Chris takes an interest in young Thomas and offers him the opportunity to enter into his world - a proposal which Thomas accepts, and one which turns out to be much more literal than he ever imagined.
Inexplicably transported to another dimension where youth is eternal and every one of your dreams is easily within reach, Thomas must choose between living the fantasy forever or struggling through his brief existence in reality, all while learning to grieve, love, grow up, and above all, live."
So yeah, I had some trouble picking a genre for that to fall under out of the given options on the website. I ended up picking "other."

So why am I taking time away from writing my years-in-progress novel for this one instead? I dunno, I feel like this event deserves its own story. One that's designed to be written in 30 days. My other novel needs to go at its own pace. Something like that.

I'm so excited!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

50,000 Words - An Update On My First Novel

Note: To any of my longtime readers, you've no-doubt noticed that I've been posting less frequently, and that none of the recent posts have had anything to do with my writing. I can explain. At the end of last year I decided to attempt to write more topical blog posts to draw in readers, and while that worked at first, I then realized that I was getting tired of forcing myself to update my blog with content. I thus made the conscious decision to only write when I actually had something to share, rather than trying to force myself into a two-posts-per-month schedule.

As of yesterday I've officially hit the 50,000-word milestone in my first novel, not counting the around 10,000 I deleted during early revisions when I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I've also confirmed that, when formatted to the proper manuscript style, it exceeds 200 pages - which I read somewhere is the minimum or average accepted length.

My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I'm pretty sure that my 2015 new year's resolution was to finish the first draft of my novel, and while that goal seemed unattainable for the last few months, it's finally starting to appear within view. You see, while I was initially writing my first draft as if it were a draft I expected to actually try to sell and that people would be reading, I've since realized how terribly stupid that assumption was. It's a rough draft, and the quality is allowed to reflect as such.

Rather than going back and editing for consistency in plot, details, etc. I've taken to just writing the next scene or event that I want to happen regardless if it makes sense given the prior established events or details. That means that plot threads are being dropped and developed as far as 50,000 words into the story because the more that I write, the more I start to realize what the story is actually about and what it really needs. I relate it similar to the storyboard or first script of a movie; you don't pick up a camera and shoot a film as the first step - you draft the entire film up on paper first so you can make the next version of it even better with hindsight.

I currently expect to finish the first draft of the novel by the end of this year, and then I plan on rewriting it more or less from scratch with the benefit of knowing exactly what beats I want it to hit at what times. I'm considering changing the tense, tone, and adding or removing characters and whole scenes. Nothing is sacred in the first draft.

At the same time, I'm starting the slow and steady process of preparing for my next project; currently slated to be a novel concept that I cannot get out of my head and want to spend much more time preparing for than I did for this first novel. You see, this novel had almost no planning whatsoever because I was eager to get started on it after some peers enjoyed the short story it's based on and suggested I novelize it. As fun as it has been, I want to be more prepared next time so that maybe that first draft will be a little bit more fully realized.

So there. Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but that's what's going on in my world of writing.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to teach myself screenwriting because the truth is that I've seen about a hundred movies for every book I've read, so most of my storytelling influence is from cinema.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My First Writing Credit - Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

Well I can finally talk about it; I'm writing content for an upcoming video game called Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

The Kinda Funny And Long Story About How I Got My First Writing Credit

This all started back in 2004 when my friend turned me on to a small but rapidly expanding community of amateur game creators using a program called "Game Maker" to put out micro-sized games for free on the internet. If memory serves, many of these games were less than a gigabyte in size, which was good because my internet at the time could only download so many megabytes per minute.

As I browsed a seemingly never-ending selection of free games for something I could really get into, I stumbled upon a developer whose games I found to be very imaginative, ambitious, and just plain fun. This developer went by the username Mr. Chubigans and created his games using the developer name Vertigo Gaming. I was such a fan of his that I became a very active member in his tight-knit forum community of like-minded fans.

I was such a fan, in fact, that my first online purchase ever was of a t-shirt with the Vertigo Gaming logo of the time emblazoned upon it:

Retro Vertigo Gaming t-shirt: "The games are free, this shirt was not"

As the years wore on, Mr. Chubigans (actual name David Galindo) pursued his passion of game developing, and I pursued my passion of writing. I kept in contact with him and a few others from the community over the years; especially to check up on new game developments. David slowly revealed to his long-time fans that he was working on a full-sized commercial sequel to two of his most popular free indie games, Ore No Ryomi 1 & 2, which he had decided to call "Cook, Serve, Delicious!" and in May 2012 he posted on the forums asking his fans to submit short "fake emails" that would appear in the game with credit given.

I remember happening upon this open request days after it was posted (I only checked the forums every few months at this point, so it's quite lucky that I saw it at all) after my last college class of that afternoon, and I spent a quick five minutes submitting three top-of-mind ideas so as to secure my place in Vertigo Gaming history before heading off to a scheduled dinner with my would-be wife. A few weeks later, remembering that time was running out to submit any more, I hastily submitted four more ideas with equally little thought or revision.

Cook, Serve, Delicious was released in October 2012 and slowly but surely became a hit for its deep and rewarding gameplay that was stressful to learn but very rewarding to conquer. Though my actual name does not appear in the final game, my username is listed among the other fans who contributed writing to the silly in-game fake emails.

Screenshot of Cook, Serve, Delicious! Credits with my username "Yackemflaber"
My username is the long nonsense one starting with "Y"

The game went on sale as part of a Humble Bundle this past April, and it suddenly hit me again, after having forgotten, that I had contributed to a commercially successful video game. This was a really, really awesome feeling which I immediately decided I wanted more of. I sent David an email re-introducing myself and offering my writing services in any way he could possibly use them, wanting very much to help someone who I viewed as an old friend to achieve his own dreams while chasing after mine. As a back-up, I planned to send out similar emails to every independent game developer I could think of or find, but didn't have to when David responded to my email sounding very intrigued only two hours later.

After some back-and-forth emails and a non-disclosure agreement, David revealed to me that he happened to be looking for a writer for his upcoming then-unannounced video game, and that the video game in question was a sequel titled Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!

So that's how my name ended up on the bottom of the official Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! website, as also seen in the following screenshot, which I took so I could share it with everyone I know:
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! Credits screenshot from website with Ryan Matejka displayed
The game has just been announced with a tentative early 2016 release date, and I'd highly encourage you to check it out if you're into really awesome and addictive but accessible computer games. You can learn more about it at and see my name at the bottom while you're there!

Okay, But How Does It Make Me Feel?

The process of writing for such a cool, family-friendly game has been fun and challenging compared to my hobby of fiction-writing more mature subject matter, and seeing my actual human name at the bottom of that website is extremely rewarding unto itself. It seems kind of surreal that, in some small way, I've transcended from a desk-sitting office-worker to a multi-project juggling writer like many of the people I look up to – I've never wanted to be stuck or content with a single linear career path, and though I've been working on my stories and other abandoned projects all the while, this first writing credit somehow makes it all real for the first time. I almost feel as though I've been in a cage whose door has just been opened for the first time to allow me to run free and discover the limits of my abilities and accomplishments.

There's only one way to go from here, and that is onward.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How To Make a Backyard Patio

While the interior of our new home was completely redone to the latest and greatest appliances, cabinets, etc, the exterior was not so lucky. My wife and I have already done some work on the front lawn for curb appeal, but the back yard was quite a larger task. Not only was a patio completely absent from the house-flipper's redesign, but speaking with a neighbor revealed that a previously-existing patio was completely destroyed when the basement walls had to be reinforced, causing the back yard to look a little something like this:

My wife and I really wanted a completed patio, especially since we wanted to throw our incoming housewarming party outside. Luckily, we'd planned for such renovations when saving money for the house, so all we had to do was pick a brick style, stock up on it and other essentials, and enlist the help of family and friends.
lots of bricks piled up in our garage for the patio

Once the supplies were purchased, we picked a weekend and got to work. My wife got her hands dirty by tilling the soil.
My wife tills the soil

And my father-in-law leveled the area with a mixture of rocks, then got to work setting all the stones in place. Henna kept watch.
My father-in-law dumps a load of rocks while our dog watches

We lined the stones with a frame of the very same dirt from the earlier tilling, and made sure to pack it down to prevent any shifting.
My brother and father-in-law help put the patio together

Henna got first honors of eating off the patio; she loves chewing on ice cubes so much that I gave her a whole bowl to enjoy!
My adorable dog chews on some ice from her bowl of ice cubes

After two full days of work, the last stone was finally set. All that remained was to fill in the cracks with sand and furnish the area with patio furniture, flowers, and other outdoor decorations.
My wife, my brother, and myself sit on the completed patio

We decorated both corners furthest from the house with large flower pots and wire-constructed rabbit decorations, got one hell of a deal on a beautiful table and chair set with cushions included (cushions not pictured), got a large fire pit and chairs for those chilly and/or beautiful nights when I want smores, and planted calla lilies interspersed with decorative leafy plants along the house. The only other things not pictured below would be the grill, which would go in the same place as it is pictured above, and the umbrella for the table, which matches the aqua and blue color theme of everything else.
The patio with all of its current furnishings

Everything was in place by the time the housewarming party finally rolled around. Sadly we had to set up some additional canopies in case of occasional rainfall rather than use the single table umbrella (and didn't get to fully utilize the patio for serving food and drinks), but after all was said and done we had a beautiful house with a beautiful new patio to go with it!
Party on the patio

Making our own patio allows us not only to have the final say in exactly where it is, how large it is, and what it looks like, but also gives us the pride in being able to tell our future children that we made it ourselves (with lots of help, of course), with them in mind.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Introducing Henna

Henna, the adorable Corgi / Cattle Dog mix lying on her back with a ball in her mouth
That beautiful dog up there is Henna; the latest addition to the Matejka family. She's presumed to be a mixture of a corgi and a cattle dog, which is why she's so adorably short and short-haired.

The Story of Her Adoption

The story of her adoption is a funny one. It all started three weeks ago on a Monday when my dog-starved wife told me that she'd decided that adopting a dog wouldn't be ideal this early in our home-ownership since it would increase monthly cost and decrease free time, both of which are necessary to complete the finishing touches on our home such as installing a patio in the back yard and finishing the basement. Then, on Tuesday morning, she was browsing the local Humane Society website and found this adorable dog that she told me we just HAD to adopt, partially because it's a mix of her favorite breed (corgi) and mine (cattle dog) and partially because the dog was two years old and would thus likely need little-to-no training. I scoffed at the idea at first since I assumed she was being impulsive or making a joke, but she convinced me to use my break at work to drive to the Humane Society, see the dog, and report back to her for possible adoption later that night.

You see, while the Humane Society that this particular little dog was at happens to be about an hour away from our house, it's only about fifteen minutes away from my job, and I get an hour-long lunch break. I cleared the break with my boss, recruited a fellow coworker to come with me for added perspective, and at noon we drove together all the way to the Humane Society only to find out that it did not open until 2pm.

I reported this back to my wife, who was determined to get to this dog before anyone else. She gets off of work half an hour before I do (and lives much closer to our home/further from the Humane Society), and proclaimed that she would drive to see the dog herself after work and I could meet her there to discuss possible adoption.

So I get out of work and, for the second time that day, drive over to see the dog that may or may not become our future pet. I get to the shelter, find my wife, and guess what she tells me?
"They won't let us be with her," she says, a tremble in her voice. Though I do detect sadness in her tone, it is overwhelmed with anger and annoyance.
"What do you mean?" I ask, worried that all this has been for naught.
"She's going to be on Fox news tomorrow, and they won't let anyone near her until they open tomorrow at 2pm."
"So we can't even play with her to see if she's a good fit for us before wasting our time with another trip tomorrow?"
"So they're using her to promote adoption, but they won't let anyone genuinely interested in adopting her get close to her?"
"So they're turning it into a game. They're turning the adoption of a dog in need into a show and a contest."
"I'm calling Fox."

It turned out that the Fox offices were "closed" for the day, and we had to settle for talking to the woman (a volunteer) at the front desk. She explained that, because Henna would be on the news the next morning, there might be people waiting as early as 20 minutes before the place opens to adopt her. She advised that I arrive 30 minutes early to be first.

So I decided to arrive 40 minutes early in case she suggested 30 minutes to anyone else. After arriving 40 minutes early (thanks to an understanding boss who allowed me to take off early for the day and make up the missed time later), I was let into the building by a volunteer, but other people who came after me weren't so lucky. I got to gleefully watch them try the locked door, see that the building was closed, and leave. One mother arrived and stayed early with their kids, and it turned out they wanted to check out Henna as well. Luckily the Humane Society is very strict about their first-come-first-serve policy, so I got to see her, play with her, and adopt her without any of the kids even getting close.
Henna, the adorable Corgi / Cattle Dog mix riding shotgun
She rode shotgun all the way home.

Henna's Demeanor

Henna is the type of dog who's almost always ready and willing to play (especially with toys that make noise) while also being comfortable with relaxing for a bit instead. She's very polite, friendly, and outgoing.

She's also doesn't respond to any commands, did her "business" inside the house for the first few days (and occasionally still does), and is terrified of getting into vehicles. The Humane Society didn't know anything about her except that she was from Kentucky, so we don't know if she had any training or even if she had an owner. Luckily she's a quick learner, so while my wife and I have had to train her more than we'd expected of a two-year-old dog, we've had to be less vigilant about it than we would have to be for a new puppy.

Here's a video of her madly squeaking a toy:
It's been a few weeks, and she's making progress in her training. We're also working very carefully with her to get her comfortable with riding in cars, which is very important since she'll be taking a five-hour car ride with us when we go vacationing up north in a few weekends. As a bonus, I managed to get my hand on the footage of her on the news from the day we adopted her!

Henna is already providing many more laughs, "awes," and much more love to the Matejka house, and my wife and I are proud to give her a forever home.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Curb Appeal

The move into our new house went wonderfully, easily, and quickly thanks to lots of help from our family and friends! Thankfully, the furnishings that my wife and I picked out (separately from each other) work really, really well together to fill out and breathe life into the space.

Of course, a homeowner's work is never done. So while the inside looks marvelous, the lawn is plagued by giant patches of dirt on every side (due to the tremendous renovations by the previous owner, including reinforcing all of the basement walls). While I didn't have the foresight to take any proper photos for a "before and after" segment (and the photos from the listing were taken during the winter with heavy snowfall that hid the lawn), I think you'll get the idea when you see this picture I snapped during move-in day:
I promise you that there's a lawn somewhere in this photo.
While the previous homeowner did his best to plant grass seed before winter hit, we didn't have much faith that all of the seeds survived the freeze. There's also the small matter of the house looking terribly boring at a glance.

So, in line with our goal to create some massive curb appeal, we set out purchasing several bags of topsoil, grass seed, decorative bricks, some potted flowers and bulbs, borrowed a few tools from our parents, and got to work the very next weekend after moving in.

Looks pretty easy and straightforward when you see it like that, doesn't it? In truth, everything did not go as perfectly (or quickly) as we'd hoped, and we ended up scrambling to finish with the grass seed before a thunderstorm rolled in. This was mostly due to a completely embarrassing miscalculation of how much topsoil, how many bricks, and how big of a yard waste bin would be needed to finish the task. We made a few unplanned trips back to the home and garden stores just to get it all done, and at the end of the day we felt completely drained and sunburned ... because it turns out that sunburn doesn't care what season it is or what the temperature is.

The toughest task was, by far, aerating the dirt patches. With only some basic hand-tools to work with (some of which broke during use) and so much dried, hard dirt to break up, we ended up taking turns having at it just to get a break from the annoyingly difficult task.

I'll update you with some photos of the results as soon as I get to it, but right now my hands are quite full since we also just adopted a beautiful new dog ... but more on that later.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Melting Pot Movies

Watch the trailer for this upcoming movie titled "Every Secret Thing" and tell me what you notice about it:

If you need a hint, check out the actors. Count them at the end when they're mentioned; how many white men do you see?

I count four lead women and only two lead men (neither of whom are white). How many movies can you think of with female-led casts that aren't chick-flicks where the girls are fawning over men? How many movies where the only leading men were black can you think of that weren't about being black?

This is something I'd love to see more of. It seems plainly obvious to me that the easiest and most effective way to spice up movies and television in an age full of sequels and remakes is to replace most of the white men with anything other than white men, without necessarily making the movie/show about how the characters aren't white men. "Every Secret Thing" seems to be a standard crime thriller that just happens to star four women and two black men rather than a cast full of tried-and-true white male actors, and I give it huge kudos for that.

Of course I'm not saying that we should have a never-ending cast of Michelle Rodriguez-type characters wherein we shoehorn a diverse cast into stereotypical white roles, but if America really is the melting pot of the world, shouldn't some of what has melted in our culture pour over into our movies? TV is starting to get the hint with shows like Empire, Fresh off the Boat, and Jane the Virgin popping up, and I think it's about time that Movies caught up to how innovative TV has been recently.

Can't wait for this movie to come out, and I can't wait for more to follow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Fantastic news! Today is the last day I'm not a homeowner!

My wife and I will be getting the keys to our first home together tomorrow evening, moving everything in on Saturday, sorting it all out on Sunday, and hopefully enjoying a relaxing day off of work on Monday.

Living in an apartment has been alright, but we've watched way too much HGTV to really enjoy it anymore. Three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a medium-sized kitchen, a dining room, two-car garage, a large yard, and unfinished basement (which we, of course, intend to finish into an awesome den) await us in our new home. What's better is that, though we were willing to purchase something cheaper that could use some updating (so we could customize it to our wants and have a smaller mortgage), this place was not only in our budget, but had been recently "flipped" to include all new kitchen appliances, beautiful refinished original wood floors throughout, and basement walls that won't be shifting anytime soon.

While my wife is all excited about decking out the interior (and exterior, to add "curb appeal" as she puts it), I'm perhaps most excited to start practicing my recent interest in gardening. The biggest thing missing from being apartment-dwellers, after all, has been a yard to take care of, and the idea of little seeds producing edible food is like magic to me! Taking care of a peace lily in our apartment has been surprisingly fun, and I cannot wait to be able to grow even more plants!

Oh yeah, and until we start popping out children, which is a part of the long-term plan that this house gets us one step closer to, I get to have my very own office at home in which to write!

It feels a bit surreal that I'm already married and moving into a house, but I couldn't be more excited! After all, I'm fairly certain that I said I wanted to be "married and living in a house" in the ten-year goal I filled out in 8th grade (ten years ago) - or was it a five-year goal and I've just always been really, really eager?

Maybe I'll start blogging about my garden, or the patio we're going to build ASAP for the combined house warming/anniversary party we plan to throw, or other home-related things!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Year Four in Review

Seems it's that time of year again. Four years ago today is when I first posted in this blog, and I've gotten into the habit of celebrating the day each year by yammering on about what has changed and what my readers can look forward to in the future.

Blogging for Potential Employers

Having graduated college in 2013, the blog's focus shifted specifically to advertising myself as a dedicated writer searching for a career in copywriting. I cluttered the site with links to my online portfolio, résumé, and other work-related areas in an effort to make it easy for potential employers to find everything they'd want to find when considering me as a job candidate, and I blogged about non-controversial events in my life such as my wedding, what books I'd read, and how I went about writing fiction.

Blogging for the Masses

I obtained a full-time copywriting position in late September (having been a paid intern elsewhere since shortly after graduation) and realized almost immediately that the blog was due for another change. Rather than focus my content on the small group of people that I know in the real world and potential employers, I thirsted for a wider audience and experimented with turning my personal writing anecdotes into topical advice posts for other writers.

At the end of 2014, however, my blogging activities left a foul taste in my mouth. Everything I blogged in the last few months felt stale and useless. I realized that I needed to think long and hard about what type of content I had to offer, and in January of 2015 I wrote my first and fourth most viewed posts of all time, both of which were critiques of television commercials. While this seems like a success on the surface, I attribute the posts' record-breaking views to my aggressive social-media advertising of them rather than their actual public appeal (which I suppose is good, since I have a degree in advertising). At first I planned on writing similar posts throughout the year, but then my next epiphany hit:

Blogging With Passion

I realized that I wasn't posting on my blog because I wanted to anymore, but because I felt obligated to fill my self-imposed two-posts-per-month quota. Though I enjoyed poking fun at those two commercials in January, I didn't want to suck all the fun out of it by forcing myself to find more commercials to hate and writing about them twice a month. I instead decided to give up on my blog as a long-term high-priority project, and instead use it as it was originally intended; to talk about the things I feel passionate about, whenever that passion strikes. I started February off by blogging about a commercial that I love (so as to transition away from the negative commercial critiques) and then followed it up with a passionate defense of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie which is currently my second-most-viewed post ever (again, due to social media advertising).

So that's what you can expect from this blog in the future. Forget boring posts meant to fill a quota, and forget regularity. My life is rapidly changing, and keeping a boring, regularly-updated blog is no longer a top priority - I need to focus my quota discipline on my family and my fiction. Instead, I plan on occasionally blogging only about those subjects that get trapped in the synapses of my brain, building up with pressure until they explode through my fingers onto this blog. I plan to stress quality over quantity.
I plan to enjoy blogging again.

Now that I plan to post less frequently, it's an even better time to sign up for my email list to have new post notifications sent right to your email!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grow Old

Today is my birthday.

Sometimes I'll be looking at a mirror and an idea will creep into my brain. I latch onto that idea and become mesmerized by the sight of my own face; the fully-developed features, the shadow of an unshaven chin, and the glimmer of naivete fading from my eyes. The idea, of course, is that I'm an adult now. Rather than feel nostalgic at this realization and yearn for the past, I feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in years. I feel that this was the way I was always meant to look; that this is the visual representation of who I've always thought I was.

Either out of arrogance or the complete shedding of my self-doubt and insecurities, I think to myself "who is that handsome devil staring back at me?" then shoot myself a pair of finger guns complete with "ka-chink" sound effect and return to my adult life with a renewed sense of purpose and belonging.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey - The Film

It's difficult not to talk about; Fifty Shades of Grey has been released in movie form. Upon reading many (negative) reviews, I considered blogging my two cents about the film, decided not to bother, then reconsidered when someone on Reddit, upon reading a brief post about my thoughts on the film, said:
"The world needs more people like you man"
So now I have decided to write down and publish my thoughts for all the world to see. I will start with my initial impressions of the book series, so feel free to skip further down for just my thoughts on the film (I've tried to make it easy to navigate with relevant headlines), or see my review on Flixster for an even more brief critique.

Disclaimer: I just want to state for the record that I am not going to discuss the Fifty Shades of Grey film purely because it's the hot thing to talk about right now; I was genuinely impacted by the film and feel the need to share my thoughts amid a sea of negative reviews. I'm sure this post will get lost to the untouched corners of the web, so I assure you that I am not writing this to get attention or any sort of profit. Also, I refuse to use "the film was fifty shades of __" wordplay in my review like seemingly every other blogger.

My Introduction to the "Fifty Shades" Books

My wife read the entire Fifty Shades trilogy in a matter of days, and around the same time I was made aware of the phenomenon that the media circus called "Mommy Porn." My wife and I were still in college at the time, and she had never before expressed any interest in erotic fiction. I was glad that she had found and enjoyed the books, because I knew it was important for her to explore her sexuality beyond the confines of our relationship (as we are each other's first and only significant others).

When the Fifty Shades phenomenon started to gain more media attention, I grew curious to it. As an aspiring author and feminist, I realized the importance in trying to understand what it was about these books that took such hold of so many women; I was curious to learn from them so that I could understand the female perspective better and apply that understanding to my own writing. One day, on a whim, I picked up the first book and read through a few chapters. While I found the quality of writing to be as poor as I'd heard, I found the emotional charge of the book electrifying. Anastasia's "should I/shouldn't I" monologue was filled with an undeniably intense emotional tone that was incredibly addicting. I didn't finish the book on account of the sexual scenes being quite boring to me, perhaps because I'm a heterosexual male, or perhaps because much of the tension I enjoyed of the earlier chapters vanished, but I was left with an understanding of what made the books break so many sales records.

The moment I heard about the movie deal, I was delighted that something so risqué was being created for the mainstream, and when casting petitions were started I immediately signed every one begging for actor Ian Somerhalder to play the part of Christian Grey.
Ian Somerhalder was born for the part of Christian Grey, in fact, he already plays an eerily similar role perfectly in The Vampire Diaries

My Thoughts on the Film - A Valentine's Day Treat

When I saw the first trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey, I was in a movie theater, and upon seeing the release date of "Valentine's Day 2015" I immediately burst out laughing so annoyingly that my wife smacked me across the arm. The trailer had a brooding and serious tone to it, seemingly completely unaware of just how ridiculous it was. Such became my attitude for the film in the months leading up to its release; mockery.

My wife asked me to take her to see the film on Valentine's Day, and I accepted. Aside from my obvious desire to do good by her, I was as curious to see the film as I was to read the first few chapters of the book. I wholeheartedly expected it to be terrible in that over-the-top cheesy romantic sort of way that the movie The Best of Me was, which I took my wife to on sweetest day and absolutely detested.

I'm quite glad to say that my expectations were completely shattered, and I left the theater wishing that I could re-enter to see the film yet again.

A Fantasy World

I think that the key to enjoying the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (aside from not being uptight) is to go into the movie with realistic expectations. For example, whereas many of the negative reviews I've read point to the cheesy dialog as a prime reason that they couldn't enjoy the film, claiming that it wasn't realistic or believable, I went into the movie knowing full-well that the film was based on a poorly-worded romantic/sexual fantasy. The key word here is fantasy. Every time that a character said something odd and unrealistic ("are we going to make love now?" Anastasia asks the moment she signs the non-disclosure agreement) I needed only to remind myself that, though the world I'm looking at looks like ours on the surface, it is not; it is a fantasy world where every bit of cheesy dialog serves to either set you up for or deliver a sexy retort ("I don't make love. I fuck. Hard." Christian replies to Anastasia). The source material for the movie is one woman's sexual fantasy that thousands of other women happen to enjoy, which is a very important detail that I feel many reviewers either deliberately or obliviously ignored.

The movie cannot be reviewed by the same standards that we hold other movies to, because it is unlike other movies in this regard. It is not about being realistic, it's about emotion. From the beautiful sight-seeing flights over and around the Seattle area, to the palpable sexual tension, to the emotional lows of Anastasia trying to come to grips with her complicated relationship, the film did an excellent job making me feel like I was right there; feeling all those emotions along with the lead character. I'll even admit to feeling on the verge of joyful tears as the couple experienced the beauty of a nighttime Seattle skyline set to the perfectly-selected song.
Actress Dakota Johnson did an excellent job selling Anastasia's inner thoughts and emotions through the slightest of expressions.

A Playful Interpretation

I was quite worried that the film would take itself too seriously and end up being completely dull as a result (see "The Best of Me" as mentioned above). Fortunately, the movie had several moments that felt genuinely funny and self-aware. Having not read it, I cannot personally speak for how many of the jokes came out of the book, but my wife said she didn't remember the book being so funny - a great indicator that the film knew not to take itself too seriously. The jokes did a great job to break up the tension and remind you that it's meant to be a fun film.

Barely Controversial

The two most common complaints causing controversy with Fifty Shades of Grey are that:
  1. It's too graphic/kinky (or not enough, depending on who you ask)
  2. The relationship portrayed is abusive
The first point is absolutely absurd no matter which side you take. To the prudes who say it's too much: the sexual content of the film pales in comparison to the source material. All on-screen sex amounts to nothing more kinky than topless humping while Anastasia is (willingly) tied up in various positions. If you've seen sex in any R-rated film, you've seen what Fifty Shades of Grey has to offer. To the perverts who say it's not enough: I'm sorry, but what did you really expect? These are not pornstars in an X-rated film. It may not be the most faithful adaptation of the books, but it's a step closer to the line that Hollywood has been unwilling to approach in years. There's plenty of videos online to please your kinky desires.
This compilation from the trailer is literally as kinky as it gets.

This second point seems to stem largely from the same controversy regarding the books. As someone who has not read the books, I can only say that the arguments seem somewhat valid, though I've heard others (including my wife) disagree. However, thanks to the film's creators, with the gift of hindsight, all of the points made in that article regarding the books are completely absent from the theatrical adaptation:
"For example, the researchers pointed out, she withholds information about her plans to visit friends and family members and avoids social outings so as not to anger Christian."
In the film adaptation, Anastasia withholds information about these plans because (as she boldly states) "it's none of your business." The Anastasia in the film is actually quite strong-willed, and she frequently talks back to Christian so as to point out his obvious possessive issues and flaws.
"In consensual BDSM relationships, partners take negotiations seriously and respect each others’ boundaries, she said. In “Fifty Shades,” she noted, Christian bullies Anastasia and plies her with alcohol to coerce her into sexual acts that she finds uncomfortable."
Again, there is an entire scene in the film in which Anastasia and Christian sit down for a very serious (and playful) discussion about the terms of the BDSM contract, during which time Anastasia orders certain acts to be removed from the contract entirely and Christian obeys without debate. As a bonus, at the end of this scene, it is made obvious that the whole situation has aroused Christian, and Anastasia straight-up leaves him high and dry. Furthermore, Christian never once gives Anastasia alcohol in the film as far as I can remember, and in fact occasionally warns her of the dangers of excessive drinking, at one point taking a glass of wine right out of her hand so as to keep her clear-headed in accordance to the contract.

The Bottom Line - A Step Forward for Women and Cinema

Fifty Shades of Grey was an at-times cheesy, self-aware fantasy that successfully tugs at your emotions and removes the flaws of its source material. At the same time it stands on its own as a daring attempt to push mainstream cinema to not only recognize that women have been neglected as sexual beings, but to push the boundaries of our culture's ability to understand and accept diverse sexuality as something totally okay to talk about. We are now living in a post-Fifty Shades world, and I, for one, think the future is looking bright.

Also, the soundtrack was absolutely incredible! It fit the mood perfectly and stands on its own as one of the best compilations from different artists of original and reworked material that I've ever heard.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Advertising Critique - The Real Cost: Stay In Control

After making fun of commercials by Chevrolet and, I figured that my next commercial critique should be of one that I actually like. I was going to do a "best and worst commercials of Superbowl XLIX," but I figured that's probably pretty overdone, and none really stood out to me this year aside from the attempt to use sex to sell a burger, which isn't very creative or effective.

The Real Cost - A PSA With Style, Atmosphere, and Creativity

I, like most people, don't generally enjoy watching any public service announcements, which explains my first commercial critique. They usually feel like the they're trying to shove something unwanted down my throat (I just read that sentence again after typing it, and I'm going to leave it as is). Some of the more common PSAs to pop up recently have been anti-smoking commercials, most of which rely on the same few arguments:
  • It's not cool
  • It could kill you
  • It costs money
I'm no expert, but these ads probably don't work, especially when you check out this awesome chart showing how money spent on anti-drug campaigns do literally nothing to decline the use of drugs, no matter how many trillions are wasted spent. The fact of the matter is that smokers already know they shouldn't smoke and are acutely aware of why; there's no proof that hits closer to home than being addicted to something you know can kill you. They don't need to be told not to smoke, they need help to stop - if they even want to.

Disclaimer: I've never once inhaled a single cigarette. Anti-smoking PSAs are not directed at me, and so I typically ignore them or ridicule them for just how stupid and ineffective their message is. Yes, I understand they mean well, but they don't ever seem to accomplish anything.

And then I saw this gem:
That, my friends, is what I call a really well-done PSA. The editing, and directing is all top-notch, in fact, this is the level of style and quality that I would expect from my favorite movie director; David Fincher.

But all the style in the world can't make up for a terrible script or concept, right? Well then it's fortunate that, in my humble opinion, those elements are just as stellar in this commercial. The flash of moments that any typical teenager experiences (and in some cases yearns for) create a beautiful vignette, all while the character narrates her twisted pledge to give up the most important thing to any to-be adult; her freedom.
"Now that I finally have the freedom to define who I am, I hereby agree to be bound to you."
Again, I'm not the target audience for this commercial, as I'm neither a teen nor a smoker or would-be-smoker, but I can't help but feel like it really hit the nail right on the head in terms of identifying what every teenager wants most, and then relating that to the negative effects of smoking.

Is it a bit exaggerated? Of course, especially when you realize that the scene in which the girl smokes alone away from her friends ignores the fact that most smokers are friends with other smokers (or perhaps it's a metaphor for her leaving behind her carefree childhood?), but in a world where PSAs are full of cheesy attempts to make smokers realize something they already know, this commercial stands out as something striving to be more.

I can't speak for the effectiveness of this commercial to keep people from smoking, but I stand by my assertion that it is effective at conveying its point in a unique and attention-grabbing way. I enjoy it so much that I've watched it for fun a few times; trying to analyze and capture the mood of it for use in my future storytelling attempts.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know below! And don't forget to sign up for my email list to get updates about my new posts right to your email!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Advertising Critique - Chevrolet: Driving to a Different Tune

My previous blog post in which I critiqued a television commercial quickly shot up to my most-viewed blog post of all time, beating out a post I wrote in 2011 about RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 in a matter of days. One of my goals for 2015 was to write content less focused on myself and more geared toward entertaining a general audience, which it seems my latest blog post did. I'm going to try it again, because I love you and want you to love me back.

Chevrolet - Brag All You Want, I Still Thought You Were Ford

In case you didn't know, the Chevrolet Colorado won Motor Trend's 2015 Truck of the Year award. I'm no car guy, but even I'm vaguely aware that Motor Trend's awards are taken pretty seriously, mostly because the winners are always running commercials to remind us of their success.

To celebrate the win, Chevrolet commissioned this 30 second TV spot that shows off just how awesome they are:
Did you see that?! Did you see just how cool that guy at the end was?! Way cooler than the lame guy driving the sedan and listening to The Carpenters! Cool Guy doesn't listen to The Carpenters; cool, no-tie, fluffy-haired, young, trendy-suit guy drives a truck and listens to hip, new bands like AC/DC! Cool Guy is so cool that he even catches the eye of the older and wiser blond lady he passes as he exits the elevator. "I don't know where he's going to lunch," she thinks to herself, "but I bet he goes there in a black, sexy, award-winning truck."

Wait for it ... waaaiiit foooor iiiiit ...

This commercial is a clear-cut example of Chevrolet bragging with mostly style and little substance. Granted, winning "best truck of the year that's barely started" says a lot in a few words, so anyone looking to buy the best truck on the market learns everything they need to know ... at the end.

What bothers me the most is that we have no idea what this commercial is for until exactly half of it is done and gone, and over half of that half is spent listening to The Carpenters! If Chevrolet wanted you to be bored by The Carpenters' 1971 soft rock classic "Rainy Days and Mondays" (not just one, but two different types of very, very sad days), then they succeeded; I'm really, really bored.

Even after having seen this commercial a few times, each time it came on the television I found myself wondering "what the hell is the point of this concept? Why is the music following these guys everywhere they go?" The Carpenters' song starts out boring, then gets more boring with each version of it you hear, and AC/DC's otherwise epic introduction notes to "Back in Black" sound not just boring, but outright annoying when covered by an elevator muzak group and unemployed street folk group performing on Aladdin's magic carpet while peddling their likely worthless albums. It's only when the real AC/DC saves you from this crime against our eardrums that the commercial gets us pumped up enough to notice that it's trying to sell us something.

And exactly what is that something again? Perhaps the worst thing about this commercial is that, due to how hastily they mention the actual product, immediately after seeing it on TV, I wrote a note reminding myself to write a funny blog critique about "that one Ford Back in Black commercial."

Okay, so maybe I'm not a car guy who knows very much about Motor Trend, but the fact that I confidently mistook this commercial for a competitor's brand immediately after viewing it has got to say something about the commercial's ability to get its point across, right? The point I got from this commercial is that someone back at the advertising agency, who has never heard of an iPod, thought it would be cool if your music followed you.

The Takeaway

  • Quit bragging
  • Stop boring me
  • Get to the point already
  • Make it abundantly clear who you are

Agree? Disagree? Let me know below! And don't forget to sign up for my email list to get updates about my new posts right to your email!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Advertising Critique - Speechless

As a student of advertising and professional advertising copywriter, I find myself mocking many of the ads I see on television, the internet, and in print. My wife will gladly tell you just how often this happens; when I see a commercial on TV that I find to be stupid, I can't help but call it out and pick it apart. Instead of just going on about this to her, I thought I'd try to express my feelings about a recent commercial to you, the entire internet-accessible world.

NO MORE - Admirable Goal, Stupid Commercial

I expect to get a bit of flak for this one, but let me plead my case.

As stated on their website,
"NO MORE is a public awareness and engagement campaign focused on ending domestic violence and sexual assault. Using its signature blue symbol to increase visibility and foster greater dialogue, NO MORE seeks to break social stigma, normalize the conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault, and increase resources to address these urgent issues. NO MORE is aligned with hundreds of organizations working at the local, state and national levels on prevention, advocacy, and services for survivors."
As you can see, NO MORE is at the forefront of ending domestic violence and sexual assault. I very much encourage you to check out their website, specifically the section called "take action" where you can learn about what you can do to help end domestic violence and sexual assault.

In 2013, NO MORE started a three-year PSA campaign (created by Joyful Heart Foundation) including a series of television commercials which aim to increase awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault and direct you to their website where you can learn more about the issues and what you can do about them. The campaign features over 50 celebrities and public figures speaking out against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Because the commercials are meant to create awareness, they are a bit lacking on content and useful information. The first few are attempting to reach out not only to the general public but also directly to the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by featuring celebrities taking turns stating common excuses by victims and their friends such as "he was drunk," "boys will be boys," "she was asking for it," or "he said he was sorry."
These ads are great at getting the point across. The celebrities set against the blank background are frank and eye-catching, the dialog pulls no punches, and at the end you're left reminded that there are people out there living your nightmare; or if you're living the nightmare, that it's not alright, people are working to help you, and that there is a way out. Once these commercials run for a while and enforce the idea that something is wrong, I expect future iterations to start including more information on how you can help.

Where They Lost Me

More recently, I've noticed a new series of commercials airing on television that feature the same cast of celebrities from the original series staring at the camera, pausing, gathering their thoughts, psyching themselves up, or otherwise being moved to speechlessness. Here's an example:
No doubt this is sending a powerful message, right?
Wrong. Especially without the proper context.

Firstly, this commercial is breaking one of my biggest pet peeves about commercials; it's too damn quiet. "But isn't that the point?" I can hear you asking me, and while it is the point of this particular advertisement, you should ask yourself: what is the purpose of any advertisement, whether it be printed, on the radio, or as a video?

The simple answer is: to use any and all available resources to get your point across. The (paraphrased) point of this particular series of commercials is "domestic violence and sexual assault are bad, and you can help us end it by going to our website." Now I want you to play the above video again, but this time close your eyes and tell me what it's about.

Do you see my point? You've just experienced the commercial as thousands of others have; whether blind, in another room, looking away, or half-asleep, many commercials, believe it or not, do not get watched the way that the advertisers would like them to be. Television is a fantastic medium because it offers the ability to use animated visuals combined with complex audio to get a point across. In this ad, NO MORE is essentially throwing out half of the resources available to them; it might as well be an animated gif.

Secondly, the message this particular commercial is conveying is a poor one.
"Domestic violence and sexual assault are hard subjects for everyone to talk about. Help us start the conversation."
No. Just no. One of the fundamental rules of advertising is that nothing can ever be hard to talk about. Why? Because YOU, advertiser, are the one who has the resources to say whatever you want to millions of people. If you can't, with all your fortune, spend 30 seconds talking about how bad sexual assault and domestic violence is, then who will? It's the very purpose of NO MORE to tell us about how our world is affected by these issues, and they're wasting 30 seconds of my life and an unknown amount of cash and resources by instead showing us that "awe, these celebrities have emotions just like the rest of us!" which is just about the most pointless way to convey their message possible, especially since it won't work because none of us, try as hard as we may, will ever be able to comprehend these celebrities as real, tangible people with complex lives and issues. And on that note, good luck getting us to care about these faceless victims, who likely are living in absolute fear every day, by showing us just how sad these millionaires feel.

Zombieland copyright Sony Pictures

Now in all fairness, I did some research on the ad and found out that none of the performances were scripted, and the commercial itself was never planned to be created, as stated on the NO MORE website:
"“Speechless” was not planned. It was an unexpected byproduct when emotions ran high while shooting other scripts previously aired. The spots are stark, spare visually and use only ambient sound. “Speechless” was designed to shed light on how difficult it is to talk about these taboo, hidden and painful subjects. The spots reveal the depth to which we are all affected by these previously unspeakable issues. They urge viewers to start a conversation about domestic and sexual violence with friends and loved ones."
So apparently the celebrities really did get choked up thinking about the terrible things going on in the world. That knowledge makes the commercial so much more meaningful (though still poorly crafted). How were we supposed to know that just by watching it? I don't even believe "real testimonials" on television anymore because I know they're all actors, so how was I supposed to know that these were authentic reactions? That would be a great point to make in the commercial, wouldn't it? Perhaps with a voice over for those who can't see it?

The Takeaway

  • Silence is an ineffective tool unless your entire audience is watching.
  • Instead of telling us it's hard to talk about tough subjects, be the voice that talks about them.
  • Give as much context as is needed.