Where slacking is a sport, reading an addiction, and underachievement a birthright

Archive for February, 2007


How One Decision Can Change Everything-Forever

At one time just when movies were being made with sound, an actor by the name of Bela Lugosi was on top of the world.  After begging and pleading with Universal to play the role of Dracula (because he had played the role so many times onstage), he finally got the part because their first choice, Lon Chaney, had died from throat cancer.  He also got the role because after Universal had spent so much money on the rest of the cast, little was left for the lead actor, and Lugosi was willing to work for what in today’s world would be considered ridiculously low wages, especially for a lead actor.

The movie was a smashing success, and it made Universal Studios a ton of money.  Lugosi didn’t see much of it.

After the success of Dracula, it was Universal’s intention that he play the role of Frankenstein.  Lugosi refused. It was not a speaking part, required far too much makeup, and that he was FAR too talented (in his opinion).  This single moment, his choice to refuse that role, sealed his fate for the rest of his life.  Universal gave the role to Boris Karloff,  the movie was another brilliant success, and Karloff was now at the top of the popularity hierarchy.

In the upcoming years, Karloff’s career took off.  Lugosi’s didn’t.  Part of this was an attitude that Lugosi had that the movie companies should come to HIM rather than the other way around.  He was, after all, the Sir Lawrence Olivier of the Hungarian theater back in the day.  When this didn’t happen, he got stuck doing random B movies for a pittance of what he could have been earning, acquired an opiate habit, and remained typecast as the world’s most popular vampire.

However, I believe this man deserved and deserves far more credit than he has received.  This is the first Hollywood celebrity who publicly admitted he had a drug problem and willingly checked himself into rehab (which was going to the sanitarium at the time, I believe).  There may be a stigma against drug use now, but think about how bad it was in the 50’s.

Bela Lugosi was a star who was ultimately suffocated by his paramount role.  One cannot help but question what would have happened had he accepted the role of Frankenstein.  Every day, we are all faced with choices, some as trivial as what to have to lunch, some as large as what movie roles to accept.  And you never know, sometimes the most seemingly meaningless decisions can have the greatest lifelong impacts…

Who, exactly are generation X and Y?

I’ve spoken quite nonchalantly about Generation X, of which this blog/site is a major theme, and Y, the younger followers whose technological savvy make up for their lack of years, as though the terms were so ubiquitous everyone knew what I was talking about when either group was mentioned.

However, this is certainly not the case, and while there are many people about whom I write who could fit the general characteristics of one of these subcultures, it’s not necessarily the rule.

I can only write about my own experience of being part of this demographic, but I cannot define it.  I don’t believe any single person could.  From some, it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick.  For others, it’s a technological cutoff from those who know and those who know they are clueless.

Here is an article that tries to capture the direct mail habits (for marketing purposes, of course) of those strange creatures born between 1965 and 1994.  I think 1994 might be pushing things as the limit to gen Y, but to each their own:Â

I still think Wikipedia has the best overall definition/answer:

Sometimes You Have to Quit Before Your Head Explodes…

Technology often is among the great demarcating lines that separates the genX’s from the genY’s.  Those of us from the lost time know as Generation X did grow up with technology (and when I say technology, I mean computers and related peripherals), but they were big, clunky, did little, and did not run on a Windows or Mac OS.  I remember in elementary school writing simple programs that were like:

10 for x=1 to 100
20 goto 10
RUN..and the thing would write the numbers from 1 to 100 really fast down the screen

You get the point.  You could make blocks of a color, you could play Pong on your Commodor 64, but they weren’t exactly what we have today.

And therein lies the problem.  While we may have been the first generation to grow up WITH the rise of new technology, it was hardly default.  It wasn’t ‘in our blood,’ as it is with the little ones growing up today.  I think it is because of this , those of us who are a looking at 40 with a sense of disbelief that “that’s going to be ME sooner than later” have the same inborn tendency to look at all of the insanely fast changes going on in the technological world around us and taking it all with a degree of trepidation.  Of hesitancy, or that ‘what if I mess it all up?’ fear.

By no means is this breakthrough news-my father yells at me when the television isn’t working the way he wants, my mother does the same except with her computer.  It never occurred to me that I too could become the victim of progress moving along without me.

Yes, yes, I could catch up, I could do some reading.  I’ve tried this route in fact.  I now own 4 books on blogging and it truly was a ‘read one, you’ve read them all’ experience.  Except for “Blog Schmog: The Truth About What Blogs Can (and Can’t) Do for Your Business” by Robert W. Bly.  I wouldn’t recommend it either.  OK, I wouldn’t recommend it AT ALL.  It was pretty much drivel and did not help me at all learn about blogging.

So now it’s a different process.  It’s not an automatic default that I can do everything.  There are probably quite a lot of skills people 10 years younger than me have without giving them a second thought, and I have no idea what they are.

But I have help.  I can learn.  I may be behind, both for being older and for taking my decade long hiatus living in the middle of nowhere in Vermont, but I’m giving the ‘one step at a time’ idea a try.  It’s frustrating as all hell, but I think it’ll probably get me to wherever I want to go faster than my usual ‘skim, attempt, flail, give up’ routine.  Hopefully.

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