Just a Quick Note…

As most of you reading this know, or are about to find out, today was my birthday. And I was overwhelmed by the number of people wishing me a “happy birthday” on Facebook, and about so many touching things said, not only about me, but about this blog and what I’m doing here. And I just want to thank you all, and tell you that I love you, and I plan on staying around for a while. Whether you’re someone who went to grammar school, high school, or college with me, or worked with me at MSA/DBS/Geac or Servigistics, or one of Mary’s friends, or we met along the road or on the Internet, or you’re another blogger/writer I’ve met through one of the many challenges and projects here, you are all precious to me, and I cherish your friendship.

Again, thank you, God bless you, and I love you all.

Next year, the big six-oh!


Follow-Up: Career Advice


Got some good replies to yesterday’s post, and I want to thank everyone who stopped by and read it, or left comments either here or on Facebook. Like I said, the only way I knew all these things was because I screwed them all up, one way or another. Let’s see if I can summarize some of the conversation.

  • My brother Pat said that he got the above piece of advice from someone, and I thought it was good enough to make an image quote out of it and to give him credit for it. It’s great to be the guy behind the scenes and to make everyone else look good, but you shouldn’t be shy about letting people know that it was you who did the work. You have a responsibility to yourself to claim credit where credit is due. It’s not only all right to blow your own horn, in this day and age it’s practically a requirement. He also said to treat everyone well and with respect, because you never know who might be your boss someday. In my second job, my manager told me, “I’d better not say anything negative, because I might be calling you looking for a job someday.” He didn’t, but if he had, I’d have helped him.

  • My high school buddy Mark left a comment both here and on Facebook that it’s not just what you’re doing, but also who you’re doing it with. Also a good piece of advice, and so true. You might be working on great projects that challenge you and really make you happy, but if you’re working for a boss or with a co-worker who’s a real jerk, it can ruin the experience and really make your life miserable. As another person put it, life’s too short to work with *ssholes, and working for them is a disaster waiting to happen.

  • Gale Molinari paid me the great compliment of reblogging yesterday’s post, and added the comment that you should find something you love. I wholeheartedly agree. If you hate getting up in the morning because you hate not just your job but your career, your life will be a thousand times better if you ditch that career and find something you really enjoy. That was really the point behind #6, “Know what else you can do.” A lot of us ended up in the careers we did because we needed a job, and that career was hiring. That doesn’t mean we have to stick with it. This Wall Street Journal article reports that a person might go through seven different careers – not just job changes – in his or her lifetime. Granted, many of these likely happen early in one’s working life, which doesn’t surprise me.
    But how often have you heard someone in their late thirties say, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”? Perhaps their career was chosen by someone other than them. Maybe they chose their career because it was hot at the time. I used to meet lots of nurses who studied nursing because there was a “great shortage” of nurses, and after a few years they wanted nothing more to do with it. Ditto engineers, computer programmers, lawyers, and teachers. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “This sucks, I want to do something else.” Then, of course, you need to follow up on it.

  • Finally, Lauralynn said she had worked in the same job for 34 years, and hoped it would be the last job she had, because she wanted to work for herself when she left. This gets back to my statement that we’re rapidly approaching the “Free Agent Nation,” where employers become clients and employees became independent contractors. Obviously it won’t work for every job, but the jobs for which it won’t work are becoming rarer. And it’s not unusual at all for a person to have a 9-to-5 job, then go home and do side jobs, such as freelance writing, editing, computer programming, or web design. That additional experience comes in very handy if the day job suddenly goes away.

Thank you all for your comments. This was a good discussion, wasn’t it?

RIP “Gene Gene The Dancing Machine”

I need to recognize the passing of a wonderful man, Gene Patton, also known as “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.” Gene was best known for his frequent work on The Gong Show. Usually at the end of the show, the band would kick into a wild rendition of Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ At The Woodside,” and, well, this would happen.

Chuck Barris said in his memoir, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, that one day he saw Gene, who was a light man for the show, dancing along to some music, and “The huge stagehand never moved his feet; just his body from the waist up. He was terrific.”

Gene was from Burbank, California, and became the first African-American member of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees, Local 33, in 1969. In addition to his work on The Gong Show, he also worked on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a few other shows.

One night, Jay did a sketch where took a picture of Gene, with big muttonchop sideburns, dressed in a three-piece suit and wire-rimmed glasses, into Westwood Village. He would tell people that the picture was of Moses Hathaway, who had acted in a number of blaxploitation movies in the 1970’s, and would reel off a number of fake movie titles, and say that he was trying to get Moses a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was hilarious to hear the number of people who said they remembered Moses, and had seen a few of his movies. The last person said, “hey, isn’t that Gene Gene the Dancing Machine?” At which point, they cut back to the studio, where Gene went into his act, and the place went up for grabs.

Gene suffered from diabetes, which eventually took both of his legs, a sad irony. I’d like to believe that he’s in Paradise, with two healthy legs, dancing up a storm. He leaves behind his three children, his sister, nine grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a host of people who loved him and were entertained by him.

Farewell, Mr. Patton.

_… _._ _ …. _ _ _ ._.. _ _ _ _ _.

Michael N. Marcus has a blog post this morning about his ten literary gods. Frightening, because practically all of them are literary gods of mine, too.

I was happy to see Don Martin, MAD Magazine’s resident lunatic for many years, was on the list. In high school, MAD was my favorite magazine. Okay, one of them, the others being Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, and Circus. My favorite non-music magazine… how’s that?

I thought MAD was a riot. Their spoofs of movies and TV shows, mostly drawn by Mort Drucker and Jack Davis, were spot-on (their sendup of “All In The Family” was a classic). Their descents into politics (mostly making fun of Richard Nixon, the President throughout my college years) were funny, and made me think about what was going on in the nation and the world (no doubt Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert got their start by reading MAD). Ditto Dave Berg and his “Looks at…” features, which poked fun at modern culture circa 1972, and frequently featured the battles between the older and younger generations. And let’s not forget the song parodies, the articles that adapted the style of children’s books to talk about the subjects of the day (“Here is a Ku Klux Klansman. In real life, he’s a manure salesman. In the KKK, he’s the ‘Grand Kolossal Krud,’ which means ‘manure salesman.'”), and Al Jaffee’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.”

But the cartoons were the highlight of the magazine, especially the ones by the aforementioned Martin, the marginal doodlings of Sergio Aragones, and “Spy Vs. Spy.” That might be the funniest of all, at least as far as I was concerned. Drawn by Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias (who always included a line of Morse code, not unlike the one in the title, under the strip’s name that spelled out “By Prohias”), it featured two spies, identical but for the color of their clothes, both intent on destroying the other, one succeeding. (Occasionally Prohias added a female spy dressed in gray, and the cartoon became “Spy Vs. Spy Vs. Spy,” the femme fatale managing to get them to destroy each other.) There were no words, and few pictures, but they were easy to understand. When they chose to turn the magazine into a TV show (which ran on Saturday night, going head-to-head with “Saturday Night Live”), Prohias’ strip came to life in brief cartoons, such as the ones in the following video.

MAD (the magazine, not the show) is still around, although I no longer understand much of the humor. Which is okay; I’m not the one they’re trying to entertain. No doubt it’s influencing the next generation of smart-ass high school students. May it live on forever.

A Great Suggestion

Susan Gourley has a good post over at her blog called “Blog Housekeeping.” Here’s what she has to say about links in yor post:

Another thing that you want is for any links you have on your blog to open in a new tab and not carry people away from your blog. You want them to explore the things you’ve shared but you don’t want them to leave before they’ve arrived at the end. Let the link carry them away, but after they check it out and close it, your blog is still there. This is simple to ensure on blogger but I don’t know about wordpress.

I couldn’t agree more. Opening a page you’re linking to in a separate tab (or window) gives your readers a quick and easy way to get back to your blog after reading an article. They close the tab or window, and there you are again. Great stuff!

So, it’s easy to do on either blogging platform. You just have to check the box when you create the link (and I’ll assume you know how to do that).

Where to check in WordPress

Where to check in Blogger

The same box will appear in your platform regardless of how you create your post, either with the WYSIWYG editor or the text editor.

If you’re like me and code things in native HTML, here’s how you do it in either platform:

<a href="http://susangourley.blogspot.com/2015/03/blog-housekeeping.html" target="_blank">"Blog Housekeeping."</a>

The key is the target="_blank" in the hyperlink (the <a> tag).

Doing this will make your readers, especially Susan and me, very happy. Thank you!