This is some blue-sky thinking I call "Other Thoughts." Thank you to the lovely and talented Margaret Karles for lending her amazing illustration skills and ideas.  

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If you’re like me, you have really skinny ankles, a fear of suckers and all things sticky, and an undying love for sports movies. You know, the ones with the inspiring music, the down-and-out team/player and the euphoric ending.

Today I’d thought I’d give you a rundown of my top-five jock flicks (yes, of course, you’re welcome). If you don’t agree, please send an angry letter to 123 Fake Street to air your grievances.

Here we go…(in reverse order).

 

#5 Hoosiers

Some people remember Dennis Hopper as the eyepatch-wearing, cigarette-smoking pirate in the 1995 movie Waterworld. But I’ll always think of him as the basketball-obsessed, heartbreakingly-alcoholic dad in Hoosiers.

This all-time classic is a trip back in time to small-town Indiana in 1951. No detail is spared, and everything feels authentic to the time period -- from the shiny yellow uniforms, to the musty old gymnasiums you can almost smell, to the players themselves, who seem to have been cryogenically frozen in the 50’s and thawed out for filming.

It’s got great music (by Jerry Goldsmith, more on him later), great storytelling and, oh yeah, Gene Hackman who delivers what is, in my opinion, the best performance of his career as coach Norman Dale.

 

#4 Rocky IV

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) gets punched in the face approximately 47 times by a muscle-bound Russian boxer named Ivan Drago. And doesn’t die. That’s the premise of Rocky IV, which came out in 1985 and won my heart from a young age.

I’m not sure this movie is for everyone, but for a 14-year-old at a sleepover, it’s as good as it gets. There’s punching, cool cars, punching, a montage of Rocky training in the middle of Siberia while Drago gets pumped full of roids, punching, punching, and finally, punching.

Like I said, as good as it gets.

 

#3 Moneyball

Conversely, Moneyball is a “sports movie” that even non-sports fans can enjoy. Why? For starters, you’ve got the ultra-hunky (not that I would know) and charismatic Brad Pitt, who is fantastic as Billy Beane, the forward-thinking general manager of the Oakland A’s.

Then, you’ve got the story, which is about a small market, low-budget baseball team (think small business) trying to compete with much wealthier, big-city franchises (think major corporation). And then, you’ve got an amazing screenplay by the master Aaron Sorkin of West Wing fame. (The dude can make anything interesting, yes, even baseball, ye smarty-pants unenlightened.)

If you like sports, you’ll love Moneyball. If you hate sports, you’ll at least find it tolerable.  

 

#2 Field of Dreams

The runner-up on my list is a movie about dead people coming out of cornfields carrying baseball bats. But instead of wreaking death and destruction on the local community, they just want to play a friendly game of nine-on-nine.

Field of Dreams is the story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer who starts hearing voices (“If you build it, he will come”) and decides to construct a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield, much to the chagrin of his local community, brother-in-law and psychologist.

This 1989 film captures the mysticism and magic of baseball better than any movie I’ve ever seen, with one of the most satisfying endings of all time (have some Kleenex handy). Plus, Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are … [enter superlative here]. 

 

#1 Rudy

If you’re looking for the ultimate underdog story, that’s actually good and not painfully sappy, look no further than Rudy, a 1993 film about a Notre Dame football player whose playing career lasted all of two plays and 27 seconds. 

Of course, the movie isn’t just about those two plays (c’mon that would be WAY too short and everyone would ask for a refund). It’s about all the hard work and never-giving-up that came before.

Two things stand out to me about this movie. #1 is the incredible soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith. “Tryouts”, one of the main songs, was used as the official theme of John McCain’s presidential campaign and has been featured in 12 trailers, including Seabiscuit and Good Will Hunting. If you’re ever feeling down in the dumps, give it a listen. See if it doesn’t put some pep in your step.  

#2 is the acting. That starts with Sean Astin who oozes heart and underdog-iness and is absolutely perfect as the good-natured yet fiercely determined lead character. There are also great performances by John Favreau as Rudy’s tutor and eventual friend; Ned Beatty as Rudy’s dad who doubts his son and his crazy dreams; and Charles S. Dutton, a former ND player turned stadium groundskeeper who mentors the undersized defensive end. (Bonus: see if you can spot a much younger and slimmer Vince Vaughn. It took me years to recognize him.) 

Rudy has everything you want in a sports movie, or any other movie for that matter. A great story, awesome acting, wonderful music and lots of heart. All of which makes it hard to beat. 

 

Honorable mentions:

Hoop Dreams

The Pride of the Yankees

Major League 2

Angels in the Outfield

Cool Runnings

The Natural

Sometimes people ask me, "where do your ideas come from?" I just smile and shake my head and say, "From my brain, ya silly." Then after I'm done being such a smart-alecky jerk, I take a deep breath, put on my serious face and respond, "It's a little something I like to call ... (dramatic pause followed by an equally dramatic whisper) ... PROCESS.

My process has changed a bunch in my time at the Brandcenter -- you could say it's been a bit of a...you know...process. When I first got to school, I would brainstorm for a couple of hours, lock onto an idea I liked, and then spend the rest of my time on that one thought. Then, in our second semester, our freaking awesome professor Mark Fenske taught us the principle of QUANTITY, i.e. that the "process" of thinking up as many ideas as you can, inevitably leads to QUALITY.   

So -- this is how I do ma thang.

First, I sit down with a big sheet of easel paper (see below) and write everything that comes to my mind regarding the product or service I'm focusing on. I try not to judge the ideas, just let them come, total firehose, stream-of-consciousness style. 

These big ol' legal pads work well too.

Also: occasionally it's nice to mind-dump on a computer. I like minimizing the document window so I can't even see what I'm writing, then turning on some music and just typing like a crazy person. It's fun and liberating and often hilarious to look back at what I've written. Which leads me to ...

Editing!!! This is the long, tedious and occasionally euphoric "process" of picking through the wreckage of page after page of what sometimes seems like pure nonsense -- searching for gold. I'll then make a long list of anything I think is halfway decent, headlines, paragraphs, scripts, and share them with my A.D. buddy bud.  

To sum up, this is where my ideas come from! Hours and hours of thinking, writing, editing and sobbing that hopefully leads to something I'm halfway proud of. 

Postscript: I should add that creative thinking by definition doesn't fit into a box or flow out of a formula. More often than not, inspiration comes out of nowhere. But process still plays a part. As David Ogilvy once said, "Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process."

I didn't get much sleep during my time at the Brandcenter. So when I was completely exhausted and delirious, I wrote love notes...to my bed.

It's times like these in the still hours of the morning, that I find myself lost in thought. Awake, but dreaming. Dreaming ... about ... you (only fitting, yes?). You are my soft and strong companion in the night. My everlasting crush. My heart. My bae. My bed. I love you. 

 

I know we haven't seen much of each other lately, and that's on me. I feel like I'm being pulled in a million different directions, and not one of them is down. Down into the warm, soft embrace of you. It is only when we are alone in the dark that I feel completely at peace. Can't wait to see you tonight.

 

I can't imagine life before, or without, you. Thank you for nine wonderful years together (with a me-sized indentation to prove it). You are my rock (in a manner of speaking), that always gives me a soft place to land. There's no one I'd rather spend 1/3rd of my life with. 

Pretty much everything you need to know about me.

This is the best letter to Santa from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that I have ever written. No foolin'. 

Dear Santa,

As part of my divorce settlement with Clarice (no prenup sadly), she gets 50% of my trademarked name. She will take "Rudolph the R," and I will heretofore be known as "Ed Nosed Reindeer."

Sorry for any confusion.

A couple of years ago, Apple came out with a campaign showing all the amazing pictures people were taking on the new iPhone 6. At that time, I was still toting around the comparatively prehistoric 4s, which was not getting me any love from the cool dudes and dudettes I was trying to impress. 

One day as I was staring at my lame-o excuse for a phone, I thought to myself, self, wouldn't it be funny to do a spoof called Shot on iPhone 4s? And my self agreed that, yes, that was a pretty good idea. 

 

* * * The sign on this parking garage promises a lot. * * *

* * * Who are these sick people? * * *

* * * There is no lost-and-found for moments * * *

* * * Who are these sick people #2 * * *

* * * What. Happened. * * *

* * * Those special times * * *

* * * Postscript * * *

Last Christmas, just as I was getting excited about my fun new project, my wife surprised me with the just-released 7. (Aaaggghhh, c'mon!!! How could you??!!) So...I sold out. Ok? I'm sorry. I have no soul. 

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iPhone 4s, shot on iPhone 7. Rest in peace.