Experts Are Overrated

As children we’re all urged to do stuff. Some of us are encouraged to be creative: draw or paint or write or maybe, um… make spaetzle. But as we get a little older expectations rise. Scribbling is no longer sufficient, finger paints are inadequate, our prose must inspire and indeed- so should our spaetzle.

Drawing: Not an Expert. But something I have always enjoyed.

But why must we be so damn good at everything? What’s wrong with an adequate sketch? Or competent writing? Do we really have to become an expert at something if we want to continue doing it beyond puberty?

I heard an interview with Lynda Barry on NPR back in 2008.  She was promoting a book called What It Is, where she explored our loss of that creative urge as we age.

“Something happens to us as we get a little older. Adults would never consider [drawing] on a piece of paper and then just throwing it away afterwards. In fact, unless it’s valuable afterwards, most adults don’t think the experience was worth it. So that’s kind of what the book is about. It’s about what happens. What happens to that creative urge.”
— Lynda Barry

Over the years I’ve dabbled with a wide variety of hobbies, fascinations and obsessions- photography, cars, sketching, web design, even blogging (like the one you’re reading now). Every so often someone will mistake me for someone who knows what they’re doing. But I don’t feel guilty about it. My piece of paper isn’t valuable, but it doesn’t mean I wasted my time or should be embarrassed about it. I will continue to muddle along, and if I get better at it that’s wonderful. If not, I really don’t have a problem with just being okay.

That fear of being “okay” at something is enough to keep most people on the couch. So many people are frightened of not being the very best at something. It’s a sad reflection on our society.

Maybe your spaetzle is only okay, but at least you had the courage to cook it. And I applaud that.

Best of the Worst Movies

Here’s a wonderful concept for a book- great movies you’ve never heard of.

It’s a shame that movies are judged good or bad based on their commercial success. Film critic, Leonard Maltin, has assembled 151 of his favorite “flops” in a new book titled 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen. Some of my favorite films were commercial flops, and pretty obscure. So I couldn’t wait to see how many of my favorites made the cut!

Scanning the table of contents I was pleasantly surprised- I really haven’t seen most of these! There were a few familiar titles that also top my list: The Devil’s Backbone, Owning Mahowny, Thumbsucker and The Tao of Steve. But I was surprised to see The Maltese Falcon and The World’s Fastest Indian on this list. Nobody saw these films?

The list is assembled in alphabetical order, so there’s no Top 10 List or Best of the Worst award. For each title Maltin provides the basic specs- cast, director, year of production- then offers a few paragraphs about the movie and why he likes it. It’s a quick and handy reference to assist with your Netflix queue or you those late-night trips to the video store.

Oversights? Sure. Here’s a couple of films worth watching that didn’t make the list: Madison, Living in Oblivion and the Hudsucker Proxy.

Best and Worst of Superbowl 44

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints. Now to the important stuff…

I thought the Superbowl ads this year were pretty mediocre overall. I missed the “controversial” pro-whatever ad, but there were a few spots that did catch my eye. For better or for worse. We’ll start with better…

I don’t typically think of “cute” when I think of Google. But their Google Goes to Paris spot was clever and effective. Okay, it was cute. The entire spot was a series of searches on the oh-so-familiar Google search box with various manipulations of the suggested results. It goes through a series of searches about traveling to Paris, falling in love, moving to Paris, then ending with a search for baby crib assembly instructions. What they must have saved on production costs!

Appealing to the fairer sex, or more accurately- fans of Cute Overload, this Carmax spot played up on the pets-with-a-dramatic-look phenom. Kudos also go to Carmax for daring to show a woman posing as a car saleperson. Who knew?

And then there’s the worst spots.

Daring Dodge
You’re whipped so you rebel and buy the car you want. Yawn. Reminds me of the Simpson’s where Homer buys the snowplow. But a Dodge Charger is faster than a snowplow. Yeah maybe, but they’re still fugly.

Audi’s Green Police
I thought this ad was somewhat funny. But I wasn’t sure who Audi was attempting to alienate. Their iClone design-conscious customer base or greenies that might be interested in a low-smoke diesel. Has anyone in Germany heard about this red state/blue state thing?

And finally, while not a commercial, the halftime show is such a short concert it’s kinda’ like a spot.

Townshend’s Shirt Tail
Somebody do something about these wardrobe malfunctions. Please. Half the guitar solo was spent untangling his coat from the guitar. C’mon Pete- you can afford to buy a new shirt.

Until next year.

Telephony Nirvana

I stumbled across this wonderful site by total accident (as usual) while researching my Trimline telephone. Frills Free Phones, just as the name implies, sells telephones that are just… well, telephones.

Their specialty is retro and new-old stock phones and supplies. I also found the History section pretty cool. For instance, did you know the Trimline was known in Europe as the “Manhattan”? Me neither.

My only complaint: why they didn’t play the alliteration card and use Fones with an F? Oh well, pretty fun site anyway.

Frill Free Phones