Actors: Tips on How to Get an Agent or Manager

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 28th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

You’re a great actor, ready to be the next Robert Downey Jr. or Natalie Portman, you just need someone to help get you in the door. You want an agent or manager? Keep reading…

First you’ll need listings.

Option one: If you go to the home page of the Sag website: www.sag.org. Look for the words “Guild Info.” in the center of the page towards the top. Scroll your mouse over Guild Info and then click on agency relations. On your left there will be an option, “Find an Agent”. You can scroll down, click on your state and find agents if any in your area. Sag does redesign their website from time to time so if you can’t find it shoot them an email.

Option two: For those in California. The working actors guide has a free listing of agents and gives a little more information than the sag website which doesn’t offer names of agents. http://www.workingactors.com/

Option three: For those in Los Angeles, New York or any area where they print reference books on agents. In L.A., for about twelve bucks you can buy a book called “The Agencies” which will give you names of agents, what they are looking for in terms of look, talent, skills, and whether they will consider non-union talent and so on. One caveat with this book is it tends to make mediocre agencies sound more impressive than they are. They also sell similar books with management information. You can buy these books at the Samuel French bookstore in Hollywood or the Valley or through the publisher, Acting World Books. Sam French website: http://www.samuelfrench.com Acting World # is 1.800.210.1197.

For the rest of the blog, I’m going to write as if you are in Los Angeles or plan to be here at some point. (Not cause I’m a snob, but this is the area I’m most familiar with.)

So you have your agent information the next step is to devise a strategy. You can do mass mailings, showcase for one or two agents in a workshop setting, showcase in a theater setting, network, get a referral from someone in the industry or by a friend represented by a particular agency.

MASS MAILINGS – Assuming you have a good professional 8 * 10 headshot (or three quarter body shot) by a professional photographer who regularly works with actors (In L.A. expect to pay around $250 to $500 for this) You can send out about fifty submissions a week. Unless you have major credits, you can eliminate the top agencies, and agencies that require strong industry referrals unless you have one.

As far as cover letters are concerned… I recommend a brief professional letter, no more than a few sentences and no need to be cute or funny (unless you’re sure its funny)… Keep it basic. If you have a referral, mention it right away. If you research the contact (agents and managers are on linkedin and facebook too!) and you find a useful nugget of information you can incorporate, great. But there is nothing wrong with short and sweet.

The most difficult time of year for a mass mailing to work is during “pilot season” or January to April/May. Agents are the busiest this time of year and their talent rosters are settled. Also Thanksgiving through the holidays is also challenging. So May to November is your best bet but don’t let that discourage from submitting at other times just temper your expectations for a response.

An alternative to mass mailing is to join IMDBpro. This is a website that has a free and a paid version. With pro you have to pay for it but it gives you a lot of contact information for agents, managers, stars, publicists, production companies and more. Further, with pro you may be able to contact some to all of the agents and managers on your list via email thus saving you time, money and trees as opposed to mailing. Here, I would post your resume into the body of the email and or I would provide a link to a site like now casting where you can have your pictures and resume already posted.

Some people are understandably paranoid about opening email attachments from strangers so by posting in the body of the email and giving a trusted link you help your odds of not being deleted before being seen. Last word on imdb is they often offer a free two-week trial, so you can use and cancel at least once without it costing you anything. See http://www.imdbpro.com You can surf free imdb @ http://www.imdb.com.

SHOWCASING IN A WORKSHOP SETTING – This is where you pay money and can perform in front of one to four agents. You give them your picture and resume and usually have the choice of doing a monologue, a prepared scene or cold reading a scene. Monologues aren’t advisable as Agents want to see how you work off another actor. If you’re going to do a prepared scene make sure you own it! The Agent will assume you have had all the time in the world to get it ready so it better be brilliant. When in doubt, even if you know it by heart, have the script in hand and pretend to do it as a cold read. The same performance will now be more impressive because the agent will not think you had as much time with the material.

If you believe you nailed your work, follow-up with a post card and if you are really comfortable with the agent perhaps a phone call. One reason (of many) an agent might pass on you is good agents generally do not represent more than a couple of people of the same look (Of course the exception here is female blond hair/ blue eyes, and a hot body, and no I am not kidding!). So if you do great work and aren’t picked up by the agent don’t sweat it, follow-up with postcards a few times a year. Needs change.

SHOWCASING IN A THEATER SETTING – Here, a group of actors rent out a theater and invite industry to see them perform scenes and monologues. The pros are, you’re not in a “classroom”, you are in a theater and it has a more professional feel. In addition to industry, if the theater is large enough, you can also have friends in the audience to be supportive (especially if you’re doing a comedy scene and can get lots of laughs). Many times these events are catered for continued networking after the scenes are done. The cons are, this can be more costly to you, and unless you and the other actors have good connections, it may be difficult to get industry to come to the event. You see Agents and Casting Directors get paid to go the workshop setting workshops, but generally do not for the theater.

NETWORKING AND REFERRALS – This is the most effective way to find an agent. Here are some of the ways you can network: acting classes, doing extra work, going to parties, getting a job where you’ll meet industry and other actors, and interning for a casting director. Interning, is a great idea in and of itself to see how the casting process happens for yourself. Running camera, being a reader, will make you a better actor and auditioner. You may also have a chance to talk to and get to know agents over the phone as you are booking casting sessions. You may also meet directors of projects during call back sessions. How do you do it? Buy a book on casting directors from Samuel French, call and ask around. Or check out the free listing of CD’s in the working actors guide.

If a friend is represented by a good agent ask them to submit your picture on your behalf. This is commonly done.

If you ever do well in a project of any kind, get a written referral while you’re still fresh on a person’s mind, and if you’re comfortable, ask if they know any agents and can recommend you. Try to find the line between being respectful but aggressive.

MANAGERS – The same rules apply to finding a manager as an agent, however they generally do not do as many workshops as agents, so mass mailings and through networking and contacts are the way to go here. F urther, be more careful with managers . They are not regulated by a union. A manager should never ask for more than 15% of your earnings (Agents get 10%) nor charge you a fee, or make you use certain photographers, etc.

Managers are supposed to give you more personal attention, and groom your career. In recent years, many have morphed into agents and submit you for work the way agents do.

CAUTION – Two of the things reps will use to screen you out: Except those that state they will accept non-union, is whether or not you are a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). And whether or not you have a reel of yourself performing. Briefly, the three ways to become SAG eligible are by getting a speaking part in a SAG project (which is hard to do if you’re not SAG). join a sister union, AFTRA or EQUITY, be a paid up member and a book a speaking role through them, and working three days an extra where you acquire three SAG vouchers.

As for putting together a reel. There is networking, casting notices on Backstage West, actors access, nowcasting, Craigslist, and so on. You should be submitting yourself as much as possible. However, if a casting notice looks sketchy or is in an unprofessional location or time, bring a friend or don’t go if that is what your instincts tells you.

HELPFUL LINKS – I may say more on the below in a future article, but for now…

For showcasing in a workshop setting:
http://www.reelpros.com
http://www.itaproductions.com/

For submitting yourself for indie projects/building your reel
https://www.nowcasting.com (you can also upload pictures & resume & create a free profile)
http://www.actorsaccess.com (you can also upload P & R and create a free profile)
http://backstage.com (also has good articles and other actor resources)

 

For a great web interview show about the entertainment business (hosted by yours truly) Filmnut on-demand @ http://thestream.tv/filmnut

New episodes (where you can im in questions live) @ http://thestream.tv

CONTRACTS – As of this writing, the contract that a sag franchised agent may ask you to sign is standard and the same for all agents. In many instances, an agent will agree to work with you without a contract at first so you can both see how it goes. Managers can give you whatever contract they want, therefore you should have lawyer review it on your behalf. (There are managers that have formed associations in lieu of a “union” agreement and formed their own standard contract)Final note, it’s a business, agents are only going to take you on if they think they can make money from you right away. Talent is secondary to do they have confidence in their own ability to get you auditions and your ability to book parts. There is an old expression, “agents get ten percent and they do ten percent of the work…actors get ninety percent and do ninety percent of the work.”

Good luck!

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in-depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

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Five Questions You Have to Ask When Renting an Apartment

(This blog was originally posted on the Yahoo Contributor Network on April 4th, 2011. As of 7/31/14 YCN has taken down all of its content)

Your next home could be your home for a long time and having worked as a leasing agent for five plus years it amazed me how little thought and consideration some people would put into making a decision about where the majority of their life was going to be spent. So, what should you ask before you sign that lease?

Question one: Is this property under rent control? Remember the TV show Friends and that huge apartment in New York City that Monica and Rachel shared even though they were unemployed half the time? They could afford it because the unit was under rent control. Rent control limits the amount your landlord can raise your rent. Usually it is a small percentage of your existing rent. Without rent control, the sky is the limit.

Question two: Are dogs allowed? I rented an apartment in a building once that advertised no dogs allowed. Much to my chagrin, my very first night I heard a loud barking dog from my neighbor’s apartment. When I asked my landlord about it she innocently responded that no new tenants are allowed to have dogs but existing tenants are grandfathered in!

Question three: Ask to see the apartment in the evening and on the weekend. You want to get a feel for your potential new home when the neighborhood is busy and not when everyone is at work and it is nice and quiet. When people are home you may be able to hear what it sounds like when people walk above you, vacuum, shower, play their TV or music. If you have to park on the street you’ll see what that is like, and so on.

Question four: Ask to check the water pressure, the ac, the oven et al. You want to make sure stuff works to your liking. How is the shower pressure? If you get hot easy, will the ac keep you cool?

Question five: What do your potential neighbors do? How many families are in the building? These questions gives you information on who is living around you. If a rock guitar player lives in 5B, and a librarian in 7H, and there are vacancies next to each, maybe it makes no difference to you, but maybe it does.  Some places will not answer these questions due to fair housing laws. But it is not against the law for you to ask.

The last bit of advice is for you to write a list of all of the things you like and don’t like about a home and ask any relevant questions that will affect your quality of life. Good luck and good hunting!

Published by Jeff Schubert

Jeff Schubert is the Host/Executive Producer of the show Filmnut that airs on thestream.tv. Each webisode provides an in depth interview about the making, marketing, or distribution of film, TV or new media…

It Will Always Be Mother’s Day

background, flyer or banner with text  Mom for Happy Mothers Day

image (c)aispl/bogstockphoto.com

Dear Mom,

We were in each others lives for over 45 years. I couldn’t have made it without you. You are incomparable and irreplaceable.  My broken heart still mourns for you… But on Mother’s day I promise to honor you and do something that we would do and to smile doing it!

Here are 45, plus one for good luck, reasons I love you! (Wish you lived till I was 90, cause I wouldn’t have run out!)

  1. Because you gave me life
  2. Because when I was a baby you ran with me in a blizzard to save my life
  3. Because you slept in bed with me when I was afraid
  4. Because you loved me unconditionally
  5. Because of your smile and how good it made me feel
  6. Because you loved to sing even though you weren’t very good at it
  7. Because you taught me it is okay to enjoy things I’m not good at
  8. Because you believed in me
  9. Because you encouraged me to be me
  10. Because you worried about me
  11. Because of Momma’s fresh eggs
  12. Because of that night we went to Nana’s (Sucka! 🙂
  13. Because you taught me the important things in life
  14. Because nothing was more important to you than your children
  15. Because of how you cared for others

    Momshocktoseejeff

    Me flying to NY from Denver to surprise Mom at her 50th.

  16. Because of your reaction whenever I surprised you with a visit
  17. Because when life knocked you down you always got back up
  18. Because of the night I called you during the Northridge earthquake
  19. Because of your warmth and sensitivity
  20. Because of your strength
  21. Because the sound of your voice put me at peace
  22. Because of your loyalty
  23. Because you inspired me to be good
  24. Because of your sweet potato pie
  25. Because of how you adapted
  26. Because my happiness was your happiness (and vice versa)
  27. Because of the time you took care of me with frozen peas
  28. Because you didn’t take advantage of me when you always knew you could
  29. Because you still tried to protect me when it was my turn to protect you
  30. Because I got to share WTW with you
  31. Because of how we ended phone conversations
  32. Because of your courage and strength when the end was near
  33. Because of your understanding
  34. Because of thanksgivings
  35. Because of your favorite cocktail toast
  36. Because of Monday night football
  37. Because of pizza, Chinese food and ordering up
  38. Because of fudging
  39. Because I was the person you trusted
  40. Because of how you were with Holly (sweet little Maltese)
  41. Because of how you cared for Nana and Mel when it was their time
  42. Because the little things could make you happy
  43. Because of that time you flew me to the Sands hotel after the Giants won the Superbowl.
  44. Because of the joy you experienced when you would watch me eat (especially at buffets!)
  45. Because you put others before yourself (too much!)
  46. Because you’re sooooo cute!

Every day has always been mother’s day for me mom, because that is what you deserved… but the literal day was extra special because it meant something to you…

You will always be MBPM… I wish I could have done so much more for you!  But today isn’t about that.  It’s about honoring you with a smile and with love… and honor with love and a smile I shall.  Happy Mother’s Day Momma…

We will be in touch…                                                                                                          Yes…                                                                                                                                                   I love you very much…

Before, now, and always… Love,

Sonnyboy

Response To A Teacher’s “Wise Words”

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I saw this list posted on Facebook.  Below each statement, in red, is my response to it.  The original list is actually pretty good, (unknown author), but I’m in a weird place these days so some of my responses are meant as a joke, some are serious, and some I would need Freud to figure out!

— one high school teacher’s list of 100 wisest word

1. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs is not one of them.

Unless you don’t know how to swim, than the stairs is a good idea!

2. Never cancel dinner plans by text message.

Unless you’re stuck on the east coast during hurricane Sandy (I was) and texting is all that is working!

3. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Terrorism is evil.  I knocked it and I have not tried it.

4. If a street performer makes you stop walking, you owe him a buck.

What if the only reason I stop is because he is in my way?

5. Always use ‘we’ when referring to your home team or your government.

A good friend of mine that was in the Army wasn’t a fan of this, because “we” won’t lose a leg, but he could have.

6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

Unless that secret involves doing harm to the person or someone else.  Or the tabloids will pay you a whole bunch of money for it! (j/k)

7. Don’t underestimate free throws in a game of ‘horse’.

I promise for the rest of my life I will never do that again!  Happy now?

8. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I’m sorry, but when I have to go, I’m going.

9. Don’t dumb it down.

Yes, why risk being understood?

10. You only get one chance to notice a new haircut.

Only if that is the last new haircut you ever see.

11. If you’re staying more than one night, unpack.

Okay, but no promises about doing laundry.

12. Never park in front of a bar.

The first spots are usually for the handicapped anyway.

13. Expect the seat in front of you to recline. Prepare accordingly.

True that.  People get way to emotional about reclining seats.

14. Keep a picture of your first fish, first car, and first boy/girlfriend.

I never took a picture of my first fish (maybe he has a facebook page!)  My first car stopped talking to me after I totaled it.  And my current girlfriend might get a little peeved if I carry a picture of my first around!

15. Hold your heroes to a high standard.

A high standard, but one they can live up to…otherwise prepare to feel disappointed and possibly betrayed.

16. A suntan is earned, not bought.

There is honor in honesty, not suffering…don’t confuse the two.

17. Never lie to your doctor.

But don’t fully trust him/her either.  Or better yet:  Trust but verify.

18. All guns are loaded.

And people can be guns.

19. Don’t mention sunburns. Believe me, they know.

Do mention in-burns… they probably do not know.

20. The best way to show thanks is to wear it. Even if it’s only once.

The best way to show thanks is to authentically be thankful.  The rest will take care of itself.

21. Take a vacation of your cell phone, internet, and TV once a year.

Good idea but I would need a support group to ditch the internet.

22. Don’t fill up on bread, no matter how good.

Don’t fill up on anything, no matter how good.  Too much will lead to you…

23. A handshake beats an autograph.

And a warm smile beats a handshake.

24. Don’t linger in the doorway. In or out.

Phrased another way by author Steven Forrest: Don’t stand with one foot on the dock and one on a boat that is setting out to sea.

25. If you choose to go in drag, don’t sell yourself short.

If you choose to go period, don’t sell yourself short!

26. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.

Better yet, have your astrology chart done.

27. Never get your hair cut the day of a special event.

If you’re bald like me I guess that means don’t shave your head?

28. Be mindful of what comes between you and the Earth. Always buy good shoes, tires, and sheets.

Yeah but don’t space out on socks, car breaks and blankets either!

29. Never eat lunch at your desk if you can avoid it.

Wherever you eat, be present with your food and savior every bite.

30. When you’re with new friends, don’t just talk about old friends.

Talk about subjects of meaning and or mutual pleasure.

31. Eat lunch with the new kids.

If you feel comfortable doing so, not because you read it in a blog….

32. When traveling, keep your wits about you.

For any life event that stresses you, anticipate and mentally prepare for the event ahead of time.

33. It’s never too late for an apology.

Sadly, mortality would suggest otherwise.

34. Don’t pose with booze.

Or at least don’t post it on instagram!

35. If you have the right of way, take it.

There are times that even when you have the right of way, you don’t have the right of way.  (Think old lady standing on a bus)

36. You don’t get to choose your own nickname.

But it may be subject to negotiation.

37. When you marry someone, remember you marry their entire family.

That’s all I need, another reason not to commit!

38. Never push someone off a dock.

But be sure and pull them in if they push you!

39. Under no circumstances should you ask a woman if she’s pregnant.

OMG, I almost did this in a business meeting to a woman who was NOT pregnant.  Heed this warning!

40. It’s not enough to be proud of your ancestry; live up to it.

But in a way that is true to who you are…

41. Don’t make a scene.

All activity is a scene… make the scenes you want, make them count, and try avoid the scenes you may regret later.

42. When giving a thank you speech, short and sweet is best.

Maybe… but I’d rather speak a few seconds too long and not forget to thank someone than worry about being short and sweet.

43. Know when to ignore the camera.

Always ignore the camera and be true to yourself.

44. Never gloat.

You can gloat once in a great while.  But don’t make a habit of it!

45. Invest in good luggage.

Unless you can invest in good stock!

46. Make time for your mom on your birthday. It’s her special day, too.

Make time for your mom everyday… unless she is some crazy psycho abusive nut job, than give yourself permission to let go.

47. When opening presents, no one likes a good guesser.

Really?  Good guesses I don’t mind.  Lack of enthusiasm or enjoyment is a bummer. 

48. Sympathy is a crutch, never fake a limp.

But don’t hide one for too long either.

49. Give credit. Take blame.

Agreed.

50. Suck it up every now and again.

If only it were every now and again!

51. Never be the last one in the pool.

Unless the pool is filled with Sharks.

52. Don’t stare.

Staring is okay in the right situation… It’s the stalking I worry about.

53. Address everyone that carries a firearm professionally.

Not necessarily out of respect but because they can kill you!

54. Stand up to bullies. You’ll only have to do it once.

When in doubt, consult someone in higher authority.

55. If you’ve made your point, stop talking.

Verify that you have been understood.  If yes listen.  If not, dumb it down!  Ha ha! (see number 9 on this list)

56. Admit it when you’re wrong.

Only if I can rub it in when I’m right J

57. If you offer to help don’t quit until the job is done.

Or don’t offer more than you are capable of helping.

58. Look people in the eye when you thank them.

But only thank them if you mean it.

59. Thank the bus driver.

Thank everyone who provides a service to you or does something kind.

60. Never answer the phone at the dinner table.

Or text, check the net… man this one needs to be updated.

61. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.

If you are truly sorry and have a plan to at least try to avoid them in the future.

62. Know at least one good joke.

But keep updating otherwise the joke can get stale real fast!

63. Don’t boo. Even the ref is somebody’s son.

Booing is all in fun… Getting personal, or worse discriminatory, is what I have a problem with.

64. Know how to cook one good meal.

Between that and your one good joke, you’ll have one good date… Maybe.

65. Learn to drive a stick shift.

I’m in my mid-forties…never learned, and doing okay.

66. Be cool to younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.

Be cool period.

67. It’s okay to go to the movies by yourself.

Just don’t wear a baseball cap and a trench coat.

68. Dance with your mother/father.

Dance…Sing…Write… Be creative and share the joy.

69. Don’t lose your cool. Especially at work.

People who often lose their cool probably never really had it.

70. Always thank the host.

With wine and a babka cake… (Sorry Costanza, rings dings and soda won’t cut it)

71. If you don’t understand, ask before it’s too late.

What’s the point of this list?

72. Know the size of your boy/girlfriend’s clothes.

Especially if they’re not pregnant!

73. There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt.

Who said there was?

74. Be a good listener. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk.

If it helps… Think of being a good listener as being selfish.  Aside from being the right thing to do, it will help you get what you want.

75. Keep your word.

Or only give it away when you intend to honor it.

76. In college, always sit in the front. You’ll stand out immediately.

It’s not about standing out.  Always put yourself in the best position to succeed.

77. Carry your mother’s bags. She carried you for nine months.

Assuming you can, this should be a given (assuming your mom isn’t a psycho abusive nut.)

78. Be patient with airport security. They’re just doing their jobs.

Be patient with anyone doing their job, (legal ones anyway), unless they are not doing it right or fair.  Then still be nice… until it’s time not to be nice.

79. Don’t be the talker in a movie.

Yes, be the talker in therapy.

80. The opposite sex likes people who shower.

What about the same-sex?  Okay to have B.O. around them?

81. You are what you do, not what you say.

Okay, this one is stolen right from, “actions speak louder than words.”

82. Learn to change a tire.

This could save your life… or at least get you to an appointment on time.  (At the very least, join AAA)

83. Be kind. Everyone has a hard fight ahead of them.

And because it feels better inside than being mean.

84. An hour with grandparents is time well spent. Ask for advice when you need it.

Maybe, but if you’re mom is a psycho abusive nut job, she got it from somewhere.  Labels don’t endow people with wisdom.  Ask for advice only if you trust the advice giver.

85. Don’t litter.

Treat the earth like your home… after all, it is!

86. If you have a sister, get to know her boyfriend. Your opinion is important.

But should be offered when asked for or when needed.

87. You won’t always be the strongest or the fastest. But you can be the toughest.

And you can still finish sooner and get more done…

88. Never call someone before 9am or after 9pm.

Unless they’re old than it is more like 7am and 7pm.

89. Buy the orange properties in Monopoly.

Don’t buy property unless you understand the market!

90. Make the little things count.

Make everything count!

91. Always wear a bra at work.

Except on casual Fridays.

92. There is a fine line between looking sultry and slutty. Find it.

Find what is right for you.  Let all of your actions match your intentions.

93. You’re never too old to need your mom.

Please realize this before it’s too late.  (Unless your mom is a …I think I’ve made my point… And by the way, my mom was an angel.)

94. Ladies, if you make the decision to wear heels on the first date, commit to keeping them on and keeping your trap shut about how much your feet kill.

Guys, if you make the decision to wear a hairpiece on the first date, make sure that thing is cemented on and can’t possibly fall off!

95. Know the words to your national anthem.

And if you’re in America, know who the freakin Vice President is!

96. Your dance moves might not be the best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun then sitting on the bench alone.

Maybe for some, but not for all… If you’re stuck in the middle, take a dance lesson.

97. Smile at strangers.

Some might think your weird but maybe worth a try.

98. Make goals.

Short term attainable ones and long-term ones… Be sure to give yourself credit for the goals you reach before moving on.

99. Being old is not dictated by your bedtime.

Old is an illusion of time and how we feel.  In truth we are all very very young!

100. If you have to fight, punch first and punch hard.

 I’m more of a counter puncher myself.

What’s Your Code?

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As I was driving to the hospital to visit my terminally ill mother, (stage IV cholangiocarcinoma) it dawned on me that there are situations in life when “staying positive”, or “focusing on the positive” isn’t going to happen.  Where the weight and burden of life’s problems can overwhelm the best intentions of any feel good mantra.  In fact there are times where you, I should say I, just don’t want to feel good.  And are incapable of it.

But what is a son to do after he promised his dying mother, who he loves with all of his heart and soul, he would live his life, do good things, and make her proud, even though after watching her suffer every fiber of his being has had enough of life?

And then I thought about my code.  A set of principles, a guiding philosophy, or standards I have tried to hold myself to, and live by.  This code is not designed to make me happy or sad.  Promise me a good life, or the prevention of bad things from happening.  It is to remind me of who I am and who I strive to be.  To keep me in check when I feel myself slipping.  Or in this case, hanging from the pique of a mountaintop by my fingertips.

I think it is good to have a code.  One of my favorite TV characters, Dexter, has one.  His sister, Deb, once told him it sounded like something a child would have.  Childhood reflects a time of innocence.  So maybe that is not such a bad thing.

With information overload, and external influences coming from so many different directions from the time we are born, a simple code can be a safety valve.  It can:

  • Help you resist against being corrupted by temptations, and success.
  • Keep you from being anchored down by the traumas of life.
  • It can be a base by which to maintain your sense of self if you feel your sanity ebbing away.
  • It can help you on your path without being a rulebook to run your life.

No matter the reason, when tidal waves of pain or pleasure arrive, it can be there for you when you feel like nothing else is.  When you don’t want or feel like you can accept anyone’s help.  Not etched in stone, this code can be adaptable as you adapt and experience new people and situations.

As part of your daily life, or kept away for a rainy day, I would encourage you to develop a code.  Root it in meaning and principles that you strongly identify with.  That can stand the test of time, and the good and bad challenges ahead.  It, and you must be strong.

Surviving an emotional earthquake that would register a 2.0 on the richter scale is not so tough.  But if you live long enough you may experience something closer to a 10.0.  And at these times it may be nice to have something to fall back on to help you through.  To keep you from crumbling as the earth rips apart beneath your feet.

A code doesn’t replace the love and support of family and or friends.  It doesn’t offer the insight of therapy, philosophy, spirituality, or support groups.  But it may give you the strength to seek those things out, or help get you, or keep you on your feet.  The idea is to know yourself and prepare yourself, as best you can, for un-preparable situations in life.

When the time comes for my mother, I hope my code, a few hospital bed promises, and the fact  that I know my mom, with all of her heart and soul, would want me to be happy and go on, are enough for me.  Time will tell.

#####

Update: Though published today, I initially wrote this blog on July 6th.  I didn’t have the strength to publish it then, though I knew I might not have the strength or clarity to write about it later.  That turns out to be an understatement.  My mother passed on July 23rd.  The funeral was on the 25th.   She was my guiding light.

History On The Side of Patriots With The Signing of Tim Tebow

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CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco tweets that: ” signing Tebow, (Tim) is Patriot arrogance at work”.  Not that the Patriots are incapable of arrogance, but in this case the label doesn’t apply.

History, in more ways than one, is what the Patriots have going for them with the apparent imminent signing of Tim Tebow.  First, let’s rewind the tape of the cacophony of criticism leveled at Tebow the quarterback.  Even amongst some of his most ardent detractors, such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who said Tebow can’t throw, he’ll never be a quarterback in this league (NFL), etc, etc, many still agreed that he is:

  • An incredibly hard worker.
  • Very likable.
  • Great locker room guy.
  • A good football player, just not a quarterback.

That last one is kind of important.  You know, being a good football player.  While the haters enjoyed Tebow not getting any free agent offers after being released by the NY Jets, even they would admit it was due, in part, to rumors that he was insisting on being signed as a quarterback only.  That if Tebow agreed to play another position he could draw more interest.

Well guess what “sources” are saying about Tebow in New England?  That, in addition to being a third string QB, he will see some time at tight end, possibly fullback and special teams .

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New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichik & Urban Meyer

Now, to Patriot history in particular.  Tebow played for Urban Meyer at Florida.   A Bill Belichik guy.  Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him out of college when he was the coach of the Denver Broncos.  Right or wrong, those types of connections mean something within the fraternity of sports.  Taking a chance on a player when guys you know and trust vouch for them, that “outsiders” might not be high on, is not new.  Tebow is not the first or last player to benefit from this.

It’s neither Tebow’s, nor the Patriots’ fault that the media chooses to cover the signing of a versatile third string quarterback to the extent that it is.  And the move should not be judged on that basis.

Unlike Tebow’s other two stops, there will be no quarterback controversy here.  Even the most fervent Tebow fans will never confuse Kyle Orton and Mark Sanchez with the Golden Boy, Tom Brady.  That alone will reduce the much feared and talked about “circus” affect that Tebow brings.  Belichik’s experience in dealing with the potential for circus type distractions will take care of much of the rest.  This isn’t arrogance.  It is history.

As pointed out by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, signing him now is no lock that he makes the roster.  Although I think he will.  Aside from how Tebow can possibly help on game day, there is also that new flavor of the month offense that teams are employing called the read option… Something Tebow can help them prepare for in practice.

When you consider that:

  • There is no QB controversy.
  • That Tebow brings a versatile skill set not typical of a third string QB.
  • That he’s not costing them much.
  • That he is a great locker room guy.
  • That the Patriots are perhaps the most stable organization in football, capable of weathering a potential distraction of the move working or not.

The potential upside outweighs the potential down.  And that, is what we call a good move.

How To Emotionally Let Go… When You Can’t Emotionally Let Go

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How did this happen?  How did your life get here?  Maybe you know, maybe you don’t.  But day and night.  Sitting or lying down.  You gaze.  Defeated.  A circumstance, or set of circumstances has occurred that leaves you in a state of depression.  It zaps you of your energy and your will to do anything.  Ability to enjoy anything.  And perhaps worst of all, you don’t see a way out.  This is how it will always be.  Suicide enters your mind.  But you’re not there yet.  You just don’t know what to do.  Or how to let go and move on.

What can possibly cause this state?  Lots of things I suppose…

  • Death of a loved one?
  • End of a relationship?
  • Deterioration of health?
  • Bankruptcy?
  • Failure to achieve a life goal?

Maybe a combination of the above.  Or maybe something personal to you that I haven’t mentioned.  For each of us the answer may be different.

Some have a “healthier” response to loss, disappointment, failure, et al, than others. This is contingent on a number of factors.  And is a topic for another day.

Emotionally letting go.  Getting back on course.  We all do have the ability to emotionally let go.  We may not see it.  Realize it.  But it is there.  Might be harder to find for some, but I believe this to be true.

Where to look is the question.

The mind is powerful and formidable.  Once it convinces itself of something it can be challenging to change.  Politics, sports, stereotyping and discrimination are examples of areas of life where we can see people become entrenched in a point of view.  Once a belief is fortified, it can be difficult to budge, no matter what contradictory evidence or facts are presented.

Subjective matters of the heart and mind are no different.  We can convince ourselves of something not rooted in fact, and entrench ourselves in ideas that are worse than bad for us.  They can rob us of our life.  Once such example is, “I can’t move on from this loss”.

Cognitive psychologists would warn against such absolute statements and the distortions they give birth too.

So what is my suggestion for the person reading this who believes he or she can’t emotionally let go or move on from some painful situation or experience?

Fake it.

For now.  If and until you are ready to move on, you don’t literally have to.  Just pretend.  Here are possible ways you can get started:

  • Engage your family.
  • Your children, if you have them.
  • Friends.
  • If you’re alone and don’t already have one, think about getting a pet.
  • Get therapy
  • Join a support group.
  • Maybe meet new people or a group that shares an interest you have.
  • Involve yourself in a project.

Any of the above that involve triggers of what it is you are trying to let go, you may want to avoid.

The idea is to surround yourself with people and or situations where you have to engage and get out of a negative space.  Even if it is just for a little while.  Even if the mask you wear in these situations hides what is really going on inside and you are just going through the motions.  For the purpose of this exercise, you are an actor in a play.  And your role is to pretend to be okay.

There are lots of options.  Start slowly.  You don’t have to pick everything.  But pick something.  Then you can a build at a pace you are comfortable with.  Do these things without the pressure of “letting go”.   If it does feel like you are just going through the motions, that’s okay.  There can be a benefit to doing so that you may not see right away.

You will let go of whatever circumstances or emotions you are holding onto when you are good and ready.  No one can force you to do that.

You may find that the process of faking it will lead to a gradual shift in your thinking and an actual letting go.  And on that day, what is fake, begins to becomes real.

This is but one suggestion in a sea of many.  Please don’t give up.  If this is not for you please don’t hesitate to reach out for help or try something different.

Faking it is not meant to be offered as the only possible, or even the final solution.  While it can be for some, for others it has the potential to be a bridge to take you where you want to go, or at least be a first step.

Peace And Adventure On The Journey.

If you find these words interesting, please read this blog that talks about pain and explains my ebook, The Authentic You.

*AN IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE.  THE ABOVE REPRESENTS MY PERSONAL OPINION.  I AM NOT A LICENSED THERAPIST.  ANY WORDS IN THIS BLOG ARE NOT MEANT TO, NOR SHOULD THEY REPLACE THAT OF A DOCTOR OR LICENSED MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.

It’s Time For Bill O’Reilly To Come Out Of The Closet

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No I am not suggesting that Bill O’Reilly is a homosexual.  Not that there would be anything wrong with that.  Rather, that he is a moderate to conservative Republican who for some reason likes to refer to himself as an Independent.  And while there is more effort on his part to be “balanced” than say Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow, he too falls short.

Here are two ways to look at this.  One, is O’Reilly’s position on issues.  And two, is the composition of his guests.  Two(A) would be which guests he agrees and disagrees with most.

First, on the issues of the day.  Which party does Mr. Bill side with or more closely align with on the following?

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  • The deficit?
  • Taxes?
  • Job Creation?
  • Obamacare?
  • Abortion?
  • Use of military force?  (He has been fair to President Obama when he does as President Bush did before him.)
  • “War” on Christmas and Judeo-Christian values? oreillywaron
  • Immigration reform?
  • Gun control?
  • Same sex marriage?
  • The justice system & Supreme Court? (Jessica’s Law, trying terrorists on foreign soil versus U.S., etc.)

In some cases O’Reilly does walk a moderate line on social issues while still leaning Republican. In most others the distinction is clearly conservative/ Republican.  Unless I’m misunderstanding the meaning of what it means to be politically independent, given the above, and no clear prominent positions where he is on the left, it’s hard to imagine O’Reilly being a true Independent.  When it comes to who he will vote for in an election, it’s a fair bet that he votes Republican.

In 2016, if Hillary Clinton is running against Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or whoever the Republicans put out there, my money is on O’Reilly voting for the Republican.  And I’ll double down and suggest he’ll know that very early on in the process, (like as soon as the respective candidates win their primaries).

I challenge O’Reilly to do one of his unscientific FOX News polls and see who his viewers, (and guests), think he would vote for in a hypothetical 2016 Presidential match-up:  Clinton, lets say Rubio, or Undecided.  I’m thinking Rubio wins that poll over Clinton and Undecided in a landslide.

Alan Colmes, MonicaCrowley and Bill O'Reilly

Alan Colmes, Monica
Crowley and Bill O’Reilly

Let’s look at his guests.  O’Reilly will have on two guests at a time with each representing a different point of view.  Currently, he has a weekly segment called “Barack and a Hard Place”, with Monica Crowley and Alan Colmes.  It’s not even close who he agrees with more.  It’s the conservative,  Crowley.  Colmes, the liberal, is also more likely to be ridiculed, disrespected, demeaned and yelled at.

You can go through the years and find that O’Reilly will side with the Republican in any two-guest pairing a majority of the time.

This isn’t wrong in and of itself.  In fact, his positions on the issues aren’t being debated here. Rather that it is disingenuous for him to refer to himself as an Independent given the clarity, confidence and boldness with which he holds and asserts his opinions.

O’Reilly used to have a segment: “Weekdays with Bernie (Goldberg) and Jane (Hall)”. They’d discuss the media’s treatment and response to political issues.  Same deal as with Colmes.  Goldberg, who O’Reilly was more likely to agree with, (taking the conservative position), gets treated with more respect and isn’t interrupted or challenged with the same voracity nearly as consistently as was Jane.  Somewhere along the line they got rid of Jane and now Goldberg comes on alone.  Where’s the balance?

You can go back to pairings of Kirsten Powers and Michelle Malkin to Juan Williams and Mary Katharine Ham, O’Reilly is consistent with who he sides with.  The Republican.  And just because he doesn’t think Obama is a socialist, doesn’t make O’Reilly an Independent.

O’Reilly also has individual guests that he interviews and debates.  The dominant personalities in the run up to the 2012 presidential election were: Karl Rove, Dick Morris, Laura Ingraham, Charles Krauthammer, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, and Brit Hume.

Not exactly a who’s who of Democrats.  Oftentimes O’Reilly’s Democratic guests rotated and or were not as notable as their Republican leaning counterparts.

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O’Reilly will play devil’s advocate with his conservative guests, but you do not see him get in their faces and shout like he has with Colmes, Barney Frank, and Geraldo Rivera.  (When Rivera was defending a liberal position on immigration.)

If he does get loud or disagree with a conservative guest, like he did with Laura Ingraham on his April 2nd broadcast, it is usually over style and not substance.  They usually agree on the heart of an issue but perhaps not in the way it’s being advocated for.

O’Reilly was defensive because he felt Ingraham was “tacitly” criticizing him for his use of the phrase “thump the bible”.  They weren’t arguing over same-sex marriage, but the way in which those against it present their case.

To further illustrate this, on April 3rd, in response to a viewer emailer, who sided with Ingraham, and was framing same-sex marriage as a sin, O’Reilly stated to the emailer, “if you want to keep your country from going down the drain, be smart”.   This is a reference by O’Reilly that the religious argument will not convert anyone on the same-marriage issue.  What you can infer from that is  O’Reilly may believe that the legalization of same-sex marriage will cause America to go down the drain.

If you say O’Reilly never has controversial conservative guests to argue with over substance, I believe Ann Coulter has been on his show a few times.  And did I mention Glenn Beck?  Have they never said anything worth, “an independent”, like O’Reilly, raising his voice over or being in vehement disagreement with?

Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller

Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller

For a conservative, part comedic and part serious political discussion, O’Reilly will have on: Dennis Miller, Adam Carolla, Greg Gutfeld and Bernard McGuirk.  There is no weekly Democratic counterpart to this group.  Could you see O’Reilly and Bill Maher mocking Republicans and having a jolly old, never confrontational, time with it– like he does with Miller at the expense of Democrats?

O’Reilly has a field producer, Jesse Waters.  Waters generally scours the streets looking for uniformed liberals to make look bad.  I guess all or most conservatives are informed and reasonable?  Perhaps not week-to-week, but over time, shouldn’t a show hosted by an independent offer balance to these segments?

And when talking to or about liberals, O’Reilly oftentimes refers to them as “left wing loons”, or “far left fanatics”.  There are no counter pet names for the right.  He will point out that there are ideologues and bomb throwers on both sides, but the frequency and specificity of name calling and identifying as radical or loon, usually comes at the expense of the left.  If O’Reilly were an Independent would this be the case?

When talking about liberal bias in the media, O’Reilly discusses two kinds.  Intentional and subconscious.  With the subconscious being a result of a journalist’s political leanings that just seeps into their work.  I’m willing to give O’Reilly some benefit of the doubt that some of his bias is unintentional and a result of his passionate and authentic beliefs.  But he and his staff are too intelligent and too good at what they do to not be aware of any of this.

Interestingly, since the presidential election, FOX dismissed Dick Morris, and reduced Karl Rove’s role.  Democratic strategist, Bob Beckel, now has a regular segment and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is making more appearances.  This does help the show’s balance but doesn’t alter my premise.  O’Reilly is an “Iino” (Pronounced: I Know, meaning, Independent in name only).

I do watch O’Reilly more than shows hosted by Hannity or Maddow because despite his slant there is more attempt at balance.  However, I would never recommend getting your news from just one source.

What O’Reilly is not, is a blind ideologue.  He will own mistakes (sometimes) and call his own on the carpet.  (See the recent Michelle Backman flare up.) He’s passionate and confident in his beliefs, but most of the time he provides a forum for those who disagree to get their point across.  Granted they must have gravitas to stand up to him when he’s in interrupt mode.

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If O’Reilly was as biased or to the right as a Hannity or Rush Limbaugh you would have never seen a then Senator Barrack Obama on his program when he was running for President.   And Obama must have been okay with it because he was interviewed by O’Reilly again at half time of the Superbowl when he was President.  Further, you would not see former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney avoid O’Reilly’s show.

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Other prominent Democrats, such as Hillary Clinton, that would never be interviewed by Hannity, do go on O’Reilly.  And there are Republicans other than Cheney that avoid O’Reilly because they know even though he is more likely to side with them on the issues, he will still ask tough questions.

However, just because O’Reilly is not a blind ideologue, who interviews some prominent Democrats, while scaring off some Republicans; that too does not make him an Independent.

A question I’d like to ask O’Reilly is: who are the last six presidential candidates you’ve voted for?  Any Dems or Independents in that group?  How about Senators and Congressmen?

I would ask him not to dodge.  I would say: no spin Bill!  Come out of the closet.  Admit it!  You are a Republican.

Kevin Ware’s Injury Reminds Me It’s Time To Pay College Athletes

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What’s been said in theory can be said again in reality due to Louisville’s, Kevin Ware’s injury.  The college basketball star broke his bone in two places.  It was gruesome.  CBS made the decision not to show it up close and when they realized how horrific it was they stopped showing it altogether.

I applaud their intention but we all needed to see it more.  Not out of morbid curiosity.  But to understand the personal and career risk these young men take.  And how it’s long past the time to compensate athletes with more than room, board and free classes.

Yes, a college education is very valuable.  But for too long it has been used as a smoke screen to blur the exploitation of college athletes.

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I get that the money generated from men’s college basketball and football funds many other college programs. That doesn’t mean it is right to deny or keep payment from the work force that earns it.  Especially when, universities, networks, coaches, and so many others profit from it.

I also get that a function of Title IX is to ensures equality between men’s and women’s athletics.  Title IX is also to be applauded.  It has corrected a wrong and helped to elevate women’s sports and create opportunities that were previously unavailable.

However, if I have a job in car sales and my co-worker sells ten times more cars than me, he or she will make a lot more money in commission than I will.  This doesn’t mean I’m being treated unfairly.

In fact, it is common in sales that unless you reach your quota, which is to say reach a minimum amount of sales, you don’t make any commission, or it’s minimal.

There ought to be a revenue generating formula that can help determine which sports teams, male or female, in college are eligible to receive some form of payment that would not violate Title IX.

Further, there are other ways, outside sources, that can pay college athletes that would not take money from other programs or conflict with Title IX.

One:  allow boosters, alumni, or fans of a college program to contribute x-amount of dollars to a fund that pays players.

Second:  Allow college athletes to make money from endorsements.  That’s right, not only do colleges get away with exploiting these athletes and not paying them, they prevent them from making money from outside marketing opportunities.

Whether it’s from boosters or marketing, the income level could be capped to keep it in check and from giving the name schools too big of a recruiting advantage over smaller schools that wouldn’t be able to match it.

These young men, work hard, they play hard and many come from families in need.  It is past unreasonable to deny them some monetary compensation in addition to English 101.  Find a way.  Make it happen.  Because beyond the outpouring of immediate support from his teammates, coaches and twitter that will eventually fade, Ware and other athletes have earned it.

Are Injuries An Excuse For Losing In Sports?

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RGIII in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks

The short answer is:  Of course they are!  I get that we don’t want to hear excuses coming from NFL, NBA or MLB players, coaches and the teams themselves.  However, they should be discussed in the barroom debates that are housed on ESPN and elsewhere.

I disagree with those who say injuries are not an excuse at all, and criticize players and coaches for not getting it done with backups.  Criticism may prove to be fair, but only after proper attention and analysis as to how the backups affect the play on the field.

Just because every team may suffer from injuries doesn’t mitigate their potential impact and create a new advantage for one side over the other.  Sports shows spend an incomprehensible amount of time analyzing players at every position to project how a team will do in an upcoming season.  Further, they will do so on a game-by-game basis to determine which team in a given game will have an advantage.  When some of those players are injured, you can’t just gloss over it without an analysis of who is replacing them, the BACKUPS.

A funny aside is, generally, a talking head will allow for injuries to be somewhat of an excuse if said talking head likes the player.  I.e. if ESPN’s Skip Bayless is talking about Chicago Bear Quarterback Jay Cutler, or the retired Brett Farve.  But if said talking head doesn’t like the player then its: “well every team has injuries, you can’t use that an as excuse.”

Much was made about the 2011/2012 New York Giants being a seven and seven team that just got hot and won a super bowl.  Some commented that they were healthier than their competition.  Few if any commented on how decimated by injuries they were when they got to the seven and seven point.  This wasn’t an average team that miraculously just started playing better, (as many suggested).  It’s just amazing how health matters.

Occasionally you’ll get your Green Bay Packer teams of 2010/2011 that win the super bowl in spite of injuries.  But that is the exception, not the rule.

Team sports are just that, TEAM.  When one member of the system goes down it can affect the whole, especially depending on the quality of the backup.  It’s the whole knee bone is connected to the thighbone thing.

So when evaluating teams, players and coaches it is fair to evaluate health, injuries, and quality of backups when rendering final grades on performance, and who should, or did win.   With so much riding on the line for the winners, the losers, and the legacy of the players and coaches, it’s the least the twenty-four sports networks can do.