Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A blog about 'nothing'

I interviewed a Harvard MBA/CEO. The topic of great ideas came up.

He said, "I'd give 50 great ideas for one great implementation of a really good idea." (Granted, his job, at the time, was to implement on someone else's idea.)

I also read a quote from a now-forgotten-by-me, but-still-famous-to-many screenwriter who said about movie scripts, "It's not a great idea, unless you can make it sound compelling in 50 words or less."

In the current issue of Newsweek, another few-lines-or-less idea makes a career for someone.

Here's the short version. Writer wants to be a writer, but isn't paid to be one. Tries 'novel' approach. Fails. Opens her mother's copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Cooks ALL recipes and blogs.

This schtick is called Julie & Julia and is currently available from Little Brown.

Here are a few other great ideas, in 50 words or less:
>>Memento (film): A suspense/mystery story, told backwards.
>>Mr. Know-It-All (book): Esquire writer stayed home. Read the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. Wrote about it.
>>Public Image Ltd. (ad campaign): Ex-Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten released an album. All marketing around the album was labeled generic (Cassette, Poster, Compact Disc).
>>Dick List (web): Nikol Lohr created a message board. It's a forum for all females to post 'dicks' in their life, by name.

What's missing?

27 Comments:

At 1:36 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

I read about a woman in the NYT a few years ago who cooked her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Her husband was her guinea pig. Maybe this was the same woman who wrote the book.

FYI, Martha Stewart supposedly taught herself to cook by preparing everything in that book (actually those two books). I can see Her Analness doing something like that.

But frankly I'm envious of both women. I don't have the patience or attention span to cook anything fancy, and I don't like standing up that long.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

I still like my buddy's idea of a coffee table photography book of celebs on the crapper.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

holden had "a bathroom book." this was a notebook with a pen on a string he taped to the book. Any guest who used his facilities had to write something or at least sign the book. It was hysterical.

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Holden? Which one?

Did they try to opine on their philosophy of life or do the high school yearbook "good luck with everything in life" nonsense or did they concentrate on gripping accounts of what had just transpired on the porcelain thron?

Hmm. I've not thought of this in years--but I always used to sign in the high scholl yearbook on the memorial pages of whoever had died the previous year. Although there was one girl who was the school slut--I wrote this lengthy, rambling inscription that covered both pages of the football team's group photo. She'd screwed just about every guy in the photo, and I knew she'd hate having the picture "defiled."

Did I mention I was a prick even back then?

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger CHW said...

"Rise" from that PIL album is still one of all-time favorite tunes. The chorus is undeniably catchy.

Can't think of anything compelling to add your list at this time.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Yeah ... I loved that PIL album.

But I would say a 'great idea' doesn't always transfer.

In my last year of college and for an advertising class, I was tasked with creating a campaign for a local golf course. Due to limited computer graphics skills and limited time, I turned to PIL for inspiration.

With thought-brilliance pulsing in my veins, I quickly knocked out my 'generic' campaign for the golf course. "Billboard" [with the golf course logo in the corner]; "Print Ad" [with the golf course logo in the corner] -- and the one I thought was Einsteinesque -- "30-Sec Radio Spot". It went like this: "30-sec radio spot, 30-sec radio spot, 30-sec radio spot ... Brought to you by Riverside Golf Course. 318 Mansfield Road."

Needless to say, the small Texas college town professor didn't get it OR like it. The class sided with her.

I chose not to go into advertising.

 
At 6:49 PM, Blogger JMH said...

I think I just found my name on the "Dick List", shit.

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Dear Triple J,

I entered Sam Houston State University in the fall of 1982, but didn't graduate until August 1994. This was because I'd stay up all night watching TV and talking, would skip class and sleep all day, and my profs, most of whom had strict attendance policies, would flunk me for not showing up, regardless of how well I knew their material. Then my parents, refusing to throw more good money after bad, would yank me out of school for a year or five.

Though I finished my degree requirements by correspondence and by taking a few courses at Austin Community College in 1993 and 1994, my last semester physically in-residence at SHSU was in the spring of 1989. As an ADD sufferer, I can focus for hours on things that interest me, but can barely pay more than a few minute's attention to subjects that bore me. That was as true then as it is now.

I can't tell you anything about my course load that last semester, because it didn't take me long to stop going to most of those classes. The only class I gave a damn about was Advanced Creative Writing.

The course was taught by a prof who ran a small literary magazine. Each student was required to write either one short story or two or three poems, submit and read the work aloud to the class, and then the rest of the students and the prof would critique the submission. So if you turned in your work early in the semester, all you had to do for months thereafter was sit on your ass and offer your opinions.

One group of people in the class couldn't write at all. Another group consisted of people who fancied themselves as writers (poets specifically), but who tended to come up with sentimental greeting card bilge.

I was in the third group.

We were the oddballs, the outcasts, the troublemakers, the bad boys. We were also, I'll add not so humbly, the only people in the class who could write so much as a fucking shopping list (although I now consider the short story I did for that class a piece of crap, and I hope the only surviving copies of it are those in my files).

There were four of us in this group. Most of us came to class either drunk, high, or both. I usually brought iced rum and Coke to class in a 36-ounce plastic mug, and made my best critical pronouncements while half in the bag.

One of the guys always came to class barefooted. Another tended to wear Joy Division or Black Flag T-shirts, while another favored blue denim jackets and Frye boots. I was going through my Faulkner period, and so usually showed up in a tweed jacket, rep tie, and khaki pants. But despite the fact I dressed like a "Kansas City faggot" (to quote Slim Pickens), these guys accepted me. They all knew me as a veteran of a thousand psychic wars, and recognized that my tongue was as sharp and my critical standards were as high as theirs were.

One Friday a month the professor would declare a "free day," where we could take a break from our usual graded work and bring in and read aloud anything we particularly liked, whether it was our work or the work of someone else.

One Friday, Reid, the barefoot dude, read some of the poetry of Jim Morrison. Now some of ol' Jim's poetry is excellent. And some of it is amateurish. But he was extremely well-read and drew inspiration from many great poets, especially the French Symbolists.

Well, the writer wannabes didn't know what to make of the Lizard King's verses. They acted ruffled, shocked. Their staid suburbanite sensibilities had been assaulted. And the professor went so far as chew Reid out for his selections, saying they were vulgar and in poor taste. I lost all respect for that professor because of that.

Reid was embarrassed and my friends and I were pissed off, so I decided I'd come back and rub everybody's nose in it.

The following month on the free day I brought in a copy of Baudelaire's "Fleurs du Mal," a work that had been a favorite of Jim Morrison's, and read poems about drinking and fucking and dying and a pus-filled, vampiric woman sucking a man's life force out of him through the act of sex. The class and the professor were awe-struck, impressed with the imagery, the technique, and the language. But I pointed out that Baudelaire covered much of the same material in the 19th century that Morrison covered in the 20th, in just as graphic a manner, and added that Baudelaire was one of Jim Morrison's idols, along with Rimbaud and several others.

Nobody had much to say after that, but my buddies in the literary leper colony all had big smirks across their faces.

And needless to say, the professor didn't publish any of my little group's work in his magazine.

 
At 8:22 PM, Blogger TripleJ said...

Wow.

 
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