Save the Cat!

“I think we can learn so much from other disciplines…”

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder is a book about screenwriting


And what does screenwriting have to do with business and life? I’d like to submit that there’s a huge parallel between our businesses, our lives and screenwriting based on this “Bible” of screenwriting that I learned about in a… wait for it… novel-writing workshop a few years ago.

Why the parallel?
Let’s just start with the first three chapter titles.

  1. What is it?
  2. Give me the same thing… only different.
  3. It’s about a guy who …

The chapters build on the idea of having a successful formula for creating the screenplay including the characters, the storyline, the pitch, the marketing, the writing, testing, etc. that are rules that cannot be broken. Our businesses have (need) some unbroken tenets.

Three-act plays are important only because the rule of three is dang strong. Example: Youth. Middle Age. Old Age. Another: Product life cycles: New, rising to a peak, and fading.

Character arcs: What does your company start as? How does it grow and then change? What are the “bookends” the opening and closing images that we can see about your company? What do YOU see? Can you apply that idea to your life?

Beats. What is the heartbeat of your company? What happens when? Is it on schedule and according to plan? Snyder lays out fifteen beats that define the screenplay. What are those for a company? A life?

The promise of the premise (a.k.a “What is it?”) has to appear on every page, in every scene, in all parts of your company, in all the stages of your life. You’re delivering what your website says, what your promotions promise, and what your families expect.

Okay. It’s a stretch. But people who buy from companies want to like the company and they want to think that, given the chance, the company would save the cat.


ALSO, I think we can learn so much from other disciplines. And from what I’ve seen, this is one of the better books for anyone wanting to write a screenplay. Besides. It’s funny.

Save a cat today.

Fill in the Blanks to Get Unstuck

… while they were totally safe, they were also totally stuck

The _______ (person or persons) chose not to go to the _________ (place) with their _________(another person or persons). It was a scary venture. [Cold. Steep. Deep.] (Pick one or add one of your own).

Instead, the ________ (person) stayed in a ______ (different place) where it was __________. [Warm. Quiet. Shallow.] (Pick one or add one of your own).

After a while, the ______ (person) looked out the window [portal, bars, door, etc.] of the ________ (place) to see what s/he was missing.

It had been a mistake not to go, of course, because . . .

while they were totally safe, they were also totally stuck.

Which would you rather be?

Focus & “Workus Interruptus”

I am listening to a Headspace meditation series on Focus this week. My middle name is “distractible.” You too?! We all struggle to stay on task with everyone and their brother or sister clamoring for our attention.

Wait… what’s that over there? A shiny object!
The to-do list calls. “Yoo-hoo. You forgot something.”
I add Something. Capital ‘S’? Little ‘s’? Either way, is it necessary? Did I stop what I was doing? YAASSS! :angry:

Workus interruptus. It’s a new Latin term recently resurrected from the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California. Really. Just last week. You didn’t hear about it? WI as they called it to save time was brand new back in the day just after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the Latin speakers then (yes, there were a few) coined the term. A careless tourist to Los Angeles dropped the WI write-up while visiting the area that is now the La Brea Tar Pits, where the dinosaur bones were buried in the muck.

No one wanted to go in to fish out the term at the time, and WI only reinserted itself into the lexicon as the tectonic plates shifted ever so slightly, bubbling new tar and the term workus interruptus to the surface. Last week. It was in the news.

What a find!

[P.S. Spell Check is having a FIT right now. “Fix it. Fix it!” she says underlining furiously. I think she’s having a fainting ‘spell.’]

The Headspace app does not mention this phenomenon directly. But it does mention, of course, the importance of being aware of distractions and interruptions. One of the tricks Andy Puddicombe (the founder of Headspace) mentions is clearing your workspace. Think “Outer Order, Inner Calm” as in Gretchen Rubin’s book.

So, I will busy myself cleaning my desk drawers. Talk about workus interruptus!?!? :slight_smile:

Spell check has given up. :woman_shrugging:

The Truth?

“If you don’t have the experience of something you’re not at liberty to write about it.”

Do you agree?

Can I tell if I’m telling my truth? Am I writing for an audience that I’m trying to impress? Am I trying to impress you right now?

Here’s what I want you to know: I struggle to tell the truth because sometimes I don’t know what it is until I write about it. Which… is probably why I write.

What’s the truth?

In recalling from altMBA that we are all irrational, I can assure myself that even if I think I’m telling the truth, I’m probably not. Or maybe, it’s my truth today, but it will be different tomorrow. Is that possible? Does truth change day-to-day?

Do you want the truth? “You can’t handle the truth,” Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie A Few Good Men. The truth can remind me of something. It may remind me of hurt. I don’t know. Or happiness? OR wishes, that are not the truth… just wishful thinking.

Here’s the thing: Stuff “above the fold” or at the top of the iceberg above the water may or may not be the truth. The stuff below is the ‘truth-y’ stuff. And I should go there more often to write my truth, even if it hurts, and maybe even if I have not experienced it directly. Is that cheating?

Flamenco? Olé!

I had a silly, wide grin on my face the whole time behind my mask… I was happy.

I attended my first in-person Flamenco class last night since March 2020.

And.
It.
Was.
Awesome.

I had a silly, wide grin on my face the whole time behind my mask, but I saw it in my eyes in the mirror. I was happy.

I danced ballet starting when I was five, but alas, dancing in toe shoes eight years later was my undoing. Call it “Achilles Toes.” It was not for my feet. Then, six years ago, I discovered flamenco. And I was horrible at first. Then, little by little, I learned to shift my weight. Move my feet. Connect my arms, legs, and hands, wear flowers in my hair, and big ruffly skirts! And we dancing ‘flamencas’ are connected in our earnest endeavor to master that which is as old as the gypsies and dates back to India centuries ago.

When was the last time you tried something for the first time? Well, flamenco may not be your cup of tea, but I liked it. What did you do when you were five that you could do now? Or something related? Have FUN!!! Grin with your whole body. Oh, and sweat too. :slight_smile:

Retaliation

“Is it growing, Mom?” Tony said, concern in his voice.

* (The name of this painting is “California Street.” See below for artist and detailed publishing information.)

Retaliation in Red

A Short Story

            No one knew how the red spots got there. They just appeared one day, and they were spreading. People’s brains were worn thin from trying to figure it out. The spots grew on the street and slid up along the walls. Sometimes it got in your hair if you weren’t careful.
            Mildred Lee took her ten-year-old son Tony to the cable car that day. As she dropped him near the cable car stop it seemed there were more red dots on the streets than last week and even more than yesterday.
             “Is­­­­­­­ it growing, Mom?” Tony said, concern in his voice.
              “I don’t know,” she said glancing at her watch. “But I gotta run or I’m going to be late for work. Hop on the cable car and I’ll see you tonight, Honey.”

But she would not see him as he was that morning. No. Tony ran after the cable car, but he didn’t reach it because he slipped on the red goo and got a mild concussion. When he woke up he was in a land far away. It was red. The sun was red. Tony’s clothes were red. His hair and skin were red. The people around him were red. They wore red clothes. Bright red. Cinnamon apple red. He was afraid at first, but then, he realized it must be some joke his friends had played on him. He was not hurt. And the color would wash off. He was sure of it. The people seemed friendly enough but they smelled funny, so he wanted to leave right away, but how?

Tony seemed to have found a way out of the red city, because the next thing he knew he was standing outside his home.


            “Hi, Mom,” Tony said, skipping into the house through the kitchen door. Tony’s mom fainted. Who faints anymore? Well, she did.

She came to with smelling salts that Tony’s dad administered. He whiffed some himself.

“What happened to you?” both Tony’s parents said at the exact same time.

“I don’t know. I was running toward the cable car and I slipped. When I woke up, I was in another place. And I was red. But then I fell asleep again and I woke up outside the house, but I was still red.”

“Well, I hope this washes off,” Tony’s mom said, licking her thumb and rubbing it on the back of Tony’s arm. Nothing changed. Tony was still red. Very, very red.

“Tony! Who did this to you?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s kind of cool,” Tony said admiring his face in the dining room mirror.

“It’s not cool because it’s not washing off. I’m calling the school.”

Tony scratched his red head with his red fingers. “I never made it to school that I remember.”

“What? Where were you?” Tony’s dad said. “Now don’t make up stories.”

 “The place was different. Like, the people there were red, and the buildings and streets were red.” He paused. “Even the dogs were red.”

“Maybe you slipped and passed out. You were dreaming is all. Now let’s see if we can get this off you. Come with me, young man,” Tony’s mom said. Then to her husband, she said, “Call the Sedgwick’s.  Their son is in Tony’s class. See if he was at school.”

While Tony’s mom scrubbed Tony’s skin with every thing from spot remover to cleanser and steel wool, Tony’s dad had called five other kids’ parents. It took several tries as the lines were busy. Finally it was determined that out of those five, the three children who were anywhere near that particular cable car line were red. All reported going to the same strange place where Tony went where people, clothes, and dogs were red. And all the children had remained red with no amount of washing that would alleviate the stain. The children peed red.
           Finally Tony’s mom stopped scrubbing. Tony was crying. She was crying. And the next morning Tony’s mom and dad were red, along with everyone else in San Francisco. The lobsters had retaliated. But they didn’t like the taste of humans, so they let them live.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* Please note: Do you see the red spots on the street? The story popped upon the page from this wonderful piece of art! This post is a pure fantasy riff on the above painting in the book Bay Area Scene Paintings by Gordon T. McClelland & Austin D. McClelland, Copyright 2018. No disrespect is intended.

Page in Book: Page 26 and Cover

Artist: Jade Fon

Title: California Street

Year: 1950s

Media: Watercolor and gouache

Book Description: Looking down California Street from Nob Hill with China Town on the right side, the business district down below and a section of the Bay Bridge is visible through the towering canyon of buildings.

A FAMILY VISIT UNDER “COVIDITY”

… take the road less travelled

The four of us hesitated as if to say, “Is this a good idea?”

In their eyes, I saw their questions. “Are they safe? Are we?” We, too, had doubts.

Our little family had taken showers, washed our hair, and used hand sanitizer. The wait was over. I went first, and I hugged our older son, inhaling his shampoo-fresh scent. I didn’t cry.

Then I hugged his wife. We held back our tears, but I’m not sure why.

My husband hugged our son and then our daughter-in-law. Finally, we stood apart and took in with a reverent silence that these were our first human contacts outside our spouses since March 16, 2020, three and a half months ago.

Our fear-stiffened bodies surrendered. Our Covid stoicism breathed a tentative sigh of relief, wondering if before-Covid behavior could be trusted. There was only one rational thing to do.

“Fuggedaboudit.”

And, that’s what we did.

Pop quiz. What do you do when family comes to town? RIGHT! You eat. And so, we cooked, and boy did we eat well! One night we had barbecued chicken slathered in a sweet-spicy sauce. Coleslaw with mayo/yogurt dressing. Corn salad with surprising roasted hazelnuts! Who knew?  What a treat. Wait. I almost forgot to tell you. I made a turkey. We had Thanksgiving dinner in July with stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy. We had leftovers for days. Sandwiches with turkey and avocado on homemade sourdough oat bread. Turkey tacos with salsa, black beans, cheese, and piquant guacamole. Burgers. Hot dogs. Sweet potato fries.

We had a full week together. Over our many delicious meals, we shared what we knew had changed. The pandemic had forced us to revise our futures in ways never before imagined. We used to wake up with some silvery expectation—a chocolate raspberry smell in the mornings that today was going to be wonderful, and tomorrow “wonderfuller” still.  We didn’t know any better. We thought our pretty purple petunia patch would be there next week. Next month.

Now, we realize the idea of planning has sharp edges. The round world looks flat. The melty chocolate chip cookies from yesterday could be a bread loaf now, baking in a neighbor’s oven. And that was only if they were lucky enough to find flour. Or yeast.

We could go down that road. Yes, we could. But, we could take the road less travelled by where we sign up for wet happiness in a paradise of waterfalls. The conscious mind lets us reimagine our lives—revise our reality—with a fresh inhale, and a subtle exhale that reminds us that we can choose how to respond. We have the power to react. Or not.

Man, it’s a scary power! But, I’ll take it because right now, I need it.

So, how are you doing with reclaiming your power? Revising your reality? You’re doing okay? Awesome. Yay you.

Travel List: Stuff to Leave at Home

Wait… there’s lots of stuff to leave at home. This is a different list. Best news: It’s short.

  1. Fear
  2. Habits
  3. Anger
  4. Judgment/criticism
  5. Impatience
  6. Myth of control
  7. Expectations
  8. Vanity
  9. Unnecessaries
  10. Colds, flus, bugs
  11. Preconceptions
  12. Work and worries
  13. Frowns
  14. Aches and pains
  15. Finicky eating

Oh, and towel elephants can be left at home, too, even if they’re cute.

Best Travel List

If you pack these items you will always have a good time, wherever you go, in any season of the year.

  1. A sense of humor
  2. Curiosity
  3. Patience
  4. A sense of direction
  5. Reliable systems
  6. Sleep
  7. Something to read
  8. Something to write in and with
  9. Bravery
  10. Presence
  11. A positive attitude
  12. Snacks
  13. Your memory
  14. Listening skills
  15. Openness

The best part: you don’t even need a suitcase.

Skipping Out

Skipping Rocks in the Pacific Ocean

Off Season

Craving fresh air, we head to the beach on a particularly fine winter day in Southern California. We do not go often, and yet we live within a 30-minute drive. The beach this day is gloriously empty.

The best part about the ocean is that she doesn’t change much. She’s so rare. And yet she doesn’t care. But to be fair, there’s so much to spare, whether it’s this ocean here or an ocean anywhere, she’s just there.

Take off your shoes and roll up your jeans. Approach the water like a merchant marine. Start with one toe, and then dip the other nine. After a while, you will feel sublime. You might pick up a rock, and taking a firm grip, toss it sideways and count the skips. My brother was good. He could do five or six.

On Season

The beaches are crowded in the summer months. Oh, and parking is diabolically difficult. The locals know to carpool and to come early.

If you go in the summer, you’ll see wall-to-wall sunbathers, families, boys, girls, men, and women. Umbrellas of all sizes, shapes, and colors dot the beach. People mostly just hang out. Read. Play. Talk. Eat. Relax. Seagulls hang around trying to look bored but give themselves away when a morsel of food drops. “Mine, mine, mine,” they seem to say. The best idea is to stay out of their way.

If the wind is just right, you might see kites fluttering in the sky. Don’t you like kites?

Be ready to smile as you watch the children splashing and playing in the waves. They don’t seem to feel the cold or get tired of being sandy, salty, and wet. I miss being a kid.

Any Time

Almost any time of the year at certain posted beaches, you’ll see big dogs, little dogs, and medium-sized dogs of all kinds, on and off leash. It’s a sniffer’s heaven. They all seem to love being at the ocean.

We think the ocean doesn’t care. But she secretly likes visitors. I think so, or why would she be so inviting all the time? She even likes surfers.

Skip out sometime. Take your dog, your kids, and anyone else that needs a nature hit down to the nearest ocean. Or a lake. Or a park. Skip out. Take a break. It’ll do you some good.

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com