Posts in Essays
Music As a Soul Refresher

was a teenager when Paul McCartney released a single called Let ‘Em In. I was a huge Beatles fan, and enjoyed Paul’s solo work, too - but I hated that song. At the risk of sounding like some intellectual snob, the song was just plain dumb. Consider the lyric: “Someone’s knocking at the door, somebody’s ringing the bell. Do me a favor. Open the door, and let ‘em in.”

C’mon, man. I know Macca wrote some silly tunes in his day (the guy actually released a version of Mary Had A Little Lamb, for chrissakes) but my initial reaction was that he was using his superstardom to just put out anything - really, anything - and his name would sell it.

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No new ideas? Or just low expectations?

Oh goody, there’s a new entry in the Superman/Batman movie series. The third Divergent film debuted last week. The seventh Star Wars movie splashed in December.

Scan the top twelve box office hits of 2015 and you’ll see that nine of them were sequels, reboots, or retreads. Two others were animated hits aimed at kids. That leaves one - one!  - non-cartoon film in the top dozen that was an original idea (The Martian, based on Andy Weir’s fantastic and fun novel).

This likely will launch a new round of complaints that there are no new ideas coming out of Hollywood.

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Solitude and Creativity

There are few things that make me cringe more than receiving notice of an upcoming “brainstorming” meeting. What the notice should say is, “Please join our group as we stare at each other and accomplish little.”

I’m sure there have been some great ideas that have sprung from these sessions, and there likely are constructive ways to collectively dream up a winner. But I’m an advocate for getting away from the group in order to truly stimulate creativity.

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First, Write

We live in an age where promotional hype outshines almost everything else. It has trickled down from national television programs to just about every creative outlet in the country. And, with the explosion - and undeniable power - of social media, it’s now easier than ever to hype a message to thousands - sometimes even millions - with a click or two.

But an important ingredient is often left out of the cake that eager artists are trying to bake: Good content.

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Boys and Books

A teacher at an elementary school invited me to speak to her students. I looked at the school’s web site and saw that, between administration and faculty, there were forty-two people employed there.

Three were men.

I was asked to speak at a teen literature conference, where the focus was on getting kids interested in reading. The conference committee was made up of sixteen people.

None of whom was male.

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Being Found Out

He’s a giant in the music business, the second-wealthiest entertainer in the world, worth more than half-a-billion dollars. His songs are adored and downloaded by people on every continent, from age 10 to 110. He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest composers of all time.

And yet, in a recent interview, he said he suffers from the same insecurity that many others admit to. Specifically, as he put it, he’s afraid of “being found out.” In other words, someday people will perhaps share the same doubts about his work that linger in his own mind and the game will be up. He won’t be able to fool anyone any longer.

And who is this alleged con artist? Paul McCartney.

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The Quality Queue

Many years ago Bruce Springsteen released a song called “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On).” It was a rare flop for the Jersey rocker, perhaps because it was a little too obvious. He wasn’t telling us anything we didn’t know.

Television at that time seemed like nothing more than a wasteland of poor writing and even worse acting, a sludge pot of desperation, trying every trick and gimmick to lure a potential audience of millions, an audience made up mostly of adults exhausted after another dreary day at work, along with millions of teenagers open to almost anything that moved and spoke.

With a few exceptions, TV generally sucked.

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Six Square Inches

Not long ago some family members took me to Sea World, which is required by law for tourists on their first visit to San Diego or San Antonio. (In Orlando you’re allowed an exemption only if you can prove you spent $1000 at Disney World.)

During the dolphin show, we gasped at the remarkable skills displayed by these gorgeous animals, marveled at the incredible training which must go into every production, and fought off dehydration with oversized sodas.

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EssaysDom Testa Comments
The Positive Password

I was asked to re-post this article, a piece that I penned about two years ago. It's just as timely today - and hopefully just as helpful. - Dom

Brian had an argument with his wife one morning, just before going to work. By the time he arrived at the office his feelings had already meandered this way and that, alternating between anger, frustration, and - finally - regret.

Sitting at his desk, he logged on to his computer and stared at the screen. Like many companies, security demanded that employees change their password every 45 days, and the pop-up notice informed him that today was the day.

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The Human Network

n their song “Child of Vision,” the band Supertramp rattled off a quick line that is simple in structure, but profound in its message.

You watch the television, because it tells you that you should.

I used to laugh when I found myself, glassy-eyed, scrolling through an endless assortment of satellite TV channels, the guide spinning through line after line of options. Like most people, I’d been fooled into thinking that this continuous string of networks represented a bounty of choices for me. But, in reality, the choice began and ended when I hit POWER.

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