Last weekend I did end up seeing two movies after all, but rather than seeing Wall Street and The Town, I replaced The Town with The Social Network. Between WS and TSN, I would rate TSN as the better movie. Both took significant liberties with the real-life facts. In fact, as I discovered on Monday morning, Wall Street really went all the way, because Gordon Gekko is a completely fictional character! I'm rather red-faced about not knowing this previously, but I'm also pretty sure I'm not the only one who believed the WS story was based on a real person named Gordon Gekko. You know, if Jay Leno had come up to me on the street and asked "What real-life historical figure said 'Greed is good?'" and I had said "Gordon Gekko," the people watching in the studio would have been nodding along thinking "Yes, that's actually correct." Then again, maybe I really am in the minority here, and right now I'm just embarrassing myself...
If there is one word I would use to identify the theme of both movies, it is "ambition." Certainly the ambition on display takes a different form between the two movies, but it is definitely there in both. In Wall Street, it is the kind of ambition people are most familiar with: business executives making money. Men (primarily) with expensive tastes, expensive hobbies, and a never-ending supply of cash to pay for these expensive things. The core competency (to use an HR term) of these men is making money. It is what they are good at doing. Everything about these men projects an image: the suits, the cars, the quality of the whiskey they drink, their haircuts, their offices. In contrast, the characters in The Social Network don't worry about any of these things. They are also very good at making money, but it is because of some other core competency they possess, like computer programming. Bill Gates is super-wealthy, but I doubt that he thinks too much about the way his handkerchief sits in his coat pocket.
Personally, I like the development of Facebook, at least considering the fact that we're no longer communicating via pen and paper now. Why do I like Facebook? Because it increases text-based communication. People commonly talk about how everyone is texting these days, rapidly two-thumbing out their vital messages, not watching where they're going. But this is okay. In fact, it represents the next evolution. People are finally wising up and realizing that talking on the phone sucks.
I understand the appeal of the cell phone - that you can call someone up at any time to chat. But I've never been able to engage in this sort of spontaneous communication. No, my phone calls are intricately choreographed. The greeting, the opening topic of conversation, the questions to pose, the wind-down, and the salutation - all planned. My planning usually consists of about 30 minutes of mental preparation, an initial rough draft of the conversation, edits, rewriting, laughter, anger, another draft, a moment of breakthrough insight, the final draft, and then 30 more minutes of mental preparation (basically a pep talk before hitting 'send'). If possible, I'll practice in front of a mirror. Once I'm actually talking on the phone, there isn't so much a focus on what's being said, or how the other person sounds, or the information being shared. The focus is on getting out alive. It's like one of those situations in a movie where someone is running for their life, and they know they'll be okay if they can just get through that door ahead of them. Much like the person in the movie, once I've finished the call I need to take a breather and wipe the sweat from my forehead.
Of course, the person on the other end never knows this. All they hear is "Hey, what's up! Yea, things are going great! Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah." Cool as can be. I don't let my racing heart affect the tone of my voice at all. The choreography is key in achieving this.
Probably a common question going back and forth among folks on their cell phones right now is "What are going to do for a Halloween costume?" 'Tis the season, you know. Well, you should know from the preceding paragraph that you should not call me to talk about this, for the love of God. Instead, I'll proactively share some thoughts with you right now...
It seems that the truly great costumes are actually "group costumes," where you go out with a group of friends and dress up according to some theme, like the cast of a show or as figures from some event. A basic example would be a group of friends going out as various past presidents of the United States. Sure, you could go solo as George Washington, but wouldn't it be far better to go as Washington in the company of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and Kennedy? Too bland for you? Then go as something a bit more creative, like characters from Kellogg's cereal boxes. You're sure to draw some attention and approving nods if you walk into the bar as a group dressed as the Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes, Dig 'Em Frog from Smacks, Toucan Sam from Fruit Loops, Cap'n Crunch, and Count Chocula! And then order skim milk at the bar. If you really want to make people stop and think about what they're seeing, go with the group theme that needs all elements to truly make sense. Any archaeologists out there? Get your buddies together and dress up (or down) as the Evolution Of Man (you know, the classic chart showing each evolutionary link?). Hot chick: What are you supposed to be? You: Australopithecus, and I'll have another gin & tonic. Bam. It would suck to be the guy all bent over at the beginning of the chain though.
Of course, you can always fly solo if you've got a great idea for a single costume. Although I'm sure it's been done many times before, it really cracked me up one year when I saw a guy dressed as Santa Claus. I've heard that the #1 girl's costume this year will be Lady GaGa, although it seems that this could take any number of forms.
Why is it that guys never have an "in" costume? Let me answer: Because of the great dance of mating. Males in the animal kingdom must demonstrate intellectual superiority to get mates in many situations, and Halloween is no different. At Halloween, intellect is demonstrated by the male's creativity in coming up with an original and humorous costume. Girls, on the other hand, simply need to look physically attractive, with no real incentive for creativity. At some point I'd like a girl to be totally honest about the goal, you know? Here's how the conversations would be different: Instead of this...
You: Your costume is really slutty.
Girl: Yea, it's a good Cleopatra, isn't it?!
...you'd have this...
You: Your costume is really slutty.
Girl: Yea, I dressed up as a slut this year.
You: You nailed it. Great costume.
Probably the most classic solo costume is the comic book figure. Superman, Batman, Spiderman. There are many good options. But this year I'm thinking about doing one that probably hasn't been used too many times. The costume will consist of the traditional cape, spandex pants, and colorful boots. Those elements will be accompanied by a shirt unbuttoned half-way down, a gold chain, and my hair dyed black, with lots of gel. Do you have the mental image formed yet? That's right. I'll be going as an Italian Hero.