The holidays are a time for Mindi Abair to jam with the fam.
“Christmas was a chance for my family to all be together, which was a very cool thing; my dad was a touring musician, so he was on the road a lot,” she said. “We’d just sit around and play and it was really fun. I’d play sax, my dad would play piano, and my grandmother would sing. It was just a cool holiday tradition.”
Abair has added another seasonal tradition – touring with guitarist Peter White and trumpeter Rick Braun.
“Peter White asked me, it’s now been six years ago, if I wanted to go out and do a Christmas tour with him,” Abair said during a phone interview from her Hollywood home. “I’m such a dork when it comes to Christmas – I love everything that’s around it. So obviously having written a few songs of my own about Christmas, I said yes, and we’ve done it every year since.”
Braun brought his brass and joined the holiday tour a year later. The trio released a disc, “Peter White Christmas with Mindi Abair and Rick Braun,” in 2007. The CD features two songs written by Abair – “The Best Part of Christmas” and “I Can’t Wait for Christmas.”
“I kind of put everything into ‘I Can’t Wait for Christmas’ that Christmas was to me. I watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ every year, so there’s a line with Jimmy Stewart. I love to bake pies, so there’s a line with a home-baked apple pie in it,” the saxophonist and singer-songwriter said. “It turned out pretty kitschy. It’s not your tearjerker holiday song; it definitely gets a few laughs.”
Abair, White and Braun will bring their festive, jazzy show to the Valentine Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Tickets are $47, $39 and $35.
“For this show, it’s about half of our own music and half Christmas music, and we all play on each other’s music,” Abair said.
Her latest effort, “Stars,” was released in May. Although it’s her fourth disc, the female horn player feels she still needs to prove herself.
“There’s a lot of speculation whether being black or white or a woman or a man or young or old holds you back from doing what you want to do in life and/or music. I think our presidential race just showed it’s a pretty level playing field. I’ve always come from the perspective that if you really work hard, if you’re good at what you do, if you prove yourself, then it is a level playing field,” Abair said. “But I think being a woman or any type of minority, you have to prove yourself more.
“Definitely, when I walk out on a stage if no one has ever seen me play or heard me before, there’s no expectation that I can play,” she said. “I actually did a concert years ago, I was playing with [guitarist] Jonathan Butler, and my mom was sitting in the audience and the lady next to my mom when I walked on stage she goes, ‘What is that skinny little white bitch doing on stage?’ And my mom just cowered in her seat. And by the end of the song I played, people were on their feet, and the lady stood up and screamed, ‘You go, you skinny little white bitch!’ She was my biggest fan after that.
“But I think that as a woman, you do have to prove yourself more, and you can either look at that as a bad thing or you can kind of view it as a quest and have some fun with it,” she said.
For more information about Abair, visit www.mindiabair.com.
Archive for November, 2008
The holidays are a time for Mindi Abair to jam with the fam.
For 20 years, cubicle drone Dilbert has focused his pupil-less eyes on the world of offices and business. Before Ricky Gervais, Mike Judge and Steve Carell, Dilbert pointed out the dysfunction and contradiction in the workplace.
Creator Scott Adams lived the MBA dream just long enough to get a taste for the illogical dynamics that sometimes power American business. His comic strip is published by more than 2,000 newspapers; more than 20 million “Dilbert” books and calendars have been sold, and “Dilbert” is the most widely read comic on the Internet.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, a 600-page hardcover book, “Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert,” collects more than 2,000 annotated strips and comes with a DVD that includes every “Dilbert” cartoon from 1989 to April 2008. Adams, who has recovered from a vocal cord condition that left him without the ability to speak, spoke to Toledo Free Press Nov. 19 from his California home.
Toledo Free Press: Your voice sounds strong.
Scott Adams: Yeah, it’s like a miracle. You cannot imagine it. Whatever you think it was like, it was worse.
TFP: Are you under restrictions? No Christmas caroling this year?
Adams: I haven’t tried to scream yet. I don’t have any medical restrictions, but there are things I can’t do that will come back to me over the course of the year.
TFP: The book is a thorough and thoughtful collection. How long has it been in the making?
Adams: I got a phone call sometime about this time last year, where my publisher said, “We would like to come up and talk to you.” And I thought, “Huh, I wonder what this is about,” because they don’t usually fly out; usually they do stuff by telephone. So, I knew they were going to ask me to do something that wasn’t going to be easy. We got together in January 2008, and they said they wanted to do this, but it’s going to be a god-awful amount of work and an impossibly short time frame. Not only did I want to do it, I wanted to do extra. So we pumped it out in the first several months of this year.
TFP: Did you revisit all the strips and read them all again? That must have been a journey of introspection for you.
Adams: Yeah, I had to reread every comic several times and pick the ones I thought belonged in the book, and was there any story behind them, or were there good examples of something. I had forgotten so many of them, so I got to read them just like a consumer. So I read them and if I laughed, I figured maybe somebody else would laugh. It was a strange experience.
TFP: What lessons returned to you as reviewed the strips?
Adams: One of the skills of a cartoonist, and one I didn’t learn until maybe 1993 or so, several years after I had started, is that the things I think are funny are very different from the things my readers think are funny. I got that advice from Bill Keane, who does “Family Circus.” I was giving a talk one time to a bunch of newspaper editors, and he stood up after my talk and said, “You are what I call a cartoonist’s cartoonist. You make cartoons that would only appeal to other cartoonists.”
When he said it, it just made me mad, because he was one of the big fish in the pond, and I was just starting out and I thought he was just stomping on me, but over time it became the best advice I’ve ever gotten professionally.
Because I learned when I started putting my e-mail address on the strip, people would write to me and tell me which ones they liked and which ones they didn’t. I learned that there was just a huge difference between the ones I thought were funny and ones the public thought were funny and that was his point. I can write a comic that I know will appeal to other people. It doesn’t ring my bell as much as it does theirs. That’s a skill you develop over time. And the comics that don’t make it are because those cartoonists haven’t recognized that difference.
TFP: As you celebrate the anniversary and look back on 20 years, is there a danger in that nostalgia, in maybe getting too caught up in where you’ve been, or has the experience renewed your energy as you move forward?
Adams: You do get a little trapped in your own success. I can’t do anything too wild with the characters because people expect them to be a certain way, do certain things. But there’s also a benefit, like “Seinfeld” in season five, for example. They don’t have to explain who George is. He can just be George.
TFP: Twenty years in, how is your mental process with coming up with fresh ideas? Are you still having fun?
Adams: It’s somewhere like a weird mix of fun, addiction and job. If somebody said to you, “It’s your job from now on to eat ice cream,” that first reaction is “Woo-hoo, my job is eating ice cream!” Then the second thing they say is, “You have to eat a barrel a day. It would be fun if there was less of it. What makes it a job is that there is a certain amount you have to produce.
TFP: In the book’s introduction you talk about the great influence Charles Schulz and “Peanuts” had on you. Did you ever get to meet him?
Adams: Yeah, I actually did. We lived in the same general part of California.
I met him once when I first got my contract, when I went to a gathering of cartoonists. He just walked in the door, and my manager, who is also his editor, introduced us and I practically crapped my pants. At that point I had never even had a cartoon published. I still remember what my girlfriend at the time said. “You know, I am your greatest fan,” she said. He looked at her and he said, “You know, when people say, ‘I’m your greatest fan,’ I always wonder, what makes you so great?” Then he excused himself and walked away.
TFP: Have you ever used that line on a fan?
Adams: Not yet. You have to have a certain Charles Schulz aura. But after that, I had lunch with him once and talked to him on the phone once or twice. We had a casual connection.
TFP: What did Schulz think of “Dilbert”?
Adams: When Dilbert first came out, I heard he hated it, mostly because it was so poorly drawn. But over time, he handed me one of the best compliments. He said I knew how to “draw funny,” which is different from drawing well. And it’s a distinction that, coming from him, means a lot.
TFP: Will we ever see another 50-year career like Schulz had in comics?
Adams: You never want to say you’ll never see something, but the nature of newspapers has changed and there’s so much competing media that probably no one can could ever capture that much of the market like he did.
TFP: Now that you’re married, is there any temptation to show more of Dilbert’s home life, maybe take him into a similar domestic situation?
Adams: That’s exactly the type of thing that you get locked into with success. You change it too much and you start losing the people that liked him because he was what he was. A lot of my audience is guys who are engineers and in technology, and the vast majority of my people are not, you know, lucky in love. To me it’s always funnier if Dilbert has a never-ending series of girlfriends, but I don’t rule it out. It’s entirely possible. Someday it might happen.
TFP: Do you see your influence in “awkward workplace” shows such as “The Office?”
Adams: Well, you know, I can never be so egotistical as to say that these people must have looked at my work for influence. I wouldn’t go that far. Because Dagwood worked in the office too, so I’m not the first. It would be hard to say I was an influence. Ricky Gervais and Steve Carell are literally geniuses and they bring something to it.
TFP: What happened to the “ultimate cubicle” you had built?
Adams: It was dismantled. The problem there is, the entire purpose of the cubicle was originally to give workers some flexibility, have their work style meet their needs, with more storage, less storage, make it a U or L shape, whatever works, but companies saw cubicles and said, “Hey, if we make everyone of them just alike, we can save a lot of money. It started as a noble idea, largely to benefit the workers to give them better work space, and it turns into a cost-saving idea.
TFP: Is there someplace where you collect all the Dilbert merchandise and memorabilia?
Adams: I have a storage facility that has just tons of stuff in there, everything from press clippings to all my books, and now in my office, I have tons of stuff in my closet so, it’s kind of spread over a few different places.
TFP: Is there any proposed Dilbert product you turned down?
Adams: Dilbert lingerie.
Adams: Yeah, and there was a request for Dilbert ash trays. We’ve had a number of licensing requests from fast food places, burger places, but I’m a vegetarian, so although Dilbert is not one, I just didn’t feel like getting behind it, so I don’t mind if anybody eats meat, I just didn’t feel like it.
TFP: Any chance the Dilberito will return?
Adams: I don’t think it will be returning. The problem was that I was a little fish in a big industry, and crime is such a huge problem even with the big vendors, the household names. They were thieves. I’ve worked at a lot of businesses and a lot of places, but this industry is unique in that there are crooks. You have to be pretty big to deal with that, and it was just more than I could bite off.
TFP: How will comics like “Dilbert” evolve as daily newspapers continue to decline and disappear?
Adams: “Dilbert” is already the biggest syndicated comic on the Internet, and that’s been true for a long time. We’re very aggressive; we’ve got the widgets, and we’ve got the mash ups where you can make your own punchlines. We’re already on cell phones and will obviously move into them more. And if you have an iPhone, you can look at the Web site and read the comics. My BlackBerry and the iPhone and most of the phones that will come out in the next generation, Dilbert will be there.
Scott Adams blogs here.
My friend wears Cleveland Browns regalia; her car’s rear bumper is bejeweled
with a “Go Browns” decal, and there are ceremonial Browns objects in her place of residence. Just mention the name Brady Quinn in passing and it instigates this radiant response: “Isn’t he just adorable?”
“Adorable?” Think that would fly in the Dawg Pound?
How about some of the other glowing descriptions we’ve come across in regard to
quarterback Quinn, things such as “runway model” and “pop idol.” Think members of the Browns’ end-zone canine culture, happy to gnaw on bogus bones and raucously howl and growl at anything derogatory concerning the Browns, will go that far in lionizing what had been their new hero?
Why not? It appears the Dawgs run the kennel in Cleveland.
Maybe it’s a moot point now with Quinn ruled out for the season because of a broken right index finger.
“Adorable” became rather deplorable Nov. 23. He was replaced late in the third quarter by former starter Derek Anderson, who was equally inefficient as the Browns lost at home to Houston and a quarterback named Sage Rosenfels. Honest.
Pound people can be proud that a totally frustrated Quinn said he didn’t know he was on such a “short leash” following his banishment Nov. 23.
The short version of the recent life and times of Brady Quinn is a microcosm of the folly that is the Browns’ front office.
Let’s go back to the start of last season. Remember Charlie Frye? He was the Browns’ starting quarterback in the season opener last year. Forget Charlie Frye. He was traded
two days later, after the Browns were humiliated for the eighth consecutive
time by Pittsburgh 34-7. It was the first time in NFL history that a starting quarterback in Week 1 was traded before Week 2.
Enter Anderson. I’m sure my friend, who God love her probably doesn’t know the difference between a fade route and faded jeans, thought Anderson was an absolute hunk compared to Frye.
After a 4-12 record in 2006, Anderson took the Browns to a 10-6 campaign last season. He was named to the Pro Bowl and got his coach, Romeo Crennel, a raise and contract extension, that latter of which will not reach next season and maybe not even next month.
The Browns in general and Anderson in particular struggled through the first four games of the current season. They lost to Dallas, Pittsburgh and Baltimore before beating Cincinnati. The boo-birds, led by the junkyard Dawgs, were letting it all hang out larynx-wise. They wanted Quinn as their starter. Those less dogmatic held up signs to state their beliefs, such as “It’s No Sin To Play Quinn,” and “Win With Quinn.”
But, alas, Browns general manager Phil Savage came to Anderson’s rescue with a vote of confidence, stating, “We’re going to ride it out.”
There wasn’t time to develop saddle sores. The Browns then defeated New York’s Giants, of all people, lost to Washington, beat Jacksonville and then lost to Baltimore again.
Again the cry went out for Quinn, the Dawg Pound taking on the disposition of pit bulls with hemorrhoids. If the move to Quinn didn’t prove anything else, it solidified the fact that Cleveland’s problems reach far beyond the QB. For instance, had wide receiver Braylon Edwards not dropped what looked like a sure touchdown pass against the Ravens a week earlier, Cleveland would have probably gone into its game against Denver 4-4 instead of 3-5 and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Quinn’s statistics are, at best, very mediocre, but he provides a glimmer of hope for a franchise that borders on total hopelessness.
If Quinn is going to spearhead the Browns’ future beautification project, it doesn’t make sense to bench him but still peddle him as your starter as Crennel did in an attempt to save his own hide.
Now we have a young quarterback who is totally confused, his confidence crushed and his ability to make amends terminated for this season. That can be much more difficult to overcome than just an unsatisfactory performance.
Nothing looks attractive in Cleveland from a football perspective, now not even, “adorable.”
As I was preparing myself for one of my favorite times of the year, the plethora of holiday cartoons like “Frosty the Snowman”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” I realized that one of these animated and claymation marvels has a lot to do with my Christmas of 2008.
You see, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” exactly captures some of how I feel about what the federal government has done to my upcoming holiday. Oh, there are differences of course, but by attempting to play Santa a few years back in forcing banks to put mortgages under the trees of people who couldn’t afford them, Congress in fact began to tip the dominoes that have painted the picture we begin to see all too clearly during this holiday season.
Unlike the Grinch character in this animated masterpiece (no offense to Jim Carrey, but I’ll take the original), it was not the government’s heart that was too small. In fact, it was quite the contrary. Government’s heart seems always to be three sizes too large when it comes to handing out presents (bought with other people’s money too of course). It is government’s brain that seems to be more than a bit undersized for the job required.
Never all that bright as individuals, politicians and bureaucrats seem to become positively idiotic when gathered in larger groups, (what is the term that should be used for this: gaggle, herd?). Never all that good at managing the taxpayer’s checkbook, they sometimes seem to be hell-bent on spending us into insolvency. Never all that able to handle their own responsibilities, they can’t help but try to interfere in other peoples, usually to mutual detriment.
Why even now, when its policies have caused so much turmoil and financial damage, it’s biggest concern seems to be finding ways, people and companies to give presents to and how grand that those gifts should be.
Normally, such behavior is simply a frustration and annoyance to me, a behavior that I would like them to stop, but not one that I let impact my day-to-day life.
This year, however, they have managed to create a perfect storm in the economy in their meddling that has and will affect the way I go about my own holiday giving. Backed into a corner by these pea-brained ne’er do wells during increasingly tougher financial conditions, I will undoubtedly be reducing the size of Christmas at the Higgins clan.
There will be less generosity at all levels of present purchasing, for no better reason than I will be forced to be more responsible than my government has been. Unlike government, I have neither the ability nor the right to print more money to solve my problems.
Neither do I have the opportunity to extort money from my fellow human beings to continue my spending at former levels. Like most of my fellow Americans, I am unwilling to do what government seems far too willing to do and go into further debt.
Have no fear, Cindy Lou Who, there will still be a tree with presents, though there may be a few less of them this year. There will still be lights and ribbons, candy canes and singing (some of them my own off-key efforts). And if I can find one, there will even still be a roast beast to carve. We may not invite the Grinch to dinner this year, however. He has proved to be a less than gracious guest, a nuisance who stays too long and a pest who eats and drinks too much.
Besides, he has already managed to take more than his fair share from us already and has stolen the Christmas that we would have otherwise had.
Tim Higgins blogs at http://justblowingsmoke.blogspot.com.
A Toledo company is giving music fans a more aesthetic concert souvenir option than an overpriced, barely worn T-shirt destined to take up real estate on the bottom of a dresser drawer.
Designers at Madhouse, a graphic arts firm located Downtown on Jackson Street, has begun creating and selling concert posters for rock shows in the region. In the past couple of years, Madhouse designers have done posters for bands such as Wilco, The Black Keys, Crowded House, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Blitzen Trapper. Printings generally run from 50 to 400 posters, which Madhouse designers sell at the shows for $10 to 20 a piece (also available for sale on the company’s Web site, www.madmadmad.com under the “Capital A” link).
Madhouse graphic designer Alana Twelmeyer was drawn to concert posters in 2006 after working five years at the independent music store Finders Records in Bowling Green and Findlay.
“That kind of gave me my inspiration,” she said. “I saw so much that I liked and saw even more that I didn’t like, and I wanted to be a part of that. Since I’m not a musician, my job is to make things look pretty, and I decided [making posters] would be a really great marriage of talent and interest for me.”
After a makeshift print shop she started in her basement began to draw interest from her co-workers, Madhouse owner Bill Sattler incorporated more space for such projects in the 5,000-square-foot Jackson Street building, which the company moved into from its original Perrysburg location last year.
It didn’t take long for others at Madhouse – which typically tackles design jobs in the Web design, motion graphics and TV commercial realms – to follow her lead.
For the Toledo graphic designers, making concert posters is a labor of love, by all accounts.
And there is more to the process than simply pairing pretty artwork with a band’s name.
“I like to listen to the album to get a feel for the tone of the album,” she said. A music journalist friend in Chicago will often give her input as to how the band feels about their new album, and Twelmeyer blends the ideas into a themed portrait of the band’s sound. One poster she designed for a St. Andrews Hall (Detroit) show of indie band Explosions in the Sky features a stark portrayal of refinery stacks ascending into the gray sky. A popular choice among fans, the poster is sold out.
Twelmeyer believes concert posters appeal to a certain, more selective type of music fan.
As Madhouse states in the Capital A portion of its Web site (which has images of all the firm’s posters), “Like you, the kids of Capital A understand that ticket stubs and
t-shirts can’t capture that rock show spirit quite like a hearty piece of stock. It truly is nostalgia’s sweetest medium, and it’s why we handcraft each of our concert posters in convenient rectangular shapes just for you. Consider them the metaphorical family portraits of the musical kinships you’ve formed. Or just consider them pretty. Whatever works.”
Although concert posters are not likely to ever be the company’s focus, Sattler – who has made a couple posters himself – said the extra work creates a nice niche for Madhouse designers.
“It’s a personal thing for the designers,” he said of the five artists making up the Madhouse team. “It gives the designers a nice outlet to do creative stuff they want to do.”
Freddie and Frieda stared at each other from across the dinner table, but the awkward silence was deafening.
Rocky looked as if he was going to say something, but instead bit his bottom lip. After a brief sigh, Freddie dropped his head and spoke.
“How did this happen?” he said with his wings on his head. “Falcons and Rockets as friends? Everything I thought I knew is a lie.”
Rocky slowly sat up, excused himself from the table and proceeded to walk out the house. Before he closed the front door, he quipped, “You can keep the peace pipe.”
It’s true we live in a time where things are changing at a rapid rate. Everything from the president, gas prices, 401(k), and now former Bowling Green and Toledo football players are sharing laughs and getting along.
“Ya, we’re good friends,” said former BGSU center Kory Lichtensteiger. “His wife and my wife are hitting it off. I couldn’t ask for a better friend on the team than Brett. It’s worked out well.”
After successful college careers, Lichtensteiger and Toledo punter Brett Kern graduated to play for the Denver Broncos. The former Falcon comes off the bench to play guard in goal line situations, while Kern earned the role of starting punter for the American Football Conference West Division leaders.
“It’s beautiful,” Kern said of the Mile High City. “I wake up every morning and see the mountains. It’s gorgeous; they get 300 some days of sunshine per year. I can’t complain.”
I can remember talking to Kern in the days leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft in April. He told me he was not going to pay attention, and if his agent called then that would be great. Well, he didn’t call … until after the final pick was announced. Kern signed as a free agent with the Broncos and made the most of his opportunity.
“This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid,” Kern said. “I thank God every day that I’m a punter in the NFL.”
The road to Denver was just as challenging for Lichtensteiger. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound beast of a man had to fight through an off-season shoulder surgery prior to the draft. He was worried his stock may drop when teams saw that he was coming into the league banged up.
But Denver was convinced he could help the team and selected him in the fourth round (108 pick overall), but Lichtensteiger’s introduction to the NFL was anything but a smooth transition.
“I had a rough [training camp],” Lichtensteiger said. “It was quite an adjustment playing guard from playing center so long in college.”
Besides learning a new position in the pros, this former Falcon is adjusting to this brand of football being a business and not an individual’s passion.
Kern is on pace to average the second highest gross average per punt (46.7 yards/punt) in Broncos team history. Not bad considering he’s still competing against the best athletes in the world at the top level of his sport and the cliché remains as to what the biggest difference is between college and pro football.
“It’s definitely the speed,” Kern said. “It’s a lot quicker, a lot faster.”
“The speed and tempo, no doubt,” Lichtensteiger said.
Denver currently sits atop the AFC West at 6-5 and is in position to make the playoffs. So, in addition to five more games, the Broncos could play at least six more games. As a rookie new to the demanding schedule, Lichtensteiger says he’s ready for winter break.
“I feel like I should be heading to a bowl game and done for the season,” Lichtensteiger said.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC 24 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes a great day sneaks up on you when you didn’t even know you were having a bad one. This is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when I received a phone call from a long-time customer. He called to tell me how much he loves working with us and wanted to take a moment to let me know that he appreciates the work we do for him.
My spirits were instantly lifted and I felt like I was on top of the world. The funny thing is that I didn’t realize I was having a bad day until his call lifted my spirits so dramatically. The rest of my day was wonderful. I was more productive and effective with everything I touched. Capitalizing on my good spirits, I finished projects that had been lingering for weeks; called prospective clients, closed deals and everything seemed to go my way.
On my way home I thought how great it would be if I could hire that customer to call me every morning. If I could start every day with such a call, I would be able to produce twice as much work, close twice as many deals and make twice the money.
Then it hit me. I could start each and every day with a phone call like that! I resolved to make reliving these positive moments as much a part of my morning routine as drinking a cup of coffee.
What I needed to do was re-create the feeling of that uplifting phone call; create a tangible way to take stock of all of the customers who love the work we do; and use their positive feedback as an emotional anchor. I began to print out all of the glowing e-mails I’ve received in the past few months, trimmed them and glued them into a scrapbook using my wife’s old scrapbooking materials. Now, each morning as I grab my coffee, before I check e-mails and listen to voicemails, I take a moment to read through the pages of all of the positive comments that have come my way. This powerful combination of caffeine and love is by far the best way any businessperson can start his or her day.
This simple change in routine can literally reprogram who you are as a businessperson. Your ability to be effective and productive will instantly increase as you allow every day to start on a positive note. Things that once would leave you fuming will be dealt with easily, and you will begin to see opportunities around every corner.
Imagine being able to put on a pair of glasses that literally allow you to see everything around you as being sunny and bright. Can you imagine the impact this change in perception would have on your business? The impact is both dramatic and real, and it can be yours if you take the time to create your own emotional anchors.
Create whatever you need to be able to relive those moments when you were most proud of your accomplishments, the moments that you experienced hair-raising success and the moments that made you feel on top of the world. Write or print them out and spend time revisiting your success.
Success breeds more success and failure breed more failure. As you allow yourself to consciously spend more time with your success, you will be literally creating more success by getting your head back in the game. The book of success I have created still has many empty pages and, as I go through my day, I am constantly searching for more ways to delight customers and fill those pages with more good feelings.
By reminding yourself every day what it feels like to succeed, you are training yourself to re-create the feeling with everything you touch. Problems are turned into opportunities, ordinary is turned into extraordinary, and everything you touch will turn to gold.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail email@example.com.
AT&T launched U-verse television and high-speed Internet services for residential customers in the Toledo area on Nov. 24.
U-verse TV and Internet services are delivered over AT&T’s advanced Internet Protocol (IP) network, offering a new alternative to cable television and Internet. The new services are available in parts of nine local communities including, Toledo, Holland, Monclova Township, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, Spencer Township, Springfield Township, and Sylvania Township.
“Christmas came early to Toledo as we’ve brought a choice that’s cooler than cable because we bring you more as the only national provider to offer 100 percent IP-based television,” said Amanda Harris, general manager for AT&T in Ohio.
U-verse TV is offered to consumers with no contract or term commitment and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It includes professional installation by AT&T employees who have received eight weeks of training in order to demonstrate the services and how to access them with one remote control.
More than 781,000 customers have purchased U-verse TV from AT&T in its first year of availability. The company expects to reach 1 million customers by the end of 2008.
One family in Toledo already has experienced U-verse TV. The Frisch family became the first U-verse customers in this area when AT&T donated the Internet, telephone and television services as part of the ABC “Extreme Makeover” project.
“We were proud to join the community by donating AT&T U-verse services to make their new home a high-tech home, where every member of the Frisch family can enjoy watching their favorite shows when they want in any room,” Harris said.
“It’s worked out very well for us. It’s very user-friendly and offers lots of channels and options. Our family is really enjoying it,” said father Aaron Frisch, who with his wife are supporting a family of 11 sons.
“Now customers across Toledo can enjoy these new services as we know they are anxious for a better alternative to cable and U-verse TV is the answer. You can watch it when, where and how you want,” Harris said.
U-verse offers multiple combinations of TV and Internet packages with current pricing for U-verse TV starting at $44 per month. When bundled with telephone service, customers can get telephone, U-verse TV and Internet services for as low as $90 per month.
New customers can receive $200 cash back when they order a qualifying U-verse TV package online. Additional promotional offers are available to qualifying customers who bundle Internet and telephone service with it.
The company is working hard to make U-verse services available to more homes throughout the area on an ongoing basis, Harris said.
Toledo is the sixth major metropolitan market in Ohio to receive U-verse, following Akron, Canton, Cleveland Columbus, and Dayton. It is available in 200 communities in those markets.
“More customers are realizing that U-verse is more than just TV. It’s a complete entertainment experience,” Harris said. “U-verse offers a better choice with more HD channels, popular features and programming with greater control.”
The IP technology helps U-verse offer advanced capabilities that customers don’t get from other local providers, such as the ability to record four programs at once on the digital video recorder that comes with the service, Web and mobile remote access to the DVR, and 75 high-definition channels.
U-verse high-speed Internet packages include wireless home networking at no extra cost and access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network with free unlimited connectivity at more than 17,000 locations.
AT&T has invested $500 million in new lines and equipment to make U-verse TV and Internet available. About 500 new jobs were created to upgrade the network and provide IP-based television services in Ohio, according to Harris.
AT&T was able to offer U-verse services to customers in Ohio after the state’s general assembly passed Senate Bill 117 in September of 2007. It provided an environment for new video providers to invest in Ohio to compete with existing cable providers.
“Senate Bill 117 paved the way for increased value and innovation in pay TV and greater investment in the state of Ohio,” said Tom Pelto, president of AT&T Ohio. “Consumers now have a choice when it comes to their television providers.
For additional information or to find out if U-verse is available in your area, visit http://uverse.att.com or call 1-800-ATT-2020.
Recently, I pitched a story idea to a national magazine: “America’s Worst Mayor.” The thesis was that, even in the shadow of Detroit’s disgraced Kwame Kilpatrick, Toledo’s mayor was a gold-medal champion in the Incompetent Olympics.
As part of the research for that article, I spent hours combing through The Blade’s online archives, through the free access granted by a Toledo-Lucas County Public Library card. As I studied the triumphs and tragedies of Carleton “Carty” Finkbeiner’s public life, I thought, “There’s a book’s worth of material here.”
Turns out, I was right.
The Blade has published a slim volume, “The Little Book of Carty,” which compiles 80 or so pages of Finkbeiner’s blunders, outbursts and crazy ideas of leadership. Compiled by Blade special assignments editor Dave Murray and illustrated by Blade cartoonist Kirk Walters, the $8.95 paperback is a priceless textbook on how to lose friends and alienate people.
The book is worth the price just for the gallery of Kirk’s illustrations; one can almost see the twitching eye and rising neck vein in Kirk’s drawings.
One of the great mysteries in Toledo history is how a man with no consistent professional history or accomplishments has built a lifelong career in public service while leaving a trail of crushed careers and broken relationships behind him. Murray’s minibiography is an unflattering portrait of an opportunist who bounced from job to job like a rubber ball, a man who has held office as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent and the leader of his own short-lived party.
Carty has his share of triumphs, but not enough to fill a book. The gaffes and violent, reckless attacks, however, are legion. Some lowlights:
- The book starts where it has to start, with Finkbeiner’s 1994 suggestion that deaf people should be located to the airport. There’s a key moment when Finkbeiner breaks into tears at a press conference addressing the national scandal, but then says he still intends to pursue the idea. This encapsulates the Finkbeiner Manifesto: My way, at all costs, with no compromise for logic or intelligence.
- The 1999 call for a boycott of Little Caeser’s pizza, because Finkbeiner did not like a chain’s owner’s plan to build a sports arena in Rossford to compete with Toledo’s. The local franchises responded by changing “Crazy Bread” to “Carty Bread” and offering a special on a ham pizza.
- The 2007 incident in which Finkbeiner parked in a handicapped spot and left his dog, Scout, locked in the car. Oddly, Murray does not mention that the incident was repeated shortly thereafter, or that it happened again a year later. Nor does the book acknowledge Murray’s role in working with Finkbeiner on the application for the “Most Livable CIty” award. This is my window of opportunity to make a comment about The Blade and its habit of selective reporting, but that’s another conversation for another time.
- The late 2007 incident in which Finkbeiner, when told Columbia Gas of Ohio might search for a new headquarters, threatened “World War III” on Columbia Gas. Oddly, Murray says, “The declaration of war worked. The company stayed put,” but there has been no such announcement from Columbia Gas, and there is no indication the company is staying in its current building. This is my window of opportunity to make a comment about The Blade and its habit of presumptive and sometimes erroneous reporting, but that’s another conversation for another time.
- As a side note, the Kirk illustration for the entry shows Finkbeiner riding a bomb like Slim Pickens in “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” but that was the title and allusion of my column on the controversy, “Dr. StrangeFink, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Columbia Gas.” This is my window of opportunity to make a comment about The Blade and its habit of swiping creative ideas from its weekly competition, but that’s another conversation for another time.
- Here’s a fun quote from Finkbeiner to then-Human Resources Director Bill Logie at a labor negotiation session: “You just shut up. I don’t want to hear anything out of you or I’ll smash your face.” That’s our Carty, the subtle coalition builder. One of the themes of Murray’s compilation of stories is how many employees and allies Finkbeiner has burned through in his career. That trend continues today, as the mayor is on his third spokesperson in less than one year. There is also a disturbing number of incidents in which Finkbeiner swings at or smacks his people. That’s beyond uncivil; that’s sociopathic. D. Michael Collins nailed it in 1998 when he described Finkbeiner as “acting like a wacko dictator from some banana republic.”
- In 1998, since no one local seemed to be willing to send Finkbeiner a message, national consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent the mayor a bar of soap to clean up his language, hoping, “You direct your sneering, barnyard language away from corporate executives and their corporations and focus on the people you were elected to serve.”
There are pages and pages more, from customer service tantrums to a little episode in which Finkbeiner used the police to block a contingent of training Marines.
It’s a whimsical book, and at first it’s very funny. But as the dozens of embarrassments keep coming, the experience leaves one sad, empty, angry and lost.
Not unlike Finkbeiner and his legacy.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah’s Socks marks fourth year
A cold night, Thanksgiving 2004. Compassion: “Mommy, won’t his feet be cold?” Resolution: “Mommy, he can have my socks.”
Today, four years after an undersized 4-year-old girl spoke those words while volunteering at the Cherry Street Mission, Hannah’s Socks has touched people in every corner of Ohio, from coast to coast in America and as far away as Romania.
Who could have predicted the impact a child’s spirit could have on the poor and the affluent, on friends in the same neighborhood and friends on the other side of the world?
Hannah, Doris and I didn’t plan to start a full-fledged charitable organization. We just set out to give socks to people who could use them, especially during Ohio’s cold winter months.
But compassion is a flexible thing; it often bends in uncharted directions. And it often returns to its giver in varying and unexpected ways. Compassion is, I think, not what you do so much as why you do what you do.
So, as all our supporters join us in embarking upon the fifth year of the Hannah’s Socks journey, let us remember this: We have a plan, but we’ll continue to follow our compassion and let it lead us to ask an important question – “Mommy, won’t his feet be cold?” – and experience wonderful epiphanies and crystal-clear answers – “Mommy, he can have my socks.”
Hannah wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Thanksgiving.
Co-founder, Hannah’s Socks