Jobs, Mental Health, and the Malasch Burnout Inventory

The CDC announcement last week that vaccinated people could go all maskless all sorts of places has led to the inevitable realization for many of us that, “Oh, yeah. I guess we might be back in an office this summer.”

But even before then, I’m sure many of us have been contemplating more about what we want out of a job — along with wondering what is up with Zoom today.

So I found this article by Katie Heaney for The Cut to be illuminating. In fact, it feels like it could be a much larger piece… or perhaps deserving of a few follow-ups. But I’ll just leave you with the fact that we have a way to measure burnout and this seems like it should be rather relevant to the spiritual disillusionment of humanity in the early part of the 21st century… and stuff.

It’s Time to Rank Muppets

Many of you, knowing my project management tendencies, know I make lists — and by this time, it’s quite clear I’m a fan of ranking, so how could I say no to a ranking of Muppets recently conducted by NPR?

Do I agree with all the rankings? Of course not. That doesn’t make the list any less wonderful.

Mind you, the article does reference the Chaos/Order Theory of Muppets first proposed by Dahlia Lithwick in a 2012 article for Slate. So you should read it first if you haven’t beforehand.

Not only is this theory potentially one of the best contributions by Gen X to modern philosophical thought, reading this article is integral to understanding how the Muppets were ranked. Because you, right now are either an Order Muppet or a Chaos Muppet. You will read the ranking from that point of view.

(I say this for the benefit of my fellow Order Muppets out there that would prefer to be Chaos Muppets and resent the heck out of the fact that we can only be zany in the narrowest of occasions).

So now I leave it to my Order Muppet patronus Kermit to say, “On with the show!”

Perfect is the Enemy of Good: YouTuber Edition

Given the traffic some of my project management posts get, I figured I should get back to being wonky on Wednesdays or other days. I’ve recently rediscovered the Vlogbrothers, aka John and Hank Green, and have been cycling through their videos at a fast pace. That’s easy, because most of them are under 5 minutes and they contain some thought nuggets that fire the synapses in the most delightful way.

So then I came across this one from 2017 about productivity:

As some of you project managers and office denizens may have clued into, the “80%” he refers to calls to mind “the 80/20 rule” or the Pareto Principle.

And yes, the Pareto Principle started as something a bit different –and is invoked in a number of rather different arenas– but Hank Green’s reference aligns with how I most frequently encounter it in terms of quality control and optimization. Or put another way: perfect is the enemy of good.

And “done is good,” a fact I learned back when I was building sets and hanging lights and the curtain went up at 8pm whether or not things were perfect.

So embrace your 80%, people! Except for consuming ice cream. Finish that whole cone/bowl/pint/what-have-you. Exceptions make the rule after all.

AIM Calls for Aid!

As one filmmaking colleague I know has mentioned, “Money isn’t an issue, it’s the issue.”

And many creative endeavors rely on crowdfunding these days. Hence my previous post about the audio drama Apollyon (which I should mention I and the other cast & crew really do want to get funded to continue the story).

As many of you may know, the audio theater troupe I run, Jabberwocky Audio Theater, has its shows start on broadcast radio, WERA-LP 96.7 FM in Arlington, Virginia to be precise.

WERA is community radio, as in the program literally comes from the community. And it gives back, with news, coverage of local events, and some of the best value in media training around (which includes TV as well, since WERA is part of Arlington Independent Media).

But it also depends on the community for financial support in the best of times, so this past year has hit them hard, and Arlington Independent Media is looking to keep on going through their 39th year and beyond. They’ve been integral to our getting Jabberwocky Audio Theater off the ground again in 2018 and we’d love to see them continue.

Besides straight-up donating to them, they also have an auction going on as well as a special virtual concert fundraiser this weekend. Spread the word!

The Little Prince: Worth a Watch (or Rewatch)

This is one of my rare time-sensitive posts, so bottom-line up front: if you want to watch The Little Prince on Netflix — and my premise is you should — it’s leaving on May 4th, so do it now!

Those of you who have read last year’s installment of my Favorite Films list already know I hold this film in high esteem, but I believe the 2015 film version of The Little Prince is one of the best animated films released in the past 10 years. And there have been some good animated films in the past decade.

And here’s the thing, due to a distribution kerfuffle, people here in the United States almost missed an opportunity to see it until Netflix stepped up — and we’re all better for it.

Many people may not realized just how many different adaptations of The Little Prince that have been made. It’s a story that touches all of us (assuming we’re not too much of the wrong kind of grown-up). And while some people of my generation may remember Stanley Donen’s musical version from the 70s (aka the one with Bob Fosse as the funkiest yet disturbing snake you ever saw), the story of The Little Prince is not, to my mind, a feature film length tale. Much like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, it’s better as a compact and moving half-hour special — though look how thoroughly Hollywood has ignored that assessment.

So what I love is that the 2015 film version tells the original story, but wraps it in another story of The Aviator passing the story along to a little girl. The girl herself is being raised by a single mother who, while loving, has clearly been buffeted by events offscreen in ways far too many of us can imagine. And so she wants her daughter to be serious and “essential” to better survive this crazy thing called life.

What I love, and why I would urge all of you to give it a rewatch on Netflix, is how many lovely little notes are adding into this as the story unfolds. There’s great truth and depth beyond the dialogue that hearkens to Terry Gilliam’s ‘Trilogy of Imagination’ (Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of the Baron Munchhausen). In this way, I find the film to be great family viewing, because adults can get references and moments understandable only by experience, but it doesn’t make the tale too scary or dull for kids.

And for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, you will be treated to great voice work by Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, and more (the French version is similarly impressive from what I’m told for you French speakers). The score from Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey is exhilarating, and the mixture of computer animation and stop-motion animation just feels right.

At the end, you’ll find you’ve seen a film that clearly tackles themes of imagination and the human spirit, but softly meditates on how we face life and face death. And that’s no small feat to introduce to a child, or remember as a grown-up.

So I hope some of you make the time to watch it before it leaves Netflix and, yes, I am aware of DVD/Blu-Ray technology and already have my copy in preparation for its departure. But for those of you on the fence, you’re more likely to click over to Netflix than order a disc. So go ahead. Treat yourself to a little movie magic.

Reckless, Truthful, & Clean as a Bone: James Baldwin on Writing

I’ve been meaning to get back into the groove of posting motivational material on Mondays — as well as tackle some larger writing projects as well, so this list from Emily Temple over at Literary Hub of James Baldwin’s observations on writing is most welcome.

James Baldwin (Photo: Allan Warren)

If you’ve read some of his work or seen some of his interviews, the directness and clarity of his observations and suggestions will come as no surprise, but it could just be that one or three of the sentiments is just what you need to hear right now.

Apollyon, Episode 1 plus Fundraiser

Hey, I mentioned last month that I was in an upcoming audio drama… and it’s here:

The first episode is online, along with a link to a fundraiser which will allow the producers to pay for the rest of the season, including making sure we actors get paid. So, especially if you’re a fan of human-centric thoughtful science fiction, give episode one a listen and spread the word. And if you are able, any ducats would be appreciated.

Wait! That Wasn’t the Last Starfighter After All

I’m pretty sure every film-loving kid grows up watches a series of thoroughly-enjoyable-yet-not-mind-blowing movies from their era that may not make all the “classics” lists, but age okay and hold onto that “that was solidly entertaining” air.

Some of this premise comes from watching many a film that my dad enjoyed growing up. And of course he treated us to the unequivocal classics of cinema both foreign and domestic, but he also made time to expose us to some other lesser known ones that, when he was our age, thought was a darn fine film.

Last month, I got to rewatch one of those films of my generation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed The Last Starfighter when we first saw it in theaters, even if it wasn’t going to edge out the Star Wars trilogy or Star Trek II in our sci-fi ardor (note to younger folks: yes, there was only one Star Wars trilogy at the time).

Rewatching it reminded me both of the fun performances by veteran actors Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy, Lance Guest diving into two roles as our hero and Beta, and –waitaminute, blink and you’ll miss Gul Dukat! Plus, there’s an overall fun sense of adventure with the film… and they clearly wanted a sequel.

Do we get to see multiple Gunstars in action this time?

So imagine my surprise that, not a few days after I watched it, there’s word that they’re working on doing a sequel. Not a reboot, but a follow-up.

While I’m sad we won’t have Centauri (at least his original human face), I’m up for it So go ahead Hollywood Recyclotron: give us some video game infused nostalgia.

Send in the Drones: Mars Edition

I’m bumping the post I planned for today because yesterday, we had some cool goings-on with space exploration, a topic some readers will know I follow (not the least because I enjoy science fiction and write science fiction — and who doesn’t like science fiction rooted in at least some science fact?).

Fly my pretty! Fly!

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has made the first powered flight on another planet, more than 117 years after the Wright brothers’ historic flight on this planet.

NASA itself gave a lowdown about this flight last month, which included a cool animation.

There has been much excitement on the Interwebs, as you might expect, from NASA fans to Science Geeks, and –perhaps one of my favorites– Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Cicadas are Coming! The Cicadas are Coming!

I mentioned last month that Brood X, the prodigious cohort of cicadas that emerge every 17 years to mate and be quite loud about it, are coming this year — possibly near you!

For those of you who want more of the science behind it all, here’s Mike Raupp, the “Bug Guy” and avowed cicada fan to give you all the details you didn’t know you needed.