Monthly Archives: September 2011

Changing the Ratio (Wikipedia’s Battle for Diversity – Part III)

Wikipedia: Change the Ratio (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

Commence beating the figurative dead horse. As I’ve written previously, (here, here and here) Wikipedia is suffering from a lack of female contributors (less than 1 in 10 editors are women, per the 2011 Wikimedia survey). This has the unfortunate consequence of compromising the overall quality and objectivity of its content, as illustrated in my post, How I Redefined “Man” for The World.

While there are several reasons offered for why women aren’t editing (Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, recently gave an interview to CBC highlighting these and summarized them in her post Nine Reasons Why Women Don’t Edit Wikipedia), half of them I just laugh at. Women are too busy? I’ve spent enough hours at Starbucks to observe the gratuitous amount of time some women devote to Facebook. Or, women are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes-fighty culture? As Denis Leary so eloquently stated in The Thomas Crown Affair: “Life is full of sh$tty conflicts, okay?” It’s not an excuse.

So what would I do if I was running the “Change the Ratio” Wikipedia campaign? For one, I’d be focusing on the initial phases of the technology adoption curveawareness and understanding, in the form of education.

Awareness

Simply put, there needs to be more recognition and media coverage of the issue, illustrating the societal impact of not having women (as well as other demographics) editing Wikipedia. Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, I’d be making it clear to women why it matters. And then I’d enlist some influential voices to help the reach the target audience: women.

  • Who better to get the word out than the mother of influence on all things women, education and actionOprah. The issue is right up her alley. She does Twitter, she does Facebook, so why not Wikipedia? Can you imagine Jimmy Wales or Sue Gardner sitting down with Oprah (and Gayle) for a tutorial on Wikipedia and releasing a 2-minute video of it?
  • In the event Oprah isn’t available, an “I Edit Wikipedia” compilation video of some of the most influential women in tech would make a statement. Ladies like Sarah Lacy, Danah Boyd, Jolie O’Dell, Laura Fitton, Tara Hunt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer. I wonder who of these industry leaders edits, versus who doesn’t?

Then there’s the use of social media to spread the word.

  • The awesome folks at JESS3 worked with me on the Wikipedia: Change the Ratio logo (you can see all the versions here), and next week we’ll be spreading the word via a Facebook initiative for users to change their profile pics (and Twitter avatars and whatever else) to it on Ada Lovelace Day (Friday, Oct 7) which celebrates the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Again, the point is awareness.

  • And to celebrate Wikipedia women rockstars, we created a set of barnstars for contributors with 100, 1,000 and 10,000 edits (you can see all the versions here). Below are my top 3:


  • Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if Wikipedia made edits easily shareable by adding some version of a “Share This” button in the Edit mode, integrated with the most prominent social media services for female (and male) influencers to share the pages they contribute to.

Education

It’s essential. Wikimarkup can be a little intimidating for those not familiar with “code” and having edits reverted can be off-putting, but neither of these factors are something that can’t be addressed with a small dose of education.

  • In 2010, the Wikipedia Foundation launched a pilot project to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education but I think education at a grassroots level is more important.
  • Half-day workshops like the one we hosted at JESS3 are something local Wikipedia chapters can embrace, with a proven format and curriculum available. And there doesn’t even need to be formatted sessions. In the same vein of SuperHappyDevHouse, folks can just get together and help each other out, using it as an opportunity to have fun, learn, build, and meet new people.
  • There are tons of YouTube videos and internet guides on how to edit and get started with Wikipedia. I even created my personal Seven Essential Steps to getting started with Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is about collectively learning and building and sharing information on the things you’re interested in and are passionate about. It’s time more women make their voices heard.

 

NOTE: For those interested learning more about the gendergap issue, you can subscribe to the gendergap mailing list. The discussion threads provide incredible insight into what’s going on, everything from harassment on women’s user pages to inappropriate sexualization of images for topical pages.

Changing the Ratio (Wikipedia's Battle for Diversity – Part III)

Wikipedia: Change the Ratio (design by JESS3 + 1X57)

Commence beating the figurative dead horse. As I’ve written previously, (here, here and here) Wikipedia is suffering from a lack of female contributors (less than 1 in 10 editors are women, per the 2011 Wikimedia survey). This has the unfortunate consequence of compromising the overall quality and objectivity of its content, as illustrated in my post, How I Redefined “Man” for The World.

While there are several reasons offered for why women aren’t editing (Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, recently gave an interview to CBC highlighting these and summarized them in her post Nine Reasons Why Women Don’t Edit Wikipedia), half of them I just laugh at. Women are too busy? I’ve spent enough hours at Starbucks to observe the gratuitous amount of time some women devote to Facebook. Or, women are conflict-averse and don’t like Wikipedia’s sometimes-fighty culture? As Denis Leary so eloquently stated in The Thomas Crown Affair: “Life is full of sh$tty conflicts, okay?” It’s not an excuse.

So what would I do if I was running the “Change the Ratio” Wikipedia campaign? For one, I’d be focusing on the initial phases of the technology adoption curveawareness and understanding, in the form of education.

Awareness

Simply put, there needs to be more recognition and media coverage of the issue, illustrating the societal impact of not having women (as well as other demographics) editing Wikipedia. Taking a cue from Simon Sinek, I’d be making it clear to women why it matters. And then I’d enlist some influential voices to help the reach the target audience: women.

  • Who better to get the word out than the mother of influence on all things women, education and actionOprah. The issue is right up her alley. She does Twitter, she does Facebook, so why not Wikipedia? Can you imagine Jimmy Wales or Sue Gardner sitting down with Oprah (and Gayle) for a tutorial on Wikipedia and releasing a 2-minute video of it?
  • In the event Oprah isn’t available, an “I Edit Wikipedia” compilation video of some of the most influential women in tech would make a statement. Ladies like Sarah Lacy, Danah Boyd, Jolie O’Dell, Laura Fitton, Tara Hunt, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer. I wonder who of these industry leaders edits, versus who doesn’t?

Then there’s the use of social media to spread the word.

  • The awesome folks at JESS3 worked with me on the Wikipedia: Change the Ratio logo (you can see all the versions here), and next week we’ll be spreading the word via a Facebook initiative for users to change their profile pics (and Twitter avatars and whatever else) to it on Ada Lovelace Day (Friday, Oct 7) which celebrates the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Again, the point is awareness.

  • And to celebrate Wikipedia women rockstars, we created a set of barnstars for contributors with 100, 1,000 and 10,000 edits (you can see all the versions here). Below are my top 3:


  • Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if Wikipedia made edits easily shareable by adding some version of a “Share This” button in the Edit mode, integrated with the most prominent social media services for female (and male) influencers to share the pages they contribute to.

Education

It’s essential. Wikimarkup can be a little intimidating for those not familiar with “code” and having edits reverted can be off-putting, but neither of these factors are something that can’t be addressed with a small dose of education.

  • In 2010, the Wikipedia Foundation launched a pilot project to explore the potential of formally using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education but I think education at a grassroots level is more important.
  • Half-day workshops like the one we hosted at JESS3 are something local Wikipedia chapters can embrace, with a proven format and curriculum available. And there doesn’t even need to be formatted sessions. In the same vein of SuperHappyDevHouse, folks can just get together and help each other out, using it as an opportunity to have fun, learn, build, and meet new people.
  • There are tons of YouTube videos and internet guides on how to edit and get started with Wikipedia. I even created my personal Seven Essential Steps to getting started with Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is about collectively learning and building and sharing information on the things you’re interested in and are passionate about. It’s time more women make their voices heard.

 

NOTE: For those interested learning more about the gendergap issue, you can subscribe to the gendergap mailing list. The discussion threads provide incredible insight into what’s going on, everything from harassment on women’s user pages to inappropriate sexualization of images for topical pages.

Preparación del mejor espresso

El Molido es esencial

El molido ideal resultará en un flujo lento y constante de espresso en el vaso. Si es demasiado grueso, el espresso se filtrará liviano y poco concentrado. Muy fino, el café goteará, una gota amarga a la vez.

Para unidades de presión más baja lo ideal us un molido extra fino, con textura granulosa. La textura apropriada se puede obtener con cualquier molinillo económico.

Las unidades de alta presión con calidad comercial requieren un molido más fino con textura similar al polvo. Este se obtiene más fácilmente con un molido de café especializado tipo placa.

Algunas variaciones en el molido hacen una gran diferencia en el resultado, y el café molido fino se pone rancio rápidamente. Para obtener los mejores resultados se recomienda moler los granos justo antes de preparar el café. Si usas café en grano, solamente comprá la cantidad a utilizar para unos pocos días.

Podemos proporcionarte una muestra de café molido para que uses de referencia al moler los granos en tu casa.

Definir la dosis

La dosis correcta prácticamente llena el filtro permitiendo sólo un pequeña puede causar que el café salga impetuosamente y no de la manera adecuada: lenta y uniforme.

Apisonado

Apisonado se refiere a la cantidad de presión con que se empacan los granos de espresso en el filtro. Si el café molido se empaca firmemente, el agua fluye lentamente a través del mismo, asegurando una completa extracción del sabor.

Si el agua parece filtrarse muy rápidamente, aún con un apisonado firme, necesitarás utilizar un grano más fino. De manera inversa, si tu máquina no proporciona un buen flujo, tratá de usar un molido más grueso.

Velocidad de vertido

En condiciones ideales, una carga sencilla de espresso deberiá producir 30 ml de bebida en unos 20 segundos; una carga doble resultaría en 60 ml de bebida en la misma cantidad de tiempo pero con el doble de grano molido.

Se recomienda experimentar con el molido, la dosis y la presión de apisonado hasta lograr la mejor velocidad de flujo y el mejor sabor.

Menos con más

El error más común al preparar un espresso es usar un café molido en exceso. Resultando una bebida que parece un café colado fuerte, no un café espresso auténtico.

Máquinas de espresso para uso en el hogar

Si te apasiona el café espresso, o te gusta beber un cappuccino puro cada día, considerá invertir en una máquina y un molido de calidad profesional. Si preferís un espumoso café latte, las máquinas más económicas se ajustarán bien a tus necesidades.

Las cafeteras y las máquinas para preparar “cappuccino” en el hogar funcionan a presión y no incluyen ni bombas ni pistones. Sirven para preparar un café fuerte, pero no producen la presión necesaria para preparar un auténtico espresso. Además, tienen poca capacidad para preparar leche al vapor.

Photos by: Laughing Squid (red sign), John (blue bottle), OliBac (three beans)

Who makes more, college professors or coaches?

I bet you’re thinking this is a no-brainer and the coaches win by far. Not so fast, the medical departments at colleges rake in money for patient care and consulting.

Here is a breakdown for the UC system in California which includes Berkeley, UCLA, and San Francisco with a combined 100+ Nobel Laureates:

2010 Pay

  1. Coach – $2.4 million - Jeff Tedford (Berekeley)
  2. Coach – $2.1 million - Ben Howland (UCLA)
  3. Prof. – $2.0 million - Ronald Busuttil (UCLA)
  4. Coach – $1.9 million - Mike Montgomery (Berkeley)
  5. Prof. – $1.8 million - Khalil Tabsh (UCLA)
  6. Prof. – $1.5 million - Anthony Azakie (UCSF)
  7. Prof. – $1.5 million - Philip Leboit (UCSF)
  8. Prof. – $1.5 million - Timothy McCalmont (UCSF)
  9. Prof. – $1.4 million - Richard Shemin  (UCLA)
  10. Coach – $1.2 million - Rick Neuheisel (UCLA)

The coaches hold four of the ten spots. The disparity in pay between the two groups isn’t all that great either. Average of the top 10 has the professors earning $1.6 million and the coaches earning $1.9 million.

If you keep going, the next fifteen are all on the healthcare side with twelve professors and three health executives. Of the top 100 they take up 84 spots, with only fourteen non-healthcare salaries.

#3 - Ronald Busuttil, Transplant Surgeon

It’s also worth noting that the next coaches on the list are Norm Chow (UCLA) at #95, and Joanne Boyle (Berkeley) at #119.

I have to admit the numbers are pretty shocking. The common understanding is that professors make little money, while doctors make good money. Combine the two and it’s a gold mine.

One that doesn’t pull money from the schools themselves. Like the coaches they are largely paid with the money they pull in. In the world of college academics this is called an “auxiliary program” (thanks Norman), and the opposite is normally true. These programs (sports, healthcare) funnel money, prestige, and students to the schools.

A final note, these salaries are determined by combining each persons base pay with their incentives and bonuses. For the coaches this means winning, playoffs, and championships. For the health professors it means seeing patients and receiving awards for their research.

Take out this extra pay and not one in the top 10 earns above $317,000 in base pay. Many of those lower on the list have a set base pay of $500,000 and $800,000.

Interesting, to say the least, and I hope I informed your opinion of college salaries.

Entrance to UCLA Medical Center (only 20% of the whole complex)

****

Information pulled from the OC Register article: UC coaches’ pay outstrips Nobel laureates’

Photo of Jeff Tedford by Avinash & of the UCLA Medical Center by Benny Chan

5 reasons to love the Kindle

This is a personal piece about my experiences owning a Kindle for 2 years. There were many early fears and unknowns but they’ve since been wiped away. I am able to do everything I want with it and more.

Here are my 5 favorite things about the Kindle:

  • Saves time
  • Lighter, easier on the hand
  • Cozying up with it
  • The classics
  • Exotic books

Saves time

Let’s talk about the entire Kindle buying experience. I lay back on my comfy pillow, browse the online store, purchase and begin reading.

Now, compare that to the bookstore experience. Hop in a car, drive in traffic, park in traffic, walk to store, hang out in a cozy cool community-friendly store, wait in line, purchase at cashier, and then reverse the walking, parking, and driving.

I’m just saying. It’s a whole lot easier on me and my stress level.

Then there is the free trial which allows you to read the first few chapters without buying. A perfect way to purchase books, after all, if you’re not ready to buy after the second chapter then it’s not worth it. Plus, I don’t have to sit on an awkward couch in a crowded store to read those chapters.

Lighter, easier on the hand

Sometimes when you really get going, a real page-turner and finish 100 pages, your hand gets sore. It’s not that books or e-readers are heavy, it’s that holding them steady for a few hours is like some ancient torture session.

To compare the weight of different books, the Kindle weighs 8.5 ounces and, on average, hardcover books weighs 20 ounces and paperbacks about 12 ounces.

Add that up over the long run and you get the idea.

Cozying up with my Kindle

Believe it or not, but, on cold nights it is nice to cozy up with an e-reader. The hot cocoa, warm blanket, and my Kindle.

I don’t miss the smell nor the look of paper books. I just like to lose myself in the story.

Of course, there is one more important reason why I enjoy cozying with it. The e-reader allows me to increase the font size on any book, which saves my eyes, and allows me to read for much longer than I could with a paper book.

The Classics

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, Edgar Allen Poe, Sun Tzu, Edith Wharton, William Shakespeare

All their works are free and sometimes you can get their entire life works with one click. Yes, the classics are all free. Thousands and thousands of books, it’s like a modern-day Renaissance.

I could read for years, not spend a dime, and become incredibly educated. I love this because I grew up in an era when the classics were banished from the classroom. We were asked to read maybe 1-2 books a school year and most were contemporary novels.

There is so much I don’t know about the enlightenment, greek philosophy, romantic literature, modern economics, and even early 20th century pieces.

Exotic Books

I cannot write a piece on e-books without the inevitable nostalgia for real, physical books. I have that feeling too, but with a Kindle everything changes: I actually buy the books I always wanted.

It turns out there are two kinds of books: ones you read and ones you keep. The first, you finish and put on the shelf to collect dust. The second, you pick up every few weeks when you’re bored.

With the Kindle I am able to save money (space too) on the books to read and then spend the savings on the special exotic books (which always cost more).

I call them exotic books because they are oversized or rare, often with glamorous pictures. Basically, they are coffee table books but since I don’t, and have never owned, a coffee table I don’t like that term.

My exotic collection of books is growing and I am absolutely in love with them. Here are a few:

[one_third]

Tartine

[/one_third]

[one_third]

The History of Surfing

[/one_third]

[one_third_last]

Japanese Caligraphy


[/one_third_last]

Photos by: Tim D (coffee), Stephen (girl reading), 3Water (close-up nickel)

The retail recession

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the bankruptcy of Borders Bookstores and the repercussions it could have.

Add in Blockbuster and Tower records and collectively the retail industry for music, movies, and books is disappearing. Well, you might be able to add clothing stores to that list.

A rash of closings here in Orange County, CA, (the OC) has the entire industry on edge. Some say that “so goes Southern California, so goes the industry,” and if that is true then trouble is brewing.

One of the largest and most popular outdoor shopping malls, The Block, is shaking things up. Even though they are ideally located between Disneyland, Anaheim Stadium, and three intersecting freeways, they can’t keep the stores full. In response they are changing their focus and name, now called the The Outlets.

Does this mean that retail is going “off-price”?

The big box stores are in huge slumps. Mervyns is bankrupt and Sears is on the verge, closing all of it’s stores in California. There are many others already gone that most of us have trouble remembering (Linens ‘N’ Things, Circuit City). Guess what is replacing them…gyms. A whole lot of them.

Are gyms the new retail?

Say hello to 6 new gyms in OC shopping centers from LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and 24-Hour Fitness. They are taking up space formerly occupied by Gap, Nike, Tower Records, Bristol Farms (supermarket), Mervyns, Circuit City, and Linens ‘N’ Things.

Good for the healthy person inside of us!

Another trend to think about is the Chinese exportation of cheap clothes. Retailers like Forever 21 are booming with four new massive stores in the OC (all occupying those empty department stores).

Take a look at the “Made in…” label and notice how much of your outfit is Made in China.

So far the only response to this Chinese competition are the outlets stores mentioned above and perhaps, double secondhand stores. Ross, “Dress for Less”, is opening a discount store for discount stores.

Is new no longer cool?

For me it is. Long ago I ditched all the retail stores for the high-end thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange. They carry a wide range of sizes (you mean not everyone is a medium or large) and an even wider range of styles. I definitely hope to see more of these stores popping up.

That may happen as another 500 day recession for clothing retailers is starting. Retail is not out of the woods yet. We will see who survives until early 2013.

Photos by: Abdullah (gym), Prayitno (coach), Nicole (Buffalo Exchange)

Walking with endangered species: California Least Tern

I’ve always heard a lot about endangered species. Even seen a few pictures, but let’s be honest. The creatures that most of us see are rats, pigeons, and spiders.

Not the beauties of the animal kingdom. Which has caused me to wonder about the exotic animals on the Discovery channel. Does everything eat out of trash cans and look like rabies?

My answer came at the beach where I spotted some dolphins. In fact, I’m seeing a lot of them, nearly everyday. Which is a huge change from my childhood in the 90s, when seeing them then was like winning the lottery, maybe once a summer.

This launched me on an investigation that revealed a treasure trove in my backyard. There are nature preserves, tidal basins, wetlands, habitats, and nesting grounds.

I began noticing all sorts of animals all around me. Some that I passed by without even thinking twice. Like the birds in the picture below.

It turns out that those a few of those are an endangered species, and they are beautiful.

Continue reading

How I spent my summer, by Steven Mandzik

Yesterday was the first day of Fall and Summer is officially over, which means it’s time to write my follow-up to Amy’s back to school letter…How I Spent My Summer.

An act in two parts.

Part I – The Taming of the Bear

[box type="shadow"]Forward, I pray, since we have come so far,

And be it moon, or sun, or what you please. And if you please to call it a rush candle, Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

- The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare[/box]

The quote is from the final moments where Petruchio finally tames Katharina. Which is what I spent greatest amount of effort on this summer. Except, instead of taming the Bear I set her free.

Perhaps, I should call it by its modern name, 10 Things I Hate About You. Where Heath Ledger prompts Julia Stiles to let go of her hurt and smile again.

This summer Amy started smiling again. She is surfing and writing and feeling proud. Ready to love me and move our relationship to the next level.

While details of this struggle are personal let’s just say I was nearly killed in the process.

Part II – The Blogger

I’ve never been a good writer. All through my high school and college years I rarely got higher than an B. In fact, those years were a slapstick comedy of errors, with everything from a state-wide English teacher strike to a series of corrupt substitute teachers.

After I left school is when I learned how to write. It turns out that part of the problem is my nonconformist streak. Even when the teachers taught me how to do it the right way, I would do the opposite. I simply refused to write a boring essay.

Then blogging came on the scene and being unique with poor grammar was/is all the rage. Ever since I have been writing and writing, often getting paid to do it by big corporations. You could say that I have been a corporate blogger for 5 years.

During those years I dreamed of leaving everything behind, moving to paradise, and trying my own hand at writing. That is done. Amy and I moved out of DC, into a tranquil Southern California life, and I’m blogging my heart out.

So far I have been able to post something new, and interesting, every day and our growth is good, from 300 to 40,000 views/month.

In many ways this lifestyle is ideal. We get to set our own schedule, avoid the working crowds, and even pick-up long-lost hobbies (surfing). In other ways it is the scariest thing we’ve ever done. I say ‘we’ because Amy is also taking up writing, as a screenwriter.

The thing about being a writer is that you’re nothing until you have a name. It takes forever to build up that audience and, in the meantime, makes you a “struggling writer”. Once you do build up the name you have to be a hit machine. There are no consistent paychecks only your own ability to write something that works and keep doing it.

This summer served as our starting point. The beginning of our path toward our dreams. It was not all peaches and cream, but what they say is true. When you do what you love, it’s not work.

photo by Rajeev Nair

Chipotle: the model fast food chain

There are only a few places that I recommend eating at and Chipotle is one of them. The food is quality and the ownership cares equally about health and profits. Which sets them apart from all other fast food chains.

pronounced: chi-poht-lay

Our country has reached a strange time when a “green” company is booming during a recession. Yet, it is happening all across the country. Since 2006, Chipotle has tripled is revenue and doubled the number of stores.

Which makes it all the more unique that they don’t advertise on TV. They have no Ronald McDonald or Jared the weight loss wunder-kid (Subway).

Just what are they doing to convince you to buy their burritos?

They are raising prices and improving quality…and people are loving them for it!

Maybe Americans really do want good food, or perhaps they are beginning to recognize the quality difference. Either way this is worth looking into…

The story starts back in 1999, when founder Steve Ells visited a farm. What he saw was a CAFO and it disturbed him deeply. Ever since he has been on a mission to fix the problem.

[box type="shadow"]

“I did not want Chipotle’s success to be tied to this kind of exploitation.”

Steve Ells, Founder & CEO

[/box]

Fast forward to today and Chipotle has one of the most effective sustainable and ethically sourced supply chains. They even buy meat from Polyface farms which was featured in the book Omnivore’s Dilemma.

They have an amazingly strong commitment to meat free of hormones, antibiotics, and cages. Produce that is organic, local, and fresh produce. Well, most of the time…

While the farmers markets in this country are exploding, the transition to big business is hitting roadblocks. Small farmers are great for us locavores, but to meet the needs of a typical Chipotle requires much more. A cooperative network of farms, trucks, coordinated deliveries, and processing facilities.

This means that Chipotle restaurants can’t go completely organic and sustainable. They have to wait for the infrastructure to be built, or build it themselves.

[box type="shadow"]

Ells said in his statement to Congress:

“This move transformed the way we run our business…it set us on a journey to examine each of the ingredients we use to make our food, and how we could get them from more sustainable sources.”

Ells concedes that Chipotle’s business model is not easily replicated by other restaurant companies as the supply of ingredients from more sustainable sources is limited, and the costs tend to be higher for buyers of these better ingredients.

“Chipotle is a unique success story in that we have found a way to serve more expensive, sustainably raised ingredients, but in a way that remains affordable to the average customer.”

[/box]

I can’t say enough about what they are doing. We are all living in a better world because of their work.

If you want to learn more about Chipotle’s commitments visit their Food With Integrity program.

In the meantime, watch this 2-minute animation they made.

The song is a Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and it’s pretty powerful:

This is not their first foray into the movie business. In 2009, the company sponsored free screenings of the movie Food Inc. in 32 cities.

For this short they are purchasing time to show it as a preview at 5,700 movie theaters around the country.

Thank you Chipotle!

Live like Improv

Here are the rules, pulled from Tina Fey’s, Bossypants.

 

#1 – Start with Yes

[author]

“Freeze, I have a gun!”

“No, you don’t that’s your finger.”

[/author]

[author]

“Freeze, I have a gun!”

“The gun I gave you for Christmas? You jerk!”

[/author]

Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says.  But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place.  Start with a Yes and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no.  “No, we can’t do that.”  “No, that’s not in the budget.”  “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.”

 

#2 - Yes, and…

Agree and then add something of your own:

[author]

“I can’t believe it’s so hot in here.”

“Yeah…”

[/author]

Which puts the improv at kind of at a standstill. But, if you add something then we’re getting somewhere:

[author]

“I can’t believe it’s so hot in here.”

“What did you expect? We’re in hell.”

“Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.”

“I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth.”

[/author]

wax figures

 

#3 – Make statements

This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say,

[author]

Who are you?

Where are we?

What are we doing here?

What’s in that box?

[/author]

I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.

This also applies to us women: speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says (cue valley girl):

[author]

I’m going to be your surgeon?

I’m here to talk to you about your procedure?

I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so…?

[/author]

Instead make a statement like:

[author]

“Here we are in Spain, Dracula.”

[/author]

 

#4 – There are no mistakes

Only opportunities.

If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what?

Now, I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel.

I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike. Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel-duty” because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field.

Content pulled from: Cedar Sage Marketing, BulletProof Presentations, and PCA2.

Photos: Dracula and Tina & Brad.