Saturday, December 30, 2006

Movies and the Fountain of Youth

-- Actor, Writer, Producer, Director -- is 58 years old. In spite of gerontological concerns, Sly has chosen to again portray the eponymous characters in Rocky Balboa (2006) and Rambo IV: Pearl of the Denture (2008). Dirty Little Secret: They had to make the boxing ring wheelchair accessible. As for Rambo, betcha didn't know his rations included Ensure.

63-year-old is reprising the lead in Indiana Jones 4: The Search for Metamucil (2008). By the way, Indiana Jones was voted the 2nd greatest hero of all time by the , just behind Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), according to the Internet Movie Database. The vote was cast long before the candles on Indiana's cake weighed more than the frosting.

Bad jokes and cliches aside, I wonder why a few older actors continue to secure unlikely roles. Are Sly and Harry so incredibly talented and charismatic that we are easily hypnotized into suspending our disbelief? Maybe.

And "what's up with these old farts continuing to indulge themselves as action heroes?," you ask. Well, if you had the money and leverage to defy stereotypes by convincing folks you were still in your prime, wouldn't you at least try? Hey, Cher's been doing it for years. I'm a Baby Boomer, too, but even I knew when it was time to stop wearing short skirts and low-cut tops.

Only by Hollywood standards can sexy granddads be seen magically leaping, punching and taking loads of physical abuse way past eligibility. Meanwhile, a ton of Americans don't have the means to get out of debt, let alone afford the air brushing, CG, soft focus, lighting tricks, editing, girdles, stunt doubles, personal trainers, make up, and plastic surgery it takes to convince others we're still studs and babes. I wonder -- just how many accommodations do actors and filmmakers have to make to maintain the fantasy?

I admit that certain movie roles are timeless. There are some characters we'll accept getting older, like Columbo, Matlock and Captain Kirk. But for action heroes? There is a physical reality.

At some point, audiences (or actors) either have to let these heroes go or face the truth in the most recent James Bond film. To maintain a story's credibility, younger actors eventually have to take over the action-packed roles. In Million Dollar Baby (2004), Clint Eastwood had the good sense to pass the physically-demanding torch on to someone else.

Sure, I'll probably go see these sequels and enjoy them, in spite of myself. Maybe it's because these old guys originated these roles. Maybe it's because I can't imagine anyone else playing Rocky or Indiana Jones. Or maybe it's because I still love these characters and predictable storylines for what they represent -- the belief that my generation is still young, even if it's only for 120 minutes.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Customer Care Is Alive at the Crowne Plaza Cabana

Customer Care Is Alive at the Crowne Plaza Cabana

Review of: Crowne Plaza Cabana Palo Alto, Hotels
By: Minced Media on Judy's Book
Rating: 5 stars
Read review on Judy's Book.

I've stayed at the Crowne Plaza Cabana in Palo Alto a few times because of its comfortable rooms, amenities, and convenient location near company headquarters. This trip, I had misplaced my hotel bill upon returning home. Nuts! It would be difficult to file my expense report without it.

"To the Web," I declared, quickly locating the hotel Web site. I emailed someone named Josephine with identifying details and requested a duplicate bill. Imagine my delight when I received a PDF copy of my bill attached to an less than an hour. Wow! I'm impressed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Five Top Tips for Starting Your Business

1. Define your business by .
I'm amazed at how many people continue to start and/or operate a business without one. Then they wonder why they are failing. Guess what's more amazing. Business owners who think they can attract investors without this important step.

2. Find a mentor or two.
You can ask an old buddy or call a local office of S.C.O.R.E. or a Small Business Development Center. from a veteran in your field. You really need someone to be honest enough to "smack you up the side of the head" when you are out of touch with your market. Check your ego at the door and get an expert's help.

3. Get business insurance.
We are such a litigious society, that it's become a requirement of doing business. You're a consultant and you think you don't need it? Come on! Who knows how someone will interpret your omission of key information, even if it occurred after the fact? Cover yourself. Get insured.

4. Network, network, network.
Join the local Chamber, business clubs and national associations. No one ever became rich in a vacuum. No matter what your age, gender or business model, you need to listen to and talk to others to bounce ideas and share resources. Besides, you'll save yourself a ton of legwork if you know who and what to ask. And you might even find a future business partner. Imagine that!

5. Share your knowledge with others.
Give back to the community. Speak at conferences and local business meetings. Spend time with an undergraduate business student or even a high schooler involved in Junior Achievement. It's what good citizens do. If you can't do it for others, do it for yourself. You never know when someone you help today will be in a position to help you tomorrow.

Want more ideas? Visit JumpUp, a new site for small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs. It's operated by Intuit, makers of Quicken, QuickBooks and TurboTax. I work for Intuit on the JumpUp team. Visit my JumpUp profile for some helpful links under "My Saved Bookmarks."

Friday, December 22, 2006

The "Starting a Business" Blog Carnival

I've just launched a Blog Carnival related to my current project at Intuit -- JumpUp is a Web site dedicated to helping small business owners and start-up entrepreneurs. I launched the carnival to help me find the best blog articles, so I can share them with others through my JumpUp profile page and bookmarks.

What is a blog carnival?
A blog article that contains links to other articles covering a specific topic. Most blog carnivals are hosted by a rotating list of frequent contributors to the carnival, and serve to both generate new posts by contributors and highlight new bloggers posting matter in that subject area. ~ according to the
If you post a relevant blog entry then join the community of contributors, you can get more readers for your blog. Here are the details of my carnival...

Title: "Starting a Business" Blog Carnival

Description: The Blog Carnival called "Starting a Business" is built around main topics (business planning, expert help, business structure, business identity, marketing 101, getting paid). To be eligible, your blog article be actionable, insightful and/or helpful to small business owners and/or start-up entrepreneurs. I work for Intuit, which operates JumpUp, a business resources, tools and networking site.

Keywords: business, enterpreneur, startup, business planning

Submission deadline:
Every Sunday at 2 PM MST

Submission categories:
business planning, expert help, business structure, business identity, marketing 101, getting paid

Do you have a blog post about starting a business? Does your blog post provide expert advice for business owners? Tell me about it by submitting your article to this blog carnival!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chat with Me on Plugoo

Plugoo is , with two added benefits:
1. Keep your IM screen name private
2. Incorporate discussions into the IM service you use the most

I've also found two other Web IM tools you might want to explore. One is , which is similar to Plugoo. Another is Chatango, and yet another is Gabbly. With Gabbly, you append the Web URL to and you can chat with other users who do the same. Try this to to this blog.

I'll be playing with these applications for the next week to see if it helps me connect better with visitors. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Millions of Sites and Nothing to Read

Question: How does one get read today, or even noticed, when there is so much content available? Tons of sites and blogs have launched, hoping to bring fame and fortune to the Web-entrepreneur or would-be pundit. Most of these are worthless; each new digital page is yet another fly in the soup of useless Web drivel.

I guess my Dad was lucky in his day. Dad's writing was most often peer-reviewed. Nothing got past the gatekeepers without a good "going over." Too bad the same can't be said of today's bloggers. Sadly, I'm no exception. On the Web, no one holds my hand and saves me from myself. Hardly anything but sweat equity prevents me from writing too much, saying the wrong thing, or saying it badly. I suspect I'm not alone.

A blogger is like an amateur photographer who takes hundreds of pictures each month with a cheap digital camera. No, he doesn't plan to print these photos out. Most of the shots are blurry and poorly-composed snippets of time anyway. But that won't stop him. He enjoys the daily click and whirrrrrrr, knowing he didn't spend a few days and dollars waiting to develop the results. It's the freedom that attracts him, not the promise of a great framed print.

The next time you search through Google or Technorati for something wonderful to read, keep that in mind. There are thousands of free articles and millions of blog entries. Most of them are not worth the digital paper they're posted on. They're just there, because it's the act of composing that attracts most bloggers, and not the paycheck.

In spite of our love for writing, there will always be poor composition. It's a long, hard road -- mastering style, focusing thought and gaining a loyal readership. I write because I love to share my opinion and knowledge, and I'm content to leave it at that.

Of course, if your writing is terrible, or worse, nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to sell goods and services, you'll fail, and fail miserably. Whether it's writing to build recognition as an authority or writing to fill a creative void, empty advice with the hope of selling something is worse than not writing at all. The real challenge is making your blog stand on its own, with actionable content...if you can do that, you've got something. It's likely the reader won't mind seeing a short tagline with a link to your other Web presence, if you give them something to think about.

Having said all that, I'll admit that I write because I truly enjoy the act of thinking and typing simultaneously. No, your approval or admiration is not required...and I'm not trying to be dismissive or arrogant here. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm just being transparent about what I expect out of this blog.

Yes, I'll keep writing long after you've left my site, never to return. If you happen to like something I've written, post a comment. I'll revel in it and feel like someone out there is appreciative. If you don't like it, well, check out Technorati. I'm sure you'll find a blog or two more to your liking and probably less self-serving.