Baby, You’re A Star


Sunday was a nice, blustery day so we decided to get out of the house and do a little bit of shopping – mostly window-wishing – at the local outlet.

As is the case with most outlets these days, the walkways are riddled with independent vendors trying to push their wares to anybody that passes. I had heard it said that these guys are the modern-day equivalent of pop-up ads and it’s true: they just keep pestering you.

But one booth wasn’t selling tennis shoe polish, laser-etched iPhone cases or fidget spinners (and I swear if I hear my kid say that one more time, I’ll scream). And unlike most of the booths, it was unmanned when we passed it.

What they were selling was a Hollywood dream to make it big in television and movies. It was a casting agency that specialized in recruiting children and teens for studios like Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. or so they say.

And it wasn’t until we were ready to leave when we were approached by the person who was running the booth. Apparently she thought we looked like a bunch of pigeons as she walked up to us, taking particular interest in Anthony.

She first asked if we were local. I confirmed her suspicion. Then the spiel began about how she was looking for teens age whatever-to-whatever to cast for shows on the aforementioned networks. That’s when I started to grin and then dropped the mic on her.

“Nah, that’s okay. I used to do background acting and…”

At the mention of “background acting” I swear that woman left a puff of smoke behind her and disappeared faster than Usain Bolt in the 100m dash.

Why is that?

There are a few reasons for her to not take interest in me or Anthony.

First, casting agencies in general. When you’re selling Hollywood to some slack-jawed yokel that doesn’t know any better, they will of course shovel out whatever it takes to make their kid a star. And that’s the problem: legit agencies will NEVER ask for money up front, and you can bet that this one was going to ask me for my wallet in order to get Anthony a few headshots that would be stuffed into an album of hundreds of others that already got bilked and still haven’t been cast for anything. For my casting file, my headshot was taken with a digital camera at the agency. That’s all they need especially if it’s only non-union background work. Speaking parts require SAG-AFTRA union membership and that costs money, something that you pay directly to the union and not the agency. Only then will you make decent money. Until then it’s minimum wage, baby. Except may for the monetary bumps for exposure to smoke, water, or the studio using your car in the background as well. Living the Hollywood dream? Hardly.

Second, I’ve seen what kids have to go through in this industry. For adults, it’s no big deal other than hustling for more jobs during your downtime between shots and there is a lot of downtime. For kids, however, it means having their parents on location with them, going to the on-set “school” between shots, and just long days that nobody that young should be put through. There’s never guarantee of when the production will wrap and if they have another shoot the next morning or get a callback for the current one, it’s a lot of stress for parents and kids. Kids also get hungry and antsy. This is why they are so hard to work with. It’s a miserable existence and a life I would never wish on any child. Believe me, it’s nothing like what you see on the screen or social media.

I can say quite confidently that those last two paragraphs are exactly what went through the mind of this woman as she ran away from me. She knew I had an inside track about the industry and didn’t even want to mess with me.

So sorry, kid. You’re not going to be the next big thing.

But you’ll always be our star.

Photo May 07, 5 28 41 PM

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Is Amazon Serious About Prime Air?


prime-air_high-resolution01I had to check my calendar when the story first broke yesterday.

Yes, it was the 1st of the month but alas, the month of December not April. Yet I still thought this was a joke.

In case you missed it, Amazon announced that it had tested a new form of package delivery they call PrimeAir which promises to have your package – maximum weight of 5 pounds – at your door within 30 minutes of ordering. Kind of like the Dominos Pizza of online merchandise delivery.

The difference is this: while Dominos relies on a driver’s high-mileage 1999 Toyota Echo to get your bland pizza to your door, Amazon plans to enlist the help of drones (see photo) to carry package. Here’s the video of how it would supposedly work.

And here’s where the problems begin. I’ll go over a list of five things that I immediately thought of when I heard of this gimmick.

Problem 1: Liabilities
Have you ever tried to fly one of these things? My neighbor’s son had an AR Drone and all I remember seeing that thing do was crash into things – and hard. Granted, the ones Amazon shows being used in the video are nothing like the aforementioned models but still, I would imagine controlling one of these things would require patience and a good amount of training in order to have them fly safely.

And take a look at the photo above. Do you see what I see? Something along the lines of exposed rotor blades? Remember that scene from Raiders of the Lost Art when Indy is fighting the guy near the plane? Perhaps things may not get that graphic but all I’ll say is kids and animals can be very curious.

Problem 2: Crazy People
Let’s face it, not everyone is as sane as you or me. So let’s say Amazon ultimately decides that this is a grand idea and rolls it out to a few test markets. Who’s to say that said crazy people wouldn’t take it upon themselves to try and bring the drone down by whatever means possible? Idiots still shine lasers at incoming passenger planes so why wouldn’t they roll the dice and try their luck with a mystery 5-pound package? It could be anything from an iPhone to Q-tips. Then again, the seriously crazy people wouldn’t care about the package as much as they would reeking havoc on a remote controlled flying gizmo. It would be like the head of a trophy buck to them.

Problem 3: Hacking
Like mostly everything these days, a drone is a computer. On top of that, it’s got wireless receivers and transmitters on-board. It’s possible that these things could be hacked and the package delivered to someone other than the intended recipient. While I’m sure GPS will play a huge part in tracking the devices, I’m also quite positive a hacker could make the drone forget where it was last.

Problem 4: Bombs Away
While there is a weight limit to the packages that the drones can deliver, things can still go wrong. Suppose the battery suddenly goes dead or is starting to die and the drone begins to lose its power, the same power that probably controls the arms that hold the package firmly in place. If those arms suddenly begin to grow weak then there goes the little orange box. Watch out below. And hey, who’s to say that the aforementioned hackers wouldn’t do this very thing just for fun? Or what if the drones encounter bad weather that blows them off-course? So, so much that could go wrong.

Problem 5: Is This Even Feasible?
I’m not sure how many distribution centers Amazon has or how many markets they plan to roll this out in but it just doesn’t seem to make economic sense to invest in these delivery drones. We’re talking about delivering packages weighing under 5 pounds here. If someone ordered something they needed in 30 minutes, you can bet it probably wasn’t anything of significant value – or could it be? Either way, it doesn’t make economic sense to me, and that’s not even factoring potential item returns into the equation.

So Amazon, you got us. Your little delivery “innovation” seems like nothing more than a pipe dream or, which is most likely the case with Christmas shopping in full swing, free publicity by generating a buzz that included your name. It could just be nothing more than a commercial for the online merchandising giant.

We’ll see what eventually goes down in a few years but as for me, I just don’t see it happening. And if it does, I’m buying a hardhat.

UPDATE 12/3/13: That didn’t take long. Now UPS is in on the action? When will FedEx and the others join?

Blogging 365, Day 62: I Got Praise!


Don’t let this dog-and-pony show of a blog mislead you – I actually do have what it takes to create effective social media buzz that will drive customers to your door.

At least that’s what the people at Pizza Today have said. Here’s why.

Every now and then, I will write Facebook posts for my friend’s pizzeria advertising their current or upcoming specials and for the most part, they are written and forgotten. That’s not to say that they are worth forgetting, no. I collaborate with him, come up with a few ideas, then send him the draft to see if he likes it.

Then the agonizing begins over what sounds best and why, talk pricing if applicable, delivery or take-out, etc. There’s much more to it than what’s going on here at this blog, something I make no money from and pay into by means of annual domain mapping fees and name registration.

But I create the Facebook posts free of charge because I simply like to do them and love getting down and dirty with the details of what can’t be said and why. The blog? Oh, anything goes here as you can probably tell.

And apparently, it’s that kind of attention to detail that caught the eye of the people over at Pizza Today.

On Friday, I got a text from my buddy to let me know what he saw in the latest issue:

IMG_20130301_165436.jpeg

It’s a little hard to see so here’s a clip from their website:

ciceros

We created this post to promote their 12/12/12 special, something that they also did on 10/10/10 but with results that were…well, they were beyond what we both expected. Let’s just say ovens are limited to their capacity and when you advertise a $10 pizza with no limits on quantity or size restrictions, things will get ugly.

But this was a good thing and something we both thought about for the 12/12/12 promotion (there was no 11/11/11 special). We got together and brainstormed to come up with an idea that would prove both beneficial to he as the owner and the customers as well.

The Facebook post you see about was the result and from what I know, it was not a bad day for his business.

It may be long gone and down at the bottom of their Facebook page now but according to Pizza Today, this post hit the marketing nail on the head in terms of everything – and I’m glad to have been a part of it.