Re-Launch: Dream Big

Steve Jobs was a dreamer… and a visionary.  The kind of person we all could look up to and admire.  The kind of person that we would all like to be– if we had that kind of drive.  

Thing is, instead of just dreaming, Steve Jobs did what he dreamed about doing.  If he had an idea, he went for it.  If he wanted to change the way people thought about things, he tried it.  He didn’t always succeed.  But for every failure, there is the possibility for a success. Steve Jobs never let his failures get in the way of his success.

The text used in the above image comes from an Apple Computer ad from the early 1990s. I couldn’t find the original ad anywhere online, so I re-created a new version of it using an image of Steve Jobs and the Apple Logo.  I hope I don’t get sued.

The story below was posted to my blog on October 22, 2005.  

 

Many years ago, I was visiting my cousin with my family. I was in my early twenties, just starting college. The year was probably somewhere around 1990-1991.

My cousin had a poster on her closet door. It wasn’t the typical poster for a teenage girl– one would expect Kirk Cameron or even still Duran Duran at that time– it was actually an ad for Macintosh computers. Macintoshes were still quite new at the time, and Apple was doing everything they could to make people realize what they could do. Their ads were moving and inspirational.

The poster/ad didn’t have pictures of icons or screens or a mouse or anything like that. It merely contained text and an Apple logo.

The text of that poster struck me immediately. I grabbed a sheet of paper and wrote down every word. And that text has stuck with me ever since. Every now and then, I remember this text, and it helps me to remember why I must continue to pursue my dreams in life. The text was titled:

Dream Big

If there were ever a time to dare,
to make a difference,
to embark on something worth doing,
it is now.
Not for any grand cause, necessarily—
but for something that tugs at your heart,
something that’s your aspiration,
something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.
Have fun.
Dig deep.
Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing seldom come easy.
There will be good days.
And there will be bad days.
There will be times when you want to turn around,
pack it up, and call it quits.
Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself,
that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea,
determination, and the right tools,
you can do great things.
Let your instincts,
your intellect,
and your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.
Of doing something that makes a difference.
Of working hard.
Of laughing and hoping.
Of lazy afternoons.
Of lasting friends.
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new brings the hope of something great.
Anything is possible.
There is only one you.
And you will pass this way only once.

Do it right.

No matter what curve balls life has thrown me, I always remember that there is a greater goal ahead of me. I may not know what it is, and I many never know what it is; but as long as I continue to dream big and keep trying… and living… and loving life, I’ll find happiness, somehow.

Thanks for sharing this with me.

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My Top 10 Classic 1970’s Commercials

As I grow ever nearer to my 40th birthday (less than a month away!) I decided it’s time to start taking a little trip down memory road and bring back some things I remember from my childhood.

To start, I have assembled my Top 10 most memorable 1970’s commercials.  Growing up as a child of the 1970’s, I was glued to the TV more often than not.  So many of these commercials are just as memorable to me today as they were then.

Here we go!

10. Chiffon Margarine – “It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature”

Oh how I loved this one.  Something about it just stuck with me for years afterward.  Maybe it was the way she said the commercial’s tagline, or maybe it was the thunder and lightning.  Either way, I once in a while will still use this line.  This is the only one I can find on YouTube— but I know many others were made.

9. Trix – Trix Ahoy!

I used to always feel so sorry for the Trix Rabbit.  Why were Trix just for kids anyway?  After all, grown-ups could eat Trix if they wanted to– why couldn’t the rabbit?  Anyway, his misadventures with trying to access Trix cereal were best in the 1970’s– when there were only three flavors: Raspberry Red, Lemon Yellow and Orange Orange.  Of course, they always tasted the same to me.

8. Slinky – “It’s Slinky!”

I think I went through at least 5 Slinkies in my lifetime.  I always tried to get them to go down stairs but for some reason I never could do it successfully.  That never stopped me from trying, obviously.  I went through so many of them because I’d eventually get them all tangled and bent out of shape so they didn’t work anymore.  I never got one of those plastic ones– I always wanted a shiny new metal one.  Oddly enough, I STILL have the last Slinky I ever bought.  It’s got to be over 25 years old by now, and it’s still in perfect condition.

7. Life Cereal – “He Likes It!  Hey Mikey!”

This one had major lasting power, running well into the 1980’s and possibly even the early 1990’s.  It even had a resurgence when they found the original Mikey (who did not die from a mixture of pop rocks and Coke, as was greatly rumored) and brought him back for an update of the commercial in the 1980’s.

6. Oscar Mayer – “My Bologna Has A First Name”

I was just singing this to myself at the grocery store at the other day, when I was standing in a VERY long line waiting to be checked out.  Next to me was the lunch meat, and a ton of Oscar Mayer Bologna.  I haven’t eaten the stuff in years (the though sickens me– I ate enough of it as a kid, and frankly I never liked it then!), but the song has never left my brain.  If it has left yours, see how quickly you’ll recall it by clicking below.

5. Toys R Us – “Christmas Commercial”

This one makes me warm and fuzzy inside every single time I hear the song.  I remember KNOWING that Christmas was coming as soon as I heard this song play.  I don’t know why, but it really affected me as a kid– and still does today.

4. Tootsie Roll – “How Many Licks?

Another one that ran for YEARS, this one probably was viewed by me and my sister more times than any other.  To this day, when I count to three, I say “One… Two-WHOOOO! Three!”  As a bonus, I’m including the FULL version, where the boy asks a cow and a fox in addition to the turtle and the owl.  The classic, long-running version just includes the turtle and the owl.

Original, extended version

Classic, shortened version

3. Coca Cola – “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing

What classic 1970’s list would be complete without this commercial?  Even as a kid, I knew what a great commercial it was– if only for the song itself.  I remember singing the complete, revised song in grade school around 4th grade or so.  Of course, that was in the 1980’s, but that just goes to show the lasting power the commercial had.  This one also ran for many years– and still makes reappearances now and then.  It’s considered one of the greatest TV commercials of all-time.

2. Calgon Water Softener – “Ancient Chinese Secret

OK, I know that by today’s standards this commercial is TOTALLY un-PC.  But any kid in the 1970’s knew the line “Ancient Chinese Secret, HUH?”  Regardless of the message it portrays, it is a classic 1970’s commercial which ran for YEARS (well into the 1980’s, in fact).  So it definitely belongs here!

Interesting to note: There were two different versions of the commercial.  The original version had Mrs. Lee calling Calgon “New Improved Calgon,” while the subsequent versions just said, “Calgon.”

1. Tootsie Roll – “Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes A Tootsie Roll To Me”

Chicago-based Tootsie Roll gets two entries in my Top 10 list.  Both commercials had enormous lasting power (running well over 10 years each), and both were extremely effective because their messages were clear, clever and simple.  This song is one of those that hurtles me back 35 years or so and plants me in front of the TV watching “Bozo’s Circus” or “Ray Rayner” on WGN Channel 9.  I love this one.

Tony Curtis: The Original Heartthrob

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis wasn’t just good-looking.  He was ridiculously good-looking.

The jet-black, spit-curled hair.  The piercing blue eyes.  The tight, athletic body.  The brilliant smile.  The Bronx bravado and machismo.  They were all there.  He wasn’t just a matinee idol.  He was a great actor in a beautiful shell.

I remember the first time I saw Tony Curtis in a film.  The film was “Houdini,” and it was one of the many films featured as “Family Classics,” presented by WGN TV in Chicago by the legendary Frazier Thomas.  I spent many Sundays  with my family, watching classic movies like “Old Yeller,” “When Worlds Collide,” and “My Friend Flicka.”  “Houdini” was one of my favorites though, mostly because of the story of Harry Houdini, but especially because of the impossible-to-resist Tony Curtis in the lead role.

Cover of
Cover of Houdini

I was a pretty clever kid back in the day.  I paid attention to details, like actors’ names and directions to my relative’s homes.  It’s a trait that has stuck with me to this very day.  I knew the name “Tony Curtis,” and as I grew older, I would seek out films featuring stars I had seen that I had liked.   Tony Curtis was one of those stars.  Sure, I knew he was much older than me, but I didn’t care– I knew that he was good-looking and a good actor.  That’s all that mattered to me.

One of my favorite films was “Trapeze.”  It featured Curtis and Burt Lancaster, with the sultry Gina Lollobrigida in her first American movie role.  It was a tense, sexy movie that featured Curtis and Lancaster in all forms of skimpy attire.  My young gay self could hardly stand it.

Tony CurtisIt would be years before I finally caught all of the incredibly funny “Some Like It Hot,” with Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe in the hilarious cross-dressing camp classic.  It quickly became one of my all-time favorite films– featuring someone I had admired for years, even though I never really had the chance to know how good he was at comedy as well as drama.

I could go on about his later years:  the crummy movie choices, the multiple wives, and the bouts with drugs and recovery– but I really prefer to remember Tony Curtis for the man he was at the top of his game.  I wanted to be him.  I wanted hair like his, lips like his, eyes like his.  He was the man every woman (and many men) wanted, and the man every man wanted to be.  He was, for me, my original heartthrob.

Dearest Mel Gibson: Shut the F**k Up!

Dearest Mel Gibson:

A few years ago, I had to come down pretty hard on your buddy Tom Cruise.  He was getting way out of control, and someone needed to beat him down a few notches.  I don’t think it worked all that well– but it sure felt good to get my feelings off my chest.

Now it’s your turn.

Mel… Enough is enough.  We are done with you.

Your racist rants, your pompous attitude, and your (at times) insanely old-school Catholic beliefs are wearing thin on us.  You’re an abusive, rude and bull-headed individual who thinks he deserves everything handed to him on a silver platter.

Mel, those days are over.  It’s time to shut the f**k up and go away.

You’re an aging relic.  You used to be a handsome, suave and dapper young man.  Charming and extremely good-looking — some would even say hot– as a 20 and 30 year old, you starred in such classic films as “Mad Max,” “Gallipoli,” and “The Year Of Living Dangerously.”  You moved us in “The Man Without A Face,” and you made us laugh while racking up big bucks in the “Lethal Weapon” series.  You won Oscars for “Braveheart,” (not one of my favorites, but I can’t deny that you won) and went on to direct more films.

Then came “Passion of the Christ,” which I never saw, but the controversy around it was so great that it actually turned me away from it.  I can’t fault you for your extreme Catholic beliefs, because you apparently were born into them.  What I can fault you for is anti-semitic, homophobic, and narrow-minded rhetoric that you have based on your beliefs.  This was only the beginning of what has turned out to be a constant string of shooting-off at the mouth and bullheaded behavior.

Thing is, I know you’re a talented director. You truly could be one of the greats.  But your behavior is ruining your credibility.  Unless you make a major change, I don’t see you repairing that anytime soon.

What turned you into such a bitter angry man, Mel?  Was it the constant glare of fame?  Was it the pressure to remain “beautiful” and “sexy” as you got older?  Or were these things always a part of you, just simmering away, waiting for the right moment to boil over?

You’ve had numerous run-ins with the law because of your abuse of alcohol; and every time we’d think you had learned your lesson, you’d get sloshed again and make an ass of yourself.  You never seem to learn your lessons.  Countless DUIs, and more anti-semitic remarks to a police officer later… and your star dimmed even darker.

You once had such wonderful things to say about your wife and family, but then you got divorced.  Now come the reports and audio of you verbally abusing your girlfriend.  I’ve heard the recordings, Mel.  They’re disgusting.  The person on those recordings is not someone I want to associate with, let alone support.  That person needs serious help…  Mental evaluations…  Maybe even some good, hard locking up.

The press is not saying outright that it’s you on those recordings because you won’t verify that it is, truly, you.  But anyone who has heard your voice knows that it’s you.  And not only is it your voice, it’s your words– the words we have heard before and you have apologized profusely for using in the past.  The words that got you into trouble with the law and with numerous groups over the years.  Quite frankly, Mel, you can’t keep you big trap shut, and now it’s getting you into some serious trouble.

I hope everyone hears those recordings, Mel.  I hope they hear them and discover what a monster you really are.  Anyone who threatens to kill another person may as well have done the deed.  To even THINK something like that is revolting.  I don’t care if you did it or not– to say that is abuse.

So Mel, I’m through with you.  I won’t be seeing your movies or supporting anything you do.  Get help.

Please, Mel Gibson.  Shut the f**k up already.

Warmest regards,
Rick Aiello

Why I Love “Glee”

My friends, family and acquaintances will not be surprised by the confession I am about to make.  In fact, they’re probably sick and tired of hearing me talk about it.  But I’m going to talk about it anyway.

I love “Glee.”

There, I said it.

First of all, I can’t believe this show has only been on for one season.  It’s  become such a staple for me and my friends that I feel like it’s been on for years, not just mere months.

Second, when I look at the number of songs this cast has performed in its first season, it astounds me.  Never mind the fact that they are over-produced (a problem many people– myself included– have with the show); the fact that this cast has performed, in one form or another, 137 songs in its first season (a herculean feat for ANY group) makes me only further believe that they are THE hardest-working cast on TV right now… or of all time.

But that’s not why I love “Glee.”

I love the show because at its center are a cast of characters from which I can find a part of myself at any given time in my life.  And they all share the same common bond– the love of music.

Diversity in casting is fairly commonplace these days, but while some shows show diversity while still presenting “beautiful people,’ “Glee” went a step further.

“Glee” made it a point to showcase the outcasts: the kids who were the brunt of jokes and the recipients of teasing and sometimes torture by other kids.  The ones who look different, sound different, and sometimes even move different from everyone else.  Into that mix, it threw in some of the “cool kids” – the jocks, cheerleaders and otherwise “popular” ones who had higher places on the social hierarchy.  Would they co-exist and still create music together?  Or would they throw everything down the tubes?

In the season finale, we learned that everyone who joined the Glee club had grown considerably since the first episode– from students to teachers to counselors.  The revelations by each of the characters showed that the story we had been following had made a difference in each of their lives– and the difference that was made was due, for the most part, to the common bond they shared– music.

In each of these characters, I saw a part of myself– both when I was their age and today.  I found myself relating most to, of course, Kurt– for his awkwardness and self-discovery; and to Tina for her shyness and newfound ability to make friends.  I also related to Artie, who, although he is wheelchair-bound, never lets that be a barrier.  Will Scheuster’s starry-eyed hopefulness was familiar, as I have often found myself to feel that way about situations– only to be disappointed in the end.  That’s not being Debbie-Downerish– that’s just being real.  Not everything is bright and shiny and wonderful.  And Will’s discovery throughout this show’s first season proved that.

Then there’s Sue Sylvester– the snarky, vicious, hell-driven antagonist.  There were times I thought the character was a bit too much– but there was always a method to her madness.  Sue could have been a completely one-dimensional character, but the writers didn’t let that happen.  I always hoped we’d see her other side, and the episode where she visited her sister with Down Syndrome did just that, and beautifully.  And in that moment, the caricature that we had seen since day one was crumbled.  Sue has a heart.  Everyone has a heart– we just don’t always show it.

Of course, the show is not perfect.  There were some major clunker episodes in the course of the first season, and a few times where the fantasy aspect of the show got way out of hand.  I’d love to see a touch more realism in the next season– but not TOO much.  The fantasy aspect of the show is what makes it fun.  After all, it’s not just a comedy or a drama– it’s a MUSICAL comedy-drama.  A MuDramEdy.  I just coined a phrase.

So now the show is done and us “Gleeks” are left to watch our DVDs and listen to our soundtrack MP3s until the fall.  Will the anticipation of Season 2 pay off?  I hope so.  Until then, I’ll relive some of the best moments and enjoy my summer.

What were some of your favorite moments of the first season of “Glee”?  What were some moments you wish had gone a bit better?