Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


Eight Reasons to Love MySpace

Eight Reasons to Love MySpace

  1. It has seven letters. That's lucky, right?
  2. First letter is 'm'. Last letter is 'e'. Subliminally, it is all about 'me'. Who am I?
  3. It gave us a dreaded business model concern, "To be MySpaced is to be rendered impotent, like a satellite in the sky waiting to fall (but no one cares if it does)."
  4. It is run by Mark Zuckerberg.
  5. Oh, wait, #4 is about Facebook.
  6. There really are no good reasons to like MySpace, are there?
  7. Placekeeper. Fill in your reason here. If you can make it sound like Facebook, even better.
  8. Google+
Please read my funny stories on AOL Patch and say something nice about them there.


Bluster County Blues: The Boy Who Hated Doing Everything

A boy loves to dream about adventure, but is lazy. What happens when adventure after adventure shows up at his house? "Glorious Tales That Probably Didn't Happen Quite The Way I Tell It"


Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Whines, Justifies and Makes Excuses

An email to me fom Netflix.

Dear Anthony,

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn't make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why.

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.

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The Complete Calvin and Hobbes review (Cures a Rough Day: Calvin and Hobbes is Still Fun After All These Years)

I'm trying to find the best collection of hyperboles to describe "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson. There are none. It is all good. All funny. All playful. All witty.

So there it is. Find a word that is positive, then put 'all' in front of it. I like it that much.

What these three volumes represent for most of us looking for it is exactly as the title says, 'complete'. Every Calvin and Hobbes strip is here. The print quality is strong, and the paper is marvelous.

For me, this is not an archival collection. These are books I look at frequently. I read them. I crack one open, and find myself chuckling for 30 minutes. I can't say I deeply analyze the strips, or ask exactly how real Hobbes is. Rather, I just soak it in, and smile a lot.

I have read them all before, but they hold up well over the years.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes (Calvin & Hobbes) (v. 1, 2, 3)As I grow older, I understand some of them differently. Mr. Watterson transcendently addresses human nature and our timeless nature to create unnecessary troubles. He remembers the complexity of childhood romance, parent-to-child-to-parent relationship dynamics, and the struggle of being a less than attentive student. In all of this, he finds enormous amounts of gentle creativity.

What is missing is a short line from Mr. Watterson himself. I looked for it. It isn't here. It is, in fact, the only thing lacking. There should be a line which says, "Thanks for reading, friends. I'm hard at work on relaunching new Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. Look for it soon in your local paper." Mr. Watterson never wrote that because it isn't true. Instead, Mr. Watterson ended the strip on his own terms with possibly the best last strip ever. The only strip perhaps exceeding it is Charles Schulz' last Peanuts strip.

I first heard of the strip from an old, good friend when I was in college. Soon after, he gave me a copy of the first collected strips in a now-worn paperback volume, inscribing, "Here's some light reading to help you through the rougher times." Then, when he passed away this spring, he bequeathed one item to me, and that was this complete collection. When I think of him and miss those great times, and need some light reading, I know where to go.

I fully recommend "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson. Come on, "Let's go exploring!"

Anthony Trendl


Labor Day Question: Which Famous Characters Would Take Off Labor Day?

John Henry would be celebrating Labor Day (American holiday) if he could. What other tall tale, or folk tale characters are known for their jobs?

Join the discussion on Facebook, in my group, Bluster County Blues.


Labor Day Has Been Revoked: White House Report

Just in from Washington DC --

Due to a high unemployment rate, Labor Day has been cancelled. Not enough people are actually working to have the day off.

As a result, there will be no BBQs, backyard football, beer drinking, and absolutely no relaxing of any kind.

"With roughly 10% of the workforce already not working," said President Obama in a special address to the American people, "we cannot, in good faith, honor a holiday for them."

Banks, post offices and parking meter readers will all be open for business, he continued.

"America, I too will be working hard. I will think of you while golfing with the Republican Party, bridging dialogue, talking compromise, and making birdies."

Sunday Will Be Late Today (Check Your Local Listings)

Sunday, due to budget cuts, a job program, and something about tariffs, has been cut back. It starts later in most states, except New Hampshire, where it was cancelled all together and renamed Saturday II.