How to Be Famous

In light of Amy Winehouse’s death, I got to thinking about fame and what a trap it can be for some people.

Recent studies have found that an alarming number of kids think being famous is a career goal.  They don’t want to achieve anything, they don’t want to work for it. They only want to be discovered.  Entitlement, anyone?

Fame changes things.  When you become famous, everything you do is put under a microscope.  That may sound great to you when you’re singing into a hairbrush in front of the bathroom mirror, but is it?  Do you really want people all over the world knowing and judging everything you do?  When you need privacy, how happy will you be knowing you can’t get it anymore unless you become a virtual hermit?

As the meme says, haters gonna hate, but you can mitigate some of the damage with the following suggestions.

Have  a goal besides being famous

You’re much less likely to implode when you become famous if the fame itself is not the desire.  Actors, musicians, writers and artists who are truly dedicated to their work will do it regardless of the attention.  Yes, these endeavors require an audience to be fully appreciated, but it doesn’t have to be a worldwide one.   If your fame ebbs, you can still go on doing what you’re doing.

Stay off the junk

 Famous and creative people seem to use a lot of drugs, don’t they?  They drink, they party and they die.  How embarrassing.

Stephen King once said being a writer didn’t make him drink.  Being a drunk made him drink.  Addictive personalities may be drawn to fame because of the positive reinforcement they get.  But as we’ve seen in the past, public opinion can turn faster than an ice skater who’s about to slam into the boards.

Do you want to be famous like this?

Quick, someone, get a marker!

Or like this?

 

MUCH more attractive, doncha think?

Behave yourself

If you want attention, fine.  But some people think that any attention is better than nothing.  So you get the bad boys, the crazy girls, the shows like Bridezilla (I must confess, until I had to downgrade my satellite TV, this was a guilty pleasure).

While substance abuse can make people act like they’re nuts—and so can being nuts—many celebrities behave badly because they feel entitled.  Naomi Campbell used to be famous for being a supermodel.  Then she became known for things like throwing phones at people, which ultimately got her arrested and convicted of assault.

Even if you’re richer than God, have some respect for others’ property and feelings.  If you don’t, please don’t ask me to feel sorry for you or even care.

If you’re in over your head, get some damn help

 I’m sure when Matilda Ledger gets a little older, her main question regarding the accidental overdose death of her father, Heath Ledger, will be “Why, Daddy?”  Breaks your heart.

Mel Gibson, Britney Spears…the list goes on.  Some of them have gotten a bit of support from family or friends, but many more are no longer with us because they sunk so low.  You can blame the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll machine for part of it, but not all.  No one can help you until you are ready for it.  If you are, just do it.  Thanks to the late Betty Ford, rehab is no shame anymore.

Fame brings a lot of pressure with it. You must produce and you must stay in the public eye to sell your work.  To an extent, you’re a commodity, not an artist.  Ledger allegedly had trouble with that concept.  Again, the goal should not be the fame.  Even if it’s not, it’s a hard thing to wrap your head around.

Keep your mouth shut

Anything you put on the Internet stays there forever.  If you’re famous, it’s like plutonium.  It will never go away.  So don’t tell anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to know.

Yes, you can be misquoted and yes, magazines like the Enquirer sold tons of copies by making stuff up.   Remember, it’s like high school.  If a headline blasts that you’re pregnant by your co-star, you can laugh and say “Yeah? Well we’ll see in nine months if that’s true or not,”  (If you are, you better come clean.)

As for a lack of privacy, it does come with the territory.  But it’s attainable.  Keep personal things to yourself, so they remain yours

Stay grounded

Unless you’re a horrible attention-whore fame monkey, you’ll probably want to keep your kids and your family out of the public eye as much as you can.  Kids are great for grounding you because nothing makes you feel like less of an Oscar-winning A-lister than getting puked on at three in the morning.  Skip the live-in nanny if you can, and do most of it yourself.

The people who knew you before you were famous can do the same.   Just try to stay away from the freeloaders, and remember why you were friends with your peeps in the first place.  It’s hard because your schedule will suck, but make the effort.

If all else fails, get a dog.

Aww.

Plan for the day it all will end

Not many flash-in-the-pan celebrities from twenty or thirty years ago are remembered now.  Some of them go on reality shows to make a little money and keep the thing going.  Guess what?  It’s not that important.

Think of it this way:  your star has faded, and now you have a chance to reinvent yourself.  If you’ve been careful with your money, you can do anything you want now.  Pressure’s off.

Do it right, like Mayim Bialik, and you can have your Ph.D in neuroscience, a family and maybe even another go.

 

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Ending a Series

When a series concludes, it’s a bittersweet moment.  You want to know how it all comes out, but yet not leave it behind.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the last film in the series based on the books, and it is a doozy.

I knew I would see this one in the theater.   Alas, no Thursday night costume party sneak peeks for me; I had to work the next day.  I hate crowded places, so my plan was to wait until Sunday morning, when everyone would be in church.

You know what a huge Potternerd I am.

You had to know I couldn’t wait.

I was downtown after skating, and drove by the theater to see what the parking situation was.   So I thought…hmmm….I have time…  Before I knew it, I was in a nice comfy theater seat!

The guy next to me smelled like a sour sock.  At least he kept his arms down most of the time.  It’s beastly hot out right now, so I forgave him.   But since Stinky was texting during the movie, I decided that I would wiggle, clap, mutter and cry as much as I wanted.  So there!

If you didn’t read the books, I’ll try not to spoil anything for you.  (But read them. DO IT.)

#1—It explained everything. 

The last novel was split into two films so as not to leave out anything critical.  This is the end of the series, after all.  Rowling wrapped up the loose ends nicely, including the most important one.

They stuck very close to the book, especially in Part 2.  No doubt Potterphiles will endlessly rag on the movies for not being 100% right on, but whenever you translate media this happens.  I’m not going to discuss that now.

Bottom line is everything you wanted to know, you know.

#2—It looked exactly as it should have. 

I love it when a movie closely resembles what I pictured in my head while reading.  Everyone has a different vision, but this was pretty damn close to mine.  I think they did a good job with locations and costumes overall because no one has complained that any of the HP movies don’t look right.

Good world-building allows readers and viewers alike to suspend disbelief.  And the final film in a series is the most important.   Ending images are the ones people will take with them.  There are certain expectations of a finale and HP: DH2 fulfilled them.  Think Pelennor Fields at Hogwarts.  :)

#3—They kept the same actors through the entire thing.

I think this was in their contracts, but other than that I don’t know how they did it.  If we’d had to adjust to a new Hermione or Ron, it would not have worked as well.  The best part (although maybe not for the kids) was watching the characters AND the actors grow up before our eyes.

Holy crap, they were tiny.

Richard Harris as Dumbledore was replaced by Michael Gambon, but he can be excused because, you know, he died.

#4—They got GOOD actors, which paid off in the end.

Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) have matured as actors over the course of the series.  They gave excellent performances here.  Also perfection are Dame Maggie Smith, (Professor McGonagall), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange) and of course Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort).

In fact, the HP films have had consistently good casts over the entire series.  They reek of awesome.  It kept the quality up so that when they finally got to the last one, they lost nothing.

Alan Rickman has never won an Oscar.  You might argue that Harry Potter is hardly award-worthy, but look at Heath Ledger.  He won, deservedly so, for the Joker.  Mr. Rickman should win for Severus Snape, especially in this movie.   I never cried so hard at the theater in my life.

#5—They picked the best composer they could get for the music. 

 

I’m going to get arguments from some people I know.  John Williams ably scored the first three films, and is now associated with the Potter theme.  He passed the torch to Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper and now to Alexandre Desplat (say deh-SPLAH).  His best Potter score is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.   Many people wanted Williams to return for the end, but he did not due to scheduling conflicts.

Desplat’s scores are emotional rather than catchy, which fit the darkest Potter film quite well.  I listened to it for a couple of weeks prior on Streamingsoundtracks.com.   Hearing it in the context of the film made it even better.  A good soundtrack complements the movie without being distracting, but doesn’t fade into the background either.

Overall, my impression is a good one.  I can’t pick things apart unless they are really bad, and nothing bothered me here.  NOTHING!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Read the books!

4 Ways to Help a Computer Newbie

Does not know how to use a computer.

Wow, I’m bossy lately.  Here’s another bossy post telling you what to do!

My older neighbor’s children got her a notebook after a pretty serious medical issue, so she could keep in touch by email.  They figured she would like to footle around on the Internet as well.

She has never used a computer before.  Ever.

The poor lady is too nice to tell her kids she DOES. NOT. WANT.  So she is losing her mind trying to use the thing.  Guess who gets to help?

Anyone with parents or grandparents in this pickle knows exactly what I’m talking about.  I’m no expert, but as a writer who also works in an office, I can get around minor issues with little trouble.  In no particular order, here are some things to keep in mind.

#4—Never assume they know anything at all. 

Listen to the complaint; don’t assume you know what Grandpa is asking.  Have him show you what he was doing when a problem occurred.  He can likely do that instead of tell you since he doesn’t know what that little arrow-shaped thing is called yet.

Not everyone is a natural instructor.  Listening goes a long way, as does patience.   It’s difficult to teach someone skills that come easily to you.  Once you learn all the little things about operating a computer, they become intuitive.  For a person who doesn’t even know how to turn the machine on and off, explaining them is like speaking Swahili to an Eskimo.

#3—Remember that they are afraid.

Older people especially see a computer as an expensive, complicated machine.  They are terrified they will irreparably damage it.  Also, learning something new as an adult is scary enough when you’re 25; when you’re 75, it’s even more so.

Encourage Auntie Myrtle to explore the computer with you there.  Let her mash all the buttons she likes, play with the cursor, open and close programs, etc.  Tell her there’s little she can do to break it.  She won’t believe that, but tell her anyway.  Walk her through some tutorials so she can get a feel for them and can ask you for help if she needs to.

#2—Write it down.

Look online for computer tutorials.  I found a good one (link at the bottom).  The Dummies series of books is awesome too.  Check reviews before purchasing anything.  Also, check your local library or college for free computer classes for adults and seniors.

There are software tutorials on disc, but they can be expensive, and some have dozens of complaints against them (I’m talking to you, Video Professor).  Go over sites/books with your newbie and bookmark things they will probably refer to often.

If you can’t find a good tutorial, make it.  A well-written tutorial can be a huge help.  Newbies often feel stupid, but if you give them a way to help themselves, it empowers them.

#1—Keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes time to learn anything new, and computers, even with incredibly easy GUIs that a five-year-old can navigate, are no exception.  No one can get it all in one day.  Your newbie may be frustrated because everyone else seems to know all this.

Reassure your newbie that no one else learned it overnight either.  The only reason I know what I know is I’ve been messing with the thing since the mid-90s.  Many, many people started earlier than I did and they don’t even know everything.

Since the advent of user-friendly interfaces, much of the programming crap an older person may remember about early computers is already done by the time it lands on your desk.  It truly is plug-and-play, right out of the box.

BONUS TIP:

NEVER LET YOUR NEWBIE GO SHOPPING FOR A COMPUTER WITHOUT YOU! 

If Mrs. Roubidoux next door says she’d like to get a laptop, take her to the store to try some out.  Park your butt right near her and fend off warranty upsells, optimization bullhockey and $450 cable scams.  It’s possible to get a machine without the crap (probably not at Best Buy, however). If you have to, you can order it online for her.

Once you get your newbie up and running, then you can get back to your writing.  Here are some links to help you.

How to Help Someone Use a Computer

http://polaris.gseis.ucla.edu/pagre/how-to-help.html

 

How to Teach Someone to Use a Computer

http://www.ehow.com/how_5899820_teach-someone-use-computer.html

 

This tutorial below looks awesome, but my newbie might not be ready for this yet.  She can’t navigate web pages very well.  Once she can, I plan to give her this link.

 

Free Computer Training at GCFLearnfree.org

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/computers