Mark Cuban is totally fucking wrong … unless he’s not, in which case: My bad.

So my Work Wife (who, just so we’re clear, is a dude) sent me this link to a blog entry by Mark Cuban, whom I didn’t know had a blog, and of whom I only am peripherally aware because of his cameo appearances on “Entourage” and the occasional glimpses I’ve had of that “Shark Tank” show (and that really funny legal brief he filed after his Mavericks won the NBA championship). Basically, I know he’s rich and, at least in entrepreneurial terms, successful.

So here’s what Mark Cuban said in the aforementioned blog entry, which he titled “Dont [sic] Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort”:

I hear it all the time from people. “I’m passionate about it.” “I’m not going to quit, It’s my passion”. Or I hear it as advice to students and others “Follow your passion”.

What a bunch of BS. “Follow Your Passion” is easily the worst advice you could ever give or get.


The “Follow Your Passion” thing has been the unstated theme of my existence since I decided to part ways with the United States Army some 20 years ago. “Follow Your Passion” led me away from a career in law enforcement and into a career as a music journalist, and guess which one of those two things I enjoyed more? Hint: Driving around the Mojave Desert in a patrol car in the middle of the night with a police dog had its moments, but hanging out with Van Halen was marginally better.

“Follow Your Passion” also led me to launch this blog, which has been the most rewarding experience I’ve had thus far as a writer. And that experience has further solidified for me that creative writing is what I want to do for a living. It is my “Passion,” if you will. And, despite what Mark Cuban says, I plan to follow it … as stated here just recently.

But not long after my recent assertion that I would be taking my writing pursuits to the next level, our 15-year-old Honda CR-V, the odometer on which reads in excess of 180,000 miles, finally sustained an injury so costly that we simply can’t justify getting it repaired. And the blown head gasket in question has brought into even sharper focus the critical nature of the death-defying balancing act known as The Scratches Family Finances (Or Glaring Lack Thereof).

Basically, we’re fucked.

And now I’m at a bit of a crossroads, because on the one hand, I’m all, “Follow your passion, Jon!,” and on the other hand, I’m all, “Hey, Jon, look where following your passion has gotten you!”

Disclaimer: Not really our car. (The one shown above is much nicer.)

For the sake of argument, here’s what Mark Cuban drives:

Disclaimer: I don't know if this is what Mark Cuban drives ... but I know he could if he wanted to, is my point.

I am passionate about writing, and greatly enamored with the idea of getting paid well for it. I have a couple of story ideas that I plan to turn into novels and/or screenplays, I have a sitcom idea, and I am tempted also to write a memoir (which is why I, thus far, haven’t written for my blog the many tales I have to share about my experiences as a teen and as a soldier in the army, among other things). And I have this blog, which continues to be my favorite writing platform.

And everything I’ve mentioned in the preceding paragraph currently yields approximately zero-point-zero dollars.

And I have a 15-year-old CR-V that just died, and a 13-year-old coupe that sooner rather than later will follow in the footsteps of its recently deceased drivewaymate, and an imminent need for a new automobile that we can’t afford, and a family whose options in all areas of life have been, and continue to be, overwhelmingly limited by a severe lack of cash. And that makes me feel like this whole “Follow Your Passion” thing hasn’t worked out so well.

Fortunately, I am still stupid enough to believe that, eventually, my “Passion” is going to lead me to a place of financial security and professional success. So I’m not abandoning that dream.

However, in the wake of my failure to procure a winning ticket in last Friday’s Mega Millions drawing, and barring a sudden and unexpected ability to leverage this blog for some $$, a life-changing financial payoff from my “Follow Your Passion” gamble most likely isn’t going to arrive in, say, the next month or so … which is why, in the meantime, I need to augment my income by diverting some of my energy into a less passionate endeavor.

When I got laid off from my music-journalism gig for the first time back in 2002, I bought a stack of books and taught myself how to build websites. When I got laid off from my music-journalism gig for the second time back in 2010, I landed my current day job as a web designer/developer based largely on a résumé that said I had spent the past 10 years writing about bands, and, oh yeah, did some freelance web work on the side.

It turns out that building websites is a more immediately marketable skill than writing about bands or developing a manuscript or a memoir or a sitcom pilot … or whining about one’s life on a blog, for that matter. So, while I plan to continue doing those things, I’m now also dedicating some of my time to drumming up freelance web-design/web-development work. Which pains me, because I’d rather be dedicating all of my spare time (read: those five minutes) to my “Passion.”

But maybe Mark Cuban’s onto something. For now.

(Hey, Mark: Your blog needs a design makeover. Call me.)

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Posted in Life | 17 Responses

Guys, you will never guess who I went to see in concert on Monday night … unless, you know, you’ve read this blog before or been in my company for more than 30 seconds.

Guys, you will never guess who I went to see in concert on Monday night ... unless, you know, you've read this blog before or been in my company for more than 30 seconds.
Click the image above to view full-size photo.

Good news for those of you who are sick of my little obsession: I’m pretty sure Monday was the last time I’ll be… [read the rest]

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Posted in Featured Photo, Van Halen | 9 Responses

Lay down your weary head, my son, and I will lull you to sleep with … a violent tale of death and dismemberment …?

Zan is almost nine now, and one of the great things about having an almost-9-year-old son is that the list of things I can do with him that I actually enjoy rather than endure has grown considerably since back in the days when he was a wee little tyke.

For example: Remember “Brown Bear” and “Goodnight Moon” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Miss Spider” and “Dear Sweet Christ, My Brain Is Melting From The Monotony of Reading and Re-Reading The Same Boring Shit Over and Over and Over”? Yeah, me too. Thankfully, we have graduated to less lobotomy-inducing fare, such as the “Hardy Boys” mysteries (granted, still awful … but I only have to read them once) …. and, more recently, “Harry Potter.”

We started the “Harry Potter” series last fall, and I have enjoyed reading it to him at bedtime as much as he has enjoyed listening to me read it.

Earlier this week, we finished the fourth book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

A whimsical, happy book cover that beckons the reader to embark upon a joyful adventure filled with the promise of magic and smiles and things other than,
you know, a gruesome bloodbath.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the roughly 700-page novel:

Pages 1 – 600: Harry, lovable little rapscallion that he is, gets in and out of various predicaments. Oh, Harry! You and your shenanigans!

Pages 600 – 700: He Who Must Not Be Named does Shit That Must Not Be Read … to an 8-year-old, anyway. Shit like murder and dismemberment and bloodletting and more murder and, hey, J.K.: Why don’t you just come to my house and jump out of my kid’s closet in the middle of the night with a fucking chainsaw and a monster mask?

I believe an updated book cover is in order, Ms. Rowling.
Have your people call my people.

Now, seeing as how I was the one reading the book, I conveniently bypassed the self-inflicted amputation, and I may have toned down just slightly a few other intense moments (although I don’t recall for sure; I was too busy having an internal debate about whether or not I’d made a mistake in reading this book to my 8-year-old) … but I mostly stuck to what was on the page … and, to his credit, Zan seemed to handle it all fine. In fact, the couple of times I paused to ask if he was troubled by anything, he explained that, yes, he was troubled … by the fact that I kept pausing to ask if he was troubled by anything.

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me.

Thankfully, several days later, there have been no nightmares or thumb-sucking incidents or seizures or any other outward signs of psychological and/or emotional trauma, so I’m assuming we’re good.

Now, however I have a dilemma. Two, actually:

1.) After completing each of the first three books, we watched the corresponding “Harry Potter” movie. And so, naturally, Zan wants to watch “Harry Potter and the Bloody Fucking Nightmare Goblet of Fire” … but I’m fairly certain scenes like this are probably a bit too intense for the 8-year-old demographic.

2.) He also wants us to continue reading the series … but with the storyline veering into “Silence of the Lambs” territory, I don’t know if it is wise for us to do so at this time.

Wise or not, however, I think we’re going to give it a try. I figure that as long as I’m the one doing the reading, I can improvise as needed.

And, as Zan said: “Daddy, I know it’s not real. It’s just a book. And, look, if I get scared, I can just picture Voldemort skipping through a field handing out flowers.”

Well, who can argue with that logic?

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Posted in Parenthood, Zan | 34 Responses

It’s been, like, at least five minutes since I mentioned Van Halen, right?

It's been, like, at least five minutes since I mentioned Van Halen, right?
Click the image above to view full-size photo.

I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking, “Thank GOD he’s FINALLY writing about VAN HALEN again! It’s been WAY. TOO. LONG!”… [read the rest]

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Posted in Featured Photo, Van Halen | 12 Responses

‘I almost puked at work today’ … or, ‘The anxiety attack that launched my writing career.’ One of those.

This is where the magic happens, people. And by “magic,” I mean “terrifying boredom.”

Something awesome happened this morning: I was pulling into the parking lot at my place of work, and as I did so, I spontaneously blurted out loud to no one but myself the name of the completely uninteresting, uninspiring, unexciting-to-me-in-any-way-whatsoever company for which I work … and this verbal reminder of just what it is I’ve ended up doing with my life caused me first to erupt into a sort of crazy-person laugh, and then to literally dry heave a couple of times. For a moment, I was fairly sure I was going to have to lean out of my car and vomit on the pavement.

So I’m thinking this is a pretty good sign, right? Because clearly it means that I won’t be able to do this much longer … which, in turn, means I’m getting closer to doing something with my life that doesn’t make me want to fucking vomit from the sheer banality of my existence. And that’s gotta be a step in the right direction, don’tcha think?

Actually, it’s not the job that’s the problem; it’s my inability thus far to move forward in some tangible way toward my goal of establishing a career as a creative writer, thus enabling me to no longer need a 9-to-5 cubicle job. And that’s what’s making me cackle like a crazy person and almost puke.

So here’s the deal: I am going to write a novel. Or a script. Or something. Starting today.

This decision scares the shit out of me, because I’m afraid I might discover that I suck, or that I don’t have the willpower to see it through to the end, or that no one wants to buy what I’ve written … any one of which would completely undermine what, for a very long time now, has been my somewhat-comforting but totally unfounded belief that I am talented enough to someday make a living as a creative writer.

Well, “someday” is here. Time to find out if I’ve been kidding myself.

PS: This doesn’t mean I’m abandoning the blog. In fact, there’s a good chance it means I’ll be telling some stories here that I’ve been holding back. See? Everybody wins. Maybe.

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Posted in Cubicle, Life, Writing | 49 Responses