Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.

Why Does a Magician Wear a Tux?

This wonderful question has rarely bothered magicians for decades. It should. Some possible answers might include:

He is getting married today.
He just got off work as a waiter.
He is going to the prom.

Wait! The man is about to do magic. Surely anyone doing great magic wears a tux. It logically follows that a person dressed in attire not worn generally by the public in nearly sixty years must be a well trained and entertaining artist.

I encounter responses such as:

“People won’t know we’re magicians if don’t wear our uniform,” bemoan penguin-like prestidigitators.

“Real magicians must wear tuxes,” cries the part-time professional in his ill fitting and second hand attire.

The question of what magicians should wear has been around for more than a century. The correct answer has been around just as long. Unfortunately, many magicians don’t get it.

Jean Robert-Houdin, the father of modern magic, looked around at how his fellow magicians dressed. The common uniform for a “real magician” was to dress up like a wizard complete with a conical hat. Robert-Houdin chose to view magic as an art. He devised many wonderful effects. He would go out on a bare stage to present his magic dressed in formal evening attire. The attire was appropriate and commonly worn for evening theatrical productions. Instead of dressing in way completely different from his audience, Robert-Houdin dressed just like his audience.

The point being made is simple. If you want magic to be viewed as a fine art, take your performance and dress seriously. Let the quality of your magic performance speak to the level of your magic artistry. If you want to be a magic clown, then dress like a penguin.

What about Lance Burton? Great question, thanks for asking. Lance’s performing personality makes wearing a tuxedo appropriate for his performance. Mr. Burton consciously links back to magic’s historical roots. Figuratively speaking, he wears the mantel of magic passed down through the ages. He portrays the great magician out of our past. Lance performs classical magic effects while donning the classical magical attire.

This is completely different from the approach of 99.998% of the other magicians wearing tuxes. Most part-time professional magicians wear a tux without regard to their performing personality. The key to what to wear is your performing personality. Begin with the assumption that a tux is not an option. Examine the key elements of your performing personality that you want to communicate to your audience. Tailor your dress to consciously communicate those key elements.

Another factor to consider is whether you want to stand out or blend with your audience. Let’s say you want to blend with your audience. This is common approach for the restaurant or corporate magician. What will your audience be wearing? Try to dress a little above your audience.

Let’s say you want to stand out. Find ways to contrast with your audience that communicates positively to your performing personality.

For example, assume your performing personality is that odd middle aged uncle that all the kids love but make parents roll their eyes. You know the type, every family has one. His style sense will be decades out of style but he will be clueless that he isn’t the hippest guy around. If that is your chosen performing personality, then the performer’s style will match the outfit. The point again is that the outfit chosen by the magician must relate to performing personality.

Let’s get back to the original question. Why do magicians wear tuxes?

Nobody knows including the magicians. Know your performing personality. Select your dress to complement your venue and performing personality. Treat your magic performance like the artistic performance you want it to be.

Copyright © 2005 J.L. Siefers, All rights reserved.

J.L. Siefers has been performing great magic for years. He has written extensively on many topics in magic. He has shown hundreds of people how to successfully learn to do great magic tricks.

Signs of Poor Taxi Service

find it easier to travel on a daily basis now. The lines between traditional taxi services and ride sharing services have blurred. This assimilation has increased expectation for ride sharing services to operate more like a professional cab service.

For a smooth and non-stressful ride, it is recommended to watch out for these red flags before a service is hired.

Unusually high fares
Cut throat competition has forced transport sector to drive innovation and continue reducing fares. This has been true for taxi services too. Unless there is a shortage of drivers due to high demand or premium services being offered, there is no incentive to pay extra.

Questionable maintenance
Good taxi services walk the extra mile. They often partner up with local bodies to have their cars certifiably inspected for faults. This translates into a safe and relaxed environment for its customers and repeats business. Any taxi service failing to ensure such maintenance regularly will naturally lose credibility.

Resistance towards technology adoption
Without a shred of doubt, technology has become one of the most integral parts of our lives. Without it, our complex ecosystem will collapse. A good taxi service tries to stay ahead of the curve and employs latest technologies. While this does increase their cost in the short term, it brings more revenue in the longer term. As a rule of thumb a good taxi company will employ at a bare minimum: –

– GPS tracking

– online bookings

– dedicated platform for drivers and customers

– email confirmation

Inflexible payment solutions
In an ever digitalizing economy, less people are carrying cash with them for daily settlements. While a bad taxi service turns blind eye to this, good taxi services see opportunity to retain and expand existing customer base. As such, they offer customers the convenience of paying via not only credit cards but cash and even wallet systems.

Non-existent or poor customer service
A substandard taxi company does not feel obligated to ensure customer satisfaction. Instead, it operates on a basic, no-frills business model. An important pillar of customer satisfaction is during service or after sale service. This is done to ensure that customers have an option to provide feedback or complaint about the service. The underlying idea is to empower users to speak directly to a company representative; to share positive feedback or raise concern.

A taxi service operating without customer service could potentially turn out to be the single biggest red flag. It goes on to display the concerned company has for its users.

Unprofessional drivers
Demonstrating professionalism for a driver is myriad of, rather subjective, intangibles. Being a professional driver is not simply about driving fluidly but also ensuring customer accompanied does not feel uncomfortable in any way. A good taxi company should, therefore, have a system of metrics in place to rate the performance of its drivers.

The list is not exhaustive in any form. Indeed, many of the indicators might be trivial to one person but a deal breaker for other. At the end of the day, the service that focuses its energies on customer convenience and facilitation is likely to triumph over others. If you need the best taxi service then make sure that they don’t have bad signs.

The Benefits of Buying A Nursing Staffing Franchise

Buying a nursing staffing franchise has potentially many key benefits when starting a new healthcare agency. Let’s take a look at some of those key benefits are understand the value of proposition when entering into a franchise.

This type of business opportunity has many pros and cons, but we will mainly be looking at the benefits and how they can affect you in your business decision.

Key Benefits:

Benefits #1: Plug and Play

When buying a franchise, you will not have to worry about many aspects of the business startup process. This has been done for you already by the franchise, they typically will provide you with the forms you will need, the logo you will use, you will have to use the franchise name and the software is also provided for you. You will have to abide by their rules and processes. Nothing about what you will have to do will be unique to your franchise. The franchise has rules that you will have to follow and as long as you follow those rules you are allowed to continue managing the franchise.

Benefit #2: As long as you are willing to spend you are fine.

Buying a franchise can be expensive: Typically the fees run from $25,000 to $100,000 for the franchise fee. The franchise fee is the fee they will charge you to allow you to use their name. The Franchise will expect you to represent them is such a way that they determine what that will look like. You will be expected to rent a location, buy furniture, buy their software, etc.

Benefit #3: Ongoing support

You will be charged a continual franchise fee and that fee will depend on your gross sales. Sometimes the fee starts at a certain amount monthly and grows as your gross sales grow. The franchise fee is in place for the franchise company to continue providing you support and the licensing fee to continue using their name. Fees can vary, but typically you can expect between 5% to 10% of gross sales.

Benefit #4: Selling the Franchise

This is a huge benefit, because when you at one point feel this business is no longer what you want and wish to sell it, they typically help you sell the franchise. You will have to typically pay what is called a “Sale Multiplier” basically what that means is you will only get a certain percentage of the sale minus any expenses you owe the franchise. This is something you need to be aware of because the franchise is never really yours, it belong to the franchise company and you must follow the rules.

Breakdancing: The Roots of The Street Dance

Breakdancing is the street dancing which began around 1969. Most people will agree that the superstar James Brown began the whole thing with a dance called the “Good Foot”. James Brown was a real innovator and his dancing was something to behold. He did things with his feet that would give most of us a couple of broken legs!

Simultaneously in the ghetto, what is known as the “dance battle” became very popular and in many cases replaced gangster warfare as a method to end disputes. Breakdancing lent itself very well to the dance battle and the Good Foot was a perfect base for breakdancing.

Street dancers adopted the Good Foot which, for a short period, became known as the B-Boy and then breakdancing. Back then the dance moves were a lot different to the kind of breaking we see today. There were no popular, documented moves such as the headspin or the windmill. The dancers simply used their feet and nothing else. Some would argue that this “old style breaking” is more complicated than the kind of dancing we see these days.

Some of the floor work improvised back then was fantastically complex. If you go to a modern breakdancing competition you won’t see many of the old school moves but you will see a lot of gymnastics. Impressive though this is, there are those that think breakdancing has lost its roots a little. On the other side of the coin you have people saying that it’s just an evolution.

As a way to solve street battles and gang violence it was inspired. You were finding that amazingly, the gangs were using breakdancing instead of fighting. The breakdancing “battle” took on a world of its own. Of course there were still fights and inevitably sometimes a sore loser in a breaking battle would resort to violence.

Out of all this, breakdancing crews were formed. The members of a crew would practice and dance together. This is when the first very basic breakdancing choreography came about. One crew would invent a move which would inspire an opposing crew to go one better. For some of these guys breakdancing was literally the difference between life and death. They were very dedicated to what they were doing.

Just as all these new breakdancing crews were bursting onto the scene a guy called Afrika Bambaataa embraced the genre. Afrika Bambaataa is a legendary figure in the hip hop world. He was largely responsible for bringing breakdancing into the general public’s consciousness. He got to know all the crews and encouraged them to develop what they were doing. Bambaataa’s “Zulu Kings” breakdancing crew became a force to be reckoned with, winning many battles.

Since then breakdancing has continually progressed and more and more very talented dancers were bringing their skills into the arena. There were new moves being invented by the week and it wasn’t long before we had headspins, windmills, backspins and all the other high energy, acrobatic moves we see these days.

The “Rock Steady Crew” were one of the groups to pioneer this new school breaking. These guys along with Charles Ahearn who made the seminal hip hop movie “Wild Style” were to bring breakdancing fully up to date and the dancing phenomenon became much more popular. There was no stopping the onward march of the break dance.

Nowadays breakdancing influences a lot of the choreographed dance routines which are an integral part of a modern pop record release. You have young kids coming up who are really into it and the genre is experiencing something of a renaissance. There’s no doubt about it, breakdancing is here to stay and if you want more info a quick search on the Internet will turn up thousands of references to this modern art form.