Life, The Ultimate Role Playing Game

Someone once told me, “Life’s a game. Play the game.” Thank you, Jack Kennedy. Not THE Jack Kennedy, but one of my old chiropractors, who coincidentally dated my cousin, which is how we met. However, not relevant to the matter at hand, so, we’ll move on, and hope that mention of his name gets me a free adjustment.

So, to continue, you’re playing a game. Unfortunately, when you were born, you weren’t handed instructions on how to play. Fortunately for most of you, you had two parents that helped you along in this area, for the most part. For the next 18-20 years depending on how sick you are of your parents, you accept these rules growing up.

Then, reality sets in. That’s right, I said it. You realize that maybe your parents whom you worshipped, didn’t necessary know everything. Or, if they did, they didn’t tell you. Of course, no one said, the game was fair. If they did, they were lying. Most likely, through their teeth.

This is the real reality, not the virtual reality you see everyday in computers, or TV, or, that’s right, the ‘net. At some point, you’re going to get to, you’ll come to the realization that you have some choices to make, all on your own. We’ve discussed this before. Well, I have, I don’t know if you were here then. In order to make your choice, you’re going to want to make an informed decision, and weigh all your options, therefore, you’ll take these instructions, lists, rules, etc. Whatever your parents called them, and use them or ignore them at your discretion or peril.

After you decide to decide, you may reap the benefits of your informed choice, unless of course, you chose badly, or incorrectly, or some other such word as to pad my word count. I’ve always believed that why use one word, when five will suffice, is a good axiom to follow. You may choose to use or lose if you so desire.

Now, everyone’s circumstance is different. A correct choice for you, may be an incorrect choice for me. However, since I don’t make them, you might decide to follow a similar tract as I do. And you should remember to do as I say, not as I do.

When navigating the stream of consciousness, it is necessary to take an eddy every once in awhile. Where were we? Well, I’m in Redondo Beach, and as previously stated, I don’t know where you are.

To continue, you’ll come to a point where you’ll want to know all the rules to the game. Or the instructions, or, whatever else you can call them in your neck of the woods. And of course, they’re all governed by, The Law!!! I knew I could make my incessant ramblings coherent if given the opportunity.

Ok, to review, no rules to the game of life. Not to be confused with The Game of Life™ a Milton Bradley company. Simply because, those rules are simple, and The Law!!! does not come into play.

According to Shakespeare’s As You Like It, All the world’s a stage, the men and women merely players, each have their exits and entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his act being of seven ages. Act II, Scene VII. And yes, I did do that from memory. I could look up the rest, but that would simply be padding my word count at this point, which I don’t need to do….

So, to continue; or proceed, or whichever you’d like to do….

You’ve lived most of your life adhering to some set of rules or another, depending on whom you listen to, which god you worship, or even if you don’t have one to call your own. You’ve boiled that down to some such subset, say that three times fast, that you don’t have to think about as you move throughout your life.

Here’s the kicker. You knew there’d be one, right? What if, everything you learned is just plain flat out wrong? And when I say everything, I do mean everything. Not a subset of everything, but, everything. The only thing you know, is, The Law!!! What would you do? What would you do?? Seriously?!?

Pause for effect.

Now I’m no expert, although, others would claim that I am, and not The Others from LOST, either. Other others. Here’s what I did. Instead of attempting to find a new rule book, instruction set, or yet another self help book, I simply plunged in, and started writing my own. It’s amazing that it took me this long to figure that one out. So, to keep you interested until next time, I leave you with the following rhetorical question: When you work out of your home, how do you call in sick?

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Original Disclaimer: Mike may or may not be having a midlife crisis, depending on how old you think he is.

Current Disclaimer: I originally wrote this at the beginning of 2009 for the Idea Masters™ site, and it was never published. Until now. Most if not all is still relevant.

Are You Linked In?

Back in the 90’s, I’m sure you remember, an actor named Kevin Bacon was apparently in every movie known to man, which led him to comment in a Premiere magazine interview in 1994, that he’d worked with most everybody in Hollywood, which inspired the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Historically, or perhaps hysterically, based on the notion of six degrees of separation, which was already a broadway play, and then became a movie of the same name.

If you’re one or two of the three people that haven’t heard of this, the concept is simple; by knowing someone who knows someone else, who then quite possibly knows a 3rd person, and so on, you may get an intro to a person that might eventually be able to help you out. See also Pay It Forward, and networking.

The concept is not new, it is however recently formalized, by the fine folks at LinkedIn. They’ve trimmed it down, as you’re only allowed to have up to three levels of connections. Of course, if one of your 3rd level connections knows someone else’s 3rd level connection, it should be possible to complete the legendary six degrees.

As with everything else in life, the Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in, and now what we have there and elsewhere, including Myspace, and Facebook to name two of the most famous social networks, is a competition to see who can get the most friends. Of course, LinkedIn is for business, so, they call them contacts, or connections, on the theory that one of these people might actually hire you to do something for someone, at sometime in the immediate or far future.

We can even take a look at the word network. It’s actually a compound word, combining the words net, and well, work. A net is something you cast, or use to catch butterflies, and work is what you should be doing instead of reading this. And believe me, networking on Linked In is no different. They have rules. You have to know the person you’re connecting to, or, have worked with them in the past or present, or, be a member of a group that your intended connection is a member of as well.

This last one is especially important, as they’ve come up with a unique take on groups, including discussions within them. Another fancy way of compiling a mailing list, if you ask me. If your within the same group, you may exchange emails, even though you may not be directly connected. And circumvent the need to be introduced to your intended connection.

Another anomaly that has sprouted up, is the need to be well, everyone’s friend. Thus, Linked In Open Networkers was formed, or LIONs as they’ve dubbed themselves. These guys and gals accept all comers, whether they know of you or not. As a result of these two phenomena, the fine folks at LI have come up with limits on the number of groups you can join, as well as the number of invites you can send out. Once you’re out of invites, you’re out.

This has led to some interesting addictive behavior, including but not limited to, people joining groups, and giving out their email address to any and all members, in an effort to make someone else, or several someone else’s use up their invites. And giving out your email address to just anyone is what LI was attempting to avoid in the first place, by creating a so called safe environment where people from different backgrounds and locales, could safely meet and discuss business, or try to get work.

I read in a recent issue of some psychology magazine to be named later, that you can only maintain roughly 150 unique relationships give or take, as your brain can’t handle any more than that. So, it follows that an effort to win the infinite friend game is fruitless in its attempt to prove that you have the most friends.

So, could someone tell me what I’m supposed to do with my 278 connections?

Original Disclaimer: Mike is either a poker player, or a filmmaker, depending on when or where you ask him. He is Linked In at and his blog can be found at If you wish to connect with him in any way.

Newer Disclaimer: I wrote this four years ago, and it is the first in the Idea Masters™ series that I contributed to. Since then, I have gained over a thousand more connections on LinkedIn™, and yet, none of them have hired me yet….

What Do You Do for a Living?



A poker tournament in progress. Taken by me.


I got asked this the other day. I didn’t know how to respond right away, however, when I want to mess with people’s heads, I reply:


I play poker.


To which they’ll almost always respond,


You play poker?


Now, since you can’t hear the inflection in their collective voices when they respond, it’s usually in one of two ways. Either, unbelievably, as in, “What, are you nuts?” or, interested like, “Cool!”


The “What, are you nuts?” faction, herein after referred to as simply, ‘nuts’, usually walk away with a strange look on their face, after they’ve asked the follow up question with the sound of incredulity in their voice, and goes something like this, “How can you earn a living playing poker?” To which I usually reply, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” or some such other random movie quote, which doesn’t actually answer their question, simply because at its base, poker is a game of deception. And as we know, with any game, ultimately it can’t be won, it can only be played.


The fact is, I do, and it’s really none of their business how I do it. Unless, they wish to pay me for the privilege. Rates are available, and pretty steep. Just because I have the ability to teach, doesn’t mean that I want to. I feel that this reaction is judgmental as they’ve formed an opinion based on what I do, and not who I am, and I don’t need them as friends.


On the other hand, those that reply, “Cool!” usually become some of my newest best friends. People that I’d want to hangout with, when I’m not playing poker, or doing whatever else it is that I do on any given day.


Of course, the context of the question is sometimes taken into account. It comes down to where I am when I get asked. I was once at a poker tournament when someone made the grandiose statement, “There are no professionals here.” To which I replied, “I guess I’m not here then.” Now, at this point, I could’ve gotten up and left, however, I did achieve the desired effect, and took all his money later in the tournament. Then he got up and left, shaking his head all the way.


Usually, if I get asked the question at the poker table, I tell the other players that I’m a filmmaker, except as noted above. I do this, simply to mess with the players’ heads. Most of the time, if I can get you to talk about anything else while at the table, you’re not going to be concentrating on the game. It also helps that I am indeed a filmmaker, and a pretty good one at that.


Yes, there’s more to poker than life. No matter what it is you’re doing for a living, ultimately, it’s none of my concern. Tell me what you want. I’m not going to check you out or anything. There’s no background check involved. Of course, I’m not going to ask in the first place. Unless of course, I want to mess with your head, or, put it on virtual film.


Disclaimer: I originally wrote this in late November of 2008, and it was published shortly thereafter on the now defunct Idea Masters™ site. This was #6 in that series.


The Spoon in the Road

Yogi Berra once said, “When you get to the fork in the road, you should take it.” Not to be confused with Yogi Bear, who more than once said, “Hey, Boo Boo, look at the picnic basket.”

Boo-Boo Bear

Boo-Boo Bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Both of the above involves a choice. Now you may think you have two of them, in the first case, either the left or right path, and the second is whether or not to take the aforementioned picnic basket.

There is however a logical third choice, which is to stand at the fork in the road, and wait, or to stare at the picnic basket, and do nothing. Both of these involve waiting. Now, I’m not going to extoll the virtues of what these particular choices should be, just that they need to be made, no matter what you’re trying to decide….

You’ve heard the term, “Deer in the headlights.” Why is this phenomenon so universal? As opposed to Universal, the movie studio. Which is owned by NBC, but I digress….

Universal truths are true 100% of the time. What is the deer thinking? Which path to take. Jump over the car, Continue across the road, or, make an emergency Bat-Turn, and go back the way it came. Now, the reason that sometimes, the deer gets plowed into by the SUV and ends up tied to its hood, is that it took too long to make one of three simple choices. Deers used to choose run away, however, their friends saw that choice led to being tied on the hood as well.

What I’m saying here in my borderline passive/aggressive manner is, deciding not to decide yet, is and of itself, a decision.

Let’s think about that for a moment. It’s ok, I’ll wait.

The conclusion you should’ve drawn here is that I’m right, in no matter what endeavor you pursue. Remembering that if you’re on the stand, and the prosecutor asks you, ”Have you stopped beating your wife?“ Neither a yes or no answer is correct here. The third logical choice is, ”To my recollection, I have never beaten your wife.“ Other possible answers include, but are not limited to, ”I’m single.“ Or, ”Why, what have you heard?“

Call, raise, or fold. Yes, no, or wait in the poker arena. Of course, these lead to how much, and when, but that’s another conversation for another column on an entirely different site….

So, the next time you get to the fork in the road, take the 3rd path. Because the next time you get there, you may find that the fork is actually a spoon.

Tune in Next Week... When I discuss why no matter what choice you make, you’re actually screwed in another edition of, It’s the Law!!!

Disclaimer: This was #3 in a series, originally posted in the fall of 2008. I could give you the exact date, however, some in the online blogging community believe it’s not good to date your posts. After all, that could get lonely.