Monday, March 29, 2010

A Plea to My Readers

To the Conned faithful,

I know that there are a few of you out there that check in periodically, and I love you for it, but I need to ask a favor of you. Can you please sign up to be a follower of my blog, so that I know how many people actually read my stuff? I have seven right now, and if that's all the readers that I have please disregard this entry. If not, make me aware of you. You might even get a shout out in a blog if you do. I hope that I don't sound too needy. Am I needy? I feel needy. Anyway, become an official follower and I will be forever grateful.



Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thoughts on Leadership- Part II

A little while back I posted some of my thoughts on leadership, and what I feel it means to be a good leader/boss. In addition to being a "natural leader" and gaining experience on the job, it is clear to me that the elusive third ingredient in quality leadership is the ability to reflect and then work hard to make yourself better as a leader.

Leadership, like anything must be practiced and honed. Very few people can get up in front of a crowded auditorium and speak without being prepared. Practice, rehearsing, and study are usually required to be successful in this regard. 

Relationships as well need maintenance and work. Very few marriages can survive, let alone be successful if the people involved are not constantly trying to maintain it and make improvements. I can speak from personal experience that my wife and I are constantly doing things to make sure that our relationship stays healthy and happy. Leadership requires this same kind of constant vigilance. It is not always enough to sit behind the fancy desk and go to the important meetings, and make big decisions, leaders need to be thinking constantly about how to be the best they can be.

Often times you will see someone new to a leadership position trying to get better as a leader. They might ask for feedback, or employ new tactics to see what works best, and many times these efforts are effective. More often than not, however, these new leaders abandon these practices once they think they have a handle on their position. Of course, this is a mistake, and typically this failure to reflect and be vigilant creates problems. I have seen it first hand. You see it in marriages too, where a husband and wife work hard to get things on track, and once things start going well, they let up. Next thing you know, there is trouble and the wife runs off with her Pilates instructor. Bosses and supervisors need to view their leadership roles in the same way, or their employees will be off with the Pilates instructor or the hot new neighbor so fast it will make their heads spin. The work of reflection can never be over, or a leader will never reach his/her full potential.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Movie of the Week

This week,


Starring- Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams

I know that many Ewok lovers like Return of the Jedi best, but for me, Empire is the best film in the Star Wars saga. It has so many great moments, pivotal scenes and the best dialogue in the series (George Lucas didn't write it). The darkest of the original films, Empire takes us deep into the backstory of Anakin Skywalker and fleshes out things only hinted at in A New Hope. I actually like the remastered version of this film as well, mostly because there wasn't anything to fix or add, so George Lucas had a hard time ruining it.

Instead of reviewing a movie that most of the world has already seen a kajillion times, I will instead list the top ten things that I like best about Episode V.

10. The Family Guy parody- Something Something Something Dark Side. See it, I laughed so hard that I peed.

9. The most pimp response to "I love you" ever committed to film. Thanks Han, you're a total scoundrel.

8. The taun tauns. This is for my friend Natalie.

7. Boba Fett. I'd put him higher, but he never really does anything. Watch the movie again, his badass reputation is based on very little actual bounty hunting. He's still cool though.

6. Darth Vader's nasty scarred head. It looks like a rotten cabbage.

5. The AT-ATs. They are super awesome and hard to bring down. Unless you've got Wedge firing a tow cable.

4. Yoda's force skills. This Jedi Master is a wealth of knowledge and quotes. He's like a little green Tony Robbins.

3. Luke's hand getting cut off. I love seeing that little bitch get sliced up by Vader. That's what you get for whining about those power converters, Luke.

2. Lando Calrissian. Such a smooth operator, and a great boss too. Just ask Lobot.

1. The John Williams score. I know a lot of his music sounds the same, and he jumped the shark a long time ago, but this is the best score he ever wrote and it needs to be recognized.

There you have it, kids. May the force be with you.

"I thought they smelled bad...on the outside."

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 20th- Day of Kings

Happy Birthday to me! March 20th is a special day, not just because of my birth. I also share this day with some great birthday buddies, as well as some important historical events. In addition to being the first day of Spring much of the time, March 20th is a pivotal and awesome 24 hour period. Here now is the evidence.

Tunisia became independent on March 20, 1956.

The Dutch East India Company was established on March 20, 1602.

Napoleon entered Paris after his escape from Elba and began the "Hundred Days" on March 20, 1815.

Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity on March 20, 1916.

The U.S. began the war in Iraq (So dumb) on March 20, 2003.


Napoleon II- Ruler of France

Henrik Ibsen- Norwegian Writer

B.F. Skinner- American Psychologist

Carl Reiner- Comedian and Film Director

Fred "Mister" Rogers- Children's Show Host

Hal Linden- T.V.'s Barney Miller

Jerry Reed- Country Singer, Played Snowman in "Smokey and the Bandit"

Pat Riley- Basketball Coach of the Lakers, Knicks and Heat

Spike Lee- Film Director

Jon De Lancie- Actor who played Q on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

Holly Hunter- Actress

Ronnie Brewer- NBA Basketball player, formerly of the Utah Jazz

Liz Elliott- The Lizard, Member of the Trifecta

Justin Samuels- Skier, Member of the Trifecta

See, March 20 is a pretty cool day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

John Belushi's Luck of the Irish

This tirade appeared on Saturday Night Live way back in the 1970's, but because it's St. Patrick's Day I felt it was appropriate. Here now are John Belushi's thoughts on the Irish.

Luck of the Irish


Monday, March 15, 2010

Best Shows on T.V.

I don't really follow any T.V. shows anymore. DVD has ruined me for watching shows on T.V., and all I do anymore is wait for a show to end or come out on DVD after a season is over. Also, it takes a lot of discipline to budget out time each week to keep up with a current show. I really haven't followed a show since Friends and Seinfeld were on. There are a few shows that I enjoy that are currently still being made, but I don't follow them. Here they are.


I always loved Seinfeld, but I think I might prefer Curb. Larry David is a genius, and after watching Curb it is clear that he was really the brains behind Seinfeld, and Jerry wasn't as funny or clever as I thought. The stuff that Larry gets into is absolutely hilarious, and I love the supporting cast of Jeff, Susie. Leon and Cheryl. I haven't seen the new season with the Seinfeld reunion (not on DVD yet), but I really can't wait. I only hope Larry keeps making the show so that we can continue to see all the weird crap he gets into.


Just like Curb, this show is about a group of degenerates who do unthinkable things. It is also hysterically funny. The gang from Paddy's Pub is like a white trash Seinfeld crew, and their antics vary from finding a dumpster baby to stalking the waitress to pooping the bed. Frank and Charlie are the best characters, but it wouldn't be the same without Mac, Dennis and Dee. Watch the gang because as Frank says, "Poop is funny."


It's really nice that this crew comes in and helps people get rid of their clutter. I love how it changes people's lives for the better and I also like the witty banter between the Clean House team. They are all so charming! Just kidding. This show bugs me because the weirdos never want to give up their stuff to get new rooms. I totally punked you with the Clean House entry.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Movie of the Week

This Week,


Starring- Eddie Murphy, Ronny Cox, Judge Reinhold, Steven Berkhoff

Before Eddie Murphy starting making the worst movies imaginable, he was actually the hottest comedian in Hollywood. 1984 was the best year of Murphy's career, in my opinion, because it brought us his three best films- 48 Hours, Trading Places and this. Beverly Hills Cop is a Rated R Murphy at his wisecracking best. Originally written for Sylvester Stallone (what?), Paramount was forced to drastically change the film's tone and humor when Murphy was cast as Det. Axel Foley. Thank god they did.

Axel Foley is a cop from Detroit who is forced to travel to Beverly Hills to discover why his best friend was killed, and who is behind it. The trail leads him to shady art dealer Victor Maitland, but Axel also gets into trouble with the Beverly Hills Police along the way. After some very funny run-ins with Beverly Hills cops Rosewood and Taggert, Foley gets them to help solve the mystery of his friend's murder.

There are a great deal of funny scenes in this movie, and many quotable lines, which are two of my criteria for what makes a film good or not. The playful relationship that Murphy has with his Beverly Hills allies, as well as his great chemistry with the villain shows what a talent he was, emphasis on the word "was." What happened to Eddie Murphy in the years that followed 1984 is tragic, as we were subjected to such non-classics as Vampire in Brooklyn, The Golden Child and Pluto Nash. At least when we pop in Beverly Hills Cop we can recall a time when Eddie Murphy was much more than a talking donkey or a fat professor.

Things to Watch For-

Espresso with a lemon twist
The Crappy Blue Chevy Nova
The Banana in the tailpipe
A great '80's soundtrack with the title track- Axel F.
A Cameo by a young Damon Wayans

"I don't think cost is the issue here, sir. I think the issue should be my blatant disregard for proper procedure."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Could Write for Letterman

I stumbled across these Top Ten Lists I intended to send to Dave Letterman a few years ago, but never did. Now you can enjoy them. Eat your heart out, Dave.

Top Ten Least  Popular Valentine’s Day Card Sayings

10. You really turn my crank!
9. I’m glad that rash finally cleared up.
8. Let’s always get arrested together.
7. I love you, Jon Gosselin.
6. I can’t live without you…unless you cheat on me, and then I’ll cut you.
5. I love you from the heart of my bottom.
4. You’re not as ugly as your sister.
3. Keep it real, Babe.
2. ZZ Top was right, you’ve got legs- and you know how to use them.
1. I’m 50% sure you’re the one!

Top Ten Least Popular Broadway Shows

10. The Muzak Man
9. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Restroom
8. Scranton!
7. Greece
6. Regis Get Your Gun
5. Burger King and I
4. Little Shop of Whores
3. Rent, With an Option to Buy
2. Pole Cats
1. The Phantom of the Jiffy Lube
Top Ten Signs You’re At a Bad Sundance Film

10. The only Sound Effects are a guy in the corner with a whoopee cushion.
9. The leathery faced guy next to you won’t shut up about how ‘Sneakers’ blows this movie away.
8. The post film interview is with a teamster named Norm.
7. The big chase scene was filmed in a broom closet.
6. The gift bags consist of Mini Ritzes and tube socks.
5. During the 3rd hour the director comes out and thanks you for making it to the halfway point.
4. The “hot young talent” in the film is Mickey Rooney.
3. Its being projected on a bed sheet in the stock room of the neighborhood Walgreens.
2. The after party is held at the star’s parents’ motel room.
1. It’s the Dave Letterman biography.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Conor Award Goes To...

Here are the anxiously awaited Conor Awards for the film year 2009. It was difficult this year to come up with a clear-cut best picture, but I did. The envelope please...

BEST PICTURE- The Hurt Locker

Star Trek
The Hangover
Up In The Air
District 9

BEST ACTOR- George Clooney- Up in the Air

Robert Downey, Jr.- Sherlock Holmes
Jeff Bridges- Crazy Heart

BEST ACTRESS- Meryl Streep- Julie and Julia

Meryl Streep- It’s Complicated
Sandra Bullock- The Blindside

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR- Zach Galifinakis- The Hangover

Alec Baldwin- It’s Complicated
Christoph Waltz- Inglourious Basterds

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS- Anna Kendrick- Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhall- Crazy Heart
Diane Kruger- Inglourious Basterds

BEST DIRECTOR- Kathryn Bigelow- The Hurt Locker

J.J. Abrams- Star Trek
Neill Blomkamp- District 9

I have to say that I felt that The Hurt Locker was the most complete film, and that it was the only one that had me from start until finish. Jeff Bridges was great, but I felt George Clooney gave a more nuanced and deeper performance that was very deserving of recognition. Meryl Streep is the gold standard, and showed her great talent yet again. Zach Galifinakis was hilarious and made The Hangover go from a funny movie to a brilliantly funny movie. Anna Kendrick had a breakout performance in Up in the Air and held her own among veteran company. And finally, Kathryn Bigelow did a very adept job in creating both a tense and moving story in The Hurt Locker.

There you have it, see you all next year for the hottest awards since the Cable Ace's.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Things I Think- Springtime Edition

I love Spring. It is the time when flowers and plants begin blooming, the weather warms up and we celebrate my birth. What could be better?

I think that St. Patrick's Day is a really great holiday. It has food and drink (Corned Beef and Cabbage and whiskey and beer), music (Great Irish Drinking Songs), and symbols (Shamrocks and Leprechauns). That's more than Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve can claim.

I think that March Madness makes the Spring so much fun and potentially lucrative. The first weekend is especially awesome.

I think the first round of golf of the year is the best because you have forgotten all the bad habits that you developed the previous year.

I think the Oscars (March 7) rule. I love a good montage- that means you, "In Memoriam."

I think that the NFL Combine and Draft and everything that ESPN does to make it a big deal is sooooooooo lame and annoying. Who cares how high Tim Tebow can jump? Not even Tim Tebow cares how high Tim Tebow can jump.

I think "Mountain Dew" by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem is the best St. Patrick's Day song, followed closely by "Tim Finnegan's Wake."

I also think that Tommy Makem is the best tin whistle player- EVER.

I think I'll go get some Lucky Charms.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Heritage

I was always jealous of my friends who had really rich heritages, like Italian or Greek or Jewish or Scientologist. I’m just such an average white Anglo-Saxon guy that it was kind of disappointing to not have that great ethnic history. But I did some research and I found out that I actually do have a rich ethnic history, you see, my family were Preppies. 

There is not a lot of documentation about them, but what I found out was inspiring. Like the Puritans before them, they were persecuted for their beliefs and forced to the margins. I can only imagine what it was like for my ancestors to have to play croquet and eat caviar in secret, lest they be physically harmed. It must have been difficult to maintain their lifestyle among people who didn't understand the value of snobbery and cocktails in the gazebo. The Preppies were small in number, but they came to this country just like everyone else in search of a dream, a dream to build gated communities, private schools and country clubs- free of the tyranny of the old world.  My great-great grandfather Thurston Reginald Bentley landed here in the early 1850’s with nothing but his tennis racket and the sweater tied jauntily around his shoulders. He worked his manicured fingers to the bone to provide for his family, so that one day I could slip on a polo shirt and hold my head high as I eat lunch on the golf course with cousin Muffy and Uncle Stu. 

I always wondered why I looked so good in polo shirts and sweater vests. Now I know, and it feels amazing.