New Blog: Retail Damage

department-store-1065112_1280smallDuring the last month and a half, I’ve started a new blog called Retail Damage. While this blog now serves primarily as my writing portfolio, Retail Damage focuses on both my retail experience and the decline of Sears and Macy’s, two stores where I’ve previously worked. I came up with the idea after thinking of all of the things that shoppers don’t know (and should know) about being a cashier. Then, after reading about Sears and Macy’s in the news, I realized that I had a first-hand perspective of their respective downfalls. Bad business decisions and outside economic factors affect even the lowliest of employees. It’s safe to say that I’ve learned as much about marketing from being a cashier and store merchandising associate as I have from my e-commerce jobs. Retail Damage is about two sides of retail; business and operations.

The name “Retail Damage” originally referred to bad customers as well as one of my favorite cashier duties, which involves labeling and getting rid of damaged merchandise. Later, as I added the declining department store element, it included the damaged businesses themselves. I’m having fun with this new venture and hope you will too. Check it out at

Where I Am Now

field innovation team logoThis post’s a little different because it’s not a pop-culture thinkpiece but an update as to the work I’m doing now. Since July 2015, I’ve been creating and managing social media content for Field Innovation Team (FIT), a nonprofit organization that focuses on creative solutions for disaster prevention and emergency management.

Here I am (right) at one of their Do Tanks with 13450296_1329281547087385_3306065055939597417_nElizabeth from NYCEM in June 2016. DaVita Kidney Care hosted the workshop with FIT at its Bronx location. It centered around solving potential problems faced by dialysis patients during a disaster-induced power outage/transportation shutdown. My group’s idea involved communication drones. The googly eyes represented cameras.

I do not manage FIT’s blog, but in the interest of the blog manager’s time, I use its Facebook page to publish updates between blog posts. Because of this, some of the posts I write for FIT’s Facebook page are lengthier than others and demonstrate my writing skills as well as my social media experience. That’s why I’ve updated my Professional section to include some of the most popular long posts.

FIT is an amazing organization and I invite you to follow them on Facebook at, on Twitter at @FITreadytogo and on Instagram at fitreadytogo.

Receiving “The Giver” and Saying Goodbye

The Giver PosterThis blog has ground to a halt over the past year or so, but I thought I’d write one last post before my indefinite hiatus. There was also a loose end in that after two posts anticipating the film version of “The Giver”, the movie was finally released. It only makes sense to tie it up.

My previous posts dealt with my reaction to “The Giver”’s trailer and my rereading of the book. I read the book when I was 12 and it had a strong effect on me. Still, I reread it so I could separate my memories of the novel from the book itself. That way I could see the movie without judging it too harshly, although my initial impression from the trailer wasn’t so good. The efforts of the 18 years it took to get the movie off the ground seemed wasted.

Ultimately, I don’t think they were. Despite my love for the original story that could never be replicated, despite the fact that not many other people liked or wanted to see “The Giver” movie, I liked it.

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American Blogger: The Furious Journey

american blogger quote
There are a lot of untrue bloggers out there.

I debated watching “American Blogger: The First Journey” for a long time. Initially, I couldn’t wait, but that was when I planned to see it via a Google Hangout with Get Off My Internets. In other words, I wasn’t going to pay to see it. Unfortunately, the host had technical difficulties streaming the video. I got impatient and logged off after three hours although she was eventually successful.

The reason GOMI held the screening was so viewers could make fun of the movie with each other while watching it. “American Blogger” became easy snark fodder as soon as its trailer made the rounds on social media. The filmmaker, Christopher Wiegand, got the last laugh because many people were willing to pay $9.99 to see if it was just as terrible as the trailer promised.

I did not want to be one of those people.

On the other hand, I knew the movie would be great subject matter for this blog and it certainly wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve paid to see a movie I already knew would be terrible. I present exhibits AB, and C, and that was just one weekend. At least those were rentals.

I finally gave in after weeks of waffling. This is my journey through “American Blogger: The First Journey”.

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My Return to “The Giver”

the giver novel coverLast week, I wrote about my reaction to “The Giver” movie’s first trailer. While I have my doubts that the movie will capture the understated power of Lois Lowry’s book, I knew I needed to put some distance between it and my emotional ties to it if I ever wanted to appreciate the movie. To do that, I reread it last weekend.

Like a lot of kids, I originally read “The Giver” as part of my sixth-grade curriculum. It was unlike anything I’d ever read before. It disturbed me. It haunted me. I loved it.At the end of the school year, each kid was allowed to keep a copy of one of the books we’d read. You can guess which one I chose.

My teacher recognized how much the book affected me and suggested reading “1984” and “Brave New World”. That led to the Great Dystopian Novel Phase of 1997-2000. Looking back, I think my interest in such sad, cynical stories had something to do with its timing. Those years were particularly turbulent for me and I could relate to the themes of feeling strange and detached. My treatment for depression sometimes felt like scenes from those novels. I think that’s why similarly themed novels are so popular with teenagers now. It’s easy to identify with their characters when you’re overwhelmed with feelings and don’t yet understand that your lack of control over your life is not due to some malicious conspiracy.

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Don’t Give Up on “The Giver” (Yet)

I have to remind myself of “Rabbit-Proof Fence”.

I have nothing against rabbits. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” is a 2002 movie directed by Philip Noyce. The movie is about three mixed race (Aboriginal Australian and white) girls who try to escape a camp meant to assimilate “half -caste” children into white society. It is based on a true story. It is a very good movie.

Rabbit-Proof Fence Poster
Even that bird in the background wants to cry.

Prior to “Rabbit-Proof Fence”, Noyce directed “Patriot Games“, “Clear and Present Danger” and “Sliver“, among with many other movies. After “Rabbit-Proof Fence”, he directed “The Quiet American” and “Salt“. His work is a mixed bag when it comes to critical reception. It is also dominated by action movies. “Rabbit-Proof Fence” is much different. It”s basically about a chase, but it lacks all the tropes of an action movie. It’s slow-moving with subtle music and attention to character-building.

And it is the reason I think Noyce’s upcoming screen adaptation of “The Giver” has a chance at being a good movie. Its source material is the classic Lois Lowry book of the same name. I read “The Giver” when I was in the sixth grade and it left a deep impression on me. It’s still one of my favorite books. When I was in college, I heard from a friend that a movie version was in the works. (In fact, Jeff Bridges had been trying to get the movie off the ground for 15 years.)

I said that it would make a great movie. She agreed, but added, “They’d have to do it right.”

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Oscar Party: Yes, I’m Live-Tweeting Again

Six years ago, I made a quilt. After I finished, I swore I’d never make another quilt.

I’ve made three more since then.

A few months ago, I live-tweeted the Emmys and afterwards I swore I would never live-tweet an awards show again. Tonight I’m live-tweeting the Oscars. You may wonder why I’m putting myself through this again, but there are a couple of big differences between my last venture and this new one. For one thing, I’m not live-tweeting for a class, so there’s no pressure. I don’t feel obligated to give up-to-the-second updates and immediate error corrections. Hell, I’ll be cleaning my kitchen at the same time and that’s almost as big an event as the Oscars, so I may not catch every moment of the ceremony.

The other big difference is that I’ve seen most of the nominated movies. At the time the Emmys aired, I hadn’t seen a single episode of most of the nominated shows. I’m relatively prepared for the Oscars, and that gives me the chance to share my choices and predictions before the big show. Keep in mind that for my predictions, I’m only going by Oscars history and Hollywood trends. All the performances are viewed as equally deserving for the sake of the category.

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Well Played, Penney

It’s been a while since my last post. I know that successful blogging depends on frequent posts, but it also depends on good content, and I had nothing good to write about. Thankfully, the Super Bowl happened, giving me plenty of advertising to analyze. There was one ad that really stood out to me. It wasn’t on TV. It was on Twitter.

Take it away, JC Penney:


I love a good Twitter meltdown. This was shaping up to be a Burger King-style disaster. And like the Burger King hacking, a few people suspected that it was just a stunt. I believe the Burger King fiasco was real because the tweets dropped the f-word and the n-word more than once.  No company would risk PR suicide that way. This time around, I had a feeling that the skeptics were right. JC Penney kept its tweets clean. It also timed them well. The first one was during the first quarter and the second was close enough to halftime without being so close that people would be more likely to be watching the halftime show than paying attention to Twitter.

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Northbound to Poughkeepsie

I’m not the best driver in the world. I generally enjoy driving long distances, but I do have a Walter Mitty-esque inner life, which is not a desirable quality in a motorist. This is why I’m both excited and a little nervous to make my longest drive yet, the 600+ mile journey from Raleigh to Poughkeepsie. Last month I blogged a trip to Atlanta for one of my classes and I found it interesting enough that I’ve decided to do it again with this trip. After all, it is my first drive up North since I moved here three years ago, so I may as well immortalize it.

December 15th

10:32 AM

Away I go, ready with six Spotify playlists and an audiobook. Four of the playlists are from SPIN’s Best Albums of the Year and I haven’t heard them in their entirety yet; they include Home by Rudimental, Shaking the Habitual by The Knife, Tomorrow’s Harvest by Boards of Canada and Yeezus by Kanye West. The other ones are Brothers by The Black Keys and a list of random songs compiled by Beck. The audiobook is The Black Count by Tom Reiss. That should tide me over the 24 total hours that I’ll be driving. I’ll write short reviews later.

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Mixed Reviews Part 5: “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”

My ownership of A Series of Unfortunate Events was part of my attempt to build a collection of Christmas movies. I am aware that it is not a true Christmas movie. It has nothing to do with Christmas. But you know what? Most Christmas movies have nothing to do with Christmas. The other yuletide DVDs I own, The Muppets’ Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, don’t involve the birth of Christ. “The reason for the season” does not factor into even the most celebrated Christmas movie of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life. Before film, A Christmas Carol and A Visit From St. Nicholas became favorites without involving Jesus either. All you need for a good Christmas story are familial structure (not necessarily traditional) and feelings of hope and childlike wonder. That’s why A Series of Unfortunate Events qualifies.

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