These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things – Movies

Bless me digital-father for I have sinned. It has been far too long since my last blog post here on or is it in The Steve O Zone.

Ok, I’ve come to a decision. I’ve thought long and hard about this; spent many a sleepless night and… well, no I really haven’t. It just came to me a few seconds ago. Since I do so much writing for other sites such as Forbes, LinkedIn and my company blog that is centered around marketing, advertising and branding – I decided that this particular forum will be used for my own personal wishes.

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things – Movies

So today, I want to share with you a list of some of my favorite movies. Feel free to look away, or disagree or whatever. Quite frankly whatever you do is fine. Really. You won’t offend me, trust me.

NOTE: These are in no specific order.

A Few Good Men

few good menNicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, Commanding Officer Marine Ground Forces, Guantanamo Bay Cuba. It really doesn’t get much better than this.

Forget about the overplayed “can’t handle the truth” line. When Jack’s talking about eating breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill him… That’s gold, Jerry.

And you know how many calls Private William T. Santiago made after he found out he was finally leaving? Zero.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

close encountersBy far the movie I have seen more than all others. I do not know the exact count but from the moment I saw it for the first time all those years ago it has captured my imagination and natural curiosity.

Seeing Roy Neary chase those bright lights in the dark Indiana night sky… never gets old.

And can someone please tell Jillian Guiler to keep an eye on her son?

Rocky

IMG_4036Let’s see: Born and raised in Philly, the film came out when I was very impressionable and actually got to meet the man himself not long ago.

There are more messages and life lessons in this one movie than there are in any 3 Police Academy movies combined. Yeah, I know, that’s a lot.

And I think Rock should of held out for a better deal than 10 minutes/ten bucks for the blades, too.

Lethal Weapon

lethal_weapon.jpgLong before Mel went all cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs – or at least until it became public knowledge, he was Martin Riggs and he and Roger Murtaugh were the baddest cops around. How much did this movie affect me?

Well consider after seeing it I went out and bought a pair of cowboy boots like the ones Gibson wore in the film.

Yeah baby, nothing like a 6’3″ 245-lb Philly boy in cowboy boots.

Fletch

fletch-movie-poster-1985-1020192873To this day I have never laughed longer or harder during any movie than I did watching Fletch for the first time.

Not necessarily a huge Chevy Chase fan but something about this movie, the dialogue, and his physical brand of comedy all clicked.

Watch out for the manure spitter that jackknifed on the Santa Ana.

And I wonder if Mr. Babar ever got any elephant books?

The Godfather

godfatherDo I really need to explain why this is on my list? Don’t make me get Luca or go to the mattresses. You should understand why this movie is on my list.

Today I settle all family business. Was James Caan miscast? Of course he was. But was he and will he always be Sonny Corleone? You damn skippy he will be.

When anyone asks you to do something you can’t do, you simply respond “Can’t do it, Sally.”

One last thing. Leave the gun. Take the cannolis.

Goodfellas

goodfellas .jpegTo me, you can’t have one (The Godfather) without the other (Goodfellas). That may be just me but then again, it’s my list. When I learned than Hendry got pinched, I was so upset.

Lufthansa made up for everything. But that damn Morrie Kessler won’t leave Jimmy alone.

Has anyone seen Stacks, Spider or Billy Batts?

Absence of Malice

absence_of_maliceI know Newman won the Oscar for The Verdict but he easily could have won for playing Michael Colin Gallagher. This movie has flown under the radar for too long.

It’s a good story and is well acted – Newman and Field, how can it NOT be well acted?

It is actually a very telling and scary story insomuch as highlighting the dangers of printing – or in our world, posting too – something that may or may not be true.

Beverly Hills Cop

bh copTell me, have you ever fallen for the “banana in the tailpipe” trick? Well that may be getting a little too personal. Never mind. A classic 80’s flick for sure.

And I don’t know about you but I would hire Serge to manage my art gallery in a second. If he can sell that monstrosity Axel was inquiring about for $130K he can sell anything.

And someone tell Victor Maitland that Ramon went to the clinic today, and he found out that he has herpes simplex 10.

Heat

heatDo you know you can get killed walkin’ your doggie? Vincent Hanna believes you can and his life is hardly ballgames and barbecues. Pacino. DeNiro. Need I say more?

What I can say is that by the time I get to Phoenix, we’ll be rising. And do you know anyone with a lot of jailhouse tatts?

And no, I won’t give you a Junior G-Man badge if you do.

The Hunt For Red October

the-hunt-for-red-october-movie-poster-1990-1020196499Whoever said a Russian submarine commander had to speak with a Russian accent? This is Sean Connery baby, and he can do whatever the hell he wants.  Scottish accent? Meh.

It’s freakin’ Connery. And tell Jim Greer that he told Jack Ryan to speak his mind so hey, be careful what you wish for.

And can someone please tell Vasily to give me one ping, please?
I will stop here but rest assured this is only a partial list of my favorite movies.

Now, tell me some of yours. Or go get your shine box.

 

Me, the GRAMMY Awards & Stallone

It was 30 degrees and snowing. But hey it was Philly in February so what do you expect? February 10th to be exact. That was the date I left the cold, gray skies of my hometown headed toward the bright, 85-degree sunshine of LA.

I would be gone a total of 6 days, which may or may not be enough for my wife – she may have liked if I were gone longer but who can blame her, really?

The reason behind my journey? Well it began in September of 2015 when I wrote a piece on the GRAMMY brand for Forbes entitled Think This Is A Seasonal Brand? Think Again. The angle for that article was to pull back the curtain, if you will and show what a brand such as the GRAMMYs does when it’s not “GRAMMY time.”

They do some amazing things with some big name brands including Hyundai and Converse. Trust me, they do a lot and the piece is well worth the read. And no, not because I wrote it.

Subsequent to this piece, I offered up the idea to do a second article on the GRAMMY brand but this time from the perspective of the actual awards show and all that leads up to it and the brands involved.

One thing led to another and I was invited to not only attend the show but also a series of Pre GRAMMY events leading up to it.

Here are are my six days in LA AKA Me, the GRAMMY Awards & Stallone.

Day 1 – Wednesday, February 10 

Checked into my hotel, the Residence Inn in Downtown LA around 1PM PST. First thing I noticed, other than the fact that my room came with its own kitchen including coffeemaker – and a REAL one and not the little dinky single cup crap – was my view.

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Yes that is the Hollywood sign off in the distance. Trust me the picture doesn’t do the view justice.

Later that night I attended my first Pre GRAMMY event, An Evening with Lionel Richie interviewed by Kevin Spacey at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

Lionel was being feted later in the week (Saturday) as the Person of the Year by MusiCares, Recording Academy’s philanthropic arm which provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.

Those in attendance were advised photos were strictly forbidden so instead of sharing one of my blurry, shot from a bad angle pictures, here’s one courtesy of Billboard.

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Spacey was tremendous as the interviewer, breaking into both Johnny Carson and Christopher Walken impressions at various times. And Richie was very passionate as he reminisced about his days growing up in Tuskegee, Alabama; memories of his father and how leaving The Commodores was, in his words, “the hardest thing I ever did.”

Day 2 – Thursday, February 11

The next night took me to The Village, a legendary recording studio for an event honoring record producer, Rick Rubin – who has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash to Lady Gaga and is also a co-founder of Def Jam Records.

Here’s me on the red carpet:

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The studio was quite impressive to say the least with lots of recording bays and rooms and the like with no shortage of food or drink stations for the attendees.

While in one of the rooms I noticed a woman standing, looking for a place to sit down. I stood up and offered my seat. Turned out to be Macy Gray. While I didn’t get a shot of her and I together, I did snap this shot of her sitting in the seat.

IMG_3897Ok probably not the best image of her but she was quite appreciative of my offer.

As to the rest of the event, it was just “ok” as there was simply way too many people to actually enjoy it to be perfectly honest.

I did get to see two young singers/entertainers perform during the night. A 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter named Colter Wall and a 30-year-old South London poet-rapper, Kate Tempest.

Their performances were quite different than one another, to put it mildly.

Here’s two videos from the event, one from Colter Wall followed by one by Kate Tempest. NOTE: These were not shot by me, but come courtesy of

Day 3 – Friday, February 12

This night brought me to a spot called NeueHouse in Hollywood. The event was titled Delta: Sites & Sounds with Leon Bridges. Hosted by Delta Airlines, the Official Airline Partner of the Grammy Awards, it featured a private performance by the Grammy-nominated Leon Bridges. And if you don’t know who he is, do yourself a favor and check him out. The guy is insanely talented.

Here’s a video of one of his songs entitled Smooth Sailin’.

This was, without question the best part of my entire trip. Not because of the event itself or Leon Bridges, with all due respect to him – but because I got to bring along my niece Elizabeth with me to the event.

She lives in LA and I don’t get to see her all that much so I was thrilled when I found out I could get a ticket for her to the event to by my guest.

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While sitting on the couches that sat just feet from the stage – it was a very informal setting, I struck up a conversation with a woman next to me. She was with her husband, and they were in my same age demo, late 40s/early 50s.

During my conversation with her I introduced her to my niece and found myself explaining to her that she was in fact my niece and not my “niece.” Seeing that this was LA, I am quite certain that many men bring with them to many an event their “nieces” if you catch my drift.

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Leon Bridges performing at Delta: Sites & Sounds with Leon Bridges

Day 4 – Saturday, February 13

After having breakfast with my niece in the morning and picking up my tux, I attended the MusiCares Person of the Year event Honoring Lionel Richie at the L.A. Convention Center.

It began with a reception and silent auction offering an exclusive and unparalleled selection of luxury items, VIP experiences and one-of-a-kind celebrity memorabilia followed by a dinner then concert, the latter of which was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, who paid homage to Richie’s funk roots, as you can see from the picture below – the event featured performances by Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Florence Welch, Dave Grohl, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Ellie Goulding, the Band Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Luke Bryan, Usher and Chris Stapleton.

They were all great performances but perhaps the oddest pairing, if you will was Dave Grohl’s singing “You Are.” The rocker pulled it off and then some and the crowd went nuts.

Toward the end of the night as everyone was up and dancing I made my way closer to the action, a tactic I would apply the next night, too.

Here’s some pics and a video from the night.

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 Day 5 – Sunday, February 14

The ante officially got raised on this day – or night to be specific as this was the night of the infamous Clive Davis pre-GRAMMY party.

Held at the Beverly Hills Hilton here’s how Entertainment Weekly described it:

“Grammy week in Los Angeles is a wild, strange piñata of parties, but there’s really only one soirée where you can see the likes of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and “Trap Queen” rapper Fetty Wap nibble on roast chicken at adjacent banquet tables while Courtney Love, Sylvester Stallone, Chris Rock, and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson socialize in the aisles, Gwen Stefani perches giggling on Blake Shelton’s lap, and estranged bandmates Harry Styles and Zayn Malik pose separately for photos but do not (sorry, One Direction dreamers) take the stage.”

Now my take: Right off the bat I could tell this was a big deal. From the moment I arrived at the hotel there were scores of fans and security personnel alike in the parking lot –  the scene was pretty wild to say the least.

The lobby was chaotic, too as more fans were gathered inside all waiting for a glimpse of their favorite stars. Not including me that is.

After going through a metal detector, I was handed my pass to get into the event.

Clive Davis 1

Wasn’t anything fancy by any means – was on a piece of cardboard but it might as well been printed in gold when it comes to how valuable it was.

This event is truly THE pre GRAMMY event to be at and I for one was extremely excited to take it all in.

It started with a cocktail reception where if I looked this way I saw Richard Branson.

Would have loved to been able to chat him up but he was surrounded by a great number of people.

Look that way and I see Katie Couric, whom I did chat up along with her husband who graciously snapped this photo of Ms. Couric and yours truly.

katie couric

They, her and her husband were incredibly nice and open and we chatted for about 10 minutes.

Soon after this pic was taken it was time to move to the large room which held the tables and stage for the dinner and performance. My table, as was the case the night before, was toward the back and I was perfectly fine with that. Yes, I was just happy to be there.

I would quickly learn that being seated near the back for this event had its perks for in order for anyone to get to their seats, regardless of where those seats were, they had to walk right past my table.

So I saw many a celeb pass by me on their way to the front area of the room including Caitlyn Jenner, Jon Voight, Suzanne Somers, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx and Ringo Starr, to name but a few.

One celebrity, however, stopped not 5 feet from where I was seated. The moment I saw him I knew I would have to go up and introduce myself to him. Being from Philly I really had no choice in the matter.

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Me: Hi, I’m Steve Olenski and I’m a Forbes contributor.

Him: Hey, I read your stuff all the time!

Yes, he really did say that and no, I don’t believe it for a second. He was merely being nice and nice he was the entire time I spoke with him.

However, when I mentioned I was from Philly did he really light up and put up his fist, literally for the shot you see above.

The rest of the night was all a blur after meeting Rocky, I mean how could it not be right?

Ok maybe not a blur as I was witness to some amazing performances climaxed by Earth, Wind & Fire who played their collective hearts and soul out as a tribute to their recently-deceased brother, the brilliant Maurice White.

Hearing them sing Fantasy and September as well as other songs was nothing short of extraordinary. I was so sad to hear of Maurice’s passing; their songs were a part of my soundtrack when I was younger. I played their greatest hits CD so many times I had to buy another copy.

And, using the tactic I learned from the night before I got to see them up close and personal as I moved down toward the stage and at one point found myself sitting at table right next to Stallone, Chris Rock and Michael Keaton.

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During the night they showed a video tribute to Whitney Houston. I took this shot as I thought it looked interesting the way the candlelight shone through the glass juxtaposed against the screen.

whitney houston.jpg

And as I was leaving I ran into this guy in the parking lot. He was taking silly selfies with people including yours truly.

Jamie_Foxx_Grammys.jpg

Day 6 – Monday, February 15

AKA G-Day as in GRAMMY Day. The festivities started at Noon PST at the Microsoft Theatre at L.A. Live with a reception followed by an awards ceremony where the awards NOT presented during the telecast later that night were handed out.

This event lasted until around 3PM. After going back to my hotel for about an hour I headed over to The Staples Center, the site of the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

grammy ticket

And here’s me in my tux for the evening.

Steve_Olenski_Grammys.jpgThe show itself.

After attending so many incredible events during GRAMMY Week this was the ultimate cherry-on-top ending. The experience of being at the show itself did not disappoint whatsoever.

After initially sitting in the seat location on my ticket, I was offered the chance to watch the show via a club box hosted by CIROC Vodka. I had interviewed their CMO for my Forbes GRAMMY piece which ran the day after the show – more on that a little later – and they invited me and I graciously accepted.

No, not for the vodka, I do not drink for those who don’t know me.

The performances were truly outstanding, yes even Adele’s – mic malfunction or not. The woman can flat out sing. The Lady GaGa tribute to David Bowie was mind-blowing to watch in person. I can only imagine how it looked on TV.

The most-talked about performance of the night amongst the crowd, was Kendrick Lamar. Anytime you can incorporate a bonfire into a live performance, I would say you have something there. And he did. And the crowd went bananas.

Here’s some pics from the show.

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Following the show there was an after-party held at the LA Convention Center.

There were lots of food stations and drink stations as well as some circus performers – yes he said circus performers, entertaining the crowd as well as a stage for some musical performances.

This was not a celebrity After Party which was perfectly fine of course – just wanted to let you know who, or in this case, who was not in attendance.

Some pics.

Grammys_4Grammys_5

See what I mean by circus performers?

I did not stay long at this party for A) it was getting late, B) I needed to get up early in the morning to get to the airport for my flight home and C) I needed to write and publish my article for Forbes.

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I probably got maybe 3 hours of sleep Monday night/Tuesday morning but that was perfectly fine by me.

In closing I would be remiss if I did not mention two people by name: Evan Greene, the CMO Of the Recording Academy and Neda Azarfar, Vice President, Marketing Communications for the Recording Academy.

They were incredibly accommodating and helpful and generous with their time during the entire time I was in LA and I cannot thank them enough for everything they did for me.

They are, above everything else: Good people and that means more than anything to me.

Note: The Recording Academy provided me with and/or faciliitated for me access to each of the events I denoted above.

Calling all #eTailEast attendees

Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I have published two posts on Forbes to date re: #eTailEast:etail_logo

Top 10 Quotes From Day 1 of #eTailEast 2015

Top 10 Quotes From Day 2 of #eTailEast 2015

The quotes I used for these posts were ones that I curated myself. However, for Day 3 I want to open it up to all of you for a chance to be in Forbes.

Here’s the deal:

  • Over the course of Day 3 collect your favorite quotes
  • Then email them to me (steveolenski@yahoo.com) by 5:00PM today, Wednesday, August 3 AKA Day 3
  • In your email be sure to include:
    • The full quote
    • Who said it (full name), their title and company
    • Your full name, title and company and your Twitter handle

From there I will select the Top 10 (with perhaps a few honorable mentions thrown in) and feature them in my next Forbes post which will run either tonite or in the morning. I’ll keep the title of that one a secret but my guess is you can already guess it.

The crowdsourced quotes will look like this in the article:

“Marketers must always remember and never forget to – what was I saying again?” – John Sample, VP of Marketing, XYZ Company — courtesy of Jane Smith (Twitter link embedded in name), Marketing Manager, ABC Company

Thank you in advance for participating in this crowdsourcing exercise!

Steve O

A Son Remembers His Mother – Humorously

My mother passed away earlier this week at the age of 88. She lived an incredibly long life for sure. And rest assured I have many fond memories of her that I will hold near and dear to my heart.

Death is of course a time of sadness and grief and I have been more than sad and grief-stricken since the passing of my mother. I have tried to keep busy as much as I can but best laid plans often go awry and as such I have found myself lost in another memory of mom and tears well up in my eyes.

However, those who know me well know that I don’t like to take anything too seriously. And for those who don’t know this about me, my mother used to refer to me as her “strangest child” and I took great delight in being slapped with that monicker, which in a way tells you just how strange I truly am.

She used the adjective “strange” to describe my idiosyncrasies – at least I think she did? For example my penchant and preference for wearing shorts in the dead of winter. “What is wrong with you?” she would inquire every single time she saw me in shorts in winter, including the last time I saw her alive a few weeks ago.

mom

My mom, yours truly and siblings from a few years ago – ok more than a few years ago.

When Is A Question Not Really A Question?

Continue reading

September 11th – Not Just Another Day

For the past X number of years, I have lost count – I have published this exact same post.

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black-nwr-9-11-never-forget11

There are days throughout the year that have a “feel” to them, be it a holiday or a birthday, etc. These are not just another day(s) in our lives. We must add September 11th for it will never be just another day.

The post below is something I wrote years ago and I repost every year on this date. The reason I repost it is for the simple reason I want people to always remember what it felt like on September 11, 2001; to never forget what it was like that day. My fear is that people already have or will in the future treat September 11th just like any other day.

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Kramer: What’s today?
Newman: It’s Thursday.
Kramer: Really? Feels like Tuesday.
Newman: Tuesday has no feel. Monday has a feel, Friday has a feel, Sunday has a feel…

Fans of Seinfeld will of course recall this classic exchange. As was the case with most things Seinfeld, this was an example of something we all could relate to. I mean days do have a feel, don’t they?

But it’s not just days of the week that have “feels” associated with them.

How does January 1st feel? Well that probably depends on what you did the night before.

How ’bout April 15th? Tax day. Doesn’t mean much cause you always get your taxes filed early, right? Or perhaps you are an habitual late-filer and this date causes you to break out in hives.

July 4th? Cookouts. Burgers. Dogs. Fireworks. Summer. Any of these ring a bell?

October 31st? Halloween. Costumes. Scary ghost stories. Soon as night falls it takes on a whole new feeling, doesn’t it?

December 24th? Anticipation. Excitement. Expectation.

December 25th? Family. Presents. Children. Santa. Snow. A certain euphoria and sense of family comes over us on this day, doesn’t it?

Your birthday? Your spouse’s birthday? Your children’s birthday?

ALL of these are special days in our lives each with their own unique feel to them.

These are all Not Just Another Day in our lives and on our calendars and in our blackberries and cell phones.

Well I think we must add September 11th to the list.

Right or Wrong, September 11th will NEVER just be another day. It can’t be.

For if we allow it to become just another day, then we will have failed.

We will have failed to honor those lost that tragic day. Their memory will die. And we simply cannot nor should not allow that to happen.

September 11th? Personally it evokes feelings of: Fear. Anger. Outrage. Bewilderment. Disbelief. Revenge. Shock. Sadness. Innocence lost.

September 11th will NEVER just be another day.

Mark it down.

The Best Marketing Doesn’t Feel Like Marketing

I am a thief. I admit it. No not a content thief as I described in my post this past May The anatomy of an (alleged) content heist but rather a thief of a great quote, this one from someone I am fortunate to call a friend, Ann Handley, the head of content for Marketing Profs, world-renowned speaker and all around good egg.

Ann uttered this phrase, the title of this post, in speaking with Today.com on the subject of the recent TD bank campaign.

In case you’ve never heard of it, here it is in all its glory:

Cynicism Be Damned

I know there are many out there who will be quite cynical and believe TD Bank did all this, not for all the right reasons – helping people, saying thank you and so on, but to only score points in the minds of consumers. Continue reading

When It Comes To Marketing And Advertising Not Just Any Visual Will Do

Back in April of this year, I wrote a piece entitled A View To A Thrill: Why Marketers Need To Get Visual, Fast. The article essentially served as a not-to-gentle reminder (at least that was its intent) to those in marketing and advertising of the power of the visual when it comes to reaching and engaging consumers.

What I wrote then is surely true today.

The power of visuals in marketing and advertising is not the future, it is the present.  Ok technically it’s the present AND the future but my point is this is not something that’s coming down the road nor is it a trend or a fad for that matter. Consumers want and quite frankly, expect to see some kind of visual aid, if you will, when it comes to marketing and advertising. These visual aids resonate and connect with consumers and spur them to take action. Continue reading