Fields of Hopes and Dreams (Cross talk Ep. 24)

There are lots of great stories of triumph over adversity in the history of film. Movies that feature down on their luck athletes making it happen, business professionals that outsmart the man, and individuals with physical challenges that accomplish more in two hours then you and I could hope to in a year.

People watch these films with the hope that those amazing individuals will defy the odds and achieve the impossible in inspiring displays of courage, strength, intelligence, wit, and skill. Making the best of a situation and ultimately coming ahead despite the difficulty of the endeavour.

Right in the feels.

If you think of films like The Shawshank Redemption, Ray, Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away, then you know your are on the right track to your own personal Field of Dreams.

Oh My Heart, It’s A Fish Out Of Water

This theme almost always focuses on an individuals in dire situations. A fish out of water if you will. And yet these people make it work for them, changing the circumstances and getting to the root of the problem, even if the solution seems unlikely.

But whenever we run an episode of Cross Talk, we want to talk through these topics in a meaningful way, focusing on interesting examples and testing out theories that can open up the conversation. Which is why episode number twenty four of Cross Talk is a genre defying theme that stands out – triumph over adversity.

We’re back at it, spending time on three case studies of film that exemplify this idea and which might not be your first pick. We talk about the accessibility of The King’s Speech, the imbalances of anti-heroes in The Big Short, and how Michael Keaton has finally turned it around in Birdman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.

This is gonna be an episode full of warm and fuzzies. Check it out below!

This episode should make you feel good in another way. We’ve officially added Mike Dadural to the cast! Yeah yeah!

Now for the repeater section of the test. What did you think of the episode? Any comments on how we can do things differently? Would you have chosen the three films that we did? We really do want you to join in on the conversation and let us know what you thought!

Please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. As always, be excellent to one another!


Cake Day (Birthdays)

Today I decided to write a post about birthdays, and because we’re closing in on the end of my birthday month, its more than appropriate. You know what Lesley Gore used to say right? After all, what is the point of a birthday other than to celebrate the anniversary of your date of birth, also known as your birthdate – the date and time in which you were born.

How birthdays are celebrated vary from culture to culture, and even within certain cultures there are personal traditions to uphold. These celebrations usually involve gifts, parties, and rituals which serve to reinforce the celebration. Getting punched on the arm for every year you’ve been alive came to mind almost immediately for me. Which I hate.

On top of that, many religions celebrate the birth of their founders. Think Christmas and Buddha’s Birthday.

Another item to consider with birthdays is that they help us to establish milestones of life and all of the responsibilities that are conferred to us at those times. Some of them are good, some of them are dangerous, and others are up for debate, literally. For example, the age of consent, voting rights, emancipation, quitting secondary school, marriage, getting a drivers license, purchasing alcohol and tobacco and a host of other doozies. Also, when we reach our governments elected age of majority, minors assume all responsibilities over their lives, and parents/guardians no longer have legal charges to take care of them.

It’s fun stuff.

But let’s consider traditions of North America, because it’s where I live and what I grew up with, okay dear readers? As many of you know, we celebrate birthdays with a party of some scale, including presents for the birthday person, often bringing out a birthday cake/pie/treat at some point during the festivities and topping said cake with candles to signify the persons age. Then we blow out the candles and make a wish – we’re supposed to keep this secret because the wish won’t come true otherwise.

Yeah, I’m calling bullshit on that.

I just turned thirty-two, and I am not married, I do not have children nor a house in my name, I am not a successful author, painter, musician, public speaker, athlete or lecturer, and I am definitely not in the best shape of my life.

And that’s the problem with birthdays, they’re built upon dreams, deadlines, obligations, expectations, and wish fulfillment.

So this year I’m trying something different. A new set of theories and a new mindset – I’m celebrating my unbirthdays and my perpetual state of progress OR being progressive. This is the year of campfire stories, so watch closely, listen intently, and keep close to the warmth of the fire. I’m going to share some more birthday stories soon, and get you in the spirit of the present.

Bad pun, yes. But a better gift cannot be found anywhere.


Picture Perfect Cravings (Tony Litster Success Stories)

Everyone loves a good success story. It stimulates a part of our brain that is linked to the reward centre. It’s likely why motivational speakers have been really populariz over the past 70+ years, at least in western culture anyway.

Quite a few years ago, I got serious about the teachings of man by the name of Tony Litster. I could have selected from many different coaches, gurus, and experts, but I landed on him. Mostly be accident. Tony Litster is a success coach, who focuses on success over addictions, namely pornography. Now, I’m no chicken, and will admit that I have struggled with this exact challenge in the past.

In fact, I bawked at the idea that I’d ever find someone who understood the struggle. But then I found Tony.

Tony Litster Straight Talk

Litster teaches that pornography addiction is quite often a result of the shame cycle, which comes out of childhood challenges and continues right through our adult lives.

The shame cycle makes you believe that your self-worth is tied directly into what others think of you. And that’s just not true. Each of us is invaluable and infinitely worth our lives. Learning to separate yourself from your behaviour, and more importantly, your behaviour from your sense of worth, is what allows you to move away from stimulants like pornography that ultimately do not satisfy. How you do this is by reinforcing the new idea of who you are:

One of the ways is by speaking positive belief statements to yourself, and repeating them over and over again (through recorded tracks set to classical music) – positive affirmations.

Another way is through meditation, which means settling into exhaustion for only a brief period of time, and then allowing yourself to experience all of the thoughts racing through your head while you focus on breathing in and out.

A third way is through regular and exciting forms of exercise. This could mean time at the gym, rock climbing, playing team sports or preparing for a marathon.

But there is so much more that he teaches then those three concepts. From drinking lots of water regularly, to maintaining a neutral pH balance, to visualization routines, to paying off high interest debts, this guy is in it for the long haul. He really focuses on dwelling within reality, while dealing with the chemical imbalances of serotonin, dopamine and adrenalin that result from a lifetime of pornography addiction. Better yet, there are effective ways to combat these high levels of chemical stimulation from porn watching…

Biological Peacekeeping

Adrenaline is easily fed through competition – sports, games, exercise or frightening activities like public speaking. Serotonin can be kept in check via meditation, and also by practicing Yoga. Lastly dopamine is released when we get creative – writing, playing music, painting, and using our imaginations.

Seems simple right? But it’s just another example of the importance regular exercise, meditation, and creativity play in a balanced life. I only discovered that my body was out of balance because I was constantly drawn to watching pornography whenever I would come home from work, and my girlfriend at the time couldn’t really understand why I struggled with this compulsion (read: the shame cycle). It stemmed from challenges of my youth, which probably deserve a whole other post to themselves, but this is just another layer to purpose of timotheories, and why digitally curating at heart is essential for me to live.

If I didn’t make art, take care of my body, and my mind, I’d be a hot mess. And no use to anybody.

theories Summarized

Maybe this post would’ve been better served for a timely Thursday entry, but when I sat down to write this afternoon, and saw the topic Facebook Success Stories, I thought to myself, no one really cares if I share success stories from other people. You’re all here because of my authentic experiences, and at the core of my stories are tales such as this one that I’ve hinted at. Picking up the pieces and fighting against something which I did not want for myself was imperative dear readers.

My theories all stem from this desire to live a life completely chosen of free will, and pornography was limiting me from doing just that. So I to you without motive or expectation, #liveyourlife and you will learn to #loveyourlife.


Snatch And Grab (The Founder review)

Early on in my post-university education, a manager and mentor of mine recommended I read this book called The E-Myth. The full title is actually The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.

It’s a fairly quick read that explains the biggest entrepreneurial myth of all time, people who are technically talented don’t necessarily know how to operate a business. If you can create a business which doesn’t need you to function, then you have a turnkey solution and you will have success.

Ray Kroc understood this principle, and that’s why he also invented the corporate takeover. At the very least, he’s one of the best examples of this second idea anyway.


The Founder (2016)

Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B. J. Novak, Laura Dern, Justin Randell Brooke, Patrick Wilson
Director: John Lee Hancock
released on blu-ray April 18, 2017
******* 7/10

IMDB: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Audience Score 82%
The Guardian: ****/*****


John Lee Hancock, Jr. is an American director and producer known for his biographical turns at filmmaking. Some of his most critically acclaimed works include The Rookie, The Blindside, Saving Mr. Banks, and now, The Founder. He doesn’t have a perfect track record though, The Alamo is  boring and too self-contained to enjoy.

That said, The Founder is quite a delight to sit through, and it does an excellent job putting its lead front and centre. Don’t believe me? Take a gander at the Wikipedia synopsis.

Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a traveling salesman selling Prince Castle brand milkshake makers in 1954. While he has a supportive wife, Ethel (Laura Dern), and has saved enough to live a simple comfortable life in Arlington Heights, Illinois, he craves more. After learning that a drive-in in San Bernardino is ordering an unusually large number of milkshake makers, Ray drives to California to see it. What he finds is McDonald’s—a highly popular walk-up restaurant with fast service, high-quality food, disposable packaging, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Ray meets with the two McDonald brothers, Maurice “Mac” McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and Richard “Dick” McDonald (Nick Offerman). Ray tours the kitchens and notes the employees’ strong work ethic. Dick explains the high-quality food and lightning-fast service are the backbones of their diner. Ray takes the brothers to dinner and is told the origin story of McDonald’s. The next day, Ray suggests that the brothers franchise the restaurant and discovers that they had previously attempted to do so only to encounter absentee owners and inconsistent standards which ultimately led to the failure of the endeavor. Ray persists and eventually convinces the brothers to allow him to lead their franchising efforts on the condition that he agree to a contract which requires all changes to receive the McDonald brothers’ approval in writing.

Initially, Ray begins building a McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois while attempting to entice wealthy investors (specifically fellow members at the country club he and Ethyl were members of) to open franchises, but encounters the same poor management ethic which doomed the original franchise efforts. Ray hits on the idea of franchising to middle-class investors, who are more likely to be hands-on and willing to follow the McDonald’s formula. This proves successful, and new franchises begin opening across the Midwest, with Ray representing himself as the creator of McDonald’s. During this time, Ray meets Rollie Smith (Patrick Wilson), an upscale restaurant owner in Minnesota who wishes to invest, and his wife Joan (Linda Cardellini), to whom Ray is immediately attracted.

Despite his success, Ray begins to encounter financial difficulties as his share of franchise profits is limited due to his contract. Owners are encountering higher than expected costs, particularly for refrigeration of large quantities of ice cream for milkshakes. Joan suggests a powdered milkshake to Ray as a way to avoid these costs, but the brothers refuse to compromise the quality of their food. With his debts mounting, Ray goes to his bank to attempt to renegotiate his loan, but it refuses. Fortunately, he is overheard by Harry Sonneborn (B. J. Novak), a financial consultant for Tastee-Freez, who agrees to review Ray’s books. He realizes that the real profit opportunity is in providing real estate to the franchisees, which will not only provide a revenue stream, but give Ray leverage over his franchisees and over the McDonald brothers. Ray incorporates a new company, Franchise Realty Corporation, and attracts new investors.

Emboldened, Ray begins to increasingly defy the McDonald brothers and circumvent their authority, including by providing powdered milkshakes to all franchisees. Ray renames his company to The McDonald’s Corporation and demands to be released from his contract and buy the brothers out, the news of which sends Mac into diabetic shock. Ray visits him in the hospital and offers a blank check to settle their business. The brothers agree to a $2.7 million lump sum payment, ownership of their original restaurant in San Bernardino, and a 1% annual royalty, but when the time comes to finalize the agreement, Ray refuses to include the royalty in the settlement and instead offers it as a handshake agreement. Afterwards, Dick asks Ray why he had to take over their business, when he could have easily stolen their idea and recreated it. Ray reveals that the true value of McDonald’s is the name itself, which expresses all the attributes of Americana.

The McDonald brothers are forced to take their name off the original restaurant and Ray opens a new McDonald’s franchise directly across the street from the original restaurant to finally put the McDonald brothers out of business. The film closes in 1970 with him preparing a speech where he praises himself for his success in his elaborate mansion with his new wife, Joan. An epilogue reveals that the McDonald brothers were never paid their royalties, which could have been in the area of $100 million a year.

Keaton does an excellent if not nuanced job showcasing the megalomania of businessman Ray Kroc. At once accessible, distant, decisive, insecure, ornery, family-friendly, and ruthless, Keaton does a good job making you like someone who could easily have been the villain of this story.

Pros: Much like business in real life, things happen quickly, and without much explanation, men who were equals quickly move into roles of master and subservient. And the narrative never takes a side one way or another.

Cons: You have to wonder what the story would’ve looked like had it been centred on the McDonald brothers instead of their usurper.

Runtime: 1 hour 55 minutes

Points of Interest: Before taking over McDonalds, Ray Kroc worked for Prince Castle. Prince Castle is still in business today and supplies McDonalds with a lot of it’s equipment.

After all is said and done, Ray Kroc is never set up as the villain of this story, and that in itself is unsettling in a time of Donald Trump presidency. We watch slowly as he convinces person after person to buy into the idea of the McDonalds franchise, and to his credit it works. Just as his credibility takes an uptick, so too do the McDonalds restaurants.

theories Summarized

Everybody loves a good morality tale, and even better, they love a true story of triumph over adversity. The Founder is an accomplishment on both fronts, but like fairy tales of old, it contains a hidden subtle message of the risks associated in chasing gold. As Ray knows, a name like Kroc cannot mean anything good, and his theory seemed to pan out.


Hail Mary (Father John Misty, Pure Comedy review)

Unforgettable. That’s what many of us wish to be. But if we’re all important, then none of us are.

And that’s quite the joke.


Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
released April 7, 2017
********* 9/10

Joshua Michael “Josh” Tillman, sometimes known as J. Tillman, and especially in this case, as Father John Misty, is an American singer/songwriter and instrumentalist. He’s been making albums since 2003, with the first eight being under the moniker of J. Tillman. This is the third outing of Father John Misty, preceded by the album I Love You, Honeybear; an affecting and self-dissecting grand gesture that is both smart and heart.

So it makes sense that Pure Comedy would simply raise the up stakes and let us walk on through into themes like post-apocalyptic landscapes, religion, pop culture, and politics. And it does. Hard. Hardcore even.

And maybe it’s my undying love of 90s bands like Harvey Danger, The Presidents of the United States of America, Weezer, Tonic, Jimmy Eat World, Semisonic, Everclear and Third Eye Blind, but doesn’t this guy sound like he could fit right in with those blokes? Without sounding like he was doing the recording itself in the 90s of course. But maybe it’s the confessional nature that really draws me in and makes me want to sit down and pray with him.

With a runtime at about 80 minutes, it’s almost impossible to sit through this in one go (read:meditating for the win), and even more difficult to break it up into separate ideas, though I am going to give it a shot.

Tillman is not alone in his criticisms of world views, namely the problems with our planet and the people that inhabit it, but his dark humour calls back to comedians of the 1970s like Peter Sellers and Monty Python. He wants to be seen as a patron saint of satire, but he is willing to self-efface to earn that mantel. At it’s centre point is the dark and sometimes funny Leaving L.A. It isn’t the best song on the album, but it definitely serves the purpose. The comedy of errors that we call life.

I can personally appreciate the health mix of existential though dashed into this record, because Tillman is no stranger to exploring themes within Pure Comedy. Both an epitaph to the process of art and a lover letter to making music, there is way to much complexity going on here to digest in my ever-so-brief review of it. Take a look at the album artwork for instance, a shining example of the detail involved in a life lived full.  We will likely never experience all of the same things as another person, but that doesn’t mean Birdie can’t try to describe utopia for us.

A criticism without judgment, Pure Comedy is a sermon Father John Misty should be proud to share.

theories Summarized

In listening to this record, I cannot help but think of The Comedian from the graphic novel Watchmen. Toward the end of his days The Comedian unravelled a global plot to change the world. One which would involved the slaughter of millions so that billions could united together against a common, if not fake, threat. It’s all a joke he said, just before he was murdered.

The real joke is that Josh Tillman hasn’t even begun his decline yet – this might just be pure gold.