Content is all I have ever been about – but it’s misunderstood

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If you read marketing industry blogs or publications at all, you will have been gagged to the point of choking on the idea that “content is king”. This little phrase, apparently coined by Bill Gates circa 1996, has been bandied about to the point of near meaninglessness and debated to an almost unfathomable degree.

For people who are not content or digital marketers – what do these terms mean and why do you need to care? I am finding that as straightforward as the term “content” is – or should be – it’s actually sort of misunderstood. A lot like the oft-thrown-about term “digital”. What does “digital marketing” really consist of?

Content is not the king. (You know very well that Elvis still is, and always will be, the king.)

Content is drop-dead important. But without context, relevance and a plan, content can be fairly meaningless. Just a fountain of uselessness that does not achieve anything. You are not going to get anywhere without good content that supports whatever your mission is. Content drives everything and even though it’s front and center, it is also kind of a behind-the-scenes engine – you get followers, shares, attention, discussion – by creating content that is worth talking about. Relevant. Not spun BS. Not repetitive garbage. Hopefully not jargon-filled nonsense. Everywhere you look, you are advised to “create content worth spreading” – and for all purposes, this is true. Get content right and your job is easier.

In much of my freelance work, I have wanted to yell at my clients: “Stop chasing trends and buzzwords and focus on the real meat on the bone – and the bone itself.” Good content is almost all that is going to get you the right (target) audience or traffic – and of course you need to drive traffic from somewhere. But content plays the most important role in that as well. You can’t really have an effective SEO strategy without focusing on content. (Search algorithms are actively taking quality and freshness into account.) You can’t effectively distribute content if you have not really got something worthwhile to put out there.

As far as content goes, I am well aware that this blog post is generic and serves mostly to air my own frustration about how much mileage this topic gets without people gaining any deeper understanding of how they need to focus on content development and content marketing. I almost feel like there are a lot of people in business who read a lot of articles about this elusive “content” and spout a lot of stuff about how content needs to be – but they are not really content creators themselves and therefore have no hands-on understanding of how it fits into and supports their goals.

To calm the nerves, then, a song from ages ago. “Sheffield Park” – The Mekons

The changing workscape: Secrecy v privacy / Pretty time bomb

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I respectfully decline to answer that question. It is, if not illegal to ask, rather inappropriate.

Sitting in a job interview, growing more awkward and uncomfortable by the minute, I felt as though I was backed right into a corner.

Quite a long while ago, I applied for a job, was invited to an interview and circumstances in my life changed quite rapidly, and I needed to cancel the interview. I called to cancel well in advance of the scheduled interview time and offered no other explanations – because I don’t think you owe any explanation to a potential employer if you’re not planning to work there.

When circumstances changed dramatically again a few weeks later, I contacted the company again because I noticed that the job was still advertised and rescheduled the interview. I knew that it was probably a bit unorthodox of me – and if they did not want to give me a chance, they could have refused to reschedule the interview. No harm, no foul. But they seemed happy to give me a new opportunity, so I went to a series of interviews.

In the first interview, the hiring manager and the HR director were sitting across from me, and the HR person asked me why I had cancelled the first interview. Fair enough. I anticipated that they would ask me something like that. I replied only that my personal circumstances had changed, the issues that prevented me from attending the original interview were behind me and that the reasons behind all of it were private.

Somehow this was not a good enough explanation, and the HR guy grabbed onto this like a dog with a bone. Throughout the interview, even though I think I defused the question tactfully enough (in a way that should have shut the question down). The HR guy continued to poke and prod, even long after I thought the question had been answered and put to rest. It was as though it would suddenly pop back up again, and some nagging feeling in his gut would jump to his mouth, and he was physically unable to stop asking.

He started questioning my statement about “privacy”, claiming that it felt as though I was “keeping secrets”. But there is a big difference between privacy and secrecy. Which I stated at the time. The questioning escalated in offensiveness and discomfort, making me consider – in the moment – that I was not sure I wanted to work somewhere where an HR professional was so hell-bent on knowing personal information that had no bearing on my potential as an employee that he would veer into very uncomfortable territory to get it.

My workplace experience has mostly happened in the US where this kind of prodding would be dead wrong under any circumstances. Whole articles are written about illegal job interview questions. To be frank, I don’t know what is illegal versus just awkward in a Swedish workplace – but I would think that someone in a managerial role in human resources should have the tact and sensitivity to stop pushing when something is clearly not work-related.

The worst thing – when I was called in for follow-up interviews the next week, I assumed that the issue was settled. But no, the same HR person brought up the same pushy questions the next time, and then I felt really backed into a corner. I tried to remain tactful in conveying that I felt the question was answered as much as it was ever going to be. But his continued insistence felt like lighting the fuse on a time bomb.

Eventually I was hired and accepted the job despite these misgivings. This whole scene sort of plays into my feelings about HR in general – how is it that the one department that is meant to be the most in tune with people and the legalities of hiring could be the worst at dealing with people?

Last-minute broccoli soup – It was fun but now it’s done

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Okay so never mind it was fun. But now it’s done.

“When you told me that you loved me, I gave my heart to you, and I wondered if there could be any truth in love so new – I was lost in a fool’s paradise, good and lost in a fool’s paradise.”
-Buddy Holly – “Fool’s Paradise

Deal with the hunger and the blah and the sense of foolishness with piles of fresh broccoli!

Throw a bunch of broccoli florets in a roasting pan with some chopped red onions and a bit of olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes at 170C. Meanwhile boil about two cups of water with one vegetable bouillon cube. Throw in some chopped garlic, a half teaspoon of ground coriander, a teaspoon of curry powder and a dash of garam masala. Let that mixture simmer until the broccoli is ready. When the broccoli is soft and roasted, throw it and the onion into the simmering pan. Let it simmer for about ten minutes.

Blend the soup until smooth and add coconut milk.

It turned out amazingly. As soup goes.

Play with the measurements to get the flavor you like.

Overcrowded: Housing Shortages as Hindrance to Economic Productivity

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Outside of Sweden, people won’t likely know that the Swedish real estate market is a nightmare. I read the other day that right now, properties in Sweden’s cities, both the rental and sale market are at an all-time low, making scarcity of living space one of the biggest hindrances to economic productivity and growth for Sweden’s cities. This “bubble” has been written about for years – and the problem has just gotten worse. Some blame rent control (disincentivizing renting out properties) but the problem goes well beyond that. It is not really an open-market system, such as you find in the US or even Norway.

This would not be of the greatest concern to me, really, because I have a house in rural Sweden within commuting distance of Oslo, Norway, where I used to work.(Yeah, you know, I’m a real country girl.)

Trouble is, last year, I started a job in Gothenburg, Sweden. I knew that it would be difficult to find a flat for rent or purchase, but I did not anticipate the near-impossibility of it. The rental market is flat out a joke – there is nothing available. People luck into available flats or get on an eternally long waiting list or buy rental contracts on the black market. The purchase market, at least when I started planning the move, had a reasonable number of properties on the market – somewhat reasonably priced in terms of asking price, but most would end with a final price well above asking. I went through the viewing, bidding and disappointment process more times than I can count – and it finally became too exhausting. I was living in temporary housing all year (short-term apartments, hotels, etc.). At some point, I gave up.

I did not intend for this to become another article advocating for remote work, but in a roundabout way, that’s what it amounts to. The stress and strain of spending outsized amounts of time searching for a place to live that never materializes coupled with the stress and strain of living in temporary housing and learning a new job on top of it really got to me until finally when this year began, I knew I could not continue and had to renegotiate my work conditions.

I am not alone – but at least in my case, when the housing crunch became too untenable, I could make a play for remote work arrangements. Also, I already live in Sweden, so it is not as though I live halfway around the world (although that should not matter). But the idea that potential employees’ mobility is hampered, and that companies may not be able to hire the talent they want simply because they won’t be able to find a place to live is a serious impediment to economic development and growth and an inconvenience (or worse) to employers and employees.

Yet another compelling reason to look at virtual employment options.

Catching a fall: “How could you not have known?”

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I recently watched the TV show Broadchurch. (Great show by the way.) It struck me that when the main cop lady asked spitefully, early on in the show, “How could you not have known or seen?” when meeting the ex-wife of a criminal, it stuck with me. Clearly this judgmental moment would come back to haunt and foreshadowed some plot twist.

It also foreshadowed recent steps in my own life, though not in a negative way. It is truer to say that I came very close to self-sabotaging something because of my own fear. It was only after taking this little tumble that I saw everything clearly – it was like a trigger. In the past I have wanted to know where things stand, so I have intentionally forced the issue or forced someone’s hand. But in this case it was backwards. I could not see what was right in front of my face – at least not clearly – until I put myself, unintentionally, into an awkward position that required me to communicate about things that make me uncomfortable. I can look at myself and ask, “How could you not have known or seen?” – about myself.

Sooner Cheat Death than Fool Love” – Cass McCombs

All of life is a Supremes song: Don’t let this feeling end

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Continuing in my bid for daily blog entries, I am getting a head start on tomorrow’s although anyone reading this won’t know that because it will be published tomorrow (which, upon publication – right now – is today). I made a semi-unscheduled trip to Oslo after work (it’s a three-hour, straight shot up the E6 motorway between Gothenburg and Oslo). I needed to come to Oslo anyway on Thursday, but in a wee twist of fate, my best friend in Oslo contacted me and invited me to come over tonight. So here I am writing from the guest room before falling asleep, enjoying the cold draft that creeps in. This friend and I had not seen each other in what felt like an eternity and so many things had happened between the last time and now. We started reminiscing about all the things that have happened in our lives since we first met, and we might as well be talking about other people.

Most evenings at home alone I spend time listening to music, sometimes getting into a Buddy Holly and The Supremes groove. And I play with a hula hoop, setting it to this soundtrack. Listening to the Supremes in particular, I think all of life can be a Supremes song. Years ago, when the aforementioned dear friend in Oslo met her now-husband, I assigned The Supremes’ “I Hear a Symphony” to their budding relationship. “I’m lost in a world, made for you and me” (and not your kids from a previous relationship).

Nothing but heartaches” “The more my love has grown/the less love he has shown…”

The same old story – resisting, maybe even feeling nothing – resistance or no – but then suddenly relenting, only to have the feeling unreciprocated suddenly, retreating.

Love is Here and Now You’re Gone” “You persuaded me to love you, and I did, but instead of tenderness I found heartache instead. Into your arms I fell so unaware of the loneliness that was waiting there”

Same story – it is so much easier to be alone and content with oneself than to be persuaded to let down one’s guard, finally, only be to lonelier than ever in the confines of heartache.

In and Out of Love” “I keep reaching out for tenderness, touching the hand that holds emptiness. Well I’m looking for a love that lingers on, long after that first kiss is gone; that kind of love that keeps burning bright, long after we’ve said goodnight”

We keep searching – but it never really comes.

Remove This Doubt” “Each time we meet, you make me feel so incomplete, there’s no joy in the air, I just don’t think you care…”

I first connected with this song one autumn after spending a summer with someone whose sole purpose seemed to be finding new ways to criticize and undermine me.

And then of course the songs that remind me of TV shows – “Reflections” (theme song of China Beach)

Someday We’ll Be Together”, which figured prominently in an episode of Quantum Leap.

_______________________________

Much later – almost let this whole day pass without posting. I had a strange day and made something of a personal mistake – or misjudgment. It led to an openness I have not felt before (had not felt comfortable with before). I have rather inexplicably been feeling things I have not felt in this unfiltered way since I was about 13 years old. I could say or write a lot of words about it but none make any sense. I can only feel.

 

Random thoughts: Wunderkind underdog & throwing away talent

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You can start off well, with something like Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan (“The False Husband”). Set the scene, tone, soundtrack.

I made a deal with myself that I need to be in the habit of writing, so I write in this blog come hell or high water, as the saying goes. I force myself to write every day – usually I have something to say, even if it is largely useless, and can cobble together something that stays thematically cohesive (for example, it might not be important to tell the world, i.e. whatever unlucky soul stumbles into this blog, that I changed my mind about Julie Delpy or that I desperately want to make chicken pho, but these posts at least have a theme and a target – a point.

Today, though, my head is a jumble of random thoughts that I want to spew out in a most random fashion, if for no other reason than to follow through on writing at least one post per day. Rest assured, all the deal-making with myself will hopefully not be for naught. I have specific writing projects I want to tackle at some point but have fallen so far out of the habit of regular, disciplined writing that I am at least trying to create a pattern or a rhythm to start with. The organization comes later. It’s kind of funny because you’d think that writing about things you really want to write about – whatever it is – would come easily. For me, as soon as I sit down, determined to write something with a purpose (other than something academic or a blog post, anyway, which is informal in any case), everything goes out the window. That is, every day in my job and in my freelance work, I research, organize and write all kinds of outlandish things that I never imagined knowing the first thing about. But it’s something that can be ordered – someone says, “I need a white paper about connected TV” or “We need a clinical summary of this paper on manual dexterity when employing double-gloving practice” – I am perfectly able to wrangle all the disparate details, read the studies, gather intel and info and get to work and produce perfectly workable results. Someone else has requested these things, so it’s work.

But when it’s me and my stuff – with a fairly solid outline and a crop of good ideas – I can find every reason to put it off. I don’t know when this happened. As a kid and teenager, I suppose I was less concerned with what other people thought about the outcome and wrote stories every single day. All I did was write and, like a maniac, get months ahead on school homework so I would have more free time to write. I earned this reputation among teachers and adults around me as “a writer” to the point that the reputation preceded me and stifled me and caused me to start feeling insecure and trapped. I stopped writing and buried myself in foreign language textbooks. I distinctly remember making a couple of choices at the pivotal age of 13 or 14. Take creative writing as my English course or enroll in regular English (where my friends were). I opted for the latter. The following year, our courseload was reduced from seven classes per day to six (so we could have even longer classes – ugh!), meaning we had fewer choices/options. I was faced with the choice between taking journalism or French. The journalism teacher (who had taught creative writing the previous year and was disappointed that I did not join) practically begged me to join – I took French. The journalism teacher still let me write articles for the school paper. I did it, but my heart wasn’t in it. By then, I was completely in love with all my irregular verbs and the passé composé.  I spent the rest of my school years studying all the languages the school had to offer – except German, which seems to have hurt the German teacher’s feelings. Writing for pleasure – complete fiction and imagination – stopped.

I still wrote a lot, of course, because I was a very engaged student. I wrote papers and never, ever managed to stick with word limits. I still struggle with this but am getting a little bit better. I became skilled at research and writing what was asked of me – and this continues today in my career and my lifelong engagement as a student (always enrolling in study programs just for the sake of learning).

I am, however, further away from personal writing, really good writing and being able to self-edit my own personal writing. I let all the creative energy slip away. Perhaps it is still there somewhere, but I have no one but myself to blame. As I wrote, all the adults in my life encouraged me to write to an almost daunting degree, but that was also the problem. It was daunting, and I did not think I could live up to their expectations or hopes. I was not sure I wanted to. Deciding to pursue something in life like writing or the arts or photography is undoubtedly a hard road – completely subjective, all about timing, a person needs to develop thick skin and embody perseverance. I was never sure I could endure the subjectivity and fickle nature of perceiving “talent”.

My feelings about it are still mixed. Creativity and imagination when we’re young are vibrant and unbridled forces – unfettered by the real life we later experience, which dampens the spark we may have to explore ideas that are fictional and illogical. Yet writing, fictional or otherwise, informed by life experience can have so much depth and meaning, touched as it is by reality, which requires time, insight and experience. My feelings on the subject are similar to how I feel about therapists. In addition to wanting to write, I always thought – and still think – I would like to be a therapist. I love listening to other people’s problems and thoughts more than almost anything, but it occurred to me early on that it seems, no matter how mature and insightful you are when you’re young, that you don’t really have enough insight, gravitas or authority to be a good therapist until you’re about 40. Rough rule of thumb, really. I am sure there are gifted therapists of all ages, but for me, and in my view, I never seriously considered going back to school to become a therapist until the last few years. I only feel fully prepared to do that right now.

Then again, if I am being honest (and random), there are a lot of things that I only feel prepared to do (or think about doing) right now. I only think of things like having serious relationships or rearing children now. It seemed totally improbable and unappealing in my 20s. More power to the people who did pursue those things when they were young and potentially had more – or at least less complicated – choices. I still think there are plenty of choices but I tend to think fairly broadly. The whole world is my workshop (my personal motto and seemingly also the motto of American foreign and military policy! Reminds me, totally off topic, that my brother described the end of the last US government shutdown thusly: “the dick show is over”). I don’t feel limited by location, language or any other constraints.

Things can expand into all kinds of crazy territory if you let them. For example, you can start out with a marketing idea of just giving your customers some cake and somehow end up with seven local, interactive microsites to capitalize on their brand loyalty. You can start off buying green beans from Kenya and end up with a wife from there! Sounds like a good case study, doesn’t it? “Kenya: From green beans to a new wife” – it certainly piques some curiosity and raised eyebrows. “What could this possibly be about?”

But then you can end badly. Toto will do it for you with “Africa”. Don’t get me started on the whole “generalizing Africa” topic.

Seahawks + Dodging Deer = Another Commute

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This morning/middle of the night made for an awful commute. During the first third of the drive, the roads were clear, but every kilometer or so, I encountered big groups of deer playing in the road. I must have seen 100 deer in about 100 kilometers. I also saw a rabbit, which I have never seen around here, and two foxes. This winter, strangely, has been mostly devoid of moose. It occurred to me that my driving amounted to little more than dodging deer, which would not be a bad name for a video game. I got to use the whole road, just as the Seattle-based 1990s comedy sketch show, Almost Live encouraged Ballard drivers to do. You pay taxes on the whole thing – randomly weave all over the road!

On the second third of the road, most of it was covered with ice that had been covered over by snow. So many cars were off the road and so many tow trucks were pulling the cars out. The whole thing made me not only not want to drive but made me think seriously about the merits of living somewhere warmer – Hawai’i once more? Australia (perhaps much too warm)? Uruguay?

Thanks to the middle-of-night driving, I did not get to see my Seattle Seahawks win against the San Francisco 49s in their playoff game. It sounds like the Seahawks did not play at their best in the first half, so I know I would just have been getting angry and sick watching it anyway. By the time I was done driving the first two-thirds of the seemingly interminable three-hour commute and stopped off at a petrol station in Uddevalla, the Seahawks had claimed their place in the Super Bowl (versus the Denver Broncos). All kinds of mentions of it are going around the internet already – but it seems funny that the two places in the entire US to pass laws making recreational marijuana legal are the two places that send their football teams to the Super Bowl.

Why I Changed My Mind: Julie Delpy

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Julie Delpy is, for lack of a better term, a real woman. A woman of many talents, not afraid to be herself, not afraid to be quirky. And not even afraid to be a bitch. When she was younger, it was hard to see things like Europa Europa, her guest arc on the TV hit ER or Trois Couleurs: Blanc and see her as anything but bitchy – her roles were sort of icy or manipulative in ways that made it hard to see her in any other light. And things like Before Sunrise with the generally overrated Ethan Hawke did not lend any charm – a favorite “romance” flick for Gen Xers, Before Sunrise, never appealed to me (like most Gen X pop-culture goalposts and anthems, such as Reality Bites – also with Hawke or Singles, which still does not make sense to me).

The subsequent nine-year intervals between sequels to Before Sunrise, though, have made the films Before Sunset and Before Midnight quite compelling – and I think this is all down to Delpy. Since I don’t get and have never gotten the Ethan Hawke thing (somehow he was the one in Dead Poet’s Society who was singled out for attention, when it was Robert Sean Leonard‘s passionate and tragic turn as Neil that got my attention. Or the passionate, do-anything-for-the-girl classic guy-with-crush performance of Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet. What did Ethan Hawke do in that movie that was so remarkable except defy authority and be the first to jump up on a desk at the end? Yet Ethan Hawke has been the movie star and these others have been “television actors” in popular and well-respected shows, such as House and The Good Wife (and no, I don’t mean that in the snide way Warden Gentles did in Arrested Development), I can only imagine that the load is carried in large part by Delpy.

After the aforementioned “cold” roles in her early career, followed by some missteps like Killing Zoe and An American Werewolf in Paris, I think I could be forgiven my rush to harsh judgment. None of this is to say that her talents went unrecognized – I never watched these films and believed she lacked talent or was just playing variations of herself. I just wondered how it was that she always played this aloof or sometimes misguided character (thinking here of her “Leni” in Europa Europa – she was passionate all right, but the passion was wholly devoted to producing children for Hitler’s “pure Germany”. Perhaps in hindsight I can applaud Delpy’s believability because that role had to have been hard to pull off).

My re-evaluation of Delpy began when I saw Before Sunset. Yeah, I know – I hated Before Sunrise but still had enough curiosity to see where Jesse and Celine (the characters) ended up. I like to torture myself this way, watching things I don’t like, listening to music I don’t like – perhaps just to remind me that there are other, much more beautiful things to watch and hear in the world. But Before Sunset surprised me. Later I saw Delpy in other roles but really decided I liked her after seeing Two Days in Paris (and later, the even funnier Two Days in New York). (I also enjoyed the on-screen keying of cars that Delpy’s father engages in – dismissing it as “normal French behavior” – exactly what I have been trying to tell everyone who isn’t French!) Her performances were subdued and grounded in reality – and that transformed the way I saw her and interpreted her roles.

The change in my opinion also came about because I liked learning that Delpy is so active behind the camera as a writer and director – I love the idea that someone creates the stories they want to see, or they want to appear in. I have read a few interviews where Delpy has kind of downplayed the uniqueness of being a female director, particularly because France actually has quite a number of well-respected, well-known women directors. But this is rather an anomaly in the cinematic world. Not every country has a Claire Denis, an Agnès Jaoui, a Catherine Breillat, a Josiane Balasko, a Mia Hansen-Løve and the countless other women who direct films in France. Delpy can, I hope, forgive the rest of the cinema-loving world for admiring the rarity of her multitasking, multitalented jack-of-all-trades approach to her artistic career.

My feelings should not be overly influenced by what I read or the person Delpy is or appears to be – but the truth is, reading about her own feelings of insecurity or feeling like “a cow” after her child was born – and seeing how she actually looks like a real woman – a stunningly beautiful and stunningly natural woman – imbues her performances with a kind of earthy reality that is not easily found, felt or seen elsewhere. I don’t often have commentary on how actors and actresses look. They are resoundingly “perfect” and put together most of the time, and the especially beautiful and polished are slathered in accolades if they do anything that might make them seem anything less than perfect. It’s like becoming a regular or slightly unattractive person makes a beautiful person an automatic consideration for acting awards. Is that really the measure of how well someone acts? How much vanity they are willing to give up – temporarily, note – to alter their appearance?

Not the point. The point is that Delpy actually looks and sounds the part (“the part” being a woman in her 30s/early 40s). Contributing to the scripts for both Before Sunset and Before Midnight, the conversation – content and pace – throughout feels almost dull at times but in a refreshing and good way. Why? Because that’s how real conversation is. Sometimes it digs into emotion, sometimes it digs into feelings and insecurities and vulnerabilities, sometimes it is witty, sometimes it is just the kind of petty shit that people hurl at each other in moments of weakness, despair, anger. It’s not perfect – but in that way, it’s perfect. A perfect reflection of everyday life. In Before Midnight, Delpy especially – but really the whole cast (which is mostly Delpy and Hawke) – captures, with almost no action – the up-and-down nature of a relationship. Before Sunrise was lauded for supposedly capturing this, but it’s easy to have two young, idealistic adults meet and talk all night and have it be the most romantic night of their lives. Before Midnight, though, is entirely another level of “romantic” because it had to capture two people who had actually idealized each other when they were young – it showed the reality of what happens if someone pursues the “what might have been” or “the one who got away”. It isn’t going to be ideal. If anything, the dialogue and performances convey perfectly the fragility of relationships. All the things unsaid, the resentment, the misinterpretations – and the question of whether love is ever really enough.

Why I Changed My Mind: Carla Gugino

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Back in the late 1990s I watched and enjoyed the show Spin City – preferred the Michael J. Fox era to the Charlie Sheen era, but reflecting on the show, I realize that I really did not like the female characters in the show. Regardless of how much I love Connie Britton today, I was not the biggest fan of her character, Nikki (she was the best of the female bunch, in any case). Most of the female characters just felt pushy and very one-dimensional. It’s been a while since I watched the show; my memories of the female characters aren’t particularly positive.

One of these characters was “Ashley” – played by Carla Gugino. I may have mixed up my dislike for the character with a dislike for the actress. That’s the best I can come up with in reference to Carla Gugino. In looking back over her roles, I found that so many of them in her early career were as annoying as the Spin City role. Once again, it seems to have been a matter of the roles she was in rather than the actress herself. I remember seeing ads, for example, for the TV show Karen Sisco, and I just rolled my eyes. It was based on the character of the same name in the film Out of Sight (the even more annoying Jennifer Lopez played Karen Sisco in the film), and I can very rarely get behind a TV version of something that was a decent film. (Friday Night Lights, film and TV version starring the aforementioned Connie Britton, is the rare exception.)

I also disliked the show Chicago Hope – and Gugino was in it for a while. Not her fault – just didn’t like anything that was associated with the show.

Somewhere along the line, Gugino ended up in a few roles that made me fall in love with her. She comes across as smart and sexy – without overdoing either. It happens that she also showed up in shows I love (or have loved), which helped. I also saw her in the film Women in Trouble, which was not a good film, but it is really what turned me. There is a smart sarcasm and world-weariness (without cynicism) that comes across in her role as porn star Elektra Luxx. These same traits turn up in her other roles, and I am a fan.

Gugino showed up Hank’s attorney in Californication (once a favorite that has overstayed its time on TV). She turned up in an episode of one of my favorites, Justified. Perhaps my favorite role in which I have seen Gugino is the miniseries Political Animals. It was a smart show, with a great cast including Sigourney Weaver, James Wolk, Sebastian Stan, Ellen Burstyn and Ciaran Hinds, but sadly the show was more or less left on the table as a miniseries rather than a full show.

More recently Gugino appeared on New Girl (a funny but not favorite show), but by that time, I realized that I like her. Considered, reconsidered – Gugino has changed my mind.

I am starting to see a pattern. Younger women, in their 20s, are just not that interesting. They become multilayered and fascinating the more experienced they become. It’s almost like you can see the experience and depth come through in their performances. Youth is overrated.