Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas List

I love the Japanese. They have the coolest stuff. I'm adding this watch to my Christmas list:

Why? Because I love a watch that needs an instructive diagram in order to tell the time:

Check out many other watch styles at Tokyo Flash. They have watches with alien DNA detectors and much, much more!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


After 29 years I've finally discovered the connection between food, exercise, and mood.

For almost 6 months I ate a steady regiment of salads, fish, vegetables and fruit. It was not a 'diet', it was a lifestyle for me. In fact, the thought of drinking soda or eating a chicken fried steak was repulsive.

It got me through the LSAT, personal statements and most of my applications without a hitch or a sign of those colds that usually come around when you get stressed. I even ran 3 times a week, getting me down to my pre-wedding fighting weight.

Then Meatfest '07 occurred.

4 cheddarwurst, 1 meatball sandwich and a 1/3 pound pub burger...and that was just in the first 90 minutes. I lost count of how many Pepsi & grenadine's I had.

Then Thanksgiving occurred.

It's been three weeks since I've rolled the treadmill out, my final round of applications are still sitting on my computer unfinished, and all I crave is Coke (the Mexican kind), alfredo sauce and deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I never realized how wide my motivational pendulum swings. I stared at my Pepperdine application last night and had exactly zero interest in filling out the scholarship form!

Now the question is what caused what? Obviously Meatfest '07 was the catalyst, but did I start my downhill spiral because of the meat I ate, or did I eat so much meat because of some lack of mental fortitude? Please weigh in (no pun intended) with your thoughts!

In my current malaise, I will do the right thing and feign innocence and shift the blame to Daylight Saving Time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday Night Football

The trend in the NFL has been towards high powered offense and barely competent defense. NFL scores are now rivaling College Football in absurdity. To be honest, I really wasn't looking forward to last nights game pitting the tough Steelers at home against the 0-10 Dolphins. Was I in for a treat!

The Pittsburgh ground crew had re-sod the field this week by laying new sod over the existing turf. Combine that with torrential rain, leaky tarps and 350 pound lineman and you have a ballgame! The drama of who was going to score first increased exponentially as the game progressed, all while players were slipping and sliding all over the place actually getting muddy.

I'm sure it was more weather than defense, what with the fumbles, dropped passes and missed field goals, but it was great to watch either way. After a quarter or so, you could see Miami play harder as they realized they might actually have a chance at winning.

The best moment came at the end of a punt in the 2nd half when the football embedded itself in the sod with nary a bounce, surprising the players, refs and commentators.

Pittsburgh nailed a field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the game to break the 0-0 tie. You'd have to go back 60+ years to find two teams that went that long before a score.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Photoblogging Monday!

Today's photo takes us back to Kauai along the Pihea Trail. I snapped this one at the suggestion of my beloved wife as we were taking our first hike of many. This trail was particularly muddy and somehow she came out spotless while I ended up coated (as observed by many fellow hikers!).

Pihea Trail, Kauai

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Notes on Thanksgiving Vacation

I haven't been able to come up with a cohesive blog since my Thanksgiving vacation started (as if any of my posts are cohesive), so here are some random thoughts/observations/happenings:

In an effort to save money, I've decided to forgo the novelty gifts that I sometimes like to give. This year's gift would have been an obvious one anyway - the oversize remote control.
I can't tell the difference between Bed, Bath and Beyond and Linens & Things. Seriously.

Apparently, fruit cake has been renamed 'holiday cake' in an effort to increase sales due to the negative connotations associated with the former. Sort of like global warming being renamed climate change by Republican think tanks.

Walmart is my new best friend. I loathe the hoards of Chinese junk they sell, but this weekend I found that they stock two beloved, hard to find items. First, they sell Mexican Coke. For those who don't know, Coke sold everywhere else in the world tastes better than Coke sold in the US because it is made with pure cane sugar as opposed to high fructose corn syrup. Even soda novices can tell the difference. A customer service rep. in Atlanta, GA told me they make it with the easiest and cheapest ingredients that can be found locally. I called B.S. on this because the corn industry has much more clout than the sugar industry (i.e. that is why corn ethanol is the rage now instead of the ridiculously more efficient sugar ethanol that is successfully being used in Brazil, but less I digress). Second, Walmart has a giant selection of Tillamook Cheese, larger than any grocery store I've seen. Not only do they have a large selection, but this premium cheese is priced the same, if not lower than, the store brands. I had a leftover-turkey sandwich today with a slice of Tillamook pepper-jack....hmmm.

Things That Aren't What They Used To Be

Black Friday
Attention chain stores: If I am going to camp out in front of your store to shop at 5am, you better come up with something better than a few hundred dollars of a c-brand TV(Dynex?!?).

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Macy's execs: Either change the name to "Macy's Broadway Review and Up-and-Coming Bands You've Never Hear Of (and Dolly Parton)" or go back to showing the parade.

Nebraska Cornhusker Football
Nebraska Administration: Move Tom Osbourne from out of the back office and out on to the football field. It is a sad day when UCONN, U of Hawaii, BYU, Clemson and Boise State(!!!) are all ranked and you are not. There is no excuse for the Big Red to have a poor team, I mean, there is really nothing else to do in that state but play football and play it well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


This may be too clichéd(the first of many), but I'm a new blogger and that's fine. So here is a Thanksgiving list of things I am thankful for (in no particular order...however, it certainly isn't random...I mean, I wouldn't put honey above friends and family per se, but I think you get to the point, now on to the list):

  • My family - I'm lucky to have the best parents, wife, and extended family in the world, enough said.
  • My friends - whether we email once a year, or see each other weekly, it is our interaction that drives me and makes life interesting.
  • My health - I often take for granted that so far in life I have won the numbers game and not suffered any serious ailments (knock on wood).
  • My job - it hasn't been easy, but it has allowed me to get through school and get to where I am today, all while wearing t-shirts with Tommy's chili stains and ripped jeans.
  • Food - this is certainly clichéd yet true; I am very thankful for the fact that I can eat every day, eat well, and of amazing variety.
  • My country - despite the changes in the last decade, the U.S. is still very high on the list of desirable places to live in terms of civil rights, ability to succeed and live comfortably.
  • The Internet - connecting with old friends, sharing photos or checking an American Gladiators episode database to make sure I've seen every one, there's a lot of positive things going in cyberspace.
  • Honey - I listed it up above and technically it falls under the food category...but it gets its own mention. Thank you bees!
  • You - If you are reading this, thank you. What started as an exercise in reflection and writing for law school applications has turned into a fun hobby and has had many unquantifiable benefits thanks to you. People (including myself) have more insight into my life, whether you know me or not, and I've heard from many of you that my writing about my experiences has either helped in some way or at least got you thinking about yourself. Who'd have thought? I know I surely didn't, and it hasn't been one month yet.
So that's my long, yet still incomplete list. If you've made it this far, you have officially been tagged and have to chime in on what you are thankful for. With the exception of maybe 'honey', everything on the list is fairly common. I consciously left off things like boxing and sliced bread, which, although I'm thankful for, are certainly things I could live without. Feel free to include anything you want. I'll be thankful for anything you contribute. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Takashi Murakami

My favorite artist at the moment is Takashi Murakami because of his mixing of art with Japanese pop culture and commercialism. I was thrilled to find out that MOCA was exhibiting his works at their Geffen Annex in Little Tokyo. Apparently, this has been their most successful exhibition to date. What this means for me is a big 'Doh!' moment since I had the opportunity to purchase some original works, and some prints of his a year ago. Some of his originals just sold a few days ago at auction in the hundreds of thousands dollar range and a few in the millions.

The exhibition was phenomenal - displayed in a somewhat chronological order. There were a dozen 'rooms' with different motifs including his cute yet demonic figurines, happy flowers, anime style ceramic sculptures, and mushrooms. There was a room with 500 mass produced items from his company - t-shirts, balls, mass produced figures, pillows, you name it. Upstairs was a fully functional Louis Vuitton boutique featuring purses designed by the artist (available for purchase of course).

My favorite works were his most recent. Murakami is beginning to combine his style with that of the great Japanese Ukiyoe woodblock artists, even signing the works in the traditional fashion, and painting religious subjects.

With so many artists covertly striving for commercial success with their 'high-culture' art, there is something refreshing about the bold, unashamed commercialism of Murikami, taking 'low-culture' items and repackaging them and selling them to the highest bidder as 'high-culture' items.

So now that I've told you what I'm checking out these days, I'd love to hear from you. Are there any artists you enjoy (new or old)? Any exhibitions worth checking out?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photoblogging Monday!

Today's photo comes from a series I shot for the K-Mart Martha Stewart Home Decor line to be included in their upcoming Spring Collection (I told you 2 weeks ago that it was all downhill from here).

Study in Color and Texture #1

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Disney Christmas Special

As promised last week, here are some photos I took at Disneyland while they were filming the Disney Christmas Day Special. Since I couldn't get real close to the filming, I've added arrows to point out the stars.

First, the cast of High School Musical performing a dance number in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle -

High School Musical Dance Routine #1

High School Musical Dance Routine #2

Here is Master of Ceremonies, Ryan Seacrest on a stage built on Main Street (where they normally put the Christmas tree) -

Ryan Seacrest, Master of Ceremonies

In this last photo, Ryan is responding to my giddy screams. Later I will post photos from my latest series, "Ducks of Disneyland".

Friday, November 16, 2007

Step 1 (of 12)

The first step in any addiction recovery is acceptance that you have a problem.

Every night for the past two weeks, I have gone home and freebased honey...sometimes with peanut butter, many times without. I can't get enough. It started with the cheap stuff - Sue Bee, often considered a gateway. Then it's on to the coffee blossom stuff I brought back from Kauai. Late this week I moved on to the serious stuff - Tupelo.

I don't know if this addiction will ruin my life, but it certainly is out of control.

Thanks Fortune!

I've been thinking that I should have stayed in bed Thursday morning and kept hitting the snooze button through the weekend. Here's a run down of the last 24 hours:


  • Freak shaving accident in the shower leaving a chunk of ear behind (a la Mike Tyson)
  • Flat tire on the wife's Saturn
  • $358 to replace 4 crappy dealer tires that wear out in less than 50,000 miles
  • Caltrans repairs that reduced the 14 South to one lane
  • 1hr 45 min spent driving to work
  • New freeway meter installed on my on ramp to get home
  • 20 minutes spent driving the 2 blocks to get on the freeway thanks to said meter
  • Caltrans feeling their oats and deciding to start the repairs two hours early, once again shutting the 14 down...this time at 7:45am during rush hour.
Who knows how my luck will change, but I don't really care now. I got to work this morning and checked out my good buddy Fortune's blog "To the thirst..." and read his last post on softball. Not only did it make me laugh at times, but really made me think about what is important in life. I also think his story would make a great movie script. Do yourself a favor and take a minute to read it...and maybe if you leave a comment it will motivate him to share more stories in the future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Law School Apps

An update on my law school applications, which was the original purpose of my blog. I have submitted the first six applications, mostly to hoity-toity schools: Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and Loyola. Of the six, I figure Loyola is the only one I'm likely to get in. Loyola law highly regarded in Los Angeles, but ranks in the mid-60s, as compared to top-15 like the others.

One of the mistakes I made in college was not shooting high enough academically. I always worked my butt off, but never even thought of applying to top-tier schools or for scholarships. I still haven't figured out if it was lack of confidence, interest, laziness or a combination of the three. I think I've made up for it this time around; whether it's too little too late remains to be seen.

While I know it's a long shot, submitting an application to Yale and Harvard is akin to buying two quick picks in the lotto. There's always a chance, and, at least for a while I can have fun thinking up "What If" situations while I wait for a response.

Driving My House Down Sunset

I love Los Angeles. I haven't been to Sunset in a while, a place I used to frequent. The Sunset Strip is a collision between Beverly Hills and and the rest of L.A., similar to the great continental collision between India and the rest of Asia millions of years ago. Rich meets poor, trendy meets trash, punk meets smooth jazz.

This dichotomy was symbolized perfectly at my gig last night at the House of Blues. Downstairs, the Misfits were playing to a sold-out audience of leather & chain clad youngsters, while upstairs in the 'Foundation Room', I played with a Frank Sinatra style lounge act for a bunch of millionaire doctors. I was fortunate to be sitting directly one floor above the bass rack for the Misfits, so during our sound check I caught most of their set through vibrations in my rear.

Driving home I took Sunset to the 405 (or Sunset to 405 for my NorCal readers) and was sandwiched between a spanking new Rolls Royce and a Bentley convertible. At one point I was surrounded by over a million dollars worth of cars. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to make them all hit me without making it look like it was my fault.

I looked up the Rolls Royce and found out that it cost about as much as my house. I imagined driving my house down the winding part of Sunset cruising comfortably back and forth over the dotted line. When I become a lawyer, I'm fairly sure I'll be making more money than I am now, I still couldn't picture driving my house down Sunset.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photoblogging Monday (almost)!

Sorry to those of you who tuned in yesterday expecting to see a new photo! I took Veteran's Day off to watch Vanilla Ice in Cool As Ice and submit my first three law school applications (Yale, Loyola, and Berkeley). Here is this week's photo, taken in Ridgecrest, CA on a Saturday afternoon when the thermometer hit 118 degrees:

Desert Rose

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Just arrived in Malibu from an enjoyable drive up PCH while the sun was setting behind the ocean and multimillion dollar homes. Disneyland today was a nice break from the drive-work-drive-musical-drive-sleep-repeat routine I've been doing the last 6 days.

Apparently Disney was filming their Christmas Special today, as most of Main Street was filled with lights, cranes, cameras and Ryan Seacrest("Seacrest-Out!"). I danced along with the cast of High School Musical and screamed like giddy schoolgirl at Ryan. I should have photos posted later tonight or tomorrow. Be sure to watch their special on ABC Christmas morning and look for me in the background! If you have other family plans, either cancel them or make sure your Tivo is set.

Only an hour to go before my musical starts. I can't decide whether I should go warm up, take a nap, or get a an Oreo cream milkshake from the student center. Hmmm....I'll post my decision next time.

Friday, November 09, 2007

George Orwell

I having completed 6 nights playing in the pit of a musical I have had plenty of reading time. Besides the paper from my new subscription, I've also memorized 100 Japanese Kanji, reviewed the 96 Hiragana & Katakana characters, and most interestingly read George Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language.

He states that ugly and inaccurate language is both a cause and effect of dishonest politics and also poor thinking. Having abused English for so long (and starting to abuse Japanese), his thoughts hit home. I often find myself using strings of words that sound good, but are quite vague and meaningless -In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that, instead of I think.

Here is a juicy bit (emphasis added):

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible...Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification... People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck...: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

Writer's Strike

Ummmm, "We write the stor-ia for Eva Longoria". Really? That's the best they could come up with? How about - "We write the script-erman for David Letterman", or "We write the scenari-olbert for Steven Colbert"?

Is anyone sick of the news coverage of the strike? 10% coverage of actual strike issues and 90% coverage of which stars showed up today and with what type of food.

Recent picketers:
  • The cast of 'Grey's Anatomy'
  • Ray Romano with bagels, lox & cream cheese
  • Jay Leno with his Model T
  • Jimmy Kimmel, who drove a taco truck around to different sites

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Disneyland & American Gladiators

I don't know if it's the cold damp weather, the fifth night in a row of Brigadoon (bagpipes and bad Scottish accents), the lack of time I've been able to spend with my wife, or a combination of these things that is causing my general malaise.

Two things to look forward too: Disneyland on Saturday, and American Gladiators on December 2nd. For several years I had Disney passes and could go few times a month. During my years in Long Beach, I would sneak down there in between classes. Since buying a house, the passes were the first luxury to go. Now going to Disneyland is an event. I will actually stand in a line or two to get on a ride.

December 2nd, 2007 - I will be in the audience for the taping of the first return season of American Gladiators. Mike Adamle and Larry Csonka will not return as commentators (neither will Lisa Malosky), but that's OK because they've chosen Hulk Holgan to fill that role! I can't wait to wear my Malibu uniform again!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Note To Self...

Next time, don't think about how light the traffic has been lately. I was thinking that today half way between Calabasas and Malibu on Los Virgenes right before traffic stopped. I then inched forward for the next two miles. Traffic going the other direction stacked up (due to a accident on the 101...8 miles away) so that at one point no one was moving either direction. I rolled down my window and enjoyed the chilly Santa Monica Mountain air, and the Banda music blasting from the El Camino next to me.

The reason for the backup going my direction - cars turning left onto Mulholland spilling out of the left turn lane blocking the road.

I love posting blogs from Pepperdine; surrounded by Abercrombie & Fitch jackets and Uggs. I'm applying to their law school, but if I get accepted here I don't know if my student loans can cover a new wardrobe.

More (Almost) Free Stuff

I'm coming down from my week of emotion driven personal reflections. It's the crash after the caffeine and sugar high. So today I offer some practical advice. I received a letter from United Airlines that my frequent flyer miles for set to expire. I didn't even know I had flown on United....ever. Come to find out I had flown United to Japan for a work trip a year ago and my coworker signed me up for the program.

Considering that I am unlikely to fly United again I cashed my points in for:

  • 1 year subscription to the LA Times
  • 1 year subscription to the Wall Street Journal
  • 1 year subscription to 8 different magazines for my wife an me
Basically, I'm getting a couple hundred dollars worth of subscriptions for free. Anytime you fly, make sure you sign up for the airline's frequent flyer program; it doesn't cost anything and usually takes only a minute or two to sign up online.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My final task before I can start submitting applications is to update my resume. I'm not as worried about it as I was my personal statement, but it hasn't been updated in 6 years and I have so many different jobs it is really tough to organize. It is also tough because I work 9-5 everyday and this week I'm playing a show every night, so that leaves early mornings or late nights to finish up.

My wife commuted via train this morning so she didn't make coffee. I realized how spoiled I had become waking to the smell of sweet Peaberry and half & half. I had to settle for the Folger's brand at work. I'm starting to feel the effects of that now, as crankiness creeps in and creativity and hope for the world dissipate. Maybe it's a much needed change of pace from my usual bloviating.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Give Me Liberty....

I've decided today that if I'm not doing something to prevent what I dislike than I'm part of the problem. I'm talking about the ongoing torture and detainment of prisoners by the US. It has disgusted me so much over the last few years I've suppressed my anger because I don't want it to ruin my day, but what if I, or someone I knew was one of the journalists that have been detained without charges filed against them for the last 6 years?

This is as much my country as it is everyone else's, and I don't stand for the inhumane acts that have been carried out. The recent 'waterboarding' debate shouldn't even be an issue; if there is a gray area regarding torture, our country should not be there. The founders of our country put liberty above death, now in a role reversal we give up liberty in fear of death.

Some interesting reading:

Photoblogging Monday!

As promised, this week starts the inauguration of Photoblogging Monday! I'm starting off with a postcard perfect photo my lovely wife took on our trip to Kauai. Enjoy!

Hanalei Bay Sunrise

After this one it's all downhill from here!

Weekend Recap

For those of you who are wondering, the procrastination monster slowly crept back into the closet Saturday afternoon. I finally cranked out version 1.0 of my law school personal statement. Writing about myself knowing it will be judged is one of the hardest things I've done to date. I couldn't hide behind a screen name and after many ideas about what I thought admissions officers would like to read, I threw them all out the window and let my heart speak. I know this because the truth hit me so hard I had to take three or four breaks because I couldn't stop crying. The writing process broke me down to my pure essence, just like those in The Crucible (my 10th grade English teacher would be proud).

The rest of my weekend was a nice contrast to the emotional deluge of the personal statement: two championship boxing matches and the mid-season Super Bowl watched, a musical rehearsal in Malibu, dinner and conversation with visiting friends and a surprise visit by our new resident roadrunner.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I've made a few changes to the blog, and I know after only seven days many of you will be disappointed, but the straw polls are in and it's just time to change. I've done away with the day count and changed the title. Similar to those puzzles where you are allowed to rearrange only 3 toothpicks to change a star pattern into Picasso's Guernica, I moved an 's' and deleted an apostrophe to change the meaning of the title from my humble thoughts to world domination. Anyone notice? Probably not.

I love procrastination. Having to write a personal statement has been the best thing for me. Here is what I've done today:

  • Two loads of laundry
  • A load of dishes
  • Ran 6.75 miles
  • Watched last night's episode of Bill Maher
  • Listened to two lessons of Pimsleur Japanese
  • Took a shower and shaved (rare for a Saturday)
  • Blogged
And it's not even 1pm. If I keep this up I'll be fluent in Japanese and have expanded Pi by a few digits by Sunday.

Some of the Best Things in Life Are Free

Who would have thought that reading my regular web analytics blog (don't ask), written by Avinash Kaushik, would lead me to much deeper insight into my creative life? If you are into web analytics, his blog Occam's Razor and his Google TechTalk are a must read/watch. One of his recent postings introduced me to Hugh MacLeod, author of the gapingvoid blog and the How To Be Creative manifesto. Do yourself a favor and spend an hour this weekend (or whenever you happen to read this blog), lock yourself in a room and read his manifesto. It was the best 49 pages I've read in months.

While I don't agree with all 26 of his points, most of them hit very close to home regarding the "Stupid Passion Thing"; the creative, artsy, monetarily void thing we all want to do but either a) ignore completely or b) dive into with no sense of reality. He shows how to be creative, out of debt, increase your chances at success, and most importantly remain in control of, and happy with, your art form.

Oh! There goes another load of laundry. Time to start folding.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day 7:

Fridays are always welcome in my life. The work day passes faster, with a traditional playlist on the CD player consisting of Boz Skaggs "Silk Degrees" album, "The Best of Sammy Davis Jr." and usually some Spectrum (more on them later), Jay Graydon, Rick James and Stevie Wonder. I get paid weekly, so Friday is always payday.

Friday night brings a night out, or a night in, and it doesn't really matter because if Saturday comes and I regret the choices I made the night before I have all day to recover or make up for what I did or didn't do. Then there's Sunday.

This Sunday is a little depressing because the NFL season officially ends after the Colts - Pats game. This is the Super Bowl. It's too bad this game doesn't take place during Week 17 or even at the end of the playoffs since both teams have a legitimate chance to go undefeated; having the game now will likely take the wind out of somebody's sails. What's worse is I can't even watch the game live due to a rehearsal in Malibu. My pick - the Colts by a touchdown.

Now that I've got the typing thing down, I'm going to start Monday with a new weekly feature where I post a photo from my collection. This is a direct rip off from my favorite blogger GPG at Exoterica(imitation is the highest form of flattery), but I've chosen a different day of the week so as not to rain on her parade (which I suggest you don't ever do either). She is equally at home at the keyboard as she is behind the lens. I'm convinced she should write the L.A. version of "Sex In The City", but she has other aspirations. Please by all means check out her blog.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 6:

To keep me going day to day, I partake in guilty pleasures: cigars, single malts, American Gladiators reruns, etc. Last night's guilty pleasure was going back for a third helping of my wife's chicken enchiladas (with ass-kicking hot, homemade pico de gallo to boot). For a Scottish/Irish girl she certainly has a streak of Latin American blood, especially when it comes to cooking.

Now, to follow up with my political rant yesterday I offer a solution to the problem of the endless, ineffectual election process we have in place now.

Based on my current law school endeavors, I got to thinking how efficient the application process is, especially for top schools like Yale, Harvard and the like. They can whittle 10,000 applications down to 200 successful matriculates over the course of months. So why do we need 2 years of issue spewing, mudslinging and slanted punditry to choose from a pool of under a dozen candidates?

I propose an elimination round prior to the primaries (I guess they wouldn't be primaries anymore would they). Those interested in running for president must apply by submitting a resume, a personal statement (2 pages max, double-spaced, 12 point font), and maybe a short video response to one or more prompts. The average American could easily browse 20-30 applicants in one evening and make an informed decision. After the vote, the top few candidates move on to the primaries. Then they can proceed with all the ad campaigns, debates and fund raising.

This cut and dry approach levels the playing ground by eliminating fund raising, at least initially. It also forces candidates to commit their ideals and achievements to paper. Later on in the election, one could always refer back to the original application for the truth.

The idea is by no means complete, or foolproof for that matter, but I think it would allow for higher quality but less popular candidates to have shot, eliminate fund raising as a prerequisite for success, and clear the muck surrounding the real important information needed for a voter to make a decision.