Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Model Is Born

A recent, urgent need here for a virile middle aged model to wear a vintage jacket for an Alumni ad prompted folks around here to press me into posing for this shot.

Luckily they caught my good side.

At last I may have found my true calling. We have hair models, eye models, hand models and foot models for different purposes. I may be the first person in history who makes his debut by literally backing into the business as a "butt model."

Anyone know a good agent? (haha)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Foggy Thoughts

A fine opportunity this morning on my walk to work, to study things coming out of the fog just as my brain was, coincidentally, trying to do exactly the same thing.

Part of the magic of life; as long as you're not going sixty miles an hour on the highway...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good Bull

We meet the bull and he is us.

No matter who we are or how genuine our intentions, there will be those who will consider our opinions, tweets, chatter and smiles and posts as... well, drivel of a male bovine nature.

It only takes a bad choice of words or a cranky reader's eye to enter the world of the misinterpreted.

Let us recognize bull for what it is; just another form of communication. One without a lot of meaning of course, but gee whiz Wally, we get enough meaning from things like the back of cereal boxes and television commercials about the dangers of STDs. Face it, we all have the capability to produce it and sometimes it's just plain fun. Let's remove the stigma and let the stuff flow freely.

Embrace your inner bull!

And let us also celebrate the bull in others. If we don't find a posting has enough bull, let us contact the person and say "I'm sorry but your post doesn't have enough bull. Could you please add more?"

I'm sure it will catch on. Remember where you heard it first.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Second Stories

Doris has just got back from the hospital with her first baby. Her husband Peter is rushing around clutching an old copy of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, 8th Edition trying to figure out how to sanitize baby bottles. Doris informs him she will be breastfeeding. Next door, Antonio is celebrating his 65th birthday by talking to his son in Nebraska.

Mary is upstairs working on the books and thinking about what to plant in her garden this year. Her father Ted would suggest tomatoes and carrots of course. But she is thinking a radical shift to herbs, Romaine lettuce and Cajun Delight chard is in order. Ted will just have to understand.

Marge is cooking her famous lobster marinara, drinking a glass of red wine and singing along with her favorite Tom Jones album, It's Not Unusual. Her husband Ralph is snoring away in his easy chair, oblivious.

Franky is practicing riffs on his keyboards following an all-nighter jamming with his new band. With Jackie on vocals he thinks that they finally have the chemistry they've been looking for. Next door, Natasha is phoning around to friends to see if anyone is up for dinner out and trying not to think about the job interview on Tuesday.

Edward is kissing his colleague Janice for the first time. He's been thinking about his affections for months, since his divorce came through, but was shy. She finally seduced him and he is overcome with gratitude.

Antonio has just gotten off the phone with his son and it rings again. He smiles, knowing it's his daughter in California. Reaching for the phone he can hear his late wife laughing. Next door, Muriel is watching A Fish Called Wanda for the umpteenth time and knitting a lilac sweater for her daughter who graduates this year. She knows she won't wear it but continues all the same.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Was Old Is... Okay, Old

I offer this as a late thought to Earth Day, celebrated today in all kinds of wonderful ways.

Meet Mr. Samples. He is a linen maché construction made from old things and a piece of myself all in one. I'll explain the latter below. (It's a surprise.)

Years before the recycling craze; crazy people kept stuff. Ask any artist, crafts person or inventor – you may never know when something might be useful. Get into a project and look around at the stuff you've got on hand to see if you can use it.

In this case; some sticks for a frame, left overs from a spool of stovepipe wire and screws to bind together the parts, some newspaper for padding, a set of well-used bedsheets (the older and smoother the better) for a skin, scraps of cloth for a costume, a secret recipe for the maché and some leftover acrylic paint somehow worked together to create a personality. I think there is some old anchor chain in his butt for weight.

Mr. Samples is an individual that has followed me around for many years. When I've moved cities he sits quietly beside me in the passenger seat. He has proven to be a stalwart companion. He may seem despondent on the surface but he's really quite the survivor. Quite popular in his time, he has sat on his little ladder overseeing some major decisions in executive offices, meeting rooms, and of course here at home. Presently, he sits in quiet retirement upstairs, doesn't eat much and never complains.

Mr. Samples is based on a character I came up with while doing a bit of clowning during college. After this shot (originally taken I believe by Fred Stephenson for a poster project) I adapted the costume, made from rags and articles from second hand shops, into Mr. Samples.

So... recycling over again has many meanings – for clowns like me anyway... Just saying.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pick Your Happy Level Carefully...

Don't you think that people who are happy all the time are slightly irritating? Do you cringe when someone says "Have a nice day" or "Put on a happy face"?

Turns out being adverse to 'happy' is a good thing because the more cheerful you are the fewer days you may have on earth.

According to an 80 year study those who are serious are more likely to outlive those who are happy.

I've always maintained that feeling happy is an unnatural state, one to be avoided. Sure I have my happy moments but I have always tried to keep them to a minimum. And now, with this study on longevity, I feel vindicated.

As I get older I have made unhappiness into a fine art. I practice my scowl and growl in the mirror everyday. I do not turn my frown upside down. I detest sunny days. I celebrate my irritability and negativity with fast food and unhealthy inactivity. To my mind, Happy is next to Dopey on the Seven Dwarf scale. When someone smiles at me I wonder what they want. I do not consider it to be my responsibility to cheer other people up, nor is it other people's duty to make me happy.

And if my misery should make others happy, this is an unintended byproduct and I should not be held responsible should they suffer an early demise.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Existential Map

Existentialists; those who generally focus on the condition of human existence... topics include the meaning of life and the many obstacles and distractions including (thankfully) absurdity.

"I have an existential map; it has ‘you are here’ written all over it." Steven Wright

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Back Door

Glitz and bright lights might be the Hollywood picture they want you to take home. But scratch the surface, explore, look where others figure you won't and you may be lucky enough to discover texture, grit and truth.

Peeling paint, rusted barbed wire, broken pavement, hidden weeds...

...this is the proverbial poverty three blocks away from the bright lights.

This is life. This is honest. This is the back door.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Daily Quandary: Stains

I'm usually pretty good about going through life and figuring things out on my own. Occasionally though, I come across something that leaves me absolutely stumped.

Okay, we're taught from childhood not to get dirty. Stains are not only bad, but the worst case of dirty. Tough to clean and something to be avoided.

Throughout our lives we run the gamut from childhood grass stains on our knees to coffee and tea stains as adults. I believed until now that blueberry stains were the worst.

It's a rule. Stains are bad.

Stained Glass Art by Donald Ross MacIvor
My father (rest his soul) was a very frugal man and hated to throw anything away. It's in the blood. Obviously he found this stained glass someone had discarded, tried to get the stains out and after that, tried to make something useful out of it.

He was like that. He tried to find a use for everything. Rugs from bits of cloth. A chess board from scraps of wood. Maple leaves and lampshades from stained glass.

I've sort of grown fond of these pieces I have from him. Even though they're stained, I wouldn't part with them for the world...


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Love Your Banana Day

A simple plea to give a banana some kind attention today. Careful what you say though, I hear their feelings bruise easily.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Social Media: Hugs For Your Brain

How well can we expect ourselves to right the world's wrongs, paint a masterpiece or concentrate on making life better for others when we have someone on our back or feel left out? Not very well, eh?

Relax. Evidently, there's a reason for that.

As the theory goes, when your brain becomes wrapped up in BS or feels excluded, it uses up glucose and oxygen at an amazing rate, starving your powers of insight and problem solving. (It's akin to the pain reaction, called the threat reaction.) The old gray matter just doesn't have enough gusto left over for the good stuff. It's left gasping.

Positive things, on the other hand, can cause your brain to release something called oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle chemical”. Contact in the form of hugs, kudos or simply being included in a discussion or activity can cause such a release and the effect on behavior is a heightened feeling of trust, empathy and generosity. Boom. Your brain now has the full use of the glucose and oxygen so you can be better at whatever you want to be better at.

Social Media, whether it be interacting on blogs, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or the hundreds of other sites out there (especially if you know nice people) can help you feel 'with it' and apply yourself better in your other activities. Like solving the world's problems. Or coming up with a new use for the ordinary household pickle.

So come on now, give us a hug and get back to doing good! :o)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TDOW (The Death Of Words)

Fast, fast, fast. The world is one huge passing lane and we gleefully barrel down the road at speeds that would curl Grannie's hair and give flight to poor old Uncle Albert's glued-down toupée. Knock me down and call me Suzie!

We are truly the chosen ones. We put the most in uppermost. Technology not only serves up quick solutions for our daily lives but a whole new language... ah... without actual words involved.

After all, words are so... so... cumbersome, aren't they? Finding the right ones often takes too long and even then we may still be misunderstood.

Acronyms have been around for over 6000 years and until recently were reserved for official things like larger corporations – NBC, IBM, GMC... It was a pretty cool idea for a secretary who had to answer the telephone several dozen times a day. It's only been within the last 50 years or so (thanks to social media, methinks) that the practice has seeped into our daily lives.

We all know the more common ones – OMG, LOL, LMAO, ROFL, WTF – phrases that have been incorporated into our daily email, text mail and notes. The number of acronyms in our daily vernacular are simply TNTC (Too Numerous To Count). There is a new dictionary. Language is being reduced. 

Keep this to yourself, but this is actually the first step in an evolutionary trend where pretty soon both words and acronyms will be passé. The use of keyboards and voice boxes will be seen as second class. Technology will give us the key to replace not only writing but talking. Speech, emails, text messages and all forms of communication will all be replaced by impulse transference. Computers will cease to be external devices but chips implanted in our brains. We will become directly linked to the WWW, our physical location and condition will not matter and we will become BLOBs (Big Lumps Of Blubber). 

TIFM (Take It From Me) if you have stock in anything hardware or fitness related – sell. TTFN.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hearing Voices (The Good Kind)

When you write do you hear voices?

Call me nuts but when writing for broadcast, I try to imagine how it will sound.

When it comes time to make those voices real (in studio), small things like pronunciation, tone, feeling, inflection and timing all come together to make the words either flow into a stream of wonder or sit in a puddle as a sad waste of breath. There are a myriad of ways to puddle a two-minute and twenty-two second read. The mathematical possibilities are mind-numbing. Sometimes, though, you get lucky and find the perfect voice from a wonderful talent.

Such luck happened today in a great voice-over session. Two readings on a previously unseen script (okay, two-and-a-couple-of-bits readings) and all thoughts of puddles (and the voice in my head) were swept away.

And at the end of the session – the mark of a true pro: the man credits his brilliant read on a great script.

What class.

Wondering whether to invest in professional voice talent and audio production facilities for your broadcast projects? Invest. Definitely invest.

Personal thanks to Mark, studio whizzes Mike & Mike and team members Devin and Bryan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Valentino Slow

Don't get me wrong, I like fast. It gets my adrenaline flowing. But I absolutely love the times when life is slow. Not the slow that is boring and uneventful. I'm talking "Valentino Slow".

When I was younger I loved a wonderfully talented woman with a heart so huge that it could swallow all the ills of the world – given half a chance. We parted to follow our dreams and I often hoped we'd touch base later in life and share a few laughs. I learned last night that she took her life a few years ago.

Looking back, it seemed that time slowed down when I was with her. Little things meant more. A meal wasn't fast food but a chance to hope the waiter was slow to take our order. A drive in the country wasn't a bee-line to get from A to B but an opportunity for laughter, song and carry on and who the hell cared how long it took to get there? Creativity wasn't something fraught with worry but something to be playfully cherished. Smiles were magic. In times like these you want to stretch out the minutes, to make the most of them. To slow down time, to cherish the passions of life and to delay the moment when you have to part as much as you possibly can. This is Valentino Slow.

We all know that life can be cruel and sometimes it gets too fast for things to make sense. People are commodities in the fast paced world of wheeling and dealing. You're hot one moment and "who are you again?" the next. And sometimes, sensitive souls get bruised, or hurt or eaten. This doesn't happen when things go slow.

So I'm a slow lover.

If more of us took the time to go slow and love each other more, maybe we could stretch the time we have together.

(For Lisa)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Caution: People Working

It was a working weekend at my home. New windows were installed and a new door was carved out of a wall in my dining room.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Mostly it was cold. And dusty. And loud. And utterly inconvenient.

I know, I know: "Suck it up Barbie, you got new windows."

But get this – I was forced to witness people who actually work with their hands. They don't mind getting dirty and drive pick up trucks and work with large power tools that cut things and drill things and screw things. They work without the benefit of meetings, minutes of meetings, findings of committees, update memos or correspondence emails.

They use their both their brains and their muscles and don't take breaks at regular intervals. And they actually measure twice and cut once. They are both considerate and honest. What's more, they work until the job is done. And they do this everyday! For a living! Can you imagine?

But the most amazing thing about these people is that they work quite anonymously, without asking for fanfare, overt praise, nor press releases. They simply do their job and then take their leave quietly.

This is most disquieting. What if this should catch on? Why, it could be the ruining of the beautiful unscrupulous society we have nurtured for generations. Our beloved rapscallions, prima donnas and rascals may go out of vogue. What's more, it could utterly wreck the 'star system' of attention seekers the world over. This could be the end of self-love, for crying out loud sideways!

Watch out everyone, there are hard working people in our midst. Let us stay clear lest their goodness infects us all!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shaking Nature's Booty

So begins another generally awkward attempt at drawing a comparison between nature and our daily lives.

We can stop doing a lot of things. We can stop fidgeting. We can stop eating too many carbs and give up reading trashy dime store novels. We can stop making that strange noise we make with our tongue that we didn't know we were making until someone tells us. We can stop listening to what others tell us is good for us simply because they are usually right and that bugs us to no end.

But like the spring flower we can't stop growing. (Cute, eh – how I worked that in so smoothly?) The mere fact that we inhale and exhale in a regular fashion, means that we continue to grow out, grow in, grow up, or grow around. We learn; sometimes in spite of ourselves. Our figurative feet never stop moving. It's a mad dance and we're all shaking our booties.

For some that is a far prettier picture than for others.... 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your Inner Kiddo

It's Friday night. The weekend is here. You have laundry that has piled up over the week, half your belongings are packed up in preparation for the guys who are coming to tear out your windows tomorrow, you brought work home with you and a myriad of chores await.

Tonight, or sometime over the weekend, take a little while to forget about oil changes, bills that need to be paid, light bulbs that need to be replaced, that nasty royal blue bedroom that needs to be painted and put those stinky toilet bowl brushes right out of your mind.

There is a kiddo inside of you that wants to just fool around for no good reason.

So, for an hour, a morning or even a whole day, boot that adult stuff out of the way and take time to laugh at will, to sing a song, to make rude noises, to bake cookies... to paint a picture... to be just plain silly.

There will be lots of time to be an adult again on Monday morning.

What do you do when you come out to play?