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I Have Not Yet Begun to Crush It.

January 12th, 2010 1 comment

The meek may inherit the Earth, but meanwhile, "The Determined" are gonna get theirs.

Pigeons… gotta love ’em. The cooing, the nesting, the foraging… and of course, the “bombing.” My Norwegian (step) grandmother said that when a pigeon poops on you, it’s good luck (she stated this after my mom had just been hit with a love-bomb from a feathered friend from above). I haven’t yet been able to confirm whether this is a Norwegian belief or one from somewhere else. If anyone can help me out with this, give a shout. I was once struck on the head by a pigeon-bomb, in the middle of downtown Milwaukee. It was a dove, actually. I was on the phone with a friend. It was a warm, sunny, early evening and I was standing beneath a tiny tree–newly planted, in fact. I had paused to chat–apparently under this little tree–and splat! Right on top of my head. I was surprised, of course, and of course, I reached up to find out what had hit me. I yelled out in disgust, and then I believe I started to cry a little. “Ahhhnnnnn! Come get me!” (it was my boyfriend) I exclaimed into the phone, looking up into the little tree. “A dove just shat on me!” He laughed, but then fortunately, he did come to get me. And the dove? It sat in the tree, a couple feet above me, cooing softly. “Jerk!” I thought. That was a few years ago. I’m still hoping for that good luck to come, but in the meantime, I aim to “Crush It!”

Just finished Gary Vaynerchuck’s book Why Now is the time to CRUSH IT! Cash In On Your Passion.

It took me a little longer than I thought it would, but hey, interruptions happen. Anyway. Great book, I really enjoyed it. Gary Vee is not just entertaining, as it turns out, nor is he simply driven. He’s an inspiring, thoughtful businessman and marketing strategist who looks well into the future to anticipate trends; all the while, keeping his eye on the ball. So what is Gary’s #1 strategy? CARE. That’s right. Care. Care about what you do, be authentic, be passionate, and let these things be your guiding lights. Here’s a rather recent appearance Gary made on CNBC:

If you pay a visit to Gary @ http://garyvaynerchuk.com/ you’ll see that quite a few folks giggle and scoff at old anchor-dude Dennis Kneale, who calls Gary “corny.” I get why the fans giggle and scoff, and I’m pretty sure I get why Dennis Kneale called him “corny.” The fans… well, it’s a couple reasons: A) just because they’re fans, they will always stick up for their guy and B) If they really know where Gary is coming from, then they truly know that he means what he says, but also that he’s right. Now, why did Kneale call Gary Vaynerchuk “a little corny?” I think it’s because he must be thinking, “Oh, now isn’t this cute and clever. Here’s Mr. 35-year old millionaire entrepreneur, telling everybody that all they need to do is care.” Obviously, he hadn’t yet read the book, because if he had, I don’t think he would have made a silly comment like that. Here’s the deal: Gary can explain in his book, exactly what he means by “caring,” and the thing is that it really isn’t any different from the approach taken by good old-fashioned great brands, all over the world. It is one thing to say that you care, but it is an altogether different thing to actually live it. What are some of the great caring brands of our times? How about Nordstrom? How about McDonalds? How about Starbucks? He says it boils down to the quality of the communication, and he’s right. “It’s about listening.” You listen, you give it your all, and you make adjustments when you need to. In his book, he recounts a retail story of a woman–a customer in New York–who called to complain that she didn’t get her wine shipment on time. It was December 22nd, and it was an older lady who was not a regular customer, a major buyer–or anything else major. What made her special was that she was a customer, plain and simple, and Gary knew that if he let her down… if her holiday got spoiled because it was too late to make a promise from FedEx… he would be letting himself down–and his team. So what did he do? He grabbed her case of White Zinfandel, threw it in his car, and drove it through a blizzard for three hours to her doorstep in Westchester, New York. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome customer service? You bet. He set the tone for his company that day, and that’s what leaders do. That’s how good brands get built. Really smart people understand this. I don’t know if it is still this way, simply because I don’t have the chance to visit Nordstrom much anymore (we don’t have them here), but the way I remember it, their service is legendary. If you needed something tailored and their tailor was out, the associate would run it to the next local tailor to have it done–and have it ready for the customer in the same day. OK, I’m kind of making that up, but stuff like that. No kidding.

Here’s a quick brand comparison story: And first, let me just say that I have for the most part, really gotten away from fast food. But one day at work a couple of years ago, I ran out for a burger. I thought to myself, “Hmm. Flame-broiled Whopper, Jr…” It had been a while since I had patronized a Burger King, but I was in the mood and I was pressed for time, so… fast food. I pulled up to the drive, and a girl answered, “Uhhhh, just a minute…”

I thought, “OK. Well, that’s weird because I’m the only one here.” But I waited a couple of minutes. Then I thought, “Hell with this,” and I pulled around and parked and went inside. What I found was a young manager yelling at several employees sitting at a table, telling them it was time to get back to work because they had already had breaks. There was one girl at the counter. I approached the counter, and waited for someone to say hello. No one did. Finally, I said, “Can someone here take my order?”

The girl at the counter said, “Just a second.”

I lost it. “You people are pathetic,” I said. “I went to the drive-thru and no one could help me. Now I’m inside and no one can help me. And there’s NOBODY f***ing here!” Yes, I said “f***ing.” Sorry I was foul-mouthed, but I was really amazed. They just stood there with their mouths open. I left, and went to McDonalds.

At the drive-thru speaker, the first thing the girl said was, “Thank you for waiting, can I take your order?” I was already thrilled. I ordered, and a couple of minutes later I was at the window receiving my meal. “Sorry about the wait!” She said with a smile.

“What wait?” I smiled back and thanked her and drove away. Fast and friendly service, napkins, ketchup, a sandwich, fries and a beverage with a straw–all the right temperatures and freshness… the birds were singing and weaving a happy little bird-dance around my car (just kidding)… I was a happy lass.

Looking back, I might have chosen a kinder way of addressing things with the folks at Burger King–I work at not getting upset these days, but anyway, it sure was an interesting juxtaposition of brands… To me, employees that give great customer service appear to be happy because they are happy. Generally, I look at this as a sign that they are treated well, but additionally, they are following good examples. They are taking ownership. These are all signs of a business that is being run properly and smartly.

Incidentally, I have worked at different companies throughout the years. I have worked at places who understand that good brands start from the top, but then are built from the bottom up (Starbucks is one of them), and then I’ve worked at companies that have had a different approach. The different approach was one that was unfortunately centered around money and the making of it. There was nothing wrong with the initial idea: sell a commodity–something everybody needs. (Heck, that’s what Starbucks does–well, OK, so we don’t actually need coffee, but you understand.) The problems began when corners got cut, and to what extent and how often. I am here to say that that is no way to run a business. If all you care about is money, I can just about guarantee that no matter how much you have, you will never be happy… Did I mention I watched it grow from a three person company to a 40 million-dollar operation in about six years? In Crush It, Gary refers to something he calls “reactionary business.” What he’s talking about is having the ability to anticipate change and adapt. I’m not sure I would call that “reactionary.” I would call that “being proactive.” To me, “reactionary” was watching the flames get higher when things started to smoke and burn because the only solution “leadership” had was to throw on more coals. That was due to a couple of things 1) a president who didn’t want to listen to his employees and 2) a sheer lack of anticipating change and lack of planning for it. But there was another attitude problem that inevitably led to the company’s demise… arrogance. The owner had it in his head that if a customer was lost, there was always another one around the “virtual” corner. I think he ultimately felt that it didn’t matter if customers left unhappy because it was an online business. Wrong. There are only so many chances to reinvent yourself, and it’s much harder now than it was then. Those company doors closed in 2007, and Twitter was only a year old. If you want to start a business, have it be something that you want your name on. Be proud of it. That’s another thing Gary Vaynerchuk talks about: legacy. By the way, if you ever work somewhere at which the owner of the business isn’t willing to publicly admit ownership, let that be a warning to you. That is not a good sign.

OK. So. Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It!: I say buy it if you’re just starting a business, and buy it if you’re a six-or-more-figure salaried CEO. Gary’s messages are pretty simple and straight forward: Care. Work your butt off. Listen. Adapt. Anticipate. Be aware of what’s going on around you. Build your personal brand. Care. He breaks it down much further, but I don’t need to repeat the entire book, as short and sweet as it is. His messages are in many ways, not new, and in fact, in some ways they are old-fashioned. So what? They work. My concern that I mentioned in my earlier post before I read the book was that it might be too schmaltzy. Too much of a “just believe in yourself”-type book. While there is some of that, he explains why he believes it is actually possible to follow your dreams at this point in time. Gary is a good coach. He doesn’t tell you how to do everything, but he gives recommendations on tools to use, strategies and approaches. He also talks about DNA and how it plays a part. I tend to think that many immigrants in general, have a much better idea about how to succeed than (non-immigrant) Americans. They tend not to take things for granted and they really know how to hustle. I realize that’s a sweeping generalization, but just look around you and see for yourself. I’ll be bold and make another sweeping generalization: Gary is from Belarus, and I don’t care who says what, but many of the folks from that part of the world are great mathematicians, some of the world’s greatest composers and musicians, scientists… and chess players. Gary is an excellent strategist. Just sayin’. Until next time, Creative Beasts… Seize the Prey! Or, as Gary says, “Crush it!”

Another link to check out: http://vaynermedia.com/

And to send you off, here’s one of my favorite songs ever (definitely a T-Haus theme song) as well as a bit o’ CreativeBeasts.com inspiration–Hot Chocolate’s Every 1’s a Winner (and a random fan viddy):

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Go Crazy for Your Dreams. It’s All You, Baby.

December 3rd, 2009 2 comments

Love this song by Brett Dennen. Love the video, too. Having spent plenty of time dancing to the tune of the consumer organ grinder and countless hours that inexorably turn into days and weeks and so on and so forth–I can say that his song and video are deliciously poignant and gratifying. And heck, I even sold shoes once upon a time, so yes; in a crazy way, it makes complete sense. When you’re doing your dog and pony show, absurdity knows no boundaries.

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

René Magritte - Die Grosse Familie, 1947 (?)

One time at work, I had a customer ask me if we had ‘something for making pancakes,’ which, of course; we did. We had cute, animal-shaped pancake molds along with griddles, skillets, pancake mixes, syrup, recipe books and even pancake pens, which are these new, large, squeezy plastic bottle-thingies that you put your batter into, and it is cleverly designed to carefully squeeze the batter out into your cute, animal-shaped pancake mold so that it turns out adorably perfect and makes the job easy and fun. I showed him all of these things, but evidently he was looking for something like a circular-shaped mold. I tried to explain to him that when you put your batter in your skillet or on your griddle, it more or less naturally takes on that shape. For some reason, though, he wasn’t buying it. Perhaps he hadn’t yet tried making pancakes. At any rate, sometimes it just feels like you can’t win no matter what you say or do. But you can. You choose your battles, and live to dance another day.

Now, I do not condone or approve of bullying as a tactic or means to an end in any way shape or form, but it’s hard not to admire Vicky Pollard‘s unshakable self-confidence here, despite the hard evidence pointing to the notion that she is out of her league in this competition:

…Then again, there is the fact that once she has clearly lost the game, she resorts to bullying. *Sigh* Ahh, well.

GOT DREAMS? I do. Here’s one of mine: This site is going to become a show. How ’bout them apples? Interviews with great Creative Beasts from all over, and from all walks of life… and other wonderful stuff of an inspiring and mysterious nature.

I’m going to need a few things… eventually, a bigger staff, for example… maybe some cameras… and a film crew… and definitely some angels. That’s my tip of the iceberg list, which is actually a big tip to an even bigger iceberg. There will be much more to say to the right set of ears.

“Why are you sharing this, T-Haus?” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Because I feel it’s important to state your mission and share your vision. And I aim to prove some things for the sake of all CreativeBeasts: 1) I am not entirely crazy. Slightly, yes. Entirely, no. 2) You can be from anywhere at all and still make your dreams come true. Even Milwaukee, WI (though I am originally from Seattle, WA… but that’s beside the point). 3) Cool and amazing things are happening all over the world. All around us, in fact. Today, in Milwaukee, for example, we had our first snow of the year. Pretty cool. 4) –This is the most important thing–it is not only OK to have dreams and to believe in them, it is GOOD! Go crazy for them, and may it serve you well. And hey–this is, after all, the season in which dreams (supposedly) come true. Keep right on dreaming, and all the best to you all.

I stumbled across this article, “Yes, I Can” Seven inspiring stories of people who proved the naysayers wrong. http://tinyurl.com/y96t5hv . Not bad.

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Surviving the Holidays: Creative Tips For the Service Industry.

November 17th, 2009 2 comments


It may be just over a month away, but if you work in the service industry, Christmas is here, and Thanksgiving is just a little stop along the way. Perhaps you’re a server, or you work in retail… or both. You have been on your feet for hours, and they are killing you. You do your best to smile when two independent people interrupt your conversation with a customer you are currently helping–to help them–each… You think to yourself, “Something funny is happening… All of the adults in the world have suddenly turned into little children… Weird!” It will appear as though many folks have lost their minds… or their manners… or both. The snooty get snootier, the greedy get greedier, and the needy… needier. And then you think, “Hey! This is exactly the opposite of how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Even weirder.”

I was never really a Dead-head, but the phrase, “Nothing to do but smile, smile, smile,” couldn’t ring truer than at this time. CreativeBeasts Rule no. 1) Kill ’em with kindness. It’s what the Whos of Whoville did to the Grinch. It’s what Rudolph, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius did to the Abominable Snowman. And yes; ’tis true, these are merely cartoons, but the lessons, here, people, are priceless and timeless! And if all else fails, just start singing Fah Who For-aze to the offender. I promise you, he or she will simply stare at you blankly… and powerless, not knowing what to do (at least until it snaps to, and calls your manager to the scene, but at that point you just pretend like nothing happened. “I started singing? Ma’am, perhaps you’re just tired from all the shopping. Would you like to sit down? I’ll get you a glass of water.”). See, that’s the thing about “Fah Who For-aze…” nobody knows what it means. Powerful stuff!

Rule no. 2) When smiling becomes difficult, imagine that the guy who just insulted you is Burgermeister Meisterberger, and you are Kris Kringle.

Burgermeister Meisterburger

Burgermeister Meisterburger

Santa+book+1-1

Kris Kringle

You won’t believe how your heart will fill with laughter. You will, in fact, laugh out loud as though being insulted is the funniest thing in the entire world! And as Kris Kringle, you gotta fight the power. Fight the powers that be.

Rule no. 3) Empathize with your needy, ornery, spoiled customer (because hey–we’ve all been there at some point in our lives–like about thirty or so years ago). When they ask you to throw away their garbage for them, smile sweetly, and say “Certainly!” And then become Olivia Newton John from Xanadu. Straight guys, you too.

Rule no. 4) Gently try to remind the customer of the holiday spirit. You could say something like, “We’re simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”

Last but not least, Rule no. 5) Don’t Stop Believing. Dreams do come true, and if you had a rough day–or week–this, too, shall pass. Dare to dream… even if it’s just to soak your feet in baking soda at the end of the day!

Go ahead. Sing it at the top of your lungs. Play a little air guitar, even. Enjoy. And from all of us here at CreativeBeasts.com, Happy Holidays!

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Keep Moving. The World Won’t Stop.

November 12th, 2009 No comments

Curve balls. We all get them from time to time. It could be the loss of a job, an important possession or asset, a partner, a friend or a loved one. Or a cancer diagnosis. Such things aren’t easy to take, and they can certainly take us by surprise. We are suddenly struck by an unforgiving and unfeeling force, and sometimes we are given no explanation or reason as to why it occurs. When it happens, it’s as though the rug has been swept out from under us, and that instability can be frightening. But it doesn’t always have to be. The tides ebb and flow, and so must we ride with them, or be pulled in. It’s times such as these, when the truly creative show their true and brilliant colors. It’s about getting lemons and making lemonade. And yes, that is one heck of a “Pollyanna” cliche, but so what? Playing “The Glad Game” not only energizes the spirit; it builds strength and stamina, and in the end, it makes you smarter and stronger… it makes you a better problem solver… and hopefully, a more loving human being.

Adversity creates pressure, and a couple things can happen from there. Pressure has the ability to crush or overwhelm, but depending on the individual and how he or she responds to a particular situation, there are infinite possibilities in terms of outcomes. Again, faith comes into play, and the ability to see things in ways that provide opportunities… and solutions.

At this time, I would like to share with you an amazing story about an amazing little boy whose time here on Earth was short (he was with us for only six years), but whose light was so bright, it will be remembered and carried on for many years to come, and in fact; will likely grow brighter and brighter. His name was Pablo Castelaz.

PabloHair1

Pablove Across America – When Out of Loss Comes Love.

He was the son of Jo Ann Thrailkill and Jeff Castelaz, and the little brother of Grady Gallagher. On May 17, 2008, Pablo was diagnosed with bilateral Wilms’ Tumor, a rare form of children’s cancer. The cancer appeared out of nowhere, with no warning signs in Pablo’s general demeanor or health. He underwent treatment at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. On June 27, 2009, Pablo’s individual fight with cancer ended. But we fight on in his name, with the spirit of love that Pablo embodied and inspired.

Needless to say, Pablo’s passing was a tremendous blow to his family and beloved friends. When someone so young, bright, beautiful and full of life is suddenly taken from us, we are left wondering how and why the greater powers of the universe can manifest something so seemingly senseless. This sort of loss is just the kind that either wields the power to destroy or transform. Everyone who knew Pablo was touched by his loving spirit, and the same is true even for those who didn’t know him–and this continues to be the case. That being said, destruction and despair were not options for Pablo’s family and friends. The love is too great; and therefore, can only result in a transformation that results in something more meaningful: a passionate race to save the lives of others, and to make the world a better place; also known as Pablove Across America. The mission is simple: 3000 Miles. 30 Days. 1 Fight. A salute to Pablo, Jeff and Jo Ann, Lance Armstrong, the cyclists, and everyone else who fights to keep dreams, hope and happiness alive. May love forever reign. To see how you can join in the race and fight against childhood cancer please visit http://www.pablove.org/donate/ .

The last day of the ride is Saturday, November 21st (of ’09). Any and all cyclists who wish to join in are encouraged to do so. Visit http://www.Pablove.org/news/ for details.

This goes out to the cyclists on their journey–inspiring tunes help!

Mike Snow – Animal

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Vampires. We Love the Way They Suck.

October 14th, 2009 1 comment
The king of bad boys, Count Dracula.

The king of bad boys, Count Dracula.

Ah, yes. ‘Tis a love that never dies. What is it about these mesmerizing, terrifying, brilliant, horrible, irresistible, loathsome, disgusting, delicious, god-forsaken, sexy creatures of the night that holds our attention? I’ll be damned if I know, but I DARE you to Google them (vampires)… You will get about 60,400,000 results! Can you believe that “hairstyles” only has 7,140,000? I am in the wrong business. Time to start sucking some blood–whoa–! I just realized the horrifying truth about the forces of Wall Street… and goodness only knows who else…

So really. What is it about vampires? Is it the notion that they play to our darkest fantasies, and maybe–just maybe… the idea that MAYBE… if they were real… that if one of us were to be bitten… that we wouldn’t die; but rather, would be chosen to join this stunning clan of ferocious fiends–and we, too, could live forever, have super-human strength, fly around–and taste the forbidden liquid of life? GRR-ross! …Or is it, “Mmm-magnificent!” …?

Whatever it is, it is without a doubt; a multi-billion dollar business when one includes movies, TV shows, books, and costumes. November 24, 2008, The L.A. Times reported that Twilight took in $70.6 million, and a later report by the Wall Street Journal stated the film grossed $382 million, worldwide. The same report claims that the Twilight books have thus far sold over 53 million copies, which still doesn’t beat Harry Potter, but maybe they just need a bit of time–and Harry does have more time in, incidentally. The next movie, Twilight – New Moon premieres in L.A. on November 16th, and nationwide on November 20th.

Of course, the world’s obsession with vampires hardly begins and ends with the Twilight series. On the contrary; these tales and legends go back thousands of years and are prevalent in nearly every culture in our world. Here’s an interesting little blog that seems to attempt to turn every vampire stone that ever was: http://vampiresaz.webs.com/. Another contemporary and popular story worth noting is HBO’s True Blood, based on the series, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, first published in 2001. Interestingly enough, both story lines (True Blood and Twilight) offer chronicles of good and evil vampires. It’s interesting because that seems to be something of a recent trend–good (or at least good enough to allow a nibble) vampires, that is. From NBC’s short-lived Dark Shadows (12 episodes in ’91, which was a rehashing of the 1966 show) to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Moonlight, to the current cinematic blood buffet, there seems to be a sort of poetic need to reach out to these otherwise, murderous and soulless beings. THAT–is a girl thing. I guarantee it. “Oh, but I can save him…” Nope. You can’t. “Oh, but together, we can take on the bad ones, and save the world!” Hmm. Nope. Wrong, again. But… that is why there is fiction, in which one can make up whatever one wants. And as for female vampires looking to seduce an unwitting male victim… well, let’s just say these gals really don’t need much in terms of salvation. As long as she has the right parts, she can get the job done, and it doesn’t even matter if she smiles and shows off her fangs. The guy will probably think, “Gee, she’s got some long sharp teeth, all right,” and then she’ll “kiss” him… on the neck… and that will be that. He will die because he is too dumb to be turned into a vampire. Who wants to haul that dude around ’til the end of time? Only seriously cool and sharp people get to be vampires.

Here are a few scenes from some of my favorite fang-filled flicks…

From The Hunger:

From Fright Night:

Dracula, featuring the one and only Bela Lugosi:

Nosferatu:

…And here are some other entertaining posts about vampires:

http://scifiwire.com/2009/10/16-sexy-movie-and-tv-vamp.php

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20071014/ai_n21049073/

http://www.angelfire.com/biz4/vampyreresearch/faq.html#answer%20fourteen

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Shakin’ It Out with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

September 23rd, 2009 No comments
Karl Denson at the mich with trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Karl Denson at the mic, and trumpet player Chris Littlefield to his right.

Creativity springs to life when this band comes into action, which I can personally attest to, having had the pleasure to see them live at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom, September 16th. It’s really this simple: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is a must-see/hear for anyone who loves music. If you like to be moved by a performance–and by what you listen to, then you will seriously enjoy KDTU for the basic fact that you just can’t sit still. In fact, I recommend avoiding caffeinated beverages beforehand. And if you’re a fan of acid jazz, or fusion… well, chances are, you already know about them. Karl, himself, is a live wire on stage. Vibrant and energetic; he plays sax, the flute and the calabash, and, of course; he sings. And when he plays his sax–it’s as if he’s singing… you can almost hear the words. The Tiny Universe is a band of six musicians; each of which is deftly sound on his own, but together; they are the X-Men of music. Members are as follows: Denson (saxophone, flute), Ron Johnson (bass), Chris Littlefield (trumpet), Brian Jordan (guitar), David Veith (keyboards) and John Staten (drums). It’s clear that performing makes them happy. Their music is succinctly uplifting and invigorating, despite some of the indubitable blues tones, but on the other hand, that is why folks sing and play blues in the first place–to get rid of them. Speaking of the blues, KDTU offers a touch of the rich, West African sound (the name, “Farka Touré” comes to mind); moreso, than Denson’s other band, The Grey Boy Allstars. From the newly released KTDU album, Brother’s Keeper, we start off with the big, Motown-sounding tune, Shake It Out, which is just slightly reminiscent of The Temps’ Get Ready; a perfect lead into the songs to follow, which range in tone from bluesy, sad and soulful to hot, jazzy-funk–or funky-jazz, depending on the track. And then some are just plain melodic, sweet and sexy, like Take It Down Low. To sum it up, pick it up. It’s well worth it.
Just for fun, here’s a little taste of the great Ali Farka Tourè:

And this beautiful piece by his son, Vieux, who is also amazing, live:

As the name suggests, several songs on Brother’s Keeper speak openly about faith, which for Mr. Denson is Christianity. The following quote is taken from his CD Jacket:

We who live in a free society often forget about the concept of being free. We begin to think of freedom as the natural state of mankind, when in reality our natural state is to dominate and be dominated. It is by an extraordinary blessing that we are being dominated by the very freedom we’ve created. We are now free to forget how we got here and how much it cost. Alongside the comfort that freedom provides is the ability/tendency to isolate and disconnect.

…Make a conscious effort to reconnect with the people around you. To sum it all up, ‘Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.’ Yes I’m My Brother’s Keeper!

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

Guitarist, Brian Jordan.

John Staten on drums.

John Staten on drums.

In a recent blog I wrote about theme songs. I believe it’s good to have at least one. I definitely have more than one, but this is without a doubt, one of my favorites: KDTU’s Because of Her Beauty. Frankly, I’m surprised Nike hasn’t tried to snatch it up for a “Just Do It” TV spot. But then again, maybe they have. I listen to it when I go running… in my Adidas.

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Certain Voices Make a Difference.

September 19th, 2009 No comments
3170696

Mary Travers. Nov. 9, 1936 – Sept. 16, 2009

Mary Travers died this week at age 72. There are some that would have called her the “bubble gum” of folk music, but they would have been wrong to do so. The voices of Peter, Paul and Mary; together in their perfect harmonies were powerful enough to ring out clearly through the chaos, excitement and confusion that were the sixties, and what’s more; their popularity transcended the wings of politics. It’s hard to argue with truth, and particularly when it is presented in such an agreeable fashion. The house I grew up in was conservative. Nevertheless, songs like If I Had a Hammer, and 500 Miles lulled me to sleep as a little child, and for that, I am grateful.

Certain voices make a difference, and it’s a good thing that they do. If you believe something, say so, and say it like you mean it.

The words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, as quoted by Edward M. Kennedy:

I am a part of all that I have met…
Tho much is taken, much abides…
That which we are, we are–

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

…strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Here’s one more for the long, lonesome track: sweet dreams, CreativeBeasts. Sweet dreams, Mary. May you rest well.

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Keep Going. There is beauty yet to come.

July 8th, 2009 1 comment


This blog goes out to my very dear friend, whom I will simply refer to as “Super-T,” who moves and grooves with the dexterity of a lizard, and who sometimes forgets, but he is also the most tater-bob dude that ever existed.

A few days ago, I had the privilege to spend time with another dear friend of mine, Adam–a brilliant artist and graphic designer, and a true Creative Beast. Talking with him inspired me and gave me encouragement.

I begin this post by saying that some friendships are real gifts. And I suppose it is ironic, but I now know it to be true that sometimes what can seem to be the toughest, most challenging friendships of our lives are also sometimes some of the deepest and richest ones–in addition to being the ones that teach us the most valuable lessons. It hearkens the saying that it isn’t the destinations that make us who we are, but the journeys that we make to reach them. Certain journeys–and life changing events–can sometimes crush us… and sometimes they can save us.

I love my friends. I don’t always get to tell them how much the things they do and say–whether they are big or small–matter to me. Sometimes simply possessing the ability to make someone laugh or smile… the ability to evoke–can have a tremendously earth shaking effect. I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: Creative Beasts are powerful, brilliant souls. They tend to be very intense, even if it’s in a very quiet sort of way, but they can also be extremely fragile. This knowledge can be heavy. In our creative circles, we all likely know someone, or perhaps even several people whose intensity is at times, a great joy to come into contact with, and at other times, it’s saddening or maddening. For me, it seems like it’s just about everyone I know. Why? Just lucky, I guess (and if you are one of these people, do me a favor–relax. I’m kidding… sort of. Try not to take yourself so seriously). It’s the agony and the ecstasy. Three of my creative friends have committed suicide, all within the last ten years. First was Dave; a brilliant filmmaker/director who taught me that animators are among the most patient people on the planet… usually. Then there was Jen; a great, beautiful, quiet and quick-witted writer whose wonderful sense of humor was matched by her generous and gracious spirit. Just one year later in November of 2008, I lost my friend, Brian, who was an amazingly gifted photographer, a fantastic cook, and just wickedly sharp in countless ways. Each and every one them had an energy–an intensity–that could fill any room. That said, you can imagine how the loss of each person reverberated. I wish there was something I could have done or said that would have kept each one from doing what they did. I think maybe this is what I would have said: “You have truly lived. You have done great things, and you have experienced great things. And you have touched a lot of lives. Do you really believe that this is it? That there is no more beauty yet to come? If so, you are wrong. Stick around a while. Keep at it. See what happens.”

Creativity doesn’t always flow the way we want it to. Sometimes we feel stuck, and it’s frustrating. Roadblocks are common. David Lynch addresses this issue in his book, Catching The Big Fish. He writes, “If you want to catch the little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.” I agree with him. Another factor in the concept of catching these big fish is having creative circles–pools, if you will, in which you may freely express yourself, bounce ideas off of others, and then build on your concepts. No one person is an island, and as it is with anything else, thoughts and expressions that are exchanged freely can exist harmoniously and in a symbiotic manner, like the ebb and flow of the tides. The sharing of ideas allows creativity, itself, to become larger and richer, like a beautiful tapestry. When there is a greater opportunity to draw from a more vibrant lexicon, creative thinkers naturally put that knowledge into everything they do. When we keep things to ourselves out of fear of loss or perhaps rejection, we risk stagnation and even collapse. Even when times are difficult, and perhaps especially when times are difficult, it is better to share and connect with others. We see this example again and again made by successful people throughout history. One example that comes to mind is advertising great, David Ogilvy. He went against the grain and leapt ahead of his competitors by insisting that indeed; you must literally give away your trade secrets to win clients. His peers thought he was crazy, and maybe he was… crazy, like a fox. He was right. His ideas worked, and he made history.

Now David Ogilvy is dead and gone, and some of today’s ad geeks giggle and scoff at his ideas, but I think there isn’t one among them who wouldn’t give their eye teeth to reach the peaks that he did. Genius, as it turns out, is pretty timeless. And it takes bravery–and faith–to be creative. Some people might tell you you’re great, and some might tell you you suck… or that you are crazy. It’s not always easy to push forward, and for whatever reason, it’s sometimes easier to accept defeat or criticism, than it is to accept success and praise. If you have any desire to create, or to see an idea come to fruition, keep going with it. If it’s a passion within you, keep that fire burning. There is a reason for it. You must believe that.

Do you realize that time goes fast?
It’s hard to make the good things last
Do you realize the sun doesn’t go down?
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

–The Flaming Lips

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Sorting the sordid details.

June 26th, 2009 No comments
Michael Jackson fans mourning his death in Los Angeles.

Michael Jackson fans mourn his death.

It was asked of me if I would blog about details emerging in regards to Michael Jackson’s death. This will be my final post on the subject, and this is all I have left to say: It is not my place, nor is it my desire to comment on or pursue such matters. The man has died, and he deserves to rest in peace. Highly creative and talented people like Michael Jackson–whom I call “A True CreativeBeast”–develop an unearthly and brilliant energy that can’t help but attract others. Admirers crave this energy in a way that can be downright frightening, and such attention can be a tremendous weight to bear; so much so, that some creative souls simply collapse beneath it. I believe that CreativeBeasts are creatures that have great strength, but at the same time, are highly fragile…

One of my favorite films is Blade Runner. I can’t help but think of the quote by the character Eldon Tyrell, “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” He was speaking to Roy, one of his prized creations.

Consider that fire needs oxygen. Without it; it dies, and the more intense the fire; the greater its need for air. Great artists are intense fires. They burn so very brightly, but to maintain such an intensity for any length of time is an incredible feat. The truth is that in the end, we are all only human, yet when some humans attempt to make deities of other humans, things become skewed on both sides.

It seems that society rarely tires of creating stars, only to take equal pleasure in watching them fall, or in some cases; tearing them down. I don’t care to know the details of how or why Michael Jackson died. I understand that others feel differently, but I just don’t have any more questions. At this point, to dig for answers seems a bit like rifling through someone’s dresser drawers… inappropriate and disrespectful. It’s a worn-out cliche, but songs like Elton John’s Candle in the Wind and The Kinks’ Celluloid Heroes also enter my mind. I think tonight, I’ll sign off with a favorite scene from Blade Runner; here is Rutger Hauer as Roy:

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Michael Jackson: Forever and Always, The King of Pop.

June 26th, 2009 2 comments

album-thriller

He was “The King of Pop,” and a legend in his time… Michael Jackson. Say what you will about him, but there is no denying that “soul” ran through his soul like a wave of electricity. From his childhood career in the 60s and onward, no one could dance like him, sing like him–be like him. Many tried. But there was only one Michael Jackson, and he changed the face of pop music as we know it. He brought a style and sense of creativity to the world that was all his own, and yet his influence remains strong to this day.

I grew up in the 80s, and when Beat It and Billy Jean hit the scene, there was no one more “larger than life” than Michael Jackson. I was living in Vermont at the time, and as an average white girl in seventh grade in an area that was ninety percent average white kids, I am here to say that there wasn’t a kid in school who didn’t want a cool red jacket with black pants and a sparkly white glove, and the ability to do the moonwalk like you were floating on air. In other words: We. All. Worshiped. Michael. Jackson. Everyone owned a copy of Thriller, and if you didn’t know the words to the songs, then there was something wrong with you. He was THE rage. John Lennon once said about The Beatles, “We’re bigger than Jesus,” but John unfortunately wasn’t around to witness the history that Michael Jackson made. With over 100 million copies sold, Thriller maintains its status as the best selling record album of all times.

Jackson; despite his incredible success, fortune and fame, lived what many would consider to be a troubled life riddled with tales of an abusive childhood, and later on, stories of his own misdeeds; that is to say, inappropriate relationships with children. Due to these allegations, Jackson was brought up on charges, but was never convicted of any crime. Nevertheless and needless to say, the cases and rumors brought a devastating blow to The King of Pop’s career. Additionally, Jackson had what seemed to be an endless affair with the plastic surgery knife; altering his physical image in such a way that made it difficult for many fans to relate. No doubt; Michael Jackson was different. Some might say that he was of another world. He did, indeed, create one of his own; perhaps to avoid facing some of the terrible realities that life is capable of dishing out. Rough spots aside, it should also be remembered that he was one of the most giving individuals of our time; contributing generously to at least thirty nine different charities throughout his career. He notably wrote with Lionel Richie, We Are The World, which quickly rose to the top of U.S. charts, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 17, 1985, where it remained for four weeks. The huge all-star band of performers that sang on the recording was billed as “U.S.A. For Africa” and sold over 15 million copies worldwide. The silent contributions he made to the world as well as the brilliant music he shared with all of us brought joy and hope to millions. Now, as countless gather around the globe to pay their respects, there is no question as to the impact he has had on our souls, and CreativeBeasts tip their hats. Dear Michael, may you rest in peace. We will miss you, and your beautiful Human Nature.

August 29, 1958-June 25, 2009.

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