Hey, Creative Beasts! A short post today, for there is much to do. That said, today is a very special day, indeed; as it is the birthday of one of my all-time favorite Creative Beasts and Heroes… Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Thin White Duke, Dapper David (and the list goes on)… The one, the only… Mr David Bowie! Artist, musician, actor, writer, poet–you name it; he’s done it, and he has done them all so very well. Lieutenant Bowie, today, you turn 63 years young. Creative Beasts salutes you and humbly thanks you for your words, your art, your performances, your dedication to your craft as well as all Creative Beasts you have helped either directly or indirectly throughout the years–and many more. You are an amazing and wonderful person and spirit, and the work you do is timeless and legendary. Happy Birthday and thank you for all you do. …And kids, just in case you didn’t know, you can keep up with David Bowie’s latest and greatest at his web site: http://www.davidbowie.com/index.php where there are always fresh, exciting and sometimes strange (but in a good way) things happening.
If I could talk to David Bowie today, here’s what else I would say: “You’ve been through a lot, to say the least, and you’ve seen and done so many fantastic things. What would you say have been some of your best or perhaps most rewarding moments as an artist? Here it is, 2010. Sounds strange to say it, right? The entertainment industry has changed so much throughout the years. What do you like about the changes, and what do you dislike? What advice can you give to all the young dudes (and dude-ettes) coming up to face the music, so to speak?
…Well, who knows if we’ll get any answers, but regardless, David… love on ya, and cheers!
Here’s a lovely tribute to our man from some other brilliant and very funny Creative Beasts Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, a.k.a. Flight of the Conchords:
And to send you all off, here’s a great one from the glamorous king:
Hey there, Creative Beasts–happy holidays! Can you believe 2010 is almost here? I don’t know about you, but for me it seemed like 2009 blazed by like a comet… or at least like a wild horse. Which brings me to why I chose this image. There’s an old saying: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Try this on for size: Do what you gotta, but get that horse. Me? I’m going after ‘im, and I’m gonna catch ‘im. And then I’m gonna ride. Where we will go is yet to be determined, but I can say one thing… it will be an adventure.
I’ve been invited to stay in Italy this coming spring. I’m not sure yet if I can make it happen. I need to come up with the ticket… and the time. I want to go. A lot. That reminds me of another saying: “When there’s a will, there’s a way.” Can I will myself there? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
So. This post, I’m asking all you CBs out there… What do you want out of 2010?
Personally, I’ve had it with resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are sooo 2009. 2010 is all about The Manifest-Wish-List. It’s about how we will turn our dreams into reality. Really, that’s the whole reason I started CreativeBeasts.com. I want the best and the most for creative folks everywhere and from all walks of life–the only caveat is that the creativity–has to be good. What does that mean? Humor me briefly: You don’t have to follow a special religion–but faith is important. Whether it’s a belief in something greater, or a belief in yourself, it is imperative. Creativity should serve a meaningful purpose. That could mean a lot of things; true. And since the general goal is to embrace and to expand the circle rather than to exclude or alienate, I’ll simply add this: Whether you write software apps or novels, whether you make films or medicine, whether you sing, run, play the drums or play basketball, sculpt, paint, act or teach–your creativity radiates from you. It takes on different colors, shapes, hues and tones. It moves people to act, it evokes, transforms, energizes and inspires. How will yours manifest?
Here are just a few things on my Manifest-Wish-List:
1. Make CreativeBeasts.com into a show that is for Creative Beasts, about Creative Beasts and the creative process.
2. Go to Italy.
3. Better organization.
4. Hit the morel Mother lode.
So. Got any ideas? Got a list?
Here’s Spiritualized with Soul On Fire (Great band. See them live if you get the chance):
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 (?)
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.
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.
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!
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.
When I was a teenager, my father once punished me by taking my stereo away because I wasn’t meeting certain academic expectations. I think it was by far, the worst punishment I received. I could be grounded or anything else, but to be without music was like being without light… or water. Thank God for music. I don’t mean to sound trite or to make an inane remark, but I think it’s worth noting what an effect and impact music has on the creativity of others. Now that we have passed another Labor Day, so marks the unofficial end of summer, and with fall comes different flavors and smells, somber colors, different pastimes, and a different spin on creativity. And while even the music we listen to might change somewhat with the seasons, our need for the inspiration and comfort it lends, does not. From Jackson Pollock to Paul Thomas Anderson, Creative Beasts of all kinds have been and will continue to be driven and influenced by the power of music.
I would also like to once again note the cyclical nature of creativity, and in turn; pause for a moment to consider how Creative Beasts need and affect one another. Art in any form and at any level is something that stimulates us and inspires us–an idea–a spark–a birth… created by an individual. It seems that many artists and/or scientists are multi-talented and explore their creativity in multiple facets; for example, a singer-songwriter who also paints, such as John Mellencamp, or a scientist who draws and paints, like Leonardo Da Vinci–or is it the other way around? You get my point. Creative minds are excited by ideas, by freshness, by wonderment and discovery, and by the ability to bring something that encompasses these things to fruition–and to experience the creations of others. That said, it makes sense that many creative types have multiple areas of focus, and multiple passions in their lives. Music makes order out of chaos–even chaotic music. It combines sound and rhythm with thought and puts it in a frame to create a structure. I know that music has a tremendous impact on me and my creativity. I can’t imagine my life without it.
Jackson Pollock was heralded as the leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement in art and pioneered what became known as “action painting.” It’s a well known fact that his art was largely influence by the modern jazz music of his day, which seems to make perfect sense when you view his work; especially in person. He was particularly a big fan of Charlie Parker’s and Dizzie Gillespie’s, but in general, loved rocking–and painting to bebop. Listen to this gorgeous piece titled Autumn in New York by The Bird, himself; Mr. Charlie Parker. Perhaps it had a hand in the outcome of Pollock’s piece shown above.
Additionally, and throughout the history of cinema, great directors are naturally influenced by music, and are keenly aware of just how intrinsically it becomes part of the art which is film. A few of my favorites include Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and last but definitely not least, Paul Thomas Anderson, who states that he indeed, “writes to music.” He freely admits that the screenplay for Magnolia could be called “an adaptation of Aimee Mann songs.” The film is among my favorites, dark as it may be; and is absolutely brilliantly crafted–and so, might I add–is the music. The following quote from Anderson is taken from the introduction of the shooting script for Magnolia.
The connection of writing “from the gut” and “writing to music” cannot be found any clearer than in the “Wise Up” section of the screenplay. I had reached the end of Earl’s monologue and was searching for a little vibe–I wrote as I listened–and the most natural course of action was that everyone should sing– sing how they feel. In the most good old-fashioned Hollywood Musical Way, each character, and the writer, began singing how they felt. This is one of those things that just happens, and I was either too stupid or not scared enough to hit “delete” once done. Next thing you know, you’re filming it. And I’m Really Happy That It Happened.
Here’s that amazing scene [WARNING: This scene contains adult situations]:
Here, Scorsese takes a very different approach by using the cheery 60s sound of The Crystals, followed by Scottish artist, Donovan’s trippy Atlantis, and juxtaposes the music with a disturbingly violent portrayal of Tommy, played by Joe Pesci [WARNING: This scene contains adult language and graphic violence]:
The music has to marry with the picture and enhance it. You can’t just lob something in and think it’s going to work, even if it’s one of your all-time favorite songs. That piece of music may have nothing to do with the scene. When it marries, you can feel it. The thing jumps; a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” kind of thing can happen.
Here is a shining example of how David Lynch “marries” music with cinema:
So. How does music affect you? And your creativity? What are your influences? Where do you get turned on to new music? Do you have a theme song (And yes, I stole that notion from a scene from the cheesy old show, Ally McBeal, in which Dr. Tracy Clark demands that Ally choose a theme song for herself. What can I say? It stuck with me, and I must give credit where it is due)? My theme song changes, but I think for now, it is Passion Pit‘s Moth’s Wings (is it just me, or does Michael Angelakos remind you of Peter Gabriel?), which I first heard on 88.9 Radio Milwaukee. I can’t think of a better song to lead us into fall.
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, Thrillermaintains 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.