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September 2009

Internet Celebrity, LOLcats and Cheezburgers

A few weeks ago I joined Sarah at the WordPress Word Camp LA at LMU. I went more for the content than the tech stuff as I use mostly Typepad (though Metblogs is WordPress). The thing I was the most excited about was that Ben Huh was one of the speakers. 

Ben Huh of I Can Has Cheezburger fame. Ben Huh my internet rock star!


Word Camp had only a few hundred participants and each talk took place in a classroom on the LMU campus so it was quite intimate. Ben's talk did not disappoint! He had great things to say about simplicity and doing things on the cheap. Very very smart stuff. Some great quotes from his presentation: 

Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity.


Complexity has an inverse effect on your business's ability to scale.

I was fully inspired to continue keeping it simple and fun on Safety Graphic Fun. 

He took questions and mine was the last one. I asked "Where did you get that awesome t-shirt?!" He was quite pleased that I asked and said you can find it on Threadless. (I might need to buy that for a few friends...) If you have no idea what the heck that shirt is all about, you clearly have a full time job and kids and a life. This shirt is a beautiful dovetailing of two internet memes. The first is one of my all time favorites: Keyboard Cat. And the second part of the shirt is original Three Wolves Shirt on Amazon with the famous review. Stroke of internet meme genius, that shirt!

After the talk, I met Eric, the original originator of I Can Has Cheezburger. He's from Hawaii originally so we talked about where we went to high school (Radford for him) and other Hawaii stuff. He lives in LA now, working on a new venture (didn't say what). I then shook Ben's hand and thanked him for his great talk and Sarah kindly took the above picture for me. I also gave them both my Safety Graphic Fun business cards so they could see how they have inspired me.

It was a great day with some other great talks and great ideas. Thanks to Sarah for asking me to go!

Memorizing Lyrics

As you may have read once (maybe twice) I've gotten very much into Green Day lately. I have Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown in the car and listen to them all just about every time I drive somewhere. What is interesting is that, even after all this time, I still stumble over a lot of lyrics. I realized a very important reason why. 

I'm not 11 or 12 anymore. Also, I'm not listening to records on a record player.

Not sure if this is a girl thing or a tween/teenage thing in general, but think back (those of you of a certain age) to when you were a tween/teenager and we had to listen mostly to records -- actual records. And this generally meant you loaded up the records and put the needle on and you listened to the whole side, then turned it over and listened to the other side. (Actually, even when cassette tapes came out there was a time before the "stop between songs" technology came about and you did the same thing.)

I remember spending what seemed like HOURS lying in my room, listening to music, writing in my diary journal, writing letters to family or my German pen pals or just studying the album covers -- inch by inch. I'm sure I also spent time copying the song lyrics into notebooks or on book covers. That connection of fairly focused listening for hours at a time and writing down the lyrics over and over made memorizing the words so ingrained. For example, I think I could still sing most of the way through most of the songs on this album:


For good or for ill, I could. Hey, if a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you? The world will never know the you I've come to know, etc. I can do the same with Jim Croce and John Denver and Carly Simon and Carole King and some (not all) of the Carpenters.

So I find myself frustrated that I don't know the lyrics to Green Day like I know the lyrics to any of the above. I'm a little nostalgic for that beautiful free time we had when we were able to just listen and take in all that music, getting to know the words like we had written them. 

I'll keep working on my Green Day memorization. And I'll keep feeling 12 (which is a good thing on so many levels.)

What I've Been Reading - Novelpalooza!

I've been on a fiction bender lately. 51QWTugZNbL._SL500_AA240_ I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and for some reason just dove into five novels in the last six weeks or so. I think it is all thanks to Ron Brinkmann and our visit to his office at Amazon in Seattle where we got to just grab a few books. One of the books I chose was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. It was a fast read, but I was about four steps ahead of the main character and got a bit bored waiting for her to figure stuff out. But I finished it and it got me going for more fiction. 

Though I did detour back to non-fiction for a minute with The President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler. 51I3SRr-5PL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU02_He was on The Daily Show and I love reading behind the scenes type books of almost any nature. It's a straightforward story, told in a factual, almost dry manner. But the stories are so juicy and gossipy about our presidents that it's a blast to read. 

The next book I read was This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. It had been high recommended in a few different magazines and I picked it up. It took no time to read as I just didn't want to put it down! The writing was inspiring, I read a section out loud to Kurt that had made me laugh.


The story is about four siblings who come together when their father dies to sit shivah even though they aren't particularly religious. The story is told through the 2nd youngest brother who's marriage is falling apart. The chapter where he describes finding his wife with another man is so painful and funny. I now want to read more of his books.

After whipping through that we were at the bookstore before a movie the other day and I saw a table full of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson. 51jrZIwf70L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU02_I picked up the first one and could not put it down. I read for hours at a time and really enjoyed not having any idea where it all was going to lead. It's a mystery with about three different crimes or problems to solve. It also made me want to go to Stockholm! 

Once I finished that first one, I had to run right out and pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire -- the second of three about the same characters. 518neKLh1HL._SL500_AA240_ I whipped right through that one as, again, you just have no idea where these unpredictable characters are going to take you. There are more puzzles to solve, though the story wasn't quite as straightforward as the previous. That didn't stop me from devouring it.

After that, a friend recommended The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Wow what a great, fascinating book. Another one I could not put down. I started reading it right before I left and got almost to the end on my long flight from LA to London. Then I finished it the first night when I could sleep for an hour. 51bYzbtXn2L._SL500_AA240_I was so bummed to finish it! I read a bit about the author and it's her first novel and she followed the advice to "write what you know." She grew up in Jackson, Mississippi and her family had a black house maid. The book is about a white woman in the early 60's who ends up writing a book about black house maids with the help of a group of black women in Jackson. It's tense and touching and written from the point of three different women, two black and one white. I highly recommend it. I'm sure the movie is being worked on already.

After finishing The Help I had to go to a bookstore and find something else to read on my long flight home tomorrow. I was hoping to pick up Pat Conroy's new book South of Broad but it's not in stores in the UK yet. Instead I bought American Wife by Curtis Sitenfeld. I look forward to that on my long flight home in which I can't sleep.

If It's Thursday It Must Be Belfast

You may know I'm in Belfast for work this week, left Tuesday afternoon, will be back on Saturday afternoon. 2.5 days of travel, 2.5 days of work. This is a long haul short stay, but it's not the shortest I've had to do for work. 

Once I flew to London from LA on a Friday night, arrived Saturday morning, flew home on Monday. That was on Alien 3 and I had to deliver a servo motor for their last day of shooting. That was a wild and super fun weekend. I think I barely slept and spent all of my £200 per diem, which at that time was almost $400. FUN!

On the first round of John Adams in 2005, I flew to Virginia a few times for tech scouts and meetings. We were finishing up on Memoirs of a Geisha and didn't have much time. So once we took the red eye from LA to Dulles/Richmond VA, arrived at 7am, scouted and had meetings, then got back on the plane at about 6pm and flew home to LA. Dude. That was challenging.

Here's the thing -- I'm a great traveler. Ask anyone. My only travel drawback is I can't sleep unless I'm fully flat. Really it's a high class problem that I'm not complaining about because the only way I know I had the "problem" is by traveling a lot! I just know when I have to take these great work trips, I'm going to be tired until I can sleep properly and just plow throw it.

So while this trip involves a hotel room for three nights, yesterday was pretty craxy for day one of this quick trip. We arrived at London Heathrow at 7am, had coffee, did all the transfers, etc and then waited for our flight at 10:55 to Edinburgh. We landed in Edinburgh at 12:15 and went on a scout of one of the locations. We were there for about two hours then drove to Glasgow and got on a plane to Belfast. We arrived here at about 6:30 and checked into the hotel. Whew. That was a day.

I posted on Facebook and Twitter, but for you non FB and Twitter fans, here is where we were scouting yesterday:

They crack me up.

Dinner at the Crown Liquor Salon (love that title) of Posh Fish and Chips and a Guinness.



Then back to the room to put on PJs and hit the hay. I slept like a log for three hours then was quite awake for an hour (finished my book) then slept like a log for another three hours until my wake up call.

So happy to be here and am really looking forward to being here for more than two days in the future.

Have a mentioned how grateful I am to have this job?

Being Inspired

I've been reading this slim little book I picked up a while back about the next five years. What will I be doing? Where will I be in my life? It feels good to re-inspire myself in the areas I've been saying are important, but haven't done much about.

There is a quote by EB White:
I get up every morning both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult.

I love that attitude.

Another quote by Rob Brezsny made me perk up:

This may be the turning point your grandchildren will tell stories about years from now: the time you leap over the abyss to the other side of the Great Divide and begin your life in earnest. On the other hand, this moment of truth may end up being nothing more than a brief awakening when you glimpse what's possible on the other side of the Great Divide, but then tell yourself, "Nah, that's waayyyy too far to jump." In that case, your grandchildren will have to be content talking about what delicious cookies you used to bake or what your favorite sports team was. It will all depend on how brave you'll be.

Armand Hammer said:

It's easy to come up with big ideas. Just think of something that everyone agrees would be "wonderful" if it were only "possible" -- and then set out to make it possible.

I'm the one who says to people, friends, family "Anything is possible, you can do anything you want to do." I believe it so strongly and yet find I hold myself back a lot as well in some areas. So while it is true: you can do anything, anything is possible, it still takes courage and conviction and effort! I've got to put it out there, just START. 

There will never be a better time than now.

What am I waiting for?

What are YOU waiting for?

Weigh In Wednesday

Bird onscale Scale said 186 every day this week. Talk about maintaining! I was encouraged, actually, because it did not fluctuate up at all. Now I'm working on the down slope and eating less during the day and less at each meal and more of the very good stuff -- whole grain pasta, lots of spinach and greens. I've been eating corn flakes for breakfast and that seems to be helping too, instead of the shredded wheat. When it cools off, I'll be happy to have oatmeal with flax seed meal and honey again. YUM!

Exercise? Not so much, just busy around the house, which doesn't really count, but there you go.

Soon I'll be off to my HBO job in Northern Ireland. The eating is going to be awfully challenging because A) I'll be out of my comfort zone and you know how I am about comfort eating and B) there will be yummy things to try. However, I have gotten really good at NOT eating on set except for specific meal times and then just having something like soup for dinner and going to bed. I'll will do the same on this project.

Enjoy this little break of cooler weather, I am!

Back To School

It's Labor Day weekend and I'm looking at next week like Back To School starts on Tuesday. I've had a great summer, traveling, blogging, meeting new people, being very social and out there. These last two weeks I've spent like I was 17 again, squeezing out my summer vacation as much as possible -- sleeping late, staying up late, watching tv, going to movies, and doing a minimum of "work" on my personal projects. It'sbeen an interesting time as I've wrestled with myself: half LOVING my "sleep late/lazy summer vacation" and half loathing myself for Not Getting More Done. Why do I punish myself for living the life I've always wanted? (ie freelance and not working all the time?) Why are people so weird? And by people I mean me?

Anyway, I am actually looking forward to getting up early again and focusing on more specific creative ventures. I've done much to move Safety Graphic Fun forward and will continue to do so because I really love it. There is also much fun writing to do. FUN! But as any of you who are writers know, writing can be challenging at times too. 

And while September will be mostly personal work, there will be a bit of paying work as I get ramped up for the new job that will shoot in October/November. I'm pleased, as ever, to get paid to travel to another country to work. It all became real to me as I got a phone call and email from the production office in Belfast asking for info for my work Visa. Oh yeah, I'm going out of town! I have to start thinking of clothes I'll need and how much to pack and etc etc. I'll also have to remember that old film biz adage: "It's LOcation, not VAcation," but that doesn't mean it's all work and no play...

And in regard to actual school, here is a photo of Jen's Bench at Seabury (the one in the middle):


Have I mentioned I love Seabury? I believe they keep the reflecting pool and fountain filled and working all the time now. I wish it were when we were there. I want to just slip into this cool and relaxing picture and rest under the jacaranda tree, listening to the gentle splash of the fountain. Ahhhh. I always loved going back to school in Makawao.

Weigh In Wednesday On Thursday

Red-belly-weight-740529Today the scaled said 187.

I'm hovering/maintaining. Okay, good to know I can maintain a certain weight. But the idea is to weigh less. I wonder why I'm not losing more weight...what can it be? hmmmm....Oh I know! There is still too much food intake! Right, right.

I'm in summer vacation mode. Sleeping in till 7 or 8 (which is LATE for me!) and going to bed past midnight (which is LATE for me!), reading a lot, doing minimum amounts of officey/worky related things. Mostly I'm trying to stay cool in the hot and smoky air. (We don't have air conditioning.)

I've had much more green stuff in the last week or so, and I can always tell how much better I feel when I do. I had dinner out last night and ate a few meatballs, which on one hand were delicious and on the other hand kinda gross and too fatty. I was shocked SHOCKED! I tell you, that I felt that way about meat. What a pleasant surprise. Funny though, I ate a hot dog the other day without batting an eye. Hmm.

I will keep making healthy non-meat and non-dairy items to store in the fridge so I don't have to fire up the stove every day. Maybe gazpacho for dinner...that would be perfect.