Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Girl and Her Gargoyle on Broadway

As many of you already know, Newton and I are in New York for Book Expo America where we will be signing books later today.However, last night we went to see All The Way, a well written and beautifully acted play about LBJ as he attempts to both pass the Civil Right Act of 1964 and seek re-election. I won't give away the story line because I'd rather encourage all of you to go see the play for yourselves if you happen to be in New York. It's a great story about a significant time in American history. Yes, the play is three hours long, but it is so well done that you won't even notice the time go by. It is that good.

Afterwards Newton and I met Bryan Cranston and he was gracious enough to pause for a photo with us. In fact, he was gracious with everyone who wanted to speak with him no matter how bizarre the request (and taking a picture with a gargoyle was probably not the strangest thing he's been asked to do).  Bryan had done two shows that day and still took time to speak with everyone who wanted to meet him. I respected Bryan Cranston for his talent as an actor before I saw the Broadway show. Now I respect him for his character, as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

If Godzilla Came to Dinner

I saw Godzilla in IMAX this weekend. After I left the theater I thought: What if Godzilla came to dinner at my house? How cool would that be? IN order to make my guest feel more at home, here's a list of things I would do for him:

1. I would make a nice garlic and butter sauce for him to pour over Mothra’s head before eating him.

2. I’d also let him text at the table because it’s rude and dangerous to argue with Godzilla (Are his arms long enough to use a smartphone and see what he’s typing? If not, I’d help him because that’s what friends with long arms are for).

3. I’d laugh at his jokes, even if I don’t understand lizard language.

4. I’d let him breathe fire on the grill to light it so that he can impress everyone else at the party. (“Oh, that’s my friend Godzilla. He doesn’t need matches.”)

5. I wouldn’t make him floss, even if giant bug parts are stuck in his teeth.

6. I’d compliment him on his scales and remark that he looks like he practically just hatched.

7. I’d serve him saltwater as well as fresh, since he lives in the ocean and might prefer the salt water but want to experiment with drinking the fresh stuff.

8. He could drink as much whiskey as he wants before dinner and challenge any of the other guests to fire breathing contests (if that’s what giant lizards do for fun).

9. Most of all, I’d let him eat any obnoxious dinner guests. That would give us something to talk about while Godzilla is digesting the windbag who was monopolizing the conversation. I’d also give him a nice red wine to wash the jerk down, also.

The one thing I wouldn't do is fix him up with a giant female lizard. Those blind date things never work out, regardless of species, and I wouldn't want Godzilla to feel awkward while he was killing his dinner.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?

"Where do you get your ideas from?" has to be one of the most common questions I’m asked. I also suspect that many other writers and artists get asked this question or something similar.

First of all, it may be useful to consider that those of us who are creative individuals are not linear thinkers. The truth is, that we have a swimming pool of ideas and there are a lot of things floating around in our brains. Research has shown that creative types tend to make connections that the general population doesn’t see because the average person files information into rigid categories.

My guess (and I can’t say for sure, because I’m not the person who asks this question) is that some people believe there’s a formula for creativity. However, when things become formulaic they tend to be more predictable and therefore less creative. So showing a diagram that explains X leads to Y leads to Z means that the idea was logical in origin and not creative. I think this is why creative individuals have a difficult time answering the question. If there's a formula or rule for creativity, it's that you need to break formulas and rules in order to come up with something that's not predictable.

Sure, there are times when I can say that I read a book or saw a painting that started an idea germinating in my mind. But then that seed grows and there are so many other things fertilizing that idea and some of the fertilizer is decades old. It makes it difficult to specifically state the source.

So if you want to know where my ideas come from, here’s a list of what’s swimming in the pool of my mind from which I draw:

Literature (I read a lot and always have)
People (both personal interactions as well as generic people watching )
Art (paintings, photography, dance, music, etc.)

There are many mothers of invention. In fact, my brain is like the Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter books. I’m not usually short on ideas - just on time to develop them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Four Seasons of Nashville

Those of you looking for information about the TV show - stop reading now. Anyone else interested in the basics of Nashville weather may continue onward.

When I first moved to Nashville people told me that Nashville had four seasons, but that Spring and Fall were much longer than other areas of the country. After living here for more than two decades I’d like to clear up a few things.

First of all, Nashville does have four seasons, but they’re not the traditional ones that I remember from my childhood in Chicago. I’ve redefined these for people who are planning to visit (or move to) the area. It’s important to prepare your wardrobe and expectations accordingly. The four seasons of Nashville are as follows:

Season 1
Tourist season. This is the longest and also the time of year that locals avoid certain areas of town. It’s roughly equivalent to what some people refer to as “Summer” and may also be referred to as “hotter than @#$%@!.”

Season 2
Autumn is the season when the trees drop their leaves, despite the temperature still being “pretty @#$^# hot!”

Season 3
Nashville has a season I like to refer to as “colder with occasional glimpses of winter.” Being raised in the North, it’s difficult to take this attempt at winter seriously, but I do my best to keep a straight face when people refer to it in that manner.

Season 4
Allergy season. This is when the trees bud and flowers bloom, and people who didn’t have allergies before coming to Nashville develop them.

A final bit of advice:
Remember that if you’re in Nashville when the weather forecast includes snow or flooding, it’s a local ritual to run out to the store and buy up all the milk, toilet paper, bread, and alcohol. The people of Nashville take this ritual very seriously. If you don’t follow the protocol it’s akin to breaking a mirror or something along those lines. I don’t know what bad things happen if you don’t follow the custom, but it must be pretty serious if the whole town engages in these behaviors. So why take a risk?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Annual Performance Review

This morning on our daily walk my dog informed me that she had completed my annual performance review. I thought I’d share the results so that other dog owners might know what to expect when it’s time for their annual review.

First of all, I was told that the number of slices of bacon making it all the way to the floor had declined from previous years. This was deemed as both “unacceptable” and “needing improvement.”

Secondly, she cited the numerous times I have asked her to go to the bathroom outside when it was raining. I was told that if I needed to urinate in the rain that I should do it myself instead of relying upon others to do my job for me.

Thirdly (and she added “while we’re already on the subject”), the fact that I close the door while urinating makes it appear as if I have a secret process that I’m unwilling to share with others. I was asked to do my business out in the open instead of acting like I had a trade secret.

She also mentioned that while my stomach rubbing technique is “sufficient in ability” on those rare occasions that I actually do my job it is also “lacking in the required level of frequency.” It was explained to me that doing one's job well is still not doing your job if you're not doing it often enough.

Finally, she advised me to stop picking up her poop when we go out on walks because she spent a lot of time choosing the right spot and she “put it there for a reason.” I was accused of undoing her entire days work by cleaning up after her.

I'm currently on a performance improvement plan. Whether you choose to change your behavior or not, I thought the rest of you dog owners might want to know the sorts of things you’ll be rated upon.