Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fun: Dylan Does Christmas

Bob Dylan's new album, "Christmas in the Heart," is making news -- and the stories are making me laugh. I mean, you have to love a music review that includes the line: Dylan does make his slow, deliberate version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" sound more like a threat than a promise.

Read Ken Tucker's review. Listen to the album clip. Then you tell me: Worst album ever?

P.S. to Mike: It's good to start new adventures with old friends. And you're starting with quite a crowd. Here's to Brainzooming!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Creativity Exercises: NaNoWriMo

Sharpen those pencils and fill up the coffee cups! It's NaNoWriMo month, beginning Sunday. You can sign up now, and have a novel written by this time next month.

Or, if that sounds like too much work, here's a different exercise. A battle of the blogs. Write to Done has a list of 176 ways to become a better writer. Surely, we can do better than that. But we need to start a different list.

Today's exercise? Give me ideas for what we can list! Keep it clean, folks. Some of the CI members are under 21. And, speaking of our great group, thanks to Terri for this idea!

Hmmm. We could list ways to recharge your creative batteries. Food that makes you happy. Best books in the universe. The world's worst albums. (Ah, a hint of what tomorrow's post is all about!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creativity Tips: Go Beyond What's Required

You know, someone could have just painted Johnson County Public Library on this truck. But no. Some wonderful someone was a creative genius -- and the truck has undergone a metamorphosis. Unexpected creativity. It's a good thing.

For CI team members outside the KC metro area, Johnson County is the Kansas county I live in; I took the photo on my way to a client's office.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Am Not a Pre-Existing Condition

For a terrifying period of time, my family and I were among the working uninsured. Now, there's an experience that will change your view of the health care debate. We have to fix this system.

While we figure out how to do that, take a look at this -- my friend Bob Waldner at Concept Farm worked on it. Great campaign. And I am not a pre-existing condition.

P.S. Turn your speakers on before you visit the Concept Farm.
P.P.S. Yep, that's a Facebook picture of Bob. Looks exactly like his twin brother, so you might have been confused.
P.P.P.S. This has nothing to do with any of this, but: Happy 24th anniversary, Tom! One more year, and we're silver! And they said it would never last ...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Creativity Tips: Sounds of Silence

This past Saturday, I was alone all day. No kids, no hubby, no dog. Just me and the house. No radio, no TV, no noise. It was bliss.

Silence and solitude are so rare in my life that I had forgotten how regenerative they are. Let's not forget. This week, make time for you. And enjoy the sounds of silence.

P.S. It just seems wrong to do a tip on silence and link to a song. But, if you're going to listen to music while you're alone, you certainly can't go wrong with Simon & Garfunkel.

P.P.S. Their video is an interesting example of creativity. Two singers, one guitar. No fancy footwork. Simple beauty. And even though they had sung this a million times before, they made this version fresh. They're brilliant.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun: Halloweenies

There is nothing I wouldn't do for you, my dear CI buddies. So I searched and searched and found Halloweenies, a Halloween word search game. And, on the off chance that you're not into word games (Gasp! The Horror!), I also found the Volcano Shoot Out Molten Menace.

Think of this as the Happy Meal version of Friday Fun, with a girl's toy and a boy's toy.

P.S. Can you believe they still ask that in the drive through? "Do you want a girl's toy or a boy's toy?"
P.P.S. Can you believe I still eat Happy Meals?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Site Seeing: We Are All Connected

What a delight -- finding someone who connects seemingly disparate ideas into something unified, fascinating and beautiful. Check out The Symphony of Science.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Give Homer a Friend

Here it is! Your chance for fame, fortune and a free trip to LA. Help the lazy designers with The Simpsons create a new character. I've got one in mind ...

By the by, this is the perfect exercise to help celebrate my favorite cartoonist's birthday -- Happy Year, Mike!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Creativity Tips: Red Tape is Good

Red tape gets a bad rap. Sure, bureaucrats can use it to stop progress. But anything that can transform a sweatshirt and stocking cap into a Where's Waldo? costume is OK in my book.

A couple of quick creativity lessons here:
  1. The Where's Waldo? packaged costume cost $35. Kate got the idea to do this -- and spent less than $10. The sweatshirt was $5, the hat $1.40 and we spent $3 or so for the red tape. A tight budget isn't always a bad thing -- it can be a wonderful creative spark.

  2. We had fun making it. Way more fun than we would have had opening the packaged costume. And, as you know, creativity thrives on fun.

  3. I thought all red tape was metaphorical. Fortunately, Kate knows that if mom can't help, she can always call dad. Tom sent us to Lowe's for red electrical tape. Who knew? (Well, he knew. And that's a classic example of a good creative team. Tom was the perfect resource for this; he did all the electrical work when he finished our basement. Broaden your team and increase your chances for success!)
P.S. I know she's mine, and it's possible I'm not completely impartial on this, but isn't she adorable?

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Rant and a Rave

We'll start the week with a two-part post. First, the rave.

HUGE CONGRATS to Barb and Richard and any other CI team members involved in the Greater KC PRSA PRISM awards this past Friday. Absolutely wonderful event -- fun from start to finish. You done good.

Now, the rant. More "I'm not fat" stories in the magazines, with a woman who's probably a size 4. Are you kidding me? No, you're not. And, along that vein, this video may be a few years old, but it's a good example of why we're so messed up when it comes to appearances. Look and learn. Just because we have creative tools doesn't mean we should always use them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Fun: Caverns of Blood

Yeah, yeah. I know. Having a title for a post that uses the words "fun" and "blood" does seem a bit odd. Trust me on this. Go. Look. Play the games.

It's scary how much I love Halloween ...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creativity Tips: Appreciate Good Luck

As promised yesterday -- an explanation of why the random nature of my photograph just doesn't matter:

There are times when you're driving down the road or flipping through a book and you see it -- the very word you've been searching for or the exactly right image.

You just got lucky. Ain't life grand?

P.S. I think I forgot to include this image when I did the creativity cards series. If you haven't looked at the series, check it out below -- explains the images on my business cards. Photos by the wonderful Leslie Adams.

P.P.S. Happy birthday to LynnMyVeryBestFriendInTheWorldSinceFourthGrade. (Are there people you always identify the same way? I think everyone who knows me knows when I bonded with Lynn.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creativity Tips: Just Shoot It

When my daughter Kate was playing basketball, she taught me the famous You miss every shot you don't take philosophy. Turns out, it works with photography too. (And I hope this photo looks as cool online as it does on my screen. The bird is pretty small.)

I'd like to say I was planning this shot at Niagara Falls last week, saw the bird, yada yada yada. Truth is, I was simply shooting -- snap after digital snap. Most of the time, my focus was on the Maid of the Mist boat. Did I see the bird at all? I don't remember. And it doesn't matter*. Because I was shooting, I got it.

The basketball wisdom works for creative endeavors. So does the Boy Scout approach: Be prepared. Have your creative tools ready. And just shoot it.

*Tomorrow's post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creativity Tips: Get Out and Play!

Hi team! I'm back from Rochester and ready to rock. It's so good to see new things, meet new people. Two quick things for today ...

1. The photo is from the Strong National Museum of Play. Thanks to Tootsie for the visit! (Everyone should visit a toy museum with a fun woman named Tootsie. Put that on your bucket list.)

2. Here's "Rule of Three" inspiration from the book I started reading on the trip, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. The book starts with this great line: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." In this section, the narrator remembers how their nanny tried to console a young Laura:

"Tell me where it hurts, she'd say. Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where.

But some people can't tell where it hurts. They can't calm down. They can't ever stop howling."

Love it. Fascinating book -- I'm about halfway through, so can't give you a full critique. I've never read anything by Atwood before.

Happy Tuesday! (Absolutely no howling allowed.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Creativity Tips: Read It. Again.

Really careful proofreading is good because it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.

Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh?

So, proof carefully. But the next time you pick up a printed piece and see a typo, remember: Siht Hpapens.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fun: Last Day

My friend Matt Campbell recently lost his job (but not his sense of humor) in yet another round of layoffs. What's a person to do in this economic environment? Follow Matt's example. Laugh. And leave your mark.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Learn from Kodak

Today, I'm in Rochester, New York, to speak at the Public Relations Society of America's NE District Conference. Fun stuff -- new people, new places. Always good to travel. (And to come home.)

Since Rochester is the home of Kodak, we're going to do a photo/writing lesson today. Check out the lesson plan -- your exercise is in the "Purpose and Description of Project" section. Choose one of the assignments and go!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Creativity Tips: Make It Special

To continue down my path of creativity lessons learned from my family ... another one from my grandmother:

My brother and sister and I called our grandmother Nanny. And, with all the wonderful creativity of children, we named her cookies Nanny's Cookies. You can see I was brilliant even at an early age.

Anyway, Nanny would bring us a big box of these butter cookies in all sorts of beautiful flower shapes. And, somewhere in the box, among all those cookies, was one cookie shaped like an H, one like a J and one like an E. Harry and Eva and I would tear into that box, searching for our special cookie. And that one cookie always tasted just a little better than the rest.

The lesson: It generally doesn't take too much effort to make people feel special. What it does take is thought. And the willingness to make a little creative effort. So think about it. Make the effort. And let people know they matter.

P.S. Leslie asked for the cookie recipe. Nanny didn't write everything down, but Eva found this version. None of the versions I've tried taste exactly right. But I may just be missing my J.

Nanny's Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg -- whole
3 egg yolks
flavor -- lemon and vanilla (no amount listed)
3 1/2 cups flour
3 level tsp. baking powder
1/2 package cream cheese
Mix it up, keep in ice box for a while before baking at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
(She also used food coloring, brown and pink and yellow, but that's not listed. She separated the dough, put coloring in it, used one of those cookie presses, so the flowers came out multi-colored.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Creativity Tips: Be Clear

There are times when the most productive creative act is simple communication.

Take, for example, my grandmother. In her kosher kitchen, she kept two sets of dishes and silverware -- one for meat and one for milk.

It was important to her that these sets were kept separate. So, she made it easy on those of us who might put things away or get things out. She wrote inside the drawers and shelves:



We didn't have to think about what fork or plate went where. She made the process simple. It's the KISS approach in action: Keep It Simple, Sophie.

P.S. There's only one blog reader who remembers Sophie. Maybe two. But we can all learn from her. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the deck of cards with the scantily clad women ... or maybe about the cookies. We'll see what mood I'm in ...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Creativity Tips: AAA Creativity

Years ago, my uncle owned a tuxedo store on Troost Avenue -- Harold's Formal Wear.

Uncle Harold was a smart cookie. In the Yellow Pages, he listed the store under its actual name and under AAA Tuxedo Rentals. Why? Because if someone needed to rent a tux and looked in the phonebook, Uncle Harold wanted to be first on the list.

What are you doing to be first on someone's list? How can you become the AAA photographer, writer, plumber, IT guru? As we start a new week, consider what you can do to stand out from the crowd. And do it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Random: My Favorite Poem

This is my favorite poem of all time -- just noticed it was posted today, so thought I'd share.

Friday Fun: It's October!

Can you believe it's already October? I love this month. Many of my closest friends have birthdays this month. My wedding anniversary is Oct. 27. And, there's Halloween! You gotta love a holiday that focuses on candy.

And, since my head is on Halloween, here's a fun way to plan ahead for a creative Jack-O-Lantern that will turn the neighbors orange with envy.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Creative Query: Who Inspires You?

I'm planning a series of posts in the next week or two about creativity lessons learned from my grandmother. Lessons she probably passed along unintentionally. That got me to wondering -- who has inspired you? Are there lessons you've learned from family, friends, colleagues that could help the team?

Post your thoughts, or send me an email and I'll include your brilliance with mine*. Thanks!

*Remember, creative geniuses appreciate their own talents. I'm simply modeling good behavior. :-)