Kelly In Catty

This blog is Kell's attempt to keep in touch with friends far away who complain that I don't e-mail nearly enough.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

What's the Magic Word?

Sorry for not posting in so long - life has been busy. I'm trying to get my life in order so I can go on vacation with Jason, the world's cutest 5-year old. This means, of course, every client needs something immediately, new clients are popping up, and the perfect location for my next photo shoot has to change eleven-teen million times... In short, I'm pretty sleepy.

Despite this, I went to my sister's house to deliver birthday presents to my three nephews. Jason got a DVD, TJ got a magic kit, and Ian got some cool Harry Potter artwork for his wall. (am I not the coolest aunt you can think of?) Anyway. TJ flipped over the magic kit. He tore it open, and within seconds, he was discovering the false bottom on his new magic hat, and wondering what the pom-poms and various bits of colored string would be used for.

Instead of reading the instructions - or even watching the enclosed video tape, however, he tried to create magic out of sheer will.

I went into the kitchen to watch the imagined fireworks as he pointed the wand at the floor and yelled, "Alakazaam!" "Abracadabra!"

My sister and I started singing a song from an old Bugs Bunny Halloween cartoon, "La dee, dee, dah, dah dah....Abraca-Pocus! La la la la dee dee dee dah... Pocus-Cadabra!" TJ continued, faith upheld, that something - ANYTHING might happen when he yelled "Hocus Pocus!"

I looked at Jason. "Do you know any magic words?" He immediately said, "Pleeeeeeease?" Aw. How cute.

The funny thing is - he then looked at my sister and asked, "Mom, what does Please mean?"

Funny. I'd never heard anyone ask that before... But it was a good question.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Supersonic, Idiotic, Brain-Affected, Disconnected Dummies

Note: I normally try hard not to use this blog as an excuse to be mean, but sometimes... The truth is harsh:

I had an odd flashback several years ago. I was visiting Pittsburgh, when I remembered this funny little song my sisters and I sang to each other. It went something like this: “Yooooou are a Supersonic, Idiotic, Brain-Affected, Disconnected DUHMEEEEEE.” The memory made me laugh so hard I called my sister. When she answered I said, “Hey, know what? You’re a Supersonic, Idiotic, Brain-Affected, Disconnected Dummy!” We were in stitches for a long time.

The great thing about the song is – it was more fun to sing than to actually MEAN… Which is very likely the reason why my parents didn’t object to the number of times it was sung in our house…

I never thought I’d actually THINK of someone in these terms – until yesterday.

My company is interviewing for several positions: Graphics artist, Sales staff, etc… I’m not really responsible for getting involved in the first round of interviews, but I happened to walk through the lobby while a bald man waited to be ushered into the conference room. “Kelly?!!” he asked. I looked at him. He got my name right, but the Mental Rolodex rendered no matches. I had no idea who this guy was.

He explained he was a studio hand at my former company. He named my former co-workers… I sort of vaguely remembered…. But would never have recognized him if he hadn’t recognized me. I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I took a wild stab in the dark. “Did you used to have hair?” He exclaimed, “Yeah!” “Great!” I said. “Nice to see you.”

I later confessed to my secretary that I didn’t really remember him. She glared. “What do you mean? You said that thing about his hair!” That was only logic. I told her that most people with a shaved head used to have hair. She was incredulous. “You’re a good liar.”

Five minutes later, my boss walked into my office. “So you know that guy?” I looked at my watch. “He’s gone? That was a quick interview.” My boss explained that as this gentleman played his reel, he mentioned, “Oh. Since Kelly is here, I guess I ought to tell you I was only the on-camera talent for this commercial.” My boss asked, “Not the producer?”


She explained the commercial to me. As it turns out, it was a series of commercials I had written several years ago. They were PSA’s about healthy living. Knowledge of how I knew this guy suddenly returned. He was a studio worker who was kind of overweight. We needed someone who looked like a candidate for heart disease, so we asked him to be in the commercial…. He agreed. I didn’t’ personally produce this spot, but I DID write it…. And worked with the man who actually DID produce it. I guarantee you; it wasn’t the fat guy on screen!

I laughed and laughed. It’s kind of flattering to know that my work is gracing someone else’s demo reel. It’s sad too – but very, very funny.
Needless to say, my boss was so disgusted by this admission, she dismissed the applicant. Of all the supersonic, idiotic, brain-affected, disconnected dummies in the world, the one who stole material that I had worked on actually walked into my office, wanted to claim it as his own…. What a small world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

An Unfortunate Series of Forgetfulness, Lighting Fiascoes and Chickiebooms

I’m going to tell you this story – not only because it’s personally embarrassing – but because the inadvertent results of my carelessness were so ridiculously beneficial – which goes to show all things DO work together for good – at least some of the time.

My friend Alison is a single mother with two young kids. She lives with her eccentric single father who once played in my band. Post-divorce, Al is trying to get her life in order. I’m very proud of her. She’s a wonderful art photographer who is just beginning to delve into the world of studio photography. Fine. She rented a small studio in a bad section of town. She and her studio-mates bought some equipment – three lights and other various photography studio stuff.

I would like to note here that owning lights does not necessarily make one a studio photographer, any more than my buying a tractor would make me a wheat farmer. So without going into painful detail, Alison’s first foray into portraiture didn’t go so well. She was feeling a little defeated, and flew to her uncle’s house in California for a long weekend.

Al called last week asking if she could borrow my digital camera – because it takes larger photos than hers. Fine. She said she was flying home late Monday night, would swing by my house and pick it up.

The embarrassing thing is – that even as Alison’s plane landed, I was out with Dave. I had completely forgotten about her – and to make a long story short, by the time I got to my phone, there were six frantic “Kell, where are you?” messages on the cell phone I left in my car…. The last said, “I’m going home now… I don’t know what else to do…” However, not all of the messages were from Alison. In a frantic attempt to salvage her already tenuous feelings of professionalism, Alison called Dave (who, of late, frequently doesn’t even have his phone turned on) AND our band mate, Fran. Fran called, worried that I had unsuccessfully train spotted…

Fran’s phone number was on a list on Al’s dad’s refrigerator. Al’s dad had left the band, so the phone list wasn’t the most current. Alison dialed. The number USED to be Fran’s. But was now his ex-wife’s… And late that night, Fran’s ex-wife answered.

Ms. Ex-wife is not the friendliest woman in the world. When I first joined the band, I thought it was odd that she never wanted to meet me… I figured that if a woman joined a band, all the wives would want to meet her… But no, in the last days of their co-habitation, Fran’s wife never came to gigs, never poked her head into rehearsal to say hello, and never seemed remotely curious to meet the new chick in the band.

Clearly, she wasn’t interested in meeting the daughter of a band member, either. So of course, she didn’t recognize Alison’s voice on the phone. Upon hearing a youngish chickieboom asking to speak with her ex-husband, the sleepy woman got short, said, “you’ve got the wrong number,” and hung up. I’m sure that was an interesting moment. I may have liked to be a fly on the wall – just for that moment.

I called Alison at 6:30 the next morning and arranged to drop off equipment at her studio. When she told me about Fran’s ‘Ex, I asked if I could tell Fran. Regardless of the fact that I’ve barely met the woman, and have no right to judge her, I was amused at the thought of that phone call. Fran was equally pleased. He asked if I would tell Alison he owes her a beer.

As I mentioned, the embarrassing photography incident ended well. I was able to set up Al’s lights for her – and he photos were all the better for it. She thanked me – a lot – “Don’t worry,” I said, “Someday, I’ll need you to fund my projects!”

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Chameleon Advice, Coors Light, and Cortical Inhibition

I'm not sure what possessed me to say yes when my friend Becky asked me to go to a concert last night. It was two hours from my house. And I was already exhausted. I'd played late on Friday and was in Philadelphia/Cherry Hill all day Saturday for work... "Just cancel, Kelly!" Dave is always so black and white about these things. It just wasn't that easy -I don't see Becky that often, The reason for that is that I have a habit of cancelling on her a lot. Also, this band is one of her favorites. She's seen them eight times - and can get lost in their music, much like I can get lost in Bruce Cockburn's... Cancelling might be like a big musical insult. To make matters worse, two other people already beat me to the punch and cancelled. So the guilt associated with cancelling somehow beat out my overwhelming desire to cancel.

The reasons I SHOULD have cancelled: Beck called me last week and said, "Um, you can ride back with some people you don't know because I'm staying in Lancaster to see another show on Sunday." Ugh. This night was shaping up oh-so-nicely!

The point of all this is that I wasn't excited about going to the show - it was a band I didn't know very well. I was with people I didn't know very well. AND - there were TWO opening acts - AND a good half hour wait between acts. I was nodding, so I told Becky and entourage I was going to walk around for awhile.

While out walking, I must've been a real sight - because some stranger at the bar stopped me and told me it couldn't be THAT bad. I explained that my band had played the night before and I had been on the road all day and wasn't sure why I agreed to come... but I wasn't really in a bad mood, I was just really tired. The stranger offered to buy me caffein. I said thank you. Then something odd happened. Out of the sheer blue unknown, He asked me if I had children.

"No. I don't," I replied. He then asked how old I was "Thirty-four." I was feeling a little weird by now. Doesn't everyone know not to ask a lady her age - particulary a really really tired one? "Man," said the stranger. "You shoulda had kids a lot earlier. That way you wouldn't be so old when they grow up..."

I rememberd something a social worker once told me: At moments like this, humans experience two different types of anger, Flash and Chosen. Flash anger is that involuntary feeling of rage we experience right after an incident happens... Like right after your grandmother tells you your "loo-loo" is getting large, or right after you realize you've been stepped on by a horse, or the moment some jerk cuts you off on the Schuylkill Expressway - or you've someone at work borrowed your camera cable and didn't return it (again). Flash anger lasts from 5- to 10-seconds. That's it. That's the body's gut-level response to negative stimuli.

After ten seconds, chosen anger takes over. If we remain in a state of rage, it's because we've chosen to remain in a state of rage. If rage isn't on the menu, one may instead choose to take a deep breath, count to ten, or do whatever it takes to gain perspective.

I hate having this kind of knowledge because it makes me accountable. But since it's true, I have to go with it.

I let the comment pass - in the words of sage Obi-Wan Kenobi, "This little one wasn't worth it." Even though I felt this man's opinion, freely given at the Chameleon Club that night was incredibly ill-timed, and given without knowledge of my past, I just smiled. I took a long sip of the caffein he so generously bought me, and said, "Well, you may be right, but it didn't seem to work out that way."

It was a good decision. I didn't take me long to realize that this man wasn't being intentionally rude. He simply had no cortical inhibition! (I asked a doctor friend of mine about the clinical term for someone who speaks without thinking... "Oh," he told me, "That's Cortical Inhibition...")

Before this gentleman at the bar even knew my name, I knew all about his ex-wife, her third husband, and his two children. "My daughter wanted to live with me because she didn't like the things her mom was doing. Me? I only get a little rowdy on the weekends, and why not? My kids are with their mom! In fact, I go through about a case of Coors Light a week, but that's okay, because it only costs about twenty bucks. That's two hours of work for me. I can afford that...."

While wondering if Coors Light came in flash and chosen varieties, I thanked the stranger for the Coke and went back to Becky, who, at the time, was choosing band-induced hypnosis...

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I'm Singing The Wrong Bruce

I feel like I've arrived as a musician. At last night's gig, someone came up to me and said, "I really enjoyed the way you did that Bruce Cockburn song..." It was a great accolade, but we didn't play any Bruce Cockburn songs... Remember? I'm the B.C. Archivist. I would know. We did play "Tougher Than the Rest," written by a different famous Bruce... However, unless you believe in Kurt Vonegut's sytem of artificial relatives, two people with the same given name does not necessarily mean they're related...

And Bruce? (either one of you) - If you have an unjustified feeling of displacement this morning, I'm so very sorry.

We've played this particular restaurant for over a year, so it sort of becomes like a second home - where all your old friends come to see you and say "Kelly, I actually have to drive all the way up here to see you..." It makes me want to write them songs... Or add more Grateful Dead to our rep - or something.

Last night, TWENTY of my friends, colleagues, and superfans showed up - which is unprecedented. So much so that the owner not only gave me Mardi Gras beads, but he paid for my drinks, which he only does when he's incredibly pleased with the night's count. So not too shabby, eh? (Audrey, I think this means you're forgiven for setting that placemat on fire! ha ha)

The other funny thing about the evening was Jake, my boss' son. He's five, and the polar opposite of shy. He told me Scott's dobro sounded like Gary from Spongebob Squarepants. Between songs, he'd run up to me and ask questions like "What's that little tiny guitar?" ("It's a mandolin, Jake!") - or simply tell me something random like "Kelly! My cat Hammy barfs in the basement!" ("Yeah, when mine was still alive, she barfed on my rug sometimes - Wanna talk about this more, or should we sing another song?") Jake opted for the song, and decided to shake his little booty. While he frenetically danced around the restaurant, someone noted, "Yeah. Kids are great for about an hour, then all you wanna do is kick 'em outta the bar..."

I wonder if Bruce Cockburn ever had gigs like that.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


I work for a small company of around a dozen employees. Recently, we re-branded. When I say re-brand, I mean - every thing and everyone is not what we used to be. We got a new logo, new stationery, new web site... and a good number of us got new titles.

I’m not big into monikers, nomenclature, or other various shingles. Where it’s nice to have a title of authority, I think it’s by far more important to do good work, perform in good faith, and let others discover my genius on their own, sans influence. But alas. My job description is preceded by the term “Senior.”

The people above me have been given the following tags: “president,” and “Vice president of Sales and Marketing.” My lateral coworkers are now “Directors of” or “Managers.” The other day, I had to laugh. We were all in a staff meeting, introducing ourselves to our new intern (Despite the fact that he drives a nicer car than all of us... his title remains ‘intern’). Each employee introduced him/herself by name and title: “I’m CEO...” “I’m the President,” “I”m the VP of Sales and Marketing,” “I’m Senior Producer,” “I’m the Director of AV,” “I’m the Director of the Design Dept.,” “I’m the Office Manager....” etc... It made me laugh. What better position than to be one in an office of Kings and Lords?

Everyone barring two employees had an important title. I work in a company with TWO subordinates! AND! One of them quit a couple of weeks ago! So - I ask - are my coworkers Directors By Default, seeing that most of them only manage themselves in their departments of one? Is this room-to-grow-wishful-thinking? Hard to say.

Here we are, however, finding ourselves in our little offices of our creative company with grandiose titles.... Titles that seem to be reminiscent of much larger and much stuffier corporations.

I have amused myself, in the Office, by changing all of our titles to what they should rightly be. I, for example, am Empress of Production. We also, in my world, have a Grand Poobah, Queen Mother, Duke of Conquest, and Overlord of Design. I haven’t thought of any titles for the Office Manager, but give me time. It’ll be a good one.