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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I've been doing some research lately on getting the creative wheels turning... Because I'm so busy all the freakin' time - it feels like I can't think an original thought between projects, photography, trying to see people - and of course, trying to stop the psychotic horse that is my life from running into that burning barn... that is also my life...

So, I thought I'd share some of my research - that can be summed up in one sentence: "Carry a notebook so that you can write things down as they happen."

If you have the time, however, here's the long form - one that I've done one workshop with one group - and will hopefully have an opportunity to do it again:

An idea is salvation by imagination.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1869 - 1959)

Creativity is not an exact science. Where it’s hard to pinpoint where inspiration comes from, we all know it doesn’t come easy… this is why our clients depend on us.
Unfortunately, they also depend on us for quick turnarounds and impossible deadlines. This is where the rubber meets the road. To be truly successful at our crafts, we need to think fast, maintaining the creative instincts that led us to our current jobs in the first place.

Drexel University is interested in this very topic, and has done some research: They can see brain activity change during highly creative bursts – but have yet to figure out where the big ideas come from – they do think, however, that your brain is can be trained to think creatively… So when you need ideas in a hurry, they’re there!

Mark Twain said, “You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”

So – Where do Ideas come from? We don't know - but the secret is – Documentation – and writing ideas down. Let's start with two ideas:

- What’s inspiring
- How to remember what’s inspiring – How to get in the habit

First, Let's talk about where to find inspiration.

1) By listening. When I was a young video producer, I wrote a commercial for a dairy that ended with the line, "To get any fresher, we'd have to refrigerate the cow!" I was killing myself trying to figure out how I could find a grocery store that would let me bring in a cow - to film in front of the dairy case. Of course, no one would do that - and I had no solutions... until the dairy client was talking about the last scene... "I don't know how you're gonna do it - put a cow in a freezer or do a cartoon or what..."

A cartoon!!!! That was my answer - and it was great. I was able to finish the spot with this little guy (and I actually got all of the credit!!!)

2) Films: I'm so inspired by Errol Morris - but I'm sure you have your own inspirations to draw from - Baz Luhrman, Julie Taymor - Just watch and learn!

3) Performers: The first time I saw Cirque du Soleil, I thought I could honestly run off with the circus... I was also amazed and inspired by the Blue Men and Stomp... These are performances that kind of stretched my understanding of what it is to be human - physically, musically, and all - showed me that my boundaries of humor and imagination needed some conditioning.

4) Dreams: I used to keep a dream journal - where I'd write down whatever I could remember when I woke up. I had it to a point where I'd often write down three to four dreams per night. I learned a lot about myself - and peeled a layer off of conventional thinking to get to the depths of creative thought. Someday, I'll write down a few of my more interesting dreams.

5) Media - TV shows, commercials, music videos... Occasionally, you find something so creative - it really gets your mind turning... current things I've liked include Pushing Daisies, the OK Go video (the treadmills) - and more.

6) Theater - The great thing about stage is that it's spontaneous, universal and mimetic... I've been inspired by everything from the set changes of "The Producers" to the off-off Broadway magic that is the Wooster Group.

7) BOOKS! - My favorites: Hard Laughter, Ella Minnow Pea, The Brothers K, Simon's Night, and Life of Pi... Just to name a few.

8) Talk may be Cheap, but it's SO valuable! Do you remember who you talk to when you're looking for some inspiration? I have some amazing friends in my life who really get my creative wheels turning! If they make a creative slip of the tongue, even better!

9) Past Events - Stories from childhood can create some beautiful universal stories... and some creative twists, and funny things that kids say.

10) Word Wiggles - William Burroughs used a cut-up method – of taking his ordinary text and cutting it into three columns arbitrarily… He then read the ideas in a new way… David Bowie often throws words into generating software that mixes them up. What he starts with may be a simple sentence – what he emerges with is a completely fresh idea.

11) The F-Words, Failure and Frustration - Ever ask what would you do differently? Take the time to write it down. Necessity is the mother of invention… When we hate things, we tend to find ways to work around them. How does this affect your creativity?It’ll help you later… in surprising ways.

12) Spinning the Web - for some resources, check out this, this, and for a little brain candy. - also love indexed, desire to inspire, the Stylephle, and Coolhunter.

Are you inspired yet?

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
-Thomas A. Edison (1847 - 1931)

Your notebook of ideas should be your pile of junk... It's a boundaryless receptical of thoughts, ideas, questions, quotes, and scraps of paper. In mine, you'll find a pile of artist photos, quotes explaining why laughter is similar to sorrow, a few taped-in tags, stickers that say "I love Holiday office parties," top ten lists, and more.

I'll end with J.R.R. Tolkien's inspiration in action - here's how he created the Hobbits: "The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination."

Just remember - Like Picasso says, "Everything you can imagine is real..."

So go create something!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Is That a Sock in your Pants - Or Are You Glad To See Me?

Ok - so this weekend I did major laundry - \and I really hate laundry more than any other household task... because it involves so many freakin' steps - collecting, sorting, washing, drying, air drying, hanging, ironing and putting away... That's too much. It's much easier to do what I do to the kitchen floor (namely vacuum with 20-year old vacuum, then sweep up what vaccuum won't suck up, then mop, then re-sweep the remaining dog hair from the puppy I gave back two weeks ago because it was so neurotic I was worried about it.)

Okay - that was a lot of information about me I've never before covered in this blog... I'm just warming you up because I'm about to tell you a story so humiliating I actually cannot REFRAIN from telling you.

At about ten AM today, I took a potty break. At ten oh-two, I left the bathroom, thinking "Something feels weird..." I excuse myself to check out what I'm feeling, thinking a bit of toilet paper got stuck where I didn't intend it to... And discovered a SOCK, static-clining to the inside of the crotch of my pants... Who KNOWS why I hadn't noticed that before.

Too funny.

In other news, I just made new business cards - they're amazingly cool. I got them from - you should definitely check them out.

Oh. And we ordered a new vacuum cleaner. It should be here in a week or so.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sushi Socks... Not Words that Go Together...

I just bought my sister these socks. Aren't they a hoot?

The Time Has Come...

I don't have anything brilliant to say today (if I ever actually DO say brilliant things) - but I had a funny conversation with my old friend, Tom - on Facebook the other day. He wrote something like, "Hey. Remember your friend in High School who gave me that mix tape of Midnight Oil? I need to track her down and thank her. She changed my life..." Tom and I worked at summer camp together - and lived about an hour and a half away from each other. (Chris - you'll think this story is interesting since you know Tom...)

What's funny is - that I no recollection of ever giving Tom a mix tape - but since he said Midnight Oil - it could only have been one friend of mine- Ximena... She got ME turned on to the band - and the wild Gyrating dances of Peter Garrett. I must have played some of it for Tom, and mentioned it to Ximena - and she must have made him a tape. What's crazier is that I found Ximena on Facebook fairly recently - She lives in the next town from me, so we've reconnected after not seeing each other since high school. (I've found a lot of people I know on Facebook. It's a weird thing for a 37-year old)

Anyway - I suggested that Tom look her up on my "Friends" list and send her a message. He told her the story of how he loved the music, went to the concert, bought a shirt, and wore it somewhere one day - when someone walked by him and said "You like the Oils too?"

Today - the Tom works for the guy who saw his t-shirt. They became friends - and now co-workers.

It's funny, isn't it? As an homage, I give you some trivia from Midnight Oil's politically infused past, care of Wikipedia:

"The band again brought the politics of Aboriginal reconciliation to the fore during their performance at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics. Then Prime Minister John Howard had triggered controversy that year with his refusal to embrace symbolic reconciliation and apologise to Aboriginal Australians and members of the stolen generations. The group performed their reconciliation-themed single "Beds Are Burning" at the ceremony with the word SORRY conspicuously printed on their clothes as a form of apology to the Aboriginal people for their suffering under white settlement, and to highlight the issue to Howard, who was in the audience at the Olympic stadium.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

All the Pup: Half the Housebroken

I've found that as long as Sophie isn't in my direct eyeline, she's probably whizzing on my rug... This is gonna be a long week. But she IS cute...

Making the Band

While the following was happening, I was much too embarassed to actually write about it - but now - in the era of television documentaries, E! Network, and reality "Making the Band" shows, I think I can talk about it...

My band emerged from a group of musicians where my husband works. They'd get together once/week during lunch breaks and play music for an hour... It began with Dave and Fran, then grew to include two other employees, "Beau" and "Joe." Beau was a member of a local folk music society, which played a lot of nursing home-type gigs. Despite the fact that Joe "swore off" playing live music in public, he found he enjoyed the camaraderie of the lunch jams. Soon, the band was asked by co-workers to play parties - and the word got out. The quartet played at local venues... and in time, I joined up.

Eventually, Joe left for health reasons (He was preposterously high-maintenance anyway), which left us with Dave, Fran, Beau, me and our new bass player, Scott.

Due to the following list of painintheassitude, we asked Beau to leave:

1) Beau's short temper: If we somehow displeased, he'd purposefully turn up the high frequency on the sound board, causing deafening feedback and discomfort to our audiences and us.

2) His cosmic "Legend in his Own Mind" ego: Once he told Dave "You know, you and I are the only professional-quality musicians in this band.

3) His penchant for reverb: Beau had a lot of recording equipment - and liked to use it... which is fine... BUT. I've said it before. The fact that I've driven a tractor doesn't make me a wheat farmer any more than having recording equipment made Bob a sound engineer... He once made a recording of a song of ours that I now jokingly refer to as "Kelly: Live from the Holland Tunnel." As a side note, he played dobro on the song - and turned it up so loudly that basically it was me and the DOBRO-DOBro-DoBrO-d-o-b-r-o - note echo effect.

4) His constant gunning for his other band: At one of our gigs, a listener approached Beau, asking for our band's contact info. Beau said, "I have a better band for you." and proceeded to try and get the guy to book his folk music society band.... nervy, eh?

5) I'll only mention one of the nasty little comments he made to mutual friends that got back to us. The rest - well, use your imagination: Suffice it to say, that after I angered him one too many times, he began referring to the band as "Pussy and the Perks".

He just had to go! Scott volunteered for the unpleasant task of asking Beau to leave the band. He sent an e-mail... I know this sounds like a wimp's approach, but honestly - if you knew him, you'd understand that it simply wasn't worth doing any other way.

Scott wrote: "There is a huge discrepancy in your musical and personal interaction philosophies and ours. Both at gigs and off-stage your speech and actions are directly contrary to the way that we perceive the group... Your combative attitude makes these 2 simple goals very hard to achieve. We have to walk on eggshells every time we are with you, hoping that something doesn’t set you off -- so you don’t walk off stage in the middle of a set, or argue with other members on stage or send off nasty emails the next day."

Well - this set off a litany of angry e-mails from Beau to each of us individually. I just didn't have the energy to go to the mats with him (again) - so asked politely in an e-mail that we simply agree to disagree and move on... What I got was a tome of an e-mail - telling me what a coward (among other things) that I was... Here's just a taste:

"Yes, I have complained confidentially to several of my friends over the recent weeks and the way I have been treated... I was looking more for advice from them, what to do, absolutely not to disrespect anyone. So whatever you are saying you are conjecturing and showing your guilty feelings. On the contrary, I have had nothing but good things to say to all of my friends at work and home about promoting the Perks – your voice, Fran’s excellent lead guitar and Dave’s exceptional banjo picking, and the neat twist of music that we have been doing."

Oh! Silly me! "Pussy" was a COMpliment!

ANYWAY - We really need to thank Beau - because he gave us residual unity... It's been a few years - and there's nothing the four of us can't work out. We've had a lot of fun throwing ideas around - and when there's a conflict, we work it out. Not to get all "Katie Holmes" on you, but the band has been an amazing, creative part of my life...

Ok - This all happened years ago... I kept the e-mails because:

1) VH1, after reading this, is sure to revive "Behind the Music" - and will want to profile us. As band archivist, I'd like to provide an accurate account of the early days, and

2) I'm a writer... Someday, someone will need this primary research material when Michael Scott gets passe.

Lately, after two or three years, both Scott and Dave have had occasion to speak with Beau... Scott recently published a bluegrass songbook (e-mail me if you're interested). Beau got the press release. He wrote an e-mail to Scott: "Hello Scott. We used to be friends, but you hurt my feelings... But I'm over it..." (tee hee). Dave e-mailed to ask about a festival his folk band used to play at... Beau sent back a note saying "Both the band and I have released CD's of original songs. Most people say they like mine better..."

It's nice to see his current band is getting the same support we used to!

Just to wrap this up (with a big pink BEAU) - Thank goodness for the jerks in our lives - they just make us more appreciative of the people we like.