Monthly Archives: February 2012

Aside

Amazon Amazon Amazon. You have been holding out on me. You give me suggested books on raising chooks in my back yard, but you don’t tell me about I felt Awesome, Moxie’s kickass book of needle-felted goodness?

http://www.amazon.com/Felt-Awesome-Tricks-Needle-Poked-Projects/dp/B0057DBNB0/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330520459&sr=1-1

So so disappointed in you, Ammerz. (And can’t wait until the book arrives.)

Oh Amazon Algorithm Redux

Caution: Contents May Be Hot

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Isadora, watch out!!: Scarves — Project 2

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Caution: Falling Stnadards!*

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Many of the writers I know have probably heard this story: The poet William Stafford wrote a poem every day, first thing in the (very early) morning. Someone one asked him what he did when he found himself unable to produce, and he said, “I lower my standards.”

Which seems like a good philosophy to have when embarking on a year of crafts, too. So I’ve lowered my standards for today. The activities I was planning to undertake in a great blur of motion have been postponed for varying lengths of time. It’s not so much I’m lowering my standards for today’s craftiness, but I’m giving up the thought of cramming about four projects into one day so that I can have the most perfectly awesome guest room/craft room when I have a houseguest in two weeks. I went out yesterday and did some shopping and walking around with my friend, and the foot that has been giving me trouble has been hurting nonstop since then (even the spellbinding Ira Glass didn’t manage to make me unaware of the skeletal rebellion going on). So the sanding, priming and painting frenzy I planned is off. I do need to make room for the kitchen table and headboard I’m getting delivered on Tuesday, and I will write a post about my project of the week and I will take some photos to submit to the art show that already has my application. Even that seems like a lot right now.

Fortunately I have some projects coming up that are perfectly doable while lounging on the couch.

*Hahaha, just saw my typo on the header line. I’m keeping it!

Warning: angelic wardrobe malfunction

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The success of my agenda for the day sorta depended on me leaping up the moment I awoke and doing so many things so fast that I am but a blur to common mortals.

Yeah, that happened. (Not)

I’ve been awake for 3 1/2 hours and have had two large iced coffees, organized meds for the week, spent a long time on a site that sells canes (a sign that I am discouraged about chronic foot pain and am taking the family motto to heart: Panic early and often. Plus planning ahead for old age, as I am vain and do not want drugstore canes.)

I was out and about most of yesterday, meeting up with a friend for lunch, some store exploring and then dinner. I had a ticket in the evening for Ira Glass’s talk on story and radio. Two fantastic presentations on creativity in two days — not bad! Ira talked about the things that make up a good story and a good radio presentation, and one of the things he kept coming back to is a sense of movement. This happened, which led to this, and this, and this is what happened next. He talked about Scheherazade and the 1001 Arabian nights, and how it was narrative suspense that not only saved her life but restored her husband, the king, back to sanity, which returned when he began having empathy for the people in the story. Ira described Scheherazade as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which of course I loved.

One of the things he said that struck a spark was that you had to make your story, or creative endeavor, first and foremost to amuse yourself, or it would never have that power for others. I write for a living, and it’s definitely ephemeral material, but I do frequently amuse myself, and I’m grateful that I’m allowed to do that.

A fascinating fact from last night: Everyone knows the story of how Van Halen demanded in their concert rider that there be bowls of M&Ms in the dressing room, and all the brown M&Ms had to be picked out, and this is always used as an example of excess and diva-like qualities. Ira said this was in fact the opposite: that the band’s equipment is reliant on quick setup and teardown, but procedures must be followed to the letter for the safety of the band, the crew, the audience. Brown M&Ms are the band’s canary in the coalmine — if there are brown M&Ms in the dressing room, they know the venue didn’t read the rider or half-assed it, and safety measures may also have been laxly followed or not followed at all. LOVE that story.

Speaking of storytelling, I’m not sure I did that evening justice, but it was full of terrific info and cool counterpoints to the Elmo documentary. It’s great to load up on creative explorations at the beginning of this year-long project.

Now I have to go do some creative stuff. Be back later today with a project.

I leave you with a random picture, which I guess could illustrate creativity gone amok: a hot mess o’ angels from the House on the Rock.

Angelic Hot Mess: the House on the Rock

I’m made of felt…and my nose comes off

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Just got back from seeing the documentary Being Elmo, which I had been wanting to see since I saw Kevin Clash interviewed by Jon Stewart. It wasn’t a disappointment — anyone who’s interested in the creative spirit definitely should see this film. I’m always fascinated by people who knew what they wanted to do from a very young age, when it’s not one of the more typical kid ambitions like astronaut or firefighter or cowboy. Like my friend Erin, who knew she wanted to be a dictionary editor from the moment she learned there was such a job. And Kevin Clash, who saw the Muppets when he was 10 and knew he wanted to be a puppeteer, and immediately started doing it. His parents were amazing, so accepting of his ambitions from the moment he hacked the furry lining out of his dad’s trench coat to make a monkey.

It’s about the joy of doing the thing you love the most, which you can see in just about every shot of the Sesame Street team doing their work. And the generosity of those who mentor others and open new worlds to them. There are scenes of Kevin meeting the man who built Big Bird and other big puppets and getting the grand tour and answers to all his questions about how the Muppets were constructed (I love the old film clips of people explaining this great new material they’re working with: FLEECE. Cue heavenly choir.) And near the end of the documentary we see Kevin showing a young girl all the exciting stuff in his own workshop and quizzing her on what she knows about the puppeteers on Sesame Street (a lot).

And we learn how Kevin took over the character of Elmo from another puppeteer (who didn’t like working with the character, who was quite different) and how Kevin re-envisioned Elmo and made him the embodiment of love. You see it so strongly when Kevin and Elmo are interacting with ill and dying kids whose Make A Wish dream is to meet Elmo. One of the people who talk about Kevin in the documentary says when a puppet is true and real, what you’re seeing is the soul of the puppeteer.

Lots of great old clips. I especially loved the ones of teenaged Kevin at the sewing machine , finishing a seam and biting off the thread. And his teenaged efforts are well constructed, Muppet-like, with tons of personality.

This is a lovely film about a beautiful soul and the many people who influence a creative life. (And it got me thinking of the fact that I knew I wanted to write from the time I was 10, and I had mentors who encouraged me and gave me opportunities, and parents who were proud and loving.) It’s a movie that makes you want to come home and create something.

I had a big dorky smile on my face for much of it. Seriously. Go.