Monday, December 7, 2009

Second life

If I had a second life and it could be anything, I would be a tree. No kidding. I would want to be one of those sycamores you see along the banks of creeks. In fact, there is a specific sycamore I would want to be. Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the exact tree, but I can recall every detail. It is in the country near where I live. It is majestic and obviously really old. Its roots grasp the bank of the creek and its canopy umbrellas both the road and the creek. Its branches arch gracefully into the sky and creatures live all over her. Squirrels and birds nest in her branches and insects burrow into her bark. Holes in her trunk house owls and foxes. She harbors life and is connected in a most intimate way with the entire cycle of nature. Her arms support life and her roots recycle the dead. The knots and fissures on her body are the map of her existence and she has witnessed generation after generation come and go. She has seen the fury of floods, the agony of drought, and the icy grip of winter. Her branches toss and bend with the current of the wind but she remains rooted; a sentinel of the ages. I would like to be a tree.

Monday, November 23, 2009

National Inner Child Day

I hereby proclaim November 23 as National Inner Child Day! To celebrate this illustrious event, I created a goofy (and oddly disturbing) video... What uninhibited (but safe and legal) thing can you do to celebrate this day? video

Later I plan to spin in circles with my arms out and see what the world looks like!

Monday, November 2, 2009

New work

The Talisman (11-2-09)

I washed you away today.
I marched right in there
and gathered your things
(it’s only been seven months
since you left me last spring.)
Like a good girl
I turned every pocket
and searched every cuff
for a stray golden locket
or any small thing
that might go ker-clunk!
I shoved a determined
and boldly unclad hand
into a smelly old pocket
and locked my fingers
not on that locket
but a crusty old tissue.
Oh my GOD – ewwww!
But then… everything stopped.
I was holding you.

You always had this funny way
of using Viva paper towels
instead of a Kleenex,
like everyone else.
My heart raced away
into the past.
How long could this moment
possibly last?
Here was incontrovertible proof
that you really were there!
I clutched my newfound treasure
tightly in my hands
and held it, this sacred talisman
that could fight off
the coldest darkness of night.

Then my logical mind broke
this spell I was under
and said, “Put your faith
in a snot rag? Well geesh,
it’s no wonder!”
I chuckled and went on
with doing my chores
but before I closed the
laundry room door
I found that old snot rag
from down on the floor
and carefully smoothed
it on top of the washer.
Just in case…

Monday, October 5, 2009

My bliss led me to this...

I decided to break the cardinal rule of Photoshop - NEVER UPSCALE AN IMAGE!

Here is what happened (I am very pleased, FYI!)


For my bliss I sat in a swivel rocker on my porch, basking in the early autumn day, reading a novel and just hanging out with my dogs!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A poem within a poem - layers, baby!

invasion/Evasion (9/18-21/09)

drilling through
this tiny shield
of mitochondria and hair
my thickened skin
proves utterly defenseless
when blood and bone
are finally laid bare


tentacles spread
and form a dense web
of tangled conversations
and throw away glances
probe and prod
searching inside
until a tiny sucker
finds the perfect spot

I hold tight

wrapping around
and squeezing small
splitting the marrow
and my fabric of being
sucking my life
and slithering inside
the hollow tubes
of my very bones
lying in wait

Just run away

stretching and tearing
I fight this invasion
fleeing this nothing
that’s deep down inside
buried below
in a watery pit
but roiling and turning
catching the light

Drowning within myself

just a deep dark impression
of worlds lit with actions
that collide and splinter
leaving a trail
of chaos and pleasure
painted with pain

My beautiful hidden canvas

this alien presence
devours, consumes,
and concocts worlds
from this dark palette
a delicate faerie land
spun from the sugar
of sweet words
and gentle actions
cracking dry tunnels
with shafts of pure white

Enticed to this light

I watch as my eyes
(blind in this sun)
send out tentative
search parties of their own
tender tentacles
slipping through
paper armor
in a dance as primal
and ancient as stone

I remember

some animals regenerate
if a limb is cut off
it will grow back
with time
as my gaze trails down
to my bloody stumps
with their
stillborn tentacles
dangling limply

Previous assaults

pulsing and throbbing
I still feel the itch
of the amputation blade
severing the ties
between might and is
while this phantom limb
grows heavy in the light

Habitual denial ebbs and flows

as a new tendril sprouts
from a place deep inside
and follows this tenuous
bridge pouring forth
from my eyes
as my bones ache
where the tunnels of other
curious tentacles bore
long forgotten channels
through which emptiness

Into this ill forged fortress

I love to hate
this familiar rampart
trembles with cracks
and just when
my body succumbs
and steps to the rhythm
of twining and touching
I wake screaming
all covered in sweat
only to find
that no one’s there
my bones are still hollow
and my stumps
are still dangling
their aborted attempts
mocking this prison
I’ve built for myself

I don’t understand
How to be what you need

Monday, September 14, 2009

The steps of fear...

Booga, booga, BOO!

I noticed when I found this image that my breathing got shallower and my heart rate increased. This is one scary-ass clown! Me no likey... This image will inspire me to create many more blog entries just so I don't have to look at the damn thing any more! *shiver*

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Etsy store!

Friday, June 26, 2009

It is interesting being me

Wild Kingdom
A stranded firefly
lumbers across the carpet
dressed as an alien
marooned in a too big world
sending a chartreuse mayday
to the futile depths of space
in a desperately erratic
Morse code of sputters
splashing across a nylon savanna
guarded by purring lions
with bells on their necks
as this make-believe
tableau from Wild Kingdom
plays out an all too familiar scene
to the sounds of
the eleven o'clock news
and Mutual of Omaha
would never grant a policy
for the life of this wayfaring stranger.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

RYAN (Entire Film)

Watch this. Now! You won't regret it. I hope.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am so happy I live in the country!

snapshot (6-17-09)
rivers of light
spill through
in the canopy
snagging on
the boulder
of a house
in the woods as
a butterfly flits
a jeweled dance
in and out
scarlet leaves
to the rhythm
of cicadas

Cute kitty

microcosmic drama (6-17-09)
tiny deaths happen
at an alarming rate
in my bedroom
a slit in the window
becomes an entry into
an otherworldly realm
of luminescent lust
where yellow eyes
with emerald
rimming black
dart around the room
backed by muscles
frozen in half stride
and a pink nose
sniffs the humid air
while whiskers twitch
in an unseen current
of stimulation from
frantic wing beats that
ply the murky light
in a dance as old
as winged creatures
who search the night
for answers to questions
only they know
more often than not
taking their secrets
to an early grave of glory
in the fiery pyre
of the light they must seek

silently and softy
the killer pounces
and powdery wings
flutter in the lamplight
while collected stones scatter
from the bedside table
in an inconsequential
microcosmic drama
that unfolds
under the magnet
of the artificial sun
meant to dispel
death and misfortune
from the darkness of night
but acting instead
like a siren song
of untold promise
as hunter meets hunted
and this tiny death
isn't so inconsequential
to an egg sac
that will never cling
to the trembling underside
of a tender young leaf
and the sounds of soft purring
whisper innocently in
my bystanding ear
and soft fur well fed
on the wings of moths
presses against
the crease of my neck

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Life in geologic time (6-16-09)

Strata one
The waves slap
at my tender toes
insinuating themselves
in the whorls and ridges
of the mountain range
of my skin
feeding the greedy
roots of desire
seeking entry
to grind away
and pry my bones
into tiny
grains of sand
to be washed away
into the order
and chaos
of the universe.

I pull my foot back
and watch the water
drip harmlessly
as I wonder what’s
for dinner and hop
away into the comfort
of home where Mom
awaits and pots sputter
and hiss.

Strata two
Currents ripple
across the surface
unaware of the
riot below
as eddying mountains
flow in counterpoint
to a rush of raindrops
hurtling down
in discordant chaos
gushing wildly
in the eternal
flow of progress
as each tiny
clod of dirt
melts and flows
in a water-laden
ballet of nonchalance
journeying toward
an igneous ending
or a sandstone sunrise.

Uneasy at my core
I turn in bed and
pull a pillow
over my head and
try to agree with myself
not to ponder the meaning
of infinity
as raindrops dance
a haunting tattoo
on the eaves outside.

Strata three
Lives rise and fall
encased in stone monuments
that will eventually
grind themselves
into nothing
yet momentarily
stand sentinel
to the brief flicker of
projected reality
defined by mothers
and fathers,
lovers and daughters
worn down by water
mixed with liberal
libations of love
poured into the ground
until eventually
the soil grows heavy
and threatens to dissolve
leaving a whole
in the quilt through which
all is forgotten
and names wear away
above chiseled dates
that fall off
and run away
to join the circus
of the netherworld
deep inside
the cavern of the past.

Fish dart and twist
disappearing as one
and I swim toward them
dazzled by the ocean’s
warm embrace as I skim
the surface just above
the outstretched arms
of a coral forest
oblivious to the waves
that gently toss me
to and fro
drawing me deeper
out to sea.

Strata four
Blind eyes gaze
upon vast plains
of eroded lives
drifting in dunes
of irrelevant detritus
collected from years
of living and loving
hating and mending
only to be ground
by the forces of life
into meaningless bits
of sparkling dust
that catch in the wind
shimmering with hope
and joining others
in a silent storm of
as random shapes
take on totemic
forms in the embrace
and quiet comfort
of the lulling breeze
that gathers strength
with each new grain
that swirls and adds
to the muffling blanket
that covers the hills
and sweeps out the old
and in with the new
as the winds of change
inevitably scour clean
the agreed upon reality
of our lives
and all must surrender
to the silence
of the great cycle
that builds up ranges
from individual
grains of sand.

As I sit and watch
the evaporated ocean
fall from thick fat clouds
I see a flash of silver
from the corner of my eye
as remembered fish
jump in the waves
of my mind
and infinity beckons
because it holds
the idea of you
as this world fades down
to a pantomime of grief
but I know the waves
that slap at this shore
will bring about change
and this grain of sand
with all its unique
whorls and swirls
is but a tiny part
of the mountain of humanity
and as surely as
that long ago coral
has eroded into the beach
so will I join you
in the pantheon
of all that is
and all that ever will be
for without each tiny
cube of sand
that changes back
into a mighty stone
the greatest mountain
could never be.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sounding alike yet???

tomorrow’s amber (6-11-09)
a mosquito lands
in a sticky thread
thrashing and waving
mired in a thick
rich sap
that runs for millennia
frozen forever
in a snapshot of now

It's time for a drink I seriously think! :-)

Poison ivy (6-11-09)
old habits cling
to the surface like vines
and when the rains come
they flourish and grow
spreading in cracks
and digging in deep
tight to the wall
of the past and the old
crumbling the foundation
and taking hold
but swing that silver blade
and sever those ties
clear out the past
so the rock can breathe
and sunlight can warm
those cold old crevices
and the water of now
can wash away that “ago”
but don’t be too eager
to dig and to scrub
at the shadows that surface
like the blood of a lamb
for the sacrifice this makes
is part of the plan
and if you dig too deeply
it will stain your hand
in a way that will never leave
what marks out today
will stand out so boldly
but as the days pass
and time erodes
these bloody spots
will wither and age
and begin to seep into the stone
but if they are taken too quickly
too much of the foundation
will fall apart
and isn’t it sweeter
to gaze at a wall
that shows the mark of time
and has some history
the stories they tell are
more than just vines
but only if you are willing
to give it some time

I really am posting these as soon as they come...

The portent (6-11-09)
What the hell was that?
Could you hear it too?
There. Can’t you feel it?
Its an echo of blue.
A chasm is forming
and I must go to sleep
for it is only in slumber
this world takes me under.
What, you might ask,
is this all about?
We’re entering a world
where no one can shout.
Hush you up now
don’t wrinkle your brow.
A soft crunching munch
starts sounding and pounding
in the back of my mind.
It signals a rounding
and beckons the time
when old thoughts must leave
and new ones are mine.
Open the door
let the waves come on in
a gentle sigh falls
as great a journey begins.

I don't even know what this one means (but it sounds cool!)

Ancient Invocation (6-11-09)
Of faeries old
and faeries bold
and all the things
I’ve never told
among them all
in this great hall
stands ever gold
along the wall
a perfect likeness
and yet despite this
coming round
and through it all
to your great highness
I will bow.

It was raining - can you tell?

the rumble path (6-11-09)
trailing across
a slate gray sky
the rumble path stretches
crescendos and fades
as far as the ear can hear
rocking the world and
humming the stones underfoot
like the tails of fishes
flashing in the sunlight
and slapping the surface
a momentary glint
in a pool filled with dark
then diving away
leaving only ripples
to mark out the past

I am out of clever blog titles...

the scrying stone (6-11-09)
veins and fractures
delve deep inside
but your surface this turmoil
so brilliantly hides
as reverent hands
caress your smooth skin
so cold and aloof
yet allowing me in
gazing far inside
your hidden world
mysteries and passions
are soon understood
energy wafts
from the core I hold dear
and so your secrets
I long to hold near
open to me
these mists of the past
and allow me your visions
but please not too fast
guide me and help me
to enter your world
and give me the gift
that allows me to see
but tinge it with wisdom
and a life understood

Another day another poem...

rainy day release (6-11-09) - {this title might change...}
silver sage hands
and deep veined green thumbs
flicker and twist
here the storm comes

gutters hush
and anxieties flush
in a sluice of cold desire
raging within is a burning fire

writhing limbs
entwine and entangle
completing each other
in every new angle

pillows float by
in a cloud-laden sky
and a rhythm is reached
as the storm clouds pass by

bursting from within
the end is so close
as thunder heads mount
and lightning bolts stroke

the final release
floods window pains
mingling with all
yet ready again

gentle winds rumble
and tickle the skin
as two lovers sigh
and don’t even notice
the clouds in the sky

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

But I think I went one too far...

Sometimes you should stop while you are ahead... Here I go back into trite cliche-ville! I am only posting this one because I want to be honest about this cycle of poems... The others are MUCH better... Maybe I will tweak this one or maybe I will just let it whimper off into the sunset where it belongs...

left behind (6-10-09)
i yearn for the comfort
of your warm embrace
because the emptiness left
makes a poor bedfellow
and the harder i try
to put on this face
the farther i fall
away from this grace
i have carved for myself
and everywhere i look
i can still see your face
and cannot escape
from this hollow place
you left behind

today is the first day
i did not cry and i yearn
for the comfort
of the day i can say
i cannot remember
the last time i cried
for someday i know
the tears will be
left behind too
and that doesn’t mean
i don’t love you
it just means
i will no longer be
and no longer see
myself as the one
left behind

When you're on a roll...

superstition (6-10-09)
hooty owls cry
in the dread of night
thrice heard but
never forgotten
merely searching for love
or defending a nest
but inspiring fear
in the listening ear

how many times
did the lonely owls call
disproving that myth
before you died
and left us all?

on this dread night
as the bull frogs moan
and the hooty owls cry
tiny insects
fly headlong
into a flickering flame
victims of instinct
and harbingers of
nothing more
than an insatiable
quest for the
comfort of light

Why stop...?

to end a thirsty night (6-10-09)
etched and echoed
in subtle shades
of blue on black
darkness falls
to sheets of light
by a symphony
of croaks and moans
punctuated by the silk
of distant rumbles
as storm clouds skulk
across the hills
and gentle breezes
caress the trees
to the plippity tap
of lazy drops
soaking the sand
and spreading relief
as insect melodies
weave an alien song
to the beat of the night
and the sponge of life
sucks away this drought

And finally a little rhyme time

sycamore song (6-10-09)
twisted and gnarled
shaped by the wind
your fibrous arms
sway and bend
in a lover’s dance
of arches and roots
dappled shade
passes underfoot
and your bark tells
of stories seen
and others things
that might have been
protect me from
this world tonight
as try I may
and try I might
to see the world
in your loving light

I like my new stones! :-)

singing with the stones (6-10-09)
suspended on chain
and humming with strength
you beckon me closer
your truths once again
dazzling my eyes
with blind memories
of secrets untold
and vague shimmering
as futures unfold
in mountains of time
all worn down to nubs
yet building again
in resurrections of life
and these ashes of mine

See what happens when you open the gate???

resurrection (6-10-09)
(was that a sigh
in the darkness of night
or the winds of change
blowing again…)

crystal fingers lift
from the cradle of dark
prisms of life
and light will ignite
in a thousand jagged sparks
as flesh meets with stone
and rock becomes bone
in an ancient dance
as myriad as life
unfolds in the crease
of the breast of the night
and a new life is borne
on the wings of the light
that bounces and plays
in the lives of our days
a resurrection of time

the circle has been found
your time has come round

Tom and Jerry!!!!

Click the title of this post to go to a cool blog about Tom and Jerry!

Amazing hand art

Cool - you should look for the book "Hanimation" if you like this...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stolen from Lawrence Marshall

Just watch this!

Stolen from Aaron Springer

Who in turn stole it from YouTube! This is just too perfect not to share. Thanks Aaron. :-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Senses (hmmm....)

the air i breathe (6-8-09)
honeysuckle jasmine
pig shit and pollen
the world whirls
and swirls in
a thick soup
of unmade memory
tendrils of life
inhaled and changed
nourishing choking
and cleansing
rooting forever but
blooming tomorrow
as the wind rushes by
in the current of time
and a long
forgotten seed
sprouts in the mind
as an unseen
molecule of memory
bursts in vivid light

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

An unexpected visitor

the mourning dove (6-2-09)
you come to me
from a clear blue sky
in a flurry of feathers
and a jacket of fur
(lined with a tooth)
your heart beats
the rhythm of life
a song in the hand
of a tone deaf composer
as your infinite energy
mingles with mine
a symbol of peace
and divine transformation
so fragile
yet stronger than time
you left me
the gift of a tiny feather
an emblem of power
and grace without end
but the legacy you leave
is a life touched forever
and a journey through grief
so hard fought yet true
sweetened by love
(yet still missing you)
coming full circle
as the moon shines unseen
in the heat of the day
while one life must end
for another to bloom
in the light of a dove
in the palm of my hand

Inspired by this event (but the dove did not die - that refers to something else in the poem...)


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What if you wanted to create impossible things?

Can you make a ton of stainless steel balance on a small ball and rock in the breeze? Can you create the structure of a diamond molecule where the atoms float in the air and you can walk through it? Can you represent the 8 minutes it takes the light of the sun to reach the Earth using metal and confining your representation to a gallery? Can you make floating sculptures? Tom Shannon did...

Can't afford an instrument? So what can you do?

And be sure to click the link at the top of the video to check out the entire TED site. Probably my favorite site for inspiration on the entire web!

Yet another example...

Here is a great example of a complicated idea that has been packaged interestingly for a specific target audience, but still has appeal to those not in the target audience...

Wow! Now this is kinda cool!

Give them your $$$

Creative approaches to problems always works better!

Spider reproduction explained

This is a great example of how you should approach your research project. Don't tell us about the subject, show us!. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just work it out however you can

moving on

green light bounces
and shimmers
as rays of water
transformed into light
fill the shadows
tracing happy patterns
in the darkness
that skitter from
my touch

birdsong beckons
from distant shores
and the rocking of this boat
takes on a hypnotic trance
that feels like contentment
yet drips with colors
reflected from the past
in a hall of mirrors
where each vision
bends a little
around the next
until the original
is no more

the lids of my eyes
grow heavy and weak
fragile shades against
the storm of memory
that beats against this
placid hull
full of sights and sounds
and smells
which can only be conjured
in the mind
oblivious to the light
and song and feel
of the world outside

but the glorious forms
of these daggers of light
tattoo my eyes
with the reality of now
cracking this case
around my heart
in which I lug
the memories
of the dead
until I can no longer
tell where memory stops
and reality begins

each crack opens
a waterfall of light
and drowns my senses
with the beauty
of life without you
my brow smooths
in this soft kiss of color
blinding my eyes
with the burden
of moving on
into the sunlight
without leaving
the best of myself
to play in the shadows
with my beloved

Symbolism pie a'la mode

cleaning house

the swirl of the sky
against the glass
records the movements
of misplaced order -
windex frozen in streaks
never quite coming clean
like that most human
of activities
echoed in the leaves
that sway and bob
marking time as
a cobweb twists
a mocking jig
in the corner

(And that was me trying to be cheerful and comment on the nice weather... I think I need to work on that a bit... But it's still a good poem, if you ask humble little me...)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Goofing with my new camera

This image is completely untouched by Photoshop. I used an "artistic" filter in the camera (something I never do...) I shot the image around 3:00 p.m. on May 15 under sunny conditions, no flash, camera fully auto except ISO of 100. You be the judge.

p.s. This guy lives at the base of my steps leading to the house. He is one of my protectors!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh, and this (great egg video)

I made this incubator from a styrofoam cooler! Amazing experience.

First class

It went well today. Short and sweet. I think this will be a good semester. I love giving out the eggs for the first exercise! Check out this egg video I shot a while back:

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4th - day of strange observances

May 4th is....

National Candied Orange Peel Day

and (drum roll please...)

Chicken Appreciation Day!!!!!! Wahoo!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


It is a scary time to be on the earth right now, but at least there is still beauty. Hang in there. Be sure to wash your hands before you eat.

Enough with the doom and gloom

Here are my 3 kitties!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

for ME and for me

the smell of your favorite shirt last night -
that stupid Whinnie the Pooh shirt
you carelessly flung across the chair -
stopped me dead

suddenly you were fully fleshed
and standing before me
vibrant and shining with health
i wrapped my arms around
the shirt and held you close

the irony of an empty shirt
containing so much precious to me
could not hold back the tidal wave
of mixed emotions as i pressed
the memory of you deep against myself

we danced that way -
an awkward dance with no beat -
until you filled the hole
and despair leaked away

your face, your voice, the salt of your skin
stayed behind and circled
through the ragged space that once
overflowed with the force that was YOU
filling a void i thought was infinite

a transcendent peace
wafted through me and
the more I inhaled the shirt
the less i could see you, or hear you,
touch you or taste

the passing of your scent opened me
to the new you, the one who will
remain with me forever but whom i cannot touch -
my constant companion, purveyor of peace,
wellspring of emotions that eat me whole and
spit out the new me

your body may be gone but you live on -
the form of your presence has changed, but
my body is starting to grow accustomed
to smelling your new presence

i laid the shirt back on the chair
and walked away
it was now just an empty thing
like when i left you behind in your hospital bed
ears purpling and flesh cooling

and that moment crushed me
and saved my life
because it was then that you
became the best part of me

and even though you are with me
in these metaphorical lines
and always in my thoughts
i still miss you like sin
and love you like the moon
but at least i had a chance
to know you

thank you

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A little mind manure...

Don't things grow better in a little manure??? How about your ideas? A little bull sh!t does wonders for a garden, so why not ideas? Why not a little mind manure? (Thanks for the term, Jana!)

Most everyone is thinking very small (except maybe for the tank!) in terms of final project ideas. I suggested when I gave you the exercise that your final project ideas didn't even have to be feasible, but no one, and I repeat NO ONE picked up on that suggestion. Most of the ideas were uninspired. But after reading your blogs, I know you know that. And I know you are b-o-r-e-d with the final project already (mostly.)

Well, that's why I am here. It is my job to step in at this point and try to grab you from the brink of mundane ideas. Think of this as your creative kick in the @ss!

Stop being BORING, especially to yourself.

If you are bored with or uninspired by your project idea then boot it out and start over. Really.

Read through this entry for some ideas on how to come up with better ideas. Maybe... I hope...

If you are having a hard time coming up with an idea for a project and you feel you need restrictions or directions, then why not make some up for yourself? For example, what if you decide you want to use this project as a chance to solve a problem? But what problem could you possible solve? How about the problem of telling a story? How, you might ask, can telling a story be problem solving? Well, aren't all stories just big problems that are somehow solved as the story unfolds? How do the three little pigs solve the problem of the big bad wolf? How did Frodo solve the problem of the ring?

OK, so you could tell a story as a way to solve a problem. But can you do so in a creative way? Obviously (based on the reaction I have read to the Plato reading I assigned) lots of people don't like to read, so how can you make them want to experience your story? Notice how I said experience instead of read? I am now thinking of this story in a different way... You could say that I am seeing writing a story sideways now...

So how can you be creative with your story? First, you have to think about what does the word "creative" mean to you? Well, we defined the term "creative" for ourselves during class discussion (remember the words we finished on the white board and ended up talking about religion - creationism, agnosticism, crucifying eggs???) According to the class, "creative" is looking at (or interpreting) something in a new way. Basically, seeing something old sideways. (And if you are bored you should do a Google image search for "crucified egg" and look through the pages! Wow! People do all kinds of things with eggs, and they weren't even in this class!)

So, how can you tell a story in a new way? What if... sound familiar - that whole what if thing? (What if you did 50 what if questions related to your final project idea???)

What if you write a story and then take us all outside and show us your story written in sidewalk chalk all the way around the building? In order to experience your story the reader has to follow the path you choose. And what if you refer to things they can see from different vantage points outside in the story. That is a new way to get someone "into" a story...

What if you try to tell your story without words (on the sidewalk - like the picture above?)

Or, what if you record yourself speaking the story and then play it backwards?

Or what if you use the word verifications that are so prolific on blogging sites when you post a comment as the language for your story? (I have actually considered that one, especially with all the comments I have been leaving on your blogs!) Is it important that other people can understand your story?

What if you text one sentence to each person in the class and then ask the class to figure out the story based on the sentence each person received? You could give the class some time to share each person's sentence with the group and then everyone would stand in line in the order they think the story is supposed to go and then read their line when it is their turn. What would that do to your story, and would people be into doing it?

What if you projected lines from your story on the various walls of the buildings around campus? Or around the city?

What if you twitter your story parts but only at 2:13 a.m. every day?

What if you sent your story to a publisher for the final project and post the acceptance/rejection letter to your blog when you get it?

What if you made your story into a puppet show for the class?

What if you drew a comic strip of your story on the white board on the final day of class?

What if you sit in the middle of the room and read the first line of your story to the class and then read the rest silently to yourself in front of the class while we all make up our own stories in our minds based on the first line you read? Or better yet, what if you gave us the first line and then each person in class writes the next line, and the next one, and so on, up on the white board and then you finish the story once everyone else wrote their line? Kind of like a communal story?

Or what if you write the words with light like in the picture to the right and make a video of the words of your story?

Hmmm... So many ideas based on just telling a freakin' story! And I haven't even thought about what the story was going to be about!

Or what if you base your project on something that inspires you? So what is it that inspires you? Was it your bliss, or is it something else? Try thinking of what interests you more than anything else in the world. You could start with that for your final project idea... No one said your project had to be original. You imposed that rule on yourself. (What other rules are you putting in front of yourself in this class? I don't have many.) I never said you couldn't use something you like to inspire yourself... I am inspired by nature. Remember the large Photoshop images I brought into class? Those where all about nature. The root of all of those pictures (remember the ghostly woman and the evil man?) was photography of the woods and surroundings where I live. The image below is made only from photos of my woods and is therefore inspired by my love of nature.

Inspiration is a funny thing. Often the final result bears no resemblance to that which inspired it. This image certainly does not look like my woods. If it did I would never go home again!

Another way to help whittle down the possibilities for a project is to give yourself a theme. You could choose a broad topic like hunger and see what you can come up with. Or you can be very specific and choose something like ants.

For hunger you might end up going out and taking photos of dumpsters behind fast food restaurants and compositing what you find with images of people with anorexia. Or you could take a nice steak dinner and put it on a plate in a gallon plastic bag and leave it out in the counter for a week and then ask people if they want to eat it and document their reactions. You could then take the audio from those interviews and put it with footage of beautiful food. Or you do the opposite. You could show people beautiful food and have them talk about how much they want to eat it, but show images of rancid food. Yuck! But it makes you think!

For ants as a theme you could put out a piece of paper with lines of wet paint on the edges and then place some fruit in the middle that would attract ants. When the ants crawl through the paint to get to the food the paint would document their journeys. You could then scan that into Photoshop and manipulate it. Or you could mount a camera above the paper and make a time lapse video where you can't see the ants but it looks like the paper paints itself... Or you could tattoo yourself like this dude inspired by the Dave Mathews Band song "Ants Marching"... Ouchie... I prefer Photoshop's marching ants, myself.

If you already know what you want to do why not mull over various approaches to your idea? Often you can make the idea better this way. At the very least you can make yourself chuckle and then move on. For instance, Joe, you want to make a tank, and you are pretty excited about that idea. But have you thought of other things you could do with it? What if you added TV's to the outside of it and loudspeakers so you could intimidate others with your superior new media skills? What if you made it an amphibious vehicle so you could drive it to France? What if you painted it pink and welded a steel tutu on the back end? I have no idea why you would do that last one, but it made me smile!

Hmmm... If an hour to discuss your ideas for your final projects is too long (in a group of 2-3 people, each talking = 20 minutes per idea...) then I suggest that your ideas are maybe not so good... Hell, if YOU are already bored with them then imagine how torturous it would be for someone else to partake of what you created? But I think the real problem is that you don't know how to brainstorm. I threw you in the deep end to see what would happen and you sank like rocks! OK. Let's try some swimming lessons!

The idea of playing with an idea is not something you really know how to do yet. Actually you do know how to, it has just been bred out of you. 5-year-olds are great at brainstorming and talking about ideas! You used to be, I bet. But then you went to school and they told you to stop being so silly and get serious. Now I am telling you to stop being so serious and get silly. I mean it! Of course your idea of silly and mine are probably two different things. Really, the best way to do it is jump in and, well, start playing! Let your mind wander and wonder about your idea and see what happens. Be serious and see what happens. Be silly and see what happens.

But document all your ideas. That is what the piece of paper was for in your groups. Some of you used it and some didn't. In a productive idea discussion that paper should not have had one blank spot left on it, even it if is just covered in doodles like the Dick Devils. Anything that will help you remember your ideas. Because who knows? Maybe an idea that you don't use now would be perfect later. And unless you keep track of them they are slippery and will swim away never to be seen again.

That is the also the beauty of an idea - it doesn't exist until you implement it, so when brainstorming and talking about your ideas, no flight of fancy is too outrageous, or too stupid... You might even come up with the dreaded Bad Idea! (insert evil music here) At this point you can even think about illegal or immoral applications of your idea. Just don't implement those! Please!

Use the tools you have learned in this class on your idea: take an object and do something with it based on your idea, experiment with your senses based around your idea, ask a bunch of what if questions about your idea, think about your idea as it relates to time, talk to others about your idea, and so on...

Mostly, you all know you copped out on the final project idea exercise, but it is not as much of a surprise to me as it is to you. This happens every semester, with very few exceptions. During your 20 minutes of fame with each other in your discussion groups you stated what you wanted to do for your final project, or you talked about how you had no idea what to do and how it was impossible to come up with a truly original idea without any guidance for the project. Then you spent the rest of the looooonnnnggg discussion period talking about your favorite games, other classes, or texting someone who was not even in the room. There were a lot of statements but very few discussions.

None of the groups left the room for the hour even though I opened that possibility to you. You are still thinking like you always have. Don't beat yourself up for doing what you have always been taught to do. But on the other hand, don't use that as a crutch. It is difficult to learn to think for yourself.

Just getting out of the classroom for a little while would have been more interesting than staring at each other for 45 minutes or gossiping about games and school, wondering where I went and when I would be back because you HATE group work and just wanted class to be over. Instead of poking at your ideas and playing with options you ended up being bored and frustrated. Time moved slowly for you that day when it could have gone by in a flash of inspiration. But now you know what it feels like if you don't try to take the reins of your own educational experience, at least in this class. This class is very, VERY boring if you persist with your old ways of doing things. Try the new way. Question everything!

Most of us are still in the habit of sticking with the first idea we come up with regardless of how ho-hum it might be. But that is what you have always done. No one has ever challenged you with this kind of freedom before. It is hard to do at first. Besides, the mindset is that IUPUI classes tend to be really easy and not of much import anyway other than in technical training, or so some people have told me... I have my doubts that this is really the case with many courses, but the stigma remains in some people's minds. If you constantly hear that it is easy to believe it. And if you believe it, then it becomes true. We have a tendency to shape our own realities that way.

Who gives a crap what we do for some stupid class project anyway, right? Someone else will tell you what to do when it really counts. Right? Like your boss. But what if you want to be the boss? What if you actually like to think once you really try it? I have been pleasantly surprised by how many students are craving this kind of stimulation. Not all, but many like it. But our culture prefers to "teach to the test" and tell you what to do so it is like culture shock for many students who first encounter the dreaded "do anything you want" assignment or exercise. It is like drowning in a sea of possibilities and old "tried but true" ideas are like life lines floating in the currents. No wonder you cling to them for dear life!

Being stuck in a rut is boring, but at least it is safe. We are taught that boredom is to be expected as an adult. It is your civic duty to help society function by doing your job. Playing is for children. There is usually no social ostracism associated with following the status quo, even if it makes you want to stick a fork in your eye out of boredom. At least no one will call you out on your idea like I did with Nick about his animations. (Thanks for being such a good sport about that, Nick! I picked on you because I knew you could take it.)

What about the idea of doing something that would be memorable? Or at the very least, entertaining, or (gulp) innovative? These days if you want to get a good job, or even for the sake of personal fulfillment (maybe) you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd. You need to either be the best at what you do or have the better idea. Other classes in new media help you be the best with the software, but this one is about the ideas. And frankly, very few of the project ideas I heard in class last week (or read in blogs) stood out. In fact I can only remember 2-3 out of almost 25... Ouch!

What if I came into class and said that anyone who does the idea they proposed last week for their final project would flunk the course? What would you do then? Would that help you understand that it is important to entertain multiple approaches to a project idea if you want to be "creative?" Or, better yet, and more "real world" if you like, what if I played the role of the client and told you I didn't like your idea and I was going to find someone else to give the job to? What would you do? Would you try to come up with a different idea? Or would you walk away and go into a career that is less demanding?

Not everyone wants to work that hard to come up with ideas. The world really does need all kinds of people, not just those who are willing to see sideways. Otherwise who would ride on the backs of trash trucks or fill in potholes in the roads. Seriously. Those things need to be done, too, and maybe you might be happier with a job you can leave behind when you clock out at the end of the day. I respect people who can do that. I, however, cannot do that. I have tried. I was miserable. But that is me. If I am not constantly questioning and doing new things I would need to be heavily medicated just to get through the day. Some people are afraid to ask too many questions because of the implications of those questions. Questioning things too much can shake the foundations of what you have always thought to be true. I am not one to say that being reluctant to do this is wrong. But it does inhibit creativity and innovation.

Another problem is that you just might not take this very seriously, especially when you are faced with calculus exams, and Flash projects, and C++ finals, and storyboards for your video class, and sick children, and if you are going to be laid off, or are you going to have to put in 50 hours this week just to make the house payment. It is all about choices and you, not I, know where your priorities are. But I hope this is one of them. This is definitely the kind of class where you get as much out of it as you put into it. Especially during discussion.

So who are you? A 9-5 worker in favor of the comfortable status quo who can leave it all behind at the end of the day or a free thinker who wants to shake things up a little and take a chance, consumed by your ideas and creations? If you choose to shake it up you get to define what that is for yourself. Only you know what is (forgive me for this) "outside the box" for yourself. It might be something as radical as using an inkjet printer to "print" new heart valves or might be a new way to lay out a website that you have never tried before. Never mind that when you get home you find out that someone else just did the same thing. Is there anything that is truly original? Do you even want to try to be "truly original?" Or is just doing the best you can within your safe zone your goal? Or are you just here to get a piece of paper and move on with your life? Only you can know the answer to those questions, and a course like this can help you decide. Either way is fine, but it is a good thing to know about yourself. There is no shame at all in any life goal (maybe eating children is an exception...) and you might find that it changes for you as you experience new things in your life. This class will definitely push you toward being a free thinker when it comes to new media, though. The problem is that it can be hard to not let it leak into other areas of your life if you sincerely give it a try. So I can understand if you are hesitant to try too hard to shake it all up. Maybe this is not the class for you if that is the case. No offense to you or me. If you are really worried about that, please come talk to me. We might be able to help you stay in the course and still be comfortable with all aspects of your life. (I am talking about religion and other beliefs that might make you worry about thinking like this...)

But if you want to make your mark in new media you will encounter times when creativity is demanded. The amount you give is up to you. Flexing your muscles in a course like this is a good way to push the limits and see what happens when you turn it all upside-down and look at things in new ways. Plus it is a safe environment - remember that failure is actually a good thing in an exercise or even your final project because it means you tried something NEW.

The part you are really being evaluated on in this course is the IDEA behind each exercise you do and each project you try. If you can get it to work, too, that is the whipped cream on top of the sundae!

I suspect your mind (as a class) is still more fixated on the assignment (grade) than the possibilities inherent in this project. Let your inhibitions loose and see what happens. See what you can come up with when no one is telling you what what you "have to" do. What are your own ideas and interests? You really are an intelligent, creative being, even if you don't believe it. You are unique, just like everyone else.

And yes, as Marqi said in his blog, that is scary. Even scarier than this really scary clown! (shudder - I am terrified of clowns - now you know my one mortal weakness - be kind, please)

Of course, I can turn this into a "traditional" class where I lecture and tell you what to think and do. You could take notes and I could do software demos. You could be sitting in front of a computer and surfing the web while I am showing the class how to do things and then you don't know how to do what I just showed because you were chatting about America Idol with your new BFF squigglelips34. I could give quizzes and exams. We could do a big project for the Alzheimer's Association of Indiana and create an exciting new website and then teach them how to use it! Whatever you want. But that would not be the point of this class and we would be better off going to the zoo, or the mall, or sleeping, or doing homework for a real class, or just sitting in our cars for three hours a week and twiddling our thumbs...

I can't force you to stretch yourself unless you are willing to try. I know that deep inside each of you is a crazy, wildly creative person. After all you chose new media as your career path and I don't know of any life that is more creative than that of the new media professional. Either that or you are a misplaced accountant. No offense intended to accountants by that last analogy. Dear numbers gurus, I need you in my wildly creative life, especially around April 15th! Long live the accountants! But I don't want an accountant who is too creative... I look bad in black and white horizontal stripes.

But back to sharing your ideas with each other. What is the worst that can happen? Will Angie come to your house in the middle of the night and steal your ketchup if you talk too much in class? Maybe, but who needs ketchup? And, gasp, what if something you say actually inspires an idea for someone else? But that can't happen if you aren't willing to explore your ideas and not just settle for the first safe thing that comes to mind. On my god, what if you come up with an idea you can't possibly create??? You might flunk the course! Bull pucky! You are more likely to flunk this course if you don't voice your ideas than if you come up with an impossible one! Stop censoring yourself. Please. Make your mark. Use your voice. Flex your mind! You might be surprised. And talk about your ideas. Unless you want a really boring class for the next few weeks (we haven't even gotten to midterms yet - there is that much time left!)

If I have an idea I am interested in then I don't want to shut up about it. Obviously that is true - have you SEEN the lengths of my blog entries this semester??? Hmmm... How to lead you into experiencing that excitement about your own ideas???

Now that you have survived to the end of this post (didn't the pretty pictures help, not to mention the witty banter of yours truly?!?) here is a revolutionary idea: I guess we don't even have to do a final project if you aren't into the idea. I am open to alternative suggestions. Seriously. If you have a better idea than a final project, let me have it! If we aren't inspired by the idea of a final project then what else could we do? All suggestions are welcome (remember the disclaimer about legality, repercussions to our actions, and all that other boring stuff...)

Could we do something like this???

Think about it and then share it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Everything old is new again...

Even though we deal with New Media, the above book from Plato's "The Republic" is extremely relevant to seeing sideways. Funny how ideas stay the same throughout the ages. I came up with a version of this idea when I was a kid and just about peed my pants when I first read it in a classics course as a Freshman at Earlham College. Very formative! (at least for me...) I hope you enjoy it (and can get past the way it is written - well worth the effort!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peel back your skull a little and let me in for a minute...

I do find it interesting that several people are saying that we had no class this week... (FYI - I am not mad, just interested in this reaction, therefore, here are my thoughts and intentions with this exercise.) Warning, this will probably be a long post that no one except me will be interested in. But isn't that, after all, the beauty of a blog? A place where you can prattle on to imaginary people about your innermost thoughts with the notion that someone, somewhere in the entire world might read it and give a crap about what you think??? Sorry, I drifted there for a second... Back to the defense of an imaginary class...

While we did not meet in one location at one time (as every traditional class in the world usually does, with the exception of a field trip, which is still usually taken together) are you really sure we are not having class this week?

What is a class, anyway? Isn't it a place where you go to learn things in a guided way? Who says it has to all be together physically or chronologically? What does that make a distance education course? I propose that assignments like this are sometimes more important than traditional ones. There. I said it. Doing "nothing" is as important, sometimes, as learning Maya, or inorganic chemistry. It is also a way to learn. But our society does not place value on learning "nothing." To those who do not understand my motives with this course, an exercise like this week's "class meeting" is frivolous and a waste of time that could be used to actually educate you about something "important." You, and I, have been reared in this society that only values work and logic (but really money and status - oops, sorry again.) Therefore, when faced with a class like yesterday, your natural assumption is that we just did not have class. But that is precisely why you are in this class in the first place. Well, that, and the fact that it is an easy class where you don't have to actually do anything to pass. (Do you still believe that, if you did on the first day? If so, then I have failed you...) Open your eyes, but really more importantly, open your mind! I firmly believe we did have class this week, just not in the way you were expecting. I have shaken your solid idea of what a class is, or at least that is what I am trying to do...

Just because we are not sitting at little desks inside the same 4 walls does not mean we are not having class this week. Could it be that this is a new way of seeing the concept of a class meeting? What if I am giving you the freedom to be your own teacher, mentor, guide, task master, instructor (insert your own word here...) while still laying out a carefully crafted plan for you to follow? Do the blogs not count as class discussions, assuming you write them and the other class participants read them? You can even comment on one another’s' entries... Hmmm, there is a teacher, there are participants, there is a plan of study, and there is discussion and an open exchange of ideas... Sounds like a class to me. But this is a class you can have anywhere, anytime, forever and ever, if you want to open your mind to this idea... (Pass the Kool-Aid, would you?)

This is a course designed to change the way you view the world around you, and this is just one of the exercises I have created to guide you on your personal journey toward a more creative way of seeing your world (or, mwahaha, living your life!) Apparently my goal is world domination, one student at a time! But only if I get the cool lab coat and those shiny metal sticks that conduct electric pulses to the ceiling while my half finished creature lies prone on the table... Oops, sorry. Drifted again. (See? Isn't this just like class - I can't stay on one thought in my blog, either!)

What if you (being me) show the students (being you) that there is actually value (greatly undervalued value) in giving yourself the gift of time so that by following your own true interests you can possibly bubble up a well of creative thought/ideas from that contented pool in the center of your mind. or at the very least, allowing for sanctioned "play" (oh, that dirty, dirty word) allows you to relax enough to get rid of a little stress, thereby stalling that headache, heart attack, ulcer (insert your own malady) a little longer.

I have been a creative professional long enough to know (at least for me) that good ideas only really come when I stop trying so hard to make them happen. Spontaneity is my friend! And so is daydreaming, or just relaxing. I sometimes get my best ideas when I am in the shower and not thinking about anything other than if I already washed there yet and where has this soap been...? (Sorry, TMI...)

In today's world we are never taught to look after ourselves, unless it is in the form of prepackaged allotments of time purchased from your favorite supplier (therapist, personal trainer, yoga instructor, doctor - none of them work for free - we have to pay for what they offer... hey wait a minute, you paid to take this class... I feel so dirty... see shower comment above...) But the skill I am giving you with this exercise is the idea that you can take time out to do your favorite thing occasionally and the world will not necessarily end. And (here's the real power of this tool) if you can do this spontaneously and steal a little "me" (meaning "you") time when you find yourself just overwhelmed with things the illicit quality of that time makes it even more meaningful. Therefore I forced you to cut class this week - sort of...

We have a finite amount of time in this world, so why shouldn't you be in charge of some of it? If you work 8 hours a day, sleep 8 hours a day, and live your entire life in the other 8 hours of each 24 within a day, then you are only living 1/3 of your life... And that 1/3 is chock full of driving, bills, taxes, doctor's visits, cleaning the toilet, cooking dinner, attending awkward social events, plunging the toilet, school, working some overtime to pay for the new toilet you need because you just shouldn't eat some things, attending funerals, etc. But if you can find ways to reclaim a little of that time for doing what others would call "nothing" then you might be a little happier and in a better place to do everything you have to do. It has to do with mental health as much as it does creativity.

Of course, this all relates to our lessons about repercussions of actions. You need to be responsible with this tool of blowing off stuff occasionally to do something you want to do. If you do it too often or if you ditch the wrong thing (like work, or an important meeting) it may have an adverse effect on your wellbeing. The real point of this is that I am asking you to look at what is important to you. No one but you can possibly really know the answer to that, and you might not even know. But you will, eventually. By taking time out from an obligation (a formal class meeting this week) I am asking you to do what is best for you with the time you would have spent sitting at a desk. But actually I am asking you to evaluate your priorities. What is the thing that gives you the most satisfaction? That is an evaluation. When is it OK to pull this technique from your arsenal of creativity tools and use it? That is an evaluation. What would be the repercussions to using this tool at any given time? That is an evaluation. How important or useful is this exercise to you? That is an evaluation... See how it works?

And here’s the real kicker… You can take charge of your own life and your own class this week. And if you can do that for this week, what will next week be like? Could this be a little like tossing a rock into a smooth pond??? Might you remember this much longer than if we met and talked about the idea of being free instead of living that idea???

Now is happening, the future doesn’t exist now, and the past is over now. So what will you do now? Is doing actually doing?

I am tired now. Goodbye.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Sideways Commandments

Some suggested steps to finding personal paths to creativity
(not in any particular order and based on previous sections of this class - we may or may not do the things listed below, but even if we don't you can)
The Sideways Commandments

• Take an everyday object and try to do something unusual or surprising with it (the egg)

• Give yourself over to random chance and use what you encounter as a starting point or a direction for creative experimentation (bible dipping)

• Grapple with a huge abstract concept and explore it from different angles (time)

• Ask questions (what if)

• Try to answer a question you did not ask (what if redux)

• Explore how you encounter and interact with the world (senses)

• Work with other people to generate ideas (brainstorming)

• Look to other areas of inquiry outside of your normal realm of experience (what the bleep)

• If you agree or disagree with something, ask yourself why (what the bleep)

• Give yourself some time and freedom to be yourself (bliss)

• Examine what it is that excites or inspires you (inspiration)

• Research someone or something and see what you can incorporate from that into your own work (research project)

• Solve a problem in a different way (red light mental exercise and taking a break in our chairs)

• Explore your motivation and understanding of concepts and ideas (questioning your inspiration)

• Ignore your first idea and try multiple approaches (roadblocks)

• Be willing to compromise (roadblocks)

• Stop just thinking about things or coming up with ideas and go do something. (final project)

• Don’t be afraid to play (take the rest of class and do something fun)

• Share your ideas/successes/failures/musings (blog)

• Exchange ideas (discussions)

• Listen to yourself

• Listen to others

• Explore what is important to you (what moves you)

• Judge ideas by your own measure

• Experience as much as you can

• Question rules

• Humor is not frivolous

• Stop expecting inspiration to come from outside yourself

• Stop expecting someone else to give you all the answers

• Stop being afraid to fail

• Don’t be lazy (too often)

• Give up preconceived notions of how to learn

• Do what works for you

• Don’t disregard creative exploration as unimportant or something you will do “if you find the time”

• Make the time to practice creative thinking

• Set your own goals

• Try to attain

• If someone laughs at you or disregards your idea then smile along with them but keep to your own goals

• Try again

• Build on your successes

• Cherish your failures

• Learn from everything

• Know your motives

• Become friends with your inner (or outward) 5-year-old

• Wonder and wander

• Don’t be too cynical

• If you are cynical don’t be too bitter

• Be proud of your ideas

• Not all ideas or projects are very creative

• Sometimes mediocre is OK

• But don’t settle for mediocre very often

• If you find yourself doing something the same way more than a few times try doing it a different way next time

• Even if you are finished with a project are you sure the project is finished with you