Friday, April 13, 2012

Your Lucky Day

Be afraid! Be very afraid! It is Friday the (gulp) 13th, and that can mean only one thing...

The highest grossing horror franchise in the U.S.A.

Apparently, the Friday the 13th series has made over $650 million since it began its body count back in 1980. And when you consider that the plot of each movie is pretty much indistinguishable from its predecessor, well, that’s saying something.

I’m not sure what, but ... well, something.

However, it looks like those Friday the 13th creators are actually afraid of the number 13.
Get this – even though Jason has Lived, Taken Manhattan, had New Beginnings, Final Chapters, and even his Final Friday – he has had only 12 movies. Twelve. As far as I know, no date has been set for the 13th Friday the 13th.

Hmmmm... Looks like we’ll just have to get our chills from watching the stock market.

At any rate, I really don’t want you to fear this much maligned calendar day. In fact, it might make you feel better to know that the Dutch Center for Insurance Statistics reports fewer accidents and fires actually occur on Friday the 13th.

So, unless you’re heading to a spelling bee, you’re sure to be safe today.

However, if you are heading to a spelling bee, it is imperative that you remember the technical term for “morbid fear of Friday the 13th” –


(I don’t actually have the condition, but that word gives me some serious heebie-jeebies)

PROMPT: I’d tell you to write the next Friday the 13th movie plot, but that will take you all of 13 seconds. Instead, you can use the day to create with all things superstitious – ladders, rabbits’ feet, broken mirrors, horseshoes, wishbones, and reading blogs. Okay, I made that last one up, but I think it’s a lucky thing to do. In fact, I added my sweet (unless you are a unicorn) black cat’s photo above to work as a double negative just for you. After all, if you don’t have no good luck, then good luck is sure to abound!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

100,000 – That’s all Folks!

"You birds have 100,000 bad drawings in you – start getting rid of them now!"

These are the words that Chuck Jones heard on his first day of class at the Chouinard Art Institute.

I don’t know if the rest of his classmates took the instructor’s advice seriously, but Chuck certainly did. In fact, he got busy knocking down the bad drawing count that very day. Good thing, too. When a studio opportunity came knocking, he was ready to answer the door. The rest became “What’s up Doc?” history when Chuck created Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Porky Pig, and the gang.

Chuck never forgot that opening line, and he repeated it often over the years. In fact, The Chuck Jones Experience in Las Vegas features a manhole cover labeled “100,000 Bad Drawings”.

Everyone should have one of those.

Obviously, Chuck and his teacher knew that practice trounces talent every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I know we covered something like this in Shortcuts, but today I want to focus on that “talent” part.

A lot of folks out there won’t even start churning out their 100,000 bad drawings, poems, science projects, whatever, because they tell themselves something like this –

“Sure I’d like to be a great artist, writer, scientist, auto mechanic, whatever, but I just don’t have the talent for it.”

Well guess what, Cupcake – you were born with no talent for walking either.

None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

I mean, if someone had offered you a billion dollars to walk 5 steps at the age of 5 weeks, you wouldn’t have gotten your diaper to clear even a one-inch hurdle.

Welcome to the 100,000 rule.

I’ve raised two children and have witnessed the process firsthand. Trust me when I say that you had at least 100,000 bad steps inside of you.

And trust me on this one, too – you never said, not even once, “Well, Snap! I have absolutely NO talent for this! Good God, I’ll never make it as a walker! I am DOOMED to butt-scoot for the rest of my days!”

You didn’t say any of this, but I know exactly what you were thinking…

You see, my daughter was a late walker. She didn’t take her first step until she was a full eighteen months old. Apparently, she had other priorities – like focusing her brain development on all things language rather than the motor cortex. So here’s the thing – she was speaking in clear, full sentences before her toes ever touched the floor. She was like those babies in the e-trade commercials back before there were e-trade commercials. It actually used to creep my mom out a bit, but that’s another story…

Anyway, when my daughter finally had enough of crawling headlong into the coffee table, she pulled herself up and did what you did way back when.

I have the entire “falling flat on her face scene” on video. Then it got a little weird.

After she pulled herself up, but before she took another one of her 100,000 bad steps, she shouted –


I kid you not.

Over and over again.

As any parent will tell you, her 100,000 bad steps were over in a flash, and from her moves on the basketball court, you’d think she was born with stepping talent. She wasn’t. But she believed.

You did, too. And I’ll bet you said exactly the same thing she did – you just weren’t able to say it out loud at the time.

Say it now.

100,000 times.

PROMPT: Be a believer! Get some of those bad drawings, paintings, poems, stories, songs, and science projects out of the way today… one baby step at a time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Acts of Poetry

Dinosaurs, road kill, grumpy basilisk,
Wontons, cherry pie, itchy kitchen whisk,
Orange pants, hula hoops, purple-backed sphinx,
Hopscotch, Frankenstein, bumpy roller rinks.

Cranky Sue, pitch forks, fabulously green,
Fruit cake, super glue, captivated spleen,
Dragon eye, night crawler, sticky candle wax,
Bubble gum, firefly, broken income tax.

Ain’t it funny, ain’t it cute, ridiculously true –
The whole world finds a way to live inside of you!

Yep, it’s still April – that lovely month of foolish poetry madness! I hope that you are getting your poetry game on each and every day – remember, your life may depend on it (April Fools).
But alas, I hear that some folks out there may be trapped within the box within the cage within the compound of highfalutin poetry. Is this you? Well, Honey, I am here to set you free. Any poetry will do – whether it’s a rhymer, no rhymer, sometimes rhymer, or two-timer. Just throw words together and aim for the heart.
Remember –
There is no such thing as bad poetry…
Just bad people
who think
poems stink.

PROMPT: Boy howdy, it is random poetry day! So, dig around in your cupboards, peek under beds, and clean out the kitchen sink (that’s where I found my basilisk) – no doubt, you’ll find words in these places that have all the makings of a good poem. Sure, you can look to the speckled heavens, chuckling brooks, and barefoot meadows, too. It’s up to you. Simply smack those phrases on your pages – just for the JOY of it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sun is not a Myth!

Just 24 hours after my Perfect Day post, I had…
a perfect day!
The sun, yes, the SUN – unseen for roughly 17 years, made its appearance in a sky of breathtaking blue. Before 9:00 AM I was sucking down the cerulean Kool-aid…
“Oh, I love you, Pacific Northwest. You are the most wondrous place in the world! How could I have ever written all those bad things about you?”
Yeah, I’ll be here forever. You know it.
So I danced the sun salsa,
I gamboled in the garden,
I cavorted with kites.
And then I settled into a patio chair for some afternoon java.
That’s when I saw them out of the corner of my eye –
a pride of lions.
They didn’t think I’d notice as they padded in on quiet feet, but their sun-kissed manes peeked up through the grass and gave them away. Soon, very soon, they will leap out with mates and offspring and spread their riotous yellow all over my 5-acre field.
Behold the KING of the suburban jungle.
Lawn warriors and city dwellers – do not panic. I can handle this. I know just what to do.
I ran into the house and grabbed my first and only line of defense…
a dog-eared copy of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine.
And then, sitting in the sun among my family, I read aloud the poetry of chapter three…
of flowers flooding the world – dripping off lawns and onto brick streets… of the dazzle and glitter of golden sun spilling everywhere –
stare too long and each and every one will burn a hole in your retina.
I repeat each of Ray’s words as clearly as I can, then let the small breeze carry them aloft – so they will reach the neighbors’ ears before they fire up their mowers, or tear open that sack of Weed & Feed.
Such beauty caught there between the lines – my teenagers do not roll their eyes… not even once.
And so I tell them of sunlight gathered and pressed in a cold cellar, then mixed with water from a rain barrel in the spring of 1928… of summer caught, bottled, and stoppered for a future January day.
Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine. Dandelion wine.
When I am through, I smile and see the lions anew.
Then get back to the business of loving my neighbor…
even when she’s hauling herbicide.

PROMPT: Today is a marvelous day to sing songs of the unsung. Celebrate those wondrous things woefully underappreciated! Did you know that every part of the dandelion is edible? In fact, their leaves are more nutritious than any greens you shell out cash for at the market. Write, paint, or sing about each small and thankless thing. Good manners… running water… a smile… a moment… and just the right words at just the right time.