With my compliments

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Have you complimented someone today? This week? This month?

It’s amazing what a few words of support and kindness can do for someone who feels like he or she is uncertain or struggling to accomplish specific goals or develop certain skills.

And those kind words are particularly important when they come from someone who is in a position of authority in that subject.

I am an amateur photographer; a good one, in my own opinion. And I am eternally grateful for and happy to hear friends and loved ones tell me when they like a particular photo or group of images.

But recently, I have received some very kind comments from other photographers, whose work impresses the hell out of me, and who, in a few cases, don’t know me beyond what they have seen of my work on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Earlier today, someone I did not know stopped by my Instagram account to comment on an image I posted recently.

Simply wonderful! You got what it takes for a good photographer!

I immediately jumped over to his account and realized that I was being complimented by someone who I believe has amazing talent. This is someone making a career as a professional photographer.

I have likewise built a nice friendship with one of the official photographers for my beloved Toronto Marlies; a man who will periodically compliment me on a particularly good shot. I have told him as much, but I’m not sure he believes how much his kind words and encouragement mean to me.

When someone does well, I like to let them know I think so. I think my compliments are most powerful, however, when they related to writing; my particular strength.

What is your area of expertise or authority?

When was the last time you took a moment to tell someone further down the development chain that he or she had done a really good job on something or that you found his or her work impressive?

Trust me; it will make their day to hear that.

And if you are already spreading encouragement and passion, thank you for that. We need to make sure this spreads.

sunset

You never know what people will like…so don’t try to anticipate; just create

Brian Henson talks to me (sorta)

Brian and me

It could’a happened

As many of you know, I am a massive puppetry fan and have even written comedy for puppets (nasty beggars). And one of my favourite puppet performances–only after my own SomeTV!–is Puppet Up! – Uncensored, produced by the Henson Company under the leadership of Brian Henson, son of Jim (sounds biblical, doesn’t it).

In preparation for their upcoming run in Las Vegas (July 21 – August 31 at the Venetian), Puppet Up! put out a call for people to submit questions to Brian…so you know I had to.

Tweet

Well, kudos for Brian’s bravery, as he just responded in a two-part video (unfortunately, cannot embed video from Twitter so please click on link).

Cheers to the entire group for taking the time to do this…it was fun (at least, for me).

And if you’re even thinking of heading to Vegas, be sure to check out Puppet Up! – Uncensored at the Venetian. I guarantee you will have a great evening.

PUVegas

Randy_2

Hanging with the Puppet Up! cast and characters after the Toronto finale

See also:

Puppet Up! visits Toronto

SomeTV! spreads like herpes at Burning Man

Comedy versus Ridicule (2 rules)

vs

Have been very passively watching the Trevor Noah controversy regarding some Tweets of questionable taste (to some) and felt I needed to weigh in…but only after calming down a bit.

I think the difference between comedy and ridicule comes down to intent, common decency and a realistic view of the world:

1) If you make a joke about an individual and he/she doesn’t like it, you should apologize sincerely and move on.

2) If you make a joke about a group, community or category and they don’t like it, fuck  ‘em; that’s what comedy’s about.

* drops mike *

* picks mike back up *

* apologizes to mike for being a jerk *

* moves on *

Mike

We shall overcome if it kills us (and it will)

That way

Friends and family hate walking up hills with me. I have no idea how they feel about the flat regions, but definitely the hills they hate. And it’s not that they are out of shape. To the contrary, I am the excessively shaped one…and I’m lazy.

Thus, when I reach the bottom of a hill, I want to get the climb over with as quickly as possible…I power my way up the hill, leaving them to trot along or simply do their own thing and catch up with me.

But the biggest challenge, once they catch up, is that they then have to wait for me to recover from my exertion. In my zeal to get to the top, I completely ignore the fact that the trip is not over once I reach the top…I leave nothing in my tank for the rest of the trip.

I’ve done the same whenever I’ve decided to change my shape with exercise or diet. I start out incredibly aggressively…not holds barred. And for a week or two, my goals are not only met, they are surpassed. I am incredible. I am a GOD! I am also exhausted and sore…and I slowly stop my program.

And as if this behaviour wasn’t already annoying enough, I find I also have a tendency to take the same attitude in my writing.

Prepare my work area. Cogitate on what I want to do. Research. Procrastinate. And then, WRITE LIKE THERE IS NO TOMORROW BECAUSE I REALLY WANT TO GET THIS DONE THIS WEEK OR AT LEAST GET AS FAR AS I CAN GET BECAUSE NEXT WEEK…

At the end of the process, whether it is a hundred pages of a novel, another feature article for a magazine, an outline and beat sheet for a new screenplay, I am exhausted and my brain hurts. The creative wheels come off (or wobble severely), and I lay up for a couple of days accomplishing nothing, except possibly another thousand games of Solitaire.

My ultimate goal is still way over there. Whether it is within sight or not, I can’t do anything about it because I am doubled over with my hands resting on my knees wondering why my (creative) lungs have shrivelled to the size of grapes.

I can drive a car by flooring the accelerator for 30 seconds and then releasing it until the car crawls to a stop, only to repeat the cycle again and again. I can. But the car will like it about as much as the other drivers and police. And whether due to a destroyed transmission or arrest, I will lose the car.

As I reminded myself on Twitter this past week, I am not writing a novel today. Rather, I am writing a scene, a paragraph, a sentence. But I am writing.

The top of the hill is not my destination, but rather is a way-station along the journey, a landmark I will pass. And for all I know—because despite my best efforts, omniscience has not yet occurred—the hill may be the most interesting and/or important part of the journey. The upward grade itself may hold the answer to the whole damned project

So here’s to my best efforts to ease into the next hill and enjoy the scenery along the way. I’ll reach my destination eventually and who knows, I might actually enjoy the trip (or at least, not drop of a coronary).

Destination

(Images are property of owners and used here with no destination in sight.)

Engage me, don’t yell at me

While on LinkedIn earlier today, an acquaintance posted the following image that has been circulating lately; an image humourously designed to explain social media.

Look at me!

Look at me!

What this also highlights, however, is our complete lack of understanding when it comes to social media…that it has to be social.

Well, it doesn’t have to be social. Plenty of examples on the Internet (probably some written by me) where an individual or company has used social media to scream out their own message, not bothering to wait for a response or worried whether they are engaging the individuals on the other end. Just one giant game of: Look at me! Aren’t I clever? Love me!

Again, I recognize my own culpability in this. I too can be accused of approaching social media like a dog barking at a window, with little or no concern about those at whom I am barking. I do my best to have a point and always enjoy engagement.

Social media should be about engaging and building a community of which you and I are just one member. It should be more about listening than talking. It’s about starting a conversation, not a speech.

Thus, I offer the following revision of the white board presentation above.

Look at us!

Look at us!

In social media, everyone can hear you scream…but how many of us are listening to what you are screaming?

(Of course, this could all be high-handed holier-than-thou BS…in which case, I expect you to hold me to account. Go ahead, prove me right!)

Introducing CACOPHONY™

TooMuchSignalMarketingNoise

What if you could hear all of your friends conversing at the same time? And I mean regardless of whether they were in the same room with you.

Every thought. Every synaptic firing. Every vocalization. Pouring into your brain constantly.

The razor blades are under the sink. Try to be a good fellow and keep all of the blood in the tub, would you?

Welcome to Twitter.

I started on Twitter less than a year ago and I have noticed one thing about the people I hang out with: they fall into one of two camps. The constant pingers and the lurkers.

I, my apologies to everyone, am a constant pinger. I am one of those people who continues to post things throughout the day, and I never stay on one subject very long. I’ll hit themes and run with those for a while, or I’ll go through a period where all I do is respond to other people’s posts with “witty” ripostes. I’m not nearly the retweeter that most pingers are, but that’s mainly because I constantly feel the need to add to conversations rather than simply echo them.

In my actual social life, I have been referred to as “The Honest Ed” of comedy. Honest Ed, as the name would imply, was a local retail showman who had a large store at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets in Toronto that fundamentally sold cheap crap to the masses under bright neon signs. Thus, the moniker given to me. Most of my humour is crap, but every once in a while, you’ll find something you like.

My brother Scott, in contrast, would be classified as a Lurker, if he had a Twitter account.

These are the people who patrol the social waters, largely unseen and shark-like, not interacting until they find just the right moment and then BAM!

At a family gathering, Scott would sit in the room, only slightly more animated than the wallpaper, while I rat-a-tat-tatted in all directions like a wind-up monkey with cymbals. He would wait for his moment and lay out a line, a joke, a comment that was smarter than anything I had said cumulatively. The room would collapse and he would dissolve back into the furniture, never to be seen again.

On Twitter, the lurker is the person whose icon only shows up rarely in your timeline. The person who catches your eye—when they catch your eye—only because you thought they were dead (or at least their account was dead). But catch you they do, and pay attention you must, because they have finally decided there is something worth saying and it should be good.

The pingers, I may only read about 1-10% of what they say at any given moment, making judgements on importance within the first two or three words (so much for 140 characters).

I have my favourites, those I will read more thoroughly, and those favourites change with my changing moods or their changing conversations.

So what is my point in this post?

I don’t have one. I’m a pinger. It’s never been necessary.

I merely observed something and felt I needed to comment on it…for more than 140 characters.

 

PS If you want to “hear” the Internet evolve, there is a really amazing site that monitors changes to Wikipedia and represents those changes visually and musically. Not surprisingly, it is called Listen to Wikipedia.

Listen to Wikipedia

From their site: Listen to the sound of Wikipedia’s recent changes feed. Bells indicate additions and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note. Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots. You may see announcements for new users as they join the site, punctuated by a string swell. You can welcome him or her by clicking the blue banner and adding a note on their talk page.

 (Image is property of owner and is used here without permission because I couldn’t get a word in edge-wise)