Well, THAT'S certainly complete nonsense. Read article in the New Yorker at the gym this morning about how gingko trees drop all their leaves in an otherworldly synchronicity. During the course of one night, they all denude themselves in one huge fit of leave loss.
Really? As I walked my dog later in the day I came upon a row of gingko's. And what did I see. One had lost 80 percent of its leaves. Not all. Some. And up the block from it. Essentially all the leaves still happily attached to their parent tree. Synchronized vegetative nudity. I don't think so. Nice story. But one must file it under "fantasy". Nothing more.
Just yesterday I posted a query on Facebook, namely why do the news outlets cooperate in empowering terrorists by splashing their atrocities across their pages? And less than 24 hours I see the news media have taken a thought from that same field. But not enough of one. The particular post that caught my eye was from Yahoo: http://news.yahoo.com/terrorists-on-twitter-234030167.html
The point of their piece is that terrorist organizations are using social media as a place to organize and disseminate information. But, as the title of my blog indicates, this has a strong flavor of the pot calling the kettle black. I failed to detect any self awareness in the piece of how the news organizations themselves and the online information purveyors such as Yahoo are completely, totally, and irredeemably doing their own part in helping these terrorists. Every time they spread their lurid pieces on the latest decapitation, mass murder, what have you, they're giving a HUGE helping hand to their friendly, neighborhood terrorist. Helping to spread the message of fear and horror. Just what Mr and Mrs Terrorist most appreciate.
So, before criticizing someone else, why not make sure your own hands are clean? And if they're not, how about taking some positive steps? Sound reasonable?
Ah, it's not often that one scores such a major win. You see, some months back I saw a nice black turtleneck, cotton and silk and cashmere, on super duper sale. And so I ordered it. And it was excellent. So comfy and warm. Just perfect. My new item of choice.
Fast forward to today. It dawned chilly and drear. And I thought that that shirt would be just perfect. But where was it? In my closet? No. On my desk? No. Hanging on a doorknob? No. Being used as a pillow by my spoiled dog? No.
Aughhhh! I want it!
Now the usual outcome in such a case is to be frustrated and eventually give up. BUT, for once I had a different route to take. Because, in a rare fit of foresight, when I saw how nice the shirt was way back when I bought it, I thought to myself "What if someday something happens to this great shirt and I'm left shirtless? Hmmmm. I know! Since it's on sale, I'll order a second one!"
And so I did. Not only that, but I actually remembered where I'd stashed the unopened package. Grab/rip/ahhhhhh. So warm and cozy. Your pal Crowden's a happy cartoonist once more.
Well, that was a bit different.
What happened yesterday in a string of stores.
Tell me more.
Okay, since you ask. Yesterday a buddy of mine wanted to just wander around town, chat, eat lunch, etc. Take a break from fix this, do that, etc. Sounds great!
So we do. And in the first store we walk into, a Home Depot, a salesperson smiles at us and says “Hi guys!”. Curious. So cheery and in what’s generally an impersonal kind of warehouse store. Oh well, carry on. Maybe she was in a good mood.
Next store, full of sports clothing. Same thing. “Hi, welcome!” Huh? This is starting to weird me out. When I’m shopping I’m pretty intent on what I’m after and I rarely get any greetings like that, other than at places like Williams Sonoma where they pay people to greet you. Although in this case I’m not really shopping; I’m more wandering around and chatting.
And in the next store ... same. Happy, cheerful sale staff going out of their way to say hiya. So I wonder aloud to my friend about why there’s suddenly such a happy-fest in these stores. And his answer was “Because they think we’re a cute gay couple. They want to make sure we perceive them as welcoming, to show they're not anti-gay.” “No, really?” “Oh, yesssss.”
Realllly? Could that be it?
Next store, not only do I get the 'happy to have you' here but I ask to see if they have some pot lid organizers, because lids are just a pain to store, and a saleswoman shows me some. Just me. And as my friend approaches she says “Oh, you’re together.” And smiles.
You know, I have to say, I believe he’s right. I’ve never gotten that kind of cheery how-are-you when I’m shopping with my wife. And by myself - forget it. You’re a brave person to even speak to me at all when I’m in acquisition mission mode. But here I go and walk around with my male friend and instantly it appears we’re “a couple”. Assuming this presumption is correct, and at this point I believe it is, it’s a fascinating piece of societal social interaction. And unlike the negative sorts of reaction that one reads about, this was all sweetness and light.
Makes me wonder what would happen if we’d done the same thing in Louisiana or Kentucky or pretty much anywhere that isn’t the Bay Area California. Is this an enclave of enlightened acceptance or is this the new norm? And does this imply that when two women go out they’re immediately assumed to be lesbians? Or would we NOT have been pigeonholed as gay if we’d acted more non-gay, however one might do that? We were just wandering and shopping and I had my nifty new Tlingit-made crow bolo tie on over a black T-shirt (stylish, eh?) and was carrying my man-purse (which actually holds my art pad, pencils and sharpener). So I certainly didn’t look like a rough and tumble, takes no guff, man’s man. No cigarette dangling from my lips, either. Would doing so have changed the responses?
Anyway, it was something out of my ordinary day and therefore a good thing. Different is good.
Once upon a lunchtime happy, while I pondered full and happy, I received and answered a note from a talented woman and I think the interchange can help serve a wider purpose by repeating it, with appropriate redaction and follow-on discussion. The relevant part of the note is this:
“I don't know if you remember me but my name is Antares IV and I took your cool seminar some time units ago. I just wanted to thank you for your announcement and congratulate you. It was truly wonderful news as I was an aspiring cartoonist (I had cartooned for my high school newspaper all four years and then for (Tier One Research University) but recently stopped) but became disheartened about the endeavor. However, seeing this news and checking out your websites and work re-inspires me to consider picking up cartooning again - and also makes me extremely proud to be at TORU where my amazing professors are not only passionate but also multitalented. I apologize for the long email but I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing your cartoons everywhere! With much (TORU mascot) pride, I will be cheering for you.”
My response was
“Being blessed/cursed with both the arts and sciences chugging away in your head can be good and bad. It means you can do anything (good) but also that you have to choose where to concentrate your efforts. I suppressed my own art side for quite a while. Or, rather, only gave it a minor part of my attention. Although, even so, I carved and painted toys for my kids, created posters and murals, and so forth. But lately the pressure to really see what I could do got too strong.
Cartooning is NOT an easy field in which to support oneself these days. Not like the Golden Age of last century. There are a very few who do very well and a much larger number who make minimum wage sorts of income. So most of the cartoonists I know have a day job along with their cartooning job and work in the hopes of one day transitioning over to 100% art side.
If you’re motivated to do it, then you should definitely start by putting your work out on the web. It’s essentially free and it’ll let you grow an audience. It’d be great if that audience would support your work as well, which happens more for some than for others. Kind of random.
Keep me informed of what you decide to do!”
AND NOW ….
From personal experience I can say that way more people than you might expect harbor a multitude of talents and interests. The problem is, we only see the one that’s on the outside and so we assume that’s all there is. We’re human M & M’s, showing the world our hard candy coating but hiding our chocolaty goodness within. So there’s observation number one; don’t presume you really know what drives a person until you really know that person.
So, carrying on. Many people have a variety of interests and possibilities for their lives. But we also live in a world that pushes a few things. Such as conforming to the norm, meeting expectations, and doing “well”. It’s far easier to follow the obvious and approved path. It is, in general, more immediately remunerative and nobody is going to question your path. The further into the arts one goes, the farther one’s income drops, again, in general. At least at first. And a LOT of people are going to question your sanity.
Achieving success in anything takes lots and lots of work. Much dedication. Great heaps of frustration and failure and rejection as well. And who likes rejection and failure? Nobody I know. Continuing to pursue a dream is difficult. Juggling a “real” job and a dream job along with all the other parts of life can easily become too much to handle. Only so much time in the day and a finite number of you (namely one for each of us). So something has to give and most often it’s the dream.
Is this good or bad? Do I say “Stay the course, devote your energies into your craft!”? Welllll, that’s a tough one.
It’s true that the people who succeed are the ones who pursued their dreams and didn’t falter. You can’t win if you don’t play. They believed in themselves and made it work. But it’s also true that many who didn’t succeed followed that same path. It’s not just those who give up early who fail to succeed. There aren’t any guarantees and there’s a lot of luck involved that’s beyond our control. Remember that guy who said he was going to revolutionize his culture through domesticating the native animals and putting them to work? He lived in Meso-America 10,200 years ago. What was his name again? Tip of my tongue …
The point is that he failed, and is forgotten, even though he had a fantastic idea, because he lived in the wrong place at the wrong time. No big animals to domesticate. His ancestors had eaten them all. So no big breakthroughs. That was left for those living on the other side of the world. And the same could happen to any of us. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong connections, and so forth. I’m not saying it will happen, but it certainly could.
Who is going to risk everything for the chance of success when the chance of failure is very real? Should such a course be encouraged? Or no? I’ve laid some of the facts out here and I think I’ll pause now to see if anyone wants to chime in with their thoughts.
You know what bugs me? Presenting a relative with a cup that says "World's Greatest Dad" or "World's Greatest Mom" or "World's Greatest Whatever." And here's why. There are seven billion people in the world. And how many of them do any of us know personally? Less than one percent of one percent of one percent of the total. So how in the world can we know our Dad or Mom or Whatever is the "World's Greatest"? Answer - we can't.
To have a prayer, we'd need a worldwide evaluation, something that hasn't ever been attempted to my knowledge. And even if it were, what would the appropriate criteria be for this "Greatest" category? There are countless possibilities. Best dad in terms of getting his kids ready to be productive members of society? That could be good. Or maybe best dad in being supportive of his kid's dreams. Totally different from the first.
Yeah, there's not going to be any consensus, that's for sure.
Here's what I would have suggest, if I were in charge. Cups that say, in small print since it's wordy, "Best mom, as far as I'm concerned, of all those moms I'm personally aware of." Now THAT would be accurate.
Unless, of course, you really should have bought the "Fourth best mom, currently, of those moms I'm familiar with. And I'm only familiar with five." But in that case, maybe a box of bath soap would be a better option.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.