Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cat Clips--Social Outing

Please click on the photo above to watch a short one-minute film from the Cat Clip series called "Social Outing." In this episode, two cats discuss their dinner plans with another cat couple.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wearing Out the Work-At-Home Wardrobe

My commute to work is a short one. I roll out of bed, step into my slippers, and meander down the hallway into my office, which is literally ten feet away. It is not a stressful or difficult journey, and I don’t have to interact with anyone along the way. Except maybe a few cats, whose only interest in me involves the distribution of their morning meals. Once that particular ritual takes place, they remain fairly quiet for the rest of the day.

Otherwise, I arrive at my work without any of the anger or anxiety that sometimes accompanies the morning commute. It is a true blessing, not to mention a real money saver on tolls, take-out lunches, and office birthday parties. (The ladder being a double-edged sword, as you’re no longer asked to contribute to the birthday present fund, nor are you given any more birthday presents either. Que sera, sera!)

Anyway, the casual relaxed atmosphere also means that my office attire has been significantly pared down from a colorful assortment of designer clothes and expensive shoes to a few old t-shirts and a growing supply of lounge pants. Yes, lounge pants. I know they’re just glorified pajamas bottoms, but I really love them. I have a pair in every color, pattern and print imaginable. And now I finally understand why the much lampooned “house dress” was such a favorite among housewives in the sixties and seventies. You could literally walk around with everything hanging out, without actually having everything hanging out.

It also explains why one of my drama teachers in college insisted on wearing a pair of sweatpants to work every day. His standard outfit was a white polo shirt, sweat pants and tennis shoes. He directed many of the musicals at school, so I guess he never wanted to feel constricted should he suddenly need to launch into some kind of intricate choreography, or demonstrate a proper arabesque. Not that he ever did. Being a rather large overweight person with a prominent stomach, his range of dance technique never strayed far from the traditional cakewalk, a device he utilized in almost every musical he directed. (Including the annual Nativity reenactment, which was no easy task! Imagine a chorus of sheep, goats and Wise Man doing the cakewalk across the stage behind the Manger. Pure inspired lunacy.)

But as a role model for untraditional work attire, the teacher was a ground-breaker. And though at the time, I found his clothing choice to be somewhat undignified for a man of fifty-five, I totally understand now why he did it. Comfort, pure and simple. Now I’m not suggesting that every office environment change their attire to gym clothing, but if you’re a work-at-home individual like myself, comfort is key when it comes to what you wear around the house.

Not to say this overly casual wardrobe doesn’t have its drawbacks. For instance, any time the postal worker or UPS man knocks on my door with a delivery, I must quickly change from lounge pants into jeans because I wouldn’t be caught dead answering the door in lounge pants. Especially since I tend to wear the same shirt and pants for several days in a row, a practice which has been observed and commented on by more than one of my neighbors. Talk about embarrassing.

But before you accuse me of being uncleanly, I assure you that I do not wear clothing that has experienced any sort of spillage or staining due to food or drinking mishaps. Nor do I lie around in perspiration infested garments that make me smell like a litter box. If the clothing doesn’t smell good, I don’t wear it. I’m not a sloth, after all. Just a very relaxed and happy employee.

But that’s just me. What is your favorite work-at-home attire?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Deer Droppings--Flash Forward TV

Please click on the photo above to watch a short one-minute film from the new "Deer Droppings" series. This episode features a song parody of "Top of the World" by the Carpenters which lampoons the use of flash forwards on shows like "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

Hope you enjoy it. And have a great Memorial Day weekend!!!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Procrastination Against Picking up Pennies

Have you ever noticed a penny lying on the floor and not bothered to pick it up? Even though the old adage says “Find a penny, Pick it up, All day long you’ll have good luck.” And yet you inherently know that a penny isn’t worth that much, so you pass it by without a second thought. In fact, if someone ever said to you “A penny for your thoughts,” you would probably insist on getting at least a dollar before you responded. (Am I right?)

Even when a penny falls out of your pocket, you never bother to pick it up. You just leave it wherever it lands. Over by the bookcase, next to the bathtub, caught between the floorboards. You see them all the time, lying in their place, waiting to be picked up. You mean to pick them up. You tell yourself to pick them up. But you don’t. They’re just not worth enough to you. So you leave them lying there. Alone, abandoned, gathering dust. Is this just a case of laziness on your part, or do you perhaps have a serious issue with anti-penny-ism?

All kidding aside, what if this act of defiance against copper currency actually represented a much bigger problem? What if ignoring the penny is really our way of procrastinating against something we don’t want to deal with? As if it’s showing us that we aren’t attentive to the little things. I mean, if we can’t even bend down to pick up a penny off the floor, what does that say about the other little “issues” in our life that we’re ignoring?

So the pennies start to pile up. They become a sort of physical manifestation of our chaotic state of mind. The more pennies we see, the more we probably need to resolve some kind of conflict in our life. And until we confront the problem, there will always be pennies lying around to remind us. That’s why it’s so hard to pick them up. It means facing our demons.

Anyway, it’s just a theory. It probably doesn’t work with dimes or quarters, though. And definitely not with Susan B. Anthony dollars.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bird Bits--Future Star

Please click on the photo above to watch a one-minute video from the "Bird Bits" series entitled "Future Star." In this episode, two male birds discuss the star potential of a singing Bluebird.

What can I say? I have a lot of time on my hands.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting Irrationally Angry at Inanimate Objects

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to be going against you? It all begins when you wake up to find yourself tangled in the sheets. Naturally, you try to get yourself untwisted. But the more you attempt to unravel yourself, the deeper into the sheets you go. Eventually, you end up rolling off the bed, as the sheets magically unwrap themselves on the way down, as if they’d never been a problem to begin with.

Slightly irritated, but still a little groggy, you venture into the bathroom to pull yourself together. But as soon as you flip the switch, the light burns out, leaving you in the dark long enough to slam your toe into the toolbox you forgot to remove from the middle of the floor the previous evening. (And why did you bring a whole toolbox into the bathroom anyway? You were only going to hang a picture, so all you really needed to bring was a hammer and a nail…not the entire collection of Stanley Tools you got for Christmas.) Nevertheless, you curse the toolbox and the defective light, and hurry downstairs to the kitchen to make yourself a nice hot cup of coffee. At least that will make you feel better.

Only you forgot to buy a new supply of coffee, and the only thing resembling caffeine in the household is an old can of International Flavors somebody gave you for Memorial Day a few years ago. (Who gives presents on Memorial Day, anyway?) The flavor is some kind of mint chocolate guava mixture that sounds more like an ice cream than coffee, but you open the can anyway, hoping that a quick shot of caffeine will help you face the day.

After preparing the coffee and taking your first sip, you notice something strange about the contents. The coffee appears to have a crunchy aftertaste, which you find a little odd. So you reopen the can of International Flavors to take a closer look. Sure enough, the powdered mixture appears to be moving. You quickly spit out the remaining coffee in your mouth and run to the bathroom for Listerine. Only you forget about the missing light and the toolbox (which you still have not removed from the middle of the floor), and once again slam into it with your toe. Although this time it’s the other toe, so at least you’re getting a fair distribution of pain.

After cleansing your palette of any residual maggots, you decide to take a shower to clear your head. But once you step into the shower, you slip on a small piece of soap lying on the floor. You manage to catch yourself by grabbing the shower caddy attached to the wall, an action that has more consequences than you could possibly anticipate. First, the caddy comes unhinged from the wall, sending you downward again. Then, on it’s way down, it manages to open, spilling its entire contents allover your body.

And this is when you finally lose it. You begin swearing and screaming at the shower caddy as you throw its various contents out of the tub. One of the bottles manages to hit your bathroom mirror, cracking it ever so slightly in one corner. Another bottle lands in the cat box on top of a freshly produced pile of crap. Each of these incidents causes you to get even angrier, until every inanimate object within your reach becomes your enemy. The rugs on the floor are ready to trip you, the toothbrush wants to stab you, the scale will lie about your weight. It seems like everything around you is on a mission to drive you mad. And the more irrational you become, the more it seems like you’re on an episode of “When Inanimate Objects Attack.”

If I were being logical, I’d realize all the mishaps I suffered were my own doing. But since I can’t possibly blame myself for such antics, I tend to lash out at the objects around me, as if they were formulating a giant conspiracy against me. It’s stupid, I know. And ridiculous. But it’s one of those behaviors you don’t realize you’re doing until after you’ve already done it. And by that time, you’ve already destroyed half the bathroom with a passionate need to avenge your honor.

But that’s just me. Have you ever gotten irrationally angry at an inanimate object?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cat Clips--Till Death

Please click on the photo above to watch a short one-minute film from the "Cat Clips" series. This episode is called "Till Death" and follows our two main cats as they discuss the subject of death. (Not as morbid as it sounds.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Cathartic Chaos of Camping

Today I am a guest blogger on Matt Urdan's blog, "Meltwater. Torrents. Meandering. Delta." So please click on the photo above or the link below to read all about my chaotic history with camping. And stay for a while to visit Matt's great website. You won't believe some of the photos--amazing!

The Cathartic Chaos of Camping


Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Never Knew--A Mother's Day Poem

For Mother's Day this year, I decided to write my mom a little poem. She's always been the "unsung hero" in our household, and I would like to give her a fitting tribute. My efforts are certainly less than she deserves, because her impact on my life is undoubtedly more than I can ever say. But here's my humble attempt to put my thoughts together in a creative way. I love you, Mom!

I Never Knew

I never knew my mom could laugh,
Until once late at night,
She laughed so hard she woke me up,
And gave me quite a fright.

I never knew my mom could care,
Until I got the flu,
Then night and day she stayed with me,
She helped me see it through.

I never knew my mom was proud,
Until she heard me sing,
Her face was beaming all the while,
Her eyes were watering.

I never knew my mom worked hard,
Until I saw the bills,
And how her job helped pay them all,
To free our life from ills.

I never knew my mom was strong,
Until I saw her fight,
Defending people without a voice,
To help protect their right.

I never knew my mom could cry,
Until dad took a trip,
Away on business several months,
Her tears would often drip.

I never knew that mom meant love,
Until I moved away,
Some time would pass before I knew,
I missed her every day.

I never knew my mom at all,
But now I know her better,
For truth to tell, my mom was glue,
That held our home together.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bird Bits--Online Chat

Please click on the photo above to watch a short, one-minute film from the "Bird Bits" series. In this episode, two birds discuss the best place to pick up "chicks."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Incredible Journey of Wine

I’ve never been a particularly big wine drinker. Except for the occasional sip of wine I got during church communion, wine never held much interest for me. And because of a rather embarrassing incident at a recent wine tasting party (humorously recounted in the online mystery “It Happened in Plainfield”), I don’t think I’ll have occasion to ever raise a glass of Chablis again. And yet I still receive bottles of wine as presents from friends and relatives. Even though most of them know I don’t drink wine, they still insist on bringing me a bottle every time they come for dinner or a visit. Unless they were intending for me to open it while they were there, I can’t really see a reason for the gesture. (In fact, it really seems more like an empty gesture, because they hadn’t bothered to listen the last seven times we discussed my dislike for the beverage…but I digress…)

Anyway, the best thing about getting a bottle of wine is that you can pass it along to someone else at your next dinner party, or birthday celebration, or family intervention. (Well, maybe not the latter.) Which is exactly what I do. Every time I need to give someone a present, I go to the trusty old supply of wine bottles I’ve accumulated, and pick one that doesn’t look too dusty. And since I know very little about wine, or their preferred expiration dates, I’m not really sure if a 1993 Pinot Noir is better than a 2007 Chardonnay. And frankly, I don’t care, either. As long as my host is happy with my selection, that’s all that counts.

And though I’d like to think I pay close attention to the intricacies of the bottles and the types of wines that pass through my doors, I rarely look at them before banishing them to the bottom of the liquor cabinet. All except one particular bottle which I happened to notice one day. It had a very unique design on it, but I also discovered that someone had scratched my name on the back of the label. The writing was small and almost undetectable, but it was obviously someone’s attempt to separate this particular bottle from the masses they intended to distribute. As I stuffed the bottle into an overpriced gift bag to give away that night, I tried to remember who might have given me that particular bottle. But after searching my memory for maybe two minutes, I was distracted by something else and never thought of it again.

Until two months later, when I happened to notice the same bottle on the wine rack of a friend’s house. It was not the same friend I’d given the bottle to, but rather someone else who had apparently received the bottle from them. And I knew it was the same bottle, because I found my name still scratched on the label on back. Obviously, no one else had the eye for detail that I did, though I certainly didn’t mention my discovery that evening.

Then about three weeks later, I attended a birthday party and found the EXACT SAME bottle of wine among the gifts. At first, I found it terribly amusing. But then I began to wonder if somehow the bottle of wine was stalking me. Maybe it was trying to punish me for giving it away in the first place. Maybe I was meant to keep that bottle of wine for some reason, and there was some kind of universal karma that was constantly bringing it back to my attention. Or maybe I was just a little tipsy from too many jello shots, and so the bottle of wine took on much more significance that it needed to.

Needless to say, the bottle did eventually make it back to me. Nearly a year after it was originally given it out, the winsome wine had made an incredible journey around my social circle, and eventually ended up right back where it started. And who knows how many other homes it had visited besides my friends? It made me wonder if all bottles of wine go through a similar journey on their way to the proper owner. Too bad you couldn’t put a notch on a bottle every time you gave one out, so others would know how many times it had already been passed before they received it. You could even make a game of it. Track the journey of wine.

At any rate, this amazing bottle of wine now remains a permanent fixture in my cupboard. It deserves a special place in my bottle collection, because like a young adult, it went out into the world, had a little adventure, and now has come home to age gracefully. And who knows, someday I might even drink it. After all, should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought some wine? I think not.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cat Clips--Hillary or Obama

Please click on the link above to see a short one-minute film from the "Cat Clip" series, entitled "Hillary or Obama?" In the video, two cats discuss who they'd vote for in the upcoming Presidential election if cats had the ability to vote.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Putting Peeling Personalities Out to Pasture

When I was in elementary school, I remember reading about an Indian tribe that had a pretty distinct way of dealing with their elderly. They would take them out into the wilds of the forest and leave them there to die. Because in this particular culture, any person who became feeble or needy was considered a burden to the rest of the tribe. So instead of caring for these aging individuals through their “Golden Years,” they cut their losses and ran. I even remember the colorful illustration used to demonstrate the idea. It was of a young Indian boy pulling his Grandmother on a sleigh through the snow. In the distance, we could see a dense forest where the young man would presumably deposit his cargo. I can only imagine how uncomfortable that kind of good-bye would be.

“Nice visiting with you, Grandma. Hope you don’t get eaten by the wolves. Bye!”

The practice seemed so outlandish to me that I thought it was a joke. And yet, sometimes I wonder if a slightly altered version of this idea might not be beneficial in today’s celebrity obsessed society. For example, wouldn’t it be great to never have to see Paris Hilton again? True, she’s a little young to be put out to Pasture, but could we please put her out of the spotlight? Take her out to some forest somewhere, drop her off, and be done with it. And if the wolves get her, so be it.

I bring this up, because I recently witnessed Christopher Walken host an uncomfortably long and unfunny episode of “Saturday Night Live” in which he read off cue cards for the entire show. Not only that, but he didn’t even read them well. And he rarely, if ever, turned to the actor he was supposed to be talking to. The fact that you could literally see him reading all his lines made me wonder why they ever allowed him to host the show in the first place. Was someone else too busy? I know Mr. Walken has been very successful hosting SNL in the past, but it seems the genre should no longer be a part of his resume. (To add insult to injury, SNL showed the same horrible episode two weeks later, as if a repeat of the disaster might warrant it an instant classic.)

While it’s true I’ve never really been a fan of Christopher Walken, I understand why other people might find his odd, disjointed delivery of dialogue fascinating. However, if you’ve ever worked with the Meisner Technique in an acting class, you’ll realize Mr. Walken never progressed past Lesson One. Just because you put a pause in a weird place in the middle of the sentence does not make you an exceptional actor. Especially if you use the same tired technique in every role you’ve ever played. Which always made me wonder—is Mr. Walken really talented, or is society just desperate for a new method of speaking?

At any rate, I would put Mr. Walken on my list of actors needing a little trip to the forest. Not that I’m suggesting anyone leave him there to die, but perhaps enrolling him in a nice Summer Camp for Seniors or committing him to a Rest Home for the Syllabically Challenged might be good alternatives.

On a completely different note, does anyone really know what’s “Straight Up” with Paula Abdul? After her recent “mishap” this week on “American Idol,” you have to wonder if the paint isn’t beginning to crack a little on this well-known celebrity. For years, there’s been speculation about Paula’s mental health, as well as her “alleged” reliance on drugs and/or alcohol to keep her going. But Tuesday night’s “weirdness” reached a whole new level of bizarre. When Paula began critiquing singers on their second song before they’d even sung it, the credibility of both the star and the show were brought into question. Was she confused? Was she drunk? Or did she have some kind of out-of-body experience that magically projected her into the future? (I’m betting on the latter.)

Whatever the case, Paula was not on her game that night. She appeared particularly distracted and confused, and even more “Lost” than the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. Perhaps like Christopher Walken, Paula is ready for her sled ride to oblivion. After all, it’s always better to go out when you’re on top, than when people get tired of your antics. Unfortunately, in both of the above cases, the celebrity in question is totally oblivious to their own oblivion. (Maybe Hallmark should make a card for such an occasion. Like a “Happy Retirement” card with a projected expiration date. That way, we can put fading celebrities out of their misery long before they make us miserable watching them fade.)

But that’s just me. What celebrity would you like put out to pasture?