Fellow card designer Tom Rent alerted me to this hilarious video from the masters at Hallmark about how to sell greeting cards. Tom and I are freelance card designers who hope to lure away a few card buyers from Hallmark, which is a big dog in my hometown. Sadly, I’ll never be more than a runt of the litter, but a pup can dream, can’t she? (Freelance is an interesting word from the days of knights in armor. More about that later.) Here’s one of Tom’s cards.
Tag Archives: Relationships
Malcolm doesn’t have a pedigree. Almost eighteen years ago, he was just a fluffy stray kitten with ear mites and fleas when we chose him at Wayside Waifs, an animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri. Through the years, as he grew larger and fluffier, people would tell us he might be partly if not all Maine Coon Cat. We didn’t care about breeds, though. To us, Malcolm was one of a kind, special, unique, in a class by himself. We barely remember life before he joined our family.
Lately, though, we’ve been watching shows about the different breeds of cat. I had no idea there were so many, although still not even close to the number of dog breeds. Our daughter has a Turkish Angora (now living with us), and I knew about a few others.
There are 80 breeds of cats recognized by one cat registry or another. The IPCBA (International Progressive Cat Breeders Alliance) recognizes 73 feline breeds, while the more conservative CFA (Cat Fanciers’ Association) acknowleges only 41, according to WikiAnswers.
Wikipedia says: The Maine Coon is one of the oldest natural domestic cat breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine, where it is the official State Cat. The breed was popular in cat shows in the late 1800s, but its existence became threatened when long-haired breeds from overseas were introduced in the early 20th century. The Maine Coon made a comeback and is now the second most popular cat breed in North America, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The Maine Coon is noted for its large bone structure, its rectangular body shape, and a long, flowing coat. The breed can be seen in a variety of colors and are known for their intelligence and gentle personalities.
One theory of the origin of the Maine Coon Cat is that it evolved from the Norwegian Forest Cats that traveled to North America with the Vikings in the 11th century. We decided that Malcolm must be a Viking cat. My children have one set of Norwegian great-grandparents, so this seemed the perfect origin for Malcolm. We should have named him Erik the Red!
Like the Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cats have a thick fluffy double-layered coat, long tufts of fur in ears and between toes, and a long bushy tail to protect them against the cold. They have a lion-like ruff or mane. Their coat is fairly waterproof because of its coarse outer layer and dense undercoat. They are very large cats with adult males weighing 13 to 22 pounds (6 to 10 kg), while females are about half that size. Their hind legs are longer than their front legs. Malcolm fits this description perfectly. At his largest, he weighed 16 pounds.
Maine Coon and Norwegian Forest cats are described as very intelligent, playful cats that enjoy human company but can get upset if left alone for a long period of time. Malcolm would always meow very bitterly when we left him for a couple of days. He had plenty to eat and drink, but he missed us. And we missed him.
Malcolm followed me around the house and always wanted to sit with or near me. In his later years, he slept next to me. He was my faithful companion, and when I called to him, he always answered. Malcolm is very sick now, and has all but his tail in Valhalla. Who would have thought a little cat (ok, not so little) could steal your heart so completely? I can barely write any more about him, I’m so sad. There are tears on my keyboard. Below is a link to a post (Good-bye, Mr. B) about another person’s tears on his keyboard over his beloved cat. (Written from the dog’s perspective.) Hold your pet close today. I had no idea when we were recording his vacuum grooming just a few weeks ago that Malcolm would decline so quickly. (The video is on this blog.) One day he was jumping on the sofa to sit next to me, the next day he retreated to the closet and refused to eat. Tests showed an inoperable tumor.
When I took Malcolm to the vet last week, a man who had come in to ask for directions, took a look at Malcolm and said:
“Now that is a cat!” Well said, sir!
The Gift Of Metta – Loving Kindness – Pass It On
My friend Sandy always finds very soothing and peaceful videos and passes them on. Here’s the latest one. Sandy is “Thinking Out Loud” on my blogroll. This video has a high-quality viewing option.
It’s a good thing I didn’t blink, or I would have missed my four-second big screen debut in the independent film, “fling*,” which is making the rounds of film festivals around the country. This past weekend it was introduced to Kansas City, where it was filmed.
We invited some friends to see it with us at the Screenland Theater. All I knew about it was that it involved twenty-somethings entangled in relationships. We’d forgotten how complicated that can get…(trailer video is at the bottom.)
There were about 500 extras, who didn’t get much, if any, screen time. That’s why we’re called extras. Now I pay special attention to the people in the background in movies. When Rhett and Scarlett are emoting in “Gone With The Wind,” for example, I’m checking out the people loitering behind them.
You know you’re going to see this film, so watch for me at about 1 hour and 45 minutes into it (but don’t keep checking your watch!) When you see a shot of the store “Hemline,” get ready or you might miss me. I’m wearing a pale green jacket and carrying a striped straw handbag. You can only see my back.
Director John Stewart Muller is from Kansas City, so he was happy to return to his hometown to shoot the tale of modern mixed up relationships at area locations such as Crown Center, the Crossroads Art District, the Country Club Plaza and the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum. He wrote the screenplay with producer Laura Boersma. The two own Steele Films, based in Los Angeles.
My movie career started in May 2007 with an ad in the Kansas City Star looking for extras to donate their time for the movie that was then called, “Lie to Me.” Hundreds volunteered, including a guy who flew his airplane from Colorado so he could appear in a scene or two. I think he got also four seconds, but at least you could see his face.
I grabbed my son Matt just home from college to join me for the two scenes in the clothing boutique, “Hemline,” on the Country Club Plaza shopping center.
Most of the two dozen extras in my scenes were in their 20s. Many had acting aspirations. Others, like me, were just curious about the process. We had plenty of time to get to know one another as we waited around. Joe was heading off to film school in a few months. Apple Miller had already been an extra in some locally filmed movies, including an earlier scene in “fling,” and was hoping to get more film work. Natalie W. had been a part of several earlier “fling*” scenes, and the crew was happy to see her again. Lisa, another extra, had tagged along with a friend. She got a plum spot next to some of the secondary players.
Our “call” that night was 6 p.m. We waited in a nearby vacant store, its bare walls a dingy lavender. We sat on a row of folding chairs, where the wardrobe crew inspected us to make sure we looked stylish enough. Some people brought spare outfits. One of the assistants asked my son to follow him, and they both disappeared. Soon Matt returned, wearing a plain white shirt. Why the switch? He shrugged. His black shirt with thin white stripes was certainly more appealing, I thought, but what did I know?
Assistant Director Jim Whitworth gave us the rundown on what it took to be a good extra: Don’t look at the camera, stay out of the way and take off your shoes so you don’t make noise.
This is harder than it sounds, especially the “don’t look at the camera” part.
Whitworth warned us several times not to take photographs or talk to the “talent.” One wrong move, and out we’d go!
“I don’t even know who’s in this movie,” Lisa mumbled, expressing what many of were already thinking. Most of us didn’t know anything about the cast or the plot.
“Superman is in the movie,” Apple said.
“Brandon Routh of ‘Superman Returns’.”
You can’t have fans fawning over the stars when they’re supposed to be focused on their work.
Three hours passed in what Joe called “lavender hell.”
“If something doesn’t happen soon, I think we should form a union,” Joe suggested.
Finally, we were called into “Hemline.” Crew members handed out glasses of real wine and plates of real appetizers for this scene of an opening reception at a new boutique.
An assistant handed me a glass of wine.
“You look like a red wine drinker,” he said.
Hmmmmmm. Was this typecasting?
Most of the action in the first of the two scenes took place in front of the boutique, while the extras pretended to shop inside. We’d be background through the windows. Some of the extras actually did shop.
We went through our paces several times. Some maneuvered to get closer to the window, where they might be filmed through the glass.
After that scene was wrapped, half of the extras jumped ship when they discovered the next scene wouldn’t be filmed until after a midnight meal. Those of us who remained got sub sandwiches, which we took outside to eat standing on the sidewalk in the hot, muggy night.
A mass of equipment was set up in front of “Hemline,” so cars of people drove by slowly to see what was happening. “Are you extras?” someone shouted.
“Yeah,” Joe said. “Looks glamorous, doesn’t it?”
We saw the cast and crew eating at a long candle-lit table inside the vacant store.
After the midnight “lunch,” Whitworth counted noses. “Is this all I have left?”
By 1 a.m., we were back in “Hemline.” We were handed more wine and plates of food for us to carry, none of which seemed appealing at this point, not that we were supposed to consume anything. Even with the desertions, there were enough people to make the boutique seem crowded, especially since all of the main actors had joined us. They looked a lot fresher than we did. I saw then why my son had to change his shirt. Brandon Routh wore a black shirt with thin white stripes.
The noisy air conditioner was turned off. The atmosphere was hot and thick. The extras practiced a route through the racks. No one wanted to be the one who spilled wine or food on the clothing. Problems — dropped hangers, missed lines, a car honking outside, a boom in the shot — ruined the first three takes. The fourth seemed flawless. We looked at the director. By this time it was almost 2:30 a.m.”That was awesome,” Muller said. Before we had a chance to rejoice, he said. “Let’s do it again.”We sagged a little.
“I need your ‘A’ game,” Whitworth barked. “We need high energy. Pretend this is 7 p.m., not 2:30 a.m.”
We regrouped. The makeup and hair crew dabbed and patted again. This time a few frizzled, frazzled extras got some attention. One hair technician smoothed the flyaway hair on my forehead.
Whitworth called everyone to order. “Background! Action!” The cameraman carrying the heavy film camera on his shoulder marched through the boutique.
The scene played out. We waited for the verdict.
“That’s a wrap,” Muller said.
Joy! Relief! The cast and crew immediately began discussing plans for the next day’s shoot while the extras stood in the store, feeling like…..extras. Matt and I chased down his own shirt in the wardrobe trailer and then we headed home.
Now, having seen my two scenes in the finished movie, I have to laugh at how the scene appears on the screen. Let’s just say we didn’t have to worry about dropped hangers or flubbed lines….
Was I surprised that the finished product turned out much differently from what I expected? Or that the extras did a lot of work that never appeared. Not really. In the summer of 1999, friends Jacki, Nancy and Karissa and my daughter Laura and I stumbled onto a scene being filmed for Sandra Bullock’s movie, “28 Days.” An intersection in the Soho part of Manhattan was blocked off for the shoot. Many extras — both pedestrians and bicyclists — repeatedly went through their paces for several takes, as Bullock walked up some stairs from a subway and around the corner to a newspaper stand. After we had shopped for an hour, we saw that the extras were still hard at work. That scene never made the final cut of the movie.
The dvd of “fling*” will be available in the spring. You can be sure plenty of the extras will be going through the movie slooooooowly to see whether they can catch a glimpse of themselves.
I got this email after the Kansas City opening. (The big party was past my bedtime……) John Stewart Muller sent a message to the members of Fling – The Movie.
Subject: Additional “Fling” Screenings in K.C.
Just wanted to give you an update on the opening weekend of “Fling” in KC. The film did great and we all had such a blast!! Thanks so much to everyone who made it out!! The movie sold out on both Friday and Saturday night and did strong for the rest of the showings all weekend. We had amazing after parties at The Czar Bar with Dylan Trees, Dri, and The Republic Tigers
performing. It was a great weekend!
Because of how well the film performed, Screenland Theater is holding it for another week! Help us spread the word to anyone in KC who missed it because they have one more chance to see it on the big screen! There were people who even drove in from St. Louis just to see the movie!
If you go to the theater, don’t forget to check out the concrete handprints and signatures for “Fling”!
Also, check out the great reviews the film has been receiving. Bob Butler of the KC Star gave the film three out of four stars and compared it to “Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice” and “sex, lies, and videotape”. Everyone also loves how KC looks on film!
Next stop after this is the Bahamas Film Festival! We’re also still trying to look into more theatrical runs before the DVD release in May.
We’re very excited about all of this and appreciate everyone’s help in spreading the word! Let us know if you have any questions or concerns about anything! Hope this finds you well and thanks again!!
John and Laura
Paula of Locks Park Farm bestowed a “proximation” award on my blog. She explains it very humorously here.
The award is intended to link many people together who have become friends online so that we can all enjoy new friends. It’s sort of like the blogging version of the chain letter, but nothing bad will happen to you if you break the chain. You’ll just miss out on the fun! Okay, so it’s a little trouble. Get over it!
The award seems to be translated from Spanish. I won’t change the wording, because it has its own quaint charm. I’m thinking “bows” means ties, for example.
This blog invests in and believes in the “proximity,” meaning that blogging makes us ‘close’ . They all are charmed with the blogs, where in the majority of its aims are to show the marvels and to do friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate? Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to 8 bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”
I’ve been on the road for a week speeding through southern Utah, gaping and gawking at the magnificent scenery, so I’ve been out of touch. (My husband did the 1,500 miles of driving out of Las Vegas, while I had the hard task of capturing the sights on my camera….ha, ha.) I’ll be posting photographs and my awe-struck thoughts and observations in a future post or posts.
In the meantime, I’m eagerly reading everyone’s blogs again and am thrilled to be able to share these blogs with you. The honorees can bestow their own “proximation” awards, if they want. Many have already earned numerous awards. You’ll enjoy these blogs, I promise.
If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the President of the United States, you might be a narcissist, according to a new study (See link below.) Wall Street traders and CEOs of financial companies might also score high on the narcissist chart. Congressional leaders, too. If only a big ego meant competence. But it doesn’t, as we’ve so unfortunately seen lately.
Narcissists like to be in charge, but the new study shows that narcissists don’t outperform others in leadership roles. Narcissists are egotistical types who exaggerate their talents and abilities and lack empathy for others. Their egos tell them that they can’t be wrong, even if they are. They don’t like to be questioned. They don’t tell the truth if a lie would be better. They need followers, known as “narcissistic supply.” Worst of all, they think it’s all about them and nothing about you!
Can we avoid them? It might be hard. They seem to gravitate toward leadership roles because that’s where the power and recognition is. Narcissists can be so charming at first. It’s not until they get into office that we find out the bitter truth. The best thing is to have a realistic attitude. These people are human, after all. Don’t expect miracles. Expect mistakes. Take action for your own life. And maybe we’ll get lucky and elect a president who really does want to serve the people.
I wrote about narcissism, particularly in politics, in I’m the Center of the Universe. Here is an article about a study of narcissism in politics and business, which focuses on political and business leaders: Narcissists Tend to Become Leaders. For an explanation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, click here.
Two blogs with incisive posts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
When John Edwards almost seemed to excuse his marital infidelity by saying he was a narcissist, I thought his self-diagnosis would lead to a discussion in the mass media of what Narcissistic Personality Disorder really is. But that didn’t really happen. Many politicians are grandiose, jumping into the ring with skills and experience far below what’s needed to be president. But are they narcissists?
What is a narcissist? It’s a lot more than looking in the mirror every ten minutes, getting $400 haircuts and cheating on your wife, although a narcissist may do all of these acts. Near the end of this post, I’ve listed the nine most commonly cited criteria for NPD.
The New York Times published an article in July touching on the clinical meaning of Narcissism, since it seems to be the word du jour.
The Times’ Narcissism story was triggered by Christie Brinkley’s divorce trial. Brinkley’s soon-to-be-ex husband, Peter Cook, was diagnosed by his psychiatrist as a narcissist. Here’s the link: Here’s Looking at Me, Kid Arm chair “psychiatrists” have tagged a lot of celebrities and politicians with the narcissist label — Eliot Spitzer and Tom Cruise, to name two.
Most of us have encountered a narcissist in our everyday life, and if we’re lucky, we might enjoy his or her charming company for no more than a few minutes. Many narcissists are extremely charming — at first. They seem to know just how to pull you in, focusing their attention on you with laser-like intensity. It’s an amazing skill, considering that one of the hallmarks of narcissism is a lack of empathy. Initially, they make us feel good about ourselves, so there’s a little self-involvement in us, too. We feel worthwhile, loved, needed. This makes it even more crushing when the narcissist inevitably reveals that we meant nothing to him or her at all. We’re not a friend or a partner, but just another object to fill the narcissist’s vast unfillable void or a stepping stone to take the narcissist to the next level. The damage is hugely amplified if the narcissist is in charge of our country.
Here are some commonly accepted diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder: At least five of the following are necessary for a diagnosis:
1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love
3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by other special people
4) requires excessive admiration
5) strong sense of entitlement
6) takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7) lacks empathy
8) is often envious or believes others are envious of him or her
9) arrogant behavior
The Narcissistic Personality Disorder on-line discussion group at msn.com can be found by clicking here.
My friend Jan writes about narcissism far better than I could. Here’s a link to her post: Close Encounter with a Narcissist
On a personal level, here’s an article about dealing with “everyday” narcissists. Self-Esteem or Narcissism?
My daughter “Lulu”and I were probably the only ones in the theater tonight who’d never seen any version of “Mamma Mia!” She’d gotten free tickets to a preview of the new sing-along version. “Wanna go?” she asked casually. Lulu was ready to pass the tickets along to a friend who’s “Mamma Mia!” crazy, if I said no.
I said, “Sure.” I had a little headache, but I don’t get a chance to hang out with her that much. She’s busy, and she has a boyfriend. Of course, on the way there, I put a crimp in the conversation when I found out she’d skipped a class.
“Why?” I asked in that certain tone only a mother seems to be able to create. She’s out of college, so it’s a class just for enhancement, but the old “never skip anything” in me came out. This led to a discussion about life, and my headache started to get worse. My own fault.
We thought we were getting to the theater early, but there was a long line of people waiting. We weren’t guaranteed a seat. But it was fun just standing in line with people bedecked in tiaras and feather boas, distributed at the theater. Soon a tiara was perched on my head, too. Luckily, there were seats for us. The movie was so much fun that I forgot all about my headache.
The lyrics on the screen were very helpful, since — unlike most people in the theater — I didn’t know the words. I didn’t sing out loud, and people who know my voice know why! There were plenty of great singers in the audience, including members of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, so they didn’t need to hear my froggy voice. Lulu said it seemed that the songs were written for the movie, not the other way around. ABBA disbanded before she was born, so it was all fresh to her. After the movie, my daughter and I both admitted we teared up a couple of times, including a scene between mother and daughter. “Particularly after what we talked about in the car,” she said. I’m available any time for another date!