Tag Archives: Relationships

How to Sell Greeting Cards

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.

I’m not funny like Tom, but I love photography (and surfing!) so I tend toward the scenic, like this:

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Filed under Art, Commerce, Howto, Shopping

Malcolm is a Norwegian Forest Cat — Cat of the Vikings!

Malcolm on the Stairs
Malcolm stands here showing many of the traits of a Norwegian Forest Cat — a mane, a bushy raccoon-like tail, tufted ears and toes, very thick fur. His belly fur would drag on the ground if we didn’t trim him. He’s probably really a Maine Coon cat, but that breed likely is descended from the Norwegian Forest Cat that traveled with the Vikings to North America in the 11th century.

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.

Malcolm loves the sunshine and follows it as it moves across the floor.

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!

Even in his old age, Malcolm managed to find ways to groom some of the more difficult to reach areas by propping himself against furniture.

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. 

Malcolm getting vacuumed.

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!

Maine Coon Cat.

Norwegian Forest Cat.

Good-bye, Mr. B

Malcolm looks regal as he sits in one of his many favorite chairs.

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Family, History, Life, Personal, Pets, Relationships

Loving Kindness

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.

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Filed under Friendship, Life, Music, Personal, Random, Relationships

I’m Not Ready For My Close-up

fling poster

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.)

My big screen debut!

My big screen debut!

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.

fling-routh-and-ford

Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford find Kansas City very romantic. They were a real-life couple when filming the movie and are now married.

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.

I met Apple Miller on the set of "fling."  She already was represented by a talent agency, Talent Unlimited.  Here she is talking with Jean Liebau, talent agent and owner of Talent Unlimited, a full-service talent agency in Kansas City.

I met Apple Miller, left, on the set of “fling,” where we were both extras. She actually knew what she was doing. She didn’t even mind waiting for hours. She already had an agent and had appeared in some movies. Here she is talking to Jean Liebau, agent and owner of Talent Unlimited, a full service talent agency in Kansas City.

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.

“Who?”

“Brandon Routh of ‘Superman Returns’.”

Muller and Boersma

Director John Stewart Muller and Producer Laura Boersma

“Ah…..”

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?”

Hemline boutique on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City was the location for a couple of evening scenes in the movie, "fling."

My son Matt and I were extras in two scenes filmed in Hemline boutique on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City in the movie, “fling*.”

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.

fling-at-crown-center-fountains

Lovers at Crown Center.

“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.

These extras walked this street for a couple of hours for a scene in "28 Days" that I never saw in the movie.

These extras walked this street in New York City in 1999 for a couple of hours for a scene in Sandra Bullock’s movie, “28 Days.” I never saw this scene in the movie. Maybe it made the director’s cut.

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.

To learn more go to fling* movie. For additional information, click on w  www.imdb.com Search for “fling,” and then click on “Lie to Me (2008)”

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!!

Sincerely,

John and Laura
Steele Films
——————–

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Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Life, Movies, Personal, Random, Relationships

The Strongest Links

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah.  It's a metaphor for how we are all dependent on one another -- and a good excuse to use one of the photographs from my recent tour of the park!  I won't mention how crazy those guys are!

These rock climbers are linked together in Zion National Park in Utah. It's a metaphor for how we are all interdependent -- and a good excuse to use one of my photographs from my recent trip to the park. These three men are halfway up a half-mile tall canyon wall. They were barely visible. My telephoto lens didn't help much. The craziness of rock climbers is a topic for another post.....

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!proximade

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.

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Filed under Communication, Entertainment, Friendship, Humor, Internet, Life, Personal, Photography, Relationships, Travel, Writing

Study Shows That Narcissists Often Become Leaders, But Not Always Good Ones

Barack Obama and John McCain look unusually happy during their second presidential campaign debate on October 7.

Vote for Me! I'll fix everything! I know what to do! Barack Obama and John McCain look unusually happy during their second presidential campaign debate on October 7. What kind of personality does it take to think you've got the right stuff to be the President of the United States?

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:

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Filed under Life, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Personal, Politics, Presidents, Relationships

The Last Word

Remember!  Families have the last word.  My previous post was about narcissism.  This obituary works well with that theme. (Thanks, Henry.)  What will people remember about us?  Some people don’t care, of course.  They truly live in the now and the nobody else. 

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Filed under Family, Humor, Life, Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Personal, Random, Relationships