I'm not sure how to make the winter solstice funny, but you need a sense of humor at this time of year to recognize and appreciate the season's inner beauty. Here's something to chew on between the Yankee Swap parties and the fruitcake re-gifting:
If summer were a Broadway musical, it would be light, fun and with plenty of bounce, like "Grease" or "Hairspray" or even "The Producers". Learn, laugh, love and light.
If spring were a Broadway musical, it would retain its bounce but have a positive message, like "Rent" or "Spring Awakenings" (duh) or even "The Lion King". New beginnings, new outlooks, new clothes, new adventures.
If fall were a Broadway musical, it would be big and splashy, colorful and celebratory, heavy at times but joyous in others. Think "West Side Story" or "Chicago" or even "Gypsy". Wild and wonderful, memorable and photogenic.
Winter's got its own show producer, and he's not returning calls right now. Winter is thought-provoking, a time to turn inward and reflect. A time to appreciate and plan and clean out the junk drawer, literally and figuratively.
What musical are you thinking about this winter? I'm thinkin' "Carousel" or even "A Chorus Line". Substantive, sexy, secretive, subtle at times, show-stopping as well.
Take a moment to pause, reflect, praise, appreciate, and look forward while learning from your own year's history. I love this season because it is the perfect time for closure and purging of the old while welcoming the new. I love that this year brings me a new organzational system for my clients, a new political administration, and even a new computer and billing system. (Say hello, sparkly new iMac!)
These lyrics from the winter-esque Wicked, ("For Good") speak to me louder than Ethel Merman in "Annie Get Your Gun". Hope they inspire you to great things in '09.
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.
With Halloween planning behind us and 98 candy bars to sneak from my kids before Christmas, my thoughts turn to one of my favorite clients, an event I've been working on since I was a wee PR agency pup back in 1991: the Bay Colony Dog Show.
Apples and festivals and crafts, oh my! Fall in New England is simply stunning, nothing short of miraculous. The colors are breathtaking, the farms are bustling, the people are bundled in new sweaters and still-stiff jeans. I missed you, beloved wool mittens and furry boots and my slightly flamboyant striped scarf... welcome back. Field trips to the corn maze, the smell of wet leaves, picking out the "perfect" pumpkin...
The Fresh Air Fund has provided free summer vacations to New York City children from disadvantaged communities since 1877, and there are 200 children who need to be placed with host families for this August. Since all prospective host families need to be screened and vetted by the end of July, these 200 children may miss out on an invaluable experience.
Please host a child or help us get the word out that we need folks who can welcome a child from the city into their homes next month, especially families who want older children and boys.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-367-0003 -- ask for Angie. If you want to help but don't live in these areas - BLOG about this program, tell your friends, recommend someone, or DONATE.
Sometimes just doing something good is a breathe of fresh air in itself.
I'm sorry to hear the news. You made me laugh and you taught me my first swear words. You taught the world how to look through a different lens, celebrating our differences and our idiosyncracies with wit and charm.
Your "Seven Things You Can't Say On Television" lives in infamy, and your commentary on everything from the drug culture to pop culture icons will be your legacy. Your scraggly beard, hippie style, and "don't trust authority" messaging shaped a generation of wanna be's. Your comedic timing and flair shaped a generation of comedians who are spending a lifetime trying to emulate you, some with more success than others. You once said, “If you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten.” You did that, my friend.
Ever feel like you are in a routine and can't break out of it?
Grab your pickaxe! Here are a few ways to shake up your day:
1. Move your desk or bed around. See things from a different angle.
2. Take pictures of strange things on your digital camera. Patterns on a table, blades of grass, the sky, your backyard gate, the kids' favorite toys. It makes you unfocus on the big stuff and see the little things for what they are.
3. Write down one thing that you really appreciate. Repeat daily. Share with someone. Or not. Your choice.
4. Pick a "word of the day" and find out what it means. Make it something funny, like platypus, as a bonus.
5. De-clutter a closet, and revel in found objects like a missing bag of M&Ms. Run around showing people like it was a long-lost treasure. Found objects are cool.
6. Try a new flavor of tea or coffee and really savor the flavor. Smell it and try to remember it for another day.
7. Go outside and take a few deep cleansing breaths. Think about someone who can't do this simple task as easily as you can. Do it once more, for that person.
8. Say a simple prayer and imagine a greater being guiding you through the day, allowing you to make a mistake and putting a gentle hand on your shoulder when you need it. (Or a not-so-gentle kick in the butt if you need that instead.)
9. Take a moment at the end of the day to enjoy a snuggle with a dog, spouse/partner, kid, warm blanket, bowl of warm soup. You've earned it.
10. Before you sleep, take a breath and scan your body. Appreciate any positive changes, and accept your aches and idiosyncracies for what they are... a sign you are alive and well and living with gratitude.
T-shirts - especially funky retro looking ones - have been a favorite of mine since high school. The funnier and more clever, the better. They instantly communicate, "Hey! I've got a sense of humor! Do you? Cool! Tell me why you get this joke, and I'll buy you a candy bar!" And that, my friends, is how the seeds of friendship can be sown... as simply as through the fabric of a great t-shirt.
Here's a website called Snorg Tees that has some of the funniest ones I've seen in a long time. Graduation gift? Father's Day present for a hipster dad? Gift for yourself for still going to the gym after the New Year's honeymoon is over? Whatever. Make yourself smile for less than twenty bucks.
Ok, here's my "cleaning confession": I love organizing my stuff, but hate cleaning. Especially under beds and on top of shelving and ceiling fans.
I have had the pleasure of representing method and the "people against dirty" who market a great line of eco-friendly household cleaners. I learned a lot about the toxic chemicals under my sink, and tossed them on Earth Day in favor of products friendly to my kids, dog and cats.
Here are few things I learned over the past few weeks:
-- The right mop can do wonders.
-- The right cleansers can do wonders.
-- Aerosol cans (air freshners et al.) are a flammable gas, and are bad.
-- The caps on laundry detergent are too big. If you can smell it on your clean clothes, you've used too much.
-- Look for toys that are PVC-free. (PVC = a triangle with a 3 in it)
-- For baking, silicone beats all, especially the PFOA chemical used in nonstick coating cookware.
And there's more, but you'll have to visit the website. I have to go clean my kitchen floor... the dog just had his morning slobber.
What's your cleaning confession?
Reality check, folks: not everyone runs, or cares about running, or even enjoys running across a mall parking lot. Some people, like me, prefer walking at a slow leisurely pace or at best, a brisk stride.
Today in Boston, we are whipped into a athletic short-wearin', number flauntin', spandex frenzy. Today is the day of the famed Boston Marathon. Some call it Patriots Day, and they didn't mean the New England Patriots football team. Some call it a state holiday and a day off from work. Some call it...
An excuse to go shopping.
The smart stores have sales attracting the chubby ladies to forget about the sweat pouring down the runners' backs as they muscle their way up Heartbreak Hill. To me, Heartbreak Hill is the part of the store where you are the furthest from the bathroom and you've got a hot clearance rack in front of you... you sprint to the ladies room and back before that other Russian woman moves in on the merchandise. Shopping to me is a sport, a strategy game, and a treasure hunt all rolled into one.
If you'd rather be sprinting and pouring cups of water over your head, that's your choice. I'll be the one licking an ice cream cone at the finish line (about a block from Marshalls), smiling and glancing at my new Kate Spade spring purse.
I love Marathon Monday.
Now I've done it. I've gone over the edge into the crazy, obsessive, fur-wearin', slobberin' world of dog ownership. My new pedigreed poochie, Major Monty, is a big marshmellow of an English Bulldog and will be a constant source of humor in our already chaotic two-kid, three-cat household. He snores, burps, growls, even farts better than anyone you'll meet in the public areas of your local nursing home. He's a lover, not a fighter, but I'd put his stubborn streak up against that of John McEnroe, Jack Nicholson and Madonna, any day.
Nestle Foods said it has shaken off the associations of clumsiness of its Butterfinger brand and re-named itself simply “The Finger.” The re-launch was supported by a distribution of 200,000 free “Finger” bars at 7-Eleven stores in 10 major markets.
The news was actually a gimmick to promote the April Fool‘s Day launch of the branded Butterfinger Comedy Network on the Yahoo Video portal http://ButterfingerComedyNetwork.yahoo.com. And one of the first clips entered on the network was the reaction of people on the street to the purported name change. The verdict: nine against, for obvious reasons of taste, and one for, because “you eat it with your fingers.”
“Butterfinger is a brand that truly celebrates clever, witty humor,” Nestle Confections spokesperson Tricia Bowles said in a statement after the joke was revealed. She added that the prank was “just a taste of what’s to come on this newly launched entertainment site.”
I love April Fools Day.
In college, I got “busted” for tying everyone’s doorknobs together (who knew it was a serious fire code violation??) and covering entire doorframes with saran wrap.
This morning, my kids and I filled my husband’s car with Styrofoam peanuts. Well, we didn’t fill it to the brim, but we did a great job. Let's just say my husband picked more peanuts this morning than Jimmy Carter.
The moral: don’t forget to take the time for harmless fun. So what if we killed a few styrofoam trees in the process.
In 1978, my mom got a big important job in Boston and joined the legions of liberated working moms. I joined the legions of latchkey kids, proudly wearing our silver house key under my rainbow shirt.
It is then that I fell in love with Chef Boy-R-Dee. Strange name, but his food was awesome to a pre-teen kid entrusted to use one pot, a spoon, and the oven.
Spaghetti-O's ruled... I ate a big warm bowl during cartoons when I got home, and my love affair with comfort food began. Today, various trainers, gym memberships, and weight loss products owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chef, who invented the most delicious and fattening yummies on the planet. If food is love, I'm "Client 9" in a clandestine affair with... Spaghetti-O's. Don't forget the bread and butter to dip it in. Carb-a-licious!
The Onion is reporting the possible demise of my favorite comfort food:
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28022#email_this. Speak up for the defenseless circular pasta, with meatballs or franks!
Today is St. Patrick's Day, a very, very big deal in my town where names like Sullivan, Hennessey, Fitzpatrick and Connelly are commonplace. At an "Our Heritage" assembly at the elementary school, 13 of the 20-odd kids in the classroom waved the Irish flag symbolizing their family's heritage. Or claimed heritage. Either way, you do the math.... it's a big deal here.
However, my green-garbed cherub came home from kindergarten and told us they had to add an O' in front of everyone's name just for fun "like, just for a day or for the rest of their lives or until tomorrow - well, like, whatever". Imagine the little Pakistani kid's tears... I'm sure he doesn't want an O apostrophe in front of his name. I'm not sure that was exactly a "culturally sensitive" classroom gag, but she thought it was as funny as a leprechaun's arse protruding from a pot o' gold, gosh and begorrah. Or as funny as the time "last week, or last month, whatever" when the entire kindergarten class, entrusted to make it from the art room back to the classroom without a teacher, made a detour to hide in an empty classroom "in the corner, where no one could see us or hear us." Good times for that kindergarten teacher who couldn't find her class of 23, huh? She should have sent a few leprechauns on those tricksters... if that story told to me by my own little leprechaun is even true. About 75 percent of her stories are, I'd wager.
Now go celebrate in a culturally sensitive way by hanging green beads around your neck, drinking green beer that stains your tongue and clothing, and eating fried food that will clog up your o'arteries. I'm going outside to go chase some pesky snakes out of my backyard.
I was watching a History Channel show about Jesus and Judas, and it got me thinking... why is it that truly effective leaders have a "sidekick" - an invaluable team member confidante and friend? OK, Judas didn't work out so well in the end, but it was a good try. Robin to Batman was more of an apprentice, and they had fun when that red Bat Phone wasn't ringing. Aqua Man? George Bush? Case in point. Not as successful. Dick Cheney reminds me of Hannibal Lecter, but I don't want to go there before breakfast. Although serial killers generally get a lot done solo, but there's an exception to every rule.
If you are like me and have a hard time balancing a simple checkbook with the Little Professor, try this math trick on for size. Print it out... it's fun at cocktail parties with invited guests who carry calculators in their shirt pockets!
1. Get a calculator. If you don't have one, use the one on your computer, silly. If you don't have a computer, steal one and then you'll have a computer AND a calculator for math tricks.
2. Key in the first three digits of your phone number (NOT the areacode). Or your drug dealer's phone number. Whatever.
3. Multiply by 80 (the year my Little Professor died of corroded batteries)
4. Add 1 (singular sensation)
5. Multiply by 250
6. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number
7. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number again.
8. Subtract 250 (I know you are looking up to #5 to see if you just ADDED 250. You didn't, silly.)
9. Divide number by 2, because you are sharing this trick equally with a friend.
[drum roll please... the suspense is killing you...]
Ta da! Recognize the answer? Aren't you amazing? Don't you wish being thin and pretty and wrinkle-free were this simple? Is there a cool math trick to make my mortgage payment disappear?
So... in my vain attempt to be cool, I subscribed to a free, funky, fascinating e-newsletter/website called The Cool Hunter. As a PR consultant, I try to be on top of trends and "what's hot" - and let's face it, trend spotting is just good old-fashioned fun.
In the most recent issue of The Cool Hunter's electronic newsletter, I found a blog called Post Secret, one of the world's most popular sites encouraging people to submit a secret, visually depicted. "In less than a year, the PostSecret website has become the 2nd largest Blog on the web (as ranked by technorati.com this month)."
Amazing... and to think I kept my secrets in my diary where no one can enjoy and share them! What's your secret?
Against my better judgment, I did... and found myself laughing out loud at the Will Farrell-uploaded videos. (Note: some of the other stuff on the site is not so funny, particularly when compared to Will's work.)
Farrell's videos are homespun and darn funny... imagine if YouTubers went to Funny University, and then made some videos as a thesis project. Will uploaded over 20 videos, which is about four or five late nights in front of the computer with one Starbucks hot chocolate after another. (Oh, wait, that's my world and not necessarily yours.)
My favorite videos are the series created with a friend and his toddler... they make the toddler parrot back some pretty seriously funny phrases in the context of baby-as-landlord ("You're evicted!"), baby-as-bad-cop persuading Will Farrell to confess to killing three people... you get the idea. Perhaps the funniest video is the outtakes, where they show Will and friend pleading with this animated but willful little girl to say things that you'd only hear in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. (No heavy duty swearing though. That'd be weird.)
Check it out... let me know on this site what you think.
Trivia bees are odd creatures. They bring out the most competitive natures in all of us, that "Look at me! Praise me! I'm smart!" facet of us latent in every other area of our boring lives. Where else but a trivia night can you crack open that vault in your head, revealing that you have memorized all the passive verbs, or name all the presidents in order, or studied baseball cards religiously? It's an odd, quirky observational human condition, and I loved every minute.
Best of all, the Medway Foundation for Education spent $200 on the event, rustled up some amazing sponsors (thanks Strata Bank!), and made over $6,000 for educational programs. Now THAT'S profitable!
Want to hold your own trivia night? Check out http://www.3streetstrivia.com/ for a kit that makes the planning easy and fun. That way you can spend more time studying facts like who was the oldest president inaugurated (Reagan) or what the first live televised murder (Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby). The important stuff.
"I'll take that little one, way in the back," I said. "That little collie mix?" said the animal shelter guy. "No," I said, "the one behind him." "The gray terrier?" he said. "He's gray," I said, "but way in the back, in the corner." "You mean the water faucet?" he said. I realized then it was a
water faucet, but I didn't want to look like a jerk, so I said, "Yeah, that's the one I want." It ended up costing me almost five hundred dollars to get that faucet removed. But you know, I've still got that faucet, and I wouldn't trade it for any dog in the world."