Category Archives: happiness

This, this, all the this!

If you are a creative, this video will sounds very familiar – but it’s a universal message. Lord knows I’ve been down this road a few times. Determination, persistence and touch of naivete is usually enough to win the day – it’s just the “day” in question usually lasts for years.

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Autumn, Nostalgia & Mixtapes

memorex

It’s only August, but just the other night I got a hint of a scent in the air that was unmistakable to me as Autumn. I don’t know how to describe it other than wet and earthy. It’s a smell that reminds me of October and all of the Americana that goes along with it: changing leaves, costumes, Halloween in a Normal Rockwell kind of way, and the best parts of my adolescence.

There are certain smells that just go with things. Football players talk about the smell of the field before a game.  I remember that smell, there really is nothing else like it. It almost smells as if the field is sweating before the game begins. The other day at a rehearsal for “Rope” I caught the scent of  a very specific hairspray in the dressing room, a hairspray that I’ve smelled in dressing rooms for decades and with that one contact I was suddenly reminded of all of those shows. The Autumn smell works the exact same way and triggers some of the strongest nostalgia I feel during any given year.

Every year, usually later than now, when the air starts to change and the nostalgia comes on I find myself searching though my music to make a playlist appropriate to the season. I started doing this back when I was a teenager, making mix tapes on my dual cassette/CD stereo system. There was more of an art to it back then. People had tape lengths that they liked to work in (I was a Memorex 90 minute man, myself) and you’d have to plan out your songs and hope that they would fit each side perfectly. I became very good with the Play/Pause button and mastered the length of the tape lead before it started recording. I could do it by feel, no counting required. Somewhere, deep in boxes that probably haven’t seen the light of day in at least a decade, there are dozens of mix tapes made from my music library circa 1990-1996. These tapes were with me during car rides with my friends when we first felt the “freedom” of being teenagers with cars. They were there for early relationships and the break-ups that went along with them. They were there for my first cigarette and for my first sips of Boones Farm Strawberry Hill. They were the soundtrack to my coming of age and represent all the songs that meant something to me at the time. They were also a pretty good representation of alternative hits and underground bands of the time.

My friends did it too, across the board. We’d listen to what each other made, finding new songs that we liked and new bands. My friend Jeff introduced to me to Oingo Boingo, Voice of the Beehive and October Project this way. I discovered that my friend Dan and I had a mutual love of The Cars and The Police this way. And my friend Scott exposed me to the power of Bad Religion and Pennywise this way. Entire backyard parties were powered by these tapes. They were teenage sorcery that could help bend the mood of entire rooms full of hormone fueled basket cases.

Technology changed and iTunes and iPods made it very easy to generate playlists based on whatever mood you were in at that second. Gone was the finesse of tape creation; instead you could just slam together song after song on a whim. I remember sitting at the computer for hours at a time, days in a row plugging songs into the playlists where I felt they belonged. I had the perfect list for whatever mood I was in. It was pretty awesome… until the crash of 2007 when iTunes and all of my playlists crashed and burned. That killed a lot of the fire I had for digital playlists. So much time was spent creating things that were wiped away in, literally, a moment.  After that it took until I discovered Spotify before I felt that a digital playlist would be worth creating again. I haven’t created as many playlists as I did before 2007, but I do find that the ones I curate now get a lot more play.

I started a new playlist for autumn 2015 on Spotify. It’s the start of something that will probably get bigger as the days get shorter and the air gets crisper. I’m sharing this because I selfishly want you to share your playlists with me. Back in the day we would swap tapes and CD’s, but now we can toss entire playlists around digitally. This playlist is full of songs that take me back to being sixteen-and-angry, ready to rage against the world… as soon as I finish my journal entry about no one understanding me. It’s what I would want to listen to on a rainy day, hence the name. Check it out and let me know what you think, but more importantly share your playlists with me. Drop them in the comments and show me something new. I want to try and capture that feeling of sharing music again from back in the day. Whether it’s a favorite album from your favorite band or a playlist of your own creation, pop it in the comments and let’s hear something new.

Happy listening.

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Filed under creativity, Curtis Andersen, general, happiness, high school, iTunes, music, musings, rambling, songs, Uncategorized

New York Seltzer is BACK!

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For those of you that grew up in the 80’s you may remember the bottle above. New York Seltzer was the Snapple of the time; a little independent drink company that had hardcore fans, but not a major national following. I found out that New York Seltzer is coming back and I’m really excited about it! It may be a bit silly to be excited by the return of a drink, but New York Seltzer has a special place in my heart. It is the first thing that I remember drinking when my family first moved out to California.

Before 1985 I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – home of cheese, Green Bay Packers fans, and terrifyingly cold winters. I have memories of not being allowed outside during the coldest ones because there was a concern that the lungs of children and the elderly would freeze. The door handle to my mom’s car snapped off in her hand once because it was so cold. Automatic doors to get into the grocery store would fail in the winter. It was damn cold. That being said I also have memories of awesome snow forts that took up most of our backyard and how my dad and I dug really long tunnels in the snow drifts.

Then in February 1985 my dad got transferred to California and we moved from Milwaukee to Brea. It was a drastic difference! We went from snow and heavy coats and boots to sunshine, swimming pools, and shorts. I wore my moon boots for the first month just because that’s what I was used to wearing (I was a fashion plate).   When we first got to California there were all kinds of things to check out. Suddenly we were in spitting distance of Disneyland, there was a beach that was against the ocean and not a giant lake, and new kinds of food – like avocados and salsa!

During one of our jaunts to explore the neighborhood we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall deli. It’s not there anymore but I remember it vividly. It was dark, mostly by comparison because it was so bright outside, it had white walls and black and white checkered tile floors. There were framed pictures of New York on the walls and little bistro tables. I got a B.L.T. and my mom got me my first New York Seltzer. She thought it would be fun to try since they didn’t have regular soda there.

It wasn’t just fun, it was a revelation!

I had never tasted anything like it before. It was black cherry flavor and it was clear and crisp and tasted like California. That’s honestly the best description I can give. It was the taste equivalent of all the cliche romantic imagery of California wrapped up in a bottle that told you it was from New York City. Palm trees, beaches, smiling pretty people, surfing – it was in the bottle. It was like a movie montage of Southern California in your mouth.

It came in 4-packs and we bought them in a variety of flavors although peach and black cherry were my favorites. My friend, Tommy, used to have burping contests with me spurred on by the carbonated power of the seltzer. When we got really desperate we’d even drink the cream soda. When we were really desperate.

Then, in the early 90’s, the magic died. A competitive soft drink market killed New York Seltzer and all this nation was left with was a fading memory of flavor joy. I moved on to Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, but the memory of New York Seltzer always haunted me…

…until now!

New York Seltzer is coming back! It is available online and hopefully soon in stores! I haven’t tasted it in, wow, over 20 years but I’m really looking forward to it. If any of the New York Seltzer folks are reading this: I’ll happily plug the product for a few 4-packs! You can check out their website below and order all the black cherry soda you can drink!

Drink New York Seltzer

 

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Filed under drinking, family, getting old, happiness

Chicago & Creativity

Over the weekend Rene and I had the pleasure of visiting Chicago. I delivered the Think Fast seminar at the National Auctioneer’s Association Conference. We had a fantastic time in Chicago, we loved so many things about it, enough for it to be a completely different post later. Today I want to talk about the conference.

The point of the conference is continued education for the benefit auctioneers who attend. They get a chance to brush up on skills and learn new techniques. I was invited to help share improvisation techniques to aid in crowd control and auction flow. We did a series of games designed to keep them from second guessing themselves and to engage the creative centers of their brains. 
These are very personable people with gregarious personalities. They have a performer’s mentality and a salesmen’s drive. They write their own scripts, interact with people constantly and do the job of being both a host and performer.  These are creative people, but many of them had forgotten that. 
When I was first approached about speaking at the conference one of the specifics that was mentioned was to help come up with snappy patter and one-liners. That’s a tough thing to do for other people in a general way. When writing comedy it’s best to write to your subject. General jokes create general results. Specific jokes create specific results, better results. The fact of the matter is that they really didn’t need my help coming up with clever or snappy patter. Every one of the people at that conference has all the ability they need, they just needed the confidence to trust themselves. 
And that’s really the point of it all. So many people forget in the course of what they’re doing that part of why they are doing whatever it is they are doing, they are doing it because they had an idea about it. Something triggered their creativity and got them to where they are at. 
Now I know what some of the more cynical of you are thinking, “What about people in menial jobs? What kind of creativity got them there?” And, ok, I’ll give you that the job itself may not be the end goal, but they got that job for a reason. They needed to pay for something and that job is going to help do that. Everybody has their reasons. And sometimes the motivation can lead down some convoluted paths that distract you from the ultimate goal. All the more reason to get refocused! 
During the exercises you could see the spark light up as they remembered that they already knew how to do this stuff. They brought their own talents out and they got excited! It was really neat to see. Tools are great but seeing people use them, effectively, is always better. 
I think that we can all forget sometimes how to use our talents, at least to their full extent. It’s easy to get caught up using them in certain ways, simple ways. Sometimes you don’t get challenged, worse we don’t always challenge ourselves. Talents are different than skills. Skills are learned, require practice and can fade from lack of use. Talents are innate. The stick around whether we want them or not. Skills can enhance a talent, but skills can never replace a talent. 
I have heard it said, and it makes a nice poetic notion, that when you teach you learn as much as you pass on. I definitely learned some things during the conference. While talking to them I was reminded that I haven’t really been utilizing my talents as much either. It was motivating. I saw what it was like for them to be making a living doing what they love. That was inspiring. And I was pointed to a Facebook group all about grilling and barbecuing. It looks delicious!
So I put it to you, use your talents. They don’t need to make you famous, but they can make a difference, even if that difference is just making you a little bit happier. 
But that’s just me, what do you think? Let’s talk in he comments. 
See you next time!

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I Forgot to Show You This!

OMG! How could I not have posted this?!?!? Frankie discovered his love for fountains!

It’s been on my personal YouTube page (but don’t go there, I almost never post there so if you want to subscribe to something go to the WiggyWebs Channel) but I haven’t really shared it with people.

I’m happy to have this horrible oversight corrected now.

Frankie hasn’t retained his love for the fountain. He still enjoys sitting by it, but he’s never recaptured that I’m-going-to-bite-the-water-and-jump-in magic from this first day.

Go ahead, watch it again – HE’S SO CUTE!

See you tomorrow!

EDIT – OK, I was wrong.  I posted this video in the blog right HERE, but it was thrown in with all kinds of other stuff so I’m still going to post it here in its own blog just ‘cuz.

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Filed under Frankie, happiness, pets, pit bulls

Perspective

I was listening to my podcasts in the car, as I’m want to do, enjoying Matt Fraction, the current writer of “The Invincible Iron Man”, on Word Balloon hosted by John Siuntres.  The interview was mostly comics and pop culture, but Mr. Fraction mentioned something while talking about… geez, I don’t even remember the subject, but that’s not the important part… he said, “when you realize nothing matters you realize everything matters.”  It’s a very simple way to say that we are a very small part of this universe with a very short time in it.  In the end our actions have very little effect in the overall result of all things, but for that reason, if for no other reason, we should take advantage of all the time that we have to do the things that we are driven to do and enjoy that time to the highest degree.

I think that’s a good thing.

Unfortunately I’ve now run into a bit of a problem since I remember I started this post with a larger point and now I can’t seem to articulate it.  I’m blaming it on exhaustion and calling it a night.

See you tomorrow!

P.S. The Venus statue above is made of white chocolate.

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