Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to come across as clever (or not)

magnifying glass A friend once pointed out that when it comes to material for jokes, conversations abound with low-hanging fruit – you just need to look for it. 

This is easier said than done.  We are naturally wired to ignore most cases of mis-speech, tending to instead unconsciously bridge the gaps between what was meant and what was uttered. 

In order to get to the “hidden” funny stuff, you have to learn how to short circuit this wiring.  But the trick doesn’t end there.  Unless you want to become very unpopular, you have to learn how to do this in such a way that won’t interfere with your natural ability to be an accommodating listener.

You’ll find that material will pretty much jump up onto your lap.  The cool thing is that after you’ve noticed something funny, all you have to do is restate it and voila, you’ve made a joke.

There is one down side I should warn you about.  Once you’ve learned to apply this listening method to what other people say, you have by default learned how to apply it to yourself.

Here’s an example:

Person 1:  “I love learning new things.  Yeah, I guess I would say that I enjoy being mentally challenged.”

Person 2:  “I’m glad to hear that.  Some people have a hard time getting over the stigma.”

Person 3:  cracks up

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but in this example I was both Person 1 and Person 2.

Have fun!  Post some of your favorites, if you get a chance.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shameless plugs

Christmas music is in the air, wallets are out and in use…  the holidays must be approaching.

I mentioned by Zazzle-ness around this time two years ago.  Since then, my Zazzle account has served as a creative outlet, encouraging me to learn more about the knobs and doo-hickeys that come with my graphic software.

Now for the shameless plugs.  :)

HangInThere NoWordStoryButterflyTie

Butterflies have been on my mind quite a bit lately.  The cards touch on the concept of  transformation that I have written about before.  Since they are customizable, I imagine they can be used for congratulations (e.g. “Hooray, you made it through!”) or as encouragement (e.g.  “Hang in there, it will be worth it.”)

The idea for the tie came to me as I tried to imagine someone being nervous on a first date.  Be on the look out for a blue butterfly tie, coming soon.


I’m currently in the process of designing “unique” ties.  I can promise you that no one you know has a tie like these.  Yet, that is.

Perhaps it’s a myth that dad’s and new boyfriends around the globe get ties for Christmas.  Just in case, I want to be well armed.  Plus, these are fun to make.   Christian recently gave me an awesome idea for a fun and quirky tie.  Check out my on-line store (http://shop.whoelsa.com) soon to see what it is!

Let me know what you think!  And, if you’re willing to do me a huge favor, spread the word. 

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We get to choose which direction we face

Have you ever sat in a theater equipped with motion simulating seats?  Although it may seem strange to pay good money to get tossed this way and that like a vain woman’s locks, perfectly timed jolts, lurches, and drops can trick your body into believing what your eyes are seeing on the screen.  I like this -- the sensations conjured by the perfect combination of image and motion dunk me deep, deep into a movie. 

A number of years ago, half-way through an exciting series of roller coaster loops, dare-devil flight maneuvers, and expert speed racing stunts at this kind of theater, I randomly decided to come up for air and check in on my companions – were they

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Story Hearts

I’ve been reaching into my pocket a bit more than usual the last two weeks -- I find it’s a helpful way of taking care of myself when people I care about need an emotional anchor. 

Sometimes the idea or image I turn to for comfort is not fully developed.  It might just be the essence of a concept or, in some cases, a tiny, little seed.  Recently, I heard Jackson Gillman tell about his experience listening to a powerful one word story.  It made me realize that the kernel of a story can actually be its heart.

Here is a story heart that has been on my mind quite a bit lately:

Caterpillar by Elsa Cocoon Butterfly by Elsa


I hope it can buoy you as it has been buoying me. 

P.S.  I want to give credit where credit is due.  The cocoon image is taken from a photograph by Greyson Orlando.  The caterpillar and butterfly are the results of my fledgling path toward learning vector based graphics.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A pat on the back

A friend of mine and I try to make a point of scheduling regular buddy dates.  Sometimes we work and other times we play.  Most of the time what we do ends up somewhere in the middle.

A few months back we were playing around with lists -- the kind where you strive to turn off your inner editor.  100 things that make me happy.  100 things I am grateful for.  100 things I am good at.


100 things I am good at?  Suddenly I realized that my inner editor hadn’t actually turned off, she was just out gathering friends.  Inner critic, doubt, shyness – you name it – they were all dragged along to this party. 

Friday, November 06, 2009

A couple of snapshots of Brother Blue

SDC10024My parents met Brother Blue and Ruth in 2002 during my first storytelling feature.  I had been so eager to share this treasure I had stumbled upon, but I was nervous – would they see what I saw?  Would they feel what I felt?

Of course I had nothing to worry about.  My parents instantly recognized they were meeting royalty. 

Since then, they have asked after Blue and Ruth.  And, every time I have seen Blue and Ruth, they asked after my parents.  Most folks tend to ask about my Mom first,  but wouldn’t you know, Blue danced to a different drum in that regard as well.

How’s your daddy?” has been a typical Blue greeting for the last 7 years.  “That man, he’s a special cat.”  Blue would follow this up by pointing out the qualities of my father that other folks might not divine at first glance. 

And then, more often than not, he would remind me.

Never make that man cry.


I just finished listening to my poor, poor recording of that first storytelling feature at Blue’s.  Since you can’t hear Blue’s amazing, active listening (oh my god, how I loved to watch him listen) I’m making the first 5 seconds available so you can hear him laughing.

Please, please tell me I remembered to say “Thank you”.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Keeping our brain in shape? Maybe.

Enjoying ourselves?  Absolutely.

readwhoelsa Sometime back I bought Brain Age, a game for the Nintendo DS Lite that positions itself as a brain workout.  It’s fun.  On occasion, as you make your way through “brain stimulating” exercises, Dr. Kawashima (pictured on the left) pops up to provide you with helpful tips regarding your brain’s health.

According to the cartoon Kawashima, reading aloud is a great way for adults to stimulate their brain. 

Which is a really long-winded way to introduce the fact that Christian and I make a point of reading to each other.  Not religiously or anything -- sometimes we forget, sometimes our schedules conflict, and sometimes we just don’t feel like it.  But there are times that we really get into it.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyLike now, for example. We have been reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and I am loving it.  This is the first time I can recall asking someone reading to me to “rewind!”  so I can let that part of the story wash over me again.

Yes, it’s that good.

I find the characters and the things they do and say compelling.  And sharing this experience with someone special is a real treat.  So, even if it turns out that this cartoon doctor is a quack, I’m going to stick with this program.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November announcement


For those of you who cannot read my chicken scratch:

November will be my

“Step away from the computer”


I will limit my computer usage to a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon (with the exception of client work, when the demand calls for it.)


Way back when folks had to sign up for computer time, they showed up to the keyboard ready to roll.  I want to do this, too!  Which means I will have to plan/schedule my time differently.  It also means I have to re-learn how to draft ideas out on paper.

Double Yikes!

wish me luck!!


(I spent the first weekend of the month un-tethered to the computer, so this post is backdated.)

(And, for the sake of full disclosure: I have easy access to e-mail & Facebook, and so-so access to the web via my phone.  No decisions about this have been made as of yet…)

The adventure begins…


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