Friday, June 29, 2007

Color Me Wow

Trying to find the words. Mostly, when I think about last night, I just shake my head in stunned, wide-eyed silence... in a good way.

Last night was the big screen premiere of "Pray for Daylight" at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis. Our first feature length movie, filmed in the fall of 2005, was finally getting a real debut. It was planned mostly as a big "thank you" to all of the cast and crew that graciously volunteered their time and talents, and the location owners who allowed us to invade their space for a few intense hours.

Then it grew. We decided to open up the free showing to the general public. We set ourselves up with a publicist. We duplicated DVDs, had a big movie poster made and alerted the media.

If you screen it, they will come.

After just 2 weeks of here and there promoting, 80 - 100 people were in attendance... and not just cast and crew. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers -- and people who had no prior affiliation with our little vampire movie -- showed up.

And I think they had fun!

Before the show started, Tony got up and said a few words. One of the most important things he did was to give people permission to have an opinion and VOICE it. It sounds like a given, but it isn't. People have a tendency, when asked about someone else's creative efforts, to politely smile and nod -- even if they hated it. He asked them to be involved; express whether they liked something or not - in the moment - and I think that paid off.

As for the movie itself. Wow. Everyone who worked on it is painfully aware of all of the movie's problems. But I have to say this: it looked better, played better, sounded better and all-around *was* better than I had ever imagined it would. Sure, it has its warts. Sure there are things we would have like to have done differently or done better. But "Pray for Daylight" is now complete. If we entertained a few people for little while - brought them a few minutes of escape from day to day life - it's all worth it.

Thank you to everyone who came to the premiere and made it such a special event.
Thank you to the guys of Jagged Spiral: Conrad, Colin and Josh. "Pray for Daylight" is a melodrama - and your music brought new depth to each and every scene. (
Thank you to Sasha for Syiera's dangerous beauty and grace. With no training you made difficult martial arts moves look easy... and better than those of us *with* training. (Dammit!)
Thank you to Robin for vibrantly breathing life and vitality into our big, bad! (Oh, and thanks for getting shot, too!)
Thank you to Rob for making the movie look so "pretty" (MORE MAGENTA! MORE CHINA BALLS!) and sound so good (ADR RULES!)
Thank you to Rick for creating the vision of Eric Saveau and Cassie Banning that we've all come to love, and for bringing an earnest and believable Saveau to life.
Thank you to Teresa for fantastic fight sequences and putting the "kick" in Cassie's "ass".
Thank you to Trey for your skills as an actor, insights, humor and for sitting in a chair for three days with a nasty polyester gag in your mouth. (SPOILER ALERT)
Thank you to EVERYONE - cast, crew, generous location owners... and the families / friends who put up with our cast and crew being involved!

Most of all, thank you to Tony, our fearless leader, for being the driving force behind Stone Soup. Nothing would have happened without you.

What's next for Stone Soup? There are ideas in the works. Nothing to announce quite yet. But one thing's for certain. Stone Soup films will be back.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Angel and Wesley Dance

Needed a giggle this morning.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Ghost That Typed

The Life of a Corporate Contract Writer

Every day we’re surrounded by words. Most of the time, people don’t even think about it. Not just books and newspapers. Who writes what you see on your cereal box in the morning? The information on your shampoo bottle? The message on your fast food drive-thru bag? Weekly sale ads in the Sunday paper? Product information at your favorite online stores?

Then go a step further. Who writes your company’s newsletters and Intranet? The instructions you go to for submitting your timecard? The information for your medical insurance? Behind everything is a writer…

…or at least there should be. Frankly, if you’ve ever been confused by what you’ve read, the company was probably too cheap to hire a professional. How a company presents itself through written communications makes an impression; the right words have impact. As with anything, you get what you pay for; and experienced, professional writers, are often far undervalued.

MARCH 2002

“Welcome to the team! We couldn’t do it without you!”

I set the insert card on the table next to a vase filled with 2-dozen spring tulips. The sudden shift from I-really-need-a-job data entry back to being a Web and marketing writer had been dizzying. Not only were my real skills finally being dusted off after one year post-layoff, but I was appreciated, too. Pretty heady stuff.

What followed was four intense years of being the sole writer for one of the largest, most successful and critically-lauded school fundraising programs in the nation, run by one of the world’s largest food companies. I was brought on to bring the communications for their program both consistency and style. Yes, I was a contractor, but I was part of the team. My opinion was valued. My ideas were used and were successful for both the program and the K-8 schools it served.

For four years, every month I wrote and edited eight to twelve articles, three emails, multiple ads, and much more. There were four quarterly newsletters, each with two versions. There were printed materials, flyers, letters, notifications, and special events. I created earning ideas, contests, and gave advice. I constantly monitored the forums where school volunteers voiced their problems and concerns so my writing could be relevant to their unique needs. I wrote all of the copy through four yearly website overhauls for two websites… plus two more. I worked days, nights and weekends to meet their needs. For four years I ate, drank and slept this program.


“As of the October website updates, your services will no longer be needed. This is no reflection on your abilities as a writer. Due to budget constraints we will now be doing the writing in-house.”

The brief, impersonal Dear Jane email that ended my contract was a direct hit. Even today I feel it like a physical punch to the gut. Not a personal call. Not a meeting. Four years and I was summarily dismissed. The email didn’t even come from the head of the program, but from another contractor.

Four years of carefully crafting their entire message, branding and image through words – without so much as a goodbye lunch.

I could go into the evolution of the “team”, the corporate politics, lying and thoroughly unethical business behavior behind it all, but that’s not the point of my posting today.

I’ve moved on for the most part. I have a good regular job right now, with a good company, and a great boss. It’s steady, pays the bills, provides my family with medical insurance and keeps a roof over our heads. I still accept the occasional freelance writing job for other areas of the fundraising program when they ask. From what I’ve heard through the grapevine, the “in-house” writers provided by the other contractor haven’t worked out very well – they’ve been through several in just a few months – so much for consistency.

This wasn't my only client. Just the most startling example of just how disposable and invisible contractors -- in any profession -- have become. We're expected to show up, solve the company's problems with no tangible recognition or benefits other than a paycheck, and leave. A temporary employee that you don’t have to provide benefits for, that you don’t have to keep happy or give incentives to, who’s an expert in their field, that you can let go when the project is done AND get recognition for their work? For businesses, what’s not to like?

My point is that all the work I took such pride in… the effect it had on tens of thousands of schools across the nation and millions of kids… the fact that the words I crafted made an impression on millions of people and really did make a difference… no one… not one of those people… will ever know that it was me behind it. Corporate contract writers don’t get a by-line. My portfolio and resume will never fully demonstrate to a future employer the dedication I had for my work.

I’m just one of many nameless, faceless writers whose words and work are taken for granted.

I’m just the ghost that typed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

My Spidey Sense is Tingling

Don't ask why. The Spiderman theme song was running through my head this morning. I had to go find the lyrics to help with the sections I was singing "la, la, la" to instead of the real words.

I share them with you, gentle reader...

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Does whatever a spider can.
Spins a web, any size,
Catches thieves just like flies.
Look out! Here comes the Spiderman.

Is he strong? Listen bud—
He's got radioactive blood.
Can he swing from a thread?
Take a look overhead.
Hey there! There goes the Spiderman.

In the chill of the night,
At the scene of the crime,
Like a streak of light,
He arrives just in time!

Spiderman, Spiderman,
Friendly neighborhood Spiderman.
Wealth and fame, he's ignored—
Action is his reward.

To him,
Life is a great big bang-up—
Wherever there's a hang-up,
You'll find the Spiderman!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Peel the Grapes, Slave!

You are Cleopatra

Beautiful and Charming. You are able to persuade anyone to do anything you would like, because of your hotness and charisma. You are an expert in gaining power over anyone you choose.

Take this quiz at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

D20 or Percentiles?

Your SaniTest(TM) Results

Your score is: 123

For easier understanding, the HPLHS SaniTest assessment algorithm converts your raw score to a scale of 1 to 10. This number is your INSANITY INDEX.

INSANITY INDEX 6.73 Thank you for taking the SaniTest(TM). Your score indicates that you are totally unhinged. It seems likely that the rational parts of your mind are completely separated both from your emotions, and from all practical views of reality. You should beware of overreacting to situations, and you might want to get a few opinions before investing in real estate. Others who scored at this level include mime sensations Shields & Yarnell and serial killer Ted Bundy.

How Insane Are You?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

New 7 Wonders of the World

Yes. You read that right.

Want to help choose the new 7 wonders of the world? Log on to, register and place your vote! The top picks will be announced 7/7/07 in Lisbon, Portugal.

What's that? No! I'm not telling you who I voted for! Go out and vote for yourself!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


A couple of years ago we took the kids to a Weird Al Yankovic concert in Minneapolis. I've seen a lot of great performers in my time, but rarely someone with such talent and energy. Plus, it was kid-friendly. A great time was had by all.

This year Weird Al will be playing the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, as he has several times in years past. Tickets to see him are $20 each and the seating is still fairly close to the stage. $80 for four people. Not bad, right? Just wait.

Problem #1: The tickets are through the great-grand daddy bastard of entertainment fleecing -- Ticketmaster. (Does that make us Ticketslaves?) Per ticket, add a $2.00 "Facilities Charge" and $5.25 "Convenience Charge" -- $27.25 per person. Ticketmaster raises it from $80 for all four of us to $109.

Problem #2: That doesn't cover the cost to get INTO the fairgrounds - $11 per adult plus $8 for Kate. That tacks on another $41 just to walk through the fairgrounds gate and into the Grandstand. The total now stands at $150.

Problem #3: Fairground parking - $9. That is if we didn't have to use one of the other outrageous parking methods.

Total for four people to attend a Weird Al concert at the Minnesota State Fair?


For what would have been a relatively reasonable concert, the cost has been DOUBLED by fees, entrance charges and parking. Is that sick or what?