Review: The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

I’m only beginning my creative writing career. I haven’t sold any writing, but I have been published here and there. Not to mention on my own site. Oops. I mentioned it.

I have, however, been a ‘creative’ for my entire life. Whether I was pretending to be Speed Racer and taking the Mach 5 to new speeds, playing “Lost Boys” with my best friend, Davy, as I played the smart boy and he played the strong one to get us out of a lava flow dangerously getting closer and closer, or drawing out a story for a graphic novel that I left unfinished, I’ve been ‘creating’ things my whole life.

In fact, I realized a few years ago, that I was even ‘creating’ my life.

When I was asked to extend a course in Creative Identity from one semester to a second semester at the New Design School, a graphic design school in Fayetteville, AR, I was conflicted on what direction to take. In the first course, I took the new students on an inward journey of creativity to see how they viewed themselves and the world to better communicate their commercial creative designs to come. So where could I take them in a second course?

Luckily, I’m surrounded with amazing people, including my lovely, talented, and amazing partner, Christi, who said, “Have you read Making Ideas Happen yet?” I’ll review this book in another article. But it led to the perfect foundation for the class. One aimed at teaching action.

But it was missing an element.

I went through two or three other books and finally landed on Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn it and use it for life.

While Twyla Tharp is a dancer, her life is all about creativity. And in this book she breaks down all the aspects of living a creative life, the struggles, joys, and accidents along the way.

This book brought the soul of the class to life.

The graphic design of the book also creates a vibrant, easy to read experience. But that’s a different kind of review.

I walk into a white room

The book begins…

I walk into a large white room. It’s a dance studio in midtown Manhattan. I’m wearing a sweatshirt, faded jeans, and Nike cross-trainers. The room is lined with eight-foot-high mirrors. There’s a boom box in the corner. The floor is clean, virtually spotless if you don’t count the thousands of skid marks and footprints left there by dancers rehearsing. Other than the mirrors, the boom box, the skid marks, and me, the room is empty.

As she shares her lifetime journey of dance, she takes you through stories of meeting with Billy Joel to pitch her broadway show idea Movin’ Out, through her failures, her successes, and gives you insights to how she and other creative lifestyles evolve and grow.

I was amazed at how easily her The Creative Habit book matched the content of Making Ideas Happen, by Scott Belsky, over the 12 week class. Her views on how getting “An ‘A’ in Failure” lined up perfectly with how creative professionals shouldn’t get bogged down by failing, but take time to reflect on the internal and external forces and find the lessons to be better prepared in future endeavors.

Tapping into your “Creative DNA,” “Scratching” for ideas, and, my favorite chapter, “Before You Can Think out of the Box, You Have to Start with a Box.”

Again, the parallels with Making Ideas Happen were in alignment where the topic was all about how we all are much more creative when we have a smaller canvas to work on. For example, Tharp said to watch out for people that offer you all the resources you need, no direction, and no restrictions as they are setting you up to fail. But beyond that, Tharp describes her system for creating projects. She makes a box to put all her ideas into and then begins organizing everything into an order to move forward. This is nearly identical to the Action Method described in Belsky’s book.

Tharp also gives exercises to help those interested in building a habit of creativity at the end of every chapter. Some are simple introspective exercises. Others are more time consuming and require physical activity, from stomping your foot and shouting, “BEGIN!” to taking yourself on a trip of exploration.

This book is a MUST for those who have gone through the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, as it shows a real life example of someone who has implemented living a creative life by creating a real creative habit.


You can find all three books on for well under retail.


Photo Credit via © Richard Avedon.

Review: RED

I love a good action thriller with a little humor. I also really like watching Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and the stunning Mary-Louise Parker (from Weeds).

Since the movie comes from a DC Comic’s graphic novel, it’s no surprise that the action is a bit over the top, especially when it comes to guns and explosions. While there isn’t a lot of gore that has been prevalent in most movies of late, there is plenty of violent action scenes.

The premise is that several retired spies have been targeted for assasination and have to figure out who is doing this so they can stop them and live a quiet retirement. Or in the case of Bruce Willis’ character, Frank Moses, be free to begin a relationship with bored-with-her-life U.S. Pension fund employee, Sarah Ross, played by Mary-Louise Parker.

Throw up-and-coming CIA operative, William Cooper (Karl Urban), into the mix to try to stop the retired team, and you’ve got plot twist after plot twist until the finale.

Malkovich always plays interesting characters and his portrayal of paranoid ex-agent and government test subject, Marvin Boggs, is no exception.

A fun movie and great actors to watch, even with the excessive use of bullets.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

While it is well known I like zombie flicks, I also enjoy a suspensful horror movie.

Most people weren’t impressed with Paranormal Activity, but it did smashingly well at the box office. Because of this, Hollywood HAD to make a sequel.

I will confess I did not see it at the box office. Mostly because no one will go with me to cheesy horror flicks.

For those who missed the first one, why are you still reading??? (laugh)

More seasoned actors were used for this film than the first and the quality is much better. The scares are much the same and a little of the mythology of the paranormal activity is explained.

The action of the movie also takes place before the first film and the movie focuses on Paranormal Activity’s lead character’s sister’s family. Cameos from the actors in the first movie occur.

Without giving anything away, there are some nice creepy moments, loud bangs, and a few shocking scenes. All are easy to spot as the low bass rumble that occurs each time an ‘event’ begins. This does give you a nice heart rate increase just wondering what’s about to happen.

The plot is basically the same with a few twists, but if you are looking for a slight creepy sensation and feel like keeping a few lights on tonight, rent the movie.

Let me know what you think.

Paranormal Activity 2
My rating: 6 out of 10

*Photo Paramount Pictures

How Not to Start a Trend

I realize I may be one of the few to not watch the Super Bowl this year. And even the lure of the commercials didn’t get me to watch.

However, I did check in on a few minutes ago and catch up on the highest rated commercials this year.

And, to my suprise, was shocked and amazed at the commercial from Not because of being risque or anything, not because Joan Rivers was in it. And not because of Joan’s amazing ‘make-over.’

No, my amazement was in the fact that GoDaddy has announced how COOL it is to become one of the first people to get your own ‘.co’ web address.

That’s no typo.


In my 15 years of website development…all the way back to when you had to buy all domain names through Network Solutions…back when there were only three extensions the average person could buy (.com, .net, and .org)… I have never heard a professional suggest to a business owner to NOT try to get a .com extension.

Granted, the field is pretty full with most great domain names being taken.

But that’s the point!

If you’re going to buy a domain name with a .co, and the .com is already taken, guess where your customers are going to go? The .com site, of course.

Personally, as a Graphic Designer, I would take one look at that and assume someone did a shody job at proofreading.

Don’t fall into the trap and waste your money. If someone does buy your domain name with .co AND they do the exact same thing as you, you have legal legs to stand on. Call your attorney to find out exactly how.

Contact us at Blue Zoo Websites and we’ll help you find a domain name right for you.

A Zombie Moment with Bacon

I’ve decided to start writing more random thoughts.

I actually spoke some random thoughts and actually got my amazing partner to throw out some of her own ideas.

I told her I would creatively write a short column about zombies and bacon.

She asked, “Like, zombies that eat bacon?” She got all excited and added, “Oh! What if they made collars for zombies made of bacon?”

I chided her and explained that zombies only ate live things, and anyone trying to put the collars on would be bitten…or worse.

She went back to her magazine, flipping the pages a little harder, “they could eat bacon.” she mumbled.

Hey, wait! This was supposed to be MY creative exercise!


The World Will NOT End in 2012

Contrary to popular belief…and I’m willing to go out on a limb about this…the world will NOT end in 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends.

But I repeat myself, and will again. THE WORLD WILL NOT END IN 2012!

“How can you be so certain, Eric? There are signs EVERYWHERE!” people gasp and stare at me like I’m a complete idiot.

Let me just say that I’ve lived through dozens of “end-of-the-world” scenarios. So have you. From Y2K to the rogue planet Nibiru’s supposed passing in 2003 to aliens coming to take us to their planet to the flurry of ‘end-of-days’ stories from religious texts.

There are no more floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, plagues, wars, etc. this year than say…oh…1918 when there was a global pandemic killing nearly 20 million people, a World War going on, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and more.

We just have better forms of communications today. A cartoon at shows that twittering was faster than the seismic waves of an earthquake. We hear and share everything we see and read about without verifying it’s authenticity. is a good place to check for crazy rumors, stories, emails, news, and photos like this.

With movies such as 2012 that show global disaster, many people believe everything written in the script. From solar flares, to polar shifts, and crustal displacement. Poor NASA was so overwhelmed with questions they made a special site to answer questions. If you have any, you might want to check it out as well.

To wrap up, we all will die. Worrying about it happening at some specific date takes the joy out of living today. And even if I am wrong…and I’m not…shouldn’t we all use the time given to make the most of our lives and the days amazing?

I Wake

I wrote this poem one day after staring at myself in the mirror thinking, “I have seen my face nearly every day of my life and it constantly changes.”

But trying to write about how your face changes throughout life seemed daunting. But waking up the next morning I realized that the world around us changes every day too. Sometimes very slightly, but always it changes.

Hope you enjoy.

I wake…
to bright lights and
unpleasant coldness that
gives way to the warmth of
my mother’s arms and my
father’s caress.
I sleep.

I wake…
to clattering dishes and
a diaper damp and soiled which
spreads as I climb the rail of
my crib and fall to the floor
and scream in fear.

I wake…
to jingling bells and
the smell of coffee and bacon which
wafts down the hall to my room
past the Christmas tree lights
and presents all for me.

I wake…
to gasping cries as
mom rocks my new sister who
is red faced and angry and
way too little to
play with me.

I wake…
to gentle nudges as
dad wakes me for my
first day of school which
fills my stomach with

I wake…
to quiet sniffing as
my dog, Happy, lets me know
it’s time to get up and
explore the world

I wake…
to silent darkness and
build universes with my
blocks, cars, and toys as
my parents sleep in their
room unaware.

I wake…
with tired eyes and
see my best friend sleeping
next to me after talking
all night and imagining our
lives ahead.

I wake…
to bulging sheets and
wonder why girls seem
so much more interesting now
and how can I get one
to like me.

I wake…
to creaking floors and
know my dad is getting
ready for work upstairs
and will soon come to
say ‘good morning.’

I wake…
to constant yelling and
stumble out of bed to
shower, eat, and catch
the bus to make it to
junior high.

I wake…
to urgent questions and
get up to help my baby brother
create new worlds of his own
while trumpet tunes play
in my head.

I wake…
to tormented sadness and
wonder why I’ve been dumped for
some guy so uncaring and selfish
who ends up hurting the one I
cared so much for.

I wake…
to loud music and
hit ‘snooze’ to gain more sleep
after working a night shift,
playing music and seeing friends in
one of many weekends.

I wake…
to a tossed pillow from my college roommate
to get me to stop snoring
just as my alarm sounds to
tell me it’s time to get to

I wake…
to gentle caresses and
soft kisses of my girlfriend who
reminds me it’s time to sneak out
of the dorm and make the long trek
back to my own.

I wake…
to insistent ringing and
discover my grandfather has died and
forgo spring break to say goodbye and
support my mom with her

I wake…
to clear skies and
a cold wind while my grandfather is
buried in a small box which is
stamped with the
tree of life.

I wake…
to frantic screams and
calm my bride down from
a lucid nightmare in which
I’ve left her cold and

I wake…
to giddy laughter and
my wife and I throw robes on
and join her huge family for a
Christmas event with kids from
1 to 92.

I wake…
to terrible news and
scream from the bottom of my soul
in anger and sadness that my
mother has passed on leaving
us without her.

I wake…
to pointy claws and
let the cat finish it’s kneading and
glance at the empty space in my bed
where my spouse used to
lay and dream.

I wake…
to clattering wheels of a garage door
and let my brother and his friend
harass me about sleeping in
my bed in our sister’s garage at
age thirty-four.

I wake…
to sheer exhaustion and
make it one more day of
working two jobs and taking
the responsibility of caring for
everyone else but myself.

I wake…
to creamy aroma and
find coffee brewing and
breakfast served with my
friend and roommate adding
hope and encouragement.

I wake…
to egyptian cotton and
a positive outlook as my
business grows, community expands and
relationships blossom creating
happiness unbounded.

I wake…
to timid questions and
let my love’s kids turn on
video games on a lazy
Saturday morning while
we snuggle up and sleep.

I wake…
to warm caresses and
a morning of lovemaking with
my sexy love who collapses and
smiles as her eyes close knowing
more adventure awaits.

I wake…
to gentle rain and
I ready myself for a holiday
with family, friends and dad who
shows up early and feel blessed
to have the time with them all.

I wake…
as an old man with inner contentment
and look back over my days to
see all the souls I have touched
and experiences I have had both
large and small.

I wake…
to a bright light.

I sleep.


Bonus verse for Buddhists and those who believe in reincarnation…

Think I’ll go again.

I wake…
to bright lights and unpleasant coldness that
gives way to the warmth of
my mother’s arms and my
father’s caress.
I sleep.

Ad Agencies: Adapt or Perish

Okay, that may have been harsh. Just read a cool article over at about “The Future of Ad Agencies and Social Media.” And it verfies what I’ve been seeing and experiencing myself.

With innovation and collaboration happening so fast, creatives and strategists have to really stretch to use all the tools in ways to reach people in new and interesting ways.

The billboard is dead. Long live the billboard! But how?

The article is part of a series supported by, (a really interesting site that does what I’ve been dreaming about, and that is tying all your contacts and networks together.)

The “Gist” of the article for ad agencies is:

  • Software in the form of apps and clouds is a more effective tool than simply media
  • There is no ‘average’ buyer, and groups and niches form a tighter mass purchasing behavior
  • Transparency is still important and growing. Don’t try to fool people into buying.
  • Location Campaigns are growing in effectiveness with targeting tools
  • Display ads are growing and evolving now that people can ‘pick’ their ads

Stay tuned for MORE interesting info about ‘Targeting’ your buyer.

(Here’s the original article: )

Dodo image:

QR You Marketing All the Ways You Could Be?

I was checking out the bulletin board at Starbucks this morning and a poster for a music performance had the ‘old style’ tear-off strips to take along. But then I noticed the QR code on the strip! Genius! I whip out my Smartphone and instantly can find out everything about the bands, venues, dates, and more!So, with a few more clicks, I can add any of them to my facebook, calendar AND go sample some of the music before my Mocha Grande is ready.

What creative ideas have you seen with QR Codes?

Technology Should Expand Creativity

After watching the media frenzy of the Old Spice Guy, I really started wondering how you could leverage all the social media to spread information, creations, and ideas. The amazing actions by people speaking at really inspire me to do more…create more. Today, with the help of a friend, I’m spreading a message to several social networks and my personal blog. What you are reading now, and the image attached is showing up on facebook, twitter, linkedin, my blog, and on posterous. Are you keeping your ‘gifts’ to yourself? Time to let them out to the world.

Rise of the Undead

The Walking Dead on AMCWhy Zombies are Gaining Popularity in Entertainment

This October, on AMC, a new type of television show begins it’s run. The Walking Dead, based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics. According to the AMC website, “The Walking Dead tells the story of life following a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, traveling in search of a safe and secure home.”(1)

To a guy that loves scary movies, the thought of an entire television series just rocks my world. Now, I’m not just into the gore. I insist on an interesting story or point of view. I’m a huge fan of the episode “New Years Day” in the short lived series Fear Itself, laughed my butt off at Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, and have even created my own ‘TOP 10 ZOMBIE MOVIES” on my own blog.(2)

Here they come!

But this past weekend, while the San Diego Comic-Con was in full swing, pictures of shambling zombies began pouring onto the internet from their annual “Zombie Walk,” it occurred to me that zombies are even bigger than the movies, comics, and shows they appear in.

Annually, around the world, there are dozens of “Zombie Walks” (or zombie shambles) where people gather in various states of decay and raise awareness of zombies. The first walk on record was in Sacramento, California in 2001 organized to help promote a film festival and is, still, an annual event. Others have popped up in Toronto, Frankfurt, Brisbane, and many across the United States.(4) The largest, to date, was in Seattle Washington this past July 3 for the “Red, White, and Dead” Zombie Walk and is on record as having 4,200 zombies, according to Guinness World Record, though organizers claim closer to 5,000(3).

Even though zombies have been popular since the 60s, why the sudden explosion of books, comics, movies, video games, and, now, television shows?

Better Dead than Red!

I remembered reading that, in the 50s, the main type of horror movie revolved around aliens taking over the bodies of our loved ones. And that this theme echoed from the Communist (red) scare that was fed by the politics of the time. That your next door neighbor could be a ‘commie,’ sucked in by this ‘evil’ belief.

I generally remembered that each decade had a ‘theme’ and began some online research and quickly found some had already been done by Karina Wilson, a British teacher, writer and story consultant in Los Angeles. Her research echoes what I have experienced myself, with some additional insight. The main idea is that the monsters are a reflection of threats in the real world at the time.

  • 40s – Living under the shadow of Hitler’s predatory animal-like tendencies spawned the Universal movie monsters such as Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and the Invisible Man. We struggled with the inner monsters and tried to find something ‘human’ within to be able to relate to and understand.
  • 50s – Seeing the effects of radiation of the atomic weapons of the past decade, movies were often about science gone mad. The Tingler, Godzilla, and Them reflected this idea. Towards the end of the 50s, the Red Scare (noted above) spawned Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, and It Came from Outer Space.
  • 60s – With the unrest in society, equal-rights, social injustice, the general feeling of ‘fears of living in the Atomic Age” and the terror of social alienation,’ (6) ghost stories, the occult, and armageddon filled the screens making us feel that there were things outside of our control to be afraid of. The Haunting, Rosmary’s Baby, the Birds, and the classic zombie film, Night of the Living Dead.
  • 70s and 80s – Revolution ruled the land. Parents didn’t understand their children. And people often tried to stay in the mainstream of what was to be expected of them, rather than stay true to their nature. Because of this, evil children movies appeared, slasher movies where base frustrations were acted out for no apparent reason, and killer animals were spawned. Movies like The Exorcist, The Omen, and Audrey Rose in the evil children category, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th in the slasher genre. Topped off with Jaws, Orca, and The Deep. Even sci-fi movies, like Alien, crossed the bridge from sci-fi to horror in the ‘creature’ category.
  • 90s – Wondering why our parents and grandparents did the things they did, the horror films dove into the psychological and psychopathic minds creating the rise of the Serial Killer. Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Kalifornia, and Natural Born Killers top the category for the 90s.
  • 00s – With the rise of the internet and global communications, in addition to real terrorism hitting the U.S. On 9/11, horror films reflected a need to move away from armageddon and psychopathic terrorists. The culture needed someone to pay for the real horror going on it the world, and it caused the rise of “Torture Porn” with such films as Saw, Hostel, and Captivity. In these movies, we’re closer to the torturers perspective rather than in movies like Silence of the Lambs. Additionally with the global connection, Asian horror movies became very popular and were often remade. Their pace and structure fundamentally different from the U.S. three act play, and focus on spirits, curses and are very stylized and disturbing giving audiences an immediate discomfort and horror.
  • 10s Back to Zombies! We’re just getting started in 2010. While zombies aren’t the main course, a huge portion of the movies have masses of people/creatures/undead that force the main character to fight for their lives. Movies already released or on the slate for 2010 include The Crazies, Legion, Daybreakers, Survival of the Dead, the 4th Resident Evil Movie, and even Pirahna (a huge number of blood thirsty fish to defeat).

Why the Rise?

While every decade horror movies has developed as a reflection of society, I predict the following; that the economic crisis, social awareness of food quality, shrinking global resources, and the world fears of one person or country controlling their lives, the movies created will continue to be a combination of mass hordes of undead/zealots/thoughtless individuals who attempt to use/destroy everything around them.

However, because of our global connection, the best horror movies will tie several themes together due to collaboration among writers of different backgrounds. Primal fears will be tapped in a way that creates action rather than just sedation.

There’s nothing scarier than being in a hopeless situation where you’re surrounded by hundreds of creatures intent on eating you. And there is nothing scarier in real life, than to be in a situation where it seems the world, government, parents, friends, co-workers, etc. are all against you, you have no way out, and no one who will pay attention to you.

The rise of the zombie genre is a comic, heightened, version of those of us who feel helpless. Instead of living, we shamble through life, looking for the nearest fast food restaurant to consume whatever will fill us, unthinking about the consequences of our diet. We plop down at home, waiting for the television to feed us entertainment.

By actively becoming a zombie, we laugh at ourselves and take action to become noticed. We consciously create a new reality of which we control our direction and fate.

At the movies, where we watch the shambling zombie masses be destroyed, we can face our fears with others and, maybe, step back out into the sunlight eager to live again.

4. Dan Restione (2010-07-06). “Thousands of zombies march in Fremont”

Photo Credits:
San Diego ComicCon Zombie Walk:
Zombie Images from AMC:
Zombie Walk Article Photo by Mike Rollerson:


Big things on the horizon. I’ll be posting soon. Watch for major changes to this website and others I run.

Meanwhile, with some inspiration from iStockPhotos (background image of woman in field) and the creations from MediaMilitia (lights, streaks, textures, etc), I created…Illuminated.

I liked how vibrant the model was, the golds of the wheat fields, and stumbling across all the graphics packs from MediaMilitia, I felt like playing.


Creating New Things

Looking back at some of my old ‘God’ image, I realized I had ditched a path of creativity.

With only a few days away from my 44th birthday, I did a quick glance back to all those things I left behind or gave up trying.

Now, some of you who know I’ve gone through Happiness Coaching may say, “WAIT! You can’t look back and regret your decisions! That leads to unhappiness.” Right?

However, I can assure you, what I’m doing instead is looking back at what I used to WANT to do, but didn’t think I should.

Music. Art. Writing.

In fact, I wanted to be a computer game designer and started to study in college, but the college only had programming. Actually it only had a math degree with an emphasis on computer programming.

So, my look back has made me realize how amazing I feel when I create stuff from the heart, from emotions, from passion.

Here are two I did this evening after finding a really really great site filled with free images, brushes, filters, templates and more.

Thanks for letting me share.