Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Official!

Clay Aiken... Broadway Star!

Yesterday he got his framed caricature installed at Sardi's. That's the Big Apple equivalent of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

While Matthew Blank of Playbill News says...

"American Idol" finalist Clay Aiken, who currently portrays Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, was honored Dec. 23 with a caricature that now adorns the walls of the famed eatery Sardi's.

So where's the picture???

Let's see if you can pick it out from the plethora of artistic renderings below.

And before 'those of you' most likely to be reading this blog chuckle... remember that there are actually SOME people out there (like the vast majority of the world's population) who may not actually know! LOL

Click on a thumbnail to see if you're right!

















Heh, that was fun!

But I am just SO proud of him!... as this is an honor reserved for only a very select few.

And I am also moved to tears (with an exuberant smiley face) by the way he signed it...



Finally I'm first at something...

For further interesting details and FAR more enlightening information, please check out the following blogs:

**The ConClayve

**Carolina Clay


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas With Love


As Christmas Eve dawns... I just want to take a moment to wish all of my family and friends, old and new, a wonderful and peaceful holiday season.

The video is a couple years old... but the message is timeless. The soundtrack is fairly timeless as well. So Enjoy! And again, Merry Christmas... with love.





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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Present...


So this Christmas will be a little bit different from Christmases Past. Not that I haven't spent the holidays alone before because I have... But those were in the years where my children would sometimes spend the holidays with their dad and I always knew I'd have them here again with me the next year. And so, I pretty much would just use those times as opportunities to sit back, relax, listen to some music, watch a few videos, all the while thinking of everyone else hurriedly bustling with last minute wrapping or stocking filling and drowning in the mess of Christmas Day clean up, etc, etc. And well, to be totally honest?... I rather completely enjoyed it.

This year, not so much.

So why? What makes this year different???


BECAUSE THIS YEAR, WE DON'T GET A CLAY AIKEN CHRISTMAS TOUR!!!

So yeah, ok, I'm partially kidding here kids... However, this blog IS called Clayigraphy, so it's, afterall, rather obligatory that I mention that fact. And, for sure, it hasn't in ANY way assisted in helping to get me out of this seemingly endless holiday funk. So there you go.

But the REAL truth is... this year I just really kind of miss the mess! Not that there ever WAS much of a mess after we got through all the "Barbie" years, so I guess that's not really it. Or maybe I just miss the traditions. The Christmas Eve Disney movies... or decorating the tree to Amy Grant (which I think in 2004 became the compilation which we now lovingly call "Amy Aiken")... Or hiding Christmas gifts in the most clever places until they could be wrapped secretly in the basement, very late on Christmas Eve after the girls had gone to bed(even when they were teenagers) because everyone knows that though there isn't a Santa Claus, there STILL really IS. I miss the challenge of tiptoeing into their rooms and setting out those packages of jamies and slippers next to their beds without waking them up (though I'll bet sometimes I did, and they just never let on)... I miss the anticipation of their excitement when I was finally able to fall into bed. And I guess most of all, I will miss all of those maticulous and well organized little piles of stuff on Christmas morning. *sniff* I guess I trained them well.

But now, they each have their own wonderful, new little families... and I couldn't be more grateful for that!... but they are so very far away. And so I told them "No, please don't spend your money to travel out here this year"... and "Shoot, my vacation time is all used up!"

Yadayada...

Christmas Future: Let's don't EVER let this happen again!

In the meantime... I made this Christmas Card. Which is something I probably wouldn't have had time to do otherwise. So see? I guess there is always somehow a bright side...



So now, I'm gonna sit back, relax, listen to some music and watch a few videos. Here's one for starts...




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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Twelve Days Till Christmas... Redux




And though I realize that THIS one doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas...

It sorta does...


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Sunday, December 07, 2008

An Early Christmas Present for Daryn and Jon...


So, I guess this is Jon and Daryn's song now...

Her daddy sang it at their wedding which I guess pretty much solidified it... especially since while they were dancing they realized they didn't even have one yet!.. and so decided this one would probably be as good as any...

And then they asked me if I could make one of "those montages"... and use this song.

It seems to take me a long time to do these things. Daryn and Jon were married in July, so let's see...

Dilemma: I had another idea for a song. So which one do I use? I mean I really love them both! The second one maybe just a teentsy bit more for sentimental reasons... but she prefers the first. And I suppose it was HER wedding...*sigh*



Isn't it amazing all the different things you can do with the same pictures...



Can you choose?

Luckily Daryn and Jon never, ever check my blog, so I think I'm still good to go on a Christmas present... or two.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Clay! You're 30!


Heh.

For some reason that seems to be a difficult thing for him. Or at least that's what he says... But I think he's probably kidding. Because he has grown into it beautifully and wears it so well.

It's hard to believe that it's been only six years since we first saw this young man.



And now he's pickin' out gray hairs...


But in those six short years has given more to this planet in the way of goodness, kindess, charity and joy than most people will ever do in a lifetime. Or fifty.

I can only imagine what his next fifty years will bring us. Acck... I know, don't worry Clay. Just one year at a time.

Heck, when I was 30 I still had a 1/3 of my life to go before I got to the best part...

Anyway, I searched around everywhere and couldn't figure out who created this wonderful gif, but I think it's pretty amazing. And it seemed rather appropo somehow. If somebody can clue me in, I'd really like to credit it.





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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Am Thankful...


...for so many things.

For my family and friends, my home, my job, my kitties... for the many new hobbies I've found lately to fill up all that free(?) time.

Oh, and also, I am very thankful that my Photoshop class is now over. So, I have only like 20 more credits to go!


clickable

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

They Found A Beautiful Way...


I adore this new family picture.



And Parker is getting to look more and more like his daddy every day!








But I have to be honest.

I guess I really didn't think this family of his would ever happen quite so suddenly or in exactly this way. And I'm trying to go back to the place where I was when I very first imagined exactly what or when it would be.

And I'm not sure what I expected. I just love that word... expected...

What I do remember easily enough though is how my hormones would twitch a bit at times and my overies would all but scream out to me "Dagnummit! Don't you dare dig us this grave quite yet!!!" when I would see various and sundry pictures of him, like these...



But, of course, I'm navigating perilously close to off topic here...

So yeah, at risk of being reduntant... I really don't know what I expected. Until now. Because hind site is always 20/20 of course. And I think I can honestly say, now, that this is all really sort of perfect. As David Foster said on the Dr. Phil Show the other day... "They found a beautiful way." And they did.

I can't imagine a human being better suited or deserving to be a daddy. In fact my eyes tear up, and yes my ovaries still twitch, at even the thought of it.

I believe they will be the most wonderful family, even through any of the thicks or thins that may cross their paths which I imagine may be many. Still, I think that baby Parker may just be one of the luckiest little boys ever.

And anyone who doesn't agree with me must not know Clay. Not that I know him that well, per se. But I think I know him, well... enough.


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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clack-O-Lantern




I know... same ole, same ole... You'd think I could be a little more inventive than to just revert back to the "same ole" Halloween pic I've used every year since... well, back in the day.

But it was just so hard that I figured it was worth a couple of repeats.



HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last Song Maybe. But Definitely Not Last Call...


It’s been a whole week now since we were blessed with the magnificent Champions for Change gala and I have still not yet fully recovered.

And I wasn’t even there…

But thanks to the many, many tireless Clackgoddesses I felt like I was.

And so… of course, (of course) I had to make this montage… Or perhaps I should say "this compilation." Because there were so many great videos of this song that I just couldn't make myself choose between them.

But there’s a disclaimer to it. Which is... that Clay does not lipsynch. Never has and he never will. So please don’t let any of my video editing fool ya.

See, the problem is that I’ve never made one before where I actually had to ‘synch’ the singing. And trust me… It was Hard!!!

Hee, I said Hard.

Again.

So I guess some things... like being a Broad, or like Clay still just being Clay... will simply never ever change.


Beautiful Song. Beautiful Man.

And though there have been SO many incredible comments across the boards during the past week, in fact way too many to mention... I just wanted to include two of them that really got me.

I did read Brightstar's recap which was brought over. Her recap IMO is right on in all aspects--the emotions (love being the predominant emotion of the night, I think), Clay's cognizance of the message boards (fugly...too funny!), the still and forever indescribable beauty of his voice, the intimacy of the message conveyed and received in his rendering of "Right Here Waiting". I too will be wrapping my mind, heart and soul around the depth and beauty of last night for many weeks to come. Not to mention the sheer fun and joy. Yep, he done did it to us again! (Please don't ever stop, Clay, 'k ?! )

Just a couple of (disjointed) thoughts I wanted to share.

About midway through "Right Here Waiting for You", I thought I was the only one with tears streaming down my face and sniffling, but then I realized I was hearing sniffling and sobbing all around me. In case you're wondering, the little ripple of laughter at the very end of "Right Here Waiting" was slightly embarrassed laughter at ourselves as the sobbing was just as audible as Clay's tender voice as he sang the last phrase of "Right Here Waiting" without the mike. (And the beauty, purity and texture of his unamplified voice...truly every bit as beautiful and transcendent as the finest instrument ever made).

For me, it felt like we had gone back to our roots. Clay even looked so much like he did back in 2003/2004 when he first mezmerized us and cast us underneath his spell. I saw so many of those early gestures and nuances and passion. It reminded me of why I first fell in love with him. (Yep, I said, "in love"...deal with it!). It was so eerie but so right. Whatever the degree of wondering each of us may have gone through about "is Clay still Clay", I say the answer is a blessedly, resounding YES! Even for those who didn't have that doubt or concern, what a treasure it was to be reminded and be able to relive that magic again. Last night was like the perfect mixture of Clay of the past AND present...old look, new songs. Totally cool, freaky and somehow right.

Personally, I've given up the battle of trying to find the words which accurately describe the emotions Clay, both the man and the voice, evokes from the very depths of your soul. In total seriousness, I don't think the words exist in the dictionary. Maybe because he makes me feel so much. Maybe because when your heart is that full to overflowing, no words could ever be adequate enough. The closest I can come, broken down into the simplest terms, is: He's back. We're back. We're home again.

How lucky are we?

posted by Micky7129 from the CDB


The icing came for me when I realized that I’d left my jacket on my chair some good time later (nearly an hour or more I think—but it’s a bit fuzzy) and went back to retrieve it. I ran into Faye coming out from somewhere, carrying some things and just started talking to her about the evening and how special it was. She then said to me:

“Y’all make him feel so special.”

*Karma is now all kinds of verklempt of course* I said something to the effect that I hoped so, and something about all the emotion in the room and how fortunate I felt to have been there and she talked about all the tears she’d seen (she looked a bit like she’d might have had a moment or two herself) and I verified that I’d experienced the same and then we smiled at each other for a second and said good night. It was the perfect thing to hear at the end of this incredible evening. “Y’all make him feel so special.” I hope so with all my heart.

Posted by Karma4Clay at the Clackhouse


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Monday, October 13, 2008

In Honor Of National Coming Out Day 2008...


Ok, so I'm a couple of days late...



I love him. I do.


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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sorry P.E.T.A... But It Had To Be Done..




So Clay Aiken has at long last finally laid them to rest. In a blog which he says may travel...

• "Killing The Elephants In The Room" ~ 10/3/2008

What a week or so this has been. In fact, it's just been two weeks since I started back to the Spam. Jerome and I were just talking the other day, though, about how the past two weeks have felt like a month. So much routine to get back into and yet so much routine and consistency to break. No doubt, many of you have been going through quite a bit over the past week or so yourselves. What a bunch of headline news we have had in the past 10 days! Wall Street falling to it's knees. Congress propping it back up. Two debates. Hijackers in Somalia. New leaders in South Africa and Japan. You'd think with all of the important events going on in the world, there would be plenty to fill up the pages of America's newspapers, websites and blogs without the need for information on the private lives of the country's singers and entertainers. But, alas, thats never the case. In fact for the last five years, I've found what seems to have been an inordinate amount of interest (not from the public, but from the media) in my own personal life. The questions never seemed to stop. Oh sure, they die down for a period, but they resurface. The wind blows another direction, and I do yet another interview worried that my personal life will become a topic of discussion. No doubt the birth of Parker would bring the same scrutiny, just heightened. It's an interesting time we live in. Gone are the days when entertainers could go about their lives without the invasion of privacy that we now see everyday in the form of paparazzi and internet tabloid bloggers. So, in the hopes of being able to sing and act (and dance poorly) and do what I love to do for a living while raising my son in a hopefully more private and accepting environment, I chose to go ahead and confront things head on. Yes, I would have preferred to separate my personal life from my professional life. I would have been just as happy to go on without discussing my orientation. But, it seems like that was not an option. Make no mistake, its not because I am ashamed. No, not for a minute. I haven't always been as comfortable as I am now, but I am without a doubt, proud of who I am and make no apologies for it. Instead, I would have been happy to have kept my personal life private for that very reason. Because it's personal life and I have always considered myself a private person. But, living as myself without discussing my sexuality publicly would have been as impossible. One chance to expose the truth would have been a payday for any greedy opportunist.

I went to American Idol, much like many of us did "back in the day". Naive. Unlike the contestants who join up today, we had no idea of the power and pull of Idol when we signed on. (I'm sure many of us season two folks like to think we are the reason the show got so big!!! ;-) ) There I was two months off of the biggest show in the country, sitting at a table with a reporter from Rolling Stone who was asking me every single question I would never think of. Twenty-four years old in the rest of America is a LOT younger and more naive than twenty four years old in the media business. So when this guy started asking me about things that I didn't really know how to answer for myself... things that I was not yet ready to admit to folks like my mother and my family.... things that I found intimidating and invasive, I responded in what I assumed was a benign way at the time. I attempted to "out spin" a professional. I wasn't as good as I thought I was. But, I have no regrets. The truth is, I don't apologize for the responses I gave to that reporter or any reporter over the past five years. I did make every attempt I could after that one interview to never say "I am not gay" or "I am straight". And I never said either. (some interpreted my vague answers to mean that... but I never said either) Some will say thats misleading. In truth, it might be defined that way. But, a better definition and a more accurate way to describe it for me, is a redirection and an attempt to change the topic to something that matters more. For some of you it won't be enough, but I can't apologize for keeping my personal business to myself. If someone feels that they were mislead, I can totally understand that viewpoint and apologize for that feeling, but I can't apologize for how I handled questions that affected me and my right to privacy.

In my opinion, sexual orientation is ALWAYS a private thing. I think the OVERWHELMING majority of people agree with that. Why in the world should someone's sexual orientation be a news item? Why should anyone care? Yet, for all we espouse as a society about tolerance and open mindedness we forget to allow folks the opportunity to be who they are without judgement. Making a decision to come out to family is a difficult and heavy decision. But, for every young man or woman who is struggling with it, it should be a decision that is made on his or her own schedule ONLY. It's never acceptable for anyone to make such a decision for anyone else nor to coerce someone to take such a significant step before they are ready. Not a friend, not a stranger, not the media. So, I waited until the time was right for me. For that I can't apologize either.

There are plenty of you who have anticipated this blog in hopes that I would "set the record straight" or "admit to lying for five years and apologize for it". For that small group of people, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you. My decisions over the past five years have been made with lots of deliberation and at times even heartache. Always with concern for folks who might feel mislead. Don't doubt that. But they have also been made as an attempt, not to hide my true self, but instead to allow myself the same liberties and rights that every single gay man and woman in the world should have... the right to determine for myself when I was ready to discuss my personal life. In as much as that, at times, was interpreted as misrepresentation, I feel badly. But I reserved that right for myself and I can't say I regret it.

I have endeavored over the past several days to allow folks to vent and express themselves as freely as possible without restriction on these message boards. There is no way to change a person's mind when you tell them they are wrong. We all, when backed into a corner, have a human instinct to swing. Having different feelings and opinions and viewpoints are only natural. The only way to deal with that is to accept everyone's right to disagree, and allow them to discuss their feelings. I always have, and I always will. That said, it hasn't been, nor do I imagine it will be, my intent to make the message boards or the OFC a clearinghouse or discussion zone for sexuality or such topics. I hope we can always continue to discuss the same things we have always found important. The need for inclusion for children with disabilities. The desire to make sure every child in the world has access to their basic needs for survival. And any other topics that will make our neighborhoods, our regions, our country and our world a better more acceptable place (where that relates to issues involving sexuality, I hope we are able to advocate, at those times for the acceptance of others)... and I hope we will all still use the message boards for the lively discussion of the need for better entertainment and music in the world!!!! ;-) That said, as of this posting, I have asked the moderators to archive the thread regarding the People magazine article and close it from discussion. For those of you who are still struggling, I encourage you to continue to talk to your friends and neighbors and fellow OFC members in the thread devoted to such support. It is not going to be as easy as accepting something over night, but I believe that we are on the right track. The moderators will resume their regular duties of moderating the boards in the fashion that they did prior to last week, and I (and hopefully all of us) will resume our routines in the same fashion as well. Talking about music, talking about potential tours and other performances and appearances, talking about me forgetting my lines of tripping on stage in Spamalot, and discussing with our friends how many times we have seen the show and will see it! (And... looking forward to the announcement of out Playbill contest winner!!!)

Finally, I will say that, also representative of most every other gay man and woman in the world, that I am not defined by my sexuality. No more so than each of you are defined by your sexual orientation. No more than a man or woman is defined by race or ethnicity. It is, simply, a small facet of the same person I have always been. Most of you realize that nothing has changed. I hope to continue being able to entertain you in the same way I have for the past five years. And I hope you will allow me to continue to inform you of the causes that I find important and entertain you with the music and performances I love. For I love and cherish you all. Yesterday, now and forever.

c


Wow. I don't believe I've ever respected anyone more in my life than I do right now.

So... Rest in Peace Mumbo and Jumbo. But good and safe travels, ok? Wherever you're headed.



As for the young'un. He seems to be doing just fine. In fact, I think you would be simply amazed.

And rest assured... your legacy will not falter in your passing but will only continue to thrive for very long time to come. Who knows... perhaps forever. Due in part to a very simple little song passed down... which he's already been working on a little bit by the way.

So thanks for that...

Also, thank you for instilling in him so many other good traits such as tremendous courage and compassion and a love for humanity. Nevermind about the memory thing. It's rather endearing that it sometimes lapses.

And the unconditional love you've always shown him, is a trait which I'm sure he must have inherited. One, which has somehow also proven to be contagious... So we really owe you guys a lot.

But still... Godspeed. And buh bye for now. So long and Happy trails. Don't call us... yadayadayada. Yeah... and all that stuff. *sniff*



As for you Clay...




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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Perceptions... Part 3




And right after this, I promise to move on to other things... like the state of the economy or somethin'.

Neither of which, to be quite honest, will ever be quite as distressing to many of us as this was...


::I assure you::

But yeah, we all see things so differently. So many, many variations on the same theme... even though I may have already expressed that thought... as in, perhaps, ad nauseum?

So here are a couple of things that we can probably ALL see the same way on. Even if what we're seeing isn't really what we're seeing. But still, since we think we're seeing it... it still kinda works.

*click for the better illusion*








Somehow, in a funny sort of way, this makes sense to me.

Anyway...Best Blog on the subject so far. IMHO.


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Perceptions... Part 2



We all see things differently. And generally the way we see them first sticks out in our minds as the only way to see them. But then, sometimes, if we can just let our minds relax and look a little closer, the other way becomes a bit clearer.

Here are a couple of other examples you’ve probably seen before… and so have most likely already trained yourself to see them both ways.

An initial view of something is usually more difficult to compromise.

So that’s what I’m working on now.

The reason for writing this blog is a bit puzzling to me in the first place, because my initial reaction was like.. Yeah, ok… so let’s get on with it.

I thought it would probably take about a day or two for everyone to get over it and then all would all just have some big collective “Yeah, ok” too.

I was really wrong.

There are two parts to this Part Two. The first being the ability to try and understand opposing viewpoints and the second being what caused me to see it my way in the first place. I’ll start with the second one first…

I remember that day during college when my, at the time, bf told me he was gay. I was shocked. Completely! Gay people didn’t even walk the streets. Did they? Didn’t they all just hoard out together in some sort den of iniquity somewhere or something? Keep in mind, this was in the early 70’s. But anyway, despite it all, we still (somehow) ended up remaining really good friends…

It wasn’t long after that that I met another bf, who btw soon became my bff and still is to this day. (haha, you know who you are and I know you are lurking) Anyway, this time I didn’t feel a great need to ask.

Fast forward and with major [snips]… being in collegiate and then professional theatre for years brought me some of the greatest friendships I have ever known. Not to be stereotypical about the profession or anything, but face it, it is rather abundant in there. Still, many of them were women, some of them were straight men (in fact I even ended up marrying one, or two)… but the majority of the friends I've had in my life have been gay.

So during those weeks of watching Clay on Idol (long before I’d ever known about message boards or before I began diluting my mind with delusions and other perceptions) I just pretty much took it as fact. I was completely comfortable. Didn't think much more about it. He was to me, simply awesome! That was all. And it was more than enough.

“Rolling Stone” sealed the deal for me in regards to his candidness. His self-assurity. The b&w picture of gah!.. But I did have to read that one sentence over and over again to be completely sure he’d said what I thought he’d said.

But then… I started “Googling” and came across the LBFCA (Lecherous Broads For Clay Aiken) and it was then that I think my initial perceptions shut down and my pheromones kicked in.

My delusions continued for about a year or so… and then little “things” started making me scratch my head. Even though I kept reverting back to that dang R.S…

And then I remembered how hindsight is 20/20. All of these men who I was bf’s with back in the day, hadn't always been completely convinced of it at the time. There were a lot of struggles with the concept as I remember. I mean, they probably totally knew they “were” looking back, but at the same time sometimes struggling somehow to be “not.” I also lived through a seven year relationship which proves to me this epiphany could be valid. As well, I have had the very mixed blessing of witnessing the tremendous freeing that occurs with final realization and acceptance. More than once.

And so, though I haven’t spoken of it much to anyone but my closest and newest friends, I have been feeling fairly comfortable with this possibility for a few years now. But have also been sensing a true holding back from him. For me, I just had this sensation that something wasn't quite real. That there was something he wasn’t quite saying. But it didn’t seem to be within my right to know what that was. So I continued to focus on the beautiful voice, the snarky wit, the wise-beyond-years soul and the awesome humanitarian. And well, that just still totally worked for me.

But then when I saw those headlines, my heart about burst. For him.

Do I wish it weren't true? Yes, sort of. But that’s only because of my own selfish perception of my own perfect world… The one in which I would have lots and lots of his babies with him. The normal way… haha (but omg, I’m SO far past that possibility!... even WAY long before this past week's news flash.)

And I just can't make myself believe any intentional lies were involved... But of course, then again, that's just me.

If I'd had a different life experience... I might not be writing this. I'm not sure where I'd be. It's possible that I never would have found him to begin with. And that's a thought I don't even want to think about.


And I know I probably could have found more appropriate pictorial examples to illustrate my points …

Still... to me, one of the most ironic things is that he seems even more like the lion now.

As for the second part…

I think the first part was probably enough.


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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Perceptions... Part 1



It’s been a really interesting week in the Clay Nation…

And now that my retinas have been utterly burned and rendered useless by the 7,000 posts I’ve just read over at the official fan site… well let’s just say how very glad I am that one doesn’t need one's eyesight to type. (I love that little raised thingamabopper they always put on the keyboard F & J keys…)

The posts have pretty much run the gamut of A – Z in regards to emotions and opinions, with several finding comfort (or discomfort) zones at the very opposite extremes. But of course there have also been the many voices of reason... with one of the very gentlest being the voice of Clay.

I would love so much to be able to quote his post here, but that’s not within my rights. However, the gist of it was that we should all try to keep an open mind in regards to the many differing opinions and how he knew this would be very, very difficult for some. That we were allowed to say anything we wanted to about him, but that we should more continue to support each other. He also said that as much as he appreciates the intentions… we do not need to defend him. He’ll be okay.

So, why is all of this just breaking my heart? I truly feel it should be a cause for celebration. He’s still the same person he’s always been... except for probably a little happier... eventually. Nothing else at all has changed. Not for me. So I’m confused. I didn’t realize this would merit an upheaval of such great magnitude.

Here are a couple of things I posted on the day the ‘big’ announcement… So just for memrie's sake.

I felt socked in the gut for about 5 seconds, just because that FONT was so big, but then I just felt such a tremendous sense of relief for him. The timing is about as perfect as it could ever get... with the support of his cast right now. And thank God it would all just be over and done with. It just completely makes sense. So much lead up to this...[snip]

Anyway, I really don't know what to say! But whatever it would be... it would be positive.

Gawd, I'm just really happy for him right now. Can't explain it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I know I just posted... But also, just had an epiphany.

I have about 150 comments on my YouTube account which include the word Gayken. So I'm hoping that maybe they will cease and desist a bit now.

Wasn't it he who said "They can’t laugh at you if you laugh at yourself first... blah blah blah." Could somebody help me out with that quote? I'm too lazy right now to dig to the bottom of my tupperware box. It's in "Learning To Sing" I think.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I am just hugely relieved that he finally did this. I think it was about 3 years ago when I just felt that this was the authentic Clay, but I didn't know if I'd live long enough to see him to finally take the step. I think having his precious little baby boy probably sealed the deal for him. I'll bet he feels like a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

I don't think I've ever loved him as much as I do right now. The way I look at it, is that when he came off of Idol, he was a "green" nobody from Raleigh who suddenly got thrust onto the national stage with no preparation for how to deal with the media, etc. He probably was given "advice" about how to field certain questions but didn't think about the long-term ramifications of his chosen words. I’m sure he's regretted some of the things he's said over the years in interviews and wishes he could go back and rephrase them a bit. Which I'm sure we've all wished we could do at some point time. In a perfect world…


We just all see things SO differently… It doesn't mean anyone's wrong. Not at all.

Next up… My own E-True Story. hahaha


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Windows...




That's all I got for now.


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

I Wish I'd Known...




This story starts with a little walk down 44th Street on a rather drizzly night. I'd just finished seeing Spam for the third time and me and some friends had met up with my BFF who still lives in Manhattan and we were just running over to her apartment for a while to catch up on some quality time and a little QVC... And somehow the question came up, "So, have you ever seen the movie Billy Elliot?" Out of the blue. Just like that.

"Huh, wuzzit, who?" I asked.

"You're a dancer... and you've never seen it? Seriously? Well you just HAVE to! You'll love it! Trust me!" she said.

Well, that was like six months ago and for some reason it's continued to haunt my mind because of that little dig and everytime I pass a video store I think... "oh gawd, I probably should just rent the dang movie, just so that I can tell her I did."

So yesterday I finally caved... It cost me a about a buck fifty plus tax.

Wow!

Anyway, I'll just let you meander through these videos that I found on YouTube. Luckily, you can pretty much find just about anything these days on YouTube...

Billy Elliot ~ The 2000 film written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daltry ~ Movie Trailor


Billy's Dance...


A scene from the West End theatre production 2006:


"Electricity" performed by Elton John:


Billy Elliot ~ Opens on Broadway October 1st 2008!!!

I SO Wish I'd Known! If you get my drift. And some of you probably do...


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Spam... Reheated!




Ok... so I have to admit that I'm a wee bit upset with myself for not making plans to be there tonight. And why do I always do this? Wait too long to move on things! I mean, I thought I was marginally ok with the idea of just logging onto the message boards and getting tonight's scoop. But now, it is such a beautiful night here where I am and I'll bet even a more beautiful night in New York City. On 44th Street in particular.

And then he blogged... on tonight of all nights. Saying that he was FOREVER, FOREVER in love with us!... and then farted in our general direction. And sigh, I guess you just have to kind of understand Clay to realize how he probably thought that would be endearing... And ok, I guess it kind of was in a Clay sort of way. Because I think he knows that we will always love him FOREVER, FOREVER too. Regardless of pretty much anything else... or whichever way the wind blows.

As for the latest contest... The one about him wanting one of us to write his bio? I'm also a little behind on that as well, since today was the deadline. I at least started one though, and it went sort of something like this...

Clay Aiken's talent of turning his feet around has finally paid off... Because he's headed back to Broadway! Best known to the world for his American Idol fame he is also a multi-platinum recording artist with albums such as "Measure of A Man", "Merry Christmas With Love", "A Thousand Different Ways", and "On My Way Here." To his fans, however, the measure of the man (ahem) at times exceeds his many professional accomplishments.

As a U.N.I.C.E.F. Ambassador and advocate for children with special needs and disabilities, Clay spends a good deal of time... away from blogging on his fan site. But we're all cool with it... because when he DOES blog we're all like *SaWOON* and it makes all of the long and endless periods of silence so totally worth it!

Oh yes, and Also, as a much accomplished author, he co-authored the book "Learning To Sing - Hearing The Music In Your Life" which not only gave his fans a huge insight to young Clay but also provided them with a bunch of new yummy recipes. I tried one out last Thanksgiving, but I obviously don't have that southern "touch."

And he's also been on pretty much every TV show imaginable,except "Sex And The City."

As well, Clay loves to issue challenges. Haha, like these. And he knows we'll always at least attempt them, even if we don't always make the deadlines... Remember The Christmas one? I didn't submit it. And there've been a whole lot more of them too.

Anyway, welcome back Clay! We've missed you! And dontcha know there's gonna be a whole new edge to those poopy pants parts this time around?


Yeah, for sure I'm not gonna submit that one either...
Break A Leg Clay!




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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Contraddiction?... Maybe.


And I'm not sure which one of them would be the most... baffled, perplexed, bothered/bewildered... Mortified?... or just plain "squicked out" by this association. Me? Well I completely get them both. But I guess I'm just a diversified kind of gal... And well, I guess you probably couldn't get much more diversified with your addictions if you tried.Anyway, hopefully neither one of them will ever see this...

Nic Sheff... Beautiful Boy. I can SO understand his father's pain and all he must have gone through to help bring him back to the living. He really was a beautiful boy! Still is. Alive and well... getting better.

Yet he struggles... And he talks about those struggles on his blog daily (long since removed). And I've somehow found myself addicted. To him? His story? His writing? I'm not sure.

But I adore his honesty. I'm so proud of him and bow to his courageous and raw ramblings.

And then there's Clay Aiken...

Who I would still follow to the ends of the earth if I had to. And I kind of HAVE, I mean if Houston counts...

The voice of an angel, UNICEF Ambassador, Advocate for Children with Special Needs, perfect son, indispensable friend, wonderful father, magnet to millions, funny as h*ll, as good as it gets. But who has also been known to be a bit reckless and irresponsible in his day as well. He just doesn't like to talk about it.

So why do I always fall for the bad boys?..

But seriously. There's really nothing at all that I can find to explain why I would be so riveted by two such opposite ends of the spectrum, and yet I am. They both move me. They are both brilliant communicators. With really big hearts. Both on this very earth... at this very time... and each doing his best in his own way. It's just that one of them really likes to blog and the other one really...doesn't.

Clay returns to Spamalot on September 19th!

Nic continues with his writing and recovery.

While I just keep looking forward to incredible things...


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Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Ubiquity of YouTube...




Sounds Funny... What Is It?

Well, unless you’ve been entombed or something over the past couple of years you’ve probably heard of it… Headquartered in San Bruno, CA, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Silicone Valley, YouTube is that wee little, I mean, massively popular and dominant Kleenex brand of the video sharing community. It is also one of the most trafficked sites on the web.

Why Is It So Popular?

I’m not completely sure, but a “Google” of its name will yield you about 1,100,000,000 possible explanations…

With its extremely easy to use interface being available in 18 languages and its endless supply of weird, cool, inspiring and at times even educational content, it is positioned pretty much smack center of the new phenomenon referred to as the Web 2.0 Generation of Technology (the creative and sharing branch of the Web.) Unregistered users can watch every video on the site and a registered account allows a user to participate in all of the many interactive and social networking functions available, as well as upload any work of their own as if he or she was a television producer. (But we’ll get into more about that later…)

In line with the whole reality TV era, users can jump at the chance to share their every little thought, idea or creation with the entire world at only the click of a “submit.” One would be hard pressed to find a topic or public figure lacking an associated video on YouTube. Hobbies, newly developed products or services, expertise, events, clips of one’s family, friends or pets and well… a whole lot of other stuff that I’d probably better not to get into right now...

But best of all, it’s absolutely FREE. That is, except for all those minutes it may cost you at your computer, when you really ought to being doing something else… But who doesn’t have 60 seconds to watch a seven-year old play an amazing piano rendition of… The Minute Waltz? Although the September 11, 2001 home captured video might take you a bit longer.

And then, of course, there’s the unobtrusive advertising, which is also a huge plus for many (but we’ll get into more about that later as well.)

Technical Info (which is probably why we’re here I guess…)

Uploaded using formats such as .wmv, .avi, .mov or .mpg, videos are then converted to Adobe Flash, the standard format supported by most browsers and which can typically be viewed by anyone without having to download any specific software.

Its functions allow users to post text or video responses, subscribe to their favorite videographers, receive automatic content feeds and even embed videos on their own site.

YouTube’s original format made it possible to only view videos on a standard PC or Mac, but recent codecs and applications have now made them available for viewing on Apple TV, iPhone and iPod as well as on many 3G mobile devices.

A recent feature also allows videos to be viewed in High Quality Format. A user has the opportunity to select the “always show me higher quality when available” option from their video settings located in their account tab. YouTube determines which videos are capable of being upgraded based on the standard of the original upload.

There’s a ton more technical information out there which could be discussed, but with only four pages allotted, I better get moving…

Its Founders and Early History

YouTube was founded in a garage in San Mateo, CA by three former PayPal employees: Chad Hurley; then 27; current CEO, Steve Chen; then 26; current CTO and Jawed Karim; a past advisor who’s recently returned to grad school to pursue his Masters in Computer Science.

Chad: Raised in southeast Pennsylvania, the middle child of a financial consultant and a school teacher, this slightly introverted kid found his artistic interests colliding with technology and business. In ninth grade he won third place in a national electronics competition for building his own amplifier. The hours on-line during his college years dappling in web design, animation and gaming still allowed him to earn a degree in graphic design in 1999. “Computer science was just too technical and mechanical for him” says his dad. Shortly after graduation he landed an interview with a new company called PayPal and after demonstrating his skills by designing a company logo was hired as the company’s first designer. The PayPal logo remains to this day.

Steve: Born in Taipai, he moved to the States with his family when he was a toddler. After completing four years of High School at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (a state funded boarding school) he moved on to the respected Computer Science program at the University of Illinois Urbana, however left a semester and a half before graduating. A secured position at PayPal was the catalyst, where he soon became known as the person who could find the shortest yet cleverest route from point A to B.

Things picked up further for the two of them,along with their co-worker Karim during times on the job when they would kick back and kick around ideas.

There seems to be some debate over Karim’s involvement in the project though both Chad and Steve agree that much of the original goal stemmed from his idea to create a video version of the brutal singles site HOTorNOT.com. He felt it was an incredible pioneer of a website where anyone could upload content that everyone else could view. The idea was eventually debunked for being too narrow and it moved on to the broader spectrum of allowing people to share videos for on-line auctions of anything. But it seems the project really took seed after Chad and Steve had problems with the logistics of sharing a video on-line of footage taken at a dinner party one night at Steve’s San Francisco apartment.

Fast Forward

On February 15, 2005 the domain name www.YouTube.com was legally registered.

On April 23, 2005 the first “official" video was posted on the site when our friend Jawed shared his commentary Me At The Zoo.

In May the official public beta was launched with the promise to give away one free iPod Nano to one particularly noteworthy upload every day until the end of the year.

It was around this time that a slight scuttle occurred when users inadvertently shut down the website of a company called Universal Tube and Roll Form Equipment (http://www.UTube.com) unsure of the spelling of the name. That company has long since changed its URL…

And after that, the site just pretty much took off as a free-for-all as the founders could do little more than sit back and watch. Until October when the site hosted a video that would prove to become a huge copyright issue and one of the first of many brought to light. A CNN “Crossfire” segment with Jon Stewart received millions of views before it was finally taken down. But not before Sequoia Capital realized the potential goldmine in user numbers and invested $3.5 million to the cause.

By year end and with only a staff 20 employees, viewers were watching 25,000,000 videos per day and uploading 20,000. As bandwidth costs approached $1,000,000 per month, which was more than what was consumed by the entire Internet in 2000, Sequoia Capital came to the rescue once again with another $8,000,000.

Second Year

On April 6th 2006 comedian Judson Laipply uploaded what would soon become YouTube’s “Most Watched Video,”
Evolution of Dance.
To date this video has been viewed 95,326,047 times and retained the title until July of 2008 when Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend tipped the scales. This due, some say, to Avril’s fans setting up automatic refresher pages to game the system. Who knew that 14 year old girls could be so savvy? But I digress.

May of that year brought an even greater upsurge in popularity even surpassing daily views on CNN.com and outpacing MySpace. And in July its daily unique hits reached 100,000,000 with roughly 65,000 videos being uploaded every 24 hours. This is equivalent to approximately 10 hours of video footage being uploaded every single minute.

Google Purchase

The announcement came within only hours of YouTube unveiling three separate agreements made with media companies countering threats of copyright infringement lawsuits, but still Google bought in, and for only a mere $1.65 billion dollars. On October 9, 2006 co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen announced the buyout via, what you would expect, a home video.

Despite its huge user base, YouTube still remains an unprofitable startup even though the price was by far the most expensive purchase made by Google in it’s eight year history. Yet it was probably cause for Google to celebrate when two months later Time Magazine named YouTube the “Invention of the Year” as well as naming “You… Yes You!” the Person of the Year in recognition of the importance of user driven sites such as YouTube.

How Does YouTube Make Money?

It doesn’t. Right now, they say, it’s still more about building a community. Don’t expect me to understand that, I’m not a “Business Model” scholar, just a humble Graphic Design student doing this project for a required course.

The founders made a decision early on to not force viewers to sit through pre-roll advertisements and so far they have held firm to their commitment, which seems to have proved to be an element setting YouTube apart from its competitors. As of now there is little advertising on the site or at least not enough to be annoying. The video in the top right section IS, although it doesn’t always seem like one. It feels less like a commercial and more like a piece of entertaining content created for the viewers or more recently innovative contests as in the ones I’m about to share.

Chevrolet recently had a success story after asking users to create their own Chevy ads and placing them on YouTube, Chevrolet received over 4 million hits above normal on it’s home site.

Crest did the same thing.

Similarly, Sprint Nextel Corp invited young filmmakers to “sell out” their families by “shamelessly plugging” the Samsung Instinct into their next home movie. For this they paid $20 to the first chosen 1000 and $10,000 to a grand prize winner. And they didn’t even have to own the phone! The Sprint website offered a tool that would allow entrants to embed the image directly into their video.

Then there’s the 2006 clip that appears to be a home video showing a famous soccer star practicing his moves. But close-ups of the Nike Gold Shoes have now been marketed to viewers 24,624,517 times.

YouTube is also looking into major strategies for advertising with the creation of independent “channels” where official sources can sell their products, wherein YouTube then cashes in from the company’s purchase of the channel. Meanwhile, the public retains the privilege of watching all their favorite clips pre-roll-ads free.

According to one article, if even 10% of the annual $54 billion spent annually on TV advertising is directed towards viral marketing in the next few years, the $1.65 billion Google paid for it may end up feeling more like pocket change. It really could end up being a win-win situation for everybody right? Maybe…

The Larger Issue; Copyright (this could be it’s own research paper)

YouTube’s biggest liability is and always has been it’s seeming inability to control the content uploaded to the site. It’s slogan, “Broadcast Yourself” seems almost laughable at times since a huge part of the site’s popularity stems from users being able to re-broadcast videos on other sites and even more ironically, broadcasting material that doesn’t legally belong to them.

Copyright infringement is an issue of mammoth proportion. The site doesn’t prescreen uploads due to the insurmountable task, and because of that they are frequently criticized for not being more proactive in the enforcement of copyright laws. The site still remains an unmediated free-for all.

“Lazy Sunday,” a music video featuring Saturday Night Live cast members Chris Parnell and Any Samburg and which aired in the month the site went live was uploaded and then very shortly removed by NBC, but not before being viewed and forwarded millions of times. If you do a search for Lazy Sunday it’s not too difficult to find the remake of the acclaimed video which, though featuring unknown performers, is so close to the original that you might think it was the real deal. Perhaps many of the 709,780 folks who’ve viewed it DID.

In the spring of 2008, Viacom demanded $1 billion in damages claiming more than 150,000 clips of their unauthorized videos had been viewed an astounding number of times, including their documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” They also felt they were within their rights to be supplied with data regarding those users video habits in order to “compare the attractiveness” of videos that infringe upon content copyrights vs. those that don’t. Privacy advocates nipped that one in the bud but not before questioning why Google would retain all that information in the first place. (But that’s yet another paper…)

And big companies such as Viacom are not the only ones feeling incensed. In August 2006, an independent photographer sued YouTube for distributing his footage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Still, YouTube insists that it goes well beyond its legal obligations, leaning on the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which states that a company classified as an “On-Line Service Provider” retains safe harbor for simply transmitting information over the Internet and only needs to respond properly to a content owners claims of infringement. And YouTube delivers.

A copyright holder, or in fact any user at all, can issue a report of infringement directly on the site and a video will be taken down immediately, at least for review.

It also limits video lengths to 10 minutes to deter users from uploading television episodes.

As well, it has recently employed a back end tool from Audible Magic which allows a copyright owner to “digitally fingerprint” their material , thus preventing any duplicate “fingerprint” to be uploaded to the site to begin with.

And finally, though they feel that the rules regarding copyright are clearly posted some users don’t always realize that the content they are uploading is infringing. So an “educational” text is now sent to the user as well as being posted at the site of the removed video which has proven to sharply reduce the number of infringing videos being uploaded.

But face it, if all of the forbidden is removed, will the site still remain as attractive to the public? Not to mention, what would they do with all the material which is enhanced by copyrighted music, photographs or video clips. I mean, this brilliant and innovative offering of Where The Hell Is Matt? wouldn’t be nearly as joyful or inspiring without its soundtrack. Don't forget to view this one in High Quality...

On the other hand, what about the challenge for advertisers having their ads placed alongside infringing videos? I guess figuring all this out is the reason Google makes the big bucks.

Meanwhile, the executives of YouTube continue to strike deals with such companies as NBC, CBS, Warner, Universal Music Group and Sony to legitimately share their content on the site, in exchange for a portion of its advertising revenue.

Its Future

That will all depend upon YouTube’s ability to increase profits while at the same time decreasing liability. That is by convincing the major media as well as advertising executives of the huge benefits of connecting with the growing number of people who spend the majority of their free time on the Internet.

Will YouTube, as it continues to grow, become as important to the sharing of information as perhaps television and radio did back in their day? With the difference being in that the uncanny amount of information being shared in video clips is able to be accessed on demand. Any time of the day, 24/7. And all that is required to view them is an internet connection and a bit of an interest in just about anything.

According to Alexa, YouTube remains the 3rd most popular website.

Final Note

Although I realize that this may have not been the most “technological” subject I could have chosen I do have a great interest in multimedia and I found this research very fascinating. And besides, if I should ever find motivation enough to ever want to build my own computer or set up my own home network, it’s really good to know that I will always be able to find any of those step by step instructions on YouTube…

Resources:
Associated Press. “Google Buys YouTube for $1.65 Billion.” MSNBC 10 October 2006

Bangeman, Eric. “YouTube’s Future (or lack thereof). ARS Technica 3 October 2006

Boutin, Paul. “A Video History of YouTube.” Slate 18 October 2006

Cloud, John. “The Gurus of YouTube.” Time in Partnership with CNN 16 December 2006

Coyle, Jake. “Users Wonder About The Future of YouTube.” MSNBC 11 October 2006

Fisher, Ken. “YouTube and the Copyright Cops Safe For Now.” ARS Technica 16 July 2006

Holahan, Catherine. “YouTube’s New Deep Pockets.” Business Week 10 October 2006

Neumeister, Larry. “Viacom Alleges YouTube Copyright Infringement.” USAToday 27 May 2008

Press. “NBC to Test YouTube Copyright Monitoring.” Marketing VOX 24 April 2007

Robertson, Mark. “History and Detailed Overview of Google’s YouTube Video Sharing.” Ezine Articles 29 September 2007

Teeling, Erin. “YouTube:Show Me The Money!” The Bivings Report 19 September 2006

UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace Law and Policy – The Digital Millenium Copyright Act

Vijayan, Jaikumar. “Privacy Advocates Question Google’s YouTube Monitoring.” Network World 7 July 2008

Wikipedia.

YouTube.


Whew!

Submitted for CO 110 on 8/12/2008

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Parker Foster Aiken!

I know.

I know!.. Legitimately I shouldn't be sharing the exact words from a membership only site. But they just came in as being so honest and direct from his lips, as opposed to all the skewed and spewed ones from the Pooparazzi. So I just can't allow myself to feel guilty.

But okay... second thoughts...

From Clay...

Welcome To Our World!

Hello All...

I know it's been a while. I'm sure you know, it's been a (blank) summer. Sorry we haven't (blanked) in so long. But, I'm sure you know... I hate putting the (blank) before the (blank). Not my way to tempt (blank). But I wanted to stop by, if only for a (blank), so you could be the first folks I (blanked). HE'S HERE!

My dear (blank), Jaymes, and I are so excited to announce the birth of Parker Foster Aiken (No hyphens. One first name. One middle name. One... last... name.)

Parker was born at a hospital in (blank) just this morning at 8:08 AM. Wow... 8:08 ..08/08/08

Weighed in at (blank) lbs (blank) oz and measured (blank) inches

The little man is healthy, happy, and as (blanked) as his daddy. Mama Jaymes is doing quite well also.

The Aiken family, the Foster family, and the Parker family are all (blanked)!

We'll share more at some point in the future.

(Blanks)... to you all!
C


*sighs* and apologies... As this beloved auntie has still not been sent any (blank) pictures of him to share at this point...

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Wedding...


Not sure I was ready for this...

Because the door to D's bedroom has been closed for over a year now. She adores her kitties to bits but at the same time has such terrible allergies around them. So I like to try to keep her room as dander-free as possible whenever she's away.

But anyway, I opened the door to her room today just to peek in... and it still smells like her! Clean... and with no scent of kitty at all... *sigh*

Anyway... On the bright side!

She and Jon looked SO happy! They were married on July 18th. Just one week ago last night.

It came as a bit of a surprise to ALL of us, but they managed to pull it off beautifully!



I'll wait until we get the rest of the pictures before making a montage.*g*

And here are a few more. They include the engagement pictures (even though I didn't realize they even WERE at the time), pics from the shower that Whit gave her the week before, and the wedding itself.

And of course, it wouldn't be a proper wedding without a proper wedding song...

Apologies for all of the motorcycle and baby sounds in the background...

I Will Be Here



Clay Content?: Um...

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dancing 'round The World...


Ok, so I needed something to fill in the gap between now and the time that I get back from my daughter's wedding sometime next week... when I'll put up all the wonderful pictures and the montage of their wedding OF COURSE...

But in the meantime, I couldn't think of anything better to ease the stress or to put a smile on my face... In fact, I may call on this one when I need it for a long time to come!

Hope it makes you laugh, cry and smile as much as it did me!



Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

Clay content?: He can dance with that very same unabandoned bliss when he wants to... and also, I think he's been to a couple of those countries.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beautiful Boy...


In 1980, David Sheff, on behalf of Playboy Magazine, conducted the very last significant interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. This blog has nothing to do with that. Except that it somehow does.

I'm sure at that time he never imagined that 25 years later he'd be writting a memoir entitled "Beautiful Boy... A Father's Journey Thru His Son's Meth Addiction."

I know. This was totally not a book I would have ever expected to pick up off the shelf on my own. It was just one of those things where Amazon gives you one of those sci-fi heads up that if you enjoyed "that" book you might enjoy "this" one? And so I just went with it.


First of all, I'm not a book critic. I wish I had that talent. All I know is that I know what touches me. And this one touched me big time. Have you ever read one of those books that when you finish just keeps you longing for more? I so much needed to know the "end" of this story and yet, as I assessed while reading it, there IS no end to this story. And since I am so behind the times I discovered that it took me only a tiny bit of researching to find that his son, Nic had written an account of his own.

And so I read Tweak... Growing Up On Methamphetamines In fact I read it twice and I'm not sure why I have been so drawn in by this family's struggles or even more by their eventual coming to terms. I can't explain it. All I know is that these two books coupled together empowered me somehow and left me with so much more capacity for the understanding of self awareness and forgiveness.

I read the dad's book first and I would suggest doing it in that order, but who knows? Seeing both sides of this unbelievably heartbreaking story was most powerful... though I probably wouldn't recommend it to the squeamish. But then again...

There is no lack of information out there regarding these books. Just google David Sheff, Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy or Tweak.

And if after reading the books, you feel a need to learn more, here are two more in-depth interviews with David and Nic. They will both move you and startle you and yet leave you with so much more understanding. Or at least they did me.

Memoirs of Meth Addiction From A Father and Son

A Son's Addiction, A Father's Agony


Nic at nine...


A few years later...

Clay content?:.. Well, I guess all I can say about that is that with all this time off I've somehow gotten back to reading. But also rumor has it that he's soon to have a beautiful boy of his own...


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

CANstruction...

Every year Fifth Third Bank of West Michigan (my employer) sponsors a food drive. But it's so much more than that! We get together on different teams and 'canstruct' things out of non-perishable food and household items that we afterwards donate. And we have a lot of fun in the process! Even more than you can imagine!

This year we provided ACCESS of West Michigan over 8,000 lbs. of food benefiting seven different food pantries. The judges for this year's competition included Catherine Behrendt from WZZM-13 Marsha DeHollander of ACCESS of West Michigan among other's from Fifth Third's management team. We were on WZZM's nightly news but I think the link was only good for a week...



This years trophy winners are as follows:

Gold:

Withdraw Hunger was constructed with a whole lot of boxes of mac & cheese and vegetable cans and a dozen jars of peanut butter. The display surprised some who thought it was a "real" ATM! A PowerPoint presentation depicting the dire situation in our inner city ran on a loop.



That was MY team. *g*



Silver:

Just Another Day In Paradise complete with coconut flavored marshmellows hanging from the palm trees and jumping starkist tuna...

Bronze:

Carting Away Hunger - Love the baby made out of packages of pinto beans...


Other Mentions:


Strike Out Against Hunger



Every Second Counts


Buying A Home: $300,000
Building A Home: $250,000
Feeding A Home: Priceless
(The Mortgage Department)



Torch Hunger



Food Pantry



You Can Be A Lifesaver




Pot of Hope


And from 2007:

Gold:

Imagine Life Without Hunger

Silver:

Shine A Light On Hunger

Bronze:

Solving The Hunger Puzzle (My Team)



Why Should Anyone Go Hungry?




Self Explanatory




Clay content?... Well, Clay, me and the ATM have somewhat of a history...