Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Announcement Time

Two quick things…

1. I’ve loved getting to know you, the readers of Creatives.

2. Because I don’t want to lose touch with all of you, I wanted to let you know this blog has gotten a facelift and has moved here. (www.zahndrew.com)

The new blog site (though same in purpose) allows for more creativity in design and more freedom in content posting options.

Most importantly, please subscribe and get fed creatively! Subscribe to the new blog.

See you there!

Christmas Decorating for the Holidays: Creative Expression Do’s and Don’ts

As creatives, we appreciate design, order (sometimes disorder) and, at times, abstract thinking to express our creativity.

Enter holiday decor. A few do’s and don’ts for a successful decorating season…

Do Decorate. When it comes to decor, I love it, but don’t love doing it. Our first Christmas tree was a tropical style tree we got at Lowe’s, glittered and all. Pic below, in all its Charlie Brown Christmas Tree splendor.

It’s fun a fun little tree. We had a Lowe’s gift card and wanted a small tree. As Tim Gunn says “make it work!” We did. Ta da!

Don’t Apologize. “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.” Julia Child. Good advice applicable to creative works of any kind. Apologizing is often nothing more than a passive aggressive attempt for affirmation–and that’s just not the holiday spirit.

Do Enjoy Music Whilst Decorating. We picked this one up yesterday… and are enjoying Mr. Buble’s take on the classics very much.

Don’t Make Your Own Music. Unless you really know what you’re doing, this might end up happening…

Do (and Don’t) Ask for Input. All creativity, like it or not, is subject to critique. Some artists love it, some loathe it.

A good critique improves the work. Another set of eyes and ears is invaluable. Often we just have to suck it up, take the critique, and make a choice: fix it or leave it.

What about the festive decoration in the picture to the left? I recently saw this little wonder and it provoked a few questions in me…

“Who’s idea was this? Husband tired of decorating? Son/daughter who miss the tree that was recently cut down?”

“What were they going for? Gothic pillar? Pumpkin point? Spire of holiday spirit?”

A critique, in this instance, might’ve been helpful. Perhaps.

What are YOUR do’s and don’ts for holiday decorations?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Lip Syncing Day Parade Highlights


They’re not even trying to fake it anymore. Brazen lip syncing. A few highlights from the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade…

Lip Syncing Tom Foolery (Picasa Creative Commons)

+Cee Lo Green chewed gum while ‘singing.’ That doesn’t work.

+The casts of most of the Broadway shows (Newsies, Spider Man, etc.) didn’t even wear or hold microphones. That’s basically saying ‘we’re just here to lip sync, thanks for watching.’

+The microphone windscreen foam cover is getting larger. Some producer must’ve said “make it large enough to cover at least half of the singer’s face.”

+More masks. Nearly 88% of all performers wore masks, helmets, or extensive wig work. This was done deliberately to mask lip syncing efforts.

+The Muppets did the best job lip syncing. As always.

All that said, I still enjoyed it. And always will.

Ooooh, here comes Neil Diamond. Sounds like he’s using the recording he did in the 80’s. Go Neil go!

Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

UPDATE: Fresh off the press! Check out Scotty McCreery’s flub… go big or go home right!

10 Things People Hate About Thanksgiving


I love Thanksgiving to pieces. To absolute pieces.


“Who wouldn’t love Thanksgiving?” I pondered. Apparently, there are a few out there.

A quick Googling (not ogling) revealed the haters. Here’s a quick compilation of some their complaints.

  1. Carving Birds. Don’t take the hate out on the bird. It gave its life so you could have a nice nap later in the afternoon. Take tips from the amazing Alton Brown, Turkey Carving 101.
  2. Working Out. According to Livestrong, the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. That’s more than double the average daily amount. Working out will come later. One day isn’t going to kill the waistline–the other 364 days will.
  3. Giving Thanks. Isn’t it easier to just complain? For some, yes, maybe it is. But for the haters of Thanksgiving, giving thanks is quite the chore.
  4. Watching Football. I’m not a sports fan either, but there’s something about the simple recipe of 1) the sound of a football game and 2) turkey in my belly that gives me one of the best naps of the year. Ahhhhh.
  5. Eating Food. Complaints abounded about the nasty nasty food. Who are these people that hate this goodness?
  6. Slowing Down. Can’t-sit-stillers apparently would rather be at work.
  7. Traveling Stress. One point haters. Yes, it can be stressful to travel. Here’s 7 Tips to Avoid Holiday Travel Stress.
  8. Bragging Guests. Uncle Joe always brags. He’s a bragger. It’s what he does… even when it’s not Thanksgiving.
  9. Shopping Advertisements. Have you seen the Kohl’s Black Friday commercial with the Rebecca Black “Friday” song. Whew. I’ll agree with this one. It is a bit annoying.
  10. Seating Arrangements. It seems that some people just don’t like being told where to sit. Unless you’re at the kid-table and you’re over 21, suck it up and eat your turkey.

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you all.

Enjoy. Celebrate. Share.

If each of us chose to make a list of gratefulness, it would far exceed the silly list above.

What’s your take on Turkey Day?


Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

5 Steps to Creating a Memorable and Effective Company Video

Corporate video.

Those two words might as well be substituted by other equally exciting pairings such as root canal, boring lecture, or chalkboard nails.

Most companies just need a creative, like yourself, to take some initiative. I currently hold the title of ‘corporate sales trainer’ at my organization, yet part of my job description now includes making monthly video productions for trainings, meetings, and even company parties. It’s a great way to express my creativity, get paid to do it, and create a corporate culture of honor, respect, and professionalism.

Corporate company videos are valuable tools that leave your audience feeling educated, appreciated, and (fingers crossed) entertained. Here’s a few steps to consider before diving into your first video project.

  1. Focus it. During the planning stage ask yourself ‘what do I want the viewer to feel when they watch this.’ Educated? Inspired? Appreciated? These emotionally connective words help you form your mission statement for the video. Meeting with one or two other employees for a brainstorming session may also prove helpful.
  2. Mission it. Write a mission statement for the project. Here’s a sample: the purpose of the company holiday party video is to show appreciation for each employee by featuring each department in an upbeat, entertaining format.
  3. Shoot it. With mission statement in hand, write two shot lists. The first list is chronological; it starts with the beginning of the video and works to the end, shot by shot. Next, compile a second list from the first list to determine the shooting order. Note: shooting scenes out of actual sequence can save much time and effort. Now it’s time to shoot it. You’ll need to make your fellow employees comfortable when you’re shooting it. Compliment and encourage!
  4. Edit it. Use a simple program like Apple’s iMovie or Window’s Movie Maker to compile the clips. Editing should take a while as it’s generally a several step process. The first edit is simply to remove all the bum clips and order the video chronologically. The second edit further hones the video by making needed cuts for clarity and pacing. The third edit introduces music, if needed, transitions, titles, and end credits for a polished finish.
  5. Critique it. Show the finished product to some trusted employees and/or your superior. Ask them for input. Take the criticism and make the needed changes. Remember, after working on this project over time there may be things that you may not even see or notice that are glaringly evident to a first time viewer.

I volunteered to make my first company video several years ago using my own camera, computer, and time. After my boss viewed it, he was so pleased that he provided me with all the equipment I needed to produce other videos for the company on a regular basis. Now, it’s a regular part of what I do, and it’s quite enjoyable.

What about you? Does your company have a need for your creative talents?

Why not go for it?

Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

Comfort Zone Creativity: Possible or Impossible?

Comfort zone. Creative zone. Are there magic recipes to create masterpieces?

I saw this simple drawing here and was given permission to repost it. [Update: the original post is here along with a ton of other gems! Check it out!]

Man I love this concept… and hate it.

Can we create in a comfort zone? Aren’t there ways we MUST be comfortable to create?

What’s been your experience you writers, actors, teachers, moms, pastors, trainers, and other miracle makers?

Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

Friday Light: Our ‘Not Normal’ Creative Bents


Creatives are idiosyncratic. Allow me to peel back the orange peel of my “I’m normal” facade. . . (for other quirks and oddities see part 1 or part 2)

+Saying dumb things in meetings. Sometimes people try and act all “I’m important” and “I know stuff” and “I have the most amazing perspective.” Sometimes I act that way. Sometimes meetings are great. But sometimes they don’t accomplish much. In a road-to-nowhere meeting this week, I found myself contributing this: “man, I need a cigarette and I don’t even smoke.” Laughter? Yes. Productive? Naaaahsooomuch.

+Midday Treats. I’ve written about my problem with the McDouble, but I have another problem: hot cocoa. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve had HOT hot cocoa. Yes, I eat it dry when I need something sweet. As in powder. As in crunchy, dry mini-marshmallows. Who does this? Really? Anyone else? It’s not really all that weird. Think of those Lik-M-Aid things. Same thing. Same thing?

+Eyebrows Matter. Somewhere along the journey from kiddo to adult eyebrows became somewhat important to me. They should be balanced yet not too carefully tended as if to say ‘these eyebrows are perfect.” I can’t believe I just typed that. Anywho, it’s really the first thing I notice about people. Andy Roony’s are terrible. . . were terrible.

+Human GPS Time Estimator. I love to make predictions. Often I challenge my wife. “I’m betting we get there at 4:37. Whaddyou say?” She wagers 4:45. We took the rules from the showcase showdown rules on The Price is Right: whomever is closest to the actual time, without going over, wins. If you win, there’s no real prize. We might have to work something out to change that.

+Holding Breath. Similar to the GPS time thing, I’ll often hold my breath for a mile while driving. This only works when the speed limit is 65 mph or above. I’ll often have to speed up nearing the end of the mile. It’s such torture. No idea why I do it.

Tell me I’m not alone… please. Pretty please. Time to divulge some of your oddities. Leave a comment about so we can all feel more ‘normal.’

Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

Recipe for Creativity: Willy Wonka, Jelly Belly, and Avoiding the Freeways

“Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it in dew,      

cover it in chocolate and a miracle or two?”

“The candyman. The candyman can.
The candyman can cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”

Maybe I just love candy way too much, but those lyrics are brilliance. He ‘mixes it with love.’ Folks, he ‘makes the world taste good.’

Goodness. I’ve got to watch it. Thankfully, somebody took the time to put it on YouTube…

Grow down. Let’s take a few minutes and watch it together… (if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, at least watch around 1:58 when a little girl gets an unintentional uppercut by the countertop.)

Though most of us will never meet Mr. Wonka (or Gene Wilder), we may meet David Klein. He truly made the world taste good when he reinvented the jelly bean in the 1970’s with his famous brand Jelly Belly. Klein’s story is expertly told in the film of his life Candyman: The David Klein Story.

Quotes from Mr. Klein to feed your creativity…

“I always like to do things in new ways. Always.”

“I like to be as creative as possible in anything that I do.”

“I never like traveling freeways. I like going side streets because you’d see something different every time. You go on the freeway, you eliminate your choices.”

Quirky, childlike, and a bit of a salesman, Klein revolutionized a few simple ingredients and, yes I’m gonna say it, made the world taste good.

Isn’t that what we want as creatives? We want to take our creativity… our screenplays, our recipes, our sales presentations, our paintings, our teachings, our pottery, our books… we mix them with some passion and love, and we want to see a change in someone by what we do.

We want to enliven the senses of the world with our creativity.

For Wonka/Klein, they did it with candy through the five senses. They truly made the world taste good. I’m so glad they did. So glad, in fact, that I’ll most likely eat some candy in their honor today.

I’m curious. Why do you create? Why spend the time, the work, the energy?

Don’t Miss a Thing: Subscribe to this Blog

Friday Light Humor: Shameless Creativity

I love to laugh. So does my wife. We love to make each other laugh. That’s one of the reasons our relationship is so fantastic: we’re constant entertainment for each another.

One of our rituals. Just before bed, whomever is the last person to get in bed must turn out the light. Yes, I know we should get The Clapper so we can turn off our electronics via applause. Remember that device? Here’s the commercial. (If you watch it, notice the elderly woman in the last scene. I’ve always loved her acting choices. She’s in bed. Has the TV and light on and she’s just furious. Probably thinking ‘dang it all to heck, that durn TV is so fuzzy and I wanna just bang my hands together to turn it off and go to bed!” So that’s exactly what she does. Brilliance.)

But we don’t have The Clapper. We turn off lights the old fashioned way: by dancing our way to the light switch so the other person can enjoy a few giggles before bed. And folks, these dances rival anything you’ve ever seen on So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing With the Stars. In fact, last night I picked a random song on my iPhone to play for Sarah’s dance: the karaoke track of Billy Joel’s “She’s Got a Way.” And yes indeed, Sarah had a way about her. Go Sarah go. So fun.

Shamelessness. Another way we get a few laughs is to be completely foolish. Go with our gut. Try something new. Not be afraid to be a clown. I’m about 49% embarrassed by the video I’m posting below, but the 51% that is proud of this random act of silly cancelled out the 49% enough to edit this, post it, and hope that you smile, and perhaps even guffaw, when you see it.

This video is what happened a couple weeks ago when a freak Saturday morning snowstorm dusted central Pennsylvania with several inches of white just before Halloween… and yes, it’s basically improv.

How does this happen? It began at breakfast and the conversation went something like this:

She: Crazy that it’s snowing like this in October!

Me: For reals. The kiddos are gonna be trick-or-treating in the snow.

She: It’s like Christmas only it’s Halloween. What if we did a video and dressed up like we were gonna go trick or treating in the snow.

Me: And we’d sing Christmas carols too right?

She: Sure. I could be a cowgirl… kinda like Jessie from Toy Story. What are you gonna do?

Me: A Japanese geisha.

We left the rest of the bacon on the table and rushed to play dress-up.

What do we have to lose? Besides our dignity.