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?

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Friday Light: Slightly Embarrassing Quirks and Inappropriateness

At times I want this blog to be notable. Regal. Intellectual. Thought provoking.

But that can also be boring. Hence, the reason every Friday post blends in a little humor, and today’s shares an extra dash of embarrassing quirks from childhood. Quirks volume one here.

+Earthworms. After it rained and the earthworms littered the ground, I’d don my rollerskates and ‘save’ them, tossing them back into the soaked earth from which they sought to escape. I don’t do this anymore. OK, maybe I did once or twice in the last year.

+Hot Dogs. I didn’t eat hot dogs for about five years durning my elementary school days as I’d been told they were made of earthworms. I save earthworms, not eat them = childhood logic.

+I Pledged Allegiance to a Christmas Tree. Real Christmas trees always adorned our home, but one year it grew, even in it’s little tree stand. It actually got taller. I felt badly that the poor guy would be tossed into our woods behind the woodpile. It was growing, after all. So what makes a Christmas tree feel better? Singing to it. Christmas carols. I promised the tree that I’d never forget all it had done for us. The odd ritual only lasted a week or so, but that tree died a slow death while being saranaded by a nine-year-old. Kinda like The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstien. Only not really.

+Inappropriate Nicknames. As a kid, I often went for the laugh in most circumstances. Still do. I think I was simply going for the laugh when I called my third grade art teacher a prostitute. Something like ‘oh yeah, we’ll you’re just a prostitute.’ Hmmmm. I’d never been removed from a classroom faster than I was on that day. I honestly had no idea what a prostitue was, though I imagine when I first heard the word used by others, their audience laughed so I thought I’d give it a try. Bad idea.

There’s more. Oh, yes, there’s plenty more. But that’s a start and you can read quirks volume one here.

In the meantime, please tell me I’m not alone. What kinds of crazy did you do when you were a kiddo? Leave a reply below so we can all get a chuckle…


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Friday Light: McDonald’s Dollar Menu Temptations

I’m weak. Like a girl at a hip-swiveling Elvis concert. Can’t say no. Willpower shot.

I hear from within me a whisper of sinister rationalization:

You deserve a break today.

To which I answer “yes. Yes indeed I DO deserve a break today.” And then another voice…

You want it, you need it.

Another answer of “I do want it, and yup, I do need it.” But then, the voice goes one too far with…

I’m lovin’ it.

Sitting here in my office, I realize I’m having an inner dialog with slogans from McDonald’s. Dang marketing department.

Generally, this self-talk happens in a matter of seconds and transpires just before lunch, which, of course, is already packed. I have an apple, a healthy wrap with 46 grams of fiber, and even some Greek Yogurt for dessert. Healthy, yes, but I want the trash food. I want the warm, gooey goodness that can only be found on a McMenu.

I’ll indulge in a McDouble from time to time, ordering it without cheese to make myself feel that I’m still cutting out some of the ‘unhealthy’ calories. Like I’m both auctioneer and buyer at the same time, the script often reads like this:

Auctioneer: I have a lovely McDouble on this pristine, plastic encased menu. I’ll start the bidding at one dollar.

Me: That’s not really even food. I’ll feel terrible after I eat whatever that thing is but I deserve a break today don’t I? Hmmmm. Ok I’ll take it.

Auctioneer: Going once, going twice….

Me: I’ll take it if I can have it without cheese. That’ll make it healthy. Right?!

Auctioneer: Sold to the man with weak willpower.

On my better days, I arrive having already eaten my healthy lunch. I’m just at McDonald’s to get out of the office for a wee bit. They have free wi-fi. They also have Diet Dr. Pepper. I’m a hero. I’m out of the office. I get a treat I love. I haven’t indulged in the McDouble McProblem.

After two (or three) free refills I have enough caffeine in me to levitate back to the office. Thanks Diet Dr. Pepper. Thanks McDonald’s.

Calorie Free McTreat at McDonalds

What are your midday temptations? What marketing department tantalizes your subconscious… and wins?


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Slightly Embarassing Creative Quirks

As creatives, we all have idiosyncrasies. I’d like to know your creative quirks that play into your art and creative process. And by ‘your art,’ I mean: getting the kids ready for bed, conducting a non-boring sales meeting at work, making a meal, or designing a dream from concept to fruition.We’re all artists.

I’ll start the ball rolling before you divulge your foibles.

On the cusp of writing this list, I’ll just say this: if you could see me, you’d describe the look on my face as chagrined. (I had to look ‘chagrined’ up to make sure I was using it correctly. Geek-factor.)

Weird music tastes. My 5 most recent iTunes downloads:

    1. “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. Just embarrassing, but I love it. There, I said it.
    2. “Tightrope” (featuring Big Boi) by Janelle Monae. So. Very. Good. It’s like hearing a good preacher expound on the Bible. She makes it come alive. Joy-singer. Here’s the video on youtube.
    3. “Bennie and the Jets” by Haley Reinhart. Yes, she was on American Idol. And yes, this version is awesome.
    4. “Forever” by Chris Brown. I first heard this while watching NBC’s “The Office.” It was featured in the Jim/Pam wedding. Celebration music extravaganza.
    5. Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot. Butter-voiced Mama Cass (of Mama’s and the Papa’s fame) belts out this lovely anthem to artists with pinpoint croonery skills.
OCD Watchdog/Mild Participator. 3 weird things:
    1. I like shows like “Obsessed” and “Hoarders.” At times, I can identify with the people on the shows. That scares me. Then I realize I’m not like them. That relieves me. Emotional journey.
    2. A ‘thing’ with odd/even numbers. When turning up the volume on the TV, I’ll often want it to be an even number. Why? I dunno. But then I think of the people on shows like “Obsessed” and I flip it to 13 or 17 and throw caution to the wind.
    3. Supersonic ears. I often wear earplugs to concerts, theaters, even churches at times. Sensitive ears.
    1. I usually sleep on the floor. Actually, I start in the bed and then, around 2 or 3 AM I end up waking up and moving to the floor. Why? I like it. It happened last night.
    2. I don’t call my wife ‘dear’ or ‘honey.’ We keep it simple: we call each other ‘babies.’ ‘Dear’ and ‘honey’ never seemed right to us. Nor does ‘deer honey.’
    3. I was invincible once. I took a Starbucks Venti Iced Americano (I believe it has 34 shots of espresso in it) into the movie theater to watch The Dark Knight. Upon leaving the theater and finding my way home, the combination of the movie and caffeine told me that yes indeed, I too was a superhero. I was Batman until that buzz wore off. I’ve not had a Venti Iced Americano since.

Enough of my quirks.

Who’s honest enough to share one or two of your creative quirks that make you who you are?

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