Mindmap – Fill it Up

So I’ve got an idea for an inspirational speech.  “Fill it Up.  There is always room for more.”  But only that germ.  I need to develop it.  2 or three points with about 2 supporting details each.  I like stories and descriptions so I’d like my support to take that form.

I also need a hook – story, quote, question, provocative statement with which to start.  I need a clear statement of purpose.  I need a personal attachment.  This is tricky since the concept is a bit different than the way I actually live – I’m more of a thinker than a doer.  So maybe the approach will rely on contrasts.

I also like funny.  Ironic twist -> but it means I need to spend part of my time misleading the audience (dangerous tack).

So what follows is a brainstorm session.  A mindmap – normally I do these on a piece of paper an the map grows visually, but I’m doing it here.  To do the map you write a central idea and then brainstorm ideas to surround it.  Then for each of those ideas your brainstorm around them.  Three to five levels will provide way more information than is needed.

Fill it up -> central idea

Who, what (lots of whats below) ,why, where, when, how

more relationships, love, faith, fun, responsibility, stress, worries, time, optimism/hope, charity, learning

stuff: full house, cars, electronics, tools

body: bladder, stomach (all you can eat buffet), head (ideas), full of BS

water: pool/reservoir (flow vs. overflow), sink

avoid jar of rocks/sand metaphor (cliche, familiarity) – what are the differences from my idea,  jar has max vs. no max, order of filling vs. always able to make better choices.  jar is a nice visual metaphor though…equivalent for my argument?

gluttony vs. temperance -> good and evil, read Chesterton’s view of excess <- might be a distraction from the throughline, “Good, bad.  I’m the guy with the gun.”

“too much of a good thing” <- obvious counter argument

“There’s always room for Jello!”

work-life balance

examples – wikipedia, time for crap like television

why – good – able to fill with good stuff, able to replace other stuff.  Really good stuff has no upper cap.  Time/Space can be made (made bad word)

why – bad – obviously a false idea – too much causes fat, complacency or addiction, time and space available are finite

stories – the impetus for the idea was Mom telling me she had to find room for Dad’s food in their condo.  Not a good idea since it isn’t my story

while unemployed my days were still full, learning or job hunting, but not as full as when working

concept that no matter the size of your home you’ll eventually fill it or you’ll fill up your free time or no matter how much money you’ll be able to spend it  <- sort of the core idea.  The choice is what do you fill that up with?

stories – I gather stuff – games, comics  <- can’t see how it fits theme

Need a story and a hook still – will put this away and come back to it when it comes to me….

Celebrity bad?

So I’ve got two ideas of things to write about tonight, but they should both be short so I might do them both.

I’ve heard people complaining about James Cameron’s visit to the province.  Many the complaints fall into two categories I don’t think are particularly valid.

First I’ve heard, “Who the $*%& cares?  He’s just a celebrity.  What does he know about the environment?”  Now I know very little about the environment and more to the point I have no idea how much or how little James Cameron knows.  I do think that just assuming he is a moron is a mistake.  Before offering an opinion, I hope that he has had some education in the subject and his visit itself shows that he is willing to take a first hand look rather than just read biased reports from a distance.

Second I’ve heard, “Why does he get a sit down with the Premier?  I bet real experts don’t get the same access!”  Really?  I bet the Premier has met with real experts.  I bet he even takes some with him when he travels to the States or where ever promoting the oilsands.  Futhermore, I think that they can both talk at the same level.  If a real scientist speaks with the Premier or writes a report for him, it will have to be simplified.  So both Cameron and Stelmach are concerned amateurs in the science.  Additionally, they will both understand the publicity/political related impacts.  I would think there is lots of commonality to make it a useful meeting.  Finally, like it or love it, the opinions of celebrities carry weight.  Swaying one opinion might result in swaying thousands of others…

I don’t have to be happy about the Cult of Celebrity we live in.  I don’t think the visit deserved being the top news story for three days in a row.       But if I’m going to express disdain about Cameron’s visit it would be due to disagreeing with his statements nad opinions – not dismissing them out of hand.

Unfortunately, I don’t care enough about his visit to find out what those statements really are.

Funnier than normal Poll

Wildstorm is closing

I am about a week late putting down some thoughts regarding Wildstorm Comics and its pending closing.  I can’t really hope to add anything further to the dialogue.  Nor can I speak to the announcement, the business impact and reasoning nor the human impact of the decision.  I can only talk about the comics as I experienced them.

Wildstorm Comics is an imprint of DC Comics.  Last week, DC announced that the imprint would be shut down.  Currently Wildstorm seems to publish three types of comics.  Licensed Comics (it is currently running a Modern Warfare series), creator owned titles (mostly ongoing series started long ago) and superhero comics set within the Wildstorm Universe.  None of these are currently really critical darlings.  I am currently collecting four Wildstorm series – DV8 (watching a Brian Wood series), Garrison (a new creator owned which I liked the concept of), Welcome to Tranquility (a unique spin on Superheroes and some of Gail Simone’s best work) and Astro City (Busiek and Anderson’s magnum opus, IMO).

Looking at the current lineup there isn’t really a shock to this decision.  The last two re-launches of titles in the Wildstorm universe have sputtered and faded quickly.   Reinvigorating the line would require a concerted effort from DC that they haven’t seemed willing to do.

Looking back though Wildstorm has both an interesting history and a strong back catalogue of titles.  Wildstorm grew out of Jim Lee’s contribution to the original Image comics.  The seven artists who founded Image each came in with their own ideas and developed their own worlds and creator studios to produce them.  Wildstorm is what Jim Lee’s studio came to be known as.  The first title was WildC.A.T.S and Stormwatch, Team 7, Deathblow followed fairly quickly on its heels.

I don’t think the first titles were known for their storytelling.  The stories were a bit lacklustre and many of the concepts were rehashes of what was currently popular at Marvel and/or DC.  Letting Jim Lee have free reign was their biggest draw.  But more influential might have been the founding of the Wildstorm FX digital colouring studio.  The colours in the comic popped and were at first flashier than anything else on the stands and soon also became more sophisticated as well.

It seems to me that Wildstorm’s greatest strength was allowing creators to do what they wanted.  As Jim Lee was the first big creator it meant a focus on the art, but later creators were often writers or writer/artists and the balance swayed back although the imprint was always known for its art.

A notable exercise was Homage comics, a sub-imprint or Wildstorm, meant as a boutique creator owned imprint designed to attract work by critically acclaimed creators.  Really it was an amazing success.  Homage hosted work by Terry Moore (SIP), Busiek and Anderson (Astro City), Robinson and Smith (Leave it to Chance).  It has a couple of Warren Ellis series in his Pop comics period – Red is about to be released into theatres.  And it has the first work I know of by John Cassaday in a western work with Jeff Mariotte, Desperadoes.

A similar sub-imprint was Cliffhanger.  Like Homage it was aimed at creators, but this one focused on artists more than writers.  I didn’t really buy any of the titles of this imprint except for Steampunk by Bachalo and Kelly.

Of course the most acclaimed sub-imprint was America’s Best Comics (ABC).  A line of comics envisioned and written by Alan Moore.  The Legion of Extraordinary Gentleman is the highlight among many either great or interesting titles.  Likely one of the best titles released in the last decade.

Now the Wildstorm Superhero universe itself.  There were a lot of meh titles released here over the years.  However, when creators were given their head some of the best superhero comics ever made were also in the line.  Gen13 by Jeff Scott Campbell is not my thing, but was a huge hit.  WildC.A.T.S by Alan More, Wildcats3.0 by Casey, Sleeper by Brubaker and Phillips, Planetary by Ellis and Cassaday, Majestic by Moore and Majestic by Casey and Stormwatch by Ellis, Raney and Hitch were all standouts.  The Stormwatch arc, “Change or Die” by Ellis and Raney in issues #48-#50 remains one of my favorite stories of all time.

But The Authority by Ellis and Hitch is likely the most influential title ever produced by Wildstorm comics.  It might have Brian Hitch’s best work to date and was matched by great colours.  It was one of the first series successful written with compilation into a trade in mind.  Finally it introduced the concept now called widescreen comics.  It was a storytelling style that slowed down the storytelling (decompressed) to allow for the art to take the fore and in the Authority emphasized giant action set pieces.  Widescreen comics in the vein of the Authority dominated for the net several years and while current comics are also using different tools, its influence it still apparent throughout the industry.

I suppose my advice would be to take a look at the catalogue from Wildstorm comics and get some of those books while you still can.  At its highlight Wildstorm was the location were commercial and experimental mixed successfully.  It was unique in the industry for this.  There really isn’t another publisher doing the same t the moment…  For that reason they will be missed.

My five favorite Wildstorm titles would be:

  1. Stormwatch:  Change or Die
  2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (vol 1)
  3. Top Ten (vol 1 and 2)
  4. Red
  5. Astro City (vol 1)

Weekly Recap

I ate at Club 100 on Wednesday.  I am a big fan.  Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese sandwich.  Tell me that doesn’t sound good.  I’ll let you in on a secret.  It was good, but not as good as the soup that day – a Louisiana Chowder.  Really.  It was better than it sounds and it sound delicious to me.  I had trouble concentrating on the job offer I was kinda recieving.

I turned down the job.  I ain’t really give any details.  But it was only a prospect.  A chance at a job that may or may not exist.

There was soup later that week too.  Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper.  For some reason my nose started to bleed as I finished the bowl.  I was dining with Mom and she was convinced that my blood pressure was up and I could stroke out at any moment.  But I tested the BP when I got home and it was fine.

I caught the premieres of Chuck, Big Bang, and the Mentalist.  I wasn’t thrilled with any of them.  Did anyone catch one worth talking about?

Tuesday teaching.  There was good stuff that night.  9 Speeches.  13 Table Topics.  I gave a speech on vocal variety.  It was brilliant.  As I spoke I saw the pharmacists-in-training light up.  They were realizing the magnitude of the lessons they were receiving and how it would enable them to fill prescriptions with the same skill Taylor Hall plays hockey.    They wept, they cheered, they hoisted me up above their heads (they are a very strong class) and carried me around the room.

On Friday, Rob, Dano and Dave all tried to crowd into my washroom at the same time.  This a little after Dan announced on Facebook that he was now officially a pirate.  (When he showed up it was sans parrot though.)  What followed my have been the most successful plumbing to which I have ever been witness.  What is really amazing is that when they asked for a wrench and I responded that I only had pliers and wrench was found in my tool drawer anyway.  Strange.  I examined the wrench after the work was done and it wasn’t actually mine.  Someone is sneaking tools into my house.

I was under the weather on Thursday and missed my first day of work.  I’ve only worked 13 days now.  I’m not happy with the average.  Oddly enough that was also due to plumbing problems.  I returned to work the next day and was met without fanfare.  🙂

I think that is all I have this week.  Take care.  Watch out for rogue piranha’s.  Those are the most dangerous kind and can be found in any body of water including the bottle kind.

Todd’s Public Speaking Tips – Entry 2

In class this week one of the students asked me if their ‘Speak with Sincerity’ Speech had to be serious.  I answered that she didn’t so long as she was passionate about her topic.  I was correct, but incomplete.  She needs to be both passionate and honest.  It goes back to the point I was trying to make in my last article.  A speech should reveal something about you.  When you hear that it seems as though you need to be serious, but it is equally good to be revealing that you are a giant goofball.

Honesty – It is a key component.  I suppose the point I want to make here is that not every speaker should speak on every topic.  Speaking isn’t acting.  Your speaking style may indeed be an exaggerated or molded aspect of yourself, but it needs to be an true aspect of yourself.

Relationship – I also realize that I need to back up a little bit.  When talking your purpose is to form a relationship between you and your audience.  Normally when people talk about the purpose of a speech they talk about speaking to inform, entertain, inspire or persuade.  All of those purposes also require a tie to be formed between the speaker and the audience.  That relationship underlies all speeches.  It also might be odd in that a speech is just a speaker talking to an audience, but the communication flows both ways as in any relationship.  Audiences react and that feeds into the speech.  A speaker needs to understand that such a two-0way flow of communication exists and work to build on it.  This is why a lot of my points are about honesty and showing aspects of yourself.  As in any relationship these things also form a basis and so they do in a speech as well.

Specificity – I feel the need to throw in a funny point here.  I’ve said that being honest doesn’t mean you need to be serious, but my last two points seem to be brimming with a serious earnestness.  But this point doesn’t have that so I’ll tell my favorite joke instead.  A horse walks into a bar.  Ouch.  Anyway, lots of people throw too many points into a speech and the speech becomes a list (much like these articles).  In seven minutes you can do about 2 or 3 points well.  I already mentioned repetition.  That takes up a lot of time.  Another thing that does is specificity.    This doesn’t mean a lot of adjectives are needed.  But it can mean hitting the sensuality of a topic – how does it feel (touch), look, smell.  If you are talking about a car mention the brand, its age, the way it sounds as it is starting and the way it knocks as you are shutting it off.  But don’t fill in needless details.  Say enough to allow the audience to envision what you are speaking of and then use that visualization.  Don’t use so many that it becomes about the thing and not about the point you are trying to make.

Maybe an example.  Let’s say I’m giving a speech about my Kindle.  I love my Kindle so it is going to meet my requirement to have the speech be about me if I can show that love.  But that doesn’t mean that the audience will care.  I need a hook and a message that they will care about.  I could talk about why they need to buy one and the hook is that their lives would be somehow improved.  Another message could be that the easy access to classics and a wide variety of subjects is a good thing.   My hook could be that they can read a book a week and spend almost no money (beyond the initial expenditure).

I need to be specific about the device.  Its size and weight (thinner than my iPhone, the same weight as my universal remote control).  Its beautiful white, clean design.  The tactile feel of flipping pages.  It is different than turning a real page.  But there is a click, a pause and a page refresh.  You fell like you are doing something.  The way the text looks as clear and crisp as that on the printed page.

I’ll probably not use the horse joke.

OK – done for tonight.

The Pause

The smile

Style

Movement

Humour

Rule of triads –

Avoid the known

Winter – the pros and cons

Winter has been on my mind lately.  Lurking like a serial killer in an urban legend.  Perhaps though I am being too hard on the season.  To weigh it carefully I have compiled this list of pros and cons.

Pros:

  1. That first brisk breath of air that frosts up your lungs
  2. The look of frost on a clear morning coating the trees
  3. The cheery glow of a fireplace warming the home
  4. A cup of warm beverage warming the fingers and gullet
  5. The spooky play of steam rising from the storm sewers
  6. The dynamic play of ice fog across the streets on a cold, cold night
  7. Christmas

7 things.  More than I anticipated.  I think there might be only four things I dislike:

  1. The cold
  2. The snow
  3. The ice
  4. The unending darkness

But I beleive I can coax out more specifics:

  1. Every freezing breath after the first out in the cold
  2. Runny noses
  3. Eyes watering from the wind
  4. Glasses fogging up coming in from the cold
  5. Stupid winter drivers
  6. Treacherous roads threatening even the cautious
  7. Getting frost bit fingers touching a vehicle for even a moment
  8. Attempting to extricate myself from my car without sure footing
  9. Worrying about walking across the ice
  10. Attempting to walk across the ice
  11. Shoving my walker through snow – it hates snow – odd in that it doesn’t have many other anthropomorphic properties
  12. Falling on the ice
  13. Dying while lying n the ground slowly freeing to death
  14. Wearing heavy clothes and bundling up
  15. Losing dexterity in the fingers due to either the cold or the mittens
  16. Getting up in the dark
  17. Going to bed in the dark
  18. Going to work in the dark
  19. Going home from work in the dark

Analyzing the list I think I can come to the conclusion that winter is best enjoyed from inside while watching it out of the window.  I think it is a pretty objective study.