I’m sort of numb, sitting in Pam’s huge, upholstered easy chair just staring into space. It’s only been a few weeks since she died and here I am staring at the forlorn-looking black box that the funeral home delivered containing her ashes.
I’m scared to open it. I’ve never even seen someone’s ashes before. Not sure what to expect.
I sit. I stare. I wonder. I need a drink! Maybe two!!
After I return with my Jack Daniel’s on-the-rocks, I put the glass down and notice some liquid residue evidently left over from a glass no longer sitting here on the coffee table. I just mutter to myself that I’ll wipe it up later.
I take a sip of Jack, replace the glass on the table and reach for the black box to open it. Opening is no problem but I see that the bag inside is tightly tied so as to prevent spillage of the ashes.
Or so I thought.
When I lifted the bag from its container and began to remove it from the box, it began to slip from my hand and spill out onto the table. Evidently, the bag was not as securely tied as I was led to believe.
Though startled, and slightly embarrassed, even though there’s no one else home, I quickly apologized to Pam for having accidentally spilled some of her ashes. When I began to wipe up the ashes from the table, I noticed some weird reaction start to take place with those ashes.
It seems that some of them spilled precisely where some liquid remained from a few drinks ago.
I sat there mesmerized as I watched some chemical reaction taking place with the spilled ashes and liquid. To my amazement, it seemed as if some sort of figure was beginning to form.
A blob. Unrecognizable. But then, my God, it’s transforming right before my eyes into . . . a . . . person.
I watch, amazed, not knowing what, if anything, to do. I am utterly transfixed on what is happening right before me. Then to my astonishment, it stands there and speaks, “Hi Joe!”
“It” is Pam, and I faint.
“Uh, Joe,” she says. “It’s me, Pam, I think, though I’m not sure how I got here. It’s kinda fuzzy to me.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I muttered, slowly beginning to regain consciousness.
“Do you remember dying?,” I asked. “You know, you really screwed up my day, not to mention yours!,” I stated as flatly sarcastic as I could.
“I don’t know. I mean, I remember laying on the bed, semi-asleep and then, well, nothing. It’s as if everything went black,” she said.
“I don’t want to dwell on your death, Pam. I’m still in some kind of shock. It was I who discovered you, thank you very much,” I said.
“That moment was my worst nightmare come true,” I retorted.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t exactly plan it that way,” she said. “But enough of this! How the hell did I get back here and what am I doing in our living room?”, she asked.
“Well, I was handling your bag of ashes and they slipped out of my hands with some spilling into a little residue of liquid there on the table. The mixture began some sort of chemical reaction and the next thing I know, you formed into, uh, you” I explained.
“You mean I was sort of resurrected from my ashes?,” she blurted out.
“That’s pretty much it,” I said.
“Well, that explains the gritty taste in my mouth,” she said as she sort of spit out some sandy-like substance.
“Why are you looking at me that way?” she asked.
“It’s not everyday, Pam, that I bring the dead back to life!” I said. “And,” as I stumbled for words, “you’re much younger looking than when you died,” I explained. “You look like you did when we first met, about 30 years ago!” I confessed.
“Maybe your appearance has something to do with your transformation,” I offered. “Whatever the explanation, I’m glad it has taken place” I admitted.
Evidently, unknown to me at the time, the mixing of the liquid with ashes that produced the chemical reaction also transformed the liquid somehow to create a person. This has resulted in forming a human, in this case, Pam, as I recall her from when we first met.
Oh, man, do I have questions, I thought. Does simply mixing a little of the ashes with any liquid produce this magical transformation to a “living being?” Is this magical elixir the solution for bringing the dead back to life?
“Pam, why don’t we take a little walk outside and get some fresh air? You’ve been bagged and bottled up for too long,” I suggested.
She agreed and off we went. However, as soon as we began to walk out the front door, she screamed in agony. We both immediately stopped and I looked down in horror.
She had begun to disappear!
Her feet and ankles were dissolving and were starting to leave behind some dust reside. Thinking quickly in almost a reactive sort of way, I grabbed hold of her and immediately yanked her entire body back inside the house.
Within moments, thankfully, the shape of both feet and ankles began to return to normal appearance.
“Whew, thank God,” I exclaimed in shortness of breath. I was still holding on to her and sort of afraid to let her go. We eventually made it back to the living room where we both sat down in utter relief, she on the table and me in her overgrown chair.
“What the hell was that all about,” she screamed. “I started to disappear,” she said.
“Yeah, I know” I said. “I have a theory,” I suggested.
“Perhaps once the person leaves the house or the dwelling she occupies, she begins to dissolve and then disintegrates. In other words, she can’t venture outside or else she returns to dust or ashes in your case,” I theorized.
“You mean I can’t go outside or physically leave this house?,” she exclaimed.
“Not this way,” I said.
“Damn!” she retorted.
“Well, after all, you’re dead, remember?” I told her.
“As you have said on more than one occasion, my dear Joe, ‘minor little detail!'” she deadpanned.
My now-growing list of questions boggles my mind: Is this chemical reaction trick a way of always producing Pam whenever I wish? Even though this creation is evidently limited to exist within the boundaries of my home, is that enough to satisfy me or to counter my longing for her? Could I bring her back in a different setting if I began the process from a different locale?
I have no clue at this point. The quest for clarification is now upon me. Where will it lead? Am I flirting with another dimension? Where is Rod Serling when you need him?
I think I’ll pour me another Jack Daniel’s and sit, contemplate . . . and chat with Pam.
Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!
Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.
Back again with a number of different quotes but this time, unintentionally, I’ve included several from Rod Serling. These even include a submission by his daughter, Anne. Interestingly, some reflect our current times and are not, simply, torn from a script of The Twilight Zone, though they could be quite applicable.
Offered up for contemplation and reminding, that some things never change. However, it’s still up to us to bring about that change no matter how painful and uncomfortable the process is.
Creative imagination — the lamp that lit the world — can light our lives. – Alex F. Osborn, member, Advertising Hall of Fame
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. – Aristotle
When we are too timid to risk failure, we reduce the opportunities to succeed. And we eliminate the chance to learn. – Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame
A sickness known as hate. Not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don’t look for it in #TheTwilightZone, look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether. – Rod Serling (March 27, 1964)
Imagination leads to curiosity leads to creativity leads to innovation. In everything you write, write something that is brave enough to be hopeful. – Amanda Gorman, poet, first National Youth Poet Laureate
Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling
In a continuing effort to highlight various modes of thought by different folks through the ages, the following quotes are offered up to enlighten your imagination and, perhaps, even tickle your funny bone. Then, again, maybe they’ll make you think. Enjoy!
You have to be noticed, but the art is getting noticed naturally, without screaming and without tricks. – Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame
The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. — Albert Einstein
No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight’s very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.
. . . And . . .
Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling
Inspirational quotes for folks who don’t like them:
On fighting the urge to follow the herd:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. — Oscar Wilde
What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you. — Seneca
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. — Lucille Ball
On finding the beauty in chaos:
If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor. — Eleanor Roosevelt
I would rather die of passion than of boredom. — Vincent van Gogh
Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny. — Stephen Hawking
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. — Anne Frank
We, the American Advertising Federation District 10, lost a good friend and a true-to-form legend (and not in his own mind) when John Aguillard passed away a few days ago. If you ever met him at a district conflab or national convention, consider yourself both lucky and blessed. If you didn’t, too bad; you really missed out.
John was a prankster and a very passionate one at that. You also needed to know how to take him. Some folks didn’t and paid the consequences. He was a very quick-witted and smooth-tongued conversationalist, and loved to lure you into one of his “controversial” conversations. He also had a wicked sense of humor.
One of the first times I met John, he dished out some satirical remark, and I responded in a rather direct and satirical manner, and, for a brief moment, John wasn’t sure what to do. He quickly shot back his delight in getting that kind of reaction from me and remarked to a friend sitting next to him, “I like this guy!”
One of my fondest memories was when we were involved in a major discussion one year in Dallas in the Hospitality Suite until about 3:30 in the morning. I was joined by Frank Kopec (Dallas), John (San Antonio), me (Houston), Darrell Boyd (Lake Charles) and one or two others. I was proud that despite the late hour (or early depending on your perspective), there was plenty of respect to be had. Continue reading →
Anxiety, panic, fear, pandemic stress: The cornerstones of the negative universe. Yet, while all hell is breaking around us, can we still muster up the courage to innovate and create. Is creativity still alive or is it merely napping? Do we create out of despair or want? Out of necessity or desire? I guess that depends on each one of us.
In a recent article in Psychology Today, boredom is cited as an almost certain stimuli for creativity. Now, some of you may not agree with this, and that’s okay. If you don’t and even if you do, let me hear from you with your reasoning.
According to the article, which contains some very interesting points I want to share with you, you’ll see explosive creativity everywhere you look: in how people stuck at home are constructing elaborate recreations of their favorite artworks for the #GettyChallenge; or how we make ways to connect—whether it’s singing from our balconies or happy hour delivery via drones—while social distancing; even in the acerbic memes and uplifting stories flooding social media to offer inane distractions and inspire hope during this crisis.
Interestingly, quarantine and the resulting ennui (a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of excitement) of our home-bound brains have proven to be a catalyst for innovation. Thus, boredom breeds inventive creativity, as long as it’s the right kind of boredom.
Psychological studies describe five levels of boredom: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant, and apathetic. In its seeking state, boredom drives us to find something to engage and delight us. Think of the imaginary friend you had as a child; you did have an imaginary friend, didn’t you? Or the games you’d play with that certain stuffed animal, whose goal in life seemed to be avoiding Mom’s washing machine. Both scenarios seemed to trigger one’s own imagination, and, thus, your creativity. (Note: At least it did mine.)
In today’s society, real boredom escapes us; it seems everywhere you look, all eyes are staring into multiple-shaped devices hosting 24/7 news and entertainment. It’s as if we have to go out of our way to truly be bored.
While technology provides us creative outlets and a means of connecting when we are physically isolated from one another, these distractions are like the digital equivalent of junk food for our brains while good old fashioned boredom is a hunger that nurtures creative thinking.
What’s unique about this quarantine is that it constrains us in so many ways. Our typical means of working, socializing, and even provisioning ourselves have been dramatically restricted. And while people tend to think that constraints limit creativity and innovation, research proves quite the opposite to be true.
Although the topics may vary from blog post to blog post here, one central theme usually always emerges: Creativity. Even before the nasty onslaught of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, creativity was quite important and pertinent in our industry. Now, it’s more important than ever.
In reading various articles on the subject of creativity, I found it interesting that the Brits are complaining about its overall effectiveness. One such cautionary study comes from an account manager with M&C Saatchi. Among others, he cited the legendary John Hegarty who called creativity “advertising’s special sauce” partly due to the significant effect it can have on achieving or even surpassing objectives and increasing ROI.
Advertising, to increase effectiveness, has to appeal to consumers by conveying emotions and helps to build memory structures, allowing them to choose a brand easily and instinctively. Creativity is the best way to convey emotion.
IPA (Institute for Practitioners of Advertising) studies have proven that creativity can increase ROI by 10x. Furthermore, communications that are built upon a foundation of emotion and that eventually become famous can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a campaign. Even with a fairly modest budget but a strong creative idea, a company can enter the public consciousness in a truly unique way.
Taking the idea and backing it with an effective use of budget can create a huge level of earned media, and by becoming news worthy, can generate a great return on investment.
However, creativity does not operate in a vacuum. Numerous other aspects of a campaign contribute to its effectiveness like media spend, and changes in price of products, for example.
That’s why measuring effectiveness with various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and economic models is so important. Furthermore, as the “Saatchi Study” indicates, it is important to remember that while creativity can act as a multiplier for ROI and other measures, creativity should never be used as a substitute for solid media investment. The best campaigns have a good balance of both.
Clearly, a creative campaign that appeals to the emotional side of peoples brains, is memorable and sparks conversation, eventually entering into public culture can have a great impact on business results. However, creativity is just one very important part of advertising and not the sole means to an end.
But even creativity, as seen in some circles, is meeting with raised eyebrows as its effectiveness is being called into question. Might it be turning a bit sour?
In a London-based publication on advertising, Shots conducted Q&A interviews with various agency and production firms around the globe.
They were asked one thing: How are you and your company coping with the current restrictions and what impact do you think they will have on the industry and your business?
In this special edition of Quotes, relating to that question, we hear how businesses are coping, what the potential fallout of this crisis could be, and about the initiatives being put in place to foster creativity during this isolation period. Here are some highlights.
Recovery will happen, however, many of the brands and clients we work with have other priorities right now and we are very sensitive to this.Sarah Cutler, Director of Partnerships, makemepulse London
Right now, the world is in isolation physically and emotionally – I believe there will be a reaction to this.Simon Hatter, Founder & Creative Director, Rumour Has It Amsterdam
Some are set up for success and, for others, this will be a wake-up call.Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Toronto
The world must keep moving and creative problem-solving has a vital role to play.James Razzall, President, Advertising North America, Framestore
As crippling as this crisis has been for our industry, finding ways to support brand messaging in a time where consumers are looking to them to give back is a vital role.Justin Wineburgh, CEO & President, Alkemy X
Our Chinese co-workers shared their best practices at a very early stage, both from a business and safety aspects. The worst scenario would actually be not to come prepared for what’s next. We must help companies and brands to be up and running just before lockdown ends.Olivier Lefebvre, CEO and Partner at FF Paris
The world is also changing how it consumes media. Print will likely take a hit (Playboy was the first to announce it had stopped printing).Héloïse Hooton, Founder, Hooton Public Relations
Our biggest priority is to relieve the anxiety of everyone in the company.Joseph Bonnici Partner & Executive Creative Director, Bensimon Byrne Toronto
I am convinced that advertisers will have to continue communicating through campaigns/commercials, especially once life returns to normal. Ruben Goots, Founder and EP, Hamlet Belgium
What will never change about our business is that creativity, craft and smart solutions will always win the day.Ari Kuschnir, Founder & Managing Partner, m ss ng p eces
It is simply impossible for any business to survive a period of expenditure with no income over a prolonged period of time. What we don’t want is a lag in getting going again and that is very much the views of the agencies we have spoken to.Spencer Dodd, Joint MD & EP, Merman London
If this crisis has one upside for entrepreneurs, it will be to force us to focus on essentials, reinvent how we do things in a leaner way.Simon Cachera, Co-Founder, Victor & Simon Amsterdam
If you liked this post, check out some others here . . .
In a previous post, we learned about the future of advertising, which is still unfolding. This post deals with the future of TV, which is definitely still unfolding and evolving. Long gone are the days when we would settle in our easy chair to watch the national news at 5:30, then continue on at 6 for one’s local news.
Today, everything seems to be easy on, instantaneous.
So much so that we find ourselves in an unprecedented time where consumers around the globe are turning to TV and internet entertainment as they adjust to world events. View the webinar below as Innovid CTO Tal Chalozin walks through today’s ever-changing TV consumer trends, what they mean for advertisers, and what brands can expect in the immediate future.
What the data reveals about viewer impressions and device usage across key markets,
Over the past two blog posts about crisis coping, we’ve listened in on a conversation between the author, Ellyn Kail, and photographer Danny Ghitis about various methods to cope for creatives who have been entangled in the Coronavirus pandemic.
In this, the third and last post of the series, they explore what it’s like finding a sense of community during these very scary times.
In the last two weeks, I have received more than two dozen emails about the temporary closures of galleries and studio spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve received several more about canceled exhibitions. This is a period of uncertainty for the photography community as a whole, but in this time, we’ve also witnessed people coming together.
In between those letters about closures and cancelations, there have also been emails from artists who are hosting camera giveaways, publishers who are discounting their books, and non-profit organizations who are offering free talks and photog resources.
Globally, photographers are sharing information about how we can donate supplies to local hospitals and encouraging us all to practice social distancing for the safety and well-being of the community.
Over the past week, we’ve spoken to the photographer and professional development coach Danny Ghitis about how creatives can cope during this time and continue to create meaningful work in unprecedented circumstances.
Photography, like any art form, can be a solitary pursuit, but it’s also full of communities and resources. With all the recent gallery closures and exhibition cancellations, how can photographers stay connected and engaged with one another?
“This is so crucial. One of the main causes of my own burnout was a feeling of isolation as a photographer, and that was way before all this coronavirus mayhem. We are wired to need other people. That lone wolf photographer icon can be really damaging because it makes asking for help look like a weakness when, in reality, it’s a superpower.
“In a way, this moment offers a unique opportunity. Everyone is struggling with the same overarching challenge. Everyone needs help, and we have the technology to easily stay in touch. We’re not as spread thin as usual with a thousand networking events, galleries, meetings, etc. So reach out, offer support, provide feedback, invite conversation, have a virtual coffee, host a roundtable discussion.”
Has the creative community faced any upheavals like this one in recent years, if not on the same scale? If so, what can we learn from that time, and how can we apply those lessons to the here and now?
“I graduated from college with a photojournalism degree in 2006, the year before the iPhone hit the market and changed everything. The newspaper bureau where I interned closed a couple months after I arrived (not my fault, I swear!). I started my freelance career at the same time as the 2008 financial meltdown.
“Somehow, I made it work and grew as a human and professional. And guess what, I’m not that special. Human beings are resilient by evolutionary design. We’ve outlasted and overpowered nearly every other living organism and are capable of incredible adaptation. If you’re reading this and you’re human, you already have the tools you need inside your body.”
What are some ways you see the creative community coming together right now to support and help one another? Any moments that have given you hope?
“All of a sudden we’re in it together. We have a common struggle and purpose. We’re thinking collectively like a tribe like in the good old prehistoric days. Of course, we don’t wish sickness and suffering upon anyone and hope this goes away soon, but it does offer a unique opportunity to see the big picture.
“I keep getting emails and social media posts about virtual gatherings and support groups, and I am getting more messages than usual from friends checking in. I just started an online meetup group, and there are lots of others out there if you’re willing to search. It’s all about taking initiative and reaching out.”
How would you advise photographers and other creatives who suddenly have a lot of free time on their hands?
“This can be viewed as a great opportunity because we’re being forced to evaluate how to spend our time wisely. First, the mindset work. If you’re not in a good state of mind, it’s very hard to be focused and productive. If you want business results, practice self-care. Remember how flight attendants demonstrate putting on your oxygen mask first? Same deal. Take care of yourself to take care of others.
“Ask yourself, ‘How can I serve?’ It’s easy to get caught up in self-centered problem solving during a crisis, while orienting toward service can be more effective in creating action and will make you feel better. What do others need, and what skills do you have that can help them?”
We are truly living in unprecedented times. Deadly times. History has recorded plagues, wars, and various catastrophes yet we’ve managed to survive. Granted, the planet has lost life in measurable means before but we’ve never faced a global pandemic like this before. I guess, in a sense, this could be compared to chemical warfare on a global scale from an invisible enemy.
Yet, we will live on. We will create and innovate. We have to do that now to find a vaccine to nullify the virus so we may begin to get used to a new normal. Things won’t be the same since we won’t be the same, those of us who will survive. But we will. We have to. Together. Smarter. Stronger. More persistent. Less partisan.
Wait, what’s that? It’s creativity knocking at the door. Let’s welcome her in, shall we!
This is part three of three of our interview with Danny Ghitis. Here are parts one and two.