Rod Serling on Writing and Creativity

To sleep. Perchance to dream. To dream. Perchance to imagine. To imagine. Perchance to create. To create. Perchance to write; perchance to make a difference. Mr. Rod Serling definitely made a difference and impacted society with his unique form and brand of creativity in his writing.

One could not watch an episode of either the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery and not be moved in some way. His genius and commentary were not limited to “inside” the story lines, but could also be found in his opening and closing narration.

Take the following, for example:

Then there’s this gem on creativity (circa 1971):

Quoting from the book “As I knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling,” by Anne Serling, (wonderful read, by the way) “In what was to be my father’s final interview, he was asked what he wanted people to say about him a hundred years from then. He responded, ‘I don’t care that they’re not able to quote any single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, ‘Oh, he was a writer.’ That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.'”

As creativity goes, he was a master. As a writer, he was unsurpassed in this genre of storytelling. Oh sure, you have Mark Twain, Hemingway, Poe, Dickens, and Stephen King to name a few. But they were different; they each had their own style. Serling was also of another generation.

I often wonder what great works he would have produced should he have lived beyond 50 years. If King was or is the master of horror, then Serling, surely, was the master of the macabre for his generation, just as Edgar Allan Poe was for his. Not surprisingly, Poe was a great influence on Serling.

One thing to keep in mind, no matter who is or has influenced you as a creative person or a writer in particular, don’t be afraid to extend your limits, your boundaries. If you don’t think you can design it, write it or overcome it, try creating it anyway. Get to work even if you’re doing it in small, baby steps.

Even Hemingway wrote in a one sentence at a time mindset. Serling, being aware of his capacities, didn’t limit himself to actual writing of words. His generation of technology at least afforded him the dicta-phone so he could keep pace with his mind.

Write on, Rod!

de Bono on Creativity

As you may know, Edward de Bono recently passed away. What he leaves with him is a vast treasure trove of creative insights and reminders of how and what we might do to strengthen and enhance our own creativity. Here are some select quotes from him provided by the World Creativity Innovation Week/Day and Prady, whom we thank for letting us further promote the creative thoughts of Dr. de Bono.

More de Bono quotes:

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.

Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.

Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.

Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.

Bonus Quotes:

Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.

It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humor, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humor process is involved in changing them.

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.

Special Edition: Creativity Mastermind, Father of Lateral Thinking Edward de Bono Has Died

I couldn’t let the week go by without a Tip-o-the (Six) Hats to the truly creative wizard I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2005 at an international creativity conference.

Creative thinker Edward de Bono has died less than a month after celebrating his 88th birthday. De Bono died last Wednesday morning and the news of his passing was announced by his family. 

I really didn’t know anything about him before I met him at this conference in Austin, Texas. He was one of the featured panelists at the conference and, one could argue, probably the most famous. He was also unassuming as he sat there on the panel giving out advice and counsel based on his many books, especially Six Hats.

Edward de Bono photo: Roy Zhao

That’s one of several he autographed for me as we visited for a brief bit following his presentation.

Born in Malta, De Bono graduated as a doctor but went on to study psychology and physiology from where he developed an interest in thinking processes.

He fathered the phrase lateral thinking, which has an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, and developed multiple thinking strategies, including the Six Thinking Hats method.

In a statement, his family described de Bono as a global citizen, who returned to Malta in his final years.

“This has always been his home. He lived an extraordinary life, inspiring, encouraging and enabling all of us to be better and more creative thinkers. He wrote in his book The Mechanism of Mind: ‘A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.’ May the memory of Edward live on and inspire many future generations,” the family said.

De Bono received his initial education at St Edward’s College and the Royal University of Malta, where he achieved a degree in medicine. Then as a Rhodes Scholar at Christchurch, Oxford, where he gained a degree in psychology and physiology and a D.Phil. in medicine.

He holds a PhD from Cambridge, a DDes from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a LLD from Dundee. He has had faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard. 

Thanks to the World Creativity and Innovation Week/Day

He has written over 60 books and programs, with translations into 43 languages, has been invited to lecture in 58 countries and has made three television series. Included among these 60 books are Serious Creativity, Creativity Workout, and Handbook for the Positive Revolution, all now displayed in my library with his autograph.

His ideas have been sought by governments, not for profit organizations and many of the leading corporations in the world, such as IBM, Boeing, Nokia, Siemens, 3M, GM, Kraft, Nestle, Du Pont, Prudential, Shell, Bosch, Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young and others.

The global consultancy, Accenture, chose him as one of the fifty most influential business thinkers. In a 2004 interview with MaltaToday, de Bono even proposed a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he launched his thinking centre in Malta.

In 1994, de Bono was made an officer of the National Order of Merit by the President of Malta.

Thanks to Kurt Sanson of MaltaToday for material upon which this blog is based.

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.

Rising from the Ashes

A Macabre Tale of the Dearly Departed

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.

Pamela’s Voice imagerpy from The Night Gallery

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.

ii

“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!

iii

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.

iv

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?

NightGalleryArtMinds

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.

Special Friday the 13th Edition: Rod Serling – In His Own Words.

The Man. The Mind. The Mentor.

The Dad. The Television Star.

The Host. The Creator.

Mr. Twilight Zone himself.

Night of the Meek

Christmas is more than barging up and down department store aisles and pushing people out of the way. Christmas is another thing finer than that. Richer, finer, truer, and it should come with patience and love, charity, compassion.

Somewhere between apathy and anarchy lies the thinking human being.

Violence does not spring from a vacuum. It’s born out of other men’s violence. It gets nurtured and it grows in a soil of prejudice and of hate and of bigotry.

Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.

Serling-Judge him

A basic ‘must’ for every writer. A simple solitude– physical and mental.” ~ AS I KNEW HIM: My Dad Rod Serling

More than a man has died…More than a gallant young President has been put to death. What has been assassinated is a faith in ourselves. What has been murdered-a belief in our decency, our capacity to love, our sense of order and logic and civilized decorum.

Our greatest responsibility is not to be pencils of the past…

This is what I learned at Antioch-when something was wrong, I could get up on my own two feet and make comment on it… I think the idea of questioning is not only a right, it is a responsibility.

Serling-young

Remember that your salvation is in your capacity for human warmth–in that remarkable propensity for love.

I found that it was all right to have Martians saying things Democrats and Republicans could never say.

My dad said in a final interview, “I’d like to write something that my peers, my colleagues, my fellow writers would find a source of respect. I’d rather win a Writer’s Guild award than almost anything…

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.” –             The Shelter

Serling new pic

Rod left us way too soon. Not surprisingly, he is still today someone we look up to, someone we admire. From The Twilight Zone to the Night Gallery, he put his imagination on display for millions of fans.

As a writer myself, I’ve often wondered what kind of morbid, macabre mysteries would have come alive if Rod Serling and Edgar Allan Poe had lived in the same century. Deaths-Head Revisited, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Monsters Are Due on Maple StreetAnnabel Lee, A Stop at Willoughby, The Fall of the House of Usher, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet and, of course, The Raven.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. Because this, you see, is the Twilight Zone. Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”

Extraordinary Creativity. Dynamic Images, strikingly different. 100 Years Apart.

What do you get when you pair an egotistical, genius architect from the early 20th Century with a young Canadian-born illustrator producing incredibly creative work?

Oh, and throw in 100 years difference between the two.

What do they have in common? Extraordinary talent.                                 Extraordinary images.

One was a visionary; the other expresses her visions colorfully. He showed bold and dramatic executions; so does she. He was extremely creative and imaginative. Her: Ditto. That’s what this blog is all about: Various and different perspectives on creativity.

In reading articles recently on re-imaging, I was reunited with the subject of a paper I’d written years ago. This article took a different perspective. About the same time, I was introduced to a new subject of creativity in an article on illustration.

The subjects: Very different and very dynamic.

The subject I wrote about years ago was the infamous and egotistical architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. I was intrigued by his designs and his persona. His works were that of genius. My aunt, being an interior designer, was quite familiar with Mr. Wright, especially after seeing him in Chicago during the fifties. This heightened my interest and pushed me to write the paper.

frank-lloyd-wright_1

Courtesy PPG Paint Color Collection: Frank Lloyd Wright™

Since this blog centers around creativity and innovation, let alone imagination, I thought it appropriate to publish some of Wrights work with an intriguing take on some of his designs that were never built. They’ve been reimagined here in the 21st Century. Keep in mind, dear audience, that Wright flourished during the early 20th Century. He died in 1959. His last project, in Phoenix, was recently put on the market for $2.7M.

Spanish architect, David Romero, has created photorealistic computer renderings of unbuilt or demolished Wright buildings. Admittedly, as I was first reading about his process and looking at the photos, the settings seemed surreal.

Wright-car showcase-davidromero

Wright’s Roy Wetmore Car Repair and Showroom was to have been built in Detroit, Michigan. Credit: David Romero

Romero also painstakingly researched the context and location of the building, including adding era-appropriate cars, traces of rain and dirt on the building, and other details in order to bring the project to life. As a result, at times it can be hard to tell these are illustrations rather than stylized photographs.

gordonstrong-davidromero

Intended to stand atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the plan for the Gordon Strong Automobile Objective commissioned in 1924 called for a planetarium and restaurant to accompany a scenic overlook. Its developer, wealthy Chicago businessman Gordon Strong, envisioned it as a destination where families would drive for the day from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Credit: David Romero

Take a trip back to yesteryear and see for yourself various Wright projects either demolished or even never built.

Larkin-Administration-Building-01

Larkin-Administration-Building-inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Larkin Administration Building (left) and inside the building (right) made design statements all throughout. However, the building does not exist any longer. Wright’s Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York—his first office building—was built in 1903 and demolished in 1950.

According to Romero, after gobs of research and learning, they had to be works that did not exist, either because they disappeared or because they never came to be built. The reason is simple: 3D rendering tools serve precisely for this, to show what does not exist.

Describing his process of recreation, Romero explains: “I start the model in Autocad, then I export it to 3ds Max + Vray where I add textures, lights and cameras, as well as vegetation and the environment. Finally there is some retouching in Adobe Photoshop, although very light.”

Creativity of today depicting creativity of a bygone era. Fascinating!

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From the early 20th Century to present day we go. I find that creativity is not age based. What’s creative and imaginative is creative and imaginative, regardless of when created.

Take the young Canadian illustrator, Lynn Scurfield. She has positioned her career path thusly: “I wanted to be an animator until I saw artist Alphonse Mucha’s work in high school. I knew that I had to do what he did! Drawing insanely beautiful images and then having them used in different commercial ways was mind blowing.”

Lynn-Slf_Portrait2020

I was taken with this illustration of a smoke monster-type creature (any Lost fans out there?) apparently poised to eat a woman who is just leaving this house, oblivious to her impending danger.

Scurfield Illust

“Hello! I’m an illustrator living in a sleepy town just outside of Toronto, Ontario. My work is defined by crazy colours and textures with strong emotional qualities.”  For Marzena Czarnecka’s article ‘Unsafe at Home, Lost in the System,’ for city lifestyle magazine Avenue Calgary.

She describes her approach as . . . “My art style, which utilizes a mix of media, really confuses people because they never know how much of my work is done traditionally versus digitally. People are also intrigued by how emotional my work can feel. I’m usually hired to create images about emotionally difficult topics, like death, mental health and separation. The fact that I’m being hired to make illustrations that emotionally connect with a general audience is special and amazing.”

. . . and her philosophy as . . . “Don’t overthink your work. When I was in school, I was always worried if my work was good enough, if it was cool enough, if I was a two-bit artist. Since I’ve started working in the industry, I’ve realized that thoughts like these aren’t healthy, and they don’t make you a better artist. I like my work more now that I care less about what people think. As long as my clients are happy with the final results, I’m happy!”

Walrus-Lynn

“For Erin MacNair’s short story ‘Thin Crust,’ for general interest magazine The Walrus.”

Interestingly, both Wright and Scurfield, though a century apart, expressed their work in striking and dramatic ways while emitting strong, emotional qualities. Imagination is at the heart of creativity and the images exhibited by these two talents stirs that imagination.

Born of different generations, one has left his indelible mark in the world of architecture while the other continues to illustrate hers. Take heed; the rest of us can learn something. Creativity and imagination are not constrained by time and space, and to a lesser degree, neither are we. Think about it!

Hong Kong at Night! Inspiring.

This is just damn gorgeous. Hong Kong at night. Honoring LGBT.

I came across this photo somewhere on the internet and just had to grab it. I wish I knew the photographer!

Sometimes a photograph is all one needs to be impacted.

Breathe in the colors. Be inspired!

Hong Kong at Night in LGBT Colors

Oh, Orlando!

I have a lot of emotions running through me right now. A lot of personal, business and family matters are troubling me. Yet, I can’t let anymore time go by and not express something about the horrific tragedy in Orlando this past Saturday night.

But, words in and of themselves are not the answer. Rhetoric is fine to a degree. We do that every time one of these events hits us like a 2×4. We must not stay silent but a part of me feels absolutely numb.

Prayers are plentiful. Sorrow is everywhere. Emptiness abounds. The world is in mourning . . . again. This time in and for Orlando.

Enough, damn it! Enough! These senseless acts must stop.

But we know it won’t.

I pray that our nation’s leaders have the guts to wake up and make mature, intelligent decisions rather than their usual, pitiful politicking in doing the politically correct thing.

Just do the right thing, you morons.

Lord, grant unto us the strength and courage to endure and to find some answers.

Bless the souls who perished. Bless the souls who survived. Bless us all, good and faithful servants. Onward.

Amen!

PeaceHarmonySolidarityCommunityLovePride.

This post is also being published on my Joe’s Journey blog.

Rich Klein – RIP

The advertising community in Houston recently lost a good friend. Rich Klein passed away Sunday, October 12, 2014. This blog is a big believer in creativity and nurturing that in students and young professionals (and pros from all age groups for that matter). Rich was a valiant supporter of young people’s dreams and aspirations, and encouraged many to enlist in the advertising profession.

Jay Hagins, a longtime friend as well as a believer and supporter of creativity, had this to say about Rich:

Rich’s passion for the advertising industry was unparalleled; he mentored literally thousands of advertising professionals and with his partner, Bill Fogarty, built an advertising agency that attracted clients from coast to coast bringing national attention to the Houston advertising industry. Rich and Bill won national and regional clients such as Chef Boyardee, Ranch Style Beans, Waste Management, Advance Auto Parts, Popeye’s, Builders Square, Mattress Firm, BFI, Randall’s Supermarkets, Shiner Beer, Mission Foods, Amegy Bank, ConocoPhillips and many others. Rich and Bill nurtured the industry’s future with a highly competitive internship program with teams of college students that would actually get to present their own strategies, plans and creative to real clients.

Rich was recognized as a Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame member, AAF-Houston Silver Medal award winner and Living Legend. Rich and Bill began giving scholarships to qualified college students in 1991 and later established the Rich Klein and Bill Fogarty Communications Scholarship within the Advertising Education Foundation of Houston where Rich became Chairman leading the foundation to unprecedented growth. This year Rich and the Foundation awarded $30,000 in advertising scholarships to students throughout the Southwest.

From the unlikely pairing of a seasoned packaged goods brand manager and an ex-journalist-turned advertising maven it has been a long voyage from the day Rich Klein had to break it to Bill Fogarty’s wife that the pair was leaving their jobs to start a business with no business in hand. Lucky for advertising in the Southwest, Rich Klein and Bill Fogarty stayed true to their vision and made it happen, creating the best, darn agency in Houston, one with a rich legacy of innovation and accomplishment, integral community work, and programs to inspire future ad folks like themselves.

Rich will be truly missed but to further his legacy and to honor Rich’s passion to further the education of young people, the family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to:

The Rich Klein Communications Scholarship
AEFH
P.O. Box 27592
Houston, Texas 77227

I would encourage all who may read this to consider donating to this very worthy scholarship.

Thanks for reading and your interest. Thank you, Rich, for your advice, friendship and guidance over the years. We’ll miss you!