Monday, September 29, 2008

On the subject of Moving

It's moving day!

No, I am not leaving my house, or even my office.

What is moving is my big computer. And it's finally here, on my desk. This desk used to be the business desk, where I met with clients. Now, it has gone back to the future.

When I first started in business for myself, I worked out of my house. Finally, when the dogs barking was too much (okay, so when I could afford it,) I moved to a cozy little office in the back room of another business. It was nice... actually had a nice view.

The coziness came from the fact that I had one desk with everything on it. My editing computer, my laptop where I did my writing, my printer, my very large video tape recorder (broadcast beta are much bigger than you'd imagine.) Everything was in one place and I had one place to work.

When I moved to my new office two years ago, I finally had the room to separate editing from business. I could meet with clients and look like I had an uncluttered desk. 

Across the room, I had a larger desk with all my editing equipment on it. It was like the work me was separated from the worker bee me.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, PLEASE STAND BY: As I was writing this, I decided what I wanted was some music, so I logged into my internet radio and heard nothing. It seems like I had forgotten to plug in the speaker system. Moving does have its complications. Yes, that was it... and the first song out... I Kissed A Girl and I liked it.... thanks Katy Perry! Now, back to your blog already in progress.

Now, I have someone that works with me in the editing of projects, and he comes up to my office to do some of the high end work. Those times often happen on Thursday and Friday, my ultra busy days. So I would come to work and sit and wait for him to finish. Instead of working smarter I was working longer.

At the same time, my business manager (I sleep with her - nothing elicit, we're married) said that we have a capital budget for the first time ever. So we decided to get another edit system so there can be multiple projects going at the same time.

So it's back to the future, as I now have all my edit equipment back on my desk, while the new stuff goes on the old edit desk. 

Why don't I get the new one you ask? Because I want the most powerful computer to go the high end editing, and that is what I hire other people to do.

So here I am with lots of monitors on my desk again (four as of last count, make it 5 when I have the DV deck hooked up. Looks like Mission Control or a stock brokers desk.

And as a salute to that system, I am writing my first blog from the edit system as opposed to the laptop that usually is the vessel for my tomes.

Now, if I can just get used to the multi-coloured full size keyboard to type on. Ah, adjustments!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Thursday, September 25, 2008

On the subject of Horses and Little Wonders

let it go, 
let it roll right off your shoulder 
don't you know 
the hardest part is over 
let it in, 
let your clarity define you 
in the end 
we will only just remember how it feels 

our lives are made 
in these small hours 
these little wonders, 
these twists & turns of fate 
time falls away, 
but these small hours, 
these small hours still remain 

      - "Little Wonders" by Rob Thomas

The matter could have gone south very quickly. Thankfully, he chose to get back on the horse.

Sounds like a line from some novel about the old West. Our hero - the brave sheriff who needed to save the town.

Our story, though, takes place on a rainy Saturday morning, not on the range, but rather the pitch. The hero is not the law, he's my son.

Flashback to about a year ago. A boy of eight put in goal for the second game of a doubleheader. The rain was pouring in Seattle. The kids were cold and wet and tired of playing. All except one, who seemed ready to play two more. In goal, dressed in green, covered in the brown of the mud was my guy. This is not a slam on the other kids. To their defense, the day was miserable. 

I did not witness this adventure. Instead, I was at work, which sadly makes me miss most of his games. The tales of this performance came from everyone else - his coaches, fellow parents, my wife. They said as everyone began to give up, he just got better.

Two years earlier, his first in the game of soccer, he had a game where he had a head to head collision with another player and was knocked silly. He had a knot on his head the size of a golf ball. He was crying. However, he was not sobbing from the pain. He wanted to keep playing and we were telling him no. Finally his coach came over and said, "Drew, do you want to play? Excitedly, he charged back into the game and proceeded to have his best game.

Two weeks ago, I received a text at work. The text was from a fellow Tornado dad. It read "Tornado 16-1. Great Game." My first thought was that my son must have had a wonderful game in goal, and maybe he might have scored a goal or two.

The story when I got a call was much different. Drew did not play. He was ready to go into the game when he was overcome with fear. Was it being counted on? Was it that he was fearful of re-injuring an arm that had been broken earlier in the year, then kicked one week before the game? There were no answers... just a crying and shuddering boy on the sideline watching his teammates have the game of their lives.

I was angry. Then the feeling turned to sadness. How could this boy who was like a superball - one that always bounces back, become the cowardly sheriff?

Saturday morning - a 9 AM game, and for the Tornado - a team of tired faces and a few missing players. I was able to make it to the game as it was a rare off weekend.

Drew stood there as the coach put it simply. "Drew, your my goalie today. Get ready." Drew seemed ready. Gone was the anxiety of the week before, or so we thought.

He had a phenomenal first half against the best team in the league. The Tornado scored the first goal, then gave up one on a funky ricochet. The half was nearly over, when Drew dove to make a save. He covered up the ball, but at the same time, the opposing striker kept going and kicked him right in the nose. Everyone stopped in trepidation. Drew stood up and began sobbing. I was on the phone giving my fellow Tornado Dad the score and report when I dropped the phone and asked the referee if I could enter the field. Drew collapsed into my arms. He was done, and said as much.

Halftime was whistled and the teams came to the sideline. I tried to encourage him as his nose was not broken. He was a little stunned, but I thought he could go. Instead, he kept crying and said he could not. As the team took the field for the second half, the whistle blew to start the game again. The coach yelled to the ref... hold on... we need our goalie. He looked to Drew and said, "I know you can do this."

Still sobbing, but not crying, a shaken Drew took the field. Within a minute or two, the other team scored the go ahead goal. Drew could not have stopped it as it was a great shot. 

The rain stopped... and so did the tears. Somehow, someway, my guy decided that it was time to play again. And play he did. Diving save left. Diving save right. Stop and pass to the midfielder.

The sounds in the air resonated. "Way to go, Drew!"

"Wow, Drew"

"Drew, you're my hero!"

None of these words were from his mom or me... the crowd was getting behind him. Yes, I was cheering and jumping up and down, but the words around me were touching me. My son, the hero? Suddenly, I was the one quietly crying.

You might think this tome would end with his team winning and Drew being carried off the field. This ain't Hollywood.

Drew's team lost 4-2, but his performance, his courage, was one for the ages. One week after an unexplainable act of anxiety, he stepped up and showed true courage in the face of adversity.

As he came off the field with a grin on his face, he came straight to me. I hugged him vigorously and quietly said, "I have never been so proud of you."

Drew got back up on the horse.

I don't know what this will mean for his later life, but I have a feeling that someday he will look back on this day and know that something was indeed special.

I hope that one day he will be on a big field, like in high school, or college, and my son the goalie is having another day for the ages. It's any Dad's dream. But I will always remember the day that Drew got back up on the horse, and showed his Dad that at least one of the lessons taught, was indeed learned.

With all the challenges that life has presented me with, I have always tried to recover from the adversity. I know that Drew watched me go through each and every one of them since he has been on this earth. He has seen me deal with the death of my Dad, the challenges of a sister with challenges, and a daughter with her own mountain to climb. 

And in some ways, Drew is the embodiment of recovering from adversity. He was the subject of my last ever conversation with my own Mom. The particular thing we were discussing... the fact that Drew's initials would be the same as my Mom's. "I have a whole bunch of towels just waiting for him," she laughed. Just a few days later, a stroke took her away from me. Two weeks later, Drew was born... named for his grandmother, Drucie.

On this day however, he was the inspiration. A Little Wonder.

Good night, son.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the subject of Returning (Oh you didn't know I left?)

I have finished pouting, but am not quite finished being healed.

It's been a while since my last post, and your humble writer has decided that life without blogging means one of the following things.

1. I would have to return to therapy where I would be told that I need to start blogging again.

2. You would find me on a street corner stopping traffic for conversation.

3. You would hear me on a radio station on an informercial at 6 AM on a Saturday morning extolling the virtues of a feel good controversial depression therapy drugs and why the FDA won't approve them.

Okay... maybe that last one was a stretch.

Fact is, my friend Little Miss Notetaker got a little deep in her blog today, and it led me to believe that she needed to get something off her chest, and probably felt better after blogging. (Note to her self, I am not really a dog and Adjil is the Walrus... koo koo ka choo.)

Another friend has started a new blog as well to live a better life. Gameplan for Victory he calls it. I haven't been able to read it, but heaven knows, I need some plan for life's small victories.

The last week has been a roller coaster of terrible lows and unbelievable highs. Strangely, this here blog was part of the low pressure system that has been raining on my life for the past week. One of the best parts of my life I am no longer able to share with you in a public forum like here or on Facebook. Seems that someone believed that I was being too open and friendly about my role in one of my projects, that I was politely asked to stop. 

It hurt as you know that I live my life like an open book, that I enjoy having you all read. But like Microsoft has its confidentiality agreements, and those in Hollywood have the same, I will be living under my voluntary one for the foreseeable future.

But other parts of life are still an open book, like my awesome new class for Improv that began last night. I am already feeling the chemistry of the magical 201 class from last spring, and think that this group might have some explosive (in a good way) combinations that are sure to entertain, or at the very least, bring unexpected results.

Case in point, last night. I was doing a scene with one of the soft spoken people in class. The scene was based on him being given two emotions to work between, and I had carte blanche. The scene took the shape of a father and son playing pinball. What might have been a comedic scene turned into a profanity laced drama the likes of which I have never participated in on the stage. Yes, yours truly cussed up a storm in front of the somewhat shocked audience of my peers. Those who know me well will either be giddy that I broke through (thanks, Tony) or shocked that I would do that (thanks, Mom.)

I think opening the faucet to the dirty water of profanityland broke open the doors to sharing my feelings again, much like the "trip to rehab" had done months ago.

While most of you never realized I had left, welcome back to me... and the artist once again known as...

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Friday, September 19, 2008

No subject line needed.

If you have tried to reach me on Facebook, or suddenly see empty spots in my blog, I apologize.

It seems that being lost in cyberspace comes with a price, and I am paying that now.

Much of my life, as open as a book as it was, now has to close to the public at least. I have been asked to not discuss professional matters or personal ones for that matter as they pertain to one of my projects.

It seems that the people who don't know me may have made judgments about me and the people who do know me want to protect themselves.

I have no idea where this notion came from. I can only express the heartbreak that it has caused me.

I have so enjoyed sharing the stories of my life with you here, but the thing that gives the most joy to talk about, I have been asked not to talk about in a public forum anymore.

So I will be on here from time to time to talk about improv, and comedy and other such things - but not as much as I used to.

Thank you dear readers for taking this ride with me... and I hope we can meet down the line.

Yours truly,
Jon Horton
the artist formerly known as Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On the subject of Perspective


That was my first reaction when I viewed all the financial news of the week.

Time was, when I was eight years old, that yours truly was a stock tycoon. I could tell you all about the Dow. Name a company, I could give you the stock symbol. The sports page was just the wrapper for the business page.

At least that was the story my Grandfather would tell me. He had a reason to push me in the financial world. He used to run it, as he was the Secretary of the Treasury.

I wonder what he would have made of all this hullabaloo called the recession or the correction or whatever it's called.

Truth was, I don't remember being that versed in the Market. I do remember walking by a stock broker and being interested in how the ticker worked. Who knows, maybe that was what got me into scoreboards, where my work lies now.

My grandfather also introduced me to college sports, taking me to Georgetown University basketball games and putting me right in the front row. The Hoyas were coached by a white guy named Jack McGee and the team was lily white as well. One year later, John Thompson arrived, and Georgetown became synonymous with college basketball excellence.

Poppa, as I called him, would take me to Redskins games as well.

Sadly, as I understood his relationship with my parents, and his role in my upbringing, I lost a little respect for him. Now that time has passed, I can put it in a little perspective.

While he was trying to curry favor with me by spoiling me, making life hard on my folks at the same time. After all, how could they compete when he was giving me everything, and they were trying to raise me with reason and perspective?

While I was trying to get into college, he had paved the way for me to enter not only the school I really wanted to go to (Missouri) but also Princeton, Vanderbilt and Georgetown. I applied without his knowledge to SMU, and was accepted there. He was furious. The biggest thing he could have "given me" I would not accept.

It was at that point that being spoiled took a back seat to making life for myself... and a new path was started.

So as I look back not in anger, but appreciation, I guess he was doing what he thought was right. He was making decisions on my economy, and my futures, not that I was asking him to.

Whatever the case, he taught me perspective by the two different ways I could think of his actions, and for that reason, I can see things from multiple viewpoints.

So, thanks Poppa. You thought you gave me many gifts to make me love you, instead you gave me the one gift you didn't expect to give - a reason to see the big picture when only the small one seems clear.

And today, we all can use a little big picture thinking. As my Dad always told me, respond - don't react.

Good Night, Poppa

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

PS - I made a celebrity blog!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On the subject of Nuts

Sometimes you feel like a nut... sometimes you don't.

For the record, I never liked Mounds or Almond Joy.

In an attempt to recover from a really stressful day yesterday, I decided that Costco would be a nice respite. Usually, Costco on a Sunday is something I would avoid like the plague. I call it the Costco Circus.

Today, the stars seemed to align for a fun visit. First of all, it was just my honey and me with no kids. Secondly, the Seahawks were playing, so the Circus was less crowded. Finally, randomness was the order of the day.

I found one gentleman that will be the inspiration for an improv character for the future. Tall man with a long drawn out face that seemed stuck in a mix of a frown and unbelievable gas. It was the kind of character that Asaf Ronen, my favorite physical improviser, would have a field day with.

Costco employees always seem to be in a good mood, and with my teasing of some of them, the mood was even better. I had one woman comvinced that she needed to guard our cart. I smiled and talked at the demo ladies, some of whom looked like it had been a long day. One short woman couldn't for the life of her, extract the jumbo block of cheese from the upper shelf of the refrigerator. Being tall, I happily was there to lend a hand.

The highlight of the day was Blue Jeans bingo. In the pile of every size blue jean imaginable, there was a crowd of 8 people all looking for different sizes. I said with all the numbers, it was like playing bingo. So, we all exchanged sizes and looked for each other. BINGO! I found a pair of 32x30's. Next, I found my own 40x32's BINGO! We all laughed.

My 40x32's are now officially my fat jeans. I have been wearing 42x32's but now fit into 38x32's. However, for lazy days, I'd rather have big ones.

As for the nuts... my honey and I engaged in a game seen on "Best in Show. " Christopher Guest's backwoods character could name every nut there is... so whenever we saw a product with nuts, my wife and I would start. Pine nut. Pistacio Nut. Macademia Nut. Walnut.

Then I heard "you're a nut," to which I gleefully replied, "yes, and you're married to it!"

Somedays, it's fun to be nuts.

Good night, fellow Mixed Nuts!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

PS: Ironically enough, I cannot eat mixed nuts, as I am actually allergic to some nuts like Brazil Nuts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On the subject of a Scratched LP

Sometimes life is like a broken record. Just when you're singing along with your favorite tune, the song gets stuck, and you find yourself having to correct the problem before continuing your merry song.

Work is like that for me these days. Find a typo and feel the wrath of a 10 minute process to fix one mistake.

"For the nights... for the nights... for the nights."

Larry King, who one reader compares me to, has a great story from when he was a DJ in Miami. He thought he could duck out and take a break by putting on an entire side of a Sinatra record. He figured he'd get 20 minutes to run to the local store. When he returned, the phone was ringing. The voice on the other side said "For the nights" over and over. When Larry turned back on the speakers in the studio, he realized it was skipping on the first song on the album."

Album... what's that some of the younger set say? Album.. you know? Record? LP?

Pretty soon our kids will be saying CD to their kids and they will say "See what?"

I have been the victim of dated references this week. My new motion design wizard was tapping away at the keyboard when I told him that the short cut for this one motion was the "carrier return."

"Carrier Return?" he exclaimed. "What's that?"

"I meant the enter button next to the keyboard rather than the number pad."

I asked him if he knew what a typewriter was. He said yes, but my archaic reference was lost on him.

He has a way of making me feel old... like the time I said how old I was and he said "oh, same as my Mom."

Scratch.... there goes another record skipping.

Good night, album lovers everywhere.

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On the subject of the Shell Answer Man


It felt wonderful today.

Last night... not so much. There is nothing fun about being around a testy person who has had a bad day. That person was me.

What could have put me in that terrible place? Call me the Shell Answer Man.

At work, there is a huge project that has taken over two years to complete, and we were to be in the final stages of it by now. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, it has been delayed more times than the Boeing Dreamliner.

Yesterday, we had a meeting to get the final touches put on the project with some experts who are needed to finish it. A one hour meeting turned into a four and a half hour marathon of questions and expectations of yours truly. I turned into the Answer Man. I was the man that had to answer most of the questions, whether I knew the answer or not.

Thankfully I am Dr. Google and can get most of those answers.

Following the meeting, another client called on another project which led to more questions. "Do you speak Spanish," the client asked.

Earlier in the day, as the Shell Answer Man, I had prepared a research document on a television show that happens to be in Spanish, and sent over many video links with examples of the show. I told him all about the show and its format, details on the hosts and when he could see the show in his area - call me a human TV Guide. He was kind of blown away by the fact I knew so much about this show. The reason - it's a Spanish language show and I DON'T SPEAK SPANISH!

So how would I know about that? I watch things for the look sometimes. I love seeing international television or looking at European graphic design books. The Taschen book series is one of my favorites as it presents a different perspective than the same old American one. In turn, I try to give my clients a different kind of design in my shows.

One reason I have earned the reputation as the Shell Answer Man is that I seem to know everything there is to know about the most mundane topics. I tend to get things like Call Letters and TV Program schedules locked in my brain. If I could remove all the 80's lyrics that are stuck in my head, I would have room for something useful.

In addition, one friend accurately stated that I read less of more newspapers than anyone he knew. It comes from having a short attention span, and looking over the papers for just the information I need, and things that grab me. Sitting down for a hearty read is not my style.

So being the Shell Answer Man is a burden I have to bear, whether I want to or not.

And why do I call it the "Shell Answer Man?" That used to be the advertising campaign that the Shell Oil company used to use in the 1970's, and I for some reason can't say Answer Man without giving the attribution to Shell.

So if I am the Shell Answer Man, then who do I know that is the Question Man? Easy! My nine year old son!

Good night... to all the conundrums yet to be solved!

Yours truly,
Johnny Blogger.