What’s Your Project #130Wishcasting by Jamie Ridler

My project is designed to encourage people to cultivate the fine art of wishing. On Valentine’s Day 2007, I launched Wishcasting, a blog designed to be a safe haven for wishes, a fertile field in which to plant wish seeds and have them witnessed and tended lovingly. This project was built on the belief that it’s powerful to share your wishes with the world and exponentially so when those wishes are witnessed and encouraged.

There are 2 parts to Wishcasting: sharing and supporting.

Share wishes:
Participants email their wishes in for posting.
The wish can be a sentence, a picture, a poem, a piece of artwork, a list, a collage, whatever form you like.
A wish can be posted anonymously.
The details of a wish don’t have to be revealed.

Support wishes:
You can support a wish in the comment section by saying "As (insert name ) wishes for her/himself, so I wish for her/him also."
You can add to your commentary, but supporters are encouraged to begin with the above phrase. There is something very special in this simple statement. It carries the weight of trusting and believing in the wisher as well as the wish.

I wish for a virtual explosion of wishes and an ever-growing community of wishers. What do you wish for?

Jamie Ridler
Toronto
Wishcasting
starshyneproductions.blogspot.com
openthedoor.ca

An Interview with Tsia Carson, author of Craftivity — 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle

With projects that range from yarn to wood, from found objects to fabric, with contributors from all over the craft spectrum, Tsia Carson has put together a creative lightening bolt — a force of craft. I’m not at all surprised, really. I’ve been a fan of her dynamically charged SuperNaturale.com site for quite some time (and have been fortunate enough to contribute to its Glimmer blog, along with many others, for the last year or so). But the book, Craftivity, takes the whole crafty mission up a notch — it’s inventive, wondrously colorful and full of creative surprises, and I am not alone in singing its praises. I’m really happy and honored to present an interview with Tsia about her new book here at 52projects.com.

Craftivity — what a wonderful name for the book. What does that word mean to you?

I wanted to get across the idea that crafting is active, that it is an activity and that the practitioners are activist. They take agency over their lives by making beautiful stuff. Most of the happiest crafters I know craft in groups or have a community of people they engage with about their work. I think that this is at the heart of what makes it relevant interesting culture and not just more stuff to consume and own. But I have to give props to Holly Gressley and Aviva Michaelov for introducing me to this term.

How have you met all these crafters? How much did your website have to do with pulling together all the artists for your book?

Most of the makers I have met but not all of them. There are a few I can’t wait to meet! The website was instrumental in meeting and discovering contributors. It’s the best calling card in the world.

Tell the truth — what was the hardest project in the book to make happen?

Twist my arm! I think that knit hammock, while not the hardest project to do in terms of skill level, was the hardest to make happen. It took a really long time and knitting with the hemp twine was really hard because it has a mind of its own. Poor Annika (Annika Ginsberg made it)! She is a master knitter and it was driving her nuts. Every step of the way something went awry with that project. Even building the harness at the end was nuts. But I think I would know how to do that much better now.

If you had to pick a theme song for your book what would it be?

"One Nation Under a Groove" Funkadelic?
"Who’s Got the Crack?" the Moldy Peaches?
"One Divine Hammer" the Breeders?

Gosh, I don’t know.

How does your background in design flow into your personal crafting?

I don’t really separate these creative activities up. I am heavy on the concept, I think through things and have to be excited by the idea before I make anything. If anything, becoming a designer has made me more sensitive to detail and more particular.

How do you think the web has impacted the world of crafting?

The way it has opened up communities to like-minded individuals rather than geographic location has been phenomenal. It has really facilitated discourse and making in a way that would have been impossible. I think that it has fueled the scene so that people are not working in isolation.

Do you recall your very first craft project? What was it? Why did you make it?

I was such a craftive kid. My parents totally encouraged it. I think what comes to mind is that I made a whole zoo of cut-out paper animals and then photographed them against a dark window so you could see the backs as well in the photograph. I wanted you to be able to see the back and front at the same time. It was all about the image. I was a total OCD kid. My father is an artist and when I just learned how to write I signed my name on all his work. That was a good idea too. Also there was my "multimedia" JFK presentation in 2nd grade…

In terms of crafting, knowing you’re a partner in a design firm and have a baby — when do you get it done? How do you find the time?

I still haven’t put together almost any of my personal projects.

There’s a baby quilt, a lampshade and house painting. Honestly, I have started to outsource and have people help me. It’s funny — I do find time to do those activities I enjoy. For instance I hate to sew, so that is going to be outsourced to a friend. But I like to knit, so I made my daughter a red scarf just like her favorite book character — Jenny Linksy the cat.

How is your crafting different as a mother from how it was when you did not have a child?

What project will take an evening max is the major deciding factor.

What’s the one craft project you’ve always thought about creating but have yet to get started on?

I thought I would be really DIY’d out after this book but it has actually fueled my desire to make stuff. I am going to study permaculture over the winter and my husband and I are going to make our property into an edible forest garden. I would also like to implement a grey water system for the house to feed the water from the washing machine through a drip irrigation system for the garden. Even saying this stuff makes it clear why I haven’t had the time to do it yet.

More on the book.

Buy the book.

Read an interview with Tsia at Craftzine.com.

An Interview with Dr. Melissa Hope Ditmore, Editor of the Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work

Putting together a book is tough, but when that book is an encyclopedia, the job has got to be so much tougher. So many words, so many entries, so much fact-checking, so… all encompassing. But Dr. Melissa Hope Ditmore has done just that with her years-in-the-making project two-volume Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, just published by Greenwood Press. A one-of-a-kind reference work about a subject matter that is often seen through a narrow, cliche ridden vantage point, the encyclopedia delves into and explores sex work and prostitution from a full-view perspective: the historical, political, societal, cultural, activist and more. I interviewed Ditmore about her "mega-project" — how it came about, what’s in the encyclopedia, and who it’s for.

How did this project come about? How long have you been working on it?

The Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work was the brainchild of an editor at Greenwood, the publisher. She grew up in Detroit in the 1970s and witnessed pimp culture, especially souped-up cars. Pimpmobiles really stood out for her and may have been the genesis of the encyclopedia! As an acquisitions editor at Greenwood, she inquired after potential editors for a reference book about prostitution and was referred to me by Priscilla Alexander, the doyenne and ally of the American sex workers’ rights movement. Priscilla co-edited Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry and I had hoped to co-edit this with her, but her other commitments prevented her from taking this on. An encyclopedia is a mega-project. My opportunity was a triumph of experience over hope: no one who had published a book before wanted to edit such a large volume!

Coming up with the list of topics was wonderful fun. The list is exceptionally rich because of the many entries that were suggested by the contributors. Pulling this manuscript together took more than two years of contact with some of the most fascinating writers and subjects you could hope to meet.

Has there ever been an academic reference book about prostitution and sex work?

This is the first reference work devoted to prostitution and sex work, despite the huge variety of academic and mainstream writing on sex work. Sexologists Vern and Bonnie Bullough published History of Prostitution in 1964, and Prostitution: An Illustrated Social History in 1989. These great resources are very different from the encyclopedia. The most obvious difference is that the encyclopedia has content addressing the last twenty years, including sex worker activism. The wide variety of voices in the encyclopedia is just not possible in a smaller book with two authors.

Who is the encyclopedia for?

Everyone should have an opportunity to read it. Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work is meant for a general audience. The writing is clear, there is no jargon, and the topic has universal interest. Most readers will probably be students because reference books are usually library resources. But everyone is a student of human nature and sexual activity!

I wonder how many people will find it not in a public library but in the private collections of their favorite sex professionals. Sex workers proved to be enthusiastic readers of the encyclopedia as soon as it became available. The positive response has been overwhelming, demonstrating the need for this book.

What are some of the entries — entries that would be good examples of what one will find in the encyclopedia?

No matter who you are, something in the 342 entries will interest you! There are people, history, places, health issues and more. Some of the entries that I recently re-read are Hip-Hop, Habsburg Monarchy, the film Midnight Cowboy, and World War I Regulation. The religious entries always engage me, especially the early Christian ascetics the Desert Harlots. Sacred whores indeed!

The entries on people include many familiar names: Paul Cezanne, Emma Goldman, Annie Sprinkle, Victoria Woodhull, and Emile Zola. But the encyclopedia also offers opportunities to learn about fascinating people you may not have heard of, for example, the Renaissance composer Barbara Strozzi, the medieval Chinese martial artist and courtesan Liang Hongyu, convicted madam Regine Riehl, and Network of Sex Work Projects co-founder Paulo Longo.

The 179 writers include the novelist Tracy Quan, who wrote about Opera, and popular music critic John Holmstrom, who wrote about Rock Music. Renowned scholars include Helen J. Self on Britain’s Street Offenses Act, Jo Doezema on Abolitionists, Heather Montgomery on Child Prostitution, Thomas Steinfatt on Trafficking Propaganda, and Stephanie Budin on the Ancient World. Advocates

Greenwood produced this beautifully. Illustrations abound, including Daryl Hannah as the automaton prostitute in Blade Runner, depictions from the Kama Sutra, ukiyo-e prints, and scenes from sex work venues in Amsterdam, Bangkok, New Orleans, and New York.

Are there political issues with a reference work like this? Could you see libraries NOT take the book because of its subject matter?

Yes, this has already come up. One contributor said that her local library, which was a university library, hesitated to order it. It is, after all, the only encyclopedia featured on Fleshbot. The library needed reassurance that Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work is a serious work that belongs in its collection and ordered the encyclopedia after she showed them the press release and excerpts that are on the website.

It’s priced more for the reference/library market, right? It’s more than normal book buyers are used to paying for a book… if someone can’t afford it, how might they go about getting access to the book?

The encyclopedia is an unusual book with an unusual price. Most readers will find it through their libraries. Request that your local library — whether that is a public library, a university library, a school library — get the encyclopedia. You can make it easier for your librarian by bringing a printed copy of the order form, and, if necessary, the excerpts offered to reviewers. They are available from the online press kit.

Any chance you might create an online wiki around this work?

What a great question! The encyclopedia would be an enormous resource for someone creating a wiki about the sex industry. I don’t see myself taking on such a technical project. I would like Greenwood to produce a cd-rom of the work, which would be more affordable and portable. My next book will be smaller!

More information about the Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work.

2006 Vendy Awards

Last year, one of the best events I went to was the Vendy Awards. I wrote about it here, and you can see pictures here. Good food, good cause, good time. The Street Vendor Project, which runs the event, just announced that the 2006 Vendy Awards will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22 at the St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery in NYC. Mark your calendars and buy your tickets now ($50 each)! And also, take a moment to nominate your favorite vendor cart — the Vendy finalists are chosen based on your votes.

An Interview With Chris Dunmire,Publisher of Creativity-Portal.com

You better really mean it if you’re going to put the word "portal" in the name of your website. You better have lots of links and lots of stories and cover all the seasons and in general be opening up your audience to all kinds of new stuff all the time. And if your focus is creativity, well, then you’ve really got to have it together. Creative types are always looking for fresh ideas and original concepts and new ways to further their own endeavors, whether they’re old hat experts or new to the craft. Well, Creativity Portal means it. The site, run by Chris Dunmire, is a launching pad to creative quick fixes and craft ideas, as well as in-depth explorations of inspiration and living the creative life. I interviewed Dunmire about Creativity Portal and creativity in general.

Why did you start Creativity-Portal.com?

Short answer: Because I’m a creativity enthusiast!

Long answer: I started the Creativity Portal Web site in 2000 shortly after leaving a corporate job at a company I’d been with for seven years — one that I originally thought I’d be with for several decades until I retired (it was that kind of company). However, in the years leading up to my departure, an astonishing number of life-altering events took place that forced me to take stock of my life and realize that I was undergoing a creative awakening that needed to be tended to and incorporated into my working life somehow.

As I was in the process of changing career paths, I began to embrace my creativity enthusiast nature more and knew I needed a dynamic "container" to pour my creative energy into. A Web-based project based on my creative vision became that container — the Web site known as the Creativity Portal.

How has the site evolved over the years?

Watching the Creativity Portal grow and evolve over the years has been such a satisfying experience. The site began with a hand-selected directory and profile of instructional art, craft, and writing resources and grew to include my own creativity-inspiring projects, articles, and book reviews. I opened up the site as a creative community project after an author approached me with her syndicated column series and asked if it could be published on the site. Welcoming that collaboration resulted in other creative professionals working with me to add their voices to the collective Creativity Portal project.

Today the Creativity Portal features over a half-dozen regular monthly columns in addition to ongoing contributions by various authors, coaches, and artists to help educate and inspire visitors no matter where they are in their creative lives. The site has earned a generous share of accolades as well. It’s been named a Writer’s Digest Best Web site (since 2002), was lauded as a Kim Komando "Kool" Site, and has appeared in Imagine magazine, a college textbook, and on Blogger’s Buzz. Several authors have also acknowledged the Creativity Portal in their books and on their Web sites, which is a great honor.

How do you balance a site about creativity with all your personal creative projects?

Serendipitously, the Creativity Portal is a continuous source of inspiration and motivation for my own creative life. The same articles and resources that inspire its readers also inspire me. As the sites’ creative director and publisher, I read every single article and project published on the site and work closely with its regular contributors in the shape and direction of new site features. All of this has a very personal and profound effect on me that spills over into my personal creative work.

It’s no coincidence that many of my creative projects are weaved through the pages of the Creativity Portal Web site even though I have my own personal site devoted to my creative play (www.chrisdunmire.com). I am thrilled to be the site publisher and an active contributor. It’s like running an ice cream shop while inventing new ice cream flavors on the side in the back room. It all just flows together in a fulfilling, creative dream kind of way.

We’re all creative beings, doing creative things all the time. But how important is it to emphasize creativity in one’s life?

I’m naturally biased about this and pro-creativity in the fullest sense of the word. Having said that, I believe the gauge on this is for each of us to decide for ourselves — how much or to what extent we should personally emphasize creativity in our lives.

You are correct in saying that we are all creative beings, doing creative things all of the time. Not everyone recognizes when their creativity is engaged as artists, inventors, problem solvers, or ‘outside the box’ thinkers. It happens in the kitchen, at the store, while we’re driving, during meetings, while we’re playing, and when we’re working. Creativity permeates every aspect of our lives, whether we label it as such or not, and we all benefit from the freedom to be creative. Creativity keeps us progressive, improves our lives, and gives us the opportunity to express ourselves and communicate with others.

How has your personal view of creativity evolved as you’ve built up and worked on the website?

My personal view of creativity has grown so much over the years — and I suspect it will never stop evolving for as long as I live. Every person I come into contact with contributes to the dynamic definition of creativity that I carry within me.

Long ago I used to think that creativity was only about artistic expression and problem solving, but I have grown to understand it also as a tool for healing, personal growth, and spiritual practice. It is a multi-faceted component to our lives that makes everything possible.

What kinds of things do you hear from readers of the site?

I’ve received an abundance of affirming feedback from visitors who enjoy the Creativity Portal’s vision, articles, projects, and resources. I get a lot of fun comments from people who’ve used my novelty Money Plant Project. I also receive kind personal notes from newsletter readers about my musings and the community projects I invite them into.

Recently, one reader shared with me how an article from the site discussing how "getting outside of your routine promotes creativity" helped inspire her writing life during some challenging times after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in which she lived.

Other contributors to the Creativity Portal have also been recipients of life-changing feedback to their work. One author was approached by a popular health magazine after her article on creativity was published on the site. They wanted permission to publish her article in their print magazine! Another author received so much feedback on one of her articles about day jobs that she went on to write a book about it.

How does a creativity coach work? I’m sure each has his or her own creative approach, but for those who have only heard the term, can you provide some insight?

You are correct — professional creativity coaches, depending on their background and training, may have different approaches to their coaching style, focus, and philosophy. I have trained as a creativity coach under Eric Maisel, Ph.D., and his coaching philosophy is well-reflected in the many books he’s written on creativity and coaching.

In the broadest sense, creativity coaches help support artists and creators of all kinds with their creative work in working regularly and deeply, overcoming blocks, and achieving success in the marketplace. Some coaches have specialty niches and may work primarily with writers, visual artists, or performers in-person, by phone, or through e-mail.

For anyone interested in more information on creativity coaching, I recommend visiting the Web sites of Eric Maisel, Ph.D. and Jill Badonsky M.Ed., who are two well-known coach trainers.

When was the last time you were creatively stuck, and how did you get past it?

I get creatively stuck all the time. How do I get past it? Sometimes it’s a matter of allowing the creative process to work (you know, idea gathering, incubation…). Other times I need to shift into self-coach mode and figure out what’s going on with me. Do I know enough about a subject? Am I being a perfectionist? Am I afraid? Do I need to take a nap? Do I need to eat more cookies? And on and on it goes.

Sometimes getting past it means I have to put aside my fears and do it anyway. Sometimes it means accepting that doing things creatively average is okay. And sometimes it means scrapping an idea and saying "Chris, what WERE you thinking?!"

It’s summer timeā€¦ Any good summer creativity prompts?

Yes, go outside to your favorite park, lake, or forest preserve and really notice what’s going on around you. Whether you see ducks floating on the water, little kids hanging on the monkey bars, or families enjoying quality time eating together, you’ll find all of the creative story starters you need to last you until autumn. Here’s your first one: go count all of the white butterflies you can in five minutes fluttering through the flowers and then write about what you think they’re really up to. These family-friendly prompts are brought to you by the letters C, D, B.

What’s currently inspiring you, and what are you working on?

I am currently inspired by flowers. Flowers are such amazing works of art. I am gifted with a teacher friend who is educating me on all kinds of flowery things and has some very cool ones growing in her yard that I’ve never seen before in my life. She’s recently sent me a postcard from her vacation in Minnesota featuring the state flower called "Showy Lady Slipper." The flower actually looks like an elegant slipper shoe!

I am working on many creative things. I recently finished a coaching writers training with Eric Maisel and have plunged deeper into my writing life. I have a growing list of writing projects that keep me busy, and when I’m not doing that I’m doing my best to chronicle my creative journey and reflect on the richness of being alive in the now.

Describe a perfectly creative day:

I think that it’s okay to live un-perfectly creative days. My current philosophy is this: I believe in meeting a day creatively where you are, knowing that tomorrow is another day you can continue on the journey if you are up to the challenge. If you’re not, rest and recharge. Some days I am exhausted from all of my spent creative energy, and other days I am resting and queuing up for the next exciting project. Occasionally, in between days I unplug from it all and put my creative life on pause. I’ll admit though, that’s really hard for a creativity enthusiast to do.

Making Time For Project-Making

Probably the single biggest obstacle to making projects is the simple excuse of not having enough time. "How do you expect me to make projects? I don’t even have time to do all the stuff that I HAVE to get done."

It’s true. That’s one way to look at it. Life gets in the way. Work. Family. Errands. Emergencies. Chores. Someone has to change the litter, make dinner, go to the store to pick up milk. You’ve got to bring home the bacon, and you’ve got to fry it up in the pan. Then you have to wash the dishes, and make sandwiches for the next day at lunch, and deal with the complaints about BLT sandwiches, again.

But just like you get all that stuff done — the way you’re able to hold down your job and run the household and remember birthdays and plan vacations and call about the newspaper that keeps not getting delivered and bring in your computer to get fixed and get the car an oil change on schedule — you can make time to start and complete projects.

If you really want to.

So that’s some simple advice to say that it can happen. Easier said than done, you say? It always is. Here then, are some basic, practical ways to make time for projects-making.

Turn off the television. This is the biggest time magnet of all. You flip it on in the morning to check out the weather, or the traffic, or just to have a little background noise. You turn it on while you cook, or maybe while you eat dinner. You want to catch the news. There’s a new show you’ve been wanting to check out, or you have to see the show you’ve been a fan of for years. Then there’s the news at 11, and then Nightline or Leno or Letterman. Is turning off the television the last thing you do before turning out the light and hitting the sack? Hour upon hour, every darn day, your television is burning up your spare moments. Turn it off and keep it off. You just bought yourself some serious project time.

Get rid of cable. That way, even if you do turn on the television — admittedly, we all need a little down time in front of the boob tube — there aren’t so many options to suck us in and keep us clicking on the remote. It just makes it easier to shut if off if there are only a few channels to choose from, instead of all those endless choices that cable offers.

Limit the time you surf the web. I’m all for checking out cool websites. But one click leads to another, and another, and so on and so forth, and when you finally look up from the computer screen, several hours have passed you right on by.

Stop wasting time reading those silly celebrity and fashion magazines. PR spin, paparazzi shots and gossip collide in an attempt, I think, to instill the idea that our own normal lives are simply inadequate. Total BS. Do we really need to know the sordid and/or PR-cleansed details about Britney and Ben and Christina and whoever happens to be the reigning throwaway king and queen of the reality television this particular week? No, we don’t. It’s that simple.

Schedule in time for projects. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking a look at the schedule book and marking off time for your project. Just like at the office, when you schedule meetings or training sessions or block off time to complete a major report, if you fill in open slots with your project in mind, you will instill a regimented sensibility into your project-making routine.

Incorporate projects into other things that have to get done. Instead of just sitting there reading a magazine while you do the laundry at the laundry mat, use that time to make a project. Or, instead of just making dinner and serving it up, start documenting the process with your camera, or collecting the recipes you use in a booklet, with stories about what happens during the meals at your kitchen table, a sort of culinary diary.

Prioritize project-making just like you prioritize the fact that you have to eat. Don’t simply relegate project making to the status of a recreational activity you partake in when all of your other tasks have been completed — after the dishes are done, the car is washed, the lawn mowed, all the phone calls returned, and the burned out bulb in the garage is changed… As you can see, the list of things that need to get done never, ever ends. So fit project-making in there, somewhere. There is time for projects, if you make a point of making the time.

Wake up an hour earlier than you normally do, and work on your projects then. Being productive from the moment you roll out of bed is a great way to start out the day.

Use your lunch break at work for project-making. This is either a good solid hour or half-hour to do as you please. Instead of surfing the web or reading the paper or your book, or going and spending money that you don’t have on $10 lunches with co-workers that you don’t particularly like that much anyway, use this time to work on your project.

Do your project on company-time. Why the heck not? Sneak in some time while you’re on the clock. Do you know how many novels, screenplays, plays and more have been written on the job? This is an old tradition. The main issue here is not to get caught. Don’t miss deadlines. Get your "work" work done, of course. But factor in some time here and there to work on your project. You’d be surprised how much time there really is in an 8-hour work day to find time for yourself if you plan things out and work efficiently.

Involve your kids. Surely between work and managing the household, keeping the kids fed, safe, clean, and occupied is where all your time is spent. So create projects in which they are either the subject, helping you out, or collaborating with you.

Incorporate your schoolwork into the projects. Create projects that are simply extensions of the various homework assignments you have to complete — term papers or research, books that you have to read, words or history lessons that you have to memorize. Building personal projects around school work doesn’t just allow you to make projects, but might make doing the homework seem a bit less painful.

Change one habit that eats up a consistent amount of your time on a regular basis. Stop watching a soap, waking up late, surfing the web for nothing in particular, renting a movie every single night of the week, staying up just to watch the sport recaps of games for which you already know the final score. By taking this one habit out of the equation, you can open up your schedule for more inspiring, productive project-making time.

Instead of talking and talking and talking about your project idea, just get to work. Procrastination is a huge time magnet, and it sucks up a lot of energy. It also breeds negativity, and lets your mind wander into the mine field of dangerous rationales for avoiding the project, such as finding all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t get started, or all the materials that you’re lacking and don’t have access to, or the fear that you won’t do a good job. Just shut up and get to work. The momentum you create just by getting started will move you up and over the challenges that you might be confronted with as you make your project.

Here’s a project: make a list of all the stuff you always have to get done, and how long it takes you to do it all. Document your time. Not just your work schedule, or your monthly calendar, but how you spend your minutes during the day. How long does all this stuff really take? How much time do you spend spinning your own wheels, either sorting out what to do next, worrying about what’s not getting done, or fretting that you don’t have enough time to make anything happen? Write it all down. Next, write down all the things you want to do: All the things you feel you never have enough time to actually get started on and fully sink yourself into. Once it’s all written out, spend some time thinking about how you can strike a better balance between the items on the two lists. Be sure to make the things you want to do a part of what has to get done.

See also the Not-To-Do List.

"Making Time For Project-Making" is an excerpt from the 52 Projects book.

Opening Shots Project

Jim Emerson, the editor of one of my favorite sites, RogerEbert.com (because I am a huge fan of Roger Ebert and his love of movies), has a very cool project going on his Scanners blog: The Opening Shots Project. He publishes short essays on opening shots of note — why they are great, what they convey, how they impact the overall film. The introduction on the project is here. Definitely worth checking out. It will inspire you to not only take a look at the opening shots of the movies featured, but just of opening shots in general.

And I mentioned I’m a fan of Roger Ebert. Well, he’s in the hospital right now (according to his site), and just want to send some good thoughts his way. Get better soon Roger Ebert.

Part of my weekly ritual is to read Ebert’s reviews. I do it just to get a feel for the new movies coming out, of course, but I have to say, it’s more than that, certainly more than getting a star rating: there’s always some revelatory remark that Ebert makes, something about the movie, yes, but also about life, about dreams and feelings and relationships, and I am always taken aback. See, for example, the last paragraph in this review of Young Adam. Amazing stuff.

I’ve been seeing quite a few movies lately (I think I saw six films on the plane ride back from South Africa alone, plus an episode of Without A Trace and this very cool show The Harry Bikers Cookbook), and I also just jumped on the Netflix bandwagon. I mentioned Young Adam because I just saw it this past weekend (then looked up the Roger Ebert review to see what he had to say about the film). There’s a particular scene in that movie — The Custard Scene — and if you’ve seen the film, then you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Well, it got me thinking about my favorite scenes from movies — not favorite movies, just some favorite scenes — and I was able to list quite a few right off the top of my head. Young Adam isn’t one of my favorite movies, but The Custard Scene is now one of my favorite scenes. For my next post, I’ll write up some of my favorite movie scenes.

Yes, I am one of those people who always steers the conversation in the direction of movies.

Your Grocery List Needed

Project-maker extraordinaire Bill Keaggy is working on creating a book out of his GroceryLists.org project, and he needs some help. With his deadline looming (July 17!), he is trying to finish a chapter that features a grocery list from every state in the U.S., but he’s missing 14 states: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming. Lists can be found at the store or be your own personal list. So if you live in one of those states, send in a list! And if you know someone who resides in one of those states, please pass along word about sending in a list. Full details can be found at GroceryLists.org.

What’s Your Project #128Dream Journal Project

I keep a dream journal that I write in several times a week. Here’s how to start one of your own:

1. When you are brushing your teeth before going to bed, brush for awhile with the hand you don’t normally use. This activates the non-dominant, non-logical side of your brain and gets you ready to be tuned into your unconscious.

2. Even more important, as you fall asleep, have the intention to bring a dream back with you when you wake up–I think of it as similar to going fishing. Sometimes you will catch something, sometimes not.

3. Keep a journal by your bed. There are several approaches to this. You can be very disciplined about it, making sure to write down every fragment of dream that you can recall, especially when you wake up during the night. Or, you can take a more relaxed approach and just write whatever’s left in your head in the morning.

4. I am using a journal with black pages that I write on with silver and gold ink, because that has a cool look that differentiates my dream journal from my regular journal. Choose whatever notebook and pens work for you, fancy or simple.

5. When you write your dreams down in the morning, just write everything you remember. Then go back and reread, and try to do a little analysis. If any words or phrases are lingering in your head, look them up in a dictionary, even if you know their meaning. There will be cool second and third levels of meaning to discover.

6. Make sure to keep a playful and respectful attitude toward your unconscious mind, which is very powerful and wants to make your life more fabulous!

Anya Weber
Jamaica Plain, MA