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Friday, February 27, 2009

Bye-Bye, Alberta Advantage

Deficit Days are here again, and so the government is spending $25 million on a rebranding campaign for the province. A couple of minutes into this clip, Dave Taylor, Shadow Finance Minister and Alberta Liberal MLA for Calgary-Currie, provides a couple of clever slogans for free. (He also offers some sharp commentary on Alberta's financial position.)

Some other possible slogans:
Oil's Well That Ends Well...Hopefully
You've Read the Bumper Sticker
Yukon South
Upgrader Alley Oops
Boom/Bust Country
Wild Swings Country
Keep Your Filthy Hands Off our Oil, you Damn Dirty Feds
Sharing is for Socialists
Third Boom's the Charm

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Speech! Speech!

I had a great time talking to students in Derek Drager's speechwriting class at Grant MacEwan this afternoon. They were a great bunch of students with good questions, and it was a pleasure to enjoy a classroom environment again.

Derek asked me to give his students a picture of the everyday reality of a speechwriter, and that's what I tried to do.

I've never had the benefit of any formal training in speechwriting, so I had to learn all my techniques on the fly. I won't reproduce my entire talk here, but here are the two primary lessons I tried to impart:

- Develop your empathic skills. Listen to your client, not just with your ears, but with your heart; find out what's most important to them on a personal and professional level. And develop empathy for your client's audiences; his or her speeches will be most effective if the audience believes that the speaker understands and empathizes with their issues and priorities.

- Speechwriting is a huge responsibility. A speechwriter's words, when delivered by a person of influence, can have a tremendous affect on people. A speechwriter should always use his or her talents for good; he or she should seek and share truth.

Of course there's a whole lot more to speechwriting, but if you keep those two points at top of mind, you're off to a good start.

Today's experience, combined with yesterday's very motivational creativity workshop, have given me an interesting idea: speeches for superheroes! I have a concept in mind already, and I intend to turn this into a recurring feature here at My Name is Earl (J. Woods). The first speech will be delivered by Superman.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

40 Trips Around the Sun

Well, I turned 40 at 7:37 pm tonight. I can no longer be a theme-appropriate guest star on thirtysomething.

Today I attended a very entertaining and informative seminar on creativity at Grant MacEwan college - the orange campus on 100th ave and 156 street. Great presentation by Georgian author Sam Harrison - one lecture on how to approach a proper brainstorming session, and another on igniting your creativity. I hope to put what I've learned today to use both at work and on my personal projects, including this blog. Perhaps not tonight, though - it's been a very busy week, with more to come before I get a break.

There was cake for me at work, phone calls and emails from family and friends, and Sylvia found a set of Star Trek Pez dispensers AND a Captain Picard action figure WITH captain's chair, AND Jeff Pitts found me an authentic Flash Gordon movie poster.

Wow - good birthday!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Layton on the Edge of Forever

I learned about layers and channels in Photoshop last's a simple, silly blending of two disparate images into one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Colours Out of Space

As you can see, I've changed my blog colours - this time, I hope, with some sense of purpose. Yesterday, as part of my graphic design course, Jeff gave me a quick introduction to colour concepts, including the colour wheel, and now the blog uses a triad of primary colours - red, yellow and blue. I leave it to you to decide why I picked those three colours...

Jeff also gave me a homework assignment, and only YOU can help me complete it by looking at the graphic above and answering a series of questions:

1. Name each colour, from 1-6.
2. What emotion does each colour make you feel? E.G. 1 - envy, 2 - desire, 3 - sadness, etc.
3. What specific object (i.e., what noun) does each colour remind you of?
4. How would you use each colour? Or, in other words, what is the purpose of each colour?
5. Name an inappropriate use for each colour.

Please post your answer as a comment, or email me. Your help is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My Pitch on Breakfast TV - Alberta Election 2008

For those that missed my appearance on Breakfast TV during last year's provincial election campaign, here it is. (I'm the third guy in, for the Liberals.) I lost my train of thought a little bit at the end, but overall, not too bad, I think.

Of course my cockeyed optimism sounds a little funny now, having been defeated by 10,000 votes or so - I can hear Grand Moff Tarkin barking, "I think you overestimate your chances!" in my ear.

UPDATE: On second thought, I probably shouldn't have posted the video - intellectual property and all that - although I think you could claim that it's just an excerpt of a two-hour long show, and therefore falls into the "fair use" category...

If you'd like to see the video, shoot me an email.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Whitmore Nevermore

While adding labels to all my old posts, I came across a blank draft titled, as you can see, "Whitmore Nevermore." I have no idea what I originally intended to write. Something about Walt Whitmore and Edgar Allan Poe? Was my intent to rewrite "The Raven" in Whitmore's style? I sure hope not - perhaps merely contemplating such an effort created a temporal anomaly that wiped any possibility of the event from history.

I'm writing this on December 23, 2009 - from your perspective, the future. Hey, somehow I've accidentally invented time travel!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Resolution Update

I feel like I'm doing okay on the resolution front. I'm about to start a graphic design course thanks to Jeff, and I've been working out every weekday for the last four weeks: half hour cardio, plus crunches, weights, pushups and stretches.

Still working on the other items on the list. But oh, in other exciting news - I'll be guest lecturing at Grant MacEwan on February 23rd and 26th, talking to students about the ups and downs of professional speechwriting. I'm really looking forward to that.