For Teh Lulz (Email Communication)

I know. You’re sick of explaining to your clients what your performance rates are… I mean how many times is going to take for them to realize you are creative professional and that you won’t work for anything less then the cost of the labour and materials?!?

And THAT is for charity work.

If we’re talking about a professional show or a corporate portrait, you gotta get paid, dear readers!

Earlier this month, I committed to the idea that basic communication is essential in all interactions; if you don’t have good communication skills, you are going to struggle with all of the ups and downs of life, from the small to the large ones. Ultimately this means you are moving against the flow of life OR being led by the flow, but never setting up your own course of navigation.

Why Don’t You Write A Book About It?

All great navigators know how to control the movement of their vessel from one place to another, and while navigation is defined by land, sea, air, and space, communication is divided up into 4 main forms – written, oral, non-verbal (gestures, words, facial expressions, body language), and interpersonal (personal relationships). And I’ve chosen to start this topic off right or rather write, with written communication.

But why writing timotheories?

Because writing is the form that I am interacting with you in this specific moment, dear readers. You creative cuties!

After all, true writing (read: contextual and encoded writing) has been with us since the bronze age of history, with proto-writing likely preceding 2000 BC, but definitely in that ballpark of time. Though to be clear, this was not a sudden change throughout the world, but a slow one, which developed from symbols and tablets.

History lesson aside, what that means is that written communication is here to stay, and we better figure out how best to interpret it, less we become even more delayed in our growth. Which would suck.

PC Load Letter, What The F Does That Mean?

Speaking of suckage, have you ever seen the Mike Judge classic Office Space? I’m not going to go into a bunch of detail on the movie, instead, you should wait for our upcoming Watch Culture on it, but I will share this little clip and some wisdom.

Life is already difficult as it is, so leave the jargon at the door! You’ve got memos, reports, bulletins, email, text messaging, and a host of other types of written communication to juggle on a daily basis, and thanks to smart phones, these things pile on quick.

It’s not so difficult to manage though, if you rely on a checklist of etiquette and follow through with it, of course. Let’s use the ever-so-popular email format as a basis in demonstrating the  7 C’s of communication (clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, and courteous). And clean language too if you want to emphasise courtesy, unlike what Mr. Bolton just did.

  1. Respond to emails promptly. This is one I personally struggle with, as I want to be attentive in my responses, but responding within 24 hours is ideal, within 8 even more preferable, and within 1 if you want to be a rock star.
  2. Proofread your work, and think twice before sending. It should go without saying, but leaving your emotions out of a response can be extremely difficult, and written communication is so easy to do, you can articulate your thoughts and rearrange them. Also, spend some time reading over your work, typos are the worst.
  3. Know your audience. In case it isn’t obvious, don’t blind copy everyone in a response either. Knowing your audience in every instance is difficult to be perfectly honest, but if you pay close attention, you CAN learn others motivations and keep projects moving forward amicably.
  4. Also, please stop forwarding your junk onto others. For example, if you like sharks, and want to let the world about shark week, but your work buddy lost his family in freak shark tank incident, he probably doesn’t want to deal with your email.
  5. Brevity is king. Keep emails brief. People hate reading long boring things. See?

It’s up to you obviously in how you go about enabling these new habits, but at the very least, you now have some basic tools of written communication that will help you better convey your ideas to others. And just like that printer that Michael hated, people can give messages which just don’t make sense… Frustrating for sure.


theories Summarized

You don’t want to be like that printer folks. That printer eventually got taken out to pasture and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat and a few swift kicks to the paper tray. And yes, maybe that’s an extreme example of the risks of bad communication, but worse things have happened in real life. And unlike a theory, I’ll share some examples in the next post of this series to prove it.


The Final Frontier (Appeal To Logic, Emotions, Ethics)

I think it was about a month ago, or it could also be four weeks ago if you prefer, that I started to address a complex topic about logic, emotion and reason. I began this investigation with the intent of fleshing out the details of what a creative passion should look like on paper (read:artist statement) and using my own artistic practice as a backdrop in the means of an explanation.

At the time I promised I would come back with a series of posts outlining my theories on how to accomplish this.

And so here we are.

It Is Only Logical

This stimulating topic we’re on is the three modes of persuasion, and sometimes known as ethical strategies or rhetorical appeals. Aristotle posited that the best types of persuasion are clearly demonstrated. The ways that we accomplish a successful persuasion are by showcasing good character through credibility (ethics), stirring up feelings (emotions), and proving a truth (logic).

So if we want to be successful artists, writers, musicians, et. al., then we have to build a proper case for what we do for a living, that way whenever we are approached by a stranger, and we want to leave a good impression, we can put together the best elevator pitch ever crafted.

After all, you care about your art right? You know that your unique voice needs to be expressed and the best way to accomplish that is by gaining positive attention and proper acknowledgment. And of course, you want to do it in a way that is authentic, unfiltered and real.

Thusly I have given you your first example of using the three modes of persuasion. And through the lens of logic.

A Logical Decision? Probably. But The Right One?

Now I do have to consider that the best way to establish this artist statement for yourself can be overwhelming, and given that we are are going to be spending a far amount of time going over this, I want to make it very clear what’s at stake here. Your integrity for one.

People are most like to identify with someone who looks like and talk like them. But this character needs to be trustworthy too. In films and television, this is why the lead character always has a strong reputation with the authority to back it up. If we look for characterizations of ETHOS we can quickly identify people like Dexter Morgan from the tv show Dexter, who has clear motivations, an a stong demonstration of his skilset, and because we experience his thoughts and feelings, it humanizes him and makes him seem like a “normal guy.”

But that’s kind of a creepy example, and I think I can do it one better.

Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy is the chief medical officer on the Star Trek Enterprise, he is a fourth-wall breaker when the other characters are making strong decisions. He serves as a moral compass for the trio of main characters by talking Kirk off the ledge and challenging Spock’s dry and cold approach to everything.

He is more human than Spock and less of a hero than Kirk, and he is most definitely an authority figure on the ship, who everyone defers to. One of the best quotes attributed to McCoy is the old “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a [insert job of the moment]”.

I Don’t Believe In No-Win Scenarios

Without an emotional core, we have nothing to go on!

People don’t connect only to logic, nor do they respond to an authority figure just because they have a title, it’s the emotions that impassion a message and give a sense of humanity to whatever the topic at hand.

You know that because I’m fighting the good fight for all artists out there, and that I struggle with doubts but can carry on through passion and sheer force of will that I will make timotheories work and work for you. It’s about justice, imagination and painting a picture of a bright future for everyone that wants to make something beautiful.

PATHOS is for all of the artists who have a fire inside and will never give up. Or surrender.

theories Summarized

There is no way that well go over this all in two posts my friends, just I didn’t think it would happen in one post. But I do hope against hope that this is starting to come together for you.

In case the basic principles of the three modes of persuasion are not clear just yet, I’ll embellish on that Star Trek reference some more. LOGOS is probably the most obvious example and demonstrated through Spock, while I’ve just demonstrated that McCoy is ETHOS, and lastly Kirk is PATHOS. Kirk being the most impulsive and emotive of the three, he takes risks and always acts from instinct, experiences, and a sense of responsibility.

And as I’ve mentioned already, I have a pretty cool theory about how you can take the lessons from those three patron saints of Star Trek and apply their modes of thinking to your own work. But I need to power down for the night creative cuties. These theories don’t running on neverending battery.  At least not yet anyway.


Down And Out (Manchester By The Sea review)

Life is an inexplicably complex thing, which we are constantly striving to simplify for ourselves. Unfortunately this is neither realistic nor healthy for us. We have to confront our problems head on, for fear of losing ourselves to a sea of sorrows.




Manchester By The Sea (2016)

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
released on blu-ray February 21, 2017
********* 10/10


IMDB: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Audience Score 80%
The Guardian: *****/*****


Kenneth Lonergan is an American playwright, screenwriter, and director.

Something of a selective creator, he’s best known for his writing ability, having written the scripts for Analyze This, You Can Count On Me, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Analyze That, Gangs of New York, Margaret, Manchester by the Sea, and an upcoming miniseries called Howard. His directorial offerings are a little more slim but stemmed from his writing career – You Cant Count On Me, Margaret, Manchester by the Sea. I should also mention that while Lonergan is also a little slow to the table with his creative projects, when he serves as both director and writer, something good consistently happens.

Manchester by the Sea is the story of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), an anti-social janitor and handyman in  Quincy, Massachusetts, who learns from a family friend that his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has had a heart attack. Unfortunately Joe dies before Lee arrives at the hospital, and Lee heads to his home-town Manchester-by-the-Sea to bring his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges) the news. While arranging the funeral, Lee learns that Joe wanted him to be Patrick’s guardian.

Lee is unwilling to move back to Manchester, but does not want Patrick to be with his alcoholic mother, so he works to move Patrick to Boston instead. Patrick has many friends, two girlfriends and is in a band; he hates this idea.

We also learn that Lee used to live in Manchester with his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and their three kids, but due to a mistake he made while intoxicated, a house fire took the lives of the children. He was never prosecuted, but Randi blamed him and they divorced. Lee then attempted suicide in a police station after he was found not guilty, but was contained. He moved to Boston shortly afterwards.

While they wait for the ground to thaw, Joe’s body remains in cold storage,and Lee stays in Manchester. Uncle and nephew become better friends and eventually Patrick’s mother Elise finds out about the situation. She offers to take Patrick in, but her sobriety is largely the responsibility of her controlling fiance Jeffrey. Lee also runs into a remarried Randi and her newborn. She regrets the things she said and confesses she still loves him. Lee does everything he can not to break down and leaves because he cannot stay in Manchester with her – He later picks a fight at a bar.

After finally arranging for family friend George to act as a legal guardian for Patrick, the pair have a heated discussion about why Lee cannot stay in Manchester any longer. After the funeral, Lee lets Patrick know that he is searching for a place with an extra room, so that Patrick can visit whenever he wants.

Pros: This might be a cliche, but this film is affecting. I was genuinely bummed out after watching it. The combination of raw performances, subtle scoring choices, and a well-laid script that pulls right out of the everyday make this film about death and mourning all the more powerful.

Cons: It takes a really long time to make it’s major points and there are a couple of moments where it feels like more of an exercise then a story.

Runtime: 2 hours 17 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the first film distributed by a streaming service to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Matt Damon and John Krasinski were originators of the idea, asking for Damon to direct and Lonergan to write, and Damon to star in it, Damon eventually opted out due to scheduling conflicts, but remained on as a producer.

Lonergan understands intimately that life is full of grief. Wrongs which are never corrected plague us and while it can be nice to assume a storybook ending from a film, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. The character of Lee is an excellent case study of a life unfulfilled, a responsibility not asked for, and working around the pain. A story about life lived in the world as it is, loose ends and all.

theories Summarized

Allegations and personal issues of Casey Affleck aside, the arresting nature of this story, and what it addresses capture the pains of life. It seriously broke my heart to watch this movie, ever so slowly, because I’ve loved and lost, and I’ve been on the ends of good and of bad as well. Affleck never redeems his character, but the glimmer of movement forward despite that unresolved pain makes it a worthwhile story, at least that’s my theory anyway.


Deceived in Friendship and Betrayed in Love (Love & Friendship review)

My first real exposure to effective satire came from reading Gulliver’s Travels in high school. In some ways I’m embarrassed to admit this now because I wonder what more I could have learned and accomplished had I been exposed to this type of writing from an earlier age. After all, it is something I value and can appreciate for it’s nuanced and artful nature.

And yet, I’ve made other mistakes by consciously avoiding other authors who are just as capable of striking at these tropes. See exhibit A, for example.




Love & Friendship (2016)

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Director: Whit Stillman
released on blu-ray September 6, 2016
********* 9/10


IMDB: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Audience Score 66%
The Guardian: ****/*****

John Whitney “WhitStillman is an American writer-director best known for his 1990 film Metropolitan (also his first film), but secondarily for his rather limited number of films released between 1990 and now. To be very clear, Stillman has only directed a total of five films altogether, however each of them have been rather favourable with critics and audiences alike.

Some would argue that The Last Days of Disco was his weakest film, but at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and lead by Kate Beckinsale and Chloë Sevigny, I suspect that those people don’t know what they’re talking about.

Let’s consider Love & Friendship. A film rather clever in it’s machinations and based on two separate Jane Austen novels.

It tells the story of recently widowed and rather young Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) as she looks for both a match for her daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) and also for herself, that she might bolster her own status and fortunes. Lady Susan was staying at the Manwaring estate for some time before she was finally turned out, under assumptions that her and Lord Manwaring (Lochlann O’Mearáin) were having an affair.

So Lady Susan moves into Churchill and stays with her brother-in-law, Charles Vernon (Justin Edwards), and his wife Catherine (Emma Greenwell). Catherine’s brother Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel) is also there, and eventually Frederica is turned out of boarding school because Susan can’t afford it, so she joins the family too.

This is where we witness Lady Susan bend societal expectations and twist words so that she can always gain the upper hand. When she is unable to convince her daughter to marry the dumb but wealthy Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett), and especially after her flirtations with Reginald turn sour upon his discovery of her relations with Lord Manwaring despite Lady Susan and her best friend Alicia Johnson’s (Chloë Sevigny) efforts to conceal the matter. Instead, Lady Susan convinces Martin to marry her, and conveniently enough Reginald and Frederica marry on their own terms.

The movie hits a high and final important note upon the announcement not two days after the wedding of Martin and Lady Susan. Lady Susan is with child, and Sir James couldn’t be happier. Interestingly enough, Lady Susan had previously invited Lord Manwaring to be a house guest at her new home with Sir James, and Sir James is happy to have a new friend who enjoys hunting all kinds of game.

Pros: The language of the time is handled by Stillman in the best way possible, Kate Beckinsale holds court in whatever scene she is in, and all of the secondary characters fill their roles in expertly timed scenes.

Cons: I fear that the intelligence of the film and all of it’s nuances might be missed by the more casual observer, making it appear boring, when in fact the dialogue and pacing are incredibly important to the overall plot.

Runtime1 hour 32 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the first time the novella Lady Susan has made it to the silver screen, with the name taken from the other referenced Austen book. Sienna Miller was originally cast as the role of Lady Susan but she dropped out.

I’ll be the first to admit that it took me years to warm up to Jane Austen as an author. I was never really interested in the stories because of their focus on social politics and economics of the time, but the truth is that those are just elements of the story, the real value lies in the characterizations, and when a director like Stillman can understand that point, the work of Jane Austen can reach pop culture snobs like moi.




Satire can be a wonderful thing friends, it can take a story entrenched in adultery, manipulation, and betrayal, and turn it into something that you can share with children. Love & Friendship never exposes the gratuitousness so common in our westernized culture, but yet it tells a story so much better. I was a little concerned when I first picked this film up, but thankfully I was wrong about it. And you will be too.

This film is wonderfully done, and exemplifies the power of Jane Austen as a writer, and really showcases her necessity in the halls of writing. Go watch this movie. And then come back tomorrow when I’ll talk some more of love.


Reading Is Hard (Hemingway to Orwell)

Reading is cathartic, or so I’ve heard. You get a psychological release because your mind is allowed to focus on something other than whatever it is that you had decided to be afraid of in life.

To be true to yourself, you have to uncover yourself from all that you thought you should be and finally become that which you truly are. To be courageous and graceful, under pressure. Never fearing death, but living for moments of love and greatness.

Clean and simple prose, that’s what I learned from Ernest Hemingway. He was a declarative writer and one that could turn a phrase without risk of excess.

I’m not sure if you read the first post in The Reading List series, but about a month ago I decided to meta-read The Sun Also Rises, and I learned a thing or two about Ernest Hemingway along the way.

The first thing I learned was that he had a very direct style of writing, and that style had a name – That his Iceberg Theory of writing is a beautiful metaphor for omission. If you know something, and are a strong writer, you can admit parts of a story and be assured that the reader will pick upon what you omitted because the story elements are implicit. To put it another way, icebergs only show a small portion of themselves on the surface of the water, which allows us to understand the whole of them all the better. Unless we are ignorant.

The second thing I learned is that a life half lived is not much of a life at all. Whatever Hemingway’s critics and fans would have us believe about his adventures in journalism, tragedies of war, foray’s into other countries, and personal struggles, Hemingway stood grounded in whatever activities held his attention throughout his life – And writing was the cement that held his house together. This further demonstrates the importance of focus, as an artist, but also enrichment as a human being.

And that is all I have to share on Hemingway for the moment.

Now, I turn back to the reading list for another book to read and another artist to consider. In case you forget, my goal is to read one book a month from 5 particular groupings. The 5 L’s of Language.

  • LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  • LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  • LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  • LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  • LEET -The Internet

The author I’m going after this time around is George Orwell, and the novel is 1984. I was born in 1985, and have been influenced greatly by post-modern ideologies and post-apocalyptic stories for as long as I can remember, so I’ve decided to read a story by someone best known for a novel of dystopian life.

His influence on film is of particular note, with Orwellian ideas being explored to varying degrees in several critically acclaimed movies. Fahrenheit 451, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, THX 1138, A Clockwork Orange, Soylent Green, Blade Runner, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brazil, They Live, The Matrix, Minority Report, V for Vendetta, Children of Men, and Land of the Blind are all excellent examples.

Whatever you opinion of George Orwell, I’ll spend some time with him so see what I can glean and then share with you, dear readers. After all, reading is cathartic and exercise for the mind.


Regardless, I STILL think it’s a pretty neat way to keep myself accountable. But what do you think? I’m out of theories for today, but I hope this wisdom finds you well. Please share, subscribe and comment. Facebook and Twitter are good starting points. Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.