Archive for November, 2012

COMMUNICATION IS MORE THAN TALKING

I just got through having a phone conversation that was a lot like a French farce. It was so frustrating that I am now having two cookies with my hot tea. ‘Round and ’round we went trying to settle a problem, with the other person in one place while I was running around, verbally, trying to find him.

We were at least on the telephone (landline, not cell) so we could have our word ping pong game. If we had been on email, as so many of us are so often, the so-called conversation would have never ended on the same day. So much gets misunderstood via email because there is often no review of the problem–no small talk or shop talk. Just the facts, mam. If you are going to have a satisfying, true dialogue there has to be some background presented and more emotion expressed.

The communication “experts” call what I just described as “straight talk.” I found a great article on this subject at the Iowa State University website.

I think that most of my adult life I have spent utilizing persuasive communication. I became an advertising copywriter right out of college. My job was to persuade people to buy some product or service. And I went from there into real estate sales where it’s all about persuading someone to buy or sell a home, land or business. My next move was to open an art gallery and try to persuade people to buy something that cost a lot, that they did not need, in the way they needed a roof over heir heads or food in their tummies. Moving on, I started an after-school reading program that had to have quite a few volunteers to make it work. I persuaded people to come and see the cute little kids and then the kids became the persuaders without even trying. I’ve always had plenty of volunteers. Who wouldn’t want to help kids learn to read?

Now I have written two books and am trying to persuade people to buy them. You can find the information at the side of this blog.

There are many means of communicating and many ways to do it. Talking, writing, laughing, crying, yelling, acting, even dancing and painting are just a few ways we can express ourselves. And to do this, we have phones (of many kinds), hand-held electronic gizmos, email (with blogs and websites and social networks), radio (if we can get on a show), and ditto for television. There’s also the stage and movies and art galleries.

The most important thing about communicating is that we each control what we want someone else to know. The ability and means to do this should be cherished. We’ve been given a lot more than a woof, meow, howl or growl. Let’s use it wisely.

COMING NEXT: Cruising In A Storm

 

Advertisements

A TINY HISTORY OF VINTAGE ADVERTISING

I’m sitting here thinking about an email I got last night and drinking my hot tea with a delicious chocolate chip cookie. A friend forwarded the email so I don’t know its origin, but if you want a great laugh, try finding funny billboards in Canada. Honestly, they are not only creative but they are funny with an edge and some are a bit risque. I think they would never appear in the USA. Why I think that is a whole other story.

My husband and I were both advertising copywriters from 1953 on in Los Angeles. I left the business in 1972 but my husband continued until 1995. The period of the ’50’s and ’60’s is thought by many ad people to be the period of the greatest ads. It has been called a part of the creative revolution. By the way, my husband and I do not relate to “Mad Men” in any way.

That famous Volkswagen ad, “Think Small,” was the beginning and the company went on to produce many memorable ads about that little car. My husband worked in the Los Angeles office of the New York agency and in LA, they did not do print ads but rather did the billboards. My husband worked on the VW boards as well as on the famous ones created for American Airlines. One of the best known featured the line, “Don’t Keep A Lady Waiting” and the photo was of the Statue of Liberty. It was of course selling a trip to New York.

Before the 1950’s, advertising was mainly filled with facts and no humor or real concepts. “Buy Now,” “Free,” “Hurry In”were the major headlines followed by bullets (dots) giving each one of the simple facts about a product. The layouts looked like firework bursts and the idea was to try and shout a customer into buying.

Starting in the 1950’s, ads took on a clean look with a wonderful photo, simple type for the headline and copy, and plenty of white space. But the most important thing was that there was a twist to the message and usually it was humorous or at least very creative. Often, you had to be intelligent to “get it.”

The computer was just beginning to be a factor in television in the early ’50’s. None of the high tech creations were used then. Now, in my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on the tech look of the commercial and not much on the concept. Of course, I am from a generation that started my first job in 1949. Thank goodness!

There are quite a few web or blog sites devoted to vintage advertising if you are interested. There’s lots of information at the Advertising Age website adage.com.

Many popular writers began their career in the advertising business. It was also lots of fun to be part of the revolution. Hope you enjoyed this tiny bit of history.

COMING NEXT: Communication Is More Than Talking

TIDBITS ABOUT BATHROOMS

I can’t complain about plumbers anymore, as I did in my “Ticked Off” book, because I’ve shopped around enough to end up with reliable workmen. So since I don’t have to keep pacing the floor wondering when the plumber is going to show, if at all, I’m happily thumbing through a decorating magazine and drinking my hot tea and munching on a chocolate chip cookie. The plumber is working on a leaking shower right now.

Many years ago, I became interested in the decor in bathrooms. I think it started when my husband and I travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico, several times a year. The bathrooms in the restaurants and hotels are unique. Most are decorated with either Mexican tile floors or colored concrete. The wall decorations range from those inspired by American Indian art to Mexican art to hippie art. Oh, yes, with a little cowboy thrown in.

I was still living in the Los Angeles area when an article was published in the local newspaper about the best bathrooms in public places. First prize was given to one that I sure would have chosen as spectacular. It is in a fancy hotel in Beverly Hills, of course.

It was during this period of time that I was thinking about writing a bathroom book about the ones in Santa Fe. My family encouraged this crazy idea so I went forward. I ended up photographing bathrooms in hotels, restaurants, and in private homes. Everyone who knew about the project thought it was great, including an editor I was working with at the time. However, once I had the book ready for submission to publish, there was no one willing to make it happen. So it sits here gathering dust.

One fancy New York publisher wrote about the book, “No one wants to see someone else’s bathroom.” I visualized her at a walnut desk on the 60th floor of a fancy high rise, and she was dressed in an Armani suit.

One of the bathrooms had walls covered in letters from interesting, well-known people along with their pictures. Another one had rows of Milagros* placed on the wall and tub the same way you would use tiles. One had several birds’ nests, complete with eggs, sitting on the tops of small tables. Another had walls of collectible beaded American Indian handbags. (The New York publisher probably threw the book across the room.)

Our bathroom was tiled in green to compliment the trees up next to the three large windows. The centerpiece is (or was) a three-foot high folk art Kachina that has a lot of green painted on it. The two huge custom mirrors have Hopi tiles embedded in the frames and other Hopi Indian tiles are scattered among the green tiles around the sinks and tub. (Heaven only knows what the Armani-clad woman thought the Kachina and Hopi tiles were all about.)

There is a book that’s been published about outhouses. (The publisher is in Arizona, not New York.) I was going to include some of the outhouses in my book as well. So many of them are no longer standing and yet they were often cleverly decorated. Do you know that Hollyhocks grew wild next to many of them?

The bathrooms in the magazine I’m looking at right now are lovely but they don’t have the uniqueness of the ones I photographed. (Probably selected by the New York editor.)  Anyway, my suggestion is that you not be worried about making your bathroom as interesting as the rest of your house. After all, most of us spend quite a lot of time in that room. Why be bored?

*A milagro in this case refers to small silver or gold votive Mexican offerings in the shape of body parts or representing other things such as animals.

COMING NEXT: A tiny History of Vintage Advertising

 

 

HOBBIES SHOULD BE FUN

I was looking at our collection of American Indian art today and realized that while collecting the pieces used to be a hobby it no longer fits that definition because we are selling now, not buying. I also knew that the dictionary defines “hobby” as something done for pleasure in your spare time. So I wondered if having a cup of hot tea and a chocolate chip cookie everyday can be considered a hobby.

Naturally, I had to go online and check around about hobbies. My conclusion is that we need a new word for hobbies. There was more than one site that had people writing in to discuss this topic and there was no final agreement on a definition.

At first, I thought maybe if you collect something, it would automatically mean that you had a hobby. However, how do you separate hobby from obsession? Collection can become an obsession. Well maybe you obsessively collect?

My husband and I used to know a rare coin dealer and he said that he made a study of collectors and found that some people collect for fun and others for profit. But if you are a for-fun collector, you’ll collect anything and it will be a hobby.

I’m wondering if collectors are not just born that way. When I was a kid I collected glass dogs and pieces carved in wood and beautiful rocks. I have two grandsons and one has been collecting toy cars since he was old enough to know anything about them. Our other grandson doesn’t collect anything. Maybe three examples are not enough for a decision.

What my husband and I found to be most interesting when we started collecting the Indian pieces is that there is an organization for collecting or doing just about anything that might be considered a hobby. We were in our Thirties before we discovered the world of American Indian Art, and it’s a huge world.

By the way, you should consider making a trip to New Mexico, where I live, because it is such an interesting place and a heart of American Indian art. If you’re not familiar with it, there’s lots of information on the internet. It’s a great place to bring kids on a trip. I’ve lived here for sixteen years now and really love it.

It would be fun to know what you consider your hobbies to be. It’s easy to make your comments right here on this page. Maybe playing around on the internet is considered a hobby. Works for me.

COMING NEXT:  Tidbits About Bathrooms