Monthly Archives: May 2012

Facts Are Facts



Tiger Swallowtail

You can’t really see the detail on his wings here but this guy was super groovy in person:

tiger swallowtail

I mean, talk about style! I have a great love for animal prints, and this is the best ensemble I have seen in a long time. The simplicity of the black and yellow colour scheme is fantastic, with just a little splash of orange and electric blue thrown in for dramatic effect. Amazing. This is how it’s done, people. Every once in a while you run into someone who has their style 100% sorted out, and this is what that looks like. You can tell because when you see them you just think “Yes. Everything here…YES”. It is a joy to behold.

I’ve never seen this type of butterfly before so I did a little research on him when I got to work. He is either an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (papilio glaucus) or a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (papilio canadensis). His wingspan was pretty long, which would suggest the Eastern version, but then again we are in Canada, after all, so it would kind of make sense that he’s a citizen of this country. Butterflies don’t have borders, though, so he could have made his way up here from the States. Who would blame him? Even though President Fox is doing his best, the politics down there are kind of all over the place at the moment.

Either way, it was nice to make his acquaintance, and I hope that our paths cross again sometime soon. I wouldn’t mind getting some fashion tips from this extremely well-dressed individual, and I think it would be fun to fly around with him and see the world from his perspective.

TS & Skillz

Thanks for the lift, T.S. !

Pretty Flowers

Oh, man. I really do have some of the nicest co-workers ever.

When I got to work this morning, the girl who sits beside me had placed this on my desk:


It’s a peony from her garden! Isn’t it pretty?

So sweet.

Wishful Skillin’: New Furniture

Don’t you think these chairs would look great at Mental Skillness HQ?



They have little birds on them!


I Love You, C. Thomas Howell


No, not in that way. I mean, yeah, he was supercute in The Outsiders but I had more of a crush on Rob Lowe, if anyone. I’ve always had a random feeling of fondness for C. Thomas Howell though. He starred in a couple of movies that I loved as a kid, including the ridiculous Secret Admirer, so I think he’s associated in my mind with the comforting memories of bad ‘80s movies. And besides, how could anyone not like Ponyboy Curtis?

I’m in the middle of reading Rob Lowe’s biography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends and there’s a section in it in which he describes the grueling process of filming his final, dramatic scene for The Outsiders. They’ve done about a million takes and Rob has been giving it his all, breaking down over and over again in order to get the shot and nail the scene, and he is totally spent. Francis Ford Coppola then informs him that they have only been filming the long shots and now it’s time for the close-ups. Rob basically starts to panic and freaks out internally:

Standing alone now, I know I’m in deep trouble. Through take after take I have poured my heart out, cried my eyes dry for the last hour. I have nothing left, and I’m terrified. I’ve wasted all my emotion on giant wide shots where you probably can’t even see my face. I feel like a total idiot.

Not to worry, though! Because C. Thomas Howell is there to save the day.

“Hey, c’m’ere!” says Tommy Howell. “I wanna talk to you”.
We step off the set into the shadows to be alone.
“What’s going on?” he asks.
“Fuck that, man. You gotta. You can do this! This is what it’s all about. Right now! You, me, and Swayze!”
I’m looking at my feet, getting lectured by a fifteen-year-old.
“I don’t know what to do. I didn’t know to save it for the close-up. Nobody told me,” I say lamely.
Tommy grabs me by my face, hard.
“Look at me,” he says, his eyes shining. “I love you. You’re my brother. We’re gonna get you ready”.
And then come the most loving, generous, wise moments I’ve ever shared with another actor. He starts a narrative, a hushed, hypnotic story of our life together as orphaned brothers. He tells me about our mother, how beautiful she was with her blonde hair, and about the day she nicknamed me Sodapop because I was always so happy. He asks me to remember Dad and how much we miss him — his strength, his laugh — and reminds me of the pony he surprised us with at Christmas. As he winds down, he pulls me close to him and whispers: “There’s no one else like you in this whole wide world, Sodapop Curtis. You’re my brother and I love you so much. You’re all we have left”.
“Come on, guys,” calls Francis. “We’ve got about twenty minutes before the sun’s up”.
“Don’t listen to that,” says Howell firmly. “You’re ready now. Go nail this fucker like you know you can”.
We walk back onto the set. I’m full now — full of the emotion I need, full of love and of unending gratitude for this amazing friend. His compassion and leadership will remain unmatched in my professional experience.

You guys, that’s it. I want C. Thomas Howell as my life coach, in my corner, giving me pep talks like this one every time I feel overwhelmed or scared that I can’t do something. I mean, fuck. What a cool fucking dude. And he was only 15 at the time! Maybe it’s just me, but I find that sense of belief in oneself pretty inspiring in someone so young – in anyone, for that matter. So, the next time I feel the nervousness of performance anxiety coming on, I am gonna channel my inner Ponyboy Curtis and rise to the challenge. Sometimes inspiring words come from random places — like a vignette in a Rob Lowe biography, for example — but I’ll take it where I can get it.

sodapop & ponyboy

Don’t let his youthful appearance fool you: this kid is wise beyond his years.
P.S. Oh hi there, Rob Lowe.

the outsiders

The scene.

Another New Face at Mental Skillness HQ


Introducing Owsley, a friend of a friend. Apparently he was named after LSD guru Augustus Owsley Stanley. So I hope he is mixing us up a sweet batch of acid right now…

Just kidding. I don’t do (psychedelic) drugs.

Owsley is knowledgeable and wise, but also knows how to have a good time. So I’m pretty sure he’s going to fit in fine around here. In fact, he and Thaddeus have been blabbing away to each other for the past half hour.

Here are some pertinent Owsley facts:

– His parents were a fixture on the Haight/Ashbury scene and palled around with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. As a baby owl (owlet?) he was toted to numerous Grateful Dead shows and as a result he kind of hates their music (although he has grudgingly admitted to enjoying the song ‘Friend of the Devil’ on occasion). To this day, the smell of marijuana and patchouli reminds him of his childhood.

– His godfather is Timothy Leary, also godfather to Winona Ryder. He and Winona grew up together, and used to shoplift candy and trinkets from their neighborhood corner store. He assures me that he has outgrown these youthful foibles, but since we all know how Winona turned out I am nonetheless keeping an eye on my Marc Jacobs sweaters


A young Winona & Owsley in her backyard in Petaluma, CA, circa 1983.

– He only has one ear! So if you don’t talk to him from his left side, he won’t hear you at all. I think this is kind of amazing, and probably quite useful when he feels like ignoring people he doesn’t like.

Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but it is a fascinating account of the Beat Generation and the ‘60s San Francisco scene. Since Owsley grew up in the middle of all of that I am seriously looking forward to hearing his first-hand recollections of the various characters and personalities that populated that landscape. We’re going to see the movie adaptation of On The Road when it comes out, and he’s promised to give me the full lowdown on what “Uncle Jack” and “Uncle Allen” were really like.


Duck and I decided to have our portrait taken for posterity.

The finished piece is hanging in the foyer of Mental Skillness HQ. Let us know what you think!

duck & skillz