Creativity Farm

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Creativity Farm

Animation, music, business, poetry and utter nonsense…

How do I come up with a new Joe’s Dump post most every Monday?

I use a Creativity Farm!
Joe's Dump Creativity Farm!

Whenever I have an idea for Joe’s Dump, I jot down a short title and a few notes in a Google doc. These are the “Seeds” on my farm.

I use a Google doc because it lets me edit my ideas on my phone, tablet or computer. When the muse inspires, I’m ready.

Next, I cultivate the Seeds by choosing a promising one and giving it my time and focus. This is like sunlight and water. The promising Seeds then grow into mature Plants, ready for posting to the blog!

Of course, along the way, some weeding must also be done. Not all ideas will bear fruit.

Once I’ve posted the finished crop, it’s moved to another Google doc for archive.

Here are just a few samples from my current batch of Seeds (who knows which will grow?):

  • A rap song about Jimmy Durante
  • Fake movie trailers
  • A noir novella set in Cleveland
  • Poetry for pets
  • Designs for a personal hovercraft
  • Learning Tuvan throat-singing

If you’ve got the time and inclination, maybe you can start your own Creativity Farm!

What do you do to keep your creativity flowing?

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Bacon and You!

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Bacon and You!

Bacon and You! Joe's Dump

Ever wonder who you’ve worked with in the entertainment biz? If you’re on IMdB, then the Oracle of Bacon can tell you that and much more…

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
It all begins with Kevin Bacon. The idea is that everyone on the planet is somehow only six steps away from Kevin Bacon. For example, if I know Kevin Bacon, I’m one step away. If I know someone who knows Kevin Bacon, I’m two steps away… and so on. By the time you get to six steps away, that’s a lot of people – maybe even everyone on Earth!

The Oracle of Bacon
The Oracle of Bacon web site finds the shortest connection between any two people listed on IMdB. The default is Kevin Bacon and whoever you type in. As an example, my Bacon Number is 2. I’ve worked with someone who’s worked with Kevin Bacon. But the site has some other very useful tools…

3 Ways To Use The Oracle of Bacon

Be sure to play around with the advanced search options. They’ll let you include things like video games and TV series.

Once you’ve found your Bacon Number, be sure to post it in the comments below.

Have fun!
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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VHP: Virtual Henderson Project

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VHP: Virtual Henderson Project

Henderson is a cheesy beefcake of a man. If you haven’t met him yet, he’s a loose-cannon cop with the intelligence of a small soap dish. I’ve been providing his voice for Pendant Productions for a little over 3 years now, and since Season 3 is coming on March 22, I thought something special was in order.

I always wondered what Henderson would look like in real life, and recently, I purchased some new software called “Poser” that can create realistic 3-D human models. Time for a test run!

Virtual Henderson Project: The Process:
The modeling software does have a learning curve to it. This may be less if you’re actually a graphics person or an animator, but for me it was about medium level of difficulty.

After creating the model, the next step is rendering. For still images, it’s not too bad. A few minutes for each one. The animation, however, took a looooonnnnggg time on my computer. Since I wasn’t going to buy a new computer just for this project, I decided to limit the animated portion to 5 seconds. That’s 150 frames (at 30 fps), and each frame took about 4 minutes, so, yeah, long time.

The rest of the video is still shots that I pan up, down, or sideways in the video editing software (I use Sony Vegas).

For the whole project, I’d guess I spent about 30-40 hours.

Bonus! Here’s the blooper reel from Henderson and Havner Season 2:

      HandHbloopers2

…and Links to Everything Else Mentioned:

Enjoy!
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Music Monday!

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Music Monday!

Here at Joe’s Dump, we’ve got a lot of music going on…

So, to help keep it all organized and handy, we’ve added a new Music Menu Item (at the top of every page)

A few of the articles you’ll find there include:

… Plus: Personal Profiles, Politics, Parodies, and plenty more!!!

Music Trivia Two-fer

This week, I’ve also got two trivia stories about some surprising back-stories to popular songs.

First up: You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (duet by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand)

Did you know that this famous duet came from a radio program director’s divorce?

Neil Diamond recorded the song first in 1977 as a solo, followed by Barbra Streisand’s solo version in 1978. This is where WAKY-AM/Louisville KY program director, Gary Guthrie, comes in. He spliced together a duet version as a parting present to his wife after their divorce. His version became so popular that the record label got Diamond and Streisand to record an official version that was released in the fall of 1978!

(Click here to read the full story on Wikipedia)

… and here’s Gary Guthrie’s mixed version on American Top 40:

And second: Mike Sammes – the backup singer for Olivia Newton John’s “Let Me Be There”

The bass part in “Let Me Be There” by Olivia Newton John is so prominent, I’d almost classify the song as a duet. Out of curiosity, I checked into who the bass singer was. His name was Mike Sammes, and his credits are amazing. He also sang backup on The Beatles “I Am The Walrus”, and for the TV show “Supercar”.

(Click here to read Mike Sammes full bio on Wikipedia)

… and here’s “Let Me Be There” for your listening pleasure:

Enjoy!
Joe

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Needles and Herbs

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Needles and Herbs

Acupuncture. I’d always been curious, but never tried it.
Needles and Herbs: Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine
After a glowing recommendation by a family friend, my wife and I decided to go see how it worked for us.

This particular acupuncturist also treated with traditional Chinese herbal medication. And she only spoke Mandarin. Fortunately, my wife is fluent in Mandarin.

On the first visit I was asked a series of wellness questions (via my wife translating). About my sleep, food, energy, etc. She then had me lie down and put needles in my feet, chest, wrists, neck and head. So far, so good. Only a few of the needles stung. About 30 minutes later, she came and removed the needles. Next, she treated my wife.

She prescribed some herbs for me to drink in warm water, twice a day for a week. She also scheduled 5 more treatments over the next 6 days! Okay, so that surprised me. Based on the miraculous stories I’d heard from our family friend, nobody ever seemed to require more than 3 treatments. But I decided to give it a fair chance.

The herbs tasted horrible. Like drinking a mud smoothie. Twice a day. For a week.

My wife didn’t have to go back for a week. So each time I went, I’d show up, get treated with needles, and go. Since I don’t speak Mandarin, it made the visits awkward at best.

I ended up going two more times. To be honest, the table that I had to lie on was more painful than the needles. But after 3 days of needles and herbs, I was done. I definitely wasn’t noticing any positive effects, and in fact felt a little more pain than when I started. Probably from that table.

I stopped taking the herbs for the same reasons. No noticeable effects. Plus, I had no idea what was in them. Enough!

Lessons learned:

  • Always make sure you can communicate clearly with whoever is treating you.
  • Know what’s in the treatment if you’re taking herbs.
  • Get a realistic idea of how long the treatment should last, and what results you should see.

So, for me, the jury is still out on acupuncture and herbal medicine. It seems to work for some people. But this time it just didn’t seem to do much for me.

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Inner Tattoos

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Inner Tattoos

Earlier this week, I saw a picture of someone who had their face and body covered in tattoos.

My reactions were many and varied. How did they find work? (they are a tattoo artist, btw) Did they get a lot of questions? Were they comfortable showing something so personal to the world? Was it painful?

Then I realized that in many ways, I have my own inner tattoos.

The most obvious one is acting. Whenever I’m in the booth or onstage, I’m displaying something very personal. Often times a lot of work and pain went into creating it. And when others find out what I do, there are always questions.

Maybe the only difference is that my tattoos are not on the outside. Just hidden beneath the surface.

I think we all have inner tattoos. And some are brave enough to get the real thing.

Hope all your uniqueness shines through 😉

Take care,
JoeActor

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Floating Head Without Green Screen

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Floating Head Without Green Screen

Hey gang!

While making my last song parody video (“The Hell of Diets“), I used a special video trick to make my head float:
The Hell of Diets! (title card)

Since I don’t own a Green Screen, I had to come up with another way.

Okay, rewind… “Green Screen? What the heck is that, Joe?”

Glad you asked! In simple terms, the actor is shot on a set that is all one color (usually green, but sometimes blue), then in the video production, the green is replaced with any other picture or video. The effect in video software is called “Chroma Key”. I’ve used Green Screen in my animation projects, such as the “Ban Ki-moon Tune!” – here’s a peek:
Ban Ki-moon Green Screen

No Green Screen? No Problem!

I realized that all I really needed was a way to ensure my face was lighted much brighter than the rest of the shot. Then I could use the Chroma Keyer in Sony’s Movie Studio software to remove everything else (the darker parts of the image).

Here are the steps (click on any image for a larger view):
Continue reading

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The Hell of Diets!

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The Hell of Diets!

“The Hell of Diets!”
by Joe J Thomas

(a parody of “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed and Simon & Garfunkel)

Copyright 2016, Joe J Thomas, Joe’s Dump
All Rights Reserved
Not a Quinn-Martin Production

The Hell of Diets! (title card)
~~~ Lyrics ~~~
“The Hell of Diets!”
by Joe J Thomas Continue reading

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Stapler in the High Castle?

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Stephen Root: Character Actor

Stephen Root - Milton + Abendsen

While watching season 2 of “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon, we finally got to see the man himself. Abendson is his name, but I immediately recognized him as the same actor who played Milton in “Office Space”… Whoa! Mind blown!

So, I looked him up on IMDB. This guy has an admirable career. He’s voiced Bill and Buck on “King of the Hill”, was Chode in “Tripping the Rift”, and Killer Croc and Penguin on “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”. And that’s just his VO work.

He was also in “O Brother, Where Art Thou” as the Radio Station Man. Plus many many more roles…

Amazing work, and worth a look. If you don’t know Stephen Root, take a look at his IMDB page here:
IMDB: Stephen Root

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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Pebble and Palm

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Pebble and Palm

What happens when companies disappear?
Pebble and Palm
On Dec 7, Pebble (trailblazer in smartwatches) made the announcement that they were closing shop and had been bought out by Fitbit (maker of fitness bands).

It seems they were leaving their loyal KickStarter supporters and customers out in the cold. No more Pebble watches would be sold, and all support and warranties were null and void.

Quite a slap in the face.

Don’t get me wrong – I own a Pebble Time and a Fitbit Charge. Wearing one on each wrist has always been kind of a pain. I was secretly hoping that the technologies would merge, but really didn’t expect it to happen like this. At this point it’s completely up in the air as to what Fitbit will do with the intellectual property they’ve purchased.

Although I hope for the best, it’s also good to learn from experience.

Palm was another company that I had been a loyal customer to since nearly their start. I owned their innovative PDA products, and even bought the phones when they seemed to be evolving. The last phone they made was truly an elegant thing of beauty. Small, stylish, functional.

Then Palm was bought out by HP. HP proceeded to fumble the ball for a few months before scrapping everything that was Palm. Hardware, Software – Everything. Another disappointing end to a very promising start-up.

I’m not really sure what the lesson is here, if any. But it is interesting to note that innovation by itself is not always rewarded with success. For that matter, hard work isn’t any guarantee either.

Perhaps the key is in The Round Table Club‘s motto: “Adapt, Adopt, Improve

 

All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com

 

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