Wide, Wide World

In this whole wide world, why is it necessary to redeem an artist who has betrayed the public trust? Rape or molest or assault a woman, there should be consequences. For all time. If that means revoking your right to contribute to this world artistically? Then so be it.

There are many talented people who produce art who do not produce hatred, fear or mistrust. If someone has violated another person, why should their work have any meaning?

The whole reason we produce art is to escape the brutality of the world. Anyone who offers truth, beauty or wisdom in the form of art and then molests the very people who consume their brand? They should be held accountable and exiled from the creative community. Meaning: go crawl in a hole, be quiet, make amends. And/or go to jail.

Can they be redeemed? Yes.
Will their work survive? It shouldn’t.

Because it was a lie.


Can you love the artist who rapes or offends after their sin? Yes. Can they be forgiven? With true, sincere remorse and understanding. But I don’t have to save their work or participate in the appreciation of their contribution. Let’s all just move forward without paying these selfish creatives to show us lies. Let’s support positive, moral artists who show us their true inner life and make the wide world a better place.


Louis CK was one of my favorite comedians. I even let my daughter watch some of his specials. Never again. I won’t support an artist who would take advantage of someone like my daughter. It’s heartbreaking, but so is life.

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Tell Me About Chris Churchill

I love interviewing people. I just wish I knew more awesome, famous people. 🙂 But I know at least one and he’s super awesome and almost famous. To me anyway. He’s brilliant, creative, fascinating, funny, talented, accomplished and so, so friendly. Embracing. Welcoming. Decent, kind, inspiring. He’s my friend, Chris Churchill.

He so kindly agreed to let me interview him. He has quite a few things out right now. Book, songs, documentary. Thanks for reading and checking out my friend, Chris. He’s the coolest. Thanks, Man! for letting me probe your brain.


Background about Chris:

I’m an artist of many types of art. Writing, visual art, music, comedy, film-making. But, of course, not many make a living doing these things. So, I give tours and have recently started teaching.
Where did you start performing?

Started performing in high school. School plays, etc. Also tried, here and there, to play in bands. Wrote a lot of stories and little plays. In retrospect, any shiny artistic object, pulled me away from the previous one. I saw a good friend in an improv show in 1992 or ’93. I thought, “That’s really funny. And I’ll bet I could do that.” So, I auditioned for Lighten Up Improvisation Company and got in. This is where I met your husband (Guy Maggio).

How did you get to Chicago? What led you there? Anything you miss about KC?

I miss everything about KC. Home is always home. When I come home, the wind is the right kind of wind. The birds and insects are the right kind. The sky is the right sky. The Chiefs. The Royals. And all the people of course. My whole family is
still there.

I got to Chicago because I met Adam McKay and David Koechner at an improv fest in Austin, TX (I was performing with your husband and others). They were teaching an improv workshop which I took twice when I was there. Once as a participant. The second time, I just sat in the back and watched. I had never had a conversation with a famous person before. And Koechner had this amazing, positive, “you can do it” energy. He told a group of us that if we were serious about this, we had to move to Chicago. Eventually, I did.

What’s the best thing about following your love of and talent in music? Improv?

The best thing is that you can go to a place on your heart that needs massaging, when it needs massaging and massage it. Flood yourself with serotonin when you need it. The finished product has never really gotten me too far. The process makes me happy, though.

What inspired you to come up with “Abraham Lincoln: The College Years”? What is just improv or something you thought about?
When I was recovering from a psych issue I’d had a few years ago, I finally got to the point where I could artistically express myself again and it helped me get back to “normal”. At this point, I just made up the worst ideas for television pilot episodes and wrote 12 of them. For fun. Because I was crazy.
Later, I decided to have staged readings at Second City for four of them. Well, obviously, they’d need theme songs. So, I made up these silly theme songs and recorded them. Originally, I thought I’d just play them at the live show but, since I already had an audiobook on Mint 400 Records, I asked them if they’d put out my “Doomed Pilots” soundtrack. As far as the Lincoln song goes, I started with the lyrics, searched within the lyrics for the rhythm and recorded that. I added the simplest of bass-lines so that when I sang the lyrics I’d be on key. Or at least I’d know where the key was. Then, from within that framework, I improvised the recording or the rest. The guitars, the backing vocals were improvised because I don’t like planning too much when I’m in creation mode. I think it worked out. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever recorded.
How did the project “Tell Me About My Mother” start? (check out the video here)

My siblings and I constantly find ourselves telling these old family stories over and over again about how crazy our mom was/is. After I’d had an internship at a video company and had begun to make more of my own independent stuff, my sister Deb said, “This should be your next project.” And she was right. It turned out really well. It’s been getting a lot of emotional responses from people.

I’m sure it was difficult reliving the past, was it healing or just messy?

It was definitely healing. My mom needed validation for a lot of what she went through. It was nice to hear my dad’s side. Even though some might say he doesn’t come off smelling like a rose in this movie. And my siblings, as usual, served as comic relief when necessary. Some of these stories are pretty intense.

Do you think that your past/childhood set you up for how you live your life now in terms of music, improv, life goals, career choice, or creativity in general? Do you think it propelled you? Or do you think it was a detriment?

My childhood gave me both the artistic tools for survival as well as the need to use those tools to keep my sanity (most of the time). The problem and the solution are wrapped up in the same thing. My upbringing was alternately exciting and fun and sad and lonely. In terms of being able to make any money, it’s never really happened for long stretches. That is probably just a case of not having the right backing, connections, luck and also, let’s face it, I’m not making mainstream anything. I don’t know how to do that because I don’t feel the same way most people do.

What are you working on now or hope to be hearing about in the near future? What’s coming up for you?

Always working on something. Thinking about raising money so I can edit the rest of the story of me and my family and release the whole thing on DVD. Mixing an album for the label. Writing for an online magazine called Literate Ape. Teaching one college course and still giving tours of Chicago.

Thanks, Chris! You’re amazing. ❤

Llama-rama

Another llama! Llama sighting.

My dad drew this when he was young. My daughter took a pic of it before we left Missouri. His portfolio was starting to deteriorate from water damage and time. So we took pix of all of the artwork in there and this was among the ruins. So cool!

llama.jpg

This llama belongs on the side of a building with a Che Guevara beret! #banksy Love it! That’s his signature “James K.” He must have been young and still in school. So cute!

Dear Lillian (and any other frustrated artists),

Oh, my precious daughter.

I have passed down my intensity. Frustration. Perfectionism. And insatiable need for applause and pats on the back. I’m so sorry.

When I look into those deep, brown, watery eyes of yours and see your struggle and pain? It breaks my heart. But at the same time, it pricks my own frustration.

I have somehow failed you along the way. Not that I passed down some negative trait, but that I haven’t taught you how to cope with it. Mainly because at 44, I haven’t learned my damn self.


Lilli is 13. Barely out of middle school and a budding artist. Her skills aren’t where she wants them, but writing as an artist, are they ever?

Taste and talent never seem to match. Do they? Ugh.


The most valuable skill as an artist, I maintain, is the ability to adapt. (Art finds its own way. You can’t force it. Its going to be whatever it wants. It has a life of its own. You’re merely along for the ride.) This is learned, not innate. So I have, at least, failed to teach you how to adapt. The most important skill I could teach  you. Beyond Photoshop, or how to use watercolor pencils (haven’t a clue), or how to shade properly (if it doesn’t get done with a drop shadow in PS, I can’t help you with shading, sorry!).

But I can teach you (sorry, I keep forgetting to) how to adapt. How to approach art. How to find solutions, how to experiment, find your style.

Do anything that feels real or awesome. And if you’re not there yet? Modify your expectations. I do. Every day. And if you want to get better and I don’t know how, Google that shit. 🙂 I’m sure there’s a Youtube out there concerning exactly what you want to know.

Be true to yourself. Don’t seek attention. Don’t wait for applause. It may never come. Make art for yourself and screw the rest. It’s that simple.

Oh! And have fun. :*


And Me? Don’t get frustrated with yourself or your daughter. Have fun. Take a deep breath. You haven’t failed. You have an amazing 13 yo who is awesome at art and life. She has a big heart and is full of potential and knows Photoshop, sort of. You. Have not. Failed. You have chances to learn. Just like her.

Thanks, Me. You’re awesome.

Castles and Pie (mmmm)

Throwing castles and pie
Way up in the sky
And hoping

Throw that hat (Mary)
Everything but the cat (Berry)
And wait

Keep on hustlin’
Don’t stop jugglin’
And watch

Something’s gotta stick
Whip out your Bic
Keep writing!

Prayer-Practice-Patience-Painting-PTL!

I went with my friend and our two daughters to a suburban wine-and-paint night at Pinot’s Palette. I was a nervous wreck. Why? Because I skipped the wine part! That’s why. Bad idea. LOL

I am a former art student who failed at getting her graphic design degree from a two-year college. I am one credit away from completing my degree and I could never find a job in my field. I didn’t have time to go to a four-year university and continue my back-to-school-in-my-thirties-midlife-crisis. So, as with many other things, I gave up.

Health issues became a concern four years ago and pursuing very challenging coursework with no actual high-paying job at the end seemed less important than just getting healthy. I tried to find work on my own for freelance, but that was super difficult and competitive. I did a few things for friends, but the work dried up quickly. You have to do a lot of free stuff to get jobs. I volunteered for one year at a local magazine to try and gain experience. I got a few perks with my gig, but ultimately, it didn’t help land anything real.

Thank God for my husband. He’s supported me through this whole mess. Failed schooling, no job, no insurance, bankruptcy from medical and credit card debt, health trouble. He’s my hero. (BTW, we are working on our marriage and have made significant progress. Woot! Thanks for prayers and support.)

To my credit, I’ve had odd jobs here and there. I was even an acting coach at one point. A job that I absolutely loved. But I was not asked back in the fall. Too many teachers: not enough students, most likely. But who knows? Maybe I was a radical failure and they were too shy to tell me? Maybe parents complained. I have no idea. I just know, I wasn’t on the schedule last fall. Wish I would have known that before I made class plans. Thank you, Administration!

Anyway. My whole point is this. I love art. I have been involved in some art form from a very young age. Illustration was my first love. How did I learn? From tracing my brother’s sketches that he doodled and discarded. You can call it cheating. I call it, learning. What better way to promote muscle memory than to trace a drawing over and over and over until you learn the way the lines should go? I don’t call it cheating. Drawing’s hard!

Also, I started acting when I was 17. LOVED IT! Still doing it when I can. And you know what, I’m pretty darn good at it. Just ask me. But because I was overweight, I started writing for myself. No parts for fat ladies. Well, not enough parts to go around.

Through acting, I started writing. And through writing, I started blogging. Cool. I’m very artistic, crafty, love to create. So when I’m challenged with a painting class in Suburbia I freak out. Naturally.

No, not naturally. Because, I have never taken a painting class other than the class I took to learn color theory. My professor required acrylics and painting on some projects and I sucked at it. Like hard-core sucked wind on painting. But to be fair, painting with acrylics is like trying to forge a Picasso with crayons. To me, anyway. So, why would painting come naturally to me and why would I freak out over it?

I guess with nearly an art degree and stamping my foot about being an artist, I kinda think…that other people think–I should be automatically good at any art project. But I’m not. So, hence the freaking.

My daughter is the same way. She has a genius IQ and everything comes naturally to her. Most things. And when they don’t? She freaks out. Totally normal for a genius, BTW. Even if she’s never done it before, learned it before or even seen it before, she has anxiety about failing. Something I unintentionally birthed to her. BTW, I’m NOT a genius. 😉 Anxiety is the one thing I regret having given her. I did it subconsciously, over years. And I hate myself some days for having willed her my neurosis. Monkey see, monkey do.

But. We’re here. The best I can do is help her, and myself, through this hairy forest of feels. Here’s a great online resource we found to help us. PTSD and anxiety tools! Try it!!!  Better than anything I’ve ever heard about, read about or paid $70 an hour for a therapist to recommend. (We’ve both been to a therapist and they verified that I have PTSD and she has anxiety. Duh.)

But last night, we were both feeling anxious. We wanted so much to go, enjoy, relax, have fun, create and totally CRUSH our paintings. We’re super competitive. Not with each other, but with other people. We want to be the best at what we think we’re the best at. And things started out rough.

Lilli is only 13 and is still developing skills in everything. Hand-eye coordination. Thinking. Feeling. Talking. LOL Her frontal lobe is not done growing and neither is her body. She’s advanced, but not done. Obvs! So when her body or hand can’t catch up to her imagination, she gets frustrated. Although, she’s never lived inside a box. She’s always made her own way and blazed trails. That’s her genius showing. So, last night, she felt hemmed in by trying to imitate another’s painting. It wasn’t going like she wanted it to.

Thank God, it was break time. We all had to let our backgrounds dry. She was upset with her moon and how it turned out. Remember, trying to blend acrylics is HARD! This is not oil or watercolor. Dries super fast. She kept wanting to mess with it and I recommended letting it dry, so she could fix it. She got frustrated. Mucho. She was quiet for a moment and then I noticed.

She was slumped. Tired and defeated. On the verge of tears. The opposite of the intention for our gals night. I asked, “Is there anything I can do?”

Through soft, pale lips and big, watery eyes. “No. I’m praying. For patience.”

Oh! My heart jumped! My oh-so nervous heart jumped in a swell of pride and thankfulness. A heart-shaped fist pump of delight it was!

She’s praying! Thank God!

We’ve been trying to practice anxiety-reduction techniques and this was the most awesomest thing she could have done! And I should have been reminding her, but she remembered on her own! I forgot and she remembered! YAY, friggin’ YAY! I failed, but she figured it out!

And just minutes after our break, Lilli started dancing in her seat to the overhead music. Swiping heavy paint across the canvas and painting to the beat of her own drum. She didn’t follow the directions and she enjoyed every minute. (They said at the beginning, “Don’t have to follow. Do whatever you want! Make whatever you like.” And she did!)

Way to go, Lil! What an awesome demonstration of God’s power and glory. Answered prayer and rejoicing! Recovery and relaxation. Thank you, God! For my amazing child, all the things she teaches me and the bountiful gifts of your Holy Spirit! Thank you for moving last night in our tense, tiny tangle.

The picture looks like a stormy sea of feelings and expression, but God was on top of those waves and in our boat!