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Thursday, March 31, 2005


"Flying High!"

Wow, what an excellent way to start my Thursday!

12:00 pm:
I awoke to a call from the individual I was hoping to meet today. He invited me to help him with a notable fundraiser on Sunday, and a chance to make a little extra income in the process. During this event, he and I would also be able to discuss the "really cool project" he's interested in hiring me for. How great is that!!

12:20 pm:
I head downstairs to check the snail-mail. The lone envelope is a notable paycheck I had been expecting. And it was larger than I had hoped. Later today, I'll brave the windy weather, walk down to the bank to deposit it, and then do a little shopping at the grocery store. Maybe I'll even splurge and buy my favorite jelly-filled donut from the bakery... I haven't had one of those in a long time!

12:25 pm:
I check my email and find that I have secured an interview with one of the companies I had contacted earlier in the week. They'd like to meet on Monday morning and discuss a graphics artist/copywriter position! Whoohooo!

Yeah, so, I think this qualifies as a great start to a potentially gloomy day, don't you? Once again God proves that He's the master at working for the good in the most unexpected of ways -- and at the most unexpected of times. Man, I so love that about Him!

[raises the glass of ice water sitting on the desk in a toast]

Here's to the rest of today. May it be a blessed day for all! Until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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"Quote of the Day"

"Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also."
- General Ulysses S. Grant, August 1864

This quote stood out to me for some reason. Maybe because it's the truth?

This one's also for my brother Ben... But I'll leave my explanation about why for next time. For now, I'm heading back to bed. I might have that meeting -- rescheduled from last week -- later today, and this is one I'd really like to be awake for!

So, have a blessed Thursday all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


"Jon-Art Throw Pillows"

Alright. They're finally here. Now you can add stylish fun to any room in your house with one of the twelve new throw pillows found in my art catalog. Each measures a sprawling 18" X 18" so you can lounge in comfort. They are made of ultra-soft brushed twill with a sturdy canvas image area, and have removable zippered covers for easy laundering.

I've recieved a few inquiries about when these pillows might be available. Now they are. I'll actually be working on growing my art catalog over the next week or two, so feel free to check back often as there's sure to be something new.

For now, though, I think I'm heading off to bed. Mine eyes are starting to get heavy.
Have a blessed Wednesday all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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"Morning Sunrise"

You know, when I am up all night working, there is nothing lovelier to behold than a beautiful pastel sunrise. The stars are stunning, sure, the night serene, but the millions of colors in one of these early morning masterpieces puts even our best artists to shame! God is still the Master Painter, and let me tell you, every sunrise I've seen Him paint takes my breath away.

"The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection."
- Michelangelo

-Jon

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Monday, March 28, 2005


"Baasball Fantasy Baseball"

My annual fantasy baseball 12-team league still has three openings. We're down to the wire to fill these spots. If you're interested, feel free to take a look at the rules page and let me know. The draft is live this Friday at 7pm (CST).

-Jon

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Sunday, March 27, 2005


"Happy Easter!"

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Happy Easter. :)

-Jon

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Saturday, March 26, 2005


"Baseball Fever: Going, Going, Long Gone!"

Ok, I think it's about time I fully recognize that I do indeed have a third passion in life -- Baseball. Not just a mere love, no, another "keeps-me-alive" blood-pumping kind of passion. The kind of passion that cannot be removed. I think it's time I officially add it to my other two, acting and art.

Without a doubt, America's Pasttime needs to be placed among those things I hold dear in my own life (other than my deeply loved friends and family, and my spiritual faith of course). When it comes to baseball, I eagerly played it for a year in high school. I have a deep loyalty to the Milwaukee Brewers, my hometown team. I maintain a successful fantasy sports league now in it's fifth year. One of my favorite computer games is even that of a baseball simulation, not to mention the fact that I grew up playing only the best baseball board game ever created. I used to dream up games to put me to sleep when I was younger. I even played it nearly every summer day in the backyard with my brothers when I was growing up. And, baseball is the only professional sport I care about deeply, enough that it truely runs through my veins.

I think that qualifies as a recognized passion, don't you? :)

I took some time again this morning to watch "The Rookie" starring Dennis Quaid. Excellent baseball film. One of the best in fact. And I certainly won't lie to you when I say, it's one movie that definitely brings out the softer side in me. Seriously. And, once again it served as a reminder not only to pursue my own goals wholeheartedly, but to not be afraid of defying the odds in doing so. We all need reminders like that every once in a while. Even me.

So, while I officially declare my adoration of baseball, and add it to my list of deeply rooted personal passions, I remember too why I love it... An American invention nearly as old as this nation, it holds for me a strong connection to history, hundreds of stories of other past dreamers like myself, and many many powerful memories from my own youth. Put those three together, and I have an irreversable love that cannot be erased from my heart.

Now... If only I can remain patient for that one woman who can do the very same thing, then I'll be as close to heaven as I can get (before actually getting there)! Life is good when you dream big!

Have a blessed Saturday all, and until next time,

Your deeply passionate blogging friend,
-Jon

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Friday, March 25, 2005


"Good Friday Quote of the Day"

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
- John 3:16 (The Bible)

-Jon

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"Delivery"

Anyone interested in a short film? I haven't actually posted one of those in a while. This one titled simply, "Delivery", by Till Nowak, is an absolutely stunning animated short I came across this morning. The concept is a brillant one. I think you'll enjoy it. :)

-Jon

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Thursday, March 24, 2005


"Meeting Rescheduled"

Alas, the individual I was going to meet today is sick, so my "really, really REALLY cool meeting" will have to wait until next week -- or so I have been told. Oh, well. At least God seems to have blessed me with an overabundance of patience in life. I can wait. :)

Have a blessed Maundy Thursday, and, on the morrow, a solumn Good Friday.

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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"Quote of the Day"

My blogging friend Nicole often borrows quotes from me, so today, I'm going to switch the tables a bit and borrow one from her. That said, here's today's quote of the day. Thanks Nicole!

"If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door."
- Milton Berle

-Jon

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Wednesday, March 23, 2005


"Wednesday Revisited"

Today was a good day.

I enjoyed one of the benefits of self-employment -- independant work hours! In fact, I awoke at 3AM this morning, worked for four and a half hours, and then went back to bed for five more hours before truely starting my day. Quite refreshing. There's nothing like being your own boss, and setting your own hours! I'm really going to miss that if I get hired by any larger art companies.

In the early afternoon, I went out and got my hair cut. It was about time too. It's a bit shorter now. Much more to my liking. I was even thrilled to enjoy conversation with the attractive young stylist who cut my hair. And how ironic is this,... she actually went to college in the UW system for art, and acquired some knowledge about the acting business before deciding that her true calling was at Beauty School! Very cool! Having a cute young stylist cut your hair and chat intelligently about subjects you know, priceless!

Then, having drained the last of my wallet ($15) with the haircut, bus fare, and a tasty cheeseburger, I returned home to discover that the mail had deposited some much anticipated money for me to cash tommorrow. Even better! Not a lot mind you, but enough to refill the wallet... At least until I have to give much of it away to the Electric Company. :P

In the evening, I took some time to veg. I sat down, enjoyed a little television, and had a simple dinner. Very relaxing. I even got to say hello to my favorite cute photographer friend when she stopped by after work! I'm still not sure how best to tell her, but something about her always brightens my day. And, if you ask me, I don't think I'm going to complain either. :P

But, alas, time flies. It's the present now, and that equals late evening. I'm taking a little break from some more work, and then, I'll cap off the night with some more research and then bed. Tomarrow, I have a really, really, REALLY cool meeting to attend!

But I leave tomorrow's news to tomorrow. Gotta have something to write about. :P

Have a blessed Thursday, and until then,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005


"Tuesday Morning"

Morning. 8:30 AM. Such a beautiful morning!... Too bad I'm headed to bed. :)

-Jon

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"Google Translated"

How's this for interesting?... Google has been translated into Klingon. Yep. And, if that's not interesting enough, how about Pig Latin or Elmer Fudd! :)

-Jon

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Monday, March 21, 2005


"First Day of Spring"

Guess what!? According to the calendar, today is the first full day of Spring! Yes, this means the strange Wisconsin winter is now officially behind us, and the buds of a fresh new season have crossed the threshhold. And, WOW, let me tell you, what a beautiful day it was too! Sun, warmth, birds chirping, people enjoying the outdoors... Man, THIS is what I love best about the transition into summer! Not cold. Not hot. Just perfect.

-Jon

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Sunday, March 20, 2005


"Quote of the Day"

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."
- C. S. Lewis

-Jon

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"Stargate SG-1"

You know, I really miss cable television. My old roomate and I used to have it for free -- apparently thanks to the two medical students who lived in this apartment before us. And I guess when they moved out, the service was never shut off. So, for a year, Noah and I blissfully enjoyed the benefits of basic cable.

Well, I for one, really enjoyed some of the programming -- especially on the Sci-Fi channel! Man, I tell ya, I'm a real nut for good science fiction. One of my favorite series was actually the Richard Dean Anderson, Stargate SG-1. I had been introduced to it during my four years in college. I loved that series. In fact, I watched it almost religiously! It was a great series, creative, had an excellent cast, entertaining plots....

Then -- somewhere in the middle of the fifth season -- the cable connection in my current apartment was inadvertantly removed or upgraded, and no more Sci-Fi. Yep, twas was a sad sad day in Jon Land. No more Stargate. As a result, I've been in withdrawal for the past two years. And there's nothing more painful to a creatively-minded individual than to be deprived of great television.

Tonight, however, I realized something astonishing. Syndicated episodes of Stargate are still shown at 11:30pm Saturday nights on FOX! Yeah, I know, I couldn't contain my joy either! I can still get my "fix"! Guess were I'll be late every Saturday?!

Ah, yes, the simple joys of life. Finding something special that had been lost. What can be better? I tell you, life is good when it revolves around the simple things! Life is good.

Have a blessed Sunday all! I know I will. :)

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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Saturday, March 19, 2005


"Interesting Videos"

Got some free time on your hands? Perhaps these videos will help. :)

-Jon

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Friday, March 18, 2005


"Thursday Recap"

Well, that was an interesting day. I got a number of things done -- but not quite as many as I had hoped. I ran some errands. Got some exercise. Listened to some Irish/Celtic music. Did some stuff. Did lots more stuff. Experimented with a number of somewhat unrelated ingredients to make an ok dinner, and nearly fell asleep watching two more episodes of "Hunter".

Now, a few hours later I'm awake again, and faced with the realization that some deadlines have been moved up, I'll probably have a rather dedicated weekend ahead of me, AND, on top of that, it snowed -- again! So in an hour or two I'll have to go outside and remove the fluffy white stuff from the sidewalks before my neighbors head off to work.... THEN I'll grab a little more sleep myself, wake up, and apply my nose to the grindstone again. Whew!

Man, I tell ya, work around here is never sparse. I certainly keep busy in some way or another. Now, the only challenge is to apply all of that to a steadier form of income, AND to get my freelance work 100% off the ground. Ah, yes, what would life be life without something to do?... No, wait, I'm not going to think about that; I hate boring concepts. :P

Alright. Enough procrastination. Back to the salt mines. :P

Have a blessed Friday all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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Thursday, March 17, 2005


"Happy St. Patrick's Day!"

Here are some fun facts about the day for you!

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland

It is said that St. Patrick was born in Scotland in about 387 AD. His name at birth was Maewyn Succat. He escaped six years later and fled to Gaul. After several years of monastic life, he returned to Ireland in 432 AD as a missionary to the people there. It is said that he drove all of the snakes out of the country. He used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; hence its strong association with his day and name. Patrick traveled widely baptizing, confirming, preaching and building churches, schools and monasteries. He succeeded in converting almost the entire population of Ireland. Pope Celestine gave him the name St. Patrick. His mission in Ireland lasted almost 30 years. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD in Saul, Downpatrick Ireland. That is why St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17. The tradition of St. Patrick's Day came to America in 1737.

The Shamrock

In the 5th century, the Ancient High Kings of Ireland were shown the mystery of the Holy Trinity by St. Patrick's use of the shamrock. The 3 leaves represent the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as one. Most see the shamrock as a symbol of luck today. It is worn world wide on St. Patrick's Day to show the Spirit of the Irish.

The Legend of the Leprechaun

Lobaircin is the Irish folklore name for leprechauns. They are described as small ugly men that stand about 2 feet tall. They are usually dressed like a shoemaker, with a leather apron and a cocked hat. They are said to be aloof and unfriendly. They live alone and pass the time of day making shoes. It is believed that leprechauns possess a hidden pot of gold. Treasure hunters track down a leprechaun by the sound of his shoemaker's hammer. If a leprechaun is caught, he can be forced to reveal the whereabouts of his treasure, but the captor must keep his eyes on him every second. If he doesn't, the leprechaun vanishes.

The Blarney Stone

The Blarney Stone is a stone set in the wall of the Blarney Castle tower in the Irish village of Blarney. Kissing the stone is supposed to bring the kisser the gift of gab (blarney). Which is the privilege of telling lies for seven years. One legend says that an old woman cast a spell upon the stone to reward a king who had saved her from drowning. Kissing the stone while under the spell gave the king the ability to speak sweetly and convincingly. Kissing the Blarney stone is not an easy feat. You must bend over backward and lower yourself down about two feet at the top of the castle, while holding onto the railing.

-Jon

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"Thursday's Prayer"

"Lord, grant me courage to remain on task, strength to do my best, and faith to trust you are with me all the way.... For you are my guide, and today I have a race to run."

-Jon

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005


"Quote of the Day"

"Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man."
- Victor Hugo

-Jon

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005


"A New Favicon"

This blog/site now has a nifty little favicon.ico image.

A favicon is the 16x16 pixel image that you see in your browser's address bar, and it also appears in your favorites list. If you're not seeing the new image, just refresh the page.

And, if you're interested, below are two resources to help you create your own:

Tutorials by Jennifer: Favicon

MpP Favicon Gallery

-Jon

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Monday, March 14, 2005


"Star Wars: Pink Five"

Have you ever wonder how the Rebel Alliance would have fared if a Valley Girl was at the controls of an X-wing fighter during the daring raid on the Death Star? Enter, Pink Five, a fan-made Star Wars film. Now you can answer these troubling questions and see a side of the Star Wars saga George Lucas didn't show us!

Then, take a look at the continuing saga of Stacey, in Pink Five Strikes Back as she treks to Dagobah, where Master Yoda trains her to be a Jedi. Well, sorta.

And, for those interested in the final chapter from this "totally awesome" Star Wars saga....
Coming Soon.... The Return of Pink Five!

I actually happened upon this series of fan films recently while investigating the genre, and I will have to say, this is remarkably well done. If you're familiar with George Lucas' Star Wars, then you'll find these quite entertaining. Enjoy!

-Jon

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"Fantasy Baseball Anyone?"

My annual fantasy baseball league is currently looking for four final players to fill its league of twelve. If you're interested, feel free to take a look at the rules page and let me know. First-come-first-serve. The draft is live on Friday, April 1 at 7PM.

-Jon

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Sunday, March 13, 2005


"Sunday's Quote of the Day"

Church today was very interesting. It had a Celtic Christian worship theme (referencing St. Patrick's Day this Thursday), with the sermon titled, "God Sees People Movements as People Opportunities". In other words, mirroring the history of the Celtic peoples and their forced relocation at the hands of the Ancient Roman Empire, the Message was a reminder that throughout our own lives and wherever we may go in them, God is always facilitating the spread of His Word among those who are desperate for it.

It was a unique and particularly poignent worship service, and one presented through the use of contemporary and traditional Celtic music. And let me tell you, St. Marcus has some wonderfully talented musicians! So, that said, as follows is the beautiful refrain from one of the songs shared during worship. It's written by Celtic singer, Maire Brennan, and comes from one of her songs titled, "The Big Rock". It will serve as my 'Quote of the Day'.

CRIOSTA O CUMDAIGH ME -- (Christ cover me)
CRIOSTA O COIMHEAD ME -- (Christ guard me)
CRIOSTA O COINNIGH ME -- (Christ keep me)
CRIOSTA AN RI -- (Christ the king)

CRIOSTA O TARRTAIL ME -- (Christ deliver me)
CRIOSTA O TREORAI ME -- (Christ guide me)
CRIOSTA O TEAGASC ME -- (Christ teach me)
CRIOSTA AN RI -- (Christ the king)

-Jon

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Saturday, March 12, 2005


"Refit Complete"

Alright. We're back online. The computer's running at peak efficiency again, and I'm ready to resume my blogging. The refit wasn't quite as painless as I had imagined it being, but it was a bit time-consuming. Now I get to reinstall all the programs I backed up these past two days. Oh joy. :)

-Jon

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Thursday, March 10, 2005


"Computer Refit"

My appologies to all of you in advance. My computer has been causing me grief lately, and as of yesterday, decided it didn't like the internet. So, that leaves me with a fussy machine, and limited web access, which, I must say, is very frustrating since I maintain a lot of matters online....

But, the good news is, I guess this is just a forced opportunity to put my PC through refit, back up all my files, and reformat her. Hopefully this will also take care of these pesky spyware frustrations I've been battling. Then again, I suppose she does need it anyway. It has been a while since my last reformat.... My time isn't completely wasted.

But, that said, my blogging may be a bit sparse for the rest of the week. I'll be back, though, as soon as my computer has been nursed back to health. She's a resilient machine... just a little under the weather at the moment. :)

Have a blessed end of the week all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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"It's Winter Again"

Yay. More snow. I guess I'll be shoveling this evening. :)

-Jon

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Monday, March 07, 2005


"A Little Lesson in Courage"

Today I took a little time in the early afteroon to watch something both entertaining and insightful....

My sister, Rachel, still has a number of boxes of things in our apartment -- despite having had her own apartment for some time now. Yesterday, my roomate, Scott, and I finally moved the remainder of those boxes down into the basement storage area, in favor of freeing up some more closet space for some of our things. One of those smaller boxes was full of video tapes of a variety of television shows taped off the television. Shows like some of the early episodes of "Smallville", some Star Trek episodes, and so forth. One tape, however, held a copy of one of the episodes from "Inside the Actor's Studio". This one was the 2001 episode interviewing Robin Williams.

Now, I'll be honest, having watched him and enjoyed his interview, I really do have to respect him quite highly. He has the immense talent for voice acting (a skill I am yet working on myself), and knows how to entertain an audience. He's honest, straightforward, and apparently theatrically fearless. While I don't always appreciate some of his crude humor, it is still very engaging to get such an inside look into his perspectives on life and acting, his fears and motivations, and his unique thought processes. He's open, spontaneous, and creative. I could learn a lot from him.

There's a new motto I've been trying to follow lately.... A new perspective on my own motivations, successes, and overcoming those things that I personally fear in life: "Courage is doing the opposite of that which you fear."

If Robin Williams can find a way to do that, than honestly, what's stopping me?

-Jon

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Sunday, March 06, 2005


"Becoming A Starlet"

Starlet. Definition:
"n : a young (film) actress who is publicized as a future star"

The WB television network has a new "reality" show:

"Set in the glitter of Tinsel Town, The Starlet, has one purpose - to discover the next young actress with the potential to become a major star. Watch as 10 beautiful aspiring actresses live in the same house and compete against each other for the chance to become 2005's next big thing. In order to be named the quintessential Hollywood "It" girl, one of the contestants must prove she's got more talent, more star quality and more attitude than all the rest by surviving an intense Hollywood boot camp, complete with harrowing acting classes, agonizing live performances and brutally honest critiques by a panel of renowned show business insiders. The prize is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: a career-launching role on The WB's hit drama One Tree Hill, a one-year management contract with 3 Arts Entertainment and an overall talent deal with The WB."

I decided to take the time and watch the premiere for "the Starlet" earlier this evening. I rarely appreciate most of the junk television networks call "reality tv" these days. Honestly, most of it is far less reality than it is beefed up suedo-drama for the sole sake of achieving high television ratings. Other than "American Idol", I generally give the whole genre a wide berth, or just ignor it completely. It has no value.

But I did watch "the Starlet" this evening out of curiousity. As an actor, the idea of a show featuring a talent search within the realm of professional acting intruiged me at first. How would they achieve this in terms of a weekly television show? Would it feature an accurate theatrical/film audition process, would we get to see a sample of the hard work an actor goes through to prepare, stay fit, and to remain prepared for the challenges he/she faces? And how do you make the life and work of a struggling performer engaging to the point of a hit reality series?

I watched the show will all these questions in mind, and by the time the credits rolled, I was feeling a bit offended. That was the farthest from accurate, nor even close to reality as I have ever seen. I'm a "struggling actor". I know the process, and that was nothing but glamour. Being a working actor, is NOT glamourous. Exciting perhaps, but certainly not glamourous. The premiere for "The Starlet" was reeking with faux glamour, melodrama, and pure ratings ploys. I was unimpressed.

For those who disagree with me, let me politely break this reasoning down a bit....

By the dictionary definition, a starlet is, "a young (film) actress who is publicized as a future star." Note the word "publicize" in that definition? An actor should not be definited by the publicizing someone else does of their work. A true actor (or a "future star" for that matter) is defined by talent, hard work, personal experience, and the carving out of their own reputation by the steps they choose to take along the way towards success. A two month "starlet" competition cannot hope to achieve this.

Second, the show did not accurately represent a cross-section of working actresses. It came across as more of a beauty pageant than anything else. Where did those contestants even come from? All ten of those young women were overly attractive, dolled up in make-up everytime we saw them, strutting in high heals and flashy clothing, and sporting perfectly styled hair. No actress in their right mind is going to dress up like that for an audition. You wear something comfortable that you can move around in. You should look like yourself when you see a casting agent... not like a fashion model straight off the runway. That bugged me.

Third, yes, it's great to take acting classes. I recommend them -- highly. Good classes teach you how to become a better actor. But televising little snippets of someone else's acting classes and calling it a good educational experience for both contestant and audience is almost laughable. You can't learn how to be a successful actor overnight. It takes long hours of practice, experience, constant learning, and much self-motivation.

And finally, the judges. Now here's a real problem, for me, personally. "Brutally honest critiques by a panel of renowned show business insiders." What is that? Although I respect Faye Dunaway as an individual, how is she a "legend"? Becasue she won one Academy Award back in 1977 for a movie few people even recognize? Or for a slew of nominations and lesser awards of little importance?

If you truely want to find the core actor in someone, and you absolutely must present that journey through a television "reality" series, then, for pete's sake, get a panel of well-respected highly talented professional actors to do it -- actors whose resumes blow the socks off most of their peers. Actors whose knowledge of the business truely would benefit "aspiring actors".... Actors like William H. Macy, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Lee, even Michelle Pfipher.... Not Faye Dunaway or Vivica A. Fox. Both of them may be wonderful people, but I certainly wouldn't consider them a "panel of renowned show business insiders."

Yes, "The Starlet" offended me. I didn't feel as if it truly depicted my chosen profession, nor the gritty hard work us actors actually have to go through to find success. The show was flashy, egotistical, and not at all reality. There were some "real" elements mentioned sure. It wasn't all hype, but honestly, as far as I see it, this show is like all the rest of today's reality tv. Before long, it too will -- and should be -- relegated to the recycling bin.

If you're a real actor, work to make it out there on your own. Don't fall for the hype and glitter of "Tinsel Town". What you see on television and in the movies is a far cry from the truth of the journey behind the scenes. Work hard, keep learning, and never give up. If you learn to seek success in the biz that way, it will be far sweeter and far far more satisfying!

Until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon

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"Jon Baas: Freelance Artist"

List night I finally finished one of my largest personal projects as of late -- a complete update of the my freelance artist services on this website. I now have something current to share with my clients as well to use in promoting my creative services to those who may be in need of them.

Feel free to take a look sometime, and, if you happen to be someone who needs artwork completed for a project you may be undertaking, please feel free to consider me. I would be more than happy to work with you in creating something to fill that creative undertaking.

Have a blessed day all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging artist friend,
-Jon

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"Sunday's Parable"

Today I did not go to church. I was up very late last night finishing an important project. So, I decided to just stay up until 8:30am this morning and watch the Time of Grace sermon on TV instead. Pastor Mark Jeske -- of Time of Grace -- also happens to be the pastor at my home church. So, if I am unable to get to church on a Sunday, I still get the chance to hear the Message.

So, that said, I thought I would share the Lesson for the day with you. It's taken from one of my favorite Biblical parables, Luke chapter 15:11-32. For those of your familiar, it's The Parable of the Lost Son.

As follows is part of the transcript of Pastor Jeske's sermon:

I think you know the story, don’t you? Let me just remind you of one or two of the details... A dad had two sons. He had an estate. The boys were working for him and the bad one -- the naughty son -- pesters his father for his inheritance early, which is a jaw-dropping thought.... Wanting the inheritance early is a MIND BOGGLING concept to me. I can’t imagine the CHEEK of a boy who wants -- or can’t wait for -- the old man to croak. He wants to cash in NOW. And the astonishing thing is, against all odds, the dad says yes. I wouldn’t. He did.

So, let me just quickly sketch out the story, and then I want you to taste the story with me. So he loads up his pockets with gold and goes out and has a hell of a time. I do mean it in that sense of the word. He was a bad boy. He was a BAD bad boy. And he spent his money on ALL the bad things that I don’t want my sons or any of you to spend your money on. And he had a hundred and a thousand friends while his money held out, but then he burned through it and he was stupid. He made bad investments....

People of good will - honest, decent people - make bad investments. This was not making bad investments. He was acting like a pig. And he ended up FEEDING pigs, and he wished that he could eat as well as the pigs because there was a famine. And while he was waiting for his next paycheck, stone BUSTED broke, he wished somebody would share some of the pig slop with him. That’s low, isn’t it? But, being low like that finally beat some sense into him.

Remember I said a couple of weeks ago, there’s only two ways to learn? You either learn by talk or by - remember? Pain. Those are the ONLY two schools you can go to. He flunked out of talk school, so then he went to the school of experience, and NOTHING educates people like pain. He got the message and he thought, "I’m an idiot."

Let me just read those words for you...

"When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare - I’m lower even than the servants who used to work for me. I’m starving to death. I will go back to my father and I’ll say, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Just hire me. Can you just give me a job? I won’t even claim my sonship back - just please can I have a job?’"

"And so his father had compassion on him, saw him at a distance, ran up to him, gave the orders, ‘Let’s have a party; get him a ring; I want some decent clothes on him; get him a bath.’" Probably didn’t get him a shave - probably kept his beard. "’Get him a bath and get him some sandals. The poor guy’s barefoot. He doesn’t have shoes any more. He’s walking barefoot. And you know that calf we were saving? The tender one - the veal? You know, the good one we were saving for the special occasion? The special occasion is now. Kill it.’"

And then the older brother - the GOOD boy - got into a fit over that. "Huh?" "Huh", is what he said. That’s the Hebrew word -- "huh" is the Hebrew word for "huh"!... Do you know how that works? It’s like this. I learned this word in Hebrew class at the Seminary. This is the body language ...[Jeske slumps shoulders as if pouting]... "Huh. Mr. Big Shot comes back to town; comes crying to daddy, and now he gets a party and those good clothes, and I sit here and work my BUTT OFF, and he gets the party. Huh." His lower lip curled out and his nose went up in the air, and he says, "I’m not going in there." There were thunderclouds over his head. His lower lip was out about an inch.

And then comes the punch line. "’My son’, the father said, ‘you are always with me, and EVERYTHING I have is yours. But we HAD to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’"

Now, let’s talk about this. It’s funny. As I’ve gone through my life, I’ve been all three of these people. I’m in stage three right now. In my younger years, I was a bad boy too. Yeah; yeah I was. And I’ve done plenty of things I’m ashamed of now. I hope to God you never find out....

Well, what are you looking at me like that for?.... [Those impulses for all the bad things] they’re alive and well in you, too. Because your appetite for sex and money have often fuddled your brain. Your zeal urge is for self-indulgence, to do it my way, to blow God off and ignore him. That is alive and well and throbbing in your brain, too. And don’t ever get airs, or get uppity, just because you have nice clothes on and are sitting in church. You’ve been bad boys, and you’ve been bad girls. So you know that feeling. You ALL have squandered resources that God has given to you. You ALL have done that. You’ve ALL ignored your treasures -- what is really important. You have ALL mismanaged your stuff. You have and you know it.

You have NOT been good investors of your time. And you have all been selfish and greedy with your money, fooling yourself by thinking it’s yours, and it isn’t. And you’ve all burned through stuff. And sooner or later, either God has already (or WILL when necessary) put his lumber to the side of your head, and you, like that bad boy, will say, "What a fool I have been. I must go back. My only hope is to go back home; come back to my father."

Jesus was sending a powerful message, that the people that he came to save are not the arrogant people who think they’re fine in and of themselves. Jesus CAME for the bad girls and the bad boys. And he eats with them and has time for them. He wants them to understand why their life is so hard. And he wants them to repent of their sins. In sorrow and honesty, to say "I have sinned." In other points in my life, I’ve been the good boy. I’ve been the church boy. I’ve been the boy who stayed home and worked while the others were out fooling around. And so I have also come to identify with that part of the story.

My lower lip has already curled out. I’ve scorned other people for being weak, where I thought I was so strong. I’VE scorned other people for being polluted, while I thought I was clean. I looked at other people as unworthy, and thought, "I am worthy." I have unfortunately let the satisfaction of a job well done occasionally morph into pride, which morphs into arrogance, which, of course, is a faith killer. And so I also need to be straightened out by Jesus’ words.

What’s at stake here is a human being’s life. And being a Christian is not about gathering together in achievement clubs, like country clubs, where it costs an arm and a leg to get in, and only the elite get in. Christianity and the Christian church are not clubs for the elite achievers. It’s a hospital for people who are broken and sick. And if you’re doing better - if the Great Physician’s work has been working on you, do not look down at people who are still bleeding or are still broken. But instead, use your love, use your skill, your persuasion, your acceptance, and your openness -- your arms open wide -- to help people find Jesus before it’s too late.

Personally, I find Pastor Jeske to be a very good speaker. He knows how to present the Message (aka, God's Word) in a way I can understand and relate to. He's direct, descriptive, and honest. Sometimes, we as Christians just need to hear God's Word presented in a way that's plain and straight to the point. And I'm thankful the pastor of my home church has been blessed with that ability. Because, quite frankly, sometimes I really do need that "lumber to the side of my head" remainding me what a fool I've been. It's that much-needed remainder that I can't slack off, and that I have to step up my diligence in my walk with my Heavenly Father.

I pray that you too -- should you share my religious belief -- remain diligent in your own walk with God. May He remind you daily that you too are in need of his councel. May he continue to guide your path as well.

"What a Wonderful Father!"

God's blessings on a warm and beautiful Sunday!

Your happily blogging friend,
-Jon

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Friday, March 04, 2005


"Quote of the Day"

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
- Philippians 4:13

-Jon

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Thursday, March 03, 2005


"Hunter"

Last week Scott and I finished watching the first season of "MacGyver" on DVD. Our latest series?.... "Hunter", season one. It's an action-drama police series that aired from 1984-1991, and features some excellent character chemistry as well as a priceless level of sarcastic humor, dialogue, and wit. Great series. Very entertaining!

I guess I was just too young back in the 80's to get as much out of these series as I am now -- twenty years later. But I'll tell ya, there was some pretty good television back then. :)

-Jon

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"Scamming the Scammer"

Earlier last month I had an interesting online conversation. On occassion, I like to hop into Yahoo Messenager and just see who I meet. Afterall, the world is a vast place full of people from many different cultures and ideas. Being cultured is a good thing. Usually I pick my conversations wisely, and I seek out the more intellectual or intelligent conversationalists. However, sometimes a very amusing one gets through -- one that is neither intellectual NOR intelligent.

So, out of the blue one day, I recieved a message from a fellow in Africa -- someone I did not know. He messaged me, so I figured I'd give him the benefit of the doubt, and return his greeting. After only a few exchanges, however, I determined two things... first, this guy was a scammer trying to take advantage of me, and second, this was a perfect opportunity for me to pull a fast one on him -- and have a little fun at his expense.

So, what follows is the sarcastic conversation that ensued. You tell me who the cultured one was!

*********************

SCAMMER: hi.
ME: Umm. Hi.
S: [name],45,M, from Nigeria.
M: Jon. Male. 24. USA.
S: I work for the govt. of nigeria as a director in the petroleum ministry. what do you do?
M: I'm an actor and an artist.
S: Thats nice. I will be coming to the usa in febuary for investment. can you assist me 'cos i dont know anyone in the usa.
M: And how do you want me to assist you?
S: What about transfering my funds to the usa prior to my arrival 'cos i caanot cary cash.
M: I see. And you want to transfer them to me, right?
S: So can you assist me in the transfer by providing me with an account? If I get to the usa, I can then do the investment with you by my side.
M: Really? Great!.... But why did you choose me?
S: Americans are very trust-worthy, besides my colleagues have done it in the past without any disappointment.
M: Of course. But how do you know I am trustworthy? Have we met?
S: I know that America is such an organised society that you can never disappear with my money,ok.
M: I see. I am still curious though, why have you chosen me specifically. You could have picked anyone. That, and I tend to prefer to conduct business with people I trust. Not that I'm saying you're untrustworthy. I'm sure you're a very upstanding Nigerian. I'm just curious. Americans are usually very curious.
S: Yes, you are doing the right thing, but sometimes you try out new avenues in life.
M: Of course. I love trying new things.... Ok, so when do you plan to come to the US? I'd want to have your funds ready when you arrive.
S: I should be in the usa mid-Febuary,ok.
M: Mid-February works.
S: So ahve you agreed to recieve my funds on my behalf?
M: Sure, why not. If you're coming in February, where am I supposed to meet you?
S: what about meetting you in your state?
M: Do you know what state that is, and where it is located?
S: No. You had better tell me right away,ok.
M: Well, have you ever heard of Wisconsin. It might be a little out of the way. Kind of in the middle of nowhere. Not many people know how to get here.
S: So where do you advice me to? I will depend on ur advice,ok.
M: Oh, I see. Well, investment opportunities are actually the greatest in New York, as that is generally one of the USA's largest banking cities. Lots and lots of money in New York. However, New York is a long way from Wisconsin.
S: So which bank are we using and where is it located?
M: Well, it would be located in Wisconsin (obviously) and it's called [insert fake bank name]. It's a tiny bank. But it has excellent security. Your money would be quite safe there.
S: When are you sending the details to me?
M: What details do you need in specific?
S: Your name in full, bank name, acount number, bank address.
M: Well, how do I know someone else isn't monitoring this conversation? I'd want this to be a very secure connection. This is the internet afterall. People monitor conversations all the time.
S: Ok, would you ring me to give me the details?
M: Well, unfortuantely my telephone is in the shop for repairs. Transmission problems. I don't have a phone until next week.
S: + xxx xxx xxx xxxx. whats ur number?
M: Like I said, I don't have a telephone until next week. It annoys me, but what can I do?
S: Cant you call from a pay-phone?
M: Well, I would.... but since almost everyone in the USA has cell phones now, the government has removed all the payphones. They don't make enough money anymore. There was a payphone on the corner, but the phone company tore it up and took it away yesterday.
S: There must be a way out, I will expect ur call or do you want to send it to my mail box?
M: Yeah, I know. But how do I call you if I don't have a phone (it's in the shop for repair, remember). I don't know how well my email will work, but I can try.
S: That will be ok. Bye.
M: Wait!
S: What is the problem?
M: I want to do this, but I don't know how.
S: I though I made myself very clear.
M: You did. But how do I get hold of you?
S: I just gave you my Tel number.
M: I know, but what's your email address. I need that if you want me to send you any info.
S: [insert Scammer's email address]
M: I'll try sending an email. Hold on a second.... [pretend to send email].
S: ok,what time is it in Wisconsin?
M: 10:30pm. It's late in the evening. Obviously the bank here would be closed. But you can always try sending the funds in the morning. Someone is usually there early to count all the dollar bills.
S: It is 5:30Am(Mon), if you send the details, I assure you that the fund will be transfered by Tuesday,ok.
M: Ok, I sent the email. Let me know when you get it. If not, I can try again.
S: ok.
[pause]
M: Did you get it yet? I sent it priority email. That means it should have gotten right away. I even used the correct postage.
S: I got no mail. You have to re-try,ok.
M: Ok. Unfortuantely, the same phone company also provides my email. If it’s broken, I’ll be very mad at them. First they take my phone, then they slow down my internet…. Ok, I resent it.
[pause]
S: Where you dont come up fast, I will meet my colleagues and they will tell me whom to use. Time is not my friend.
M: I am sorry. How else can I send you the info? I really would like to help you invest, and I think you’d be the perfect person to show me how. You seem to know a lot more than I do. You picked the right guy. I assure you.
S: ok.
M: Do you want to transfer the funds as soon as possible, or can you wait until next week when my phone is repaired?… Or can I send the info by messenger pigeon?
S: It has to be there before I start coming, so when next wk?
M: Well, my phone company told me that I could come pick up my phone on Monday. So, Monday. Would that work? Monday would still be before Mid-February. And it only takes a few hours to fly from Nigeria to Wisconsin.
S: ok, just call me as soon as u r ready,ok.
M: Will I reach you directly, or do you have a secretary?
S: this is my mobile number.
M: Oh, well, that's perfect then! Do you usually answer right away, or do you have an answering machine?
S: I answer right awy.
M: Oh, good. I hate answering machines.
S: ok.
M: Wait a second, is your phone number an overseas number? Overseas phone numbers cost a fortune from Wisconsin. Some stupid government thing. We have a wierd government over here. If it costs, will you be able to pick up the charge.... as a courtesy?
[silence]
M: Are you still there?
[pause]
M: Hello?
[pause]
M: Hmm. I guess that’s a no then.

*********************

Something tells me this guy was new to the scamming business. Either that, or he's as gullible as the unsuspecting Americans he hopes to con. I shudder to think all Nigerian scam artists are actually this stupid! A scammer who doesn't know he's the one being scammed isn't going to get too far. But, then again, all the better for us "trustworthy Americans", right? :)

-Jon

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005


"Quote of the Day"

"Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." - Lao Tzu

-Jon

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005


"It's a Fact!"

Very amusing. How about a page with thousands of true facts. Facts like:

- Mailmen in Russia now carry revolvers after a recent decision by the government.
- In 1991, the average bra size in the United States was 34B. Today it's 36C.
- There are 2,000,000 millionaires in the United States.
- We forget 80 percent of what we learn everyday.
- More people are killed annually by donkeys than die in air crashes.
- 61,000 people are airborne over the US at any given time.

Excellent factoids. I feel smarter already! :P

-Jon

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Jon Baas

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