Forgotten Thailand, no more.


Any idea of what it’s like to be a Thai juvenile prisoner? Any idea of what it takes to become one?

Forgotten Thailand is an upcoming documentary that follows the story of one juvenile ex-prisoner named Ruun. As the film answers those questions, it also delves into even deeper issues–like how we view prisoners and “victimizers,” and how we can stop the cycle of crime.

Can you imagine being on a running track that you know is bad for you and will always lead you to either death or prison. Yet you can’t get off it. Anytime you try you get shoved right back on. It always takes you the same place, no matter what and you keep running this circle that you hate. That’s what it’s like for so many juvenile prisoners.

My “Uncle” Soonthorn is Chaplain of the prisons. He’s been family friends since before I was born. I was always so excited to see him–and couldn’t wait for him to cook his amazing Thai food for us! He’s an incredible man, with an untiring devotion to doing good and a great sense of humor while doing it. He’s seen so many complete transformations in the lives of the prisoners, and in turn he helps them get jobs, homes, and brings them back together with their family.

I’m so thrilled because there’s going to be a documentary made and Uncle Soonthorn and the prisoners and…well, I’ll let the director, Joseph Lang, tell you the rest:


The focus of this film is to ask the question of how we should treat those who have murdered, sold drugs, lead gangs in violence, thefted and so on.

It has been proven that prisoners who leave their chains usually have no where to return except the gangs and problems that got them in prison in the first place. The story that we are filming is just that story! It is the story of a boy who has been in and out of prison for years and he is put in a position of hopelessness and despair.

To even take it a step further let’s step into a Thai boys mind. Over 95% of Thai people are Buddhist and Buddhists believe in the cast system. In the cast system it is a constant fight to the top. Every man wishes that he could be higher so that he would eventually reach enlightenment. For a boy who is thrown into prison at a young age he is obviously seen as one of the lowest of lows and therefor an outcast. This is one of the reasons that Thai prisoners can not escape the prison cycle.


I have been working on this film in pr-production for about a year. Myself and Jordan Maglessen are headed to Bangkok Thailand from June 13-27, 2013. We are going to be filming for two weeks straight while there.

Our main character’s name is Ruun…he is a 20 year old boy who was once a prisoner in the Bangkok Juvenile Correctional Prisons. We will be capturing his story and filming with him around the city. I imagine that there will be many film shoots both in the day and late into the night.

Two years ago I was able to go to Bangkok for a summer internship in prison ministry. It wasn’t until then that my passion for this ministry really began. I remember one time, while visiting a juvenile prison, I stood next to a Thai officer and he leaned over to me and whispered in my ear…I will never forget the words that he said and I would have to say that they were a HUGE part in creating my desire to film this documentary…the officer whispered, “Do you see all of the boys Joseph… All of them will be let free from prison in four months..” he paused and then to my surprise finished by saying, “Then soon they will ALL be returning to prison. They won’t be coming back because of they are required to, but because they will return to their old way of living in the world and that will send them back here…it is a lifestyle that they are stuck in for the rest of their lives.” My heart was hurting for those boys. I remember looking out and seeing their faces, most of them only twelve years old and some of them as young as nine. This has been a moment that has shaped my passion for prison ministry. I have personally seen how God works through this ministry and how he can pull these boys and girls out of a viscous cycle. These people were not born to be bad or to hurt others…they have simply grown up with different surroundings than I have. Yes there are men and women who hear truth and still refuse to accept or obey it… but I believe that these people are still worth fighting for. Who are we to be judges?



Uncle Soonthorn praying with prisoners.

I have always loved film making. It is amazing to hear the power of a story. God has always worked through stories and it is my desire to share this powerful redemption story.

Ultimately I want the film to challenge to think of how they really view criminals and what our place as Christians is in dealing out justice. I also desire for men to become more aware of prison ministry…it is a ministry that is often neglected and I pray that this film will bring more support for it.


The name “Forgotten Thailand” is supposed to point to those who are so often forgotten. In Matthew 25 Jesus asks if people would remember him if he were in prison and I think we don’t take this seriously some times. It is my desire that through media and films we can bring to light what is “forgotten.”

Joseph Lang, Catching Motion Film.

To keep updated on Forgotten Thailand, ‘like’ their page on Facebook.
Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 8.48.16 PM

Ben Cooper on music, ghosts, & exploration

Today, I have artist extraordinaire Ben Cooper on my site. He has music coming out his pores. Want proof? He’s musician/songwriter/composer for Radical Face, Electronic President, Iron Orchestra, Mother’s Basement, AND Patients. But simply being in five bands does not an artist make. No, this man is it. Whatever IT means to you, he is.

If I could describe his music in one word: childlike. If I could describe his music in two words: soul mending. If I could describe his music in three words: raw talent explosion.

I want his music playing the moment I die, it gives me such peace. It’s both ethereal and gritty, authentic and breathtaking. Good dancing music, too. Especially if you’re on an old abandoned bridge in the moonlight with your lover.

But don’t take my word for it. Just watch this video.

Now put your grubby paws together and welcome the one and only Ben Cooper!

Ellie Ann: Hi Ben. Let’s start with a game (just like they always do at Summer Camp) to get us relaxed (or really uncomfortable, depending on whether you like games or not).

I’ll show you an image and you say the first things that come to your head:

Ben Cooper: “I regret nothing.”

Ben Cooper: “Despite my appearance, I am not joking.”

Ben Cooper: “This would be a nice place to sit and write.”

Ben Cooper: “I’m glad they have a fire extinguisher in case a fire breaks out.”

Ellie Ann:

Now lets start with a few easy questions:

What instrument do you play?

Have long have you played said instrument?

What are your favorite instruments to work with?

Ben Cooper: I play a number of instruments, with varying degrees of success. Guitar is my main instrument, then bass, pianos/keyboards, drums/percussion, banjo, accordion, and everything after that I really just make noise with.

I’ve been playing guitar for 17 years now. As for favorites, I never tire of the sound of acoustic guitars, pianos, strings and voices. There are lots of others I enjoy, but I imagine those 4 will always be staples.

Ellie Ann: I hear you don’t use real drums like rockstars do. What kind of percussion do you use?

Ben Cooper: I tend to use whatever is around. Anything you can hit is percussion, so I just use my surroundings. I sometimes use drum sets, but that’s more when I feel the song really calls for it than a default.

Ellie Ann: I can’t say this about many music artists, but I literally can’t pick a favorite of your songs, too many good ones to choose from. Do you have a strong connection to one or two of them, or are they like your children in that you don’t have a favorite?

Ben Cooper: Thank you. I take that as a high compliment. And it’s definitely the latter. Anything that makes it to a record I put about the same amount of effort into. So no real favorites.

Ellie Ann: In your album THE FAMILY TREE, you write about a family called the Northcotes, living in the 1800’s. You write their story in fierce and beautiful ballads, so detailed and emotion I feel connected to them. The music forms a strong atmosphere as well. It is what some people call a “concept record.” I find this awesome, and tip my hat to you as a storyteller. This is not a question. Just a statement of fact: THE FAMILY TREE is a tall glass of fantastic with awesomesauce on top.

Ellie Ann: Speaking of families, tell me about yours. In one word.

Ben Cooper: Big.

Ellie Ann: Okay, that wasn’t fair. You may use more than one word. You work really closely with your family. Tell me about them, and what that’s like.

Ben Cooper: I’m one of 10 children, and I’m really close with most of my family. We’re all friends at this point, despite being related. None of us are very much alike, but we’ve never been an argumentative bunch.

I think growing up around so many different people was a huge help. I’ve never had trouble accepting differences in people. I expect them, and enjoy and appreciate them. I don’t know if I’d feel this way had there not been 12 of us crammed into a 3 bedroom house.

I currently work with my older sister – she helps me with all the shipping and the web store –  and two of my brothers. Micah does all my code/web based work, which is convenient, seeing as we live together, and Emeral is a musician. We have a project called Iron Orchestra and play on each other’s recordings when needed. He’s the guy I call when I’ve written something on piano that I can’t actually play.

Ellie Ann: One of your brothers is named Emerald. Your name is Ben. Is that short for Beryl? Be honest.

Ben Cooper: Hahaha. Nope. Short for Benjamin. Nothing fancy. And it’s just Emeral, without the D.

Note: Emeral, I am extra sorry for reading your name wrong so many times. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. p.s. cool name

Ellie Ann: As I writer, I’m trained to not wait for inspiration. I should put words on the paper every day whether I feel like it or not, and inspiration will come. Is songwriting the same way? Some days it’s work, but other days you feel it gush out your soul?

Ben Cooper: I play music everyday, but I don’t write music everyday. I can’t force songwriting. I have the ideas or I don’t. But I definitely have days where it all just pours out.

I think the speed record for me is I went from an idea for a song to a finished recording in about 5 hours. Granted, it was a simple track, but for whatever reason I knew exactly what it was going to be. Those moments are always pretty special. They don’t happen often.

Ellie Ann: What’s your favorite game?

Ben Cooper: If you mean video games, then it would be hard for me to pick. I’ve always played competitive games as a hobby. I still travel to tournaments for fighting games, actually. But some favorites would be: Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike, Counter Strike, Warcraft 3, Unreal Tournament ’99, Team Fortress 2. For non-competitive: Final Fantasy 3, Super Metroid, Tetris Attack, Super Mario World … actually, I’ll just stop talking. I could ramble on. I like video games a lot.

Ellie Ann: Word on the street is that you record in a shed.

Ben Cooper: Yep. It’s behind my mom’s house. It’s where I’ve made all my records. It was once a wooden one-car garage. These days it’s half recording studio, half laundry room/tool shed.

Ellie Ann: In your debut album, GHOST, there is a bird that sings with you. Did you ever recompense the bird? Why isn’t she still singing with you today? Did you two split ways in a friendly manner? Also, are you still playing on that creaky chair you feature in “Along The Road”?

Ben Cooper: The bird is gone. There was a nest there for a little while, but after about a month I didn’t hear her anymore. That chair is gone as well. I threw it away after finishing that song. It mostly drove me crazy. I gave it a moment of spotlight, then laid it to rest.

Ellie Ann: In GHOST, you write about abandoned houses and ghosts. Do you actually know any ghosts, or are you just writing from hearsay?

Ben Cooper: I use the word very loosely, so it’s not really either. Just some crap I make up, so I can have a roundabout way of talking about things both fascinating to me and personal.

Ellie Ann: I hear you like soundtracks. Who are some of your favorite composers, and what are some of your favorite scores?

Ben Cooper: I love them. I think I listen to more instrumental music than anything else.

Some composers I really like on the classical end are Chopin, Debussy, Liszt, Brahms, Saint Seans, Stravinsky, Beethoven. For scores, some favorites are “Amelie” (Yann Tiersen), “The Piano” (Michael Nyman), “Birth” (Alexandre Desplat), “The Land Before Time” (James Horner). I also really like modern folks like Max Richter, Rachel’s, and Johann Johannsson.

There are more, but again, I could just ramble on.

Ellie Ann: hypothetical question. I am corporate record mogul Mr. Walton L. Monstanto, and I come to you with a proposal: I’ll pay you a half-million dollars per year to write songs for Katy Perry, but I own all of your intellectual property and you have no say in how the songs turn out. Also, you can’t come out with any records of your own for the next 7 years. But come on! Money!

What do you say?

Ben Cooper: No deal. The only reason I’d want the money is to continue making music. If I had to give up making the stuff I care about, and the ability to explore and release my own work, I’d rather just do something else entirely.

Ellie Ann: You open your heart in your music, your creation connects to people’s souls. Your reviews say things like, “everything he touches turns to gold.” “greatest album I’ve ever heard.” “this album brought me to tears.” “the layers are stunning.” “wildly brilliant.” “his music speaks to you.” “he gets to you.”(these are just a few of the hundreds of reviews like this).

You connect with people through music. Is it a gift? An art? Tell me about these invisible wires you create through sound.

Ben Cooper: It’s all a bit of a mystery to me. Because if I’m totally honest here, I’m selfish about this stuff. I really just make what matters to me the most at the time. I don’t consider the listener when I’m making a record. I’ve never made music with an audience in mind, and I don’t fret over the reception. Because I’m going to make all this stuff regardless. Not because I hold some delusion that it’s important or matters very much, but because I’m happier when I’m making it than when I’m not. This is not to say it isn’t exciting to hear that people are getting something from the music, but that isn’t the reason I make it.

I wish I had a more noble or thoughtful answer than that, but I don’t. Not if I’m being honest.

Ellie Ann: Tell me about what’s on your horizon. What are your hopes? Dreams?

Ben Cooper: Well, I’m about to release a record I made with a friend of mine called “Clone”, and I’m working on the next record in the Family Tree set. I’ve also been working on some music videos for the various projects, and starting post for a movie I shot with some friends.

As for my hopes and dreams, I just want to continue making things as long as I can. I never really know where I’m going with them, so I always just hope I have enough time to find out. Beyond that, I really don’t know.

Follow @RadicalFace

Like Radical Face’s Facebook page

Check out their website and merchandise.

And as a parting gift, here is the music video for Pound of Flesh.

Jill Kushner and comedy and barroom brawls

 If you are a fan of comedians, if you are a fan of females, and especially if you are a fan of female comedians then look no further for your next female comedian to laugh at.

Her name is Jill. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect comedian name? Mostly because it rhymes with pill and kill and dill and she can call herself Jilly Bean in a silly voice if she wants to but I never would call her that, wouldn’t it be rude? (But I sometimes whisper it so’s she can’t hear.)

So her name is Dill Pill JillyBean Jill and she’s written for the Emmy award winning Ellen Degeneres Show, Last Comic Standing, Speechless, and A Great Catch. Her IMDb profile lists her as a writer, producer, actress, casting department, and miscellaneous crew (which meant she probably was the staff psychiatrists or nurse or paparazzi or something cool).

She has some hilarious videos she’s written and acted in for Funny or Die. And you should stop what you’re doing right now (except if it’s reading my blog, then you should keep reading and stop what you’re doing after you read this blog) and go read all that she’s ever written for the awesome It will make you giggle like a baby monkey on a merry-go-round.

 But you don’t think I’m randomly talking about Jill Kushner do you? Oh no. She’s invited me into her cyber home today and let me interview her! Let’s go on in and see what she’s up to.

Jill? Hello? Uhhhh, sorry. I’ll give you a minute.

*waits a few minutes*

Interview with Jill Kushner

First off, I wanted to ask you a very controversial and personal question. Do you believe fart jokes are in bad taste or can you use them in comedy as long as they involve yoga?  

I have no idea what farting is. Also, what’s yoga?

Second off, what are some of your favorite subjects to write comedy about, aka, make fun of?

I write about me pretty regularly. There’s so much to make fun of when it comes to that girl. I also write about anything that happens around me and/or anything that I read about in the news that gets my attention – that doesn’t involve algebra. To prove a longstanding point for teenagers everywhere, I refuse to ever use algebra in my grown up life.

If some cheeky barista compared you to a celebrity, which celebrity would it be?

Is this barista British? Wait, am I winning a trip to England!?!?!?!  And, Dame Judi Dench. 
I can see the resemblance.

When I googled your name, the first image to pop up was one of Sarah Silverman. Is it because she is your nemesis? Or is there something more sinister afoot?

Really? Sarah Silverman is probably my all-time favorite. Sometimes people will say I remind them of her and that is a crazy amazing compliment. Huge comedy crush and girl crush on her. I’ve met Sarah a few times and each time she is very sweet and says something like, “How are you?” And I say something that doesn’t match like, “Five-O’clock.” Is that sinister? I should probably look up what sinister means and get back to you.

Speaking of Sarah Silverman, if you, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Lucille Ball, and Betty White got in a barroom brawl, who would win?

Any and all of them as my strategy would likely be shouting compliments at them while they kicked my ass.

Who are some of your favorite comedians?
Listing favorite comedians (or books or movies or TV shows) provokes major anxiety as I will inevitably leave people off who I definitely meant to include. Which means I will likely email you random names right up until you post this interview. At which point, you should assure me that no one cares about my lists, it’s just one of many polite interview questions and that I should consider having a safe word for when I’m asked this question in the future. And that safe word should be “Xanax.” That said, here are a few folks that come to mind:  Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifiankis, Tig, Amy Schumer, Karen Kilgariff, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. Mary Lynn Rajskub (do you just mean stand ups, or not necessarily? Watch me over think this ….) Amy Poehler, Taran Killam, Amy Sedaris, Tina Fey …. (I’m worried sick about this list and am getting a glass of wine).
Editor’s note: my internet safe word is hippopotamus squats,
if I ever use this in a sentence please send emergency services to my house immediately.

What are some of the funniest movies in the world? 

Please. You saw how I spiraled while trying to answer the favorite comedians questions. 


If I was a young stand up comedian, what advice do you have for me?

Oh, wow. To do it way more than I do. Getting stage time is huge. Anywhere you can. And writing and writing and writing.
My husband says I can’t pull of this word, but what do you do to chillax? And, do you think my husband is wrong or right?
I think you pull off “chillax,” but I’m not looking at you while you say it. Do you throw a surfer/hang ten sign every time you say “chillax?” Because I might side with your husband if you do. Do you really let the “lax” part hang in the air for a while? I definitely would side with your husband if you do that. You know what? Just have your husband call me. We’ll talk about this “chillax” thing and you at length. That’s probably best. 

I firmly believe comedy is one of the answers to world peace. Would you agree, or strongly agree with my statement?

It sounds like you’re planning something. You’re making me nervous. Please chillax.

You’re not following Jill on twitter? YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING HER ON TWITTER? Get on it. Ri’ now.

Follow Jill.

And now watch her hilarious video she wrote for Funny or Die:

A Creepy Hand Model: Ellen Sirot Michaela Watkins

Interview of Funniest Buckeye in New York: Phoebe Robinson

Interview of Funniest Buckeye in New York: Phoebe Robinson
Question #1:
Phoebe Robinson (person) is:
a.) a stand-up comedian
b.) has a biting wit sharper than an Elven blade.
c.) is a completely lovely individual.
d.) all of the above
Okay, put your pencils down now. I SAID PUT YOUR PENCILS DOWN! Alright. Now. If you guessed D, you’re correct and can keep reading this interview. If you guessed wrong, then you have to leave my site and go watch Phoebe’s shows (especially this one on spoken-word poetry), and go check out her amazing site and memorize everything you see there (this might take a few months depending on your memorization skills), then go read everything she’s been published in (this might take another week, depending on your speed reading skills), and then friend her on Facebook, and follow her on twitter, and you won’t be amiss if you see her on television in TV Guide’s “100 Shows To See Before You Die,” and then come back and take the test again.  I hope to goodness you’ll get the right answer or else there’s no hope for you.
I cyber-met Phoebe when I saw her in NY Time’s article “Female Comedians, Breaking the Taste Taboo Ceiling.” And then I friended her on Facebook and was like “hey,” and she was like “hey!” and then I saw how sweet she was and I got up the gumption to ask for the interview, and I was worried because I always get nervous asking people out like that but then she was like “Hey! Yeah!” and I was like “Yay!”
And then she sent me this rockin’ interview, which I heartily enjoyed. And which is about to be enjoyed by you, too.
Here it is, dudes and dames. I have to pleasure of introducing you to Phoebe Robinson!
You’ve been working as a comedian for two years, and already have a list of shows you’ve been in that’s longer than my left leg, performed in Stand up for Diversity tour, Women in Comedy Festival, NY Underground Comedy Festival, and featured in the NY Times, The Daily News, NY Post, Smoking Jacket, and Rooftop Comedy. Not to mention the fact you regularly appear at the New York Comedy Club and Carolines. It also means you’re quite a hard worker. Tell me, what is involved in your success, and does it have anything to do with the Felix Felicitas (perfect luck) potion from Harry Potter?
Actually, July 1st will mark my 4 year anniversary in stand up, so it’s slightly less impressive than two years. Ha. In all seriousness, it’s kind of insane to think about my accomplishments because I’m always trying to grow and get better, so it takes people like you to point out that I have actually done things. With that said, I guess my secret to my success so far is just grinding, ya know? I work hard by writing jokes, getting on stage as much as I can, watching stand up. All I’ve done this whole time with stand up is just focus on getting better and these things have come my way and luckily through enough preparation, I have been able to handle the opportunities. Bottom line, you have to love stand up, even when you have those moments where you hate it, you have to still love it. That love will help power you through the tough times. 
One word to describe your driving. 
Non-existent. (I don’t drive.) 
One word to describe New Yorkians. 
Okay, that was unfair. I’ll give you more words to describe New York. How do you like the city?
I love the city. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the past 10 years (I moved here to attend Pratt Institute) and the other place I can imagine living would be San Francisco, CA.
You know, people always say that you have to have money to do anything here. And I kind of disagree with that. I mean, yeah, I don’t have a lot of money, so I can’t go to Broadway plays every week, but there is so much here. So many nooks and crannies. Like Red Hook. It’s completely inconvenient to get to, but they have tons of cute shops like wine and cheese stores or funky jewelry stores, so I think if you don’t have a lot of money like me, it’s all about being crafty and going to the lesser known spots. And taking the bus. 
You’re currently on a Stand up for Diversity college tour. Besides attending your show, how can I stand up for diversity, if I’m not a stand up comedian?
Haha. Well, I think just being diverse in your life is the way to go. Have friends of different colors, races, sexuality, etc. Having different kinds of people in your life will help anyone to have a more sophisticated outlook on life.  
How do you think being a female and black affects your career?
I think being black and female definitely affects my career because I’m not the norm or the standard. I’m not a straight white guy who ranges from mildly in shape to overweight, so I know that I have to work harder to get the things that they get. I just try not to think about it too much because I think it’s very easy to get worked up about the injustices. I just know that once I become undeniable, the arbitrariness, the reasons for dismissing me, will go away.
What do you do to veg out? And does it involve eating vegetables?
Well, I am a pescatarian, so vegging out is mainly just fish and veggies, but I will say not much beats a tub of guacamole and a bag of chips is one of my favorite things to snack on. And then bread. Any kind of bread. As long as it’s buttery and yummy, I’ll eat it. 
If you had to swim across a sea of any beverage, what would it be? 
We’re gonna need a few thousand more of these.
Mimosa, hands down. 
If you, Sara Silverman, Tina Fey, Lucille Ball, and Betty White got in a barroom brawl, who would win?
I would definitely lose because I have no upper body strength. I have to give it to Lucille Ball because she was an O.G. She was very crafty on the “I Love Lucy” show, so I definitely don’t put it past her to bash someone’s head with a trashcan. 
What movie have you recently made fun of?
Well, a not so secret secret is that I unabashedly love Steven Seagal movies and watch them anytime they are on TV. Last week, I was getting ready to meet up with my boyfriend and watching “Half Past Dead,” which stars Steven and Ja Rule. Steven Seagal went undercover in a high-tech prison to find out info on the men who murder his wife, so they can be prosecuted. Beyond ludicrous, but I cannot help myself.  
Describe the perfect man:
I know this is barf-inducing, but I have to say my boyfriend Jon. And he’s not perfect, but he is the perfect man for me. I can just imagine people rolling their eyes when they read this answer. Sorry, y’all! 
If God gave you the choice of any profession in the world besides comedian, which would it be?
Private chef.  
What’s on your horizon, Phoebe Robinson? And does it involve pirating of any kind? (I have a nice eye patch you can borrow if need be)
I kinda look like this in my eye patch. Except I look way tougher.
Well, I think we can both agree I’m not cool enough to rock an eye patch, but I appreciate the offer. Haha. What’s on my horizon is to be a full-time comic. Write movies. Be interviewed on “WTF” by Marc Maron. Live in an apartment building that has a laundry room. Oh man, I really want that one so badly. Laundry in the building is tops, followed closely by Marc Maron interview. Ha. #Priorities 
It’s been a joy to interview you, Phoebe! I wish you many good things in your future, especially laundry rooms you can get to in your underwear. Everyone should have that luxury, if you ask me.

A Chat with Bestselling Author Vicki Hinze

Bestselling author Vicki Hinze is the talented author of more than 25 books, published in 63 countries, with more than 1 million books in print! And it’s no shock. Her good books are, as she described, “destined to thrill, fated to heal.” They’re not only thrillers, they take each character and theme to a deeper level.

And she’s been so fun to get to know. She’s not only wonderful, she’s full of wonder.

Which is why I’m so happy to have an interview with her today! Without further ado, dear readers, may I introduce to you Vicki Hinze:

You’re a thriller writer. Tell us about some things you find thrilling.

Politics, science, history, space, but mostly people. Issues they face, challenges that confront them, coping skills.  I am totally fascinated by people. What they think and do, how they react in crises (some consider good things crises, too), what makes them tick and what ticks them off. People thrill me. They’re just so different and interesting.

How long have you been writing, and what was your very, very, very first book like?

I started before I started school. To read the Sunday comics, I had to read the front page of the newspaper and discuss the issues of the day with my dad at dinner. If I did so all week, then on the weekend, I could read the comics. That’s where my love for writing began. I started writing little essays about my reactions to what I read. Later moved into poetry, and then into novels. I love novel writing.

My very first book was awful–and I loved it. It was called NIGHT VISIONS and was about a psychotic recreating his parents’ past to change his future. A technical mess. A mechanical mess. But I so loved that book. That did it. I was and remained hooked on writing.

You’re in jail and you can have one book to read for the next 10 years, what do you choose?

Jail?  Ellie, I refuse to do jail!  Stick me in jail and I’m not going to read, I’m going to focus on getting out of jail.  Mmm, Law for Dummies, I guess.  I can’t read just one book, Ellie.  That’s torture–even if sequestered in a penthouse.  I need variety.  Thrillers, mysteries, romance–books that inspire and lift up.  Those are as essential as air.  I’d have them even if I had to write them on the walls or in my head.

What’s one magical thing you wished were real?

I’d say utopia but it’d be uninhabited since so long as there are human beings, there will be conflict.  That nixes that.  So I’ll opt for a teleport system that lets me travel hassle-free and instantaneously–and since I’m feeding my fantasies here–through time.

What’s your writing space like?

Cluttered, messy, and yet organized. <g>  Huge oak desk (I’ve seen the top of it, but it’s been a while), another desk, two bookshelves, two file cabinets, two chairs, two closed cabinets, one open one, and stacks everywhere.  Books waiting for endorsements, manuscripts, proposals, books and magazines I want to read, and more stacks.  TV on the wall in the corner which is typically on the news, phone and fax, laptop and desktop with a huge monitor (so I can’t see more stacks).  An altar, which my father built before he died–a sacred space–with items on top that mean special things to me.  One is a compass, so I never lose my way or lose sight of what most matters, and a collection of crosses and tapestries. That whole corner of the room is filled with things that inspire me.  And I have framed book covers on the wall (so when I’m writing and thinking I can’t do this, I’m reminded I can because I have).  And my treasure is in the corner near the altar.  It’s a pot filled with little branches and twigs my grands gave me as gifts.  I have angel ornaments hanging on the branches because I’ve always called the grands my angels. Treasures, those.

What do you love about your job?

The license to daydream, the illusion of control, the ability to write through fears and issues that matter to me.  I love the potential in sharing something that might be just what someone else needs to read or hear at a given moment in time.  To shine light on dark things so they’re not dark anymore.  I often imagine whatever I’m tackling being isolated with me in a dark hallway.  No light, lots of doors, but I can’t find them or see them.  But by the end of the book, some of those doors are open and there’s light shining in from the end of the hall:  a constructive way out exists.  I love those images.  They both inspire me and make me determined and disciplined.

What don’t you love about your job?

Spending so much time alone.  I love people, enjoy them, and, as I said, am fascinated by them.  Writing requires a lot of time alone, lost with the people inside your head.  That’s an amazing adventure, but I like adventures with people who exist outside my head, too.

If you had to swim across a sea of any beverage, what would it be?

We’re gonna need a gazillion more cups.

Probably coffee. (I’m figuring fresh water doesn’t fit into your plan here.)  With coffee, I’d have a 50/50 shot of drinking myself to the other side.

In your opinion, who is the best character . . . ever.

This is so hard.  How do you compare a Batman to a John Coffey (The Green Mile) to the classics.  I can’t do it, Ellie.  I just can’t.  I love many characters, but there are many who are best at what they’ve done.

Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written, or are they like children in that you love them all equally?

I have one writing rule.  I will not write a book I don’t love.  That’s it.  So I do love them all.  I love some things in each of the books more than others, but I love all the books.  Explaining:  In HER PERFECT LIFE, I wrote about a female POW who was deemed dead.  Six years later, she is discovered, rescued, and returns home.  Only home isn’t there anymore.  Her husband’s remarried to a great woman, the heroine can’t even hate.  Her children are strangers and consider the new wife their mom.  Her life is gone, her family has been claimed by another, and she’s lost.  But she rebuilds and discovers she hadn’t lost her perfect life, she’s only now found it.  I love that.  Then in NOT THIS TIME, the heroine, Beth, has torn loyalties.  She doesn’t trust her best friend and partner’s husband, and it causes all kinds of conflict.  When he goes missing, is kidnapped, and reported murdered, she’s the primary suspect–and she’s fighting torn loyalties as well as false accusations and betrayal.  But she sucks it up and does what she has to do, and really battles with herself on taking the high road or the easy one.  Battles and conflicts we face all the time.  I love that–that she’s conflicted and has to choose, like the rest of us.
Tell us about your latest book!

That would be NOT THIS TIME. :)

 What’s on your horizon?

I have a book out nearly every month for the next 13 months.  Some are new, some are reissues.  I’m also seeing my own imprint, Magnolia Leaf Press, release GIRL TALK: LETTERS BETWEEN FRIENDS, a women’s fiction novel that spans from 1962 to the mid 80s.  It’s different for me so they’ll be released as Vicki Hinze writing as Kali Kaye to cue my readers these aren’t inspirationals or thrillers or military suspense.

As you can see, I’m still experimenting, doing what I love and respectfully thumbing my nose at those who say I have to write one kind of book.  That’s just not me and it’s not my purpose in writing.
Thanks so much for the lovely interview, Vicki! Please check out her awesome website, and peruse her list of books for sale. There’s sure to be one that’ll catch your fancy.
She’s also a great tweet to have ( @vickihinze ) and like her page on Facebook!

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Fashion Photographer

I hear a lot of students are having a hard time deciding on a major. I hear a lot of grown ups talk about hating their jobs. So here it is: a series of interviews about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. This is here to help people decide what occupation they want to occupy. Or, it’s here to help people resurrect their dreams of being a rickshaw driver or a lightbulb tester.

First occupation in the spotlight: A Spook.

Second occupation in the spotlight: An Archeologist.

Third occupation: A Writer

Fourth occupation: A Scientist

Fifth occupation: A Stay-At-Home-Parent

Sixth occupation: Doctor Dorian from Deadliest Warrior

Seventh occupation: A Zookeeper

You know the old Irish saying: “A picture is worth at least three potatoes and a head of cabbage.” Erm … uh, that’s not it! I mean … “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s right! So instead of introducing the dynamic and artistic Cody Bess who is an American photographer working in New York City and Los Angeles, and residing in Houston, Texas, specializing in Fashion, Editorial, and Entertainment photography, and the proud daddy of a brand new baby …. um, where was I? Oh yeah, instead of introducing him I’ll just show you some of his amazing work. And if you’re not convinced of his top talent and want to become a fashion photographer yourself by the end of the slide show…then obviously you have dial up internet and the pictures aren’t loading.
And now, let’s hear it from the man himself. May I introduce you to, Cody Bess, photographer:
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I have always had an interested in building and creating things.  When I was younger, I always envisioned myself being an Architect.  It fit well with me being able to dream up ideas, draw them out, and start creating.  This was before I learned there could be a future and career in the arts world.  As soon as I learned I could be taking photographs and creating art for a living, I was sold.
In this day and age of photoshopped models, plastic surgery, and cyborgs (they DO walk among us), what is your view on enhanced beauty vs. au naturale?
This is a very difficult question to answer, especially in the entertainment and fashion industry.  Personally I am all for natural beauty, but commercial job scenarios are different.  Especially while defining beauty in the fashion and entertainment worlds.  Everyone, and every client has a different “ideal”.  Depending on the job assignment,  the final product may call for flawless skin, flawless body, etc…  While other assignments call for capturing the raw natural beauty of a subject.  Photoshop is an extremely important tool to know while trying to meet expectations of your clients.  Knowing that I can finishan image to a client’s expectations, as well as my own expectations is very important.  Now, cyborgs…. don’t even get me started… :)
Model or . . . cyborg?
Who are some of your fashion photographer heroes?
Some of the photographers I have always admired are Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier, and Norman Jean Roy.
Steven Meisel (self-photographed)
Patrick Demarchelier (photo by Victor Demarchelier)
Norman Jean Roy (pic from Vanity Fair’s contributor’s page)
What do you love about your work?
What I love about being in a creative profession is that you HAVE to come up with new ideas, and different ways of conveying a message.  It is hard for me to stay focused on one thing for too long, so this profession is perfect for me!  Each job can be so different, so every day takes me in a different direction.  Whether it be a studio fashion assignment or documentary work,  the variety is the most exciting part!
What do you not love about your work?
Generally speaking, I love what I do.  But hours do get a bit crazy at some points.  So, starting a family and figuring out scheduling is definitely a part I do not like.
If a kid wanted to become a fashion photographer when he/she grew up, what would you tell them to do while they’re young?
I would tell them to shoot as much possible.  The best way to learn is by trial and error.  Some of the most valuable lessons and tricks I have learned have been while on set of shoots.  Personal work is the absolute best way to learn how to accomplish certain styles and be able to have to confidence to carry them out if a client calls wanting your work.
What have been some of your favorite photo shoots?
My favorite photo shoots are the ones that carry the most pressure.  I love the challenge.  I recently have been shooting cast promo photos for TV shows, which come with a lot of pressure from producers, deadlines, etc…  This coming weekend I am shooting in Miami for Vh1 that will have a live broadcast of the photo shoot as well.  So, the more pressure the better!  Definitely may end up being a favorite.
Basketball Wives L.A. Vh1
I love your Street Portraits. And when I say love, I mean adore. They are so great. This wasn’t a question. Just a statement saying that everyone should go check them out !!! 
List 3 things you’d love to have in your future regarding your career.
-I would love to be represented by a great agency within the next couple of years.
-Make my way into the more mainstream fashion magazines.
-I would love to have published my first book within a few years as well.
Generally speaking, what type of personality traits should fashion photographers possess?
I feel the most important personality traits to posses while trying to “make it” as any type of artist are self motivation and confidence.  Artist will always have to keep producing new work, whether commissioned or personal work.  It is so easy to become lazy about creating new work, but new fresh work is what keeps artist current and working.  Also, you must have the confidence to stand behind your work and let people know you can accomplish a client’s vision.  Photography is a very competitive industry, so you have to be able to stand above your competition.
Thank you, Cody tha Best … I mean, Cody Bess! Go check out all the rest of his amazing pictures. And for goodness sake follow him on twitter and Facebook.
And now I have a special treat for y’all!
Here’s a phenomenal film directed by Scott Brignac, and guess who the director of photography is? If you guessed Cody Bess then you are RIGHT! Self-Sabotage is a cycle of short-films composed for Derek Webb’s FEEDBACK. It’s beautiful, breathtaking, alive … a stirring work of art.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Zookeeper

I hear a lot of students are having a hard time deciding on a major. I hear a lot of grown ups talk about hating their jobs. So here it is: a series of interviews about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. This is here to help people decide what occupation they want to occupy. Or, it’s here to help people resurrect their dreams of being a grandfather clockmaker or a NERF gun practice dummy.

First occupation in the spotlight: A Spook.

Second occupation in the spotlight: An Archeologist.

Third occupation: A Writer

Fourth occupation: A Scientist

Fifth occupation: A Stay-At-Home-Parent

Sixth occupation: Doctor Dorian from Deadliest Warrior

Today I’m spotlighting an occupation that has a lot of similarities with last Monday’s occupation (a parent.)
Just like a parent, as a zookeeper you can’t help but love your charges even though you’re continuously cleaning up their poo, wiping snotty noses, keeping their cages free from choking hazards, and keeping them from getting loose. And like a parent, you receive beautiful rewards in return for all the love you pour into them. What could be better than a koala hug or a horse’s rapt attention, or a kiss from a seal? Nothing, that’s what. The world would be a better place if more koala hugs went around.
I had the pleasure of an interview with the sweetest zookeeper in the world–
 Callene Rapp – animal keeper
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a jockey, but then I discovered that you have to diet to do that job, and I love food too much!  I’m still a big horse racing fan, and Kentucky Derby Day is my favorite holiday.
Horse jockeys–tall people need not apply
I am of the belief that horses and jellyfish are the best animals in the world. I could watch them for hours and would love oil paintings of them up on my walls if horse art wasn’t so cliche. What is YOUR favorite animal?
Horse art is cliche?  Crap!  I’m going to have to redecorate my entire living room now.  ;o)
Horses are probably my favorite animal, I’ve been hooked on them since I was about two.  But, I generally love all animals because they are all cool in their own unique way.  Some of the neatest animals I’ve worked with at the zoo are the Giant Indian Fruit bats, our zoo has a large group of them free flight in our Jungle exhibit, and it’s so cool to see something that large flying around overhead.  Their wing membranes are incredible.  We actually had some interesting times with the fruit bats recently, and I’m working on a post for my blog about it.
I also think spiders are cool.  Wouldn’t want one for a pet, but I just think they are neat.   The whole web thing is so cool, you know?  I should probably stop or I’ll remember 47 other animals that are my favorite!
What is the smartest animal?
The one that has the ability to make the zookeeper look dumb!  No, seriously.  We joke about how smart we keepers think we are, but invariably an animal will figure out a way to get out of it’s enclosure, trick you into thinking it hasn’t been fed, or dismantle something just as the curator walks by.  The elephants are notorious for playing mind games with their keepers, and don’t even think about trying to get something back from a primate if it’s managed to snag it from you!
Goodnight Gorilla — Fiction or … nonfiction?
Elephants have the reputation for being the smartest land mammals,  and with their long lived memories and complex social structure I’m sure they are right up there.  I do remember once catching a reference on a tv show that pigs were actually smarter than elephants ( I was with an elephant keeper at the time, and I was working with pigs–you can imagine that was interesting!) but I’ve never been able to confirm that.
What animal is so dumb that all the other zoo animals make fun of it?
The truth is, each animal is smart enough to do what it needs to do to survive in it’s own world.   Intelligence is relative and very, very subjective.  I hesitate to call any animal dumb because that’s the one that will make me look stupid tomorrow, lol! I’ll defer that question on the grounds that I don’t want to get embarrassed at work!
What animal is the scariest–you would NOT want to meet it in a dark alley.
Well, the first animals that came to mind would be a toss up between the zoo’s 14 foot King Cobra, or a chimp.  But I think definitely the chimp would be the most dangerous of the two.  They are super strong, super agressive and capable of doing a great deal of bodily harm.  That or animal curator…those folks are truly scary!
What do you love about your job?
The animals, definitely.  If you are an animal lover, it’s being in pig heaven every day when you go to work. Animals don’t care if you are wearing makeup, having pms, or if you are wearing fashionable clothes.  They just relate to you as you are, and if you bring a good attitude, they will meet you more than halfway.
I also like the fact that my work uniform is khaki, so I never have to worry about color coordinating.  And it hides the invariable daily stains.  I like the fact I don’t sit at a desk all day and that I can move around a lot.  It is a physical enough job that I don’t have to diet, which appeals to my food loving self!
What don’t you love about your job?
It isn’t a high paying job for the most part.  You had better be able to take some of your perks in emotional well being!   Depending on what animals you work with, you may have to be out in all sorts of weather.  The Amphibian and Reptile keepers for example work indoors most of the day, but hoofstock keepers such as myself work outside all the time.  This year, we had the coldest winter and the hottest summer, and you have to do the same things to take care of the animals in good weather and in bad.  Also, you will often have to work holidays, but again if you love what you do, every day can be a holiday!
Generally speaking, what are some qualities one should possess as a zookeeper?
Patience, determination, and self confidence.  You will toil very very had in relative obscurity for years with little recognition, constant criticism, and very little hope of financial reward.  Wait, did I just describe being a writer?
If I wanted to become a zookeeper when I grew up, what are some things I could do in Jr High/High School that could prepare me for the job?
Take science and biology courses.  If you have an opportunity to work with a veterinarian, or at any other animal facility, do it.  Cleaning stalls in a stable is good OTJ training.   If  you can develop good pitchfork technique early on it will always serve you well.  Get used to poop, it will be a major part of your life!  If you are lucky enough to have a zoo in your community, check out their volunteer program.   And also, keep an open mind!  Most people start out thinking they want to work with elephants, or big cats, but there are a lot of other animals out there that are just as cool and they need dedicated keepers too!
So cool! Sounds like a great occupation to me! Where can I sign up for the koala hug and playing fetch with the otters?
If you’re interested to hear more from Callene–go check out her blog, follow her on twitter, and she’s also on Facebook!
Tune in next time for: What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Fashion Photographer
Have any questions for Callene?
What animal would YOU want to take care of?

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: Dr Dorian from Deadliest Warrior

I hear a lot of students are having a hard time deciding on a major. I hear a lot of grown ups talk about hating their jobs. So here it is: a series of interviews about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. This is here to help people decide what occupation they want to occupy. Or, it’s here to help people resurrect their dreams of being a marsh bug collector or a Las Vegas private investigator.

First occupation in the spotlight: A Spook.

Second occupation in the spotlight: An Archeologist.

Third occupation: A Writer

Fourth occupation: A Scientist

Fifth occupation: A Stay-At-Home-Parent

Dr. Armand Dorian is one of those guys that make you think. Period. He’s super intelligent and thoughtful, so much so, that after I interviewed him I thought, “He’d make a really good hero in my book.” He’s passionate about life–which is good because he’s in the business of saving it.

His resume is longer than my foot (I have really big feet) and he has excelled at everything he’s turned his hand at. Sports, philosophy, doctoring, consulting, TV show hosting, entrepreneurial business, he’s even invented a new water . . . you name it he’s done it. That’s why I’m officially proclaiming him a Renaissance man, and henceforth dub him Sir Doctor Armand Dorian the Renaissance Man (feel free to put that title on your card, Dr. Dorian).

(painting by Cyd Wicker)

Renaissance Man aka: Polymath, a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Wearing tights is not required.

Dr Armand Dorian:

But don’t just take my word for it. I had the great honor of a phone interview with Dr. Dorian.

Knights and Ladies, I give you my interview with Dr Dorian!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a sports hero when I was young, I played them all. Then in college at UCLA, I was a philosophy major. I just wanted to sit under trees and think. But that doesn’t pay too well.

I got into genetics–human genome sequencing. I started working in a lab, sequencing genes. That was a buzz. Then three things happened that led me to my current career in medicine.

1.) I met a child with Ataxia-telangiectasia, one of the diseases we were trying to clone in the lab. I felt powerless. And I felt what I was doing in the lab–although helpful work–was just too distant.

2.) I was a life guard, and one day I saved a kid from drowning.

3.) I was leaving a party with some friends when I saw someone on the side of the road, bleeding. I told my friends to stop, I jumped out and ran to help. There was a guy–stabbed in the chest. Blood everywhere. I did all I could before the paramedics showed up. That kid ended up being a guy I had known previously, he’d gotten into drugs and some other bad stuff.

It was then I knew I wanted to be in the profession of saving lives.

But doctoring is not all I want to be. With the way we are today, we CAN do so many things. Take cell phones, you can do so much with them. Although it can steal some of your time, you can also multi task easier. You’re able to be so many different things now, when before you couldn’t.

Do you ever get tired of your life being just like the Dr’s in ER, Grey’s Anatomy, and SCRUBS? How accurate are those shows?

I am the consultant for those shows, so I feel like they are putting my life on TV.

(he’s also the medical consultant for Hawthorne, Southland, Days of our Lives, & Diagnoses X)

It’s entertainment and there’s a goal—using medicine to get a point across. But of course the characters and story come first, so sometimes they have to make compromises with the medical authenticity.

ER, without a doubt, is very accurate. There are two full-time writers who were physicians, two doctors rotating on set, and one producer is a physician.

I’ve had lots of fights with directors about masks. They’ll shoot the actor without a mask and I’ll tell them, “there’s no way they wouldn’t have a mask on,” but they leave the mask off so you can see the actor’s faces.

(Grey’s Anatomy–the eyes have it)

SCRUBS is good about the emotions behind the profession. They can be somewhat silly in regards to some of the medical stuff that gets through but they do a great job about showing the emotions of what a doctor goes through.

(eez a very funee show) 

Generally speaking, what kind of personality traits does a doctor need to possess?

Medicine is a weird place right now—it’s changing every year. In my parents generation being a doctor meant being wealthy, respected, a community leader.

But now doctors are a service provider. There’s a lot more business and bureaucracy that goes into it, which is unfortunate.

Without a doubt, the most important trait is to care. If it’s not in you to do it for free, then it’ll get overwhelming. Just think what you have to do to be a doctor: a minimum of 8 years of higher education, you graduate with loads of debt, you work an insane amount of hours, have a minimal amount of personal life, there’s a lot of stress. But if you care about your patients, all that doesn’t matter.

What do you love about your job?

I walk into a person’s life and in 5 minutes I’m effecting them, their family members, and doing my best to make it better. That privilege is the coolest thing. When you save someone’s life—there can’t be anything better than that.

What don’t you love about your job?

It’s now being regulated by people who have no idea about medicine—both by the government and administrators. When the bottom line interrupts the doctor/patient relationship–I hate that.

If you could change something about the American healthcare system, what would it be?

A very simplistic answer would be: let the doctor and consumer have a relationship, no third party.

It’s gonna happen someday and I’ll tell you how. Because of technology. Technology will help us be connected with information and doctors. And then you won’t need to go in to the doctor, you can simply make a call, or look it up online, and then there won’t need to be a third party.

Can you share an experience that is profound to you in regards to being a doctor?

There’s so many, you carry them as scars and you don’t bring them up. Profound experiences happen every day when you’re an ER doctor.

The most heart wrenching is really really sick kids. Kid’s don’t have much of a reserve—they crash really fast. Time is short. It’s important for you make a good decision. The following video is of a kid that we were able to save. We did the right things quickly. He made a come back.

What do you like to do for fun and relax?

I like to be with my family—I have two kids, a six year old and a four year old . . . and one on the way! Because I’m on shift work, it’s very cool because unless there’s a major disaster I get to spend a lot of time home on weekdays. So I get to spend time with my kids during normal days.

I’m a weekend warrior–I play basketball with a group of guys.

I’m also an entrepreneurial, I helped develop Cardio Water, and am trying to bring medical info into other retail products.


Now let’s talk about Deadliest Warrior:

In my interview with Geoff Desmoulin, he not only accuses you of eating McDonalds and doubts your Doctorhood, he also harps on your lab coat! What do you have to say about that?

(Dorian and Geoff–friends or enemies. Or . . . frenemies?)

As a biochemist who sits in the lab all day his head is clouded.

As for the McDonalds McCafe, yes I admit that I drink that. But it’s because we shoot so far from everything, there’s no Starbucks. So while everyone’s gorging on cheesecake for dessert, I drink a McDonalds coffee for dessert instead.

And you know–people are always surprised how tall I am when they see me in person. You know I’m 6″? Geoff just makes me seem small because he’s so ginormous.

Who was the warrior you were most impressed with?

The Spartan and his ability to be such a complete package—both individually and as a team. A little bit of armor, simple weapons, and the way they use that shield as a group and individually. It’s amazing how the Spartan is still the ultimate warrior after all these years.


Who were the warriors you would least likely want to meet in a dark alleyway?

Not a zombie or vampire for sure!

Also the Russian spetnez. They’re the read deal—formidable. They bring it every time. They have no safety in mind. Which makes everything scary.

What are some of your favorite weapons?

Ancient weapon- a claymore. It’s the size of a human. So intimidating. It looks goofy because it’s so big but it lopped off three heads in one stroke like in a cartoon.

“My medical advice would be to steer your head clear of claymores.”

I also like the weird designs. The martial arts weapons are cool, like the twin hooks.

Modern day weapons—Navy SEAL. I love the M-4. I wasn’t a big gun person before the show but now I love it.

“My medical opinion is that this man is dead. Dead as dead can be.”

So I’m hoping against hope that SPIKE TV will renew Deadliest Warrior for a 4th Season–so that there’ll be more amazing match ups and we’ll get to see more of the intelligent Dr Dorian.

But until then, anytime you hear a super accurate medical reference in Grey’s Anatomy you’d better tip your hat Dr Dorian’s way.

And go buy some Cardio Water and live longer thanks to Dr Dorian.

And hope that if you’re ever taken to the ER, you’ll get a doctor like him.

Thanks so much to Sir Dr Dorian for being here today!

Tune in next time to read: What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Zookeeper

Have any thoughts about what makes a good doctor?
What do you love about Deadliest Warrior? 

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Stay-At-Home Parent

I hear a lot of students are having a hard time deciding on a major. I hear a lot of grown ups talk about hating their jobs. So here it is: a series of interviews about What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. This is here to help people decide what occupation they want to occupy. Or, it’s here to help people resurrect their dreams of being an orphaned Elephant nanny or a mouth harp soloist.

First occupation in the spotlight: A Spook.

Second occupation in the spotlight: An Archeologist.

Third occupation: A Writer

Fourth occupation: A Scientist

I’m really excited today because we’re featuring MY OCCUPATION.

That’s right, a parent.

I take my job very seriously. Writing is what I do in my spare time in between wiping yogurt off of furniture, taking choking hazards out of my baby’s grip, grocery shopping, and feeding and watering and making sure the toddlers have enough sunlight for proper photosynthesis.

It’s not easy being a stay at home parent. It gets quite intense at times. And the harried housewife or doltish Mr. Mom the media portrays isn’t an encouragement. So we must find our worth not from what others say about us, not from what our toddlers scream at us after we’ve taken away the scissors they were running with, but from the deep, quiet eternal actions that blossom around us every day.

Mothers and fathers . . . what we are doing when we stay at home with our kids does matter.

That’s why I’m honored, truly honored to have a mother I so highly respect on my blog today.

I’m pleased to introduce to you Lisa Lang.

She’s the mother of 5 kids. The first she bore herself (Isaiah), the second and third they adopted from Taiwan (Elia & Emilie), and the fourth and fifth were siblings from Ethiopia they took into their family (Abraham & Hana). She loves to create–welcoming dinners, fantastic blog, a wondrous school for her kids, yummy bread (you might recognize her son as the talented and hairy Mr Mustache), lovely pictures, and delicious meals. Hers was truly one of the best homes I’ve ever been in, warmth and love glows in the air and there’s barely a moment that goes by without some hilarity and giggling fits.

I’m so pleased that I received an interview with her. Without further ado, I give you Lisa Lang, Mother of 5:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always lived in a fantasy world as a kid so I changed occupations based on my current fantasy.  Some of the careers I gravitated towards were Indian princess, writer, missionary, jazz singer, and rich philanthropist.

Also, I spent a great deal of time thinking about living alone in a place like Alaska, gathering supplies from the natural world around me.  When I married my husband, whose idea of a perfect vacation always includes the word “condo,” my Alaskan dream died.  My husband more than compensates.


Artificial intelligence is getting better and better. One day it may rule the world. If it ever does, what is your argument that humans should raise humanoid children instead of intelligent robots?

Artificial intelligence is already raising many of our children. We call our robots names like “T.V.” and “Video Console.”  Sadly these robots are not intelligent, merely artificial.  Although they have a reputation as the best of babysitters, they rarely produce humanoids worth knowing.  I see no reason to doubt my current job security.


Along the same lines: if you could have a robot take over any chore for you, what would it be?

 I would create a robot that handles interpersonal conflict.  If two children were fighting the robot could take over for me by saying “Child A, are you showing love to your sibling?  Child B, are you showing love to your sibling?”  And then Child A and Child B would try to argue their position, and the robot would simply exhale a burst of laughing gas and say, “Your humanoid mother cares nothing for fairness.  Love is the only answer.”  This would be a huge time saver for me, since I basically do the same thing a couple dozen times a day (minus the laughing gas).


Why do you stay at home instead of making billions of dollars pursuing a “real career.”

First of all, I deeply respect women with “real careers.”  My sister is a killer high school English teacher and an amazing mother.  My friend Sue Beach is an intelligent and ministry-focused nurse practitioner and also an amazing mother.  For some women, having a “real career” is their calling.  For me, it wasn’t.  I decided that instead of spreading out my time and resources, my children would have more of my focused energy. It was the right move for my children and for me. 


What do you like about your job?

I like that it allows me to pursue my many interests.  I have always been a person who loves learning new things. I like photography, baking, gardening, writing, birding, refinishing furniture, reading, drawing, yoga, and raising chickens (or at least I hope to soon).   When I want to study a subject–like right now I’m interested in learning current theories in poverty elimination–I go learn about it. My kids get to learn right along with me.  Some people say that being a stay-at-home parent is an easy job.   I would agree that there are more difficult paths a person can take.  I am not interested in taking the most difficult path.  I’m interested in taking the most interesting one.  For me, this means having the freedom to pursue all the things I love.


“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”

-especially applicable to parents


What don’t you like about your job?

I remember sitting in an adult Sunday school class and the teacher was going around the circle telling how God could use each person in their current job.  When he got to me, he couldn’t find anything to say.  It hurt.  Afterwards, I thought about that and realized that many people find their identity in their occupation.   After all how many times do people introduce themselves by telling you who pays them!   For me, not having this easy identity was a good thing.  It made hiding myself in Christ and finding my identity in Him much easier.  That became my new goal, and I like it a lot.


If someone wanted to be a stay at home parent when they grew up, what would you advise them to do in preparation while they are young?


I would say that being a home parent takes discipline.  You can do it well or lousy.  Learn to set goals and reach them.  Learn what makes your family happy, and practice doing it.  Learn to be a peacemaker.  Doing laundry, cooking food, and changing diapers are very small parts in achieving greatness as a stay-at-home parent.

 Making a sad child smile–ah! sweet success!

Can you share some practical tips for stay at home parents?


-Wake up early and find out what makes the first minutes of your morning great.  For me this includes three espressos and oatmeal pancakes.


-Wear clothes that make you feel attractive, even if you’re spending the entire day at home.


-Find time for meditation and prayer.


-Make sure you greet every person who comes into your home with a smile.


-Don’t compete with other parents in any regard.  Rejoice in the beauty and accomplishments of others.


Tell me a bit about the 5 beautiful reasons you stay at home.


I like waking up early, making blueberry muffins, bundling up the kids, and going out into nature, knowing that we have all the time in the world to sit and look.


I’ve read my children’s favorite books and they’ve read mine. 


I like making curry mussels with basmati rice for lunch and giving each of my children a steaming bowl, knowing that they are eating something creative and wonderful, prepared by me.


My goal is to pour love and peace into my children.   It is a beautiful and worthy endeavor and I am proud that it is my calling.

 Most of my children are adopted and some have had really hard lives prior to their life with me.  When those children wrap their arms around me and I hug right back, they are getting something they want more than anything in the world.  That’s not a bad way to spend your life.

Thank you so much Lisa, for your encouragement today. If you want more of her wise words go check out her really wonderful blog, Mother’s Bible!

Next in the series: What I Want to Be When I Grow Up: Dr Dorian from Deadliest Warrior

What makes being a stay-at-home-parent important?

 What are some thoughts/advice about being a stay-at-home-parent?

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Scientist

Some people are cool.

Some people are handsome.

Some people are smart.

Some people are funny.

Some people are cousins of Ellie Ann Soderstrom.

And some people are all of those things rolled into one. I’d like you to meet THE SCIENTIST:

He’s here to enlighten us on very important matters involving science and intellect and elepharoos.

Put your hands together for JORDAN SMITH:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a fighter pilot.  I can remember spending countless hours building LEGO jets, model jets, reading jet books and doing generally jet-y things. One of the greatest Christmas/Birthday present combos I ever received (same day, for you folks keeping track at home) was Jane’s USAF Flight Simulator, and a SUPER SWEET joystick/throttle combo (something like this). Every other great Christmas present I got as a kid was either a LEGO set, or something that required assembly.  I just loved to take things apart and put them back together.

 If I’m interested in building a time machine out of my refrigerator, what science should I study?

Physics, with a minor in refrigerator assembly/repair.  Specifically, start by reading A Brief History of Time by Hawking, study relativity for a bit, then round it off with some string theory/quantum mechanics. Protip: call  Frigidaire or Kenmore and see if they have any scholarship options.

(Tardis–the grandson of my refrigerator time machine)

Seriously, though, a fun and fairly accessible read is The Elegant Universe, by Brian Greene.  He describes String Theory (and why there may be ten or more dimensions) in a wonderfully uh… elegant… manner.

And if you’re not into the mechanics of time, as much as its feel and beauty, pick up Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.  It’s so vivid and thought-provoking.


 If I’m interested in proving the existence alien life forms, what type of science should I study?

No, really… it’s a major field of study.  A friend of mine from undergraduate majored in Astrobiology with the intent to work for NASA.  I’m not sure if he’s there now, but he had an internship with them during school, as well as a trip to the Air Force Academy’s observatory with our Physics professor.

Also, I’m pretty sure it’s required to have an extensive working knowledge of the Star Wars universe.

Study this

If I’m interested in combining a kangaroo with an elephant to make an elepharoo, what type of science should I study?

Well, you’d probably need a degree in Biology with a major emphasis on Genetics.  And there’s a renowned researcher / publisher Whose works you’d probably benefit from studying: Theodor S. Geisel. Most folks called him Dr. Seuss.

The Future 

I’d also look into structural engineering once you hit the later stages of experimentation… because the Elepharoo sounds like it might find a critical intersection between bouncy and massive.


 If I’m interested in studying mulch piles and the dependence gnomes have on them, what type of science should I study?

First, you’d want to read up on the nature of the creatures themselves. Specifically their living and societal habits. (No, I’m not talking about gnome societies, but those exist, too, apparently).

Next, study fertilizer itself, and maybe some composting science, and see if any of the byproducts are conducive to a thriving gnome community.

Finally, and most importantly, try and find a gnome villiage that will accept you to live as one of them for a short time.  Learn their ways.  Only then will you discover true enlightenment: that physics (the basis of all other sciences) doesn’t actually exist.  It’s all gnomes.


If I’m interested in creating a force-field that could contain a nuclear bomb, what type of science should I study?

Again, I think Star Wars knowledge is very important here, but you might also go study at University of Washington.  I hear there is a group there who’s been working with plasma, which has some neat properties that might lead to some force-field-like applications in the future.

Another cool technology in the same family is Quantum Levitation, which, if nothing else, might cause your eyebrows to float upwards a bit.


Besides being smarter than everyone else in the room, what other qualities should scientists possess (speaking generally, of course)?


Heh, I guess that depends on the room.  I’ve been to some conferences that make me want to quit altogether because of how much smarter everyone else was.  I’m pretty safe here in my living room, though; my bonsai tree is pathetic in a debate.  I win almost every time.

When you’re not trying to get smarter, try and gain humility.  Scientific research has a way of showing you your flaws (see: Murphy’s Law, Occam’s Razor), so it’s good if you can take “you’re stupid” for an answer without any huge frustration.

Also, Einstein probably put it best when describing himself: “I have no special talent, I am only passionately curious.”


What does your job consist of?

I’m sorry, that’s top secret.  Ha, jokes!

I am a commissioned Nuclear Medical Physicist in a US Air Force hospital, which sounds a lot more intimidating than it actually is.  I’m mainly tasked with looking after PET and SPECT imaging machines, which take pictures of functional processes happening in the human body so doctors can use them to diagnose certain types of disease.  I would absolutely love to spend an hour explaining how the process works, but you might lose 70% of your followership.  So in lieu of that, I’ll just say, we inject radioactive stuff into patients, and watch where it goes with one of several types of fancy 3D cameras.  I do quality assurance tests to make sure they create accurate, readable images, so we can help the patient quickly.


I also coordinate (and teach a bit in) a physics course for the hospital radiology residents.

Finally, I do some radiation safety work, mostly keeping track of patients’ and hospital workers’ radiation dose.  For instance, today I calculated the dose that a pregnant patient’s 20-week-old bun-n-the-oven received from an X-ray procedure.  (Don’t worry, it was negligible).


What do you love about your job?

I love being able to use science so directly to help people.  If I’d gone into theory or research, I likely wouldn’t see the impact so directly as I do working in the hospital.  Granted, I’m two steps removed from the patients themselves, but it’s wonderful to be in an environment striving to heal people.


What don’t you love?

The busywork, paperwork and bureaucracy that comes with the job.  No doubt we’ll always have to deal with it in our society, but I feel like I get a double dose while working for the government.


And finally, the question I’ve been dying to ask: if Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Marie Curie got in a bar room brawl, who would win?

I’ve been thinking about this one, and I hope you don’t mind if I take some super-heroic liberties.


Copernicus is seemingly harmless, but can channel the sun to temporarily blind his opponent, leaving them defenseless against his Prussian martial arts.

Newton manipulates gravity in small pockets to suspend his enemies to walls, ceilings, and in mid-air. Then, unfortunately, he hurtles apples at them.

Darwin plays his special flute and calls an army of mockingbirds to fight in his stead.  Results vary depending on geographic location, though.  Beaks meant developed by some species for tearing are quite effective, while the digging-birds are just annoying.

Einstein employs his “theory” of relativity (which wasn’t as much discovered, as much as incubated, developed and set free).  He slows time from his enemy’s perspective as if they’ve passed a black hole’s event horizon.  By the time he releases them, they’ve spent an eternity locked in their own mind and fall to the ground shivering and insane.

What Marie Curie lacks in strength, speed and supernatural ability, she more than makes up for in cunning. She fights and loses many a battle knowing she’s won the war, because she spiked their Gatorade with an alpha-emitter.  Alas, they won’t live out the week.

I’m stumped, who do you think would win?

I’m pretty sure my limitless Taiji sword skill I’ve been learning from a DVD will be of no use against any of those. You know what they say, “Black Holes Are Mightier Than The Sword.”

Jordan has a fun/music/geeky Tumblr called Super Collider. And his twitter feed is has more of the same coolness you’d expect from such a guy.

Any questions for Jordan about science or smartness or Star Wars or anything else starting with S? Or any other letter?


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