Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Have a Thing for My Swimming Pool

I Have a Thing for My Swimming Pool.

I have a thing for my swimming pool.
16,000 gallons of good zen!

Apart from many other reasons
To have a thing for a swimming pool,
Such as its beauty,
Its fun, 
Or its health benefits,
My swimming pool seems to say,

“Put aside your cares and enjoy life!”

I especially like to swim at night,
When I have the pool all to myself.
I take off my clothes
And stand naked in the moonlight.
Just me and the pool and the delicious darkness.
And my zen of course.
That makes four of us, doesn’t it?

Maybe I wasn’t as alone with the night
As I thought I was.

Anyway, tonight 
I thought I’d have a swim.
So I took my clothes off as usual.
And I stood, as usual, naked 
In the moonlight for a minute or two.
The light breeze felt good.

Then I stepped to the pool’s edge
And looked down into the water.
I could see the full moon’s image 
Reflected upon the dark, still surface.

And I began to think…

I thought of the cosmos,
Of it’s precision and vastness.
I thought of the moon I’d caught reflected,
Whirling around the earth once a month
Without ever changing her expression.
I thought of the earth.
Our beautiful earth.
The planet we stand upon.
And how rich it is with plenty for all,
If we could only learn to share.

Then I thought of you and I. 
Small, fragile, imperfect.
But capable of love! 
And to some degree, 
Of understanding. 
And my heart ached to realize
One day we’ll be nothing but dust.
Us and everything we ever knew.
But we’ll go on together, you and I my love,
The essences of ourselves will go on together
To the stars and beyond 
The vastness of forever
To eternity!

Is love that strong?

Standing at the pool’s edge,
Alone in the delicious night,
I thought how every minute 
That has ever gone before, 
Eons of time amounting to trillions of years 
Of human development
From caveman to spaceman to superman,
Had led us to this point!
This very second!

The second I was occupying.
The here and now.

I looked into the water and saw
With more than just my eyes.
I was seeing with zen!
And with this wonderful zen-sight
I saw how everything is interconnected.
Coming down and through and into all of us. 
Everything that ever was
Or ever will be!
Past present future! 
You me all!

All this I visualized
In the blink of an eye
As I stared into my swimming pool.
Then I closed my eyes…
Took a deep breath…

And dove in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Three Ready Zens

Something Good is Bound to Happen

I’m a big fan of zen.
Once I realized what it was.
Funny, but I had it all along
And didn’t know it.

You have to relax 
And let the beauty of it
Come down and through
And into you, 
In order for it to work.

Sometimes, that’s the hard part.
Letting go and relaxing.
So don’t worry if it hasn’t 
Happened to you yet.
There’s still plenty of time.

Remember, whatever 
Should happen, will happen.
Just keep yourself ready.
Listen to your heart.
And read my zen poems.

If you do 
Then I guarantee
Eventually something good 
Is bound to happen
To at least one of us.

No Zen In That

Have you ever noticed how easy
It is to be critical 
In this imperfect world?
A world where most things are broken
To some degree or another?

Just look around you!
People are complaining all the time.
About everything!
It’s too old.
It’s too new.
It’s too cheap.
It’s too dear.
It’s too plain.
It’s too fancy.
It’s too …
But why go on?
Anything you can imagine,
Anything at all,
Isn’t good enough for somebody!
Sadly, being critical is an easy occupation.

But a rather difficult habit to break.

So let’s quit finding fault.
There is little zen in that.
Let’s see if we can find something 
More rewarding to turn our godlike
Comprehension upon, 
Instead of faultfinding.

After all, it is much more pleasant 
To look around and see 
The beauty that is everywhere…
Instead of the fear 
And pain and injustice and…

That is also everywhere.

Beauty and pain.
Both of these things exist
And have a place in the scheme of things.
Sometimes they exist side by side. 
Or even within each other.

How can that be?

It’s difficult to understand.
As human beings we must 
Live with contradiction.
That is our curse.

So sing! and be happy!
We’re all at fault!
Or said another way,
We are all faultless.

Because there is no perfection, 
Except perhaps in zen.
The perfection of zen.
That’s a big question…

For another time.

How Big?

“How big is your zen?”
A student once asked me.

“That’s an easy one,” I answered.
“My zen is very… er, big.
Or rather say it’s everywhere all around.
Or maybe never-ending is a better term for it.
All encompassing?
I’m finding it a little 
Difficult to describe,” I admitted.

I was a little embarrassed
And wanted to change the subject.
So I added, “That’s zen for you!”
And shrugged my shoulders.

The students laughed,
And my ignorance 
Went undiscovered
For another day.

Wisdom is sometimes knowing
When you don’t know 
What you’re talking about.

There’s the zen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

ZIP Code 10001 Pt 2

PT 2
“More F-Words!”

I watched the taxi hurtle away down 7th Avenue, happy to have survived my ride in it. While passing a bus on the inside it narrowly missed a young mother pushing a baby stroller crossing at 26th Street. The taxi driver shook his fist at the startled mother and honked insanely. 
Which takes two hands and perhaps explains the slight collision of the taxi with a pretzel cart, scattering dozens of the twisty snacks into the street where they were crushed under the tires of 30,000 roaring, belching, oversized American vehicles within fourteen seconds! 
The pretzel man shook his fist at the taxi and cursed tremendously.
No one paid him the least attention.
Except us.
“Did you see that?” asked Suzie. “Shame.”
If you know a South African then you’ll know that “shame” can mean almost anything. Shame you had a nice holiday, shame your car broke down, shame the puppy is so cute.
“See it?” I answered. “Did you hear it? That pretzel guy could really curse up a storm!”
It seemed to Suzie and I that every one of New York’s seven and a quarter million people (at the time of which I write, 1987) were here at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street. 
The noise and bustle were tremendous!
Throngs of people pushed past us, going this way and that. People of every size and shape, speaking languages we’d never heard before and didn’t understand. Including American English. They were dressed differently too. Heavier. Warmer. Darker. 
Many people, to our surprise, were drinking and eating in the street as they hurried along. Food wrappers and paper cups littered the sidewalks. 
Men wheeled racks of clothing and fur coats up Seventh Avenue against the traffic, cursing the cars and buses which narrowly missed them on all sides. 
I stood among the chaos and looked around… it was pandemonium!
“LOOK OUT!” cried Suzie, pulling me back from the curb.
“Yikes!” I yelled as three busses, 28 taxis and eight bicycles almost ran me over.
“I think you got a little too close to the road,” said Suzie.
“Yeah and the blasted traffic is going the wrong direction too!” I laughed. “So I didn’t see ‘em coming!”
“Excuse me, Suzie,” I added, then I turned and shook my fist at the murderous traffic while I cursed up a storm.
No one paid the least attention to me.
“Boy!” I said to Suzie after the cursing, “You have to keep your eyes open around here, don’t you?”
“Just like a New Yorker,” laughed my wife. “Don’t worry, dahling. You’re doing okay. So far.”
“Did you notice no one cared that I was standing in the street shaking my fist and cursing up a storm?”
“Maybe your cursing isn’t up to scratch,” suggested Suzie.
“Never!” I insisted. I was rightfully proud of my cursing, learned at the bottom of a muddy ditch when I worked as a laborer, many years ago. 
Since then I’d stayed in continual practice. 
“It must be my accent,” I explained.
“You’ve got to use the f-word way more,” said Suzie, “to keep up with the locals.”
“Right!” I answered. “More f-words.”
New York! I thought.
What a f*cking town!

   To be continued…

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

ZIP Code 10001

Part 1
Hurtled, or Careened?

We landed in New York on Friday evening of President’s Day weekend, 1987. 
President’s Day is in February, where it was summer in the southern hemisphere on the other side of the world.
Where we’d just come from. 
But it wasn’t summer now that we were in New York.
Boy, it was cold! It was a real shock to Suzie and I, both of us originally coming from warmer climates. 
Me from Southern California, Suzie from South Africa.
Then together for the past dozen years in Australia, Africa, and most recently Auckland, New Zealand. 
As we crossed the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan the city was a beautiful vision in the crisp winter night. I tried to forget my terror (I wasn’t used to taxis and this one sped along at a frightening rate!) and take it all in, craning my neck to see the famous buildings and avenues through the taxi’s greasy windows.
There it was! The Empire State Building!
I felt as if I’d seen a movie star. 
I recognized the beautiful art deco Chrysler Building from photographs I’d seen in books. Off to our left downtown one could see the huge Twin Towers, so big they seemed to defy reason. The Statue of Liberty, I knew, was just beyond that, in the harbor standing on her little island out of sight.
New York City! I could hardly believe it.
Here we were.
Suzie and I shivered in the backseat as the taxi turned into Seventh Avenue and picked up speed. Now on the wide avenue, the taxi opened up and hurtled insanely along, narrowly missing buses, cars, bicyclists, pedestrians, other taxis, hot dog vendors, etc. 
I think hurtled is the correct word. I was going to use careened, but that implies too much control. 
Then, while reliving it today so that I might write it down, for it was truly a formative experience and mustn’t be ignored, I had to stop writing and have a drink or two to steady my nerves. 
Even decades later it’s hard to believe we lived through it, but I suppose every person who has ever caught a taxi in NYC since the day taxis were invented has had that thought.
So when we finally skidded to a stop inches from the legs of thronging pedestrians at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street that cold February Friday night, we were thankful just to be alive… and didn’t care, too much, about being ripped off by the driver.
After all, we figured, this was New York, where the term ripped off was born!
After unloading the luggage, I stood at the driver’s side and leaned down to pay him through the window. He hadn’t bothered to get out and help me, but sat eyeing Suzie in the rearview mirror. I counted out three twenties and when I asked for change, he shrugged his shoulders and gripped the last twenty even tighter. 
“No change! No change!” he barked as he tugged at my twenty.
“But the meter only said…” I began.
 “NO CHANGE, NO CHANGE!” he yelled as if getting louder made him right.
A tactic many of us, not just New Yorkers, employ from time to time.
“Wait a minute’” I said, not letting go of my money. “What the…” 
At that moment new riders pushed their way into the taxi from the other side, elbowing Suzie out of the way.
“Downtown!” ordered one of them to the driver as if we weren’t there.
“Voetzek man!” began Suzie. Which if you know a South African means get lost! or scram! in a rather rude way, as if addressing an unwelcome dog. 
Uh-oh! I thought. Watch out for Suzie when she gets riled!
But she never had the chance, because with a final tug to dislodge me from my money, the driver put the taxi into gear and hurtled off!

   To be continued…

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Full Sail University Forum Synopsis- I Once Drew a Cartoon Rabbit THIS Big!

Full Sail University Forum.
(Lecture SYNOPSIS)
“I Once Drew A Cartoon Rabbit THIS Big!”
“What I Learned about Art and Life while Working for Walt Disney Feature Animation, 1989-2004.”

Part 1:
Roger Rabbit:
Its all fun and games until someone gets hurt… Then it’s funnier!
Sam Ewing Intro
Very brief explanation of Roger to set up showing…
Roller Coaster Rabbit (8 min)
Then talk. 
A little more of my history? Disney 1989. Cels. Ink and paint. Hand drawn. Production notes. Early computer animation, etc.
Show it again 1/2 speed (16 min)
Narrate as it runs.
Animation principles, remembrances, life lessons, etc.
Engages audience,
reminding them that if Sam can do it…
They can do it!

Part 2: 
My Five Things!
Make my five things your five things!

1) Work ethic!
Build good habits.
Work is love and without it nothing is accomplished.
Reliability and responsibility are vastly important.
Take ownership!
It’s there forever.
If not you, who?
What you don’t do doesn’t happen!
Quality vs quantity.
If you think it’s crap, it IS crap!
Try your best all the time!
Dumb luck… is it really so dumb?
This is the tomorrow that was another day!

2) Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal! 
Learn from those that have gone before.
Surround yourself with quality.
Train yourself up!
Study the classics of Opera, Stage, Screen, Books, etc.
Study nature… human and animal.
Observe real life! It isn’t all on the internet!

3) Careful How You Treat People On the Way Up…
Be easy to work with.
What you do has consequences.
I was Kathy’s boss, then she was mine.
No such thing as little people.

4) It Ain’t Rocket Science, but it is Science.
100,000 bad drawings?
Sure, it ain’t easy, but it’s endlessly fascinating.
Keep learning!
Don’t worry about software… learn to see and draw.
Remain humble, limber, curious.
Who is successful? Be like them.
The success is in the doing!
Never give up.

5) It’s only a cartoon.
Have fun! It shows on the screen.
Life is short.
Nobody likes a sourpuss.

Part 3:
You Gotta Have Heart!
Show clips from Lilo and Stitch.
(Stitch’s escape and arrival on Earth. 
I’m Lost. 
Storytelling, heart, warmth.
Give it your best! 
Courage, imagination, daring!
Art is more than logic.
A little piece of something bigger?
Life is like a cartoon too.
The zen of the artist.

Part 4:
My Sixth Fifth Thing!
6) Trust yourself!
What others have done, you can do.
You have everything you need inside yourself.
Your taste, judgement, style, etc.
The unique you.
Making it better, or just making it different?
Again; If not you, who?

Part 5;
That Didn’t Hurt A Bit!
Thank You!
Hope you enjoyed it.
I can be reached at 

I’m also the writer Rusty Pliers.
Read a poem; 
“My Zen Is Like Mickey Mouse.” 

That’s All Folks!
Show (if time) another 
Roger Rabbit Cartoon 
Show Trail Mix-Up just for fun while audience thinks of questions?

Questions Please! 
I like questions!
If I don’t know the answer, I will lie convincingly.

Greet and Photo Op!
I like photos too!
Don’t be shy.
Come on down!
Audience view curios, model sheets, Disney maquette and stuff set up on nearby table?

Rusty’s Media Checklist.
Please visit and like or follow.