Archive for the Stand-Up Comedy & Life Category

New Author Photo for Tim Reynolds

Posted in Books, Books Books Books, Cynical Poetry, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Podthology, Short Fiction, Stand-Up Comedy & Life, The Novel Process with tags , , , , on January 24, 2012 by tgmreynolds

ImageCovers included here are Podthology: The Pod Complex, Stand Up &  Succeed, the Cynglish Beat, Canadian Rockies (a photo book), and 20001: A Steampunk Odyssey.

The background image was taken at FUK Comedy in Calgary during my days of stand-up comedy.

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A Break in the Blog…

Posted in (Almost) Totally Useless How-to Guide, Books Books Books, Cynical Poetry, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Photography How to..., Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by tgmreynolds

Hi, faithful readers.

This is just a quick note that I’m going to be taking a break from regularly posts here at The Tao of Tim. I have a couple of new Cynglish poems pre-posted for future weeks (to keep the ball rolling for the upcoming release of the book, The Cynglish Beat), but as for “How tos…” and other lengthy creations, I have to put them aside and concentrate on the writing projects I actually have deadlines for and a publisher waiting to see.

One of the projects is the reading of the proofs of the Podthology: The Pod Complex (requiring this entire weekend) and the other is the novelization of one of my screenplays, and this really needs to get done sooner rather than later. The little projects are cool and fun, but if I let the novels — the heart of my writing — languish, then part of  my soul goes unfed. That’s the curse of writer’s A.D.H.D.

Too long I’ve put these projects aside for others. I’m hoping that what comes of this writing spurt will be as much or more entertaining than the tiny tales of my life’s misadventures.With luck, those tiny tales will themselves become a printed collection… but not yet.

The second reason for trimming my writing down to one or two major projects at a time is that my health needs improving and the little projects have been giving me umpteen reasons & excuses not to run or bike or workout or eat properly. I’m just finishing my first 50 years and really want to be in good enough shape to enjoy the next 50, or even the next 20 or 30. Even my stand-up comedy is going to be shelved for the most part. Is that a sigh of relief I hear? :p

So, I’m going to take a shot at prioritizing and self-discipline and see how long I can keep it up. Of course, if enough people leave comments here requesting more stories, I might be able to stir up one or two in a not-quite-weekly basis. How and why I got kicked out of a Nevada brothel is one of the stories which comes to mind and begs to be told, even though no one has ever believed the truth.

Anyway, even writing this post has taken me away from going over the proofs so I’ll cut it off here and get back to work.

Thanks for reading. With luck, there will be a podcast to come soon, but not until I start to make progress on the big projects.

Ciao for now.

Tim.

The Cynglish Beat: What’s in a Cover?

Posted in (Almost) Totally Useless How-to Guide, Books Books Books, Cynical Poetry, Photography How to..., Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by tgmreynolds
The Cynglish Beat Full Cover

The Cynglish Beat Full Cover

For some strange reason I thought that there might be one or two folks out there who might want to know what goes into the designing of a book cover, at least from the point of view of a self-published author with artistic talent but no experience or training whatsoever. And since there were a couple Beta versions of the cover for my upcoming poetry book The Cynglish Beat, I thought I’d pick on that one. (Click any image to see it larger.)

I wanted to achieve a few things with this cover, besides keeping the pages together,

  1. It had to draw a viewer’s attention.
  2. It had to have some class & a professional look (too many self-published books look like amateur shit).
  3. It had to have a ‘retro’ feel, so as to harken back a few decades to the era of the real Beat Generation (Allen Ginsberg & Jack Kerouac, not Bongo Buddy & the Beatniks)
Original Cynglish Beat cover

Original Cynglish Beat cover

It took a number of elements to create the look I wanted but before I break them down for you, let’s take a quick look at the first cover I created for the book. The idea here was for a one-man version of a trio of Beatniks in the image Hollywood has popularized — black turtlenecks, bongos, beads, little round sunglasses.

I love the visual harmony of this cover, with the balance of black and the other many colours, but once I did a bit more research into the Beat Generation, I found that the Hollywood image was as wrong as it ever was. The images I found were of college students on campuses and intellectuals pondering the meaning of life.  Some day I’ll use this cover for something else, but in the mean time, I wanted the first edition of the book to be more of an homage to the Ginsberg & Kerouac, not Hollyweird. Back-burner one cover design and The Timbo Trio.

It took a number of elements to create the final cover so let’s deconstruct it one piece at a time. Because this was all created with digital images in Photoshop, peeling back the layers is actually much easier done than said.

Starting with the bottom layer: the background of red leather. The leather effect was achieved by simply photographing a large brown leather-bound photo album, then adjusting the contrast to punch up the image and then the colour, to go from muddy brown to blood-of-the-poet red. I even adjusted the scale of the leather image in order to get the grain to a size which matched the size of this book (5 1/4″ x 8 1/4″ at the time of writing).

Cynglish Beat front step photo original

Cynglish Beat front step photo original

With the background settled, I moved on to the photo. Here’s the original photo, shot on our front door step with a self-timer and a tripod. There’s very little in the photo to date it as 21st century, except maybe the vinyl-clad screen door, which I cropped down (see below) to minimize its presence. I went with baggy slacks, a corduroy jacket and the simple button-down shirt — as close to a 1950s college intellectual look as could be found in my closet. Can you tell I used to be a school teacher AND an accountant?

The cigarette is fake and the mickey is real, containing Jack Daniels. The somewhat flat light still had enough punch to it for the shadows on the lilac bushes to give the image some natural texture.

The Cynglish Beat front step photo

The Cynglish Beat front step photo

Next, I cropped it down to roughly the dimensions of a 3 1/2″ x 5″ photo and did my Photoshop magic on it to make it a semi sepia-tinted black & white snapshot. It looked okay, but I wasn’t quite satisfied. When Sue got home I suggested a tour of Ingelwood, one of Calgary’s older neighbourhoods, in an attempt to find a building more suited. We also wanted to try the old ruins of the General Hospital in the Beltline.

The ruins were a bust, lacking completely in spontaneity simple because no one just ‘hangs out’ at ruins. All of the images looked too staged. We wandered over to Inglewood and found an old, closed garage with perfect light. Sue took up the camera and took a handful of terrific shots, one of which I eventually picked for the cover.

the Cynglish Beat Front Cover

the Cynglish Beat Front Cover

With regards to the final finish on the ‘snap shot’, although plenty of photos taken back in 1955 still retain their crispness and contrast, I decided I wanted a slightly faded, sepia tint, as though it was processed in a home or college darkroom and was exposed to the sun for a few years because it was someone’s favourite photo. Rather than going with the usual scalloped edges so prevalent at the time, I opted for a straight edge with a little bit of wear and tear. I stopped short of adding wrinkles or creases because they would be too distracting, and I did try using black photo corners to ‘attach’ the photo to the cover (see last image below), but the look was more appropriate for an interior image. The angle, shadow, and placement are all carefully calculated to create a balance between the photo of me with the blood-red leather and the softer text above and beneath the photo. The soft colours of the text of the title are meant to add to, but not detract from the red & the sepia. A closer look will also show that I’ve tried to emulate the texture of the leather within the text in order for it to look more integrated.

The Cynglish Beat Back Cover

The Cynglish Beat Back Cover

On the back cover, I wanted to convey the creative process, but rather than hand-scribbled notes, I went with the idea of recipe cards that look like they were run through an old Olivetti manual typewriter. Instead of creating them from scratch with Photoshop I simply photographed a recipe card in natural light so as to get more natural shadows and light.

I had three pieces of information to convey on the back so I went with three recipe cards scaled down. Because “Cynglish” is a word I made up and was so prominent on the front, I thought I owed a definition to anyone who picked up the book and made it as far as the back cover. That’s the first card.

Jumping down to the third recipe card, it needed to give a sample of what was in the book, because this was not “Flowers in the stream, I dream, of cream and smile” poetry. The restrictions were the obvious ones: the snippet had to be clean and it had to be universal, and so I went with the opening lines of “Me, Myself & Age”, the first poem I wrote for the collection before I even knew there was going to be a collection.

For the second card I wanted to give the idea that someone other than myself and Sue had actually read and enjoyed the poems, so a review/blurb from a well-known person was needed. For the ‘celebrity endorsement’ my first and only thought was of Mark Breslin, the CEO & Founder of Yuk Yuk’s, the largest chain of comedy clubs in North America and the man many consider to be the grandfather of Canadian comedy and mentor to such comedy legends as Howie Mandel and Jim Carrey.

Mark caught my scruffy third performance as Bongo Boy (doing a poor imitation of Beat poetry) at the Calgary Yuk Yuk’s at Elbow River Casino and he pulled me aside after the show. For half an hour he generously gave me his time to tell me how unique what I was doing was and how to raise it up off the street and into the limelight. Those kind words of encouragement got me writing like a madman, and once the idea for The Cynglish Beat took hold of my lapels, I put aside performing to concentrate on what I suspected would be the most interesting way I could come up with to raise some funds for Cancer Research.

When I approached Mark with my finished project and asked if he’d consider doing the cover blurb he loved the idea and what he sent back was this: “Kudos to Tim Reynolds for channeling Fifties Beatnik culture in his new volume, ‘The Cynglish Beat’. If you like your poetry hip and bop and full of barbed wire, Reynolds is your man.” Wow. He nailed what I had been trying to achieve and hadn’t even articulated to myself. “Full of barbed wire”. Yup, that’s exactly what it is, and I am honoured to have Mark’s words on the back cover, to draw readers in.

Other stuff on the back cover needed to be the Cometcatcher Press logo (‘self-published’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unprofessional’ — create an imprint for your works!) and the two websites, one for the book and one for Cometcatcher Press. I have half-a-dozen others, including one for all of my writing, but the two URLs I included have links to all of the others.

The Cynglish Beat Black Cover

The Cynglish Beat Black Cover

With all that decided, designed and created do you think I was able to just sit back and let it be, ready for the printer? Oh no, not me. I came across another notebook amongst the detritus of my office and got another brainstorm. I then spent far too much time creating this cover, just so I would have a third option. Sue loves the red cover, as do I, but there’s something raw and spontaneous about this black one. Maybe it’ll be used for a special edition with hand-written interior font, or maybe for a sequel, should it be warranted.

If you have an opinion about which of the three you prefer, leave a comment below and I’ll take it into consideration.

Thanks for listening. I hope this answers questions you didn’t even have.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

Stand-Up Comedy & Life: Be Yourself

Posted in Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , on March 30, 2010 by tgmreynolds

Excerpted from Stand Up & Succeed by Timothy G.M. Reynolds from Cometcatcher Press.

A True Story:

Nothing makes a hitchhiker cry faster than when you turn to them as you get pulled over for speeding and say “Reach into the glove compartment, take out the gun, and hide it under your seat” — and nothing makes a County Mountie in his mirrored aviator shades more suspicious than a weeping hitchhiker.

~TR

“Be yourself — if you’re a funny human being and you’re just being yourself up there, you’ll succeed.”

~Steven Kravitz~

First, know yourself — your strengths and weaknesses alike. Then just be sincerely yourself. Relax, be true to You and when Success hits home, it’ll stick like it was always meant to be there.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

Stand-Up Comedy & Life: Etiquette

Posted in Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by tgmreynolds

Excerpted from Stand Up & Succeed by Timothy G.M. Reynolds from Cometcatcher Press.

“The most important thing that seems to get neglected is etiquette. No one seems to teach it or cares to learn it, yet it is the make-or-break of the industry.”

~Terry Hollas~

More and more these days I’m seeing a complete lack of the basic social rules that separate us from savages. We have an entire generation who has no qualms about spitting on sidewalks, shoving their way through crowded doorways, and not giving up their seats on the bus to the elderly, the infirm or even expectant mothers.

Can anyone tell me what kind of Success is possible when we don’t even respect each other? The fix? Don’t just lecture the young — lead by example; and try to spend more time interacting with your children so they get imprinted with that positive example. If we Succeed only as individuals, we fail as a society.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now,

Tim.

Stand-Up Comedy & Life: Family Network

Posted in Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by tgmreynolds

Excerpted from Stand Up & Succeed by Timothy G.M. Reynolds from Cometcatcher Press.

“Be around comedy every week.”

~Matt Billon~

Don’t live in isolation. Learning from your peers is one of the things you can’t do alone in a room. Another is face-to-face networking.

But there’s a network that too many of us forget about — the network of our families. Every day we work, play, tinker on our cars or bikes or computers, take our pets for walks, our kids to soccer, our spouses to dinner, but we move away from the networks which made us who we are.

You don’t have to be around them every week, but somewhere in your ‘original network’ there must be one or two individuals who you can stand to send an email to every couple weeks just to see how life is treating them.

Be a successful member of your family network.

Stand-Up Comedy & Life: Coming Back for More

Posted in Stand-Up Comedy & Life with tags , , , on March 9, 2010 by tgmreynolds

Excerpted from Stand Up & Succeed by Timothy G.M. Reynolds from Cometcatcher Press.

“Comedy is like trying to sell the audience on a vacation. Your opening lines are the brochures to get them to come on the trip. At the end they should have had such a great time they’ll want to come back.”

~Daryl Makk~

Folks, isn’t Success simply wanting people to come back for more? More of your comedy, more of your product, more of your service, more of your sparkling personality, more of your . . . whatever!

There’s nothing we love more than a great vacation, so, no matter what you’re aiming to Succeed at, do it so well that people just have to come back for more.