Archive for the 'Misc.' Category

KOKO’S KITTEN, or What Communication Means to Me

Dear Reader,

I just read the children’s book Koko’s Kitten, “an irresistible book about Koko, a lowland gorilla with a 500-word sign-language vocabulary, and a tiny tabby kitten named All Ball.” (Sierra Magazine) It’s written by Dr. Francine Patterson, and it features beautifully intimate photographs by Ronald H. Cohn. Patterson traces her relationship with Koko, whom she meets when Koko is one. She teaches Koko to sign, reads to her, and asks her what she’d like for Christmas. One Christmas Koko signs she’d like a cat, probably because she adores The Three Little Kittens and Puss in Boots.

She eventually receives a kitten, a rough and ready, biting kitten she names All Ball. Koko loves him, even though she says his biting is “obnoxious.” All Ball is run over by a car and killed, so Koko wails her grief, misses him, and then asks for another kitten. The story goes on.

Patterson’s book reminds me how much a little education can do to teach large ideas, one idea being that animals as big and scary as gorillas feel pain, love, frustration, hope, joy, sorrow, and more. Another idea is that communication can alleviate faulty assumptions we humans use to justify mistreatment of animals, including humans.

A client of mine was a Lost Boy in Southern Sudan. At four he began to run for his life, and he kept running from country to country, until when in his teens he moved to the US. He feels lucky he wasn’t murdered by natives when he crossed their lands, who often murdered interlopers. But he picked up and used a few phrases from every tribe he encountered, he communicated with them, so he was spared. He believes communicating with them made him a human in their eyes, and not an animal to be slaughtered.

Did Koko’s signing make her humanlike? I hope not. Make her seem more complex? Absolutely.  She reminds me that all the world’s living things are complex, even single-celled living things.  I don’t know as much about them as I assume I do, but if they could communicate with me  I’d know a whole lot more.

Note: Koko is now around 38 years old. She’d love to have a gorilla baby to care for. She has a working vocabulary of 1000 signs, and understands at least 2000 spoken English words. To read about her, go to The Gorilla Foundation,


15 Seconds of Selflessness

Dear Reader,

As you may recall, shortly before the election (See my 11-04-08 post “Ahh, a 15-Second Break”) I blogged my appreciation to Denver 7News for treating its beleaguered viewers to peaceful political ad breaks―video clips of nature’s quiet beauty. At the time I didn’t know anyone who’d seen the breaks, so I couldn’t gauge how anyone felt about them. But, a month later I received a gracious note from Denver 7News’ Marv Gill, the man responsible for the ads:

Hi Faye,

I just found your wonderful remarks about the “Political Ad Break” spots I created.

It was my intention to find a peaceful interlude within the frantic campaigning we were all exposed to. Our wonderful staff at KMGH helped place the ads within the most intense breaks. I must say that in 30 years working at Channel 7 these ads have created the most positive feedback from viewers.

I Thank You for your comments.

Marv Gill (Senior Production Specialist)
I’m glad Mr. Gill’s idea took hold to affect so many people. Fifteen seconds of selflessness may have bred thousands of seconds of relaxation.

No Boys Allowed

Dear Female Reader,

I demand that before February 15th, you walk, bike, drive, bus, or fly to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to see Girls Only – The Secret Comedy of Women, a hilarious two-women show about a bunch of “girl” stuff. GIRL stuff: expert dating advice from middle-schoolers, a “serious” breastfeeding video, teen diary entries, a shadow puppet show, a pantyhose ballet … and, my favorite, a demonstration of uses for leftover Kotex products (Halloween costumes? earmuffs? more?) I mean, who knew?

Girls Only isn’t high comedy ― whatever that is ― and it’s not bra burning militantism either; it’s women laughing through the ridiculousness of being alive and incidentally… female. You deserve to experience this show, so get moving and get to it!


A Candy Corn Conspiracy

Dear Reader, 41rjnftvvcl_sl500_ss100_12

While I focused on the United States’ economic future, alternative energy sources, and the health benefits of serving Tofurky roast with Thanksgiving dinner, candy distributors staged a candy corn shortage. They shut down candy corn silos, posted armed guards at their corporate gates, and left candy corn addicts to fend for themselves.

And they’re feeling it… bad.

Last week a “friend” of mine got so desperate she rifled through 10 King Sooper shopping carts full of Peeps, Mike and Ikes, masks, and other Halloween rejects, only to see a stray kernel of corn on the floor, which she scooped up and popped in her mouth. Then she scoured every aisle of Sprouts for the missing barrel of bulk candy corn that was parked by the checkouts the week before.

After that she went to Walgreens and accused the employees of holding out on her. She demanded they clear their Christmas candy displays and reveal their cache of candy corn. They refused. The same thing happened at Safeway and Target, but they escorted her to the door with a warning never to return. I’ve never seen her this desperate. Desperate.

And I’m so upset I hope the candy corn conspirators choke on their succulent wedges of corn syrup, sugar, honey, and food coloring. I hope they choke good.


Aaah, A 15-Second Break

Dear Reader,

6, 5, 4, 3…

I sigh my appreciation for Denver 7News’15-second political ad breaks: wordless videos featuring a feeding hummingbird or a snow-covered ski slope or, my favorite, tall grasses stirred by the wind. Senior production specialist Marvin Gill decided to place these breaks, and I know we viewers are grateful to him. Thanks, Marvin.

… 2, 1.