“Everyone’s waking up at once and discovering that those old tastemakers…aren’t necessary anymore.”

–Andy Baio

This post starts with a sore toe, meanders through a lipstick-addicted cat and ends up at a very intriguing idea: Disruptive creativity.

More about that later. In the meantime, I don’t have gout.

This is a good thing.

You never realize how much toes do for you until one of them hurts abominably. Try getting up from the floor WITHOUT bending your big toe.

(For the record, you balance yourself on both hands, swing your legs absolutely straightlegged until you’re in a modified scissor-split, and then walk your body up on your heels.

If you think that this not only looks absolutely stupid but also presents the world with an extended view of your backside…you’re right.)

After significant online research into the causes of sore toes, I concluded that I had gout.

Many famous people, including Benjamin Franklin, had gout. It’s said that he would never have invented libraries and woodstoves and a whole bunch of useful things had he not been immobilized by terrible toe pain.

Kinda romantic, really.

Gout is this weird form of arthritis caused by overflowing uric acid. As far as curing it goes, it seems as though we don’t do much more for it today than barber-cum-doctors did in Franklin’s day. The best remedy, apparently, is to become a vegetarian who never drinks beer.

Mostly that remedy isn’t a problem for me–especially the beer part, since I can’t stand beer. And I was kinda getting into the romance of walking with canes–me, with a hand-carved cane out of some exotic wood, maybe I could sculpt a figurine out of glass for the head of the cane and, even better, make it one of those SWORD CANES so that just in case I’m ever attacked or something I can cry, “What ho, scoundrel?!?!” slip my trusty Damascene blade out of its seemingly innocuous sheath, and ALLEZ!

…except that, of course, my toe is giving me merry hell and so ALLEZ is more like n’allez pas. But, like Franklin, I could still maybe invent things like libraries and stuff…except my doctor snickered at about this point.

“Cynthia, you don’t have gout,” she said, “If you did, I could BREATHE on your toe and you’d go right through the ceiling. What you have is a bone spur.”

A bone spur is when your toe joint kicks up extra bone or somesuch, which irritates the rest of your foot.

This is far less romantic than the source of Ben Franklin’s creative inspiration. On the other hand, gout is incurable. Bone spurs aren’t.

For bone spurs, you get surgery, albeit not-right-away surgery. “We can schedule it for whenever you have time, maybe two or three or four months from now. In the meantime, buy yourself some stiff shoes.”

At some point, therefore, I’ll head over to Greg-the-Shoeguy and ask him for stiff bonespur shoes. He’ll be happy.

Anyway, back to Nikki and the lipstick. I used to put my makeup on in the bathroom, standing up at the mirror. The sore foot thing is why I now apply it sitting down. I prop the make-up mirror on a waterglass on the nightstand, perch on the edge of the bed, and start gooping.

Nikki’s enthralled by this new process. The minute my make-up mirror lands on the waterglass, she hops up and starts mimicking my motions.

I stroke on blush, and her paw follows the brush down my cheek. She cocks her head and watches the mascara go on, clearly puzzled.

It’s when the lipstick comes out that she goes wild.

I can’t tell whether she’s desperate to wear lipstick or she simply likes the flavor, but if she can get within three inches of the lipstick tube, she’ll lunge and take a bite.

I may have the only cat in existence with lipstick on her teeth.

A friend has suggested calling a cat psychic to figure out why Nikki and Lola do what Nikki and Lola do.

“They are probably trying to tell you something very important,” she said earnestly, “You need to have a frank discussion with the cats and discover their motivation.”

I pondered this last night: What if she’s right? What if pet misbehavior is really some kind of communication? What if our pets have deep psychical connections to the spirit world that we miss because we don’t know how to listen?

What if Nikki’s channeling Tammy Faye Baker?


Which brings me to the next segue, i.e., the quote at the top of this post. Ever visit Kickstarter.com? It may be one of the coolest, most creatively disruptive websites in existence, and if you haven’t backed a kickstartee, you should.

Kickstarter lets entrepreneurs, innovators, artists and others solicit funding for their projects by getting the public in on the game. You come up with a great project, figure out what it will cost, and offer it for backing on Kickstarter. You include a video describing your project, how it will benefit folks, and offer premiums for various levels of “investment.”

If enough people sign up to fund the project, their credit cards are charged, you get the money and send them their premiums. If not, everyone walks away, and all you’re out is a video and some time.

My friend Carrie, for example, wanted to distribute a small printed book with a gallery exhibit, and offered the books, samples of her glass art, and other things in exchange. And my moviemaking cousins used Kickstarter to obtain seed money for one of their latest films. Both were successful.

Since finding Kickstarter I’ve backed some really innovative projects–inexpensively–and gotten very cool stuff in return.

Which was the point of the above quote. Andy Baio, one of the Kickstarter founders (and a glasslander, to boot), is highlighting an interesting phenomenon: Kickstarter and similar sites are bypassing the gatekeepers of innovation–curators, media, critics, venture capitalists, etc.–by going directly to the consumer. You test the market by offering your brainchild to potential customers. If they bite, and you’re funded, it was a great idea. If not, you don’t lose much, and you can reformulate your idea and try again.

That direct-to-the-consumer model is one of the most powerful creative tools. It’s also pretty scary if your work doesn’t conform to mainstream tastes, but that’s another blogpost.

Baio has proposed–using a Kickstarter project appeal–that folks interested in this concept meet to discuss it at XOXO, a new conference this fall in Portland. He’s pulling in local artists, craftsmen, musicians, filmmakers, technologists and other “makers” to see where we can take the idea. The conference sold out in 50 hours, so I think he’s onto something.

Maybe if I invent bite-proof lipstick….