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I finished Orbiting the Giant Hairball and loved it. Gordon MacKenzie is wise man and a great storyteller. But beyond the writing, the little doodles and artwork throughout the book really grabbed me. Of course, I had thought that Mr. MacKenzie was his own illustrator. And I was so impressed by that. But upon finishing, I discovered the attributions section, and I was wrong. He was only responsible for two illustrations. The majority of them belonged to a woman named Meg Cundiff.

Who's Meg?

As you read Hairball, it's Gordon's tale of corporate creative conflict during his tenure at Hallmark - you know, the greeting card company. He never mentions Meg by name in the book other than in the credits.

Enter Google. It turns out that Meg too works (worked?) for Hallmark as an illustrator. And Meg was involved as an illustrator for a kid's book and another kid's book. She's also featured in a Fast Company article, highlighting the importance of sabbatical. She lives somewhere in the vicinity of Kansas City.

I found another person who enjoyed the book and who is an illustrator/artist. Very free-spirited. Visiting her site reminded me of a woman I once dated who was an artist and painted her car and other objects in her house. No rules, no convention.

I love these kinds of connections that you can find, just going off to explore curiosity. There's a lot more to books than just the story and words... in fact, there might even be more story behind the book.


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 8/11/2005 6:36:42 AM



I received Gordon MacKenzie's book, "Orbiting the Giant Hairball," from Amazon today.

I highly recommend it. The word/message is good, and the artwork throughout the book is amazing.

I got the recommendation for the book from Renae Peters, who works for the company that represents me currently, Robert Half. Renae and I had lunch the other day, and we had one of those conversations where you travel across many topics and feel like you're skipping for the good time that you're having. She once worked for an advertising firm in Chicago where the manager there had everyone read a book together once in a while, and this was one of those books.

The gist of the book: it's okay to adhere to the direction of the corporation, but don't let it keep you from having a personality. If the hairball is the company bureaucracy, the orbit is the ability to launch off on a tangent that's good for the company. It's okay to color outside the lines. Don't be cookie-cutter.

Gordon worked for Hallmark. He found his way into a wacky subdivision of the company, loathed by the CEO for its lack of propriety but respected because it made money. The manager of the department knew how to hire talent, and knew how to stay just close enough to manage but not inhibit. Obviously, the zanies loved working for him.

But he talks of getting sucked in and resisting. Smart guy. Good stuff. Read it.


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 8/8/2005 10:19:08 PM



I've been catching up on my reading, and at Kris' recommendation (sort of) I've been reading Red Scarf Girl, a firsthand account of a girl who grew up during Mao's revolution in China at the mid-20th century.

I'm about halfway through, and I'm more affected by it than I thought I would be. In the sweep of revolutionary fervor that cherished everything Mao said to his people, they cast out ideas and store signs and even clothes, gathered in mobs to take from the rich and from the middle class, and placed more value on people who were mediocre and unsuccessful in life, while casting out those who were achievers.

That's Mao's socialism - destroy the old ideas, the old culture, the old customs, and the old habits. Which in itself sounds innocuous and even healthy. Except that it was extended to include thought control. All for one and one for all. No wealth, no ambition, no ego, no self.

Here on my blog and in public, I can say anything that I choose and no one can stop me. I can aspire to be anything in life that I choose and no one will stop me. My family's history and class status doesn't mark me - I'm independent of my ancestors' lives and choices.

Makes me very thankful for America.

ETC: I finished the book late last night. Anyone who idolizes Mao or the reform that he brought is a dangerous fool. To use children in the way that they did and to make people choose between their family and the state over simple matters of freedom of speech and choice in friendships is utter tyranny.

At the tail end of the book, the author, Ji-Li Jiang, speaks of the freedom that we in America enjoy. I was already feeling that way in the middle of the book, but by the end of the book, her way of talking of the joy in a simple parade where no one was concerned about what said or how they acted was refreshing. I think too many people in America don't fathom the greatness of what we have, or why others in similarly restrictive regimes, like Mao's, crave these freedoms as well.

Thanks Kris for mentioning this book. My kids are now interested in reading it, by the way :)


Tags: books
by Brett Rogers, 5/9/2005 11:45:04 PM