Charlie Fern's Ink

Do what you say. Say it in color.

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Name: Charlie Fern
Location: San Diego-Austin-Washington-London

Charlie Fern is a former White House speechwriter who runs a full-scale communications consulting, PR and speechwriting firm. Ms. Fern is also an adjunct professor who teaches public relations at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Photos of the places where my mind will drift

If you want to know what makes my heart ache, this about sums it up.

I have my own versions of some of these photos, and videos from some of the same locations. Every time I visit Cornwall, I have a deeper desire to stay. And every time I leave, I feel as though I've left myself behind. Invariably I try to bring bits and pieces of England home with me -- photos, food, sand, pebbles, wood, music, clothes, toys, friends.

But it's impossible to surround yourself with something you love so much without actually being there. Seeing these particular selections through someone else's lens, though, adds indescribable richness and depth to the etches, tones and hues of my own recollections of the place.

These pictures remind me that the villages and towans and beaches where the other part of me lives really do exist. The clock ticks here, and time passes there. Hayle exists beyond my imagination. These photos are someone else's proof of it. And the place is as beautiful to them as it is to me.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Charlie Takes it on the Chin

I dislike rude awakenings, in any form.  The other day I caught a glance of myself (or rather my side-self) on film, and I was astonished to discover that the lower half of my face has been swept away by some sort of turbo-mandibular landslide. In fact, my chin has almost completely disappeared into my neck.

At first I thought that lump in my throat was a sentimental thing that comes along with motherhood. Nope. It's the jawbone in my esophagus.

I've apparently inherited the jowls of an old British man, which explains a lot because my ancestors are from the U.K. (they're English, Irish, and Scottish).
 There's a dash of German in there somewhere, but my brother got all of that because there's enough real estate below his mouth to support both a chin and a cleft.

 Scientists may have formulated theories about the receding hairline, but what of the disappearing jaw? What would Charles Darwin have said about the receding chin? Would he have compared it to the early hominid tailbone and proclaimed it unnecessary after 5,000 years? What the hell kind of evolutionary feature is that?

What I really want to know is, why do so many British people have weak chins, and why did I have to inherit one?

Did my ancestors' facial muscles so repeatedly contort from snorting and saying "Wuhl, oy deunt know" that the entire bottom half of their faces finally caved in? Maybe they thought it was better to "keep a stiff upper lip" than to heed the advice to "chin up". Regardless, someone should have realized that if they kept doing that to their faces, they'd eventually get stuck that way.

I always assumed that my British grandmother's mouth was agape because of something I said. Now I realize it was just a flat jaw. I won't stand for it, I tell you. I don't want to evolve. I want my jawline back. 

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Miss Charlie's Clever Picks for Cyber Monday Shopping

If you find the humor in these mouthy little aliens carrying off a garden gnome, then you'll probably like some of the other clever items in the Wireless Catalog and its sister, Signals, both of which are loaded with self-proclaimed "Gifts that Inspire, Enlighten, and Entertain." 

If your wallet is too thin for the $50 price tag on artist Fred Conlon's clever garden art, then you might find a better fit with other items inside, like a $22 T-shirt that comes with its own nametag: a standard-print, "HI, MY NAME IS" and hand-written underneath, "Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." (from movie The Princess Bride, for about $22.)

If you want to add some meritorious miles to your purchases and give back to a good cause, check out the Epic Change Gift Shop, which sells inspirational items including the peace, joy, love cards below.  Epic Change says the cards' tiny little handprints belong to either Teivin, Naomi, or Pius, who are students at a school in Tanzania.  Your purchase will help raise funds for the school so it can continue to make important improvements (like building a classroom and adding books to the library).  

I found Epic Change through the social networking site Twitter.  Through the power of social networking, the organization raised $10,000 in 48 hours to build that classroom for the school. Their website states, "Epic Change makes loans to changemakers like the school's founder, Mama Lucy Kamptoni, then collaborates with them to make their hopeful stories into income they need to pay back loans and create sustainable income streams to support their efforts. By buying these gifts instead of a fruitcake and toasters this year, you are directly supporting the efforts of a woman in Tanzania who used to sell chickens, and used her income to build a school that now serves 242 amazing kids..." including the kiddos who belong to the handprints on the cards.  

If you love all things retro - or any unusual thing retro - you may thank me for the hip-tip of Hip Haven.  Based in Austin, Texas, and run by a redhead with fantastic taste in purchasing, you'll find a lot of unexpected and absolutely delightful retro-style and truly retro objects, including one of my favorite finds so far (I'm not going to tell you my top favorite, because I want to buy it myself) -- a series of boldly pronounced, bullet-shaped planters (like the one on the main page of her site, pictured here).  I can count 16 people on one hand who would love to unwrap these clever items this year.  I hope they come with a box....

And here's another vintage treat, while you're shopping.  I had to save the absolutely best, most-fun-ever-shopping website for last. It's Kitts Couture vintage clothing out of one of the most beautiful places on earth, Cornwall, England. 

I am biased, I admit it. I visited the shop in Penzance last year and couldn't help but drop a few hundred pounds there.  Unfortunately, even that didn't get me into the size 6 vintage dress that was said to be hand-made by a famous designer whose name I've blocked from memory for sewing something so damnably small.  Size 6 in the UK in the 1960s is NOT the size 6 you find today in the U.S., ladies, so be forewarned.  

All that aside, this website is simply fantastic.  It's well-done -- entertaining from front to back, and you can buy things to boot!  What's not to love about that?

Anyway, Happy Cyber Monday everyone, and safe shopping.  And if you wind up buying anything from the vintage gals, tell 'em Charlie sent you.  

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