We’re on a roll! Week two of the Smooch! Ellen photo shoots, held at Maria’s Cafe in South Minneapolis, was a resounding success — despite the fact that I ACCIDENTALLY DELETED (Argghhh!) the photos of my fabulous friends, Jerry and Viva Beck. Luckily, this gracious couple was kind enough to return for a re-take shoot so I could include them in the Smooch! Ellen effort, as evidenced in the photo above: Jerry & Viva luv Ellen. Not only are they FAMOUS much-loved celebrities, they are stalwart and supportive FRIENDS, which counts for so much more in my book. Viva and Jerry been entertaining people with their television antics for more than 18 years via their weekly cable television variety show, Viva & Jerry’s Country Music Videos. Online, get a sample of their work by visiting the Minneapolis Television Network website MTN.blip.tv. Be sure to watch them locally on MCN (Metro Cable Network, Channel 6) at 6pm Friday and 11pm Saturday. These two do not know it yet but they are now official Smooch! Project Heroes as a result of all their efforts on behalf of the project. This means you’ll be hearing more about them very soon.
Other than accidentally erasing the first set of Viva & Jerry pics, the second week of Smooch! Ellen shoots went very well. There were 56 participants. I am working to complete 28 new official Smooch! Ellen Photo Shoot Certificates to ship off to Warner Bros. Studios. The set should ship this coming Wed. morning. When Ellen gets them, she’ll have received 74 of them total, representing 105 stalwart fans (plus a dog who loves peanut butter). For your viewing pleasure, the latest pics have been uploaded to theSmooch! Ellen gallery on the project website.
While at Maria’s Cafe, 11 new photos for The Smooch! Project Archive were also collected. They’ve been uploaded to the project website, where the archive now holds 489 beautiful photos. Click this link to go to the spot within the archive where the latest archive images begin.
Last Saturday, The Smooch! Project was busy collecting photos at Midtown Global Market. I have not yet had an opp to review, edit, or draw stats from this group, but I can tell you there are several beautiful new Smooch! Archive photos in addition to a whole new set of Smooch! Ellen pics. Her fans are everywhere! More details to come on this collection of images soon.
One humorous story to share about this shoot. I was unloading the equipment at the market. It was 7:30am and it was still dark. I had parked in the Midtown Global Market loading dock, near the dumpster and by some bushes. I was reaching into the side passenger door to get some gear. When I shut the door, I found a raccoon at my feet, less than 12-inches away, quietly looking up at me with expectant beady eyes. Yikes! I had 50 pounds of equipment hanging from my shoulders. No way I was going to suddenly leap backwards, even if the wish had occurred to me. Instead, I did a silly thing that I always do when I get suddenly frightened. I say in loud accusatory tone, “You scared me!” Yes, weird, I know, but it is a reflexive response and it will likely be a long, long time before I am mindfully skilled enough to change it. Anyway, that’s what I said and the raccoon (which was thankfully not one of those great big ones, just the size of a large cat) simply blinked at me in disappointment, wiggled its sharp little nose and crawled back under the car on its way (hopefully) back to where it came from. It was not frightened by me or my reaction. I got the impression the animal was wondering if I had a gift of food to offer. Market grocery vendors unload their produce at the dock and I imagine some of them probably toss food to any raccoon bold enough to step into view. The dumpster, I am sure, also holds plenty of food attractive to these animals. As I clearly did not have what it was looking for, I was no longer of interest. Totally fine by me!
This morning, the next week-long Smooch! Ellen shoot was installed in the new 42nd Avenue Station, a coffee and deli operated by two “locals” born and raised in North Minneapolis. Eat in or take out, you’ll find delectable soups, sandwiches, desserts, gourmet coffees, tea and smoothies. Park on the street or in the lot behind the restaurant. Check the calendar at the right for address details. The first day went very well. I expect to collect many new photos for both the Smooch! Ellen collection, as well as the classic Smooch! Archive.
Got a pet you’d like to smooch? All well-behaved pets and their humans are welcome at the Wilde Roast Cafe this coming Saturday, Oct 24. The shoot will run from 11am to 7pm. Address details can be found in the calendar at the right. Hope to see you there!
Wow! We just completed the first week in the four-week run of back-to-back Smooch! Ellen photo shoots. (For more info on what the Smooch! Ellen photo shoots are and why I am doing them, please see the Sept.30 entry below.) It was completely hilarious. Fifty people walked into the shoot at Day by Day Cafe and happily demonstrated their affection for Ellen. Among them was young superstar (in my humble opinion) mom Leah with three (count ‘em!) two-year-old sons, shown above. The title of this photo is Leah (with Cole, Tanner and Parker) luvs Ellen. Leah was also accompanied by her sister-in-law Katie, who brought her own daughter, 16-month-old Myah.
This group of six people were majorly-committed Ellen fans. They told me they had driven in from Wisconsin just to participate in the Smooch! Ellenphoto shoot. Even the kids were pumped. One of them spied my silly flat Ellen cutout lying on a table, grabbed it, threw it on the carpeted floor and then threw himself on top of it to smooch its face over and over. Within seconds, all three triplets were on the floor on top of the cutout, smooching away. It took some effort to get it away from them.
This particular shoot was challenging for obvious reasons. But the situation was compounded by the fact that another young mother shortly arrived with HER twin two-year-olds. It was Wednesday. I was halfway through the week-long shoot. Until that moment, I had not yet photographed any children and here, suddenly, there were six toddlers in the room! We completed the shoots for Leah & Katie and the moms dutifully completed the paperwork I gave them. After a moment of confusion, I made a disconcerting discovery. Turns out the paperwork I had printed for the children was actually another copy of the doc used for the adults. Arghh! A frustrating moment for all involved: tired kids, tired moms, discombobulated photographer. I regret that my admin error added to the confusion — lesson learned! But we got past that speedbump and managed to capture some extraordinary photos of the two moms with their beautiful children. I think Ellen will be very pleased when she sees them.
I will be spending the weekend selecting the final Smooch! Ellen photos from each shoot. While at Day by Day Cafe, I collected 32 of them! I’ll be creating the official Smooch! Ellen Photo Shoot Certificates, which includes the photo, name and personal message to Ellen from each fan. These will be shipped off to Ellen at Warner Brothers studio on Sunday, for arrival on Tuesday afternoon.
This weekend, I also hope to get The Smooch Project website altered to include the growing collection of Smooch! Ellen photos too. I am not as geeky as I should be to easily take on that task but I’ll give it my best shot! Wish me luck and more to come on that.
Everyone who has not yet participated is welcome to come to the week long Smooch! Ellen shoot being held at Maria’s Cafe in South Minneapolis. A popular Columbian cafe located in the Ancient Trader’s Market, this restaurant offers a remarkable fusion of North and South American cuisines. Come for breakfast (most folks rave about the corn pancakes) or lunch. Parking on the street or in the market lot next to the restaurant. The Smooch! Ellen shoot will run from 7am to 3pm Monday through Friday. Please note: On Monday, there will be a two-hour delay as we set up and on Friday, the shoot will end one hour early to break it down again. Hope to see your smiling faces there!
You are also invited for a Saturday Smooch! shoot being held at the locally famous Midtown Global Market, the Twin Cities’ premier internationally-themed public market with more than 50 independent locally-owned businesses offering an amazing array of ethnic foods and goods. It’s an awesome place. If you’ve been there before, you know what I’m talking about. If you have never visited this market, you are in for an incredibly vibrant experience. See the calendar at the right for location info. Free parking is available for up to 3 hours in the Midtown Exchange parking ramp on the East sign of the building (10th Avenue, north of Lake Street). Bring your ticket in for validation with purchase. The Smooch! shoot will run from 11am to 7pm on Saturday, Oct. 17. A note to Ellen fans: Yes, my flat Ellen cutout will be in attendance at this shoot and you’ll be welcome to demonstrate your affection towards this famous talk show host and comedienne that day.
What fun I am having, holding a Smooch! Ellen photo shoot at Day by Day Cafe. A new Smooch! friend, Josie, heard about it via the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper and pedaled right over. She became the very first participant at this Saint Paul shoot. Way to go, Josie!
This hilarious effort to attract the attention of Ellen Degeneres has already garnered some great additional media coverage so far. Minnesota Public Radio Arts Writer, Marianne Combs, wrote a beautiful story about the project and the Smooch! Ellen effort for the MPR State of the Arts blog. Kathy Berdan, Arts & Entertainment Editor from The St. Paul Pioneer Pressis also considering running a longer story later this week, which would be very welcome.
If you live in St. Paul and are an Ellen fan, please be sure to stop by. Tell all your friends. Bring lots of people. The more photos I collect, the better! If you’re new to this project, please see the September 30 blog entry below to find out more. Several more opportunities to participate are coming up. Be sure to check the calendar at the right to find the Smooch! Ellen shoot most convenient to you.
Just lined up a couple of pet-friendly Smooch! shoots at the beautiful Wilde Roast Cafe. See the calendar for details. And, yes, in case you are wondering, my funny flat Ellen cutout will be in attendance as well, ready and waiting for her smoochy fans.
The Smooch! Project is powerful because, at first glance ,it is simply joyful and fun. But layered underneath is a deep discipline demonstrating that love touches us all, that we are all deserving — no matter what. And THAT is a transformative truth.