Our Two Brains by Larry Saavedra

If you have an in-house creative department, or you are searching for a freelance creative consultant follow the cues set by Walt Disney before you get started formalizing your ideas. 

What Disney did was to place right-brained people together with their left-brained counterparts as he leaped from project to project building his Magic Kingdom.

Understand that the right hemisphere of our brain "is mainly in charge of spatial abilities, face recognition and processing music." Whereas, the left hemisphere "is dominate with speech, and computation of numbers." 

Disney knew the science intimately. 

While Roger Sperry was the neuropsychologist credited with understanding how right- and left-brained people think, it was Disney, who put Sperry's discovery to practice in business.

Disney knew that for every creative project there had to be a finance officer to keep it on track. So he placed a financial person in the same room as the creative person and together their goal was to make Disney's plans succeed. 

Obviously, the artists would have loved to explore their ideas without any financial barriers, but that would have amounted to chaos. Or, vice-versa. A bean-counter couldn't have propelled Disney to stardom using spreadsheets alone. 

So he brought the two very different mindsets together in the same department to keep the creative ideas flowing, without financial worries. 

What this means to you is that for every creative project there must be a reasonable financial aspect to it, essentially a detailed budget, but much more than that. For the project to work, creative people must keep the costs in the back of their minds, knowing that the financial person is handling the spreadsheets. 

Creative projects under Disney were well-funded, but never out-of-control. Meaning, budgets were set, but they were realistic and flexible. 

So the next time you begin the creative process, keep Disney in mind. You will start to see how he built a theme park in the City of Anaheim into one of the biggest companies in the world by simply understanding the science behind our two-sided brains.

What's in a Name by Larry Saavedra

I'm asked the origin of my surname often. Some say, it's the double vowel (aa) that gives it a Flemish or Dutch sound. Double vowel names are not uncommon in Europe, but they are much less common than Johnson or O'Brien in the U.S., although the automaker Saab with its double vowel (aa) might argue that because Saab is a huge name in America. 

Others insist, Saavedra must be Scandinavian, but its actual origin is in the far warmer climate of north central Spain. I'm telling you this because there's a great website online that helps writers learn the pronunciation of difficult surnames. It's a great site for those in the creative field, who meet people from all sorts of countries in their quests to develop stories. Smith is easy to pronounce, but try pronouncing the surnames Aiyegbeni or Ouaddou, which belong to world-class soccer players. This website makes it simple to get the name right before you use it conversation!

If you wondered, the name Saavedra (hear pronunciation above in video) is a Galician surname from the Northern part of Spain. It means..."hall and old main house" in Latin. Apparently centuries ago a family lived in an old rather large house and the Saavedra surname stuck. It is perhaps best linked to the author Cervantes de Saavedra, who wrote the literary classic Don Quixote. It's a monster of a novel, but I managed to read it a couple of times.

The surname isn't easy to pronounce. I don't roll the "rrrrrS" when I pronounce my surname like in the video, but at least I learned the meaning and origin of my surname, my father's given name.

When writing short fiction stories, I feel that having a clear understanding of one's own origin is another tool when crafting particular characters and scenes, allowing me to extrapolate Prose from real provenance and personal cultural experiences.

It's a writer's ethnic honesty of who she or he is that then connects readers to the saga. Writing with a sense of origin to me is much easier than trying to be something that you are not. I doubt I will ever write a story about a German pastry baker even if her name is easy to pronounce.

 

Pin Up Girls by Larry Saavedra

 Image copyright Larry Saavedra

Image copyright Larry Saavedra

Believe it or not, the history of pin-up girls goes way back to the 1800s.

Pin-up models have been used by photographers and artists for centuries and for all intents and purposes, it has worked to get mostly men to look at advertisements, or stories of products.

While it might be a shameless way of promoting goods and services, the idea behind the pin-up model is actually very clever. If an advertiser can get you to look at their pin-up model on a calendar, poster or magazine ad then it did its job. That's the purpose behind using models, the more eye-balls the advertiser can reach, the better.

Yet, does it send the wrong message? Is it old school? Chauvinistic? Absolutely. But marketers continue to use pin-up models, just look at Sports Illustrated's yearly Swimsuit issues.

I've photographed hundreds of models with cars and car products for dozens of national newsstand magazines, and it was always considered an essential part of the niche magazine automotive publishing business. But by about the mid-1990s, I decided to stop using models with my photography and stories.

The reason behind my sudden departure was basically this; I had other opinions as to what car guys wanted to see, and what I wanted readers to understand about the subject.

For me and other automotive journalists, the change from pin-up photography worked, and even without pin-ups or models, the stories I published were widely popular with readers because they were more interested in the cars or products being featured than the models. They were the nerds of the car world, pin-ups became a distraction from the real substance of the story.

But few can argue with the fact that if you want to cater to the broadest national or global market, sometimes a little help from a beautiful, fit model (male or female) can do wonders in return.

 

Ed Roth, George Barris and Me by Larry Saavedra

I interviewed my boyhood idol, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth when I first got started writing for car magazines back in the late Eighties. Roth was the real deal, a real gasser you could say. He lived, breathed and slept the car culture, and he changed the way people saw this form of expression.

He was the man behind Rat Fink and any number of cool, crazy rides. He was anti-establishment in every sense...a rebel at marketing, too. He did things his way, and his fans loved him for it, including me.

As a boy I had built just about every plastic model Roth had made for Revell. My favorite was probably Mr. Gasser.

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The day I met Big Daddy he was still very active in the car scene, but clearly he was slowing down some. I still wonder to this day if he really knew how many millions of followers he had. People just loved him. I was writing for a very popular truck enthusiast magazine at the time, and that got me the interview with Roth.

I admit I was pretty nervous when I saw him rounding the corner of his house in Southern California, wearing that famous stovepipe black hat with white short-sleeved shirt and black skinny tie, and flashing a huge smile as if you were a long-lost friend. 

I didn't know what to expect as I stood there before him, now just a few feet from my childhood hero. I figured he'd have this enormous ego, and could care less for this younger man with a camera and a dog-eared reporter's notebook. But Roth embraced the moment, serving up a series of one-liners and practically jumping with glee because he was thinking of relaunching another series of plastic toy models of his famous cars like Beatnik Bandit. His energy reverberated throughout my body.

Big Daddy talked, a lot. He talked so fast that I could barely keep up. And he had no problem showing me a glimpse of the actual full-size plaster and paper mock-up used to create the original fiberglass Beatnik Bandit. I practically tripped over myself trying to absorb all of this inside information. 

Big Daddy led me to his modest garage behind his home and slowly lifted the single-car wooden door. It was then that I got a look at the Mother Lode of customizing. There is was, barely a shadow in the dim garage, the Beatnik Bandit, or to be exact, it was a paper mache and plaster mold used to form the fiberglass body of the car. It was slightly leaning on its side, held up by a few old black milk crates and looking rather pathetic. Of course, Big Daddy saw only beauty in it. He looked like a little boy marveling at his creation, his eyes darting back and forth, picking at areas of the car and adding running commentary as he reflected on his next move in the automotive world. He was quite the character, just about as zany and lovable as his models I remember as a child.  

Big Daddy's contemporary of the time was definitely the King of Kustoms, George Barris.

I met Barris in Las Vegas at the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association show. SEMA was the place to rub shoulders with the who's who of the automotive world, but this time I was going to speak with him. 

Kicked up against the tire of some street rod, Barris had attracted a small audience around him. All eyes were focused on Barris as he glanced around the room in his famous gold satin shop jacket bearing his logo. Alongside him was Dick Jackson, who worked for Barris from 1949 to '58.

Tucked under my arm was a mint condition copy of his book Famous Custom & Show Cars, which depicted the most incredible works of art, built to resemble versions of beds, bathtubs, telephone booths and even covered wagons. These wild machines were often powered by huge horsepower engines, and most actually could be driven, a few appearing in popular TV shows of the Sixties and Seventies like the Munsters

Barris spotted my book, and he immediately asked if he could see it. "Would you like to sell it?, he asked. "I haven't seen this book in many years." 

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I handed it over to him. As he flipped through the pages, he reminisced about the cars, suggesting that I never let go of this book because it went out of publication years ago. With a swirl of his Sharpie, he signed it. It was one of the first times, I had ever approached a celebrity for an autograph, but Barris was different.

Harris and Big Daddy were certainly famous, icons of the automotive world. Yet, they were more like the creations they conceived...totally one of a kind and priceless to those that appreciated their genius.