Dem Bones Dem Bones

In the field of web design, marketing, and PR, it is extremely important that you say what you really mean, clearly, concisely, and so that others will not only understand, but understand what you WANT them to understand.

Tombstone is one of my favorite movies, and a favorite of many people across the world.  Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday was arguably the best character and some would even say he made the movie.  I would be one of them.

But I fear his most recognized line in the movie is also his most misunderstood.

When the movie is brought up in conversation, it is inevitable that someone is going to say “I’m your huckleberry.”

Now admit it.  Unless you are aware of the explanation I am about to give of the true line and meaning, the first time you heard it, you didn’t quite get it right?  It left you with a feeling of “huh?  Oh, he must mean he’s the man for the job, so ‘huckleberry’ must be slang for that.”  You just inserted your own opinion and explanation for something you didn’t quite understand.

If you did this don’t feel bad.  It is a common human trait that goes back before recorded time.  In my opinion and from my observation, man hates to be left with something unexplained.  And in the abscense of facts, he will invent some.  This is a very useful and very dangerous trait at the same time.  But that is another discussion.

Knowing that it exists is enough for this discussion.  People heard “huckleberry”, couldn’t fit it into reference, so made up their own reference.  Heck, some people even posted it in forums and blogs to try and make it a fact by publication.  Another subject I know, but publication does not always mean fact.  Observe The Enquirer.

The truth, as odd as it may seem, deals in bones, wagons, and funerals.  Huh?


A ‘huckle’ is a term that has its roots in England around the early to mid 1500’s.  It is simply the hip bone which the remaining bones connect to.  Through time it became the term for bones in general and made it’s way slowly to the southeastern US in the 1700’s and 1800’s.

Incidentally, it was also the term for part of the wagon that attaches the harness and horses.  A connecting ‘wagon bone’ if you will.

But back to the term and Doc’s use of it.

You see, when we have a funeral today, we call the men who carry the casket ‘pallbearers’.

In the Southeast US back then when people carried the casket containing the body, which contained the bones, or huckles, those men were called ‘hucklebearers’.  Not huckleberry’s.

tombstone_Val KilmerWhat Doc was saying in the movie was “I’m your hucklebearer”.  Now, picture who he said that to in which situation.  Makes a lot more sense doesn’t it?

In essence what he was saying to Johnny Ringo was, “I’ll bury you.”

But, thousands of people still believe he said ‘huckleberry’, all from a simple split second misunderstanding.

So, when you are marketing, make sure your message is clear.  Otherwise, you never know what people may think!

Of course, one of my favorite lines is “Why Johnny Ringo.  You look somebody just walked over your grave.”

by Michael Graves

Opie Vs. Jethro

The importance of being the loudest ‘voice’ must not be underestimated.  Just ask Jethro Bodine.

Here at Visual Edge Design we harp on the importance of SEO, strategically designed websites, well written content, constantly growing keyword rich blogs, etc, for a reason.

We talk about strategies, rankings, visibility, and growth, but it all comes down to one thing.

You must constantly fight to have your voice heard.  If you don’t, the other guys voice WILL be heard, no matter how incorrect it is.

Here is a prime example.opie

If you haven’t already, you need to watch Cinderella Man starring Russell Crow andRenee Zellweger.  It is an amazing true story about human perseverance and triumph directed by Ron Howard.  That is where the Opie reference comes in as Ron played the cute little boy character on The Andy Griffith Show years ago.

But where does Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies fit into this?

Well, Cinderella Man, among other things, is about the historical fight between James Braddock and Max Baer Sr.  Max was favored 8-1 over James and a lot of people thought that Max would actually kill James.

That’s the big tension builder.  Max had killed Frank Campbell in the ring some few years before hitting him hard enough to separate his brain from his skull.

Now every good movie, in my opinion, has a good guy and a bad guy.  James Braddock was the good guy and Max Baer was the man killing machine bad guy.

Or at least that’s how Ron Howard portrayed him.  And it worked!  I hated the guy while I was watching the movie.  I’m sure that most people watching the movie did as well.  Ron did his job swimmingly coloring Max Bear Sr. as the villain.

jethro_bodineHere’s where Jethro comes in.

The character of Jethro was played by Max Baer Jr.  Yep, the ‘killers’ son.

So when the movie came out, Junior was extremely upset at Ron Howard’s portrayal of his father as the bad guy.

What Ron didn’t tell you was that Max Baer Sr. was so distraught after killing Frank Campbell that he had nightmares, cried several times from there out, and actually donated his subsequent fighting purses to Frank’s widow and two children.  He then went on to support her and put both of Frank’s kids through college.

The night of the fight Max went to Frank’s widow, Ellie, and offered her the hand that killed her husband.  She said “It even might have been you mighten’t it?” instantly forgiving Max.

Max Baer Jr. (Jethro) said in an interview with the New York Daily News in 2005,

My father cried about what happened to Frankie Campbell. He had nightmares. In reality, my father was one of the kindest, gentlest men you would ever hope to meet. He treated boxing the way today’s professional wrestlers do wrestling: part sport, mostly showmanship. He never deliberately hurt anyone.”200px-Max_Baer_at_Speculator_NY_1935

Upon his death in 1959, Max Baer Sr.’s funeral was attended by over 1500 people including former champions, politicians, celebrities, and common folk alike.  It stood as a testament to his extensive philanthropic achievements which are too long to list in this one blog post.

Suffice it to say Jethro’s dad was not the killing monster that Opie made him out to be.

But, the movie had the louder voice.  Therefore, the picture was painted and the opinion was formed in the general public.

So, make sure you are doing everything you can to make your own voice heard.

By the way, remind me sometime to tell you a few actual historical facts behind another favorite movie of mine, Tombstone.

Teaser: Doc is not saying ‘Huckleberry’.

By Michael Graves

Anne Frank: The Perfect Blogger?

I’m probably going to step on some toes here, but here it goes.

As a professional blog writer, the main hurdle I face with my clients is education about what a blog is supposed to be, not what it has in too many instances become.

As a reader, not a writer of blogs, the one thing that really gets my goat is when someone blatantly uses their blog as a marketing and sales tool. That is not the origin or the (obvious) purpose of a blog.

Let’s separate the three main tools you have at your disposal and put them in perspective. Maybe that will clarify my agitation, not unlike a race horse whom has had their goat taken from the corral (people used to put goats in the stables with race horses to keep them calm, thus the phrase “gets my goat”)

The three aforementioned tools are website, articles, and blogs. All three are integral in increasing traffic ergo business. The first two are expected marketing tools. The last is not.

Think about that. When you go to a website, you expect to be marketed to. When you read an article written by a company, the purpose is obvious – marketing. And I am sure that I am not the only one who is just a little on guard when being marketed to, even if I asked for the pitch.

Scratch that. ESPECIALLY if I asked for the pitch.

A blog is supposed to be a ‘safe’ place. It’s roots are firmly planted in relaxed contemplation. The word itself is a derivation of the word weblog, or web log, an online diary. It should be conversational, informative, entertaining, and hopefully viral (especially if you are a business).

The most famous of all diaries is The Anne Frank Diaries. It is one of the most widely read books and has been the subject of many plays and movies. Anne simply wrote daily entries about her day to day life that eventually chronicled her life as a Jew in hiding, during the occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany.

Her writings were informative, sometimes entertaining, and ultimately heartbreaking. She wrote these entries in secrecy. Yet, her diary has done more to educate the world about the life of a Holocaust victim than most any other publication.

I would be willing to bet almost anything that the last thing she had in mind was marketing. However, amazing things have come about from the tip of her pen on paper.

Ok, so if your toes weren’t sufficiently squashed before…

What if she were writing that diary as a blog from a secret location of enemy occupation today? How many followers of her blog do you think she would have? I won’t even attempt to fathom a guess. But I’m sure if you use your imagination you could get an idea.

That is how powerful simple thoughts, ideas, and stories can be. And that is what a blog should be. It should be conversational, informative, entertaining, engaging, and for the purpose of business, popular.

In most cases it shouldn’t be technically descriptive or product/service driven. That is what your website is for.

Your blog is not something you write to describe a subject that in turn lists you as an authority on the subject. That is what your articles are for (not to mention that articles should exist outside of you website therefore doing nothing for content).

A blog can have many personalities. It can be staunch and businesslike or it could be whimsical or tongue in cheek. Either way, at the base of it all, it should be informative, entertaining, engaging, and hopefully popular.

The fact that if done properly it constantly increases the size of your website, with keyword rich content which can be promoted through various blog search engines and social media sites thereby strengthening your search engine optimization, and ultimately your bottom line, is a little secret we’ll keep between ourselves.

By Michael Graves

Clearwater FL, the Heart of Legendary Influence?

Here in Clearwater FL, and for the whole Tampa bay area for that matter, there is actually an abundance of history surrounding famous celebrities, both dead and alive, like Mel Tillis, Col. Tom Parker, The Rolling Stones, and yes Jim Morrison.

Born in Melbourne, Florida, Jim lived the first three years of his life right here in Clearwater, FL with his mother at his grandparents’ house roughly 3 blocks away from downtown Clearwater.

When Jim’s father returned from naval duty, Jim was hauled off and eventually ended up in Virginia.

Now, given his known history, it is no stretch of the imagination why his parents, finding their now teenage son incorrigible, shipped Jim back to his grandparents here in Clearwater where he went to St. Petersburg College, a junior college at the time. He spent a few more years here and actually graduated albeit with a shaky C average. Of course there were a couple of trips to Crazy California during that time as well that eventually drew him back out to the West Coast for what Paul Harvey would have called “The rest of the story”.

Now, for all you Doors fans, this may not be news. But let’s speculate a bit. How much of a creative influence was his time here?jim_morrison

This is where he met the first love of his life, Mary Werbelow right out on Pier 60, not 2 miles away from downtown Clearwater.

This is where he studied philosophy. This is where he lived when he would take the bus to beatnik coffee house in Tampa called The House of Seven Sorrows Café where novelist and poet Jack Kerouc hung out at the time.

This is where he wrote poetry that he would then read at the smoke hazed Beaux Arts Coffee House in Pinellas Park roughly 10 miles south of downtown Clearwater. This is an historical venue that hosted an array of artists including Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and Woody Guthrie.

Was Jim there when Woody was there? Bob Dylan, Phil Octs, Tom Paxton, and countless others acknowledge that Woody Guthrie was a major influence for them. Is Jim Morrison also a part of that list?

Picture this. March, 1962, Clearwater FL, a young Jim and Mary board a bus on the corner of Cleveland and Ft. Harrison bound for Pinellas Park. Jim is eager yet quiet in mental preparation for this nights performance. Mary leaves him to his silence knowing that, although he won’t admit it, he’s a bit nervous. It is rumored that THE Woody Guthrie will make an appearance tonight at Beaux Arts.

Jim and Mary step off the bus hand in hand at the corner of 60th St. North and 77th Ave, a short walk from Beaux Arts. As they walk into the smoky coffee shop it takes Jim a moment to spot Jack Kerouac seated at a table in the corner pouring over his own notes for the evening.

Jack looks and smiles absently at Jim and offers a wink to Mary, or was it just a squint through the smoke trailing up from the cigarette in the corner of his mouth?

Jim asks, “Is he here?” They both know who he’s asking about. Jack’s gaze shifts to a point behind Jim with a upward nod. Jim turns around to see Woody Guthrie standing behind him.

“Hey man, I hear good things about your work” Woody says.

It could be argued that the most formative years of an artist’s life in regards to their craft occur between the ages of 18 and 22 and Jim spent most of those years right here in Clearwater, FL not 3 blocks away from downtown.

That’s about as close to the heart of Clearwater as one can get. As for being an influence, we would have to ask Jim himself to be sure, but my money would be on yes.

Fear Killed Al Capone

I don’t know about you, but I’m afraid of needles.

I grew up working on farms and ranches, so I’m not afraid of pain. I’ve racked my knuckles working on equipment. I’ve blistered my hands digging fence posts. I’ve had my feet stepped on my 1,500 lb cattle and a myriad of other pain inducing circumstances I could list that support the claim that I am not afraid of pain. All of them I knowingly and voluntarily exposed myself too without hesitation or fear.

But needles? Yeah. I’m afraid of them. But then again, so was Al Capone. I’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I’d wager that anyone that has Trypanophobia (that’s what the fear of needles is called by the way), is just like me. I can find no rational reason for the fear. I’m afraid, but couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. And looking at myself objectively, I find that just plain silly.

Nonetheless, the fear is there.

Just so we’re clear, trypanophobia is a fear of needles used in medical practice including acupuncture needles. Even though I am told by a very reliable source that one doesn’t feel acupuncture needles at all.

“At all?” I ask.

“At all” she says.

“Hmmm…” I say quite skeptically as I raise one eyebrow.

Enetophobia is the fear of needles in general. That’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t run screaming from the room if I happen to see a pin cushion. Heck, I’ve even tried to sew a button or two back on a shirt or jacket. Didn’t work out to well, but at least I tried!

Fear of medical needles is what I am talking about. And it can actually kill you. It killed Al Capone.

Here’s how.

Al, as you probably know, was a notorious gangster, probably the most famous gangster in history. Suffice it to say, he led a wild life. And somewhere along the line he contracted syphilis.

As tough as Al Capone was, as mean as Al Capone was, as feared as Al Capone was, he was a big baby when it came to needles. He wouldn’t get a shot to clear it up. Eventually the syphilis spread to his brain, aka neurosyphilis, and he died from it.

This is a guy who made the decision somewhere in his youth to lead a life that literally made him a target, a magnet for enemy bullets. Yet he was too afraid to get a shot, a simple pin-prick to receive medicine that could have saved his life.

Quite literally, fear killed Al Capone.

As interesting as that tale may be, and as extreme as it may seem, the problem is quite real. Many people procrastinate and put off medical and dental treatment due to trypanophobia, which leads to the exacerbation of the condition to critical levels and yes, even death.

Minimally it makes the problem worse than it should be resulting in additional treatment that would have been unnecessary if the condition was handled sooner.

So to all my fellow trypanophobia sufferers, let’s stop being big babies and just get poked. And from what I’m told acupuncture needles don’t hurt “at all”.

The problem is not going to go away. It’s not even going to stay the same. As a matter of fact, it’s just going to get worse.

How bad can it get? Remember Al Capone.


Michael Graves