A Little About Conrad…
The first time I Googled myself I was outranked by a dead man. That’s a real boost for self-confidence, right? It was even more fun to discover his son was more popular than me, too.
To be fair, Conrad L. Hall and his son, Conrad W. Hall, are famous Directors of Photography. The father won Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, and Road to Perdition (posthumous). Seven more of his films were nominated for Oscars. I’d say it’s fair for him to be better known than a retired carpenter turned copywriter and author, yes?
That’s sort of how life has gone for me – the comparisons, I mean. Having Conrad Hall be more popular than me never really bothered me. I grew up watching his films, and it made a lot of sense. I mean, the guy was nominated for ten Oscars and he won three times.
It was funny after he won for Road to Perdition. I was working in film as a carpenter, so there had already been a few incidents of mistaken identity. This time, it was a few days after the Oscars and I was going into a studio at Toronto Film Studios. The big overhead door was starting to open as I walked up so I put down my toolboxes and stood there with my tool belt over my shoulder.
The door was opening so the production team could just walk out. God forbid the director, producers, and other production team members use anything as mundane as the side door, right?
Well, this time they ran into yours truly. I had just picked up my toolboxes and started forward when one of them asked who I was. Now that seems fairly innocuous, right? But this guy’s voice was dripping with contempt. How dare someone who clearly engages in manual labour dare to stand in his path?
Without giving it any real thought, I looked him in the eye and said “I’m Conrad Hall.”
Well, you’d think I was the Ghost of Christmas Past come to life. They were all struck dumb. A few looked positively frightened. I knew exactly what was going on, and this time I was a wee bit irked at the snotty attitude.
“Yeah. Right.” A brief pause, “I’m a different Conrad.” And I walked through the midst of the group.
That was fun.
Other let downs, put downs, and comparisons have been less fun. Suffice it to say I’ve lived a life with great, moderate, and little joys as well as disappointments, offences, and outrages. Some have been of my own devising (including some I’d rather deny) and others have been crafted by outside influences. That life experience is what prompted? equipped? motivated? me to build the Cranium Ex Rectum philosophy.
We’ve all heard someone yelling “pull your head out of your arse,” right? It’s always an insult or being screamed in anger. Well, cranium ex rectum means the same thing literally, but it’s a lot funnier (and milder) in the Latin. You have to think about it a little to get it.
But the meaning is a little deeper, too. We often think of the cranium and the head being the same, but they’re different. The cranium is really just the part of the skull enclosing the brain. Cranium Ex Rectum is about getting your brain unstuck from bad thought habits.
Rectum, on the other end, is the final section of the large intestine. Your arse is the big fleshy muscles of your bum. Your anus is the strong muscle that holds everything closed. And the rectum is the last place poop gathers before being pushed out of your body.
And if you know anything about me, you know I’m big on PEP versus POOP. So it really strikes me as appropriate – Cranium Ex Rectum – get your brain free of the POOP in your life.
I learned a lot of POOP as a kid. Then I heaped more into my life as a teenager and young adult. And yes, there were lots of people throwing in their two bits worth along the way. It ended up creating a real gulf between who people thought I was and who a few people discovered me to be. Now, let’s be clear I put on a real show of lying, being changeable, threatening, punishing, and criticizing. Anyone who thought I was a massive dick had good reason to think so.
Being that person taught me a lot. Does that sound trite? Ooo, the big bully learned a thing or two did he? But I mean something rather different.
There was me, Conrad, a very caring, honest, accepting, encouraging, and supportive person. I hid myself away inside a shell of punishing, threatening, lying, and blaming because people terrify me. In my life, people have been incredibly, often violently, poopy toward me. You know how it is… You get hassled or kicked or tormented enough and you grow a shell as a last ditch effort at self-protection.
It took a long time. There were divorces, bankruptcies, criminal pursuits, homelessness, failed businesses, and even time in jail along the way. There were good times, too. I have built skyscrapers, home additions, children’s playrooms, loved and been loved, made lots of money, worked in film and travelled a fair bit. I’ve written multiple books with two of them becoming international bestsellers. And I was learning all along the way.
It took a long time to realise two things:
- The internal conversation we all have every day is the most important conversation of our life; and,
- Adults get to choose who participates in, or influences, that conversation
So, have I been a right royal arsehole to some people? Yes. And when the opportunity arises I apologise. But we’ve all met people who like to bring up past mistakes and throw them at us. Some of us are even married to people like that. And sometimes, we find out they are married to the dick. Whatever the case, the only way anyone can influence our internal conversation (our self-image) is for us to let them.