Don’t be a Martha – and Four Other Tips about Making a Tudeo

Let’s begin with the obvious question: what is a tudeo?

It is a word – invented by me – that combines the words “tutorial”  and “‘video.”  Once you’ve written the phrase “tutorial videos” hundreds of times, believe me, you start looking for a shortcut.

Use the word “tudeo” with your friends and family – “I can’t stay on the phone,  Aunt Marge,  I have a tudeo to watch on bathtub caulking”    – and  together,  let’s watch it become part of the social media vernacular.

But now let’s address the real reason we are here –  how to make a good tudeo.

Over the last three months, I’ve watched hundreds of  tudeos.  And in my search for the most helpful ones, I’ve seen some horrendous things.  Confusing things.  I did not complain at the time, but, trust me, it ain’t easy being a YouTube filtering mechanism.

But I also learned a few things along the way about what makes a good tudeo.  And I am willing (and eager) to share my tips with you.

Without further ado, here is my YouTube Tudeo Best Practices List:

1. Don’t kill people 

This, my friends, should be obvious.  Why then do people post tudeos with instructions that could lead to instant death?

Recently, I was trying to find a tudeo for help  on changing light fixtures.  With every YouTube video, there is a place underneath where people can leave comments.  Almost every single person – all of whom seemed to know something about matters electrical – denounced the advice as dangerous.  The word “electrocution” was used, for crying out loud.

It is worth noting that nobody defended the instructions.  Nobody wrote “I followed the instructions to the letter and I am fine.”  Why? Because those people are dead.

 2. Comport yourself in a manner appropriate to the subject  

I was watching a tudeo recently on cake decorating and the woman demonstrating the technique looked like she had just been told that she was going to be executed at dawn.  At several points, she muttered darkly under her breath.  If there was a dog nearby, she would have kicked it.

Hey lady, I don’t want to make your grumpy cake anyway.

Conversely, if you are providing instruction on how to sew on an arm that has just been sheared off by a passing locomotive, then, by all means, look grim.  If you furrowed your brow and set your mouth into a tight, determined line, I’d appreciate it all the more.

 3. Provide written commentary

I absorb information better when it is in written form.  A lot of people do.  That is why it’s helpful to have a written recap every time an important point is made in a tudeo.

Recently, I decided that I wanted to speak like Gloria from Modern Family so I watched a tudeo that coached me on how to affect  a Spanish accent.   When I saw the same video on Videojug, I shouted  a uvular fricative of joy upon discovering written instructions posted underneath.  For that reason, I am posting it below.   I teenk joo  ahrr go-heen to be leeking dis bideo.       

 4.  Don’t skip steps

Yes, I’m looking at you, Martha Stewart.  I am still bitter about the fitted sheet debacle.  Why you thought it wise to take the viewer from Point A to Point B to Point C to Point F with a subject as complex as the folding of fitted sheets, I’ll just never know.

So please tudeo makers, don’t be a Martha.  Provide detailed instruction.Don’t miss a single step.

If we knew what we were doing in the first place, would we be looking at a tudeo for guidance?

5.  Have Some Production Values

Your tudeo doesn’t need Hollywood production values, but it would be nice to hear your instruction and see you what you are doing.

I watched a crochet tudeo  where the hooking was demonstrated by someone separated from the camera by a long dining room table.  At least, I think she was crocheting.  Who will ever know?

I also noted that camera people who shoot cat manicure tudeos tend to shoot from a distance.  I am all in favour of self-preservation, but when something intricate and detailed is being demonstrated, we kind of want to see it.  Tight camera angles, people.

Also be aware of ambient sound.  Don’t give instructions on changing a tire when you are standing within spitting distance of the Indy 500.  We appreciate that it might give you credibility, but none of us are auditioning to be part of the pit crew.  We just want to be able to hear the instructions on how to change a tire on our Elantra.


Crochet: It’s not your Great-Aunt Irma’s craft anymore

Surprise #1 – One does not use knitting needles to crochet.

Surprise #2 – A granny square is not something you can eat.

These revelations might lead you to believe that my knowledge of  needlework wouldn’t fill a thimble.  You’d be right and – Surprise #3 – you don’t wear a thimble to crochet.

So what do you wear while creating knotted doilies?  If you had asked me a week ago, I would have said a snood and perhaps, a dab of Lily of the Valley perfume.

Now, however, I am enlightened.  A little investigation of the subject reveals that crocheting is not your Great-Aunt Irma’s craft anymore.  It is hip and cool and by no measure the ugly stepsister of knitting.  Hey, Vanna White does it.

Buy me a vowel, Vanna, there’s a new happy hooker in town.

There are loads of crochet tutorials out there.  I settle on the one that has the most hits.  The lovely Donna will be my instructor.

She begins with the slip knot, an important little loop which anchors the yarn to the hook.  It takes me a few rewinds before I can nail this fairly simple process.

While mastering this initial skill, I reflect on the heavy metal band Slipknot.  Which of the band members might be crocheters?  I imagine them on their tour bus, writing the song Snuff and crocheting their little death masks.

Slipknot is a heavy metal band. The name suggests that they are also a merry band of chocheters.

Slipknot is a heavy metal band. The name suggests that they may also be  a merry band of crocheters.

Like the Slipknot band members, most people have some idea of what they want to produce before they take hook to yarn.  I‘ve even read that many people rely on a pattern.

Donna, bless her little artisanal heart, announces we are going to make a dish towel.  We’ll see.  I feel that level of planning can bog a craftsperson down and inhibit her intuitive invention.  I want the stitches to take me where they will and only once all the strands have formed themselves into a mystical shape will I decide what it is. This approach adds an element of surprise and whimsy.  What, after all, could be more whimsical than crocheting?

As I continue, I come to suspect that embalming a corpse may be more whimsical than crocheting.  People do this to relax?  Less than half an hour into this exercise and I’ve already popped a Tylenol to keep my head from exploding.

When Donna creates the chain stitches on the video, she makes it look so effortless.  Under, over, hook and pull.  Under, over, hook and pull.  Her deft fingers are all lightness and grace.  Why do my fingers look like they are putting a wriggling worm on the end of a fishing hook?

Donna has instructed me to number the stitches, but I lose count.  I was under the impression that crocheting was about letting your mind roam free while your fingers did all the work.  As it turns out, I might as well have signed up for an algebra course.

And let’s make room on this pity pot for the poor naked sheep.  He is out there somewhere, shivering, while I fuss around with something that wouldn’t make a decent scouring pad.

Just as I am about to lose all hope, the material begins to take a shape.  Yes, I see it.  I knew I would.  There it is – plain as day.  A friendship ring – for an infant.

Another skill learned.

Watch out Rob Ford, I just learned how to spot a liar!

The average person is lied to between 10 and 200 times a day.  Spouses, friends, co-workers, lovers, family members, strangers – everyone’s pants are on fire.

So, is there anyone I can trust?  I mean besides that very nice saleswoman at Banana Republic who insisted that those tight purple trousers made me look just like Carmen Electra?

I decide to put my faith in Pamela Meyer, a social media expert.  She has written a book, Liespotting, which synthesizes the research of psychologists and lays out the techniques developed by national espionage, intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies to detect duplicity.

These are techniques we can all use.  After all, professional liespotters get to the truth about 90% of the time.  The rest of us are lucky to spot a lie half the time.


In her TED talk on YouTube, Meyer distills the art of fibbing.  Lying is as old as breathing,  but the world in which we are now living – littered with Ponzi schemers, identity thieves, partisan media outlets and spammers ­- has become dangerously close to being a post-truth society, she says.

So how do we avoid getting caught up in the trawling nets of deception?  How can we tell when we are being hoodwinked?

Well, apparently, it’s not so much words that give a liar away.  It’s the posture, eyes, breathing rate, fidgets and a host of other indicators.

For example, a liar’s gestures won’t by in sync with what he is saying. Meyer shows us a video of former presidential candidate John Edwards fervently denying he fathered a child with a woman who was not his wife.  When asked if he would be willing to undergo a paternity test, he shakes his head no while insisting that he would be pleased to take such a step to prove his innocence.

Duping Delight

A disturbing example is shown of what Meyer refers to as “duping delight” – when someone unintentionally leaks their true feelings. A mother is being interviewed about the last horrifying minutes of her daughter’s young life after being shot by a “scraggy-haired stranger.”  She recounts the story like she is calling out items on a grocery list, then looks at the interviewer and gives a big smile.

And what discourse about prevarication would be complete without footage of Bill Clinton?   This is an example where the choice of words gave a liar away, explains Meyer.

In the video Bill states – “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

Meyer points out the non-contracted denial.  Those over-determined in their disavowal will resort to formal language much more than those who are telling the truth. Bill also uses distancing language – that woman – to further remove himself from Monica.   Such language is the hallmark of dissemblers, who unconsciously want to disassociate themselves as much as possible from the subject.

Red Flags

What are some of the other red flags in speech?  The use of qualifying language – “in all candour” and “to tell you the truth” – is a telltale sign.  People who repeat a question, in its entirety, before answering are also more likely to be fibbing.  And be on the alert for people who go into more detail than necessary when they recount an event.

I watch the rest of the video and pick up some more tips.  I am now ready to take my tools to the street.

And when I say “the street,” I mean, of course, “the sofa.”

While viewing Law and Order SVU, I use my new tools to immediately nail the shifty-eyed big sister as the baddie of the episode. I watch, anger rising, as the kindergarten teacher is arrested for crimes against children I know he did not commit. Oh, Olivia, why are you being so obtuse?  She regrets it later when the teacher is proven innocent.  She tries to atone but the man’s reputation is in tatters.  Too late for apologies,  Olivia.  Too late.


Clearly, I am a natural at this. Eager to put my new skills to real-life use, I decide to eavesdrop on conversations during my morning subway commute and denounce people (silently) if I catch them lying.

I make my way to the only two people talking in my car.  The women are complaining about an unproductive co-worker.  The more outspoken of the two asserts she is going to march into their supervisor’s office today and lay it all out for her.  She is sick and f—ing tired of doing this guy’s work.  Nope, no lying there.  I move on.

Hmmm.  I need some liars.  I look around. Does Rob Ford ever take the subway?

I have better luck the next day on the way home.  Stealthily, I make my way to the only two people speaking in the subway car – a quarrelling teenage couple.  As I pretend to study an advertisement for a match-making service,  I listen in.

Here’s the deal. She wants to spend the evening with him and his buddies. He is not such a fan of that idea.

It’s just going to be  guys.  They’re  going to see the movie Bad Grandpa. It is going to be stupid. She won’t have fun. No other girls will be there. He kinda wishes he wasn’t going. But he promised, y’know.

The girl has her doubts. After all, her friend Alliyah told her that she’ll be hangin’ with the guys tonight.

“Alliyah says she is going to hang with us?” he repeats, lowering his voice and blinking rapidly.

I am tempted to look away.  This poor kid couldn’t lie his way out of a well-buttered sleeping bag and his girlfriend is no fool.  She certainly didn’t need to watch 18 minutes of a Pamela Meyer tutorial to know she is being duped.  “You know she is going!” she accuses.

I nod at her.  They both look at me.  We are standing close enough for a group hug.  I move away.  My job here is done.

Super Power

I am not sure how I feel about this new super power of mine.

Certainly, I did not enjoy knowing that my hairdresser, Angel, was lying about being “excited” about the prospect of reading this blog (gestures did not match words).  It did not feel great when, upon returning from my appointment with Angel, a co-worker lied about liking what he did to my hair (horrified expression did not match compliment).  And I most definitely was not thrilled when a dinner date was recently cancelled because of a “late work meeting” (too much detail about what was to be discussed at meeting).

I long for the innocence of my easily misled days.

You know, the days before I could see right into the souls of all my friends and family and know immediately when they were bamboozling me?

So anyone want to grab a coffee? My schedule is pretty wide open these days.

Bottoms up! It’s Beer Can Chicken


Photo: L.Robb

Has any living creature ever had to endure more indignities than the chicken?

That’s the dark turn my thoughts have taken as I ram a beer can deep into the butt of a poor dead bird.  I insert it deep enough so that its wee body is balanced on the can, in a sitting position.  Its wings and legs are tucked by its sides in an attitude of anticipation.  It breaks my heart.  It could just as easily be waiting for a little bus to come by and pick it up.

My pity extends beyond the bird.  I also feel very sorry for myself.  I feel like the chicken and I are in a frat boy prank that has gone too far.  Never before have I been so sad around a can of beer.

Making matters worse is that I am gagging – a lot.  I have a weak stomach when it comes to meat preparation and removing the bird’s innards is almost too much for me.  With the bird propped up on its beer can butt plug and my retching noises, it is not shaping up to be a night of elegant dining.

The kicker is that I don’t even really like poultry. But yet, when someone suggested I review YouTube tutorials for beer can chicken, I jumped at it.

In retrospect, I think I only heard the word “beer.”

Sad picture

So that is why we are gathered here today around my barbecue to make a recipe that I have often heard described but have never sampled.  The dish goes by a number of different names on YouTube:  beer can chicken, chicken on a throne, cider butt chicken, beer in the rear chicken …  Whatever the name, they all paint the same sad, proctological picture.

Many of the YouTube tutorials have similar techniques with small differences.  Most chefs use the barbecue but others use the oven.  Some keep the beer can in the bird’s cavity while others use a receptacle that can be purchased at a barbecue supply store.  Everyone has a different variation on a spice rub recipe.

Where things can get loud and ugly is, surprisingly, the choice of beverage.  Some prefer the sweetness of cider, others insist that stout trumps all and many others opt for light beer.  The light beer fans acknowledge that what it lacks in flavour, it makes up for with its properties of evaporation.   My friend Bryce gives a fuller picture of the beer details.

I need a strong drink so I plunge ahead, literally, with a Stella Artois.  The most civilized part of this recipe is that you use only half of the can’s contents in the bird.  The rest goes down the chef’s gullet.   Ah sweet numbness, come envelop this poor sinner, this foe of fowl.  


Of the numerous beer can chicken tutorials I review, I think the one below is the best.   It is detailed and specific.  Granted, it is also a little off-putting with its hillbilly music, hee-haws and the narrator’s whiskey-thickened voice leering at the two chickens, “Let’s see these babies dance … oh man, oh yeah, look at these babies dance … they be a couple of dancing fools … oh sweet lord, yeah …”

The message is clear – this ain’t pheasant under glass.

But who am I to finger point? I lost all moral authority the moment I took can to bird.

The chicken gets his revenge, however.

As I disengage the beer can from its south end, I scorch my hands. It is much, much hotter than it looks on the video. I suggest you use tongs for safe removal.

My verdict on the taste of beer can chicken? It is definitely very good. Moist. And you can taste the beer.

I will have it again – at the next frat boy party I attend.

stella artois

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, Carry Scissors

Sometimes, I dream of becoming a free spirit.  I’ll quit my job, sell my belongings, sever all ties to this acquisitional world and live a hand to mouth, sun-dappled existence abroad.  But, first things first, I need a trade to ply in order to purchase my daily naan and keep a thatched roof over my head.

Knowing how to cut a man’s hair would serve me nicely in this bohemian adventure.  To practise this skill, however, would involve access to a man’s head, a head with hair still attached.  Most of the men I know don’t have strands enough to make it worth my while.

The few men of my acquaintance possessing a full head of hair are gay.  And you didn’t need to watch the entire run of Will & Grace to know how seriously gay men take their hair.   My friends would rather rip the nipple rings from their body than see me coming at them, wielding a pair of scissors.

Instead, I shall turn to my female friends with young sons.  I have always been there when you needed me. Now I need your boys’ heads. Before you resist, let me remind you that hair grows back, but friendship is forever.

Granted, so is emotional scarring.


Perhaps just send me your least favourite sons.

If no lads are forthcoming, I will be forced to recruit my female friends with boyish haircuts.  Consider yourself warned, girls.

In the meantime, let me set everyone’s mind at ease with the video that I will use for my instruction.

I admit that the narrator here is a bit off-putting.  Every time she says “your man’s hair,” it sounds indecent and she says it far more than anyone needs to.  However, I do think the resulting cut is striking and Steve Carrell’s younger brother seems to like it.

Raise Your Hand If You Hate Audience Participation

Since starting this blog, I have been struck by how many different tutorials are on YouTube.  Apparently, there is even one that shows you how to waterboard your enemies.

Yet, despite this wide spectrum, there continues to be desperately needed skills that remain instructionless.

So consider this post a call out for someone to create a tutorial video that shows people how to avoid being hauled on stage for audience participation.

Where is the best place to position yourself in a room where spectator involvement will play out?  Should you stand or sit?  Legs crossed or uncrossed?  Arms flailing or held stiffly to your side like a corpse?  What exact arrangement of facial features would best discourage the emcee from selecting you?  And most importantly, when is pulling the fire alarm the best option?

I would gladly give up my signed copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts to know the answers to these vital questions.

For me, audience participation is not a pet peeve. It is a burning, scalding hatred.  I would knock the canes out from under an octogenarian if it hastened my escape from a room where people were being frogmarched on stage to demonstrate twerking.

I think I am in the vast majority.  Very, very few people enjoy being pulled onto a stage unexpectedly to demonstrate a skill they don’t possess in front of people they don’t know.

The Exceptional Connie

My friend, let’s call her Connie, is an exception. She never has to be dragged into the spotlight.  She sprints toward it.  All a presenter has to do is begin a sentence with “Are there any people out there who…” and she is waving her arms.  It amazes me. How can she be so sure that the sentence isn’t going to end with “… are currently being ravaged by an intractable yeast infection?”

Years ago, Connie and I went to the Universal Studios Theme Park in California. We visited an attraction where audience members were being recruited to participate in the recreation of a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The idea was that a man and a woman would be suited up in astronaut gear with wires attached. The wires would lift them many, many feet above the audience and there they would glide gracefully overhead to music from the movie.

Not surprisingly, there were not many volunteers but, of course, Connie’s hands shot up.

The host explained there was a weight restriction as the cables could only carry so much heft around the room.  He stated the limit.

I knew approximately what Connie weighed.  Her hand would have to come down.  It remained up.  I looked meaningfully at her, but she stared resolutely ahead.

A small man was chosen and, with no other female volunteers, Connie’s zeal was rewarded.  She jumped from her chair and ran backstage to suit up.

I was stunned.  The woman would rather fall to her death than miss the opportunity to be the centre of attention?  I was already imagining the press conference where the coroner would announce: “Our investigation reveals that the decedent had no business being anywhere near the wires.  We are just fortunate that this spectacular indulgence of ego did not result in more deaths.  Respect the weight limits, people.”

In Her Element

I sat there, hoping to see her return shame-faced to her seat after being rejected by the technicians but no such luck.   As the pounding timpani of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra filled the theatre, out she floated. Even in a full astronaut suit, I could tell she was happy and in her element.

Nervously, I looked at the wires.  I didn’t see any fraying, from this angle, from this distance, so far.  At one point, she and the other astronaut soared over the audience.  I looked at the innocent faces around me as they waved happily to the space travellers circling above our fragile skulls.

Anyway, I am happy to report that nobody fell dramatically to their death that day and Connie has since gone on to live out many more days and nights of audience participation.  (Full disclosure: Connie is very slim these days and is my friend most likely to waft like a leaf in a strong breeze.)

But my point is that very few Connies live among us. Most of us don’t relish being the centre of an audience’s attention.

Most of us – and I am talking to you, Mr. Corey Hart – don’t like having microphones pushed into our faces while being ordered to sing the chorus of “Sunglasses at Night.”

Singing that song, sir, is your job. It is not mine.  The day that you pull up a seat in my cubicle and help me answer correspondence about quality management initiatives, well, only then might I consider humming a few bars.

Below Beyonce provides another example of why audiences should never be mistaken as performers.

Tie one on!

I have long maintained that a necktie vastly improves anybody’s appearance.  Young, old, male, female, or Katharine Hepburn, you are never going to look better in your life than the day you step out wearing a crisp Oxford shirt with a smart tie.  Add some cufflinks and, well, I am putty in your hands.  

There was a period in my twenties when I was known to rock the occasional cravat, but I always had to ask somebody to stand behind me and tie it.  This could be awkward on those mornings when nobody on the subway was in a helping mood.

Today, I learn to knot my own tie.

According to two math professors, there are 85 possible knot variations for the necktie.  That is all fine and Kama Sutra, but I just want to master a couple of the essentials.

My investigation reveals a plethora of instructional videos and solid, useful information is gleaned from several websites.  A click on this link will provide further direction about matching your wardrobe with the right tie.

I decide to go with the time-honoured Full Windsor (a.k.a. the Double Windsor) because it is a classic and the hardest knot to master.  Most video tutorials on tying a Windsor Knot are about two minutes long.  The one I like best is nearly six minutes.  Not a single detail is overlooked in this tutorial.

For example, pointing out that the seam of the tie should lie face down might get an eye roll from some viewers.  Not me.  I say “good to know.”  I need a picture painted and this guy below painted it for me.  (Don’t be put off by his strange hand puppetry.)

The Windsor is challenging but after the third rewind, I have the knot mastered.  The dimple, however, proves problematic.  The dimple is considered the finishing touch on the perfect tie as it adds a more textured look and the ideal drape.  Realizing the ultimate crease shall be an ongoing mission.

The blogger masters the Windsor knot.

The blogger masters the Windsor knot.

As the Windsor is generally reserved for special occasions, what does a girl wear when running out to Sobey’s for milk?

Yup, you got it – the Four in Hand Knot.  I like its rakish, asymmetrical look.  It is said that British horsemen invented this type of knot when they were tying their scarves with one hand and holding the reins of four horses in the other.  I attempt the Four in Hand while pushing away a cat that is batting the long end of the tie like it is a dangling mouse.

I find a video that is easy to follow and again, fairly explicit. Compared to the Windsor, the Four in Hand is a breeze.  I do it on the first try and, yes, I look magnificent.  Like a young Katharine Hepburn.  Like a middle-aged Annie Hall.  Like Elaine Stritch.

Elaine Stritch (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Elaine Stritch (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)