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A Light Comes On

Been having one of those weird times again where I question everything… Kind of caught between wanting to just jump ship and move on to new things, but knowing that the timing isn’t quite right yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m lucky to do something that I’m marginally decent at, but I’ve been seeking some sense of fulfillment, some understanding that what I do can matter.

And along comes my pal DW, and things got a little clearer.

I’m a big believer in the philosophy that you meet people or experience things for a reason, and making friends with him some years back has proven that way of thinking correct over and over. Man, you know I can’t thank you enough for the times you’ve set my head straight.

When DW had asked me some years back if we could include a few line drawings in shipments from Welder Series as coloring pages for customer’s kids, I thought “why not! It could be cool.” It offered a chance for the kids to get something they might use, and maybe spend time with Dad. The hot rodding thing all starts someplace, after all… Might be a car show for some, building a scale model at the kitchen table for others. Perhaps some kid will look back on coloring with their father one evening. And then I saw his post regarding just how those sketches were being used.

From his post:


Know here and now that every act can have some effect, whether seen or unseen, and may take place right in front of you or far away. Had I not read DW’s post, or had his customer not shared what his wife had chosen to do, I’d still be happy hoping that some kid was enjoying them. Knowing that a teacher cared enough about the kids in her care to go an extra step and inspire them is far beyond icing on the cake… It’s proof of concept that the plans we have in the works here CAN work. And “work” is certainly the key word in all of this. But it’s that sort of work that I enjoy more than anything.

Thanks to DW and his family at Welder Series, and thanks to his customer for taking that step to show his wife the coloring pages, and then to her for going that extra mile… and man, thanks for shining that light this way. I think I’d have seen it even if things had been a lot brighter all around, but having it come on when it was darker really made me appreciate it even more. And that made a LOT of things very, very clear indeed.

Forced Fate

Perhaps it isn’t about having the courage to take that step off of the edge and fall into the unknown. Maybe the truth lies a lot closer to understanding just what exists there, and honing the ability to slow your fall to land in just the right place.

…or having the wherewithal and fearlessness to reach deep into the ether and pull that fate up toward yourself. It’s really a matter of knowing when to have your eyes open, and what to focus on, and that comes with experience, not from a book.

Story Idea Wednesday

In keeping with my mission to be a giver, I’m starting a fresh series today, which should appear each Wednesday for my writer friends. What I’m seeking to do is have you, should the mood strike, write a few lines for the story in the comments (following the theme laid out), with each subsequent reply picking up and carrying froth from that. By the end, we should have a grand little tale. What we do with them after this, well… I’ll leave that for discussion. Maybe we can self-publish as an e-book and split anything generated between those who played a part.

In this first run, I’d like to propose a short story about a writer who creates stories for his own entertainment, but after a few years he finds that he’s bored because he already knows what he wrote, so he enlists the help of his wife to bash him over the head upon completion of each tale, causing just enough short-term memory loss for him to enjoy the stories.

However, this causes severe damage over time and he begins to grow a tumor but this tumor pushes on just the right the part of his brain to increase his creativity… In fact, It increases this so exponentially that he does not believe that he is the one writing the stories and kills his wife thinking that she was cheating on him with another writer.

The options here are plenty, as we could dive deeply into his fractured psyche, his paranoia and plotting against his wife, or even into each tale, which could all have clues that either support or question his fears. So much potential indeed.

Bruce’s Man Cave

It’s time for another of our “Billion-Dollar TV Show Ideas”, kids!

With the popularity of home improvement-style shows continuing from the last decade, it seemed only fitting that we throw an additional celebrity element at one, and that too has worked marvelously. Consider such greats as Vanilla Ice and now even Mr. T having shows. Yet, there’s a missing puzzle piece, and that piece is a celebrity with current tabloid exposure. This isn’t simply about mindless voyeurism or celebrity deification; it’s about revolutionizing reality and home improvement TV in one sweep using some dude’s junk.

The pitch:
People want to see a celebrity in day-to-day life. People enjoy seeing these celebrities engage in projects. Those same people like watching home improvements happen (and we’re betting that they’re not so engaging on their own). And consider that your average voter thinks that “change” can mean something in even the most inept of hands. What if we brought all of that together with a celebrity home improvement show that REALLY makes a change? Think Trading Spaces meets Bathroom/Backyard/Kitchen Crashers meets Man Caves meets What Not to Wear meets The Science of…, with a “Hey, I didn’t want to know THAT!” twist. And while I am plenty aware that our friend already has a show, I simply can’t imagine that it’s working to its full potential. And being a giver, well, I see a need and try to fill it. You can learn a lot from the movie Robots.

You may wish to sit down, as you’ll probably collapse under the weight of a “why in the fuck didn’t I think of this?!” moment of realization.

We follow a former Olympian (and current celebrity/reality TV star) as he trades his man cave for a scrap-booking room. We’ll follow along as a team of decorators and contractors help him “make the switch” in this ten-episode (oooh, a decathlon reference – see how thought-out this is?) mini-series. Plenty of room for guest appearances, and consider the genius of being able to switch demographics, bringing in fresh advertising through a season? I know. It’s that good. Guest spots from decorators, designers and handymen, as well as RuPaul, Dr. Ruth, (bonuses for the writing team if they work with me to bring in the Ghost Hunters guys – or John Edward OR even better: The Long Island Medium lady – to channel the spirit of Dr. Joyce Brothers in a… wait for it… cross-over episode) and assorted stereotypical men and women. We’ll be teaching not only design and construction, but learning all about society and gender roles, and then throwing that out of the window, should ratings dictate such a thing. This will grab awards like someone is just throwing them at it.

TLC, are you listening? Bruce’s Man Cave can be all yours… for a price, naturally.

…and of course, assuming that we can pay him enough to go along with it. Including my $1.81 found around the desk, that gives us exactly nineteen cents less than $2.00, still well-shy of even the most meager of lunchtime meetings. But it’s not about where we are, it’s about the place that we identify with as being… So long as it buys a beach house or three.

Be the next Problem Child

free car art to color

We’ve thrown a few free line art files up on the website for you to grab and spend some quality time with your kids this Inktober (while I neglect mine in favor of finishing a ton of last-minute SEMA Show afterthought nonsense for clients who lack the “planning” and “scheduling” genes).

Nearly two fists full of car art, ranging from street rods to kustom cars and slammed trucks, all ready to be downloaded, printed and attacked with pencils, crayons, markers or airbrush (or even by spitting ink or food coloring at them, should you be so crafty and weird – or brave, depending upon the pigments you select). Granted, these are for your fun and entertainment only, so we hope that you’ll use them to inspire the kids (or even yourself, should you wish) to get creating.

bubbletop line art

Our hope is that you’ll share these with your kids, and make some memories as Fall settles in… Or should you have forgotten the joy of putting some color down on a car drawing, that you’ll re-discover that buzz, and perhaps even bust out the pencils and get sketching some of your own…

car coloring book page

Keep in mind that these are presented in good faith, and not to be used in any other way except as stated. If you’d like a one-off piece of art, give me a shout, and we can arrange for that. After all, this is how I feed my kids, and buy them neat things like shoes and crayons to color line art with.

A big shout to our friends over at Welder Series for getting this ball rolling with us (DW ships a selection of coloring pages with each order!), and for their support of this whole mess over the years.  You know we love you guys. And not simply because you live in the land of Hockey, Tim Horton’s and poutine.

That said, we hope you enjoy the art and the memories made, and check back often as we’ll add more variety as time allows! Oh, you can grab these things here, BTW:

It Will Be Simply Divine

No matter what effects or gimmicks or star-studded cast you throw at a movie… No matter the provenance of the script or the marketing power of the franchise, it will always pale in my eyes to John Waters’ Pink Flamingos. And that’s because no dogfight between the Millennium Falcon and seventeen TIE Fighters, nor the sinking of the Titanic or even the seamless CGI raising from the dead of James Cagney and Marilyn Monroe for an even more graphic remake of that scene on the stairs in A History of Violence can compare to the mind-etching, life-altering, stomach-churning experience of watching a three-hundred pound drag queen eat a dog turd. If art is meant to elicit a response that changes you, then yes, this trumps a midget trying to steal a ring from an animated dragon.

My thinking is that we get Bruce Jenner to bulk up, and remake that movie. I have another casting suggestion but she has a tight vacation schedule and we don’t have a lot of room in the budget for a treadmill.

Up next: We’ll cast my mash-up homage to Dirty Dancing and Scanners.

Nobody puts Revok in the corner.

Richard Feynman Helped Me Find My Way

Richard Feynman, when asked in an interview about his ability to talk easily with scientists in other fields (versus, say a playwright) if perhaps this natural comfort was because he read the “scientific magazines”, Feynman responded by saying “we don’t have to have magazines or gossip; we think originally. We think of a new idea.”

For about 30 seconds after hearing that, I felt that I shared a place… a brief moment of kinship and understanding with one of the greatest minds to ever inhabit the Earth. He summed up in less than twenty words EXACTLY what I feel about designers wasting time discussing what car was featured in what magazine, and trying to draw any inspiration from what was happening in the three months since it was printed… Not to mention the years of build time preceding that, or even the years of refinement into the idea that sparked a cool build or just a part of one.

Fucking awesome.

It may not mean anything to you, but to me it was like having a light go on, and now I can see right where it all needs to go with regard to my career.

All Things are Delicately Interconnected

robert t lane memorial
I have always held the feeling that all things are delicately interconnected. That belief that certain things happen for certain reasons at certain times and among a certain group of slightly more-often-than-not less-than-certain people.
I have come to understand this phenomenon with somewhat more clarity as I’ve aged and (gasp!) “matured” a bit. I’ve found myself in situations or places that were simply far more relevant to me or to who I was to become than could be left to pure chance, or that very often transcended mere “coincidence”, and have grown to really appreciate those moments for all that they are. I have developed a personal philosophy that within these chance moments we get a glimpse of what the meaning of life really is… And that if you;re lucky enough and smart enough, and have some patience to examine the facts, you can figure it all out. I’m nowhere near that level of maturity, but I sure as hell can make some good use of the first part of all that.

9-11 healing field

Case in point: This past weekend we visited the 9-11 Healing Field Memorial at Tempe Town Lake, and I was blessed with another of those moments, via a man I never met, nor will on this Earth. I learned a bit about Robert T. Lane. There, in a field of three thousand flags representing the victims of that terrible day, you could read a bit about each of the people who lost their lives at the hands of cowards, and gain a deeper understanding of the tragedy through the “human factor.” Of the thousands of cards, one just called out to me, and I understood why immediately.

memorial flag

He was a car guy.
And his memorial card read like something I’d write. The Mom who doesn’t quite get the car thing, and the guy who just wanted to build something cool. Along that way to building a G-Body, he became someone willing to risk his life for the sake of another. Unfortunately one path happened to supersede the other in the worst of ways.
He was a selfless hero.
I thought long and hard about that. Here I was, connected with a guy I never met… We were just about the same age at the time of his death, and this laminated card giving remembrance to him provided the insight to an answer I had been seeking over many months. Oh, I’m certain that one could come up with a connection for nearly anything, but this felt a bit more direct, and was tailor made for the situation I find myself in.
He managed to help a fellow car guy without having even been there.
Bigger than any of that was having the honor of sharing the memory of a hero I had never known before that moment. Having met a fellow car guy with whom I could relate to, and finding a connection through a chance encounter in the middle of a park on a humid Summer day… And coming to understand that I simply needed to look at a situation from another point of view to understand it, and get past it with clarity. I truly hope that if his family or friends happen upon this post that they know my appreciation for their lost loved one. It’s one thing to be remembered, but quite another to have the strength of character to continue to affect another after life is stripped from that individual. Mr. Lane is a hero beyond mere measure, and I had the opportunity to experience his greatness via the random action of reading a card on a flag pole.
All things are delicately interconnected indeed.

Fear the Summer Crossover

fart battle
Much like Fear the Walking Dead, the concept of a Summer prequel sub-series is not necessarily a fresh concept. In fact, a little digging uncovers one created for The Love Boat in August of 1981.
Anthropophobic Anna (aired in Canada as Fart Battle) tells the back-story of a cruise director suffering from a pathological fear of human company, and fills in the blanks left between the cliffhanger at the end of season four and the never-again mentioned character Jose’, the lovable stowaway with the humorous speech impediment. Loosely based on the Japanese Anime’ Taijin Kyofusho: The Farting Hostess, it’s loaded with gruesome scenes of sea sickness, food poisoning and obscenity-laced public address announcements. The pilot episode, “Lei-ing Lo/Isaac’s Dark Secret/Origin of the Feces”, which opens with the cruise director strangling a guest with a flowery necklace, quickly turns to deeper subject matter including slave trafficking and a passenger who defecates on room service trays left outside of guest cabins. An interesting sub-plot involves a Plastic Surgeon who performs an emergency anoplasty on the stunt double for an “adult film” being filmed in steerage after she falls on a porcupine (speaking of animals, sharp-eyed viewers will recognize Jack Hana of the San Diego Zoo as “Kelly-6000”, the transgender robot). The Captain has to work hard to keep his knowledge (and involvement) in the clandestine filmmaking hidden from his daughter, who is aboard the ship to write her doctoral thesis on the sexual healing potential shuffleboard, with specific regard to septuagenarian television drama stars seeking to reignite a career long faded.
While never released on DVD, you will no doubt stumble across a bootlegged copy or two at fan festivals, often spoken about in hushed tones. ABC has worked diligently to erase all memory of the failed attempt to lure Summer viewers. If you happen to be fortunate to find a copy or two, try to grab one with the commercials intact, if not for the rarely-seen Ted Kennedy Oldsmobile commercial, then definitely for the promo spot for the quickly-cancelled network crossover event of the week, Dr. Moreau’s Fantasy Island Celebrity Challenge.

Perhaps We’ll Try the Beige Instead

When it comes to updating a room in the old house, little can compare to the utter rage-inducing past time of painting the walls… and spattering that color all over the flooring, regardless of how careful you were in shoring-up that drop cloth. The choices in hue are endless, as are the finishes. There’s interior semi-gloss, interior satin and eggshell and matte paint. And while it’s certainly fun to do your own painting, it’s even more fun to pass judgement on these people you call your “friends” when you visit THEIR homes.

Now, far be it for me to judge one’s interior decorating skills, but it’s painfully obvious having been there a few times now, that this person’s “paint professional” at Lowes has misunderstood them time and again, and instead of giving them a nice decorator color in a sheen befitting the futon and loads of worthless tchotchkes on the crookedly-hung IKEA shelving, said paint guy has blindly swiped the first can of “interior meh” that he drunkenly stumbled toward on the shelf marked “What In the Holy Fuck Were We Thinking When We Chose THIS Shit-Licking Color?! And How Does That Fucking Midget Dago Cake Boss Warrant a Line of Paint Colors? Seriously… ‘Bada-Bing Blueberry Pie’ SHOULD be called ‘I Would Claw My Eyes Out if There Weren’t Some Chance of My Subconscious Recalling This Color and Forcing Me to Have Dreams of Being Chased Around By a South Jersey Version of Violet Beauregarde Wanting to Give Me Some Sort of Anaphylaxis-Inducing Blowjob… Did I Mention That in This Particular Dream That She Has Teeth Not Unlike Evil Ed From That Fright Night Movie and Some Sort of a Twitch in Her Neck? Well, She Does, and In an Alternate, Ambien-Addled Version of This Dream She Gives Birth to a Fully-Grown, Sentient Cabbage Patch Kid Who Sings The Alphabet Song in German But Replaces the Words to Craft a Song About the Many Uses of Cheese Cloth for the Lactose Intolerant, Even Though Cheese Cloth Contains NO FUCKING DAIRY WHATSOEVER, Being Made of Cotton –Which Wouldn’t Be Unlike Stating That You, as a Man Have an Adam’s Apple, When in All Actuality, the Bible Doesn’t Call Out ANY Fruit in Particular, and as We Cannot Be ENTIRELY CERTAIN of Just Where in the Heck This Garden of Eden Was to Begin With, Our Chances of Correctly Naming a Fruit That May Have Grown There are Greatly Reduced, But We Could Certainly Venture to Guess it to Have Been Like a Fig or Something and Don’t Even Get Me Started on this Rib Nonsense But I Digress –  Non-Stop Until I Shove a Red Plastic Wiffle Ball Bat Down its Throat, But Then I Slip on What Appears to Be the Placenta From This Unholy Birthing Deal, But It’s Made of String and Slime and Old Copies of People Magazine and the Next Thing I Know it Becomes That Weird Falling Dream Dark Blue’ ” discounted return paint section.

But on their walls, it works. It just says “her”, you know? And not simply because she looks like some swollen vampire who just won a pie-eating contest. May her diaphragm always be within arm’s reach, should this actually be the case.

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