Monday, November 24, 2008

Video Bonus!

Full-motion blournal.

I heard a song on the TV about nine years ago. I liked it. It was supposed to be something inspirational for the kids, in light of the whole millennium thing that was going on at the time (do the math, Holmes.) The song was pretty good, but you'll never hear it. That's because you can't find the damn thing anywhere. Not for sale. Not on the site of any artist who helped create it. Not on the TV network that fully owns the rights to it. Nothing. For all I know, it could be locked in a Y2K bunker somewhere in a box marked "Music for the apocalypse", and since that never happened, it's gone for good.

So I recorded my own version of it, and now I share. Trust me when I say the original did not have as much chicken'-pluckin' tone to it. It should be further noted that this mix did not collapse well to mono, as is needed for presentation here on Blogger. That was nearly a deal-breaker for this post, but for no apparent reason, I persevered.

video

And since you can't post just music to Blogger, I had to create some video to go with the sound. I started out synch'ing the lyrics to the melody, but that turned out to be a real pain in the ass/motivation-killer, so I just grabbed a bunch of my photos and turned the whole thing into a rapid-fire slideshow. Enjoy.

Or don't enjoy. Whatever. How did this blournal suddenly become all about the kids?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Car Wash

Now, more complicated!



Today, and for the first time ever, I went for the $15 wash. I don't know what came over me. I rarely go through a car wash, but this time I decided to spring the extra $5 and get the full treatment. I figured, for that price, it must come with a "happy ending" anyway, so I peeled off a twenty and asked for the #4.

When the guy (note: "guy" - there goes the Happy Ending idea already) comes back, he hands me a fiver and a receipt stapled to a bright yellow card.



Guess what? The "#4" includes all kinds of Simonizing action, and the folks at Simoniz are offering a $3 rebate! Yeah!

My first thought was that the folks at Simoniz were over-thinking it. People mostly hate rebates, don't they? It's a pain in the ass followed by a long wait, then a trip to the bank, where you will endure the slight indignity of presenting the teller with a check for three dollars.

I thought it was just so looney that I had to fill it out and send it in. People asked what I was doing, and I told them with great enthusiasm about how, just by filling out this simple form and including a copy of your reciept (from a qualifying car wash facility) then getting a stamp and envelope, Simoniz would send you back $3 on your car wash purchase.

I encountered many of the usual retorts:

"Hey - I'll take it!"
"Hey - It's better than a poke in the ear with a sharp stick!"
"Hey - That's $3 more than you had!"

Caught in this classic Bob Newhart Moment of infuriating optimism, my first reaction was to say, "If three bucks means that much to you, you shouldn't be blowing your money on a car wash!", but instead I just reminded the folks that I was already out 42 cents for the stamp, plus the cost of the envelope, and the cost of gas for the trip to the bank when I do get the check.

So we're not out of the woods yet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guns 'n Roses

Please hate me because I'm beautiful.



After my recent pickup truck incident at school (and couple years of inappropriate hair length/style, penchant for picking up my child on a motorcycle which may as well just be a dirt bike I suppose, and, I'm guessing, an emergency meeting of the PTA in which they formalized their utter contempt for me) a lot of the soccer moms at school don't really care for me. Even still, I got involved this year and have been taking some photos for the school yearbook.

I sent off a CD with the first two month's worth of pictures on it and, truthfully, I got lucky on a few of them. I mentioned as much in the attached note, and received this response via e-mail yesterday (Yes - I really did.)

"I just had to reply and say - hardly! It really excites me to see your work -- honestly, this year's book will also be a great PR tool for the school during their open houses. (And I sent [the principal] a few of your photos and said so, by the way.) Many shots are magazine perfect (and I know as I did this stuff for many years overseas.) Anyhow, I'm already thinking to next year and how unfortunate it will be that your student is moving on!

The quality is so good, and appropriate in a community way, that I'm thinking that P-3 and 4-5 should have their own collage pages ... Or at the very least a full community page (s). It gives a very nice sense of the whole.

The kids and the school are lucky to have you!
Best,
Soccer Mom

---
Yeah, nice, but I'm just looking for a happy medium here - y'know? Why must I excite the women so?

It's a curse.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Communication

How to substitute awkward silence for even more awkward conversation.



"Did you eat your Pop-Tart?"
"I thought you said 'Mom-Tart'."
"Well, Mom did give it to you."
"Yup."
"What would a Mom-flavored Pop-Tart taste like?"

[beat]

"Love."

[beat]

"This concludes another in our continuing series of meaningless conversations."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

How not to choose an illustrator.



You might remember me talking about meeting an accomplished illustrator and eventually sending him the children's story I've produced. (Makes sense, right? Clearly, this blournal is for kids.)

I was flatly ignored. Maybe I shouldn't say "flatly" ignored; he did use my photos. I took some shots of him giving a presentation and he apparently liked them enough to use on his website, though he never said a word to me about it. I did offer these photos to him for free, so it's not like he pilfered anything here. I offered - he took. That was the end of that exchange.

That's fine, if not a bit 'holey. The photos were a bit of a hook that gave me an excuse write to him (and for him to read it) after I'd missed my opportunity the first time. I say "hook" because "graft" is such an ugly word.

But I must have really offended him. Not only did he not bother to reply, he didn't so much as put a photo credit there on his website. Seems a little cold. All I asked him to do was give my story a listen, and all he had to do was click.

So after waiting a week for some kind of response, I decided to write back. I wrote only a simple two-line e-mail entitled "Impropriety" in which I said, "Please accept my apology. I didn't mean to annoy."

This time, flatly ignored, and I should be using that word.

So he obviously doesn't give a shit about anything I have or have to say. Why does that bug me? Because I (bush league as I may be) know that I do have some degree of talent. In the face of someone who obviously excels at what he does, (i.e. someone with non-bush league talent) I guess I'm just a hack. Now, I know I'm a hack, but... wait - not so much of a hack that he wouldn't even put my photos on his website - but I think I've got some perspective on how much talent I do/don't have, and I do know my limits. I didn't ask him to take a look at my drawings, if you know what I'm sayin'.

I had no idea I was that much of an asshole. I knew I was kind of an asshole, but I had not yet learned that my assholishness had progressed to such an extent.

So in light of that, and used here without any credit or permission, I will describe with some detail one of his single-panel cartoons.

[Ahem]

A dog has hanged himself. Two cats are sitting next to each other and have apparently just come upon the scene where a nearby chair has been kicked over and the lifeless hound sways gently from a tree branch.

One cat turns to the other and says, "I guess all that butt-sniffing was really a cry for help."

---

So I guess you can decide for yourself if this whole situation turned out for the worse.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That Man Isn't Fit To Be a Father

On pickup trucks and havin' a good time.

This is the 1999 Ford F-150 XL 4WD Regular Cab pickup with 8' bed.

It's my ride.

It has a standard transmission.


AM/FM cassette.


Maybe a little torn upholstery.


Y'know - maybe little cigarette burn or something.


Whatever. It's one sweet ride.

I was raised in a time where it was a rare but fully acceptable practice to ride around in the back of a pickup truck. Gramp would usually show up on Sunday and do just that. Hell, Gramp would let us sit on his lap and steer.

I looked, and I don't have a photo of any of that, but here's one of me on my Big Wheel just to prove what a daredevil I am.

Daredevil with a sensible sweater, that is.

Ahh - I'm not so sure that's even my Big Wheel. Look - the point is, this was the right time to be raised. We never let anxiety stand in the way of a good time. But that just doesn't jibe with the modern day soccer-mom ethos, and the days of freewheelin' pickup truck rides are over. Now, in certain circles it seems, pickup trucks are the devil.

SUV's and minivans? No problem.

A quick snap from the school parking lot shows a Suburban, a Yukon, and a minivan; all acceptable because (regardless of their extremely similar footprint) they have really comfy seats and a lot of fancy buttons and junk inside. That makes them A-OK.

So last week, I pulled up to the school in the truck so my daughter could drop off something for the bake sale. It's probably worth noting at this point that this is a private school. Part of the reason we can afford private school is because I drive the 1999 Ford F-150 XL Regular Cab pickup truck with 8' bed and standard transmission. The money spent on this school each month could put me in a Beemer or other vehicle with some sort of emblem on it, though I don't think that'd be as cool.

Upon arrival, a gaggle of friends were outside with a sign, raising bake sale awareness. Ordinarily, the let-my-kid-spend-time-with-a-bunch-of-friends-at-once department is an area in which I often fall short. I get a little irritable when a few kids gather at the house and start looking for things to do. When kids look for something to do, things tend to get thrown. Things are swung. This puts Daddy on edge. I imagine the fireplace poker sticking through the TV, or someone otherwise becoming permanently disfigured. Get too many kids together and something is coming down. But you have to roll with some of that, and this scenario was a no-brainer. It was a party upon which I would not poop. I prepared to settle in and let them do their thing.

They spent a total of 15 minutes back there, just goofing off while I kept an eye out via the rear-view mirror. During this time, mothers, one by one, would come out to see what the hell was going on. Whichever mother came out would go back and give a status report to the other moms (even though there really wasn't anything to report.)

At the 15 minute mark, I decided to pop the E-brake and coast ahead about 15 feet. Looked like a better spot to campaign over there, and who wouldn't like a little joyride like that?

Those moms inside there. That's who.

The very second the truck began to roll forward, Mom #3 (who obviously had her eyes glued on us the whole time) ran outside and shouted to her daughter, "Come inside right now!" and shot me a sideways glance that apparently my acute case of Asperger's Syndrome had heretofore left me unable to cipher. It seems that tension had been mounting inside the school lobby from the moment I let those girls climb in the back of my mobile temple of the Church of Satan, and now I am not considered a Friend of the Soccer Moms.

The young lady asked her friends to come in with her so she wouldn't feel like the only one who had to go in, and that was that. Ils sont partis. Since there was no way I could effectively convince these kids to worship our Dark Lord now, and seeing how I'm a completely irresponsible prick and all, I just started the truck and left.

Then I went home and rode my Big Wheel without a helmet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Priorities

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They're The People That You Meet Each Day

Being careful not to demolish the delicate tango that is our relationship.

I get along alright with my neighbors. They're an older couple. He likes to tinker with his Heathkit radios, and she likes cats. Their kids have moved on.
Yes, they're pretty quiet - I have a band. They shovel - I plow. They rake - I have a vacuum. But it works. It's fine. We're here for the common good.

As you can plainly see from the photo below, they've obviously built some kind of supercolider / laser device over there which they will no doubt be using to create an army of reanimated zombie death-kitties that will one day be turned against me.



Hey - that's fine. I just think it'd be nice if they could shut off that fucking light one time, that's all. Kind of bums me out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Take Your Camera to the Mall!*

*Warning: security risk.


Guess what? You can't take pictures in the mall. Why? Well, think about it. It's the mall. We don't want outsiders knowing what goes on in the mall.

Some people I know just bought a business in the mall, so I thought I'd go snap a few shots of it for them. On my way to the store, I walked past a mall security guard (he was shootin' the shit with the customer service gal) and I heard the custodian quip, "You gonna do any work today?"

That all added up nicely, and I found my angle and snapped a couple-a pics.

Then I hear, "Excuse me."
Yes, I knew that was for me, but I didn't avert my gaze. 'Fraid you're just going to have to try harder.
"Excuse me, sir - Do you have permission to take photos in the mall?" said the mall officer who stuck his hand in front of my lens.
"You need permission to take photos in the mall?" I asked.
"Yes, you need permission from the store owner and also the mall office."

Figuring this was just a mall security officer finding something to do (that was, fortunately, close by and didn't involve any of that damned walking) I got out of that conversation pretty quick and pretended to go visit the mall office.

I came back two minutes later and got two shots from the other side. I was standing about 15 feet away from the store, and shooting at an angle (Yeahhhh - I'm all artsy like that.) Between the first and second shot, someone from inside the store shouts, "You can't do that!" Then a guy patrolling the mall in plain clothes says, "No! Nope! No pictures inside the mall! You're not allowed to take pictures in the mall."

Seeing how I was all done anyway, I explained myself rather briefly and hit the road. I can see their point, though. I mean, can you just imagine if these pictures got out?

No, seriously. All kidding aside. We can't be showing pictures of what the mall looks like on the inside. What's going to happen when, say, Tallahassee finds out that their Orange Julius store isn't as nice as Albuquerque's? Civil war. That's what.

So let's all be cool.

p.s. For a very clear idea of what the inside of my local mall looks like, visit your local mall.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just One More

I realize I post too many pictures of this thing. I also have too many pictures of it around the house.



I just got this windshield and after six years of riding into the wind, it's a whole new world. I thought I liked the breeze (on the warm days) but no breeze might be even cooler. I may never take it off.

Added bonus: You can now actually hear things when you ride.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

In Defense of Sarah Palin

Not really.



Just a few quick and non-partisan observations about emotions, fact, elections, and emotions and elections.

Sarah Palin has been in politics five years longer than Barack Obama.
Biden's bid for Presidency was soundly rejected by America in 1988.
Biden's bid for the Democratic nomination was soundly rejected in 2008.
Dan Quayle.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Gas Prices

Ordinarily, blog fodder. Fortunately, this is not a blog.

I guess a lot people don't know which way the 8's go.







...even on the little signs on the pump that are real easy to change.

That's cool. I mean, it bugs me a little, but that's cool.

This post grew again, though the driver in the photo might offer some explanation this time.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Redemption

Yes!



That last post? Yeah - forget all that. Daddy made good. My idea for a children's book now sits squarely in front of a very talented illustrator who actually does it for real. He may love it, he may hate it, but I got it in front of him.

I could go into a lot of detail, but I'll just tell you that I didn't give up. I guess that's the only detail that matters. If nothing else, failure at this point seems more subjective.

Bring it.