Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tales of (Spanking) the Gold Monkey





I've been a recent convert to the Kevin Smith range of podcasts: "Jay and Silent Bob Get Old", "Hollywood Babble-On" and the original "Smodcast".

I've worked my way through the back catalogue of "Jay and Silent Bob Get Old", which began as a place to tell the history of Jason Mewes' addiction to drugs, and eventually as a public intervention, a way to keep him accountable for his actions in front of a weekly live audience, as well as a podcast audience of thousands. Jay's story boggles the mind: he goes through highs and lows (oddly enough, usually while high) and is extremely un-self-conscious about it all.

Throughout his years of addiction, one thing has kept him alive: Kevin Smith.

If it wasn't for Kevin Smith, Jay would probably be dead. I'd like to say "dead or eventually cleaned himself up", but the truth of the matter is without Smith's help, Jay would have continued to spiral down. Throughout the stories that Kevin and Jay tell, Jay is never the instigator of his salvation. Usually, he is the unwilling participant. It's up to Smith, Smith and Mewes' wives and their friends to intervene, drag Jay back from the edge, coerce him into rehab and generally straighten up and fly right. Which he does. For a while.

Alternatively, Smith muses that possibly he is the cause of the problem. By giving Mewes his break in "Clerks", then following up with roles in other movies, making Mewes a genuine paid actor, Smith wonders aloud that maybe he is at fault for giving Jay a career in acting and not allowing Mewes to mature and find himself actual employment. The idea has some merit, that Kevin Smith is an "enabler" to all of Jason Mewes' drug woes. No matter what happens in Jay's life, Kevin is always ready and available to pick up the pieces, set Mewes up in rehab, or just in Smith's own home, and try to straighten him out.

The question must be asked: when will he learn? The other question is: which one am I talking about?

Nevertheless, the podcast is enlightening, brave, honest and laugh-out-loud funny. Well recommended.


I've gotten a little behind on "Jay and Silent Get Old" because I've found my new favourite SModcast, "Hollywood Babble-On". Hosted by Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, it's about Hollywood news and gossip generally - movie openings, celebrity deaths, charitable celebrities ("Hollywood Helpers, when you need a helping... ham...") and the sort. Interspersed with their various celebrity anecdotes are impersonations by Garman, who works for KROK in LA, and stories about smoking weed and masturbating by Smith. It's a happy balance.

The funniest thing about "Hollywood Babble-On" (or "HBO" as they abbreviate it... for now...) is that so many of the references are of my time, and would probably fly over the head of people under 30 years old. 80s TV shows, movies from 30 years ago, 1960s music icons. The impersonations in particular focus around the late 70s to early 90s, which is perfect for me.

An interesting point about this podcast is that Smith and Garman don't have any concerns about some of the litigious statements they make about celebrities, which is surprising considering the neighbourhood they're working in. For example, saying Arnold Schwarzenegger is a massive stoner or Chelsea Handler is a talentless c*nt is usually the kind of thing that has "allegedly" or "insiders say..." pasted onto the front, but Smith and Garman don't seem concerned about setting themselves to be sued. Maybe it's a case of "If it's a lie, prove it!"

Indeed, like "Jay and Silent Get Old", this podcast is also extremely honest about aspects of Smith and Garman's lives. Smith is quite open about being a huge stoner, morbidly obese, and a chronic masturbator (even if he balances it out by saying he does the latter to naked pictures of his own wife, which of course goes with my own sensibilities). Garman is pretty open about his absolute disgust at people who have succeeded more than he has, for example the fore-mentioned Chelsea Handler.

Considering he's got at least three podcasts to record a week, plus his daily regime of masturbation and smoking weed, I question how Kevin Smith gets anything done. But he does: he's got a new movie in the can, his first horror movie, "Red State". I'm looking forward to seeing it, considering I've enjoyed most of his output over the years.

And I'm certainly enjoying his current projects.


The "Birth. School. Kevin Smith. Credits." T-shirt design is a parody of the famous Metallica Gig shirt. If you don't get the joke about credits, I suggest you listen to the podcast. After you've bought a shirt, of course.

You've been listening too, or just missed...

And now, a little musical interlude, featuring Pete Smith, the voice of Channel Nine.

This tune made it's first appearance on the Boxcutters blog, in response to a gag at the end of the Episode 251 regarding "Twin Peaks".

The Broke Ass Bride's got good taste.



My shirt design, "The Best Men" was just included on the newsletter for The Broke-Ass Bride as a little "something something" for the groom's party.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What does Disability look like to you?



Here's another thing gewgaw from the recent catalogues…

Yooralla hosted a design comp asking for design based on the concept "What does disability look like".

My thought was: If you were disabled, who would you look up to as a role model, someone who hasn't been hindered by their disability, but instead has used it to their advantage?


The answer: A pirate. Sure, there are some negative connotations, what with the death and the dismemberment and the cursed Aztec gold, but pirates are still in vogue at the moment, and with Pirates of the Caribbean 4 currently in production, they probably will be for a few years more.

And surely someone who is feeling marginalised by society from being disabled would feel a kinship with someone who skirts around the edges of society with finesse and zeal.

Zeal! There's a word I never get to use enough! Say it with me: "Zzzzzzzzeal!"



Long story short, I didn't win. I got beaten by "Bufferman", amongst others.

Superheroes beat pirates. Who knew?



Disabilities with Attitude: Now available from Redbubble.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video = Nasty


I think I need to come to the conclusion that my skills only lie in certain areas.

For example, I think I am a pretty good writer, not that I have ever made a living out of it. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can make a living out of something like writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction, for magazines, newspapers, online or books. It takes a lot of self-belief and commitment to write for a living. Procrastination rears its ugly head in so many weird and wonderful ways when you're trying to disgorge that particular phrase or spark of an idea around which your piece revolves. And the chance of writing waffly shit is also high.
Currently, I am writing two books, and by writing two books, I mean "thinking and rethinking points of conjecture over and over in my head before getting a single line down". One is a complex mystery story, the other is a balls-out kids adventure novel. One is very involved and requires a lot of forward planning, the other just needs to be fully plotted before I get into the actual act of writing.
My biggest dilemma is deciding which one I should work on first. Once I can decide that, I'm sure the writing will just happen...

I can wrestle Photoshop to the ground and give it a nipple cripple.
But I'm not that great at taking photographs. Sure, I can shoot the shit out of a booklet on a white surface for the company portfolio, but when it comes to taken photos of life and real people and events, I always end up with the most candid of candid photos. Not the candid shot that you look at and think, "Gee, I really like how he's captured that moment where she's just let her guard down that little bit, imbuing the image with depth and quality." more like, "Did the subject matter just step out of frame?"

I can write songs, but I can't play instruments. I have basic guitar down, and can play basic bass (which is like basic guitar, only deeper. And with a bigger penis.) and I can tap out a rhythm on drums. But without a group of talented musicians to actually reproduce what's in my head, I'm reduced to mostly Bobby McFerrin-style body percussion and over-dubbing vocal strands. Like this.

But one talent I don't have is video production. It's just not my thing. I do not have the diligence to be anal about little things like lighting and sound, which apparently are the sort of things you need to care about when you're making videos.

Take, for example, the video above. This was an entry in the "Live and Love" Herpes Awareness Competition, where you needed to produce a 30 second "short movie" about herpes. Firstly, my movie was an ad, it wasn't a narrative, so I'd lose points for that. Secondly, the sound is awful, absolutely dreadful. Thirdly, frankly, it looks shite. And no matter what competition says it's all about the idea and not the production values, a shite-looking entry ain't gonna win.

So why did I enter it, looking and sounding and being so half-assed? Well, it took me so long to get to that point, I had just about lost interest in the project, and in the end, I just wanted to get it completed so I had something, anything, to show for the hours I'd spent trying to get a "green screen" setup in my lounge room to work, or drawing out and animating a bunch of figures.

Prior to the Herpes competition, I'd also entered the Doritos Make-An-Ad comp, making two ads that I thought were fun, funny and sellable.

The first was a two-hander called "Love. Doritos.", starring the beautiful Stephanie:



I liked how this turned out, but the production values are still woefully low. The sound recording quality is pitiful, which means that some of the dialogue is almost garbled, and I think most of the shots are slightly out of focus. But all up, I liked the ad, and I'd like to think that, reshot with actors and money, it would be funny on TV.

Once I'd entered that ad, I decided to have another go at something else.

"Serving Suggestions"



OK, maybe not the most original concept ever, but I'd like to think the jokes and execution gave it a bit of a twist, and as a polished ad, I think it would retain the interest of the viewer for longer than the usual 2 second scan that most people give an ad, and would offer repeatability (How many of the suggestions can you remember?) It took two nights to shoot and another two nights to edit and add music (which fortunately was my own, so that was a bonus - another example of simple percussion and vocal layering).

Once again, I liked the final product, and I think the production quality of this beats the other two easily, mainly due to the audio, but I also think the editing plays a part: it's tight, well-timed and fluid.

When it comes down to it, maybe I should stick to getting my concepts down on paper and leave the production side of things to professionals. After all, everybody has their thing, be it writing or lighting or audio or really good make-up (or plumbing or baking or juggling - the list goes on, but I'm trying to stay on-theme here), and they deserve to let their light shine.

So maybe next time, I'll ask for help.
And maybe we'll produce something a lot less crappy looking. Something that dazzles with its wit, power, panache, structure and beautiful cinematography. And great sound recording.
And next time, it will win, because let's face it, everybody wants some recognition for their hard work. And cash. Cash is also nice.

Next time winning will be my thing.






Street Bingo

Riding through the 'burbs on my way to work this morning, I rode past an Elvis impersonator walking down the street.

At least, I think it was an impersonator...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bananas

Unless I'm eating a banana,
I don't like the smell of bananas.

That is all.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Muppets 1, Wiggles 0

We've taken to negotiating with our three year old, or possibly she's taken to negotiating with us, it's never clear who's got the upper hand on these deals. It usually has something to do with bedtime. She's generally pretty good with most things, but bedtime must be fought with every fibre of her being, until, through sheer exhaustion, she collapses within close proximity of her bed. We then take off our cricket pads and hockey masks and resume our evening of entertainment. It's like milking a cobra in Wiggles pyjamas.
In the lead-up to her third birthday, our biggest carrot has been Wiggles World. We had a holiday booked to go to the Gold Coast to see relatives and celebrate her birthday, with the idea of taking her to see The Wiggles at Dreamworld. For several months, we bartered her good will in return for a trip to see her childhood stars.
So, finally we get to Queensland and with various family members in tow, we get to Dreamworld, spend an hour waiting outside just to get in the front door, and finally arrive at Wiggles World.

meh.

I've seen my fair share of theme parks. A lot of Disney, a few Universal, a couple of others. On the whole, it's been a pleasant experience, and for the most part I've applauded people's efforts. But I gotta say, Wiggles World sucked a little bit of ass.

OK, to be fair, I am not the primary target audience, although for the primary target audience to get to Wiggles World, they're gonna need a couple of us non-primary target audience. But even our very own primary target audient wasn't that impressed by Wiggles World.

Let me break it down: Wiggles World had one dark ride (indoor carriage ride), one teacup ride, two play areas (indoor and outdoor) and a cafe.

So once you'd ridden the dark ride and taken a spin on the teacups, it was up to you to make your own fun.

There was the character greet area as well, but I didn't actually see any characters in the time we were there.

After one aborted start on the teacups, I took/tricked/coerced/forced 3yo to go on the Big Red Car ride, the solitary dark ride in this themed world. It was a 50 minute wait (on a low-average crowd day) in a moderately themed space, a Wiggles video playing on a screen, brightly painted facades and fences. We watched as Big Red Cars crawled out of the ride, disgorged their passengers, picked up more and disappeared back into Wiggle House. We worked out that they had three cars on rotation, which didn't seem that many, considering we were still waiting after 50 minutes, but in retrospect, they probably needed to keep the lines full to soak up some of the visitor's time so they didn't stumble into and out of the ride in five minutes and then realised that there was nothing to do for the next four hours.

Finally, we boarded our Big Red Car and set off on our tour of Wiggle House.

meh.

I don't want to spoil the ride for anyone who hasn't ridden it and has not yet had the pleasure, but frankly, there's nothing to spoil.

The ride goes like this: Upon entering the ride, a wiggle on a TV screen (wow, just like at home!) tells you to sing along with the songs as you travel through Wiggle House. OK.
So we enter the Wiggly Kitchen, where a wiggle on a TV screen (just like at home!) tells you to sing "Hot Potato".
Then we enter the Wiggly Lounge room, where a wiggle on a TV screen (just like at home!) tells you to sing "Wake Up Jeff".
Then we enter the Wiggle Somewhere, where a wiggle on a TV screen (EVERYBODY!: "Just like at home!") tells you to sing "Wags the Dog".
Then we enter - I don't know, the bathroom? - and a wiggle on a TV screen (Everybody scull!) tells you to sing a song with Henry.
Then we enter the Wiggly Garden and a wiggle on a TV screen (…. I give up) tells you to sing along with Dorothy. And takes your picture.
Then we get out.

So, to recap, you go all the way to Queensland, then Dreamworld, and line up for another 50 minutes JUST TO SEE A WIGGLE ON A TV SCREEN.

Unless you live in Queensland, then your trip is a little shorter, but with the same crappy destination.

Don't take my word for it: upon exiting the building, my three-year-old's response was a forlorn and somewhat confused, "I want to do something else now…"

Frankly, I was disappointed almost to the point of anger. I mean this is something we had been offering as an ultimate prize for good behaviour, and after that I felt like we'd been leading her on.

A couple of rubbish moving props don't cut it in this day and age, and not even having the Wiggle characters existing in the space is terrible form. They've got authorised cartoon forms that could have been incorporated into the scenes. The humour and wackiness of Wiggle House from televised adventures has been replaced by an empty, sterile third-generation copy. As my 3yo sat stony-faced in the Wiggles Kitchen, I couldn't help but think "Are there props not working? Should something else be happening that we're missing? What 3yo would enjoy this?". I was waiting for characters to make appearance from the fridge or outside a window, but instead all we got was a scene reminiscent of the scene from "The Sixth Sense" where all the kitchen cupboards are abruptly yanked open.

We did finally get her onto the teacups, which she enjoyed, but the fun she got from her day at Dreamworld came from other areas of the park, mainly the Nickelodeon Central section, with its broad range of character-themed rides for smaller children. We finished the day in much higher spirits than we started, because eventually we got to enjoy the kind of thrills and enjoyment that were offered by the promotions for Wiggles World. We just had to leave Wiggles World to get them.

Wiggles World looks like it's been shoe-horned into a small area of unused space between existing lands. I have no idea what proceeded it. If that is the reason for the lacklustre range of attractions, I must say, "Why build it there? Why not use a large plot of land on the outside of the existing park?" They did it for Whitewater World. There's no reason they could have expanded out and allowed Wiggles World to expand in size and quality, with the opportunity for further growth in the future.

Even with the space available, much more could have been done. There was plenty of walking room amongst all the attractions, and space taken up by just a play area or just a cafe could have been used much more extensively. The land itself was on a gradual slope, so there was an opportunity to incorporate multi-storey, multi-use buildings without causing issues with disabled access.

Luckily, we were fortunate enough to get to Seaworld on one of our last days in Queensland, which is the home of Sesame Street Beach, which contains about six rides, a live performance theatre, characters to meet and greet and a water-spray play area for kids on hot days. And probably a food shop. Not sure.

3yo had a fantastic day at Sesame Street Beach. She rode most of the rides, watched a lively show with many of her favourite muppets, and got to meet Elmo, Zoe, Ernie and Bert personally.

Since coming back from Queensland, she still often talks about going back to see Ernie and Bert.
Wiggles World don't even rate a mention.

one - zip to the muppets.











Monday, November 8, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean get shirty.





I had a ridiculously positive response to the Haunted Mansion shirts I loaded to redbubble.

One buyer commented: "I bought this shirt and love it. As a die hard Haunted Mansion fan it was perfect for me and their’s really nothing else like it on the market. You should consider more Disney themed shirts because they will definitely sell. Thanks again and keep up the good work."

Which made me think: he's right. While the Haunted Mansion would have to be one of my favourite ridesof all time, there are others that I enjoy as well: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye rocks mightily, The Jungle Cruise has a certain classic chic about it, Peter Pan has magical ships and the Tower of Terror has the classiest entrance and queue area.

But in terms of disney classics, there's really only one name: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Before there were the movies, the ride was already legendary, and like the Haunted Mansion,it has a slew of catchphrases and set pieces, some of which turn up in the movies for the eagle-eyed viewer.

So I decided to branch out from the Mansion and try out a little Pirates design.



With earlier version of the design, I had tried to shoe-horn a pirate ship or skull and cross bones motif, but it just wasn't working for me, so instead, I used the lines from the theme song of the ride as points of interest.

I like it so much, I bought one myself.

If you're a Pirates fan, go get it, and for a limited time (possibly up to Christmas 2010?), you can get 15% off by quoting The Code...
The 15% discount code is: actualchad_is_on_sale_8079

And if you're not a fan, well the code works for any other designs I have on redbubble as well. That can't be all bad, can it?


Dead Balloon Lips

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I originally designed a shirt based on the Haunted Mansion called "Foolish Mortal", which said exactly that, in a purple design on a grey background, which was designed to work differently between light and dark environments.

I decided, as an aside, that I would create a plain white version of the design, just in case people liked the design, but didn't trust the purple/grey colour scheme.

Sure, they've been enjoyed, but sales were cool.

But I really liked the idea of the purple and grey together, so I designed a new shirt. This time I added the Hatbox factor.
This shirt is a collage of quotes from the famous Haunted Mansion spiel, with the added bonus of having a "hidden" face which will only appear in the lowest light situations, supposedly.

Once again, interest was there, but it really didn't convert into sales.

I was more interested in the Hatbox effect than the typography, but after looking at the working files, I decided that it would be worthwhile to post up a version of just the text, one black and one white, as a design on its own.



All of a sudden, there's great interest in the design, and the shirt below went on to be one of the most popular shirt on redbubble for September. It also renewed some interest in the original design.


Now I'm looking forward to seeing photos of people at a Disney park wearing the shirts. That would be brilliant.

It just goes to show, sometimes you can't see the typography for the disembodied ghost head...

Monday, August 23, 2010

In celebration of "Star Wars: a New Hope"








A series of images I designed based on the very first Star Wars movie, "A New Hope".

Now on sale at redbubble.

Friday, July 16, 2010

An Acquired Taste: The Wiggles

I missed the first generation of Wiggles Fever.

I was too old to appreciate their catchy tunes as a youngster, and I had yet to have kids of my own. Being neither the rugrat not the owner of said rug, the early days of The Wiggles passed me by with scant acknowledgement. Sure, I knew of them, and I remembered their previous lives as several bits of The Cockroaches, although I was unaware of just how successful The Cockroaches were until I saw a doco about The Wiggles that mentioned the various gold albums and singles that The Cockroaches attained.
The 80s were littered with one-note pop bands with terrible names that came and went on the back of one or two singles. But unlike Dear Enemy, The Machinations, Big Pig or La Club Foote, The Cockroaches survived the nuclear winter that usually follows the cataclysmic destruction of a rock/pop ensemble and evolved into something new, surviving despite being clubbed over the head by the shoe of annihilation, like this metaphor.

But survive they did, went into early childhood studies (because when I played in bands, I'd always look at the people dotted around the venue at 1 in the morning and think "I'm sure they'd be fine around kids") and found a niche. Not just a niche, but an awesomely-huge money-making multi-media global phenomenon of a niche (I'm not sure at what point it stops being a niche, but I'm thinking we're well beyond that point).

And so began the adventures of four guys in brightly coloured skivvies, a dinosaur, a dog and an octopus, of course The early videos were slightly dodgy compared to the production values of today's children's television, but at the time, they would have been as good as anything else being produced by the ABC. Glitches were still getting ironed out, like Anthony's skivvy interfering with the green screen in the background. People were pulling double duty on performances and voices and the sets were reconstituted period drama lounge rooms and bits of Play School.

But it worked, because the colours were bright, the songs were catchy and the passion was infectious. And as I have learned over the last couple of years, if there's something that kids are attracted to, it's either brightly coloured or infectious.

It seems the popularity of The Wiggles was hinged on a two-prong approach of videos and live performances. In a chicken and egg conundrum, one fed into the another, but as for which preceded the latter, I don't know, but it became very obvious that this was like kiddie crack for my daughter. Indeed, her first repeatable song was "Everybody… Clap!" (apologies to everyone who got the sudden impulse to clap three times). When I mentioned this to someone at work, they replied that their child's first song was the very same. Coincidence? Well, yeah could be.

Repeated viewings of Wiggles videos (because that is the only way you can watch them apparently) lead to you recognising the various back-up singers and dancers, who come and go out of favour, some who take on larger roles and some who disappear into the background.

And then comes the fateful day when Greg Wiggle announces he's leaving the band. Obviously this has been on the cards for a while because, rather than disbanding and waiting the obligatory 4 years before reforming for a lame album and rickety tour, the yellow skivvy is immediately passed on to Sam, who up till then had been gunning in the background as a singer/dancer and understudy on the live shows.

Obviously this change was on the cards for quite a while. Increasingly, the merchandise preferred the use of cartoon imagery over photos, so that when the time came, it would be a simple transition between bland-faced Greg and bland-faced Sam. The yellow Wiggle cartoon would continue to be relevant and the merchandise could continue to be sold.

So The Wiggles have begun a second life, Wiggles 2.0, with their new yellow Wiggle. Because of the afore-mentioned repeatability, Greg may not go away from quite a number of years. Of course, The Wiggles will probably not re-release their back catalogue featuring Greg on new formats, so as the old Gregful DVDs out in the wild are scratched with car keys and spread with mashed banana, they'll be replaced by bright and shiny DVDs featuring the bright and shiny face of Sam.

As for a personal yellow Wiggle favourite, I'm a Greg Wiggle man. They say you're first yellow Wiggle is always your favourite, but to be fair, I was never a yellow Wiggle fan. Greg always came off as the big serious brother to the other Wiggles. He was always the one concerned about chewing your food properly or organising all the other Wiggles to collect items for a picnic. And his magic act was a bit bollocks. And don't get me started on his continual usage of the phrase "…my friend!"

Unfortunately Sam bugs me too. His constantly gunning face and shoulder shrug annoys the shit out of me. I don't mind him singing, but the facial expressions are way too much.

But it's a small criticism for something that has given my daughter such joy for the last couple of years, and will continue to be replayed continually as my second daughter grows through her Wiggles phase.

The Wiggles is an acquired taste, because you don't quite realise how fantastic they are until you have yourself a bub. It's only then you recognise the sheer genius of being able to grab a 2 year old's concentration and hold it for more than 5 minutes. Anyone that can entertain a kid for an hour and have them coming back for repeated viewings is a star in my book.

The songs are catchy enough that you find yourself singing them to yourself in all manner of situations, whistling them walking down the street. Although the only people who would recognise the song would be other parents,.

And I think they've probably been there too.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Best of Men




My brother-in-law recently got married to his new wife (now, but earlier, fiancee). From all reports everyone had a marvellous time. Unfortunately due to monetary constraints, we couldn't flight to the US to see the event LIVE, so we'll have to wait for the direct-to-DVD movie, or possibly the photo album.

As a memento of the event, Adam wanted to have a shirt designed for his groom's party, a thank you that was a little more personal than a pair of cuff links or ceremonial dagger. Being as I am a shirt designer, he asked me to provide a design that suited this most romantic and heartfelt of occasions.

Instead, I designed a shirt with boobs, sharks and gunplay.

We were both pretty happy with it.

Congratulations Adam and Rebekah!



The fortunate thing about the design is that it didn't take much to make it a design that could be used by any groom to thank his groom's party. All the important wedding-day elements are still there: boobs, sharks and gunplay. And part from Adam's initials, all I had to change was his red tie.


And now, huzzah, presenting… The Best Men.




It's a little bit wedding and a little bit Chuck Norris. And let's face it, isn't every wedding a little like Chuck Norris?


No. Probably not.


Come and get some of this!!!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Welcome to the meantime.




Hello, eventually.

Much is on in life, so in the interim between decent posts, I present "The Shatner", available here.




Carry on...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend Project No. 45B-97-01


It's amazing the difference a lick of paint makes.

Just in time for... winter...




The Big AppleDog

News reports announced today that someone tried to blow up Times Square, possibly the Taliban, possibly, shock horror!, "A white man".

Well, that narrows it down.

If I were that "white man", I'd be a little scared about being found by the Taliban. This is their turf.

If nothing else, there is a positive to come out of this unfortunate circumstance: New York is still THE EPITOME OF THE AMERICAN DREAM, and everybody knows it.

Sure, Los Angeles, you may have your movie stars, Hollywood, Disneyland, suntans, gangsta rappers, stretch limos and close proximity to over-the-border medications and plastic surgeries.

Sure, Washington DC, you may have your seat of power, your Air and Space Museum, Smithsonians and giant Abe Lincoln.

Sure, Delaware, you might have your...


But when it comes down to it, there's nowhere in the United States that stands for the United States and everything that it represents, to those who seek to undermine the fundamental policies and undertakings of the consumerist and capitalist way of life, than NEW YORK CITY.

Once again, when it comes to acts of terrorism, nothing gets global coverage like an explosion in New York City.

LA can have its bushfires, Washington DC can have its sniper families. Philapdelphia can have its syphilus outbreak.

When it comes to being the face of terrorism: The Big Apple is still The Big Dog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mummy Smash Time


I have a lot of time for mothers, obviously. And I understand that there is a tipping point where they go from caring, loving, nurturing ladies to crazed, wild-eyed bunny-boilers.

It's usually about four minutes before Happy Hour.

And about two minutes after an offspring has decided, for the fifth time today, that taking their nappy off and/or spitting unwanted food is a form of communicating love.

At our house, we're not Jewish, but we do celebrate the Passover. It's the moment when I arrive home at night and Steph meets me at the door, we exchange brief pleasantries, and she passes over whichever child is causing her to Sea Red.


At some point, all mothers need to release the pressure valve. What better time than "Mummy Smash Time", when time is put aside for that quiet, leisurely glass of wine. Or six. Dozen.

Because nothing says "Don't bother me, it's Mummy Smash Time", than the official "Mummy Smash Time" t-shirt.

Except, of course, shaking the bottle and aiming the cork at the little bugger's head.

Also available in:

Available here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

From the Folio



A little while ago, I entered a competition at 99designs.com to create a logo for an art gallery called "Twenty First Century Art Ltd" As part of their brief, they mentioned that they were thinking about something like the 20th Century Fox logo, which I thought was a bad idea, because they'd just end up being sued or publicly attached to a movie studio.


In my mind, as an art gallery, being thought of as a subsiduary of a major motion picture company would reduce your ability to promote truly ground-breaking work to the public, because people would probably expect your gallery space to be filled with framed copies of movie posters.


It would be hard to sell works from the next up and coming Damien Hirst if they've only come in to buy the poster from "The Notebook".


So instead I went for zombies. Of course.


I really liked this design for a couple of reasons.

Firstly I like the subtitle "Art for Brains".

Secondly, the 21 works as a zombie head.

Thirdly, it would work on a business card as well as the side of a building.

Fourthly, I like the eyes, because they can work in an art gallery setting.


Of course I didn't win the comp. The winner as a knock-off of the 20th Century Fox logo. Who would've guessed?

But I liked the design, and I would hold on to it for a future job, but when am I gonna get asked to design a zombie head for an art gallery using the number 21?

Commissions like that are rarer than you think...



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

That's one horny horse!





I've always been a fan of pictograms. I was fortunate enough to get a job making hazard signage during my 20s, so I got to muck about with all sorts of dangerous-looking signs, with exploding chemicals and razor-sharp dogs and flammable doors.

What I like about pictograms is the simplicity of form that connotes meaning with a brevity of detail.

A sign with a simple fire on it means "this will catch on fire", without the need to explain how or why. And it's a lot more succinct than a sign saying "LOOK, JUST TRUST ME, THIS WILL CATCH ON FIRE, SO LEAVE IT ALONE, SAVVY?"

A skull and cross bones means death (followed by disintegration of most of your body, until all that is left is your noggin-nut and a pair of bones sitting in an economical pile).

There's an argument going on in international circles about EXIT signs, an article about which can be found here, but the crux is that the US EXIT sign is simply the word EXIT in red, while the internationally-recognised EXIT sign is a guy running out a door, printed in green.
The international version works much better for non-English speaking people, but the US are reticent to change to the international version, probably because they didn't make it in the first place. However, considering that Spanish is becoming the "language de-jour" in the US, it doesn't make sense to have your signage in only English.

The International EXIT sign: The front, and the rarely-seen back of the sign.

What does this have to do with a unicorn? Glad you asked...

Well... um...

Well, the unicorn (or unicorno is Spanish) is fast becoming the NEW international sign for exit, because let's face it, when you're in a dangerous, desperate or inhospitable situation (for example, eating a bomb sandwich, fleeing a rottweiler on fire or being Carl William's gym partner), you want a sign that is unambiguous, a sign that is an instantly recognisable signifier for its intrinsic meaning.

And if you, I, or anyone were running away from a flaming rottweiler with a bomb sandwich in its mouth, and you, I or they ran past a door with a picture of a unicorn above it, we (universal) would all think the same thing:

"WHOA! THAT'S PRETTY WAY OUT."

And you know what? It would be.





This is my best selling t-shirt so far. It's odd, because it was a simple idea that I had for years but never got around to producing until recently, and while I thought it was funny, I didn't think it would quite as popular as it has been.

Turns out someone else also had the same idea, but I like mine because... it's mine.

And I didn't rip off My Little Pony...
Oh Snap! Oh no he didn't?
Oh Yes, I did! Zing!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I am not in understandment

I've never understood the phrase "Got their work cut out for them..."

Surely if you cut work out, then there's less work to do.

Which is good, innit?

...unless you get paid by the hour...

Friday, April 16, 2010

New Thoughts on Migraines

Here's an idea for people out there who suffer from migraines.

If you are in the throes of a migraine, which can range from the inconvenient to the downright debilitating, here's something that can help to (maybe even slightly) reduce the pain.

Think of something new.

It's that simple.

I've found that when I've been battling with a migraine, the active thought of thinking of new thoughts, versus thinking of memories or previous thoughts, can help to reduce the pain in the head.

OK, maybe it's not that simple. Continually thinking of new things can be hard. It's very easy to drift back into things you've already thought of. But, at least for me, the act of creating new thought diminishes the acuteness of the pain.

"But," you say, "surely just thinking of something else just takes your mind off the fact that you're in pain." In theory yes, but I've tried taking my mind off the pain by thinking of fond memories and the effect isn't nearly the same as thinking of original thoughts.

Here's two processes I use:

1. Fly me, I'm free

Here's how I start: I picture my feet, standing on the ground, wearing green sneakers (I'm not sure why green, but it always seems to be green - go figure).

Then I lift off.

I rise up into the air, I take in the surroundings as they slowly shrink away. Where was I standing? What was over the fence? Who is that walking down the street? Where is that car going? Isn't it amazing how many people own pools?

It's all about the details.

Now that I've created this panorama, it's time to move. Where are I going to fly? Generally I think of somewhere cool, like Disneyland, or Niagara Falls, somewhere I recognise. And then I fly there, taking in the details of whatever I fly over.

The idea is that during you're flight, you have to consciously think of what you're going to see next. And even if you're flying between two places you know, the act of having to visualise the route between the two locations from above focusses your creative brain. You might be using some memory of what you'll see on the ground as you fly, but having to re-evaluate that data in your brain uses your creative centres rather than your memory centres.

2. Expected the Unexpected Pickle.

This is a pretty simple idea. Hall of doors. Walk up to a door, open the door. What happens?

OK, instead of that happening, what if the opposite happened, not what you expected at all?

Challenge your brain to create something you didn't expect. As soon as you start thinking you know what you're about to see, surprise yourself.

For example: "You open the door and see a man in a suit... except coming out of the bottom of his pants are... tentacles? And these tentacles slip and slide out of his cuffs, and each tentacle is holding an object - a golden ring, a necronomicon, a bottle of potion, a deck of cards, a pocketwatch. And then the pocketwatch... swells and morphs into an apple, which then peels open to reveal.... a flower, which explodes into a cloud of pollen, which forms the shape of... the Empire State Building... except halfway up, the building takes a 90 degree turn and starts building across the skyline. And then when you zoom inside the building, who do you see?..."

Choose an object, choose an aspect of the object that you take for granted, change that aspect. What happens next?

****

I'm sure there's a scientific reason for why this works in reducing pain, something to do with different sections of the brain, and how and where pain is interpreted. Maybe the pain is centred in the creative regions, and so if you're using that part of the brain to think creatively, not so much of that region is dwelling on feeling pain. I can't say the pain completely disappears, but it certainly diminishes.

I hope that these ideas work for you next time you've got a migraine, or even a bad headache.

Think on!!

Taking back Thursday

I'm officially declaring a day.

You got your "Tight-Arse Tuesday"and you've got "Hump Day" on Wednesday, but apart from the occasional Pancake, Thursday doesn't get the love it deserves. Sure, it sometimes gets called "Little Friday", but that doesn't do Thursday justice.

So I'm calling it. Unfortunately, I don't know what to call it yet.

So here's the pitch:

"You made it this far into the week. You've survived Monday, you've celebrated the fact with Tight-Arse Tuesday, and now Wednesday's over, you've finally broken the hump. But there's still two days to go before the relief of the weekend! What are you gonna do?

Here's your answer: it's time for "comfort clothing". It's like "comfort eating", but instead of heading for the fridge, hit the wardrobe.

Thursday is now "back in rotation" day: the day in the week when you dive into your wardrobe or drawers and find that piece of clothing that you loved, but somehow fell through the cracks of your regular rotation.

You can only wear so many t shirts, some are bound to sink from the top of the pile. Dig'em out!

Whatever happened to those jeans you loved, but got superseded by the new pants? Go try them on!

Didn't you used to have the cutest white pumps that went with that dress? Whatever happened to them? Well, you let that slut Shauna borrow them and she vomited Bacardi Breezer into them at the races, before snogging that guy you liked from work, the one with the eye brow piercing? Yeah him...
BUT! Go have a look in your wardrobe for some other great shoes that you don't wear anymore, and when Shauna asks to borrow them, you tell her to go f*ck herself! And the Accounting Department! Again! Slut!

It's amazing what you forget you used to wear.
It's time to be amazing again.

It's Thursday: Get Back In Rotation!"

***

Here's where you come in: Hit the poll up on the right and tell me what we should officially call Thursday's "Back In Rotation" day. And if you've got a better idea for a name, add a comment below.

Your vote is important to us. And by us, I mean you.












Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It could go either way...





I've set a ball in motion that could go one or more of many ways, if that makes sense.

Maybe it's a ball of water, which can split into different smaller balls of water which go into different directions, although a ball of water is kind of hard to launch.

Maybe it's a ball of mercury, which is sort of cooler, although the surface tension doesn't tend to let it split regularly.
If I could get a ball which had the splitability of water with the metallic finish of mercury, it would not only be perfect for this analogy, but also look damn cool...

...

...anyway...
...
Let's go back a bit...

A while ago, back when Steph and I were young and carefree and only had the one little pumpkin in the patch (oh those were the days, when we... slept) we discussed the idea of having another kid. I always said two was good, because one is officially the loneliest number, although 3 is also a particularly lonely number, since there will generally be a "ganging-up" of two against the remaining one, who would feel even more lonely when confronted with the chummy camaraderie of the other two.

And that's why people don't like mathematics. Because it's all about socio-political affectations of the individual components, rather than just counting. Maths is like communism: Good in theory, but once you get people involved, it falls over on its ear.
For example: 88 - Two fat ladies. Isn't that a little fattist? Sexist?
And if you think 13 is unlucky, spare a thought for "22 divided by 7".
How would you feel if everyone thought you were "easy as"?

We decided we wanted to have two children, so they would have someone to play with, protect each other and on the odd chance, supply an organ.
Fast forward a year (mainly so I don't have to explain the conception, pregnancy or birth) and we now have two kids, Honey and now Lilybelle, who are both beautiful and good-natured (pending), and we're happy with our decision to stop at two. For a start, they can never out-vote us, because in a split decision, we get the power of veto. Plus they're not old enough to vote, so that helps.
Plus, if we go out somewhere, there's one parent for each kid, so it is much easily to assert blame.
Also, how often do you see a family deal that states "2 adults, 3 children"? Never. OK, once, but that was a typo. "2 adults, 2 kids" is the goto ratio for Family Deals, the optimum, the golden rule, and I'd like to get in on some of that "Family Deal" action.

So what to do? Well if we didn't want any more kids, we could always do what my parents did and never have sex ever again (and if anyone thinks I'm being naive - SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP I'M NOT LISTENING!).
So instead, I decided to get a vasectomy.
Some people might think that's a little severe, but frankly it's the best option. Let's face it: If I was a superhero, whose power was the ability to get women pregnant, I could now say "My work here is done!" and fly off to my Fortress of Solitude (which is conveniently located in my shed).

Why not enjoy my progenitorial retirement?
Unfortunately, this superhero (I like the name THE IM-PREG-NA-TOR! myself. It's catchy) hit a brick wall.

Turns out a vasectomy costs over a thousand bucks!

Double ouch.That's a pain in the pocket, in more ways than one.
We don't have a thousand bucks to throw at my groin, so to speak. If we were gonna go ahead with this, I was gonna have to find a way to "make bank".

Fortunately, I came up with an idea, a plan so brilliant it verges on the dumb, a scheme so eye-googlingly stupendous, it could almost be considered idiotically stupid. And also a little embarassing.
Or it could just fail. There's always a chance.

It just so happened that I designed a shirt recently that would come in handy in just such an occasion.

The "MARRIED TO THE MILF" t-shirt was originally just a "love" letter to my wife. After all, she is the MILF for me. But I'm not the only man in the world who wants to have sex with his wife, am I?
So here's the idea: I sell the shirt, and the profits go towards me getting a vasectomy. What could possibly go wrong?

As I said, it could go one or more of many ways:

Possibly it could work, I sell enough shirts to pay for the snip, everybody wins.
Or it gets publicity, but don't doesn't transfer to sales, and I'm forever known as "Vasectomy Boy".
Or it gets publicity, does transfer to sales, but I'm still forever known as "Vasectomy Boy".
Or it doesn't work, and I still need to find a way to pay for a vasectomy.

But, as they say "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs", although in this case, the eggs aren't my eggs per se, but my reputation, and the omelette is... the vasectomy? Is that right?
Which means the omelette is a vasectomy, which is the act of "breaking my eggs", so in this case, they should say "You can't break eggs without breaking eggs".

Very zen.

I guess we'll see how sales go. In the meantime, if you know someone who likes having sex with their wife (or even a wife who would like sex to be done with them), send them this PDF. Or just send them here.

Yours Sincerely,

V.B.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Acquired Taste: An Appreciation of Gardening

I'm older than I was. Older than most reading this post I presume, and increasingly so. And as the saying goes, "Better an empty flat than a bad tenant." which is apt because... I...

My mistake. The saying is "The older you are, the wiser you become." which of course doesn't take into account the development of dementia and senility in the elderly or C-grade celebrities (I'm looking at you Lohan!). The saying infers that the arrival of wisdom happens only after you're old enough to not have fun with it. "Ignorance is Bliss" is another phrase that comes to mind, which, when consumed together, means that as you get older, you may get wiser, but you won't be happier. That's a bit of a downer, innit? I should have never even started this paragraph...

The original reason for staggering down this path like an AT-ST covered in ewoks is that I've come to appreciate certain things in life that I never thought I would. While bumbling through life has been fun, I'm now in the position to sit up, meekcat-like, and observe things around me for what they are. And whether I can eat them.

An Appreciation of Gardening.

I've never had any luck with plants. I have the opposite of a green thumb, whatever that is. Many people think that the brown thumb is the opposing digital accompaniment, but that's not true. The brown thumb is the sign of a "yes man".

Not only have I had no luck with plants, I've never understood the need for gardening. What is the point of gardening? Something to show where the dead grass finishes? Somewhere to stick all those objects d'art that your grandchildren give you for your birthday? A pet equivalent for less mobile animal lovers?

There were always aspects of gardening that I enjoyed. For example: pruning. There's nothing like hacking and slashing at overgrown behemoths to resurrect that little English explorer in Africa in all of us. Sure, there's less pith helmets, but also less dysentery, so it's a fair balance.

And apart from pruning, I always enjoyed...

No. That's about it.

Until now.

For the most part, I have to credit Stephanie, exquisite partner of mine, for my new-found appreciation of gardening. She liked gardening, despite my objections, and when she got a job at Bulleen Art & Garden, the knowledge she picked up only increased her enjoyment. She began requesting garden beds to be built, which my limited handyman prowess provided. Eventually.

Plus, we got to eat the (literal) fruits of our labour. Tomatoes mainly, but like the gateway drug of the gardener, that perked my interest. From there we've experimented with beans, peas, asparagus, strawberries, herbs, passionfruit, lemons, olives, capsicum, spring onions and more, with varying degrees of success.

But I now look forward to getting into the garden on weekends. I plant trees instead of just cutting them down. I turn compost (we have four compost bins now, because you just can't get enough apparently) and tend the worm farm. I watch gardening shows. I know what iron chelate is.

I finding myself wishing we had a bigger block, not so we could extend the house, but so we could add more garden.

Why the turnaround? Possibly that fact that things lived. Rather than being the Voldemort to the Harry Potted, I've become the Dumbledore, except less gay, but with the same bad taste of headwear.

Also, getting something back from the plants is conducive to wanting to continue the friendship. Sure, a flower is pretty, but can you cook them into a pasta sauce? Yes you can, but it would taste a bit shit. But tomatoes are a different story. In fact, you can pick them off and eat them on the spot, particularly cherry tomatoes, which almost beg to be eaten like something out of Alice in Wonderland, or a particularly vocal porn star.

To a lesser degree, I suspect it also has to do with owning our house, rather than renting. "Putting down roots" makes a lot more sense now. I think the transient nature of renting doesn't compel people to spend more than cursory time on their gardens, but once it's yours, it is an extension of who you are. Thus you want something you can be proud of. (Yes, I ended the sentence with a preposition. The grammarticulate can waggle their fingers, but "Thus you want something of which you can be proud." sounds like a toss.)

I hope that our gardening efforts will rub off on our girls, that maybe they'll have more of an interest in where their food is coming from, other than the supermarket. Having the herb garden outside the front door certainly helps.

We're not exactly gonna be hosting an Open Garden in the near future, but I like to think that we'll continue to invest time and effort in the garden and see appropriate results.

And that's the crux of it: Not only am I willing to spend time and effort in the garden, I actually enjoy it. Who'd have thought?

I guess you could say that gardening is... growing on me?

I wouldn't, because ending with a shitty Dad joke is lame.

So I'll just say... gardening: it's an acquired taste.








The Master says Relax... I mean Obey.

There have now been plenty of Masters on Doctor Who, but by far, the best Master of all would have to be Roger Delgado.
I have a soft spot for the Jon Pertwee era, considering it was when I first saw the show. ABC in Australia replayed Pertwee and Tom Baker episodes for what seemed like decades while I was growing up.
Roger Delgado's Master was the nemesis of Pertwee's Doctor, and the character was, even back then, a bit of a moustache-twirler, but Delgado gave it such style.
Delgado had a back catalogue of movie and TV roles, playing a range of swathy types and probably the odd vicar. He could play suave and sophisticated in his sleep. Narcolepsy aside, he had the chops.Delgado's Master had the same issues as the other Masters: a deep, seething hatred of the Doctor's ability to win both the day and the affections of everyone around him without resorting to underhanded dealings.
Oh, and wanting to rule the universe. Natch.
He also had the complete inability to kill off his nemesis with a simple bomb or gun, preferring the more intricate, ornate, sophisticated and ultimately escapable trap. Consider "Terror of the Autons" - the Master's first story. After cleverly disguising himself as a phone technician to infiltrate the UNIT base, the Master could just whip out a gun, add some witty quip, and blow his fellow Time Lord away.
But instead, he installs a phone.
Sure, it's a bit of a killy phone, what with the remote-controlled strangling cord and all, but still...
since Delgado's tragic death in a car accident while shooting a movie in Turkey, the character has been resurrected in both the classic and new versions of the show, plus appearances in the McGann movie of 1996 and online stories. But as each new version of the character appeared, the subtleties of the character diminished, from Anthony Ainsley's 80's appearances resembling Dick Dastardly, to John Simm's wildly grimacing portrayal in the new series.
None have suitably matched the gravitas that Delgado brought the role. For me, he was the original and the best.
To misquote Time Crash: "He was my Master."
This t-shirt design harks back to the bad old days of 2003. I travelled to Whovention in Sydney. To subsidise my expenses, I decided to try selling some merchandise, including keyrings with the Gallifrey symbol, posters and some t-shirts. One design was a dalek design that has since disappeared on one of my hard drives. the other was this design, a mash-up of Doctor Who and Shepard Fairey.

Considering the Master was a skilled hypnotist, I thought it was a perfect match.

The sale, by the way, was a disaster, and on top of that, I successfully (though accidentally) insulted one of the visiting celebrities in front of a room of fans. So all in all, the weekend was not a huge success.

But I was always happy with the finished version of this design. So I've made it available for purchase again through redbubble.

So, if Roger Delgado was your Master, you know what... you... must... do...

(I'm fiercely staring at you through the screen right now, btw)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Welcome, Foolish Mortals...


So begins the tour of The Haunted Mansion, a mainstay of Disney theme parks around the world, and one of my favourite attractions in any theme park.
Why? The Haunted Mansion epitomises the drawcard of attractions such as roller coasters, flume rides and dark rides: scares without danger.

While a roller coaster provides the scares of high speed and sudden turns (and if you're lucky, loops), it also provides safety from danger, in the form of seat belts, harnesses and safety brake systems. Thus, you can be hurtling to your death in a rocket car, but in the back of your mind, you know everything is going to be alright.

In comparison, hurtling to your death in an actual rocket car wouldn't have the same widespread appeal.

With The Haunted Mansion, you are dealing with all manner of scary spook, gruesome ghoul and a bridezilla, but the scares are balanced out by black humour and Charles Addams-style visual gags.

Alternatively, if you were just stuck in a creepy house where the rooms changed size, objects floated around your head and the paintings distorted into ghoulish patiches of their former beauty, you'd probably not enjoy it so much.


The "Foolish Mortal" tshirt above is in honour of one of my favourite all-time rides. The design resembles some of the motifs found within the attraction, most notably the unsettling wallpaper from sections of the ride.

What I really like about this design is the way the colours work. While there is a white version for other shirt colours, the purple design on the grey shirt is almost subliminal in low light, just the barest of glossy hints. However, when you step out into the sunlight, the design almost glows against the grey background.

If you're a fan of The Haunted Mansion, you could do worst than pick up a shirt and declare yourself a Foolish Mortal.

Sure you may have 999 t-shirts in your cupboard...

...but there's always room for one more....

A test of the technology

There may come a time when I am compelled by a sudden need to provide instant global access to my thoughts.
If that happens, this should help.



-- Post From My iPhone

Location:Bendigo St,North Melbourne,Australia

Obligatory Questionable First Post

It's been a long time since I blogged, so long in fact that I can't even log into my old blog, as I don't have that email address anymore, the image links don't work anymore, and half the archives have fallen off. It's like walking through the remains of the once-populated industrial park and finding a lot of flaky paint and rusty metal. But instead of paint, it's metaphors and instead of metal, it's humour.

So, flaky metaphors and rusty humour. Sounds like a vaudeville act. And not a good one.

But, huzzah, like Lazarus walking out of his cave and immortally declaring, "Brrrrrrrrraaaains!!", I have decided to return from the dead, blog-wise.

This could be a good thing, or this may be the very last blog entry I type.

Stay tuned.