Sunday, March 29, 2009

Papercraft

Continuing in a comic-pop-art-focused line of thought... If you've ever owned a vinyl figure (action figure, toy, doll, whatever your ego requires them to be called) I think you'll enjoy papercraft toys - a.k.a. flat pack toys. Illustrators and designers are working their magic on paper forms as a kind of 3D canvas. The cool thing is that it's like an open source art movement. You can download their cool designs, or blank templates in jpg or pdf format to create your own works of art. Simply cut out the form, fold and assemble. I really like the pairing of modern design and hand-crafting. Here are some excellent sources for popular papercraft toys:If you dive in to these sites you'll find some really cool projects for kids. I'm going to make some "customs" by loading the templates into Photoshop. These can take some time to assemble so take a deep breath, have fun, and good luck with all of those paper cuts.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What the World Needs Now is...
Delicious Hostess Fruit Pies!

Some of you know that I used to work in advertising. My first job out of college was working as a lowly account executive at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, where I helped shuck food products like Tree Top apple juice, Roman Meal bread, and Almond Roca. Of these three, my favorite account was Brown & Haley (the makers of Almond Roca). Working with Mark Haley and his staff was like visiting Willy Wonka on a regular basis. They always had cool new candy coming out of their little factory in Tacoma, WA. But I digress...

Back in the day there was this thing called a "comic book" that kids would "read" for enjoyment. One of the most hilarious crossroads between advertising and entertainment occurred with the unabashed hawking of Hostess snack products in comic books. Normally superheroes and villains would fight a never-ending battle over good and evil, but not when delicious Hostess products were around! Here are some examples:




I love this concept... Dear Sirs! Please put aside your petty conflicts so that we can partake in the bounty known as a Twinkie! Ahh, delicious cream filling... Maybe our world can learn from the simple truth that a cake-like confection can create world Peace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Macrame... Er... Survival Bracelets

I've always been drawn to knots. There are thousands of knots for very specific purposes, and I like to think of knot knowledge in the same vein as ninja skills. I don't care what you think unless you can tie a Monkey's Fist! If so, we can move on to the secret handshake.

Rain spoiled my spring conjuring session last weekend. So I started making these "Survival Bracelets" that I originally discovered in a post on Gizmodo. What are they made of? Why 20-40 feet of 550lb para cord (that's what us Rogue Valley men call parachute cord) and other mountain-climbing-useful rope. These can be unraveled and re-woven in no time. Why would you want to make one? Because you might accidentally cut off your leg and need a tourniquet. You might find yourself lost in the woods and need to build a shelter. Your dryer might stop working and you'll need a clothesline. But most likely you'll need some rope to tie down that hideous purchase you just made at a garage sale.

If you enjoy making things with your hands, these are cool and easy. The knot is called a Cobra Stitch, and is also known as a Portuguese Sinnet, or the Solomon Bar. I taught Juliet in about 3 minutes and then she busted out several in the same evening. There are many tutorials on teh interwebs (look here, here, and here).

Hardware clasps are optional, but they're a little more secure with one. The bottom photo is what they call a "king cobra". I'd tell you how, but it would require many more secret handshakes. Don't leave home without one, the apocalypse is nigh!

And yes, that's a Monkey's Fist at the top of the first picture. Stone cold ninja...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Come on! Grow! DAMN YOU! Grow!

If there was ever a year when America needed spring, this is it. Today, I'm willing spring into action. We're cleaning up the yard, washing cars, biking, and generally pretending that it's 85 out when it's actually closer to 40. At school we're t-minus one week away from spring break (a.k.a. SPRING BREAK!), but my students are already there mentally and physically. We had a 70 degree day yesterday and everyone was wearing flip flops and shorts - reminded me of college where I think I wore shorts for a whole year once (and yes, Diane, this is after the year that Dave and I wore surgical scrubs). Now that he's a real doctor, I'm clearly a poser.

Any who... I hope you're enjoying a little mini-revival brought on by mother nature. Americans! It's time to forge our new, and brighter future!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bicycle thy name is steampunk!

Behold my new bicycle! It's a Schwinn Cutter single speed - a throwback model with a flat black paint scheme and very basic styling. I've been looking for a larger commuter bike than my previous ride, which was a smaller more nimble mountain bike that's almost 20 years old. I first became enamored with the single speed (and 29ers) when my friend Chris bought a Redline Monocog Flight. I thought he was nuts until I rode one and instantly "got it". I was about ready to plop down some serious bucks when I found the Cutter at a local bike shop. Only $299 for this thang! I traded out the seat and some new handlebars for a whopping total of $315. Sadly, this represents about 6 tankfuls of gas in the "Black Beauty". Sigh...

Riding a single speed is definitely more work on hills, but I find that it's a lot like the BMX bikes we had as children. Instead of focusing on gears... you just pedal. Plus, it's whisper quiet and surprisingly fast due to the skinny tires. Overall, it's an excellent mid-point between a mountain bike and a road bike. I'm hoping this turns out to be durable commuter, but we'll see. Perhaps a bowler and some moustache wax will aid my commute! M'Lady...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We Could Be Heroes?

I have succumbed to the marketing steamroller known as "The Watchmen". I spent the week reading the 80's graphic novel, and then the brothers Inada and I saw the 3 hour movie last night. It was fascinating and depressing at the same time. The movie follows the book so closely that in some ways it suffers from the same ills. The movies' super heroes are endlessly interesting and powerful, but ultimately they are just bystanders viewing the massive failure of society. This makes for a very un-Hollywood ending for the film. There are no bright bows on this package, no happy sunsets, and the only character who seems to embody some sense of justice chooses death in the end (i.e. if this is what we are choosing for the world, I am going to opt out). But I think this is the point of the cynical perspective that The Watchmen presents - there's no such thing as "control" over the world's future, just an endless set of uncomfortable compromises that are very hard to swallow.

I have to say this movie made me uncomfortable, because it mirrors many of the issues we're experiencing in our world today. I'm a huge media consumer, and although I'm highly connected to the information super highway, I still feel like I'm observing a horrible train wreck from afar. Am I alone? The news is so full of tragedy lately that I've found myself wanting to not be informed, and I've been searching for that ignorant break from reality.

Sorry for the downer post, but this is how I feel after watching this movie. Today I'm actually in a good mood and looking forward to riding bikes with the kids. Following the 80's retro hipster trend I "CHOOSE LIFE", but not with a white t-shirt or the WHAM! soundtrack. Btw, Jackie Earle Haley deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Rorschach. He nailed it. It's amazing to think of him as the punky pitcher from Bad News Bears, and good to see him get some props.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

For no other reason.... RUST

I've been putting too many hours in at work lately, so I did some intentional slacking yesterday. I spent a lot of time surfing, we had lunch with my talented Mom at Dragonfly, and we ran some errands around a blustery, sometimes rainy Ashland. I've been discovering the usefulness of building text in Adobe Illustrator and then transferring smart objects to Photoshop. Twas googlin' and found this weird robot picture from somewhere in Japan. The rest is my creation... or lack thereof...


Like Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, this robot "has seen things".