Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You can call me Bristow, Sydney Bristow

Or not.

Either way, I'm still going to feel like I'm a secret agent. And there's nothing you can do about it.

Then again, Bristow or Bond probably don't post about what it feels like to be a secret agent on their design blog. BOOM AGENT MICHAEL SCARN!!!!

Ugh, I'm going to be more of a Maxwell Smart kind of agent, aren't I? That's okay as long as I get the phone in my shoe. Why do I have a sinking feeling that a shoe phone would have better reception than my crap Samsung model.

Of course I can't tell you what I'm up too, but let's just say I'm a little like that Kirsten Wiig character on SNL who is about to explode if she has to keep it a secret any longer.  Don't worry, I'm not going to divulge any information. You may have to extract my molars if you want me to talk, and even then...I'm not going to tell you. I'll just spell out "E-M-E-T-I-B"  like the trained CIA agent I am. And then tell you to spell it backwards.

Or maybe I should get off the computer and prepare for my early morning drop.

This blog post will self-destruct in 5...4...3....2..

Take Five!

Here is the latest t-shirt design I was hired to do.  The concept was inspired by the iconic song "Take Five" written by Paul Desmond and originally recorded by The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1959. According to Wikipedia it sets its self apart from other jazz numbers because it is written in a 5/4 time signature. I find things like that interesting. ("Money" by Pink Floyd is another song that possess a rare time signature: 7/4)
I also learned that the songwriter left the royalities that the song still earns to the American Red Cross in his will.  (It earns about $100,000 a year.) That's remarkable to me.

The shirt is for the Select Dance Academy and Performing Art Center's 5 year anniversary. I am thankful to them for the opportunity to make this design. While putting this together, I had a fun time listening to Jaymay, Dr.Dog, and the one and only Justin Bieber--Oh, I'm not afraid to admit it. I've got Bieber Fever for sure!

Best of luck for many years to come, SDA!

So, what do you think of the design?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A League of Their Own

This movie was on television twice tonight. It may be the most nostalgic movie ever made. It instantly brings me back to the summer when I watched it at least once a day. I was thirteen. I never played baseball or softball, so I can't imagine the sort of memories that would surface for someone who actually knew what it was like to be on a team--let alone, one of the women that was a member of the AAGPBL in 1943.

Instead this movie reminds me of how I actually wanted to be an athlete. This was much different than my desire to play roller derby after I watched "Whip It" for the first time. This was determination. I had it set in my mind that I would be number 8 and a catcher...just like Dottie Henson (Geena Davis' character, of course). I was alright when I'd play whiffle ball with my cousins in my grandma's backyard. (They may beg to differ), but I had a pretty good eye for the ball, and could hit for a lefty.

So, I had my mind made up. I was going to play soft ball once school started. Someone must have put the thought into my head that I would have to build up the calluses on my hands so I could catch a baseball bare handed. After all, Dottie Henson and Kit Keller had strong hands from milking all those cows. ("Did you tell the cows you'd write?") So, that settled it. I was going to work on catching without a glove. I gave the baseball to my brother and walked 20 paces away from him like a good ol' fashion western draw. Sans glove. He wound up and pitched that sucker. I expected my reflexes to kick in. We were about to recreate that infamous scene when Rosie O' Donnell whips the ball at Geena Davis' head during tryouts and she impresses everyone by catching it. Yep, it was just like that.

Except I didn't catch it...and my little brother who was in little league and quite the little athlete, was able to pitch it directly to me, hitting me square in the chest. It knocked the wind out of me and I laid on the sidewalk unable to move, staring blankly at the sky, preparing to leave this world.

You'd think that'd be the end of me. Instead, I marched inside the house and grabbed the tennis balls.

Of course, once school started, I went a different route (music), but I will always love this movie. I even cried when I saw this uniform at Planet Hollywood in Florida. I had no idea it would be there. The bartender was concerned as to why someone would get emotional over this.

But let me tell you...this movie taught me so much. How to walk "gracefully and grandly, gracefully and grandly.", how to stand up straight (I definitely walked around with a book on my head that summer), to sit with my "legs always together--remember a lady reveals nothing." It taught me about friendship and how to be a good sport even if I never played on a team. I studied the process of this film and how the story was told. The colours that were used, the composition, the comedic timing. I absorbed the way the music swelled and set the tone. How "Now & Forever" by Carole King could be timeless and transport us to 1943. And who can listen to "This Used to Be My Playground" and feel numb. The combination of their youth in black and white, Madonna's voice, and an eery synthesizer will always make tears flood my eyes. This movie made me love historical films. It may even be the epitome of period films for me.
Of course everyone always quotes the "There's no crying in baseball" line, which is great. Don't get me wrong here...There's something so great about that entire scene. And Tom Hank's delivery is brilliant, but I've always been a fan of the schpeel when he talks about his parents driving down from Michigan to see him play the game. "And did I cry??!?! NA! NA! Why?"...You know the rest. There are so many other little gems in this film though, to name a few:
"Has anyone seen my new red hat?"
Kid: Will you sign my baseball? WOW! 'Avoid the clap. - Jimmie Dugan'
Jimmy: That's good advice!
"Why am I the only person on this bus?"
"Oh, let's not go to the World Series without Stilwell's toys!"
"EVELYN. EVELYN! I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to KILL YOUR SON!"
Kit:  'Here's our daughter Dottie, and here's our other daughter, Dottie's sister.' They should have just had you and bought a dog.
Dottie: Mitch Swaley likes you.
Kit: Mitch Swaley is one step up from dating a pig!
Dottie: But an important step.
"Hey, dollbody, why don't we slip into the back and you make a man out of me?"-12 year old kid who drives Dottie to the Suds Bucket
"Let's make like a bread truck and haul buns!"

The brunt of memorable quotes are delivered by Jon Lovitz who plays Ernie Capidino--a baseball scout.

"Sit here and I'll go see if I can dig up a pistol. I've always got to sit next to one of these guys. I'm just too friendly."
"Cow girls, see the grass? Don't eat it."
"Get these wild animals away from me! Haven't you ever heard of a leash!"
"See how it works is, the train moves, not the station."
But I still love Tom Hank's maniacal banter.

Betty Spaghetti: Lou quit.
Jimmy: WHO'S LOU?!?!?

"We're gonna win. We're GUNNA WIN!"

"You're gonna lose-you stink." (We used to rewind this part over and over- you know when he hits Stilwell in the face with the glove. The VHS is fuzzy at that part now.) 
There are so many more great quotes and or even terrible quotes that I like to say anyways.

I used to search for this magazine in antique shops and then have to remind my self that it never existed. It would be really cool to find what it was inspired by. Or even if you could get the prop from the movie. It's such a great cover and symbolizes a turning point for the league.
I couldn't play ball, but I figured out how to sing the song written by Pepper Paire and Nalda Bird

Batter up! Hear that call!
The time has come for one and all
To play ball.

We are the members of the All-American League
We come from cities near and far
We’ve got Canadians, Irishmen and Swedes,
We’re all for one, we’re one for all
We’re all Americans!!

Each girl stands, her head so proudly high,
Her motto ‘Do or Die’
She’s not the one to use or need an alibi.
Our chaperones are not too soft,
They’re not too tough,
Our managers are on the ball.
We’ve got a president who really knows his stuff,
We’re all for one, we’re one for all,
We’re All-Americans!

And I sure sang my share of "The Star Spangled Banner" to last a lifetime.

When things aren't looking up it helps to be reminded of the scene when Dottie is going to give up and drive back to Oregon with the excuse, "It just got too hard.". And Jimmy Dugan responds with, "It's the hard that makes it good. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it." . That line has gotten me back on my feet a couple times.
Here's a hint for those family members who read my blog --who SHOULD be reading my blog. This would be a great birthday present. You can click on the hat. It will link you to the site where purchases can be made.. ;)

And remember "Lay off of those high ones!".

The black and white photographs belong to Columbia Pictures Corporation and are mostly from I did not take them, as I was in 1st grade when this movie was filmed. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Huskies vs. German Shepherds

I've been working on the next eight cards for Ice Box Cards. Those designs will be revealed very soon.

In one spare free moment I personalized one illustration for myself.

Here is the original husky, Tika.I re-coloured this to match my favourite breed.  This harness would never fly with Snick though...then again if there was food infront of her, she may pull anything.

Illustrations by Dik LaPine of Ice Box Cards

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This made me cry.

I understand that I may be the only person in the world who actually cared about this story. The 3 family members that I forced to watch this video clearly expressed that they were bored out of their minds and couldn't wait for it to be over with. I, on the other hand, was brought to tears and truly excited to see two of my favourite performers/songwriters of separate generations interact...or at least hear about them interacting. Jeff Lynne is from a little group called Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.) & Robert Schwartzman is the lead singer of Rooney.  I have been equally obsessed with both bands and have gone through what I like to call kicks* with their music. The caricatures in the video are actually kind of cute from a design perspective, although I'm confused as to why Robert Schwartzman is portrayed as a dog in the first place...or why the title of this video alludes to someone humping someone. Extremely vexing. ;)  Enjoy!

* kicks - This could be defined as a concentrated period of time where I only want to listen/talk about this particular artist or band.  I scour their catalog, devour their obscure B-side songs, pay gobs of money for unreleased albums and special edition albums, store away useless facts about them and their songwriting process, and if they are still living, I haul my butt to their nearest concert even if it is several states away and I have to drive through the Ozarks in the middle of the night by myself (It was still worth it.). Artists/Bands include: Celine Dion, The Carpenters, The Beatles, Bryan Adams, Jason Mraz, Electric Light Orchestra, The BeeGees, Mariah Carey, and currently Rooney.

Do you experience these so called "kicks"? If so, with who?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


This has been the summer of Bananagrams. I can't even tell you how many times we've played this game. We've tried all variations. We've played by the standard rules, and we even played a round where you could only use words from the Twilight series. While I was building words like "BELLA, EDWARD, & JACOB", Hannah brilliantly crafted "FLORIDIANS & FRENZY" & Katie cooked up "RENESMEE".
Then we played a Biblical round...all those Z's and X's had never been desired more.
It's a nice game to play with relatives, although my Pop-Pop was making up some words that I for one have never heard of. Words like"PIGSIN" as in the popular breakfast dish "Pigs-In-A Blanket" or "BINDEX" which is perhaps a knock-off brand of a certain glass cleaner. It's a nice game to play on a hot day. If you are too mentally wiped to spell, you can always stack the tiles, or set them up as dominos. That was actually a very intense half an hour. Believe me, you didn't want to be the person who prematurely started the cascading effect. We filmed the final result of our labour. It was pretty cool.

It's a great little game. I promise.
Look at these people having fun. Loads of fun. That one guy in the yellow is actually starting to turn into a Bananagram.

They are all so deep in thought that they don't even care that I'm taking pictures of them.  This was during a game that lasted 28+ rounds (I honestly stopped counting after the 2nd round). You'd think we'd be so sick of Bananagrams after that, instead we purged our game cupboard of all boardgames and decided that we are more of a Bananagram kind of family.  Who needs Verbatim and Anti-Monopoly when you have Bananagrams (Seriously, where did we even get horrible games like Verbatim and Anti-Monopoly? Who has even heard of those?!?!? Still, I'm sure they can't be as terrible as the Worst Board Game Ever. Miami Vice Board Game, you know who you are.)

This has nothing to do with Bananagrams... I just wanted you to see how cute that little dog is. She's so adorable and patient as she waits for someone to drop something on the floor or to show her mercy by sharing their dessert.

My dad turned some of my song titles into a Bananagram. Isn't that sweet?

The more you play, the sicker you will become. You will say "Peel" for no reason at all...perhaps even while you sleep. You may even start seeing Bananas where Bananas are not supposed to be.

What are you waiting for? Go play a round.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Planting Seeds

Maybe I've fallen out of my tree or off my rocker, whatever the case, I'm exhibiting odd mental behaviour. I think it could be classified as that thing some call confidence. For the past few days I'm actually believing that I can conquer whatever I set my mind to.

I want to write songs for a living. Heck, I'm going to be a songwriter. I'm going to passionately dive into a career that I have wanted to do for a long time.  I'm striking while the iron's hot...if that's the saying.
I'm going to accomplish what I can while I have the time. I'm knocking out goals that had almost faded away.  I'm absorbing information like I've taken some sort of power pill that makes me crave knowledge and has a side affect that makes me feel like I could swim the English Channel, if I really wanted to. (I don't even know how wide it is, it doesn't matter, I bet I could do it!)

Of course, I'm entirely aware that my mind will eventually persuade me to fall back into the trap that I can't do anything. That I should just give up trying. That this career goal is completely out of my reach and that I should settle for something lacking creativity because it's easier, pays better, and leave the songwriting to the truly talented boys and girls that were born into the music industry.

In the meantime, I'm working on a music website, mastering songs that I've recorded at Inland Sea, writing more songs, recording more songs, searching everyday life for inspiration, plotting video concepts, and searching for songs to cover to refine my craft. I'm contacting people I know in the industry, I'm reading every sentence I can on songwriting. I've even got my sights set on a songwriting competition here in Duluth this September.  I won't back down.

May you find the courage to swim your English Channel today!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals

They say that dogs understand up to 150 words & commands.  At least that's what the preview for the latest Ewan McGreggor film, "Beginners" states. That made me think about what words my German Shepherd hears most often.

It's clear that she understands the words "treat", "walk", & "car", but there are a slew of words that her crazy owner chants to her everyday. Why I say these things to her, I don't know.

Allow me to share a few gems from her rich vocabulary with you.

"Chuck E. Cheese's" : This most definitely tops the list.  I can't look at my dog without saying this. I have NO IDEA WHY. It's like an illness. She doesn't remind me of the childhood play place where I used to climb through plastic tunnels like a hamster and exchange tickets for janky toys. Nor does she resemble a mouse/rat...whatever he was.  It may have to do with the fact that my brother, James hates hearing me call our dog this.

"Good Jobs" followed immediately by "Steve Jobs". I pluralize both phrases and never say one without the other to her.

"Baby Chicas! Mamacitas"

"Foods?" Believe me, she definitely understands this one. If she had to get a job, she would have been a food critic. Or maybe a chef. She's quite the connoisseur of the culinary arts. My little Rataouille.

"Baby Snackers" Her name is Snickers...She likes snacks. Put 'em together. VoilĂ !  ;)

"Potties?" -I really can't stop pluralizing.

"Mama's Baby! Baby's Mama!" - If I had an explanation, I would definitely share it with you.

"Chi-Chi-Chi-Chi-ka-nas, little babies"- I know, I'm brilliant. This is also spoken at a decibel that gradually gets higher. I aim for the sound that only dogs can hear.

"Ah mama's Snickeys, Ah mama's Snickeys, Ah mama's Snickeys "- this is definitely a chant. There's a little melody that goes with it. This dog is a genius and could have the potential to take over the world, instead I have inundated her with meaningless chatter.

"Snick-snacks, Snick-snacks" Have you ever seen the episode of The Office where Michael Scott talks about having a vasectomy, then a reverse-vasectomy? He goes, "Snip-snap, snip-snap!". I think that may be the source of that one.

She's such a great little dog. My shadow. She'll lay on the floor, close to the piano when I'm writing songs or visit me in the stairwell on my guitar.  She frequently keeps me company on various projects and when I'm blogging. And she would NEVER fathom letting me eat alone.

Out of curiosity, what words or phrases do you say to your animals?

Oh, and say "Hi" to your mother for me.
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