Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Step aside slender man


The Internet conjures up more bogeymen then we could ever imagine as kids. The Slender Man is one of them. He is that tall, think, shadowy figure lurking in the edge of darkness. Like the bogeyman and the thing under our beds as kids, he abducts kids. 

So I created the Portly Man. He doesn't work out as much as Slender Man and looks a bit like Uncle Fester from the Adams Family. Somehow I find him creepier than the Slender Man. He gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Though I doubt too many people under 50 have heard of the phrase "gives me the Heebie-Jeebies." It means to give someone a sense of unease or creepiness.  It's little wonder most younger people haven't heard of it. It apparently originated in a comic strip called Barney Google that debuted in 1919. And it had nothing to do with Google the search engine.  I only knew about Barney Google because my grandmother had a gramophone and a record called Barney Google with the Goo-goo Googly Eyes. The song kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies when I was a kid.

And speaking of the Roaring Twenties, I came up with this idea randomly tonight that I really like.

Ironically, I never read the Great Gatsby or had any desire to sit through any of the movie adaptations. There were five beginning in 1925. I was only aware of the 1974 version with Robert Redford and the 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio. 

None of the movies starred cats. Go figure. I bet if they had the movies would have been the cat's meow.

I'm really not as old as all of this makes me sound.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The glass is half empty


I would say I'm more of a pessimist than an optimist. I do throw up tiny little bit when someone says something in an artificial sweetener kind of way.  I don't think you always have to look for the brighter side of a situation. Sometimes it just sucks. 

I do think saying the the half empty glass is filthy and acknowledging that someone drank out of it is being more pragmatic. You wouldn't have seen too many people drinking out of half empty or half full glasses during the height of the pandemic. 

In all fairness to me, one of my favorite philosophers, Lao Tzu, was pretty practical, too.

I'm not sure practical sells t-shirts if you know what I mean. But I try to cater (or pander) to a variety of interests. Not everyone appreciates puns and dad jokes. 

It sticks, I know.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Where the heart is


I know it is dark humor. Maybe not as dark as the mime getting his mouth sewn shut, but in the same ballpark. I'm thinking I could create another version of this for Valentines Day next year with the headline, "I give you my heart." 

Seriously who would buy that?

Okay I probably would, but I don't think it would be a good idea to give it to your Valentine (unless you are one of those people who choose Valentines Day to break up).

Note to self: Come up with a series of break up designs. Why text someone when you could send them a t-shirt?

I tell you these are million dollar ideas I'm coming up with. 

Though I still struggle a bit with Art AI. This morning I wanted it to create a Don Quixote design with the headline "They might be giants." I wanted him to show Don Quixote on his broken down horse charging a windmill that looked a bit like a giant. First Art AI puts Don Quixote on this magnificent horse and makes him a young man in a nice, stylish set of armor. I tried getting very specific and told Art AI to make Don Quixote in his mid 60s with gray hair and a beard and put him in armor that you'd see in the early 1600s. It gives me the Don Quixote with gray hair and a beard, but still puts him on a nice looking horse and shiny armor. It also give him sword. And it has Don Quixote running away from the windmill (which looks nothing like a giant BTW). 

I finally gave up. Maybe it was because there was no corny Dad joke pun involved and Art AI didn't know how to handle it. After all, I did a whole series on sandwiches.

Art AI came up with the islands of ketchup and mustard on its own, too. I thought that was a nice touch for a disembodied designer who can't deliver a decent image of Don Quixote. 

It nailed my request for a pen pal design.

I thought that was spot on for income tax day. 

It was write on.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Who you calling a pig, man?


I saw Cheech and Chong's movie Up in Smoke in 1978. I'm pretty sure I saw it at a drive-in theater. It was a classic. And it was hilarious. Or at least it seemed hilarious at the time (and no I wasn't smoking).  I imagine it would seem dated and not real relevant any more, especially since weed is legal in so many states now.

Still, it makes a classic t-shirt design. Art AI added the joint. I didn't ask it to. Sometimes it is very intuitive. Other times it is dense as hell. For example, I asked it for a picture of a beaver with the headline GIVE A DAM. It gives me a cartoon beaver that was okay.

But I wanted to see something a little more realistic. Then it give me this.

I mean, damn, the beaver looks like a friggin' vampire. And the more I tried to clarify, the freakier the beaver images it would give. They looked like feral wolves had mated with a beaver. But none had beaver teeth. I'm not sure why that was a stretch.

It's like when I asked for a freaking out panda bear.

At first it just gave me ones that looked like Kung Fu Panda. Then it gave me this one, but at first it had six toes on it's front paws and no claws and four toes on it's hind paws and claws. So I had to fix it with Photoshop because I was pretty sure some panda purist would give me shit because the panda looked like it came from Chernobyl.

Still, I like the result. That is one freaked out looking panda.

I was thinking that I am probably spending way too much time talking about my designs. But it has become a passion with me. I tend to get obsessive about these things. And in theory if someone goes to the storefront and an is curious about where I come up with these things they would come here. 

I don't want to disappoint. You'll just have to bear with me.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Dunce more unto the breach


After Disney crapped all over my "Dunce upon a time" design, I couldn't quite let go of the dunce theme. I have never taken kindly to injustices in my life (which is a big reason I despise Trump and his MAGA monkeys). So there is poetic justice and irony rampant in this design playing off Henry V's line from Henry V, Act III, Scene I, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead!"

The irony is that I'm trying yet again to use this dunce pun and irony in that all of the dunces are running away from the castle they are supposed to be storming. That was Art AI's humor or error. 

I've always thought there was a certain folly in rushing into a situation because a leader rallys you and thinking that is courage versus thinking it through and wondering if this is worth dying for. As General George Patton pointed out "The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his."

I also popped this one out about King Arthur and the book The Once and Future King. If only the well read suddenly had a penchant for buying t-shirts.

I am sure if some of my British friends wandered into my design storefront they would be sniggering drolly about the humor of a moron pulling Excalibur out of a stone by mistake and becoming King of England. There somehow seems to be more credibility in it than how the English monarchy is chosen today.

I will end with some dark humor I slipped into my shop today.

There is something darkly compelling (and satisfying) about this design.  Disturbing as it is, it makes a statement.

I've never been able to hide my distaste for mimes and clowns.

Friday, April 12, 2024

It was the best of Charles, and the worst of Charles


I had to work like the Dickens to get this image. "Cute as the Dickens" is an odd phrase. ChatGPT says it is likely in reference to Charles Dickens because of the cute and charming characters (like Ebenezer Scrooge) he created. It can't be that Dickens himself was cute. Because if you look at any of the photos or portraits of the man cute does not come to mind. The man was beat with the proverbial ugly stick.

But sometimes something can be so ugly it is cute. I tell myself that a lot.

On another note, I had another design removed from because it offended the intellectual property gods.

The Disney Corporation took offense to the design. I assumed at first because Cinderella looked like their stereotypical Disney princess. But I did a Google search and apparently the own the trademark for "Once upon a time." And "Dunce upon a time" is too close for their corporate comfort. This is an example of where if I was a wealthy lawyer (or Donald Trump) I would challenge them. First how can you own "Once upon a time." Second my design is "Dunce upon a time." You didn't trademark that one I bet. And if it is because of the blonde Cinderella in a blue dress, I would suggest you can't own a trademark on all of the blonde princess looking women in the world wearing a blue dress.

Pisses me off that this is even an issue. Its not like i sold a sitcom pilot for "Dunce upon a time." And it isn't like they are stocking "Dunce upon a time" t-shirts at the Disney Store.  Don't deny me the opportunity to get me $2 royalty (irony intended) for selling the shirt.

Speaking of selling a shirt I thought would never be purchased by anyone but me (and I haven't even bought one), a friend of mine who actually reads my blog (and rides the bus) bought one of my Dizgraceland Record Company t-shirts and posted a photo of him wearing it on my Facebook page. 

I was touched. I may even have to buy one myself now.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

What keeps me awake at night?


For whatever reason the Brothers Grimm popped into my head at about 2 a.m. First I thought it would be funny to have an image of them trying to smile for a portrait and they still looked grim. But then I thought of them trying to be farmers so they would be Grimm reapers. I tried having Art AI make the image look like the American Gothic painting of the farmer with a pitchfork standing next to who I thought was his wife. But ChatGPT informed me it was the man's daughter in the painting.

I just learn something new everyday.

But Art AI apparently can't imagine crossdressing purveyors of fair tales so it gave me the above design. I thought it was pretty cool and went with it. 

Later, I tried to do something with a Grimm family portrait. At first I just wanted a design with the brothers and their wives and families (each had four kids). Art AI spit out some moody looking images, but they didn't quite cut it. Then I thought it would be interesting to have the brothers posing with family members but those family members would be characters from their fairy tales. I got several that had some images that I liked and I pieced them together with the real faces of the brothers.

I really like the way it turned out. Still the designs are a bit cerebral and I'm thinking they might sell well in someplace like Half Price books. 

I also had this idea in the wee hours for a Rapture Airline where Jesus was the pilot. It was loosely based on this guy who used to push a shopping cart around the campus when I went to Boise State University many years ago. He was always shouting out shit about Jesus and God. And he had a sign on his shopping cart that read, JESUS IS MY PILOT. It stuck with me.

I'm afraid this one will either offend or inspire depending upon whether the person is Christian and smart enough to know I'm making fun of them or Christian and too stupid to know I'm making fun of them. Of course Art AI chose the typical racist white Jesus that most white Christians seem to think Jesus looked like. I think this one looks kind of like a young Michael Palin from Monty Python.

And since I was already offending people I came up with this one this evening.

I thought the bear turned out pretty Catholic looking, but I gave up trying to have Art AI show the Pope shitting in the woods. Remember I figured out that Art AI doesn't depict bodily functions. But for whatever reason it had no problem spelling shit. Go figure.

Quick digression as a follow up to my discussion of trying to flip stuff I find cheap at Goodwill on eBay. I was joking about the ashtray I found from a a 1930s era cruise ship and wondering if it would sell even if it had a chip in it. I'll be damned if it didn't sell this afternoon.

I think the Pope does shit in the woods.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Don't give a fig


I have a hunch that Isaac Newton really didn't sit under an apple tree. I suppose purists will argue that fig trees are native to the Middle East. But are you seriously going to quibble about a bad pun on a t-shirt?

I was just grateful that Art AI got the gist of this design in a couple of tries. I did have to add the Fig Newton. It tried to make a fig look like a cookie. But it spelled everything right and created someone who could be Isaac Newton.

I suppose the real point of this pun was that Newton didn't discover gravity despite the popular myth that he was sitting under an apple tree and an apple fell on his head. He did observe falling objects and formulated the law of universal gravitation which basically describes the force of gravity and how it affects objects. That doesn't make for a very funny t-shirt though.

I do, however, respect the gravity of the situation.

Speaking of gravity, I have become enamored lately with the concept of finding things at Goodwill for a pittance and flipping them on eBay for umpteen the cost I paid for them. It is a good concept in theory. But I am discovering the flaw in the overall plan. It is very similar to the flaw in my becoming famous from forcing Art AI to design t-shirts based on my puns. You have to find someone interested in buying the treasures I've picked from the shelves of other people's cast offs at Goodwill in order to quadruple your investment. 

Similarly I need to find people with extremely esoteric and cultivated tastes to understand my t-shirt puns and want to become a walking billboard with them on.

It seems like a good plan to buy a Mickey Mouse mug from Disneyland at Goodwill for $3 and then list it on eBay for $15. That's five times what you paid for it (minus the eBay fees and the time you spend photographing the item, listing it, packing it, and mailing it). And you have to compete with a hundred or so other people selling Mickey Mouse mugs on eBay, some for half the price. Of course, they all aren't the same mug, but you have to wonder what the market is for Mickey Mouse mugs that were pretty much mass produced in the thousands and purchased on a whim when you were delirious from standing in line all day at Disneyland. 

That's why many end up at Goodwill and are snapped up by astute pickers like myself.

Now granted, I have acquired an eye for collectibles from the time I spend in antique malls. But what I am learning is that flipping second hand merch takes lots of patience. And since I don't have a space at an antique mall, it takes up lots of storage space in my office. Which is why I am trying to sell it in the first place. 

But I tell you there is a rush when you find an ashtray from a defunct cruise ship from the 1930s that Amelia Earnhardt sailed on to Hawaii with her airplane back in 1934.  Okay, it has a chip in it, but who is to say that didn't happen when Amelia threw it in a drunken rage at the room steward for not changing a lightbulb on the reading lamp on her night stand?

I think there is a t-shirt design in that story somewhere.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

In a pig's eye I will...


I keep coming back to pigs (or hogs if you are a purist). We seem to have a ton of idioms referring to pigs. I'm not sure why that is. Pigs are much maligned by us. Not to mention we raise them, kill them, eat them and now harvest their organs. Doesn't seem quite fair.

But I do like bacon so I am no one to talk.

Who will live, who will die, who will tell their story? I suppose I could have put the pig's face on a $20 dollar bill, too. But this works fine for me.

I reached 401 designs today. This doesn't count the ones I've had to take down because someone thinks they infringe on someone's intellectual property. So that is a lot of t-shirt designs. 

BTW, do you know why they are called t-shirts? Because when you lay them out flat they resemble the letter "T."  I never knew that until I asked ChatGPT.

So anyway, more than 400 designs. You would think someone would take a shine to a few and buy some. I still harbor this fantasy that they will start showing up in Google searches and take off. Because I tell you posting them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter doesn't seem to do squat. I'm lucky if I get an occasional like. 

If you design a t-shirt and no one wears it, does it still make a statement?

There's a t-shirt in that somewhere. Someone just needs to pick it.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Hey hey, we're the monkeys...


I was feeling a bit like I needed a break today from binge designing. I was posting an average of 12 per day during the last week or so. So today I only posted three. And two of them were Charles Darwin rocking out with an audience of monkeys. 

The other one was something I started yesterday but was piecing together stuff since Art AI was being difficult. I wanted a real estate development sign for a neighborhood called Sherlock Homes.

I think it was so so. It is kind of the same vein as some of the Shakespeare spoofs. There are several puns related to Sherlock Holmes. But they may be a bit obscure for the average person. And it makes for a kind of clunky t-shirt design.

But I am happy with the Darwin designs. 

Other than posting here, I don't really talk to anyone about my designs. I've shown a few to my family. But I've had this revelation of late about my delusions over the years thinking I would recognized for my clever ideas. I wanted people to say stuff like, "Wow, you did this? I never knew you could do this?"

But people aren't impressed by me or my witty ideas. I can be smug as I want about my clever puns but I generally only get a head shake and an eye roll. If I rattled them I could at least get a shake, rattle and roll pun out of it.

See what I mean. 

It is one of those realizations I've found I get now that I am in my 60s. People didn't expect much from me when I was young because young people haven't experienced enough to know anything. Now I am old and people acknowledge that you have experience, they just think you can't keep up anymore. I can't tell you how many people try to prompt me when I'm paying for something at a store with my debit card.  They assume because I am old that I can't fathom technology. 

What they don't realize is that I'm not really aging and deteriorating. I'm evolving. 

So don't monkey with me.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

I am the walrus?


Even John Lennon said that the lyrics of the song I am the Walrus didn't really mean anything. Though Goo Goo G'Joob does seem full of deep meaning. Art AI had difficulty repeating it. It doesn't seem to like to violate grammar and spelling rules. But to be a true artist, you have to do both. I just wish it would simply print headlines exactly the way I dictate them. But it can't seem to do that.

It had trouble with this one too. 

It kept wanting to say, "Those Thar Cookies" instead of "Them Thar."  It also had difficulty with drawing fortune cookies and a gold mining pan. It kept wanting to put the cookies in wok with handles and many of the cookies looked more like slugs or biscuits. But I prevailed. I can't complain too much about the time I spend fixing the art Art AI gives me. It does do a lion's share of the work. And I feel more like it is my art when I spend time reworking it.

Art AI also had difficulty reproducing bodily functions like a dog pooping in the grass that I asked it for in the grassroots movement design. And today I asked it for a male dog lifting its leg to pee on a fire hydrant.  I get the sense that AI's prime directive is not to reproduce animals or people relieving themselves. 

I asked it to show a male dog lifting its leg peeing on a tree, a fire hydrant, a signpost, a bush and a car tire. It kept giving me dogs standing sheepishly next to the items. A few times it had the dog legs twisted in weird contortions. I finally asked for this version with just the items I wanted pissed on. Then I asked for a new design with just a male dog lifting one rear leg to pee on a fire hydrant. It came close, but the dog only had three legs and it is lifting a leg but there is no pee. I added a leg and copied the image onto the fire hydrant image of the main design. I gave up on showing pee. It doesn't really add anything.

But it pissed me off.

If you don't get this design, it is a parody of a Dr. Seuss book called Oh the Places You'll go. It was an inspirational book he published in 1990 to inspire young people graduating from high school. I got a kick out of a mother dog inspiring her puppy with the places it will literally go (as long as it doesn't have to rely on Art AI to have it lift its leg to pee).

I wonder if anyone will get it...or get it (if you catch my drift).

Saturday, April 06, 2024

I am not a man, I am an animal...


I wonder if anyone remembers The Elephant Man. It came out in 1980 with a young Anthony Hopkins. It was also directed by David Lynch. I didn't know that at the time. But it doesn't surprise me. It was an odd and dark film.  If you don't know the movie, it was based on the true story of Joseph Merrick, a severely deformed man who was paraded around as freak show in late 19th century London. He didn't really look like an elephant.

One of the classic lines from the film was when Merrick shouts "I am not an animal! I am a man." I used to randomly say that in meetings at work. Not too many people got the reference. 

It's my life story.

But I liked the idea of swapping the elephant and the man. It does kind of speak to the treatment of animals in circuses who are used for our entertainment. I'd like to see them protest. 

At first I asked Art AI to put a man's head on an elephants body. It didn't seem to warm up to that idea and kept giving me elephants standing on two legs and dressing like people. I eventually just went with that because it did look to freaky when Art AI finally gave in and gave me a couple of concepts with human heads on elephant bodies.

It wasn't pretty.

I messed around with some images of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum I'd had Art AI create for me a few weeks ago. I pictured them as the twins from the Overlook Hotel in the Shining. It finally came together when I found an old nursery rhyme that introduced Tweedly Dee and Dum before Alice in Wonderland brought them to life. They apparently were going to fight a duel over a rattle and got frightened by a angry crow. Made no sense, but I liked the imagery.

I particularly like the beanies with propellers on top. Disturbing yet compelling. Kind of like Kramer from Seinfeld.

The Shining made me think of Redrum. 

I like the absurdity of Redrum not being about murder spelled backwards at all and more literal. 

Finally, for no apparent reason, I had Art AI crank out a NASA logo with the word NASTY on it.

Apparently since NASA is a government agency they don't have as much license to scream intellectual property violation. But I am relying on what ChatGPT told me and it also told me Jimmy Buffett couldn't copyright "It's five o'clock somewhere."  Google set me straight that Jimmy did have tons of copyrights. It reminded me that ChatGPT is a notorious liar.

It can be NASTY, too.