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Saturday, July 13, 2024

It is the heat and not the humidity (or stupidity)

 


It has been fairly warm here (and across the United Stated). Last week was too warm. This week is what a summer is supposed to feel like, but it is hot for the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately no one has said to me, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," because I would have had to reply, "Actually it isn't so much the heat as it is your stupidity." And they would likely blink and stare at me like with a confused look on their face.

But I could also say confidently, "No, actually it is the heat. See my t-shirt?" This concept heated up rapidly and I managed to milk no less than 15 designs out of it. Because it dawned on me that the sun is more or less the source of the heat and there are a myriad of sun gods in various cultures who can stake claim to the statement that indeed, "It is the heat." And they would also agree that they like it hot.

ChatGPT gave me a list of six sun deities. 


 

That covers the Greek Sun god. Next comes Apollo, the Roman sun god.



Everyone has heard of those sun gods, but ChatGPT informed that the Inca Empire had a sun god, too.


I had never heard of  Inti or knew that the Incas considered themselves the "children of the sun." I also didn't know about the Hindu sun god Surya.


I was aware of the Egyptian sun god Ra.





And finally, ChatGPT told me about Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess. She is one of the most important deities in Shinto.





So the heat is on with 15 new spiffy designs and it puts me just 17 designs away from having a thousand designs in my teepublic.com store.

I'm on fire!

Friday, July 12, 2024

It's the beast in me

 


In his 1958 movie King Creole, Elvis said this great line, "That's the way I was born, under a bad sign. Everybody's got a tale of woe, like I said before. But mine is a classic. It's the beast in me."

That wasn't the inspiration for this "The Werewolf of..." series. I was in the car listening to Classic Vinyl on Sirius XM and heard Warren Zevon's song, "Werewolves of London." It occurred to me it would be fun to do a series of designs with werewolves from less glamourous places than London. Toledo popped into my head. Not that I have ever been to Toledo. But it seems like place you wouldn't want to live. John Denver even had a song about it called "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio." One of the lines was "Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio is like being nowhere at all."

Sorry if I'm being unfair to Toledo, but it just doesn't seem like a cool place. 

My next "Werewolf of" design was for a place I know much better than Toledo.


People from Boise will dispute it, but there are quite a few creatures from the city who look like this werewolf. The trucker hat is classic Boise. I produced a couple more for Boise werewolves.

I swear this one looks like some of the streets in downtown Boise where there are maybe two  multi-floor buildings.


And this one could be found at several truck stops outside of Boise.

Finally to be fair, I did a couple of designs featuring some werewolves from the Emerald City.


This one could be any of hundreds of characters you see in Seattle's Pioneer Square.  He has the required grunge flannel, cargo shorts and a beanie. And of course there is the Space Needle which seems to be in any image you see of Seattle.


If this one would have been blonde, it could have been Kurt Cobain. But I do think it gives you a sense of the city. Of course, it could be a Portland werewolf, too. 

While I was in a beast mode dictating designs to Artie, I had this idea.


It started as just a bowl of dough rising. Then I decided it should actually look like a Yeast Beast (which sounds like something Dr. Seuss would come up with.).

And on a totally not related theme I created this one which really like.


You probably can't read the tiny type under the "I" but the whole thing reads "I (watched a man on TV who) WALKED ON THE MOON."  And no it wasn't inspired by the new Apple TV movie "Fly me to the moon." 

This was one small design for a man, one giant t-shirt for mankind.










Thursday, July 11, 2024

No sweat

 

I've read that Edison wasn't so much a genius at inventing things, but a genius at getting other people to do all the work and him taking the credit. I suppose that is a skill. But I grew up thinking he was a hero and turned on the lights for the modern era. Turns out Tesla probably would have done a better job.

But who am I to judge.


What can I say? I'm a cynic at heart. It's hard to be around for so many years and not get a bit jaded. I don't like to think the worst of people, but doing so is justified more often than not. 

On the bright side, I did get a design out of my new phrase "I don't give a flying bucket of fudge."




Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Jesus, Mary and Joseph

 


There is an advantage for not having a huge audience for my work. There is much less of a chance that I will be chastised for offending someone. But when it comes to my designs and my blog, I don't really give a flying bucket of fudge if I offend someone. No one pays to read my blog. And unless you buy something with one of my designs on it (and why would you if it offends you) you aren't paying to look at my designs. So I can be as offensive as I want to be.

Now I must caveat that I would not intentionally post anything that is racist, sexist or makes fun of someone's disability. But after sitting through a staff meeting today where we were informed of the words and phrases we use that aren't inclusive and can be considered racist, you don't have to be intentional to offend someone. 

The problem with being forced to listen to lectures at work about what makes you a racist person is that you cannot protest or dispute what you are being told or you will be accused of microaggressions and being triggered by accusations of racism because you are racist. So pretty much you can't win in that forum. Even me stating this is a declaration of my white fragility and racist nature. I can throw out accusations of ageism but I am not allowed to use that to deflect accusations of being racist because I am old and don't know any better. I wouldn't do that. I am old and use phrases that I always did until I truly find out that they have racist origins. Then I stop. But I do draw the line at people to determine certain phrases are racist because they read it on the Internet so it must be true.

But back to my offensive image of Peter, Paul and Mary...no wait, that is okay...my offensive image of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Ironically, the most offensive thing about them is that Artie, my Art AI friend used classic illustrations of Jesus, Mary and Joseph as white people because that is the way European artists depicted them for centuries. 

I think this makes my design all the more funny. And there is no evidence that Jesus or Joseph played classical guitars or that Mary belted out tunes into a classic Fatboy microphone. If the truth were to be told, Mary, of Peter, Paul and Mary, didn't play the guitar. So my design is rife with inaccuracies.  But again, I don't give a flying bucket of fudge.

BTW, I am proud to say that I just invented the phrase "Flying bucket of fudge" to avoid saying fuck. ChatGPT was very gracious when I asked it about the phrase and that it might be used in a "humorous, informal, or whimsical way to describe a chaotic, messy or surprising situation." 

I'm feeling a t-shirt design coming on.

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Class Clown

 


I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I was the class clown in school. And you are absolutely wrong. Being painfully introverted, I wasn't a clown. I did subtly mutter funny things to people who sat around me, but I doubt if anyone in my grade school, junior high or high school would remember me as a clown or funny.  I doubt if anyone in my grad school, junior high or high school would remember me at all.

I was a drum major in my high school band but only a handful of people probably remember that. Band geeks were invisible to most of the student body. Being the drum major, I was a bit more visible than the rest, especially since our high school's mascot was the Brave. Drum majors in our band wore buckskins and a full native American head dress.  This was obviously before cultural appropriation and having native America mascots was frowned upon. At the time I thought I was pretty cool. Now even my children don't give a rip that I was a drum major and they were mortified that I was a very white Indian Chief. 

The point is I didn't really embrace my sense of humor until college and then I was more or less anonymous since I expressed myself through the college newspaper and a humor column. I did fancy myself as quite witty at the time. And for the smattering of you who have read my blog for any length of time are likely aware that I still fancied myself as being very funny for years. It is only in my increasingly ripe old age that I have questioned whether or not I am funny at all.

That is probably hard to believe considering I still valiantly try to be funny by cranking out hundreds of dad-joke like puns in my t-shirt store. But since very few people buy the t-shirts I am still increasingly insecure about my sense of humor.

I have to say that I think I would have given up if I hadn't discovered Art AI because all of my design ideas before that were pretty constrained by my limitations as a graphic designer. AI does allow me somewhat free rein to experiment with puns without worrying about how I will graphically represent them.

Like this one:

I am sure it will have a great deal of people shaking their head in confusion. But that is half the fun.

Monday, July 08, 2024

Ride 'em cowboy

 

I was pretty sure this one was going to be reviewed since they flagged "Potheads" the other day, but apparently it is okay to be a stoned cowboy riding a rhinoceros. Though I'm pretty sure not very many people will get the reference to "Rhinestone Cowboy." 

But that is okay.  At least I made it through the first hoop of censorship.


I do have major issues with authority. Well, I have major issues with petty authority. Though I pretty much think all authority is a power trip.  We took some visiting relatives to the Space Needle yesterday and several of the snot-nosed ticket checkers and line police were doing the authority trip on people about each person holding their own ticket and barking out orders about scanning and moving through the entry gates when the green light flashed. I get it that dealing with masses of tourists and technology is probably very irritating, but so is paying $60 a pop to ride an elevator to the observation deck of the needle and staring at the landscape surrounding Seattle Center. 

It didn't help that we are having a heat wave and it is been in the upper 80s. There weren't a lot of happy campers. But they were still buying those stupid umbrella hats they sell in the gift shop you have to walk through after you get off the elevator when you leave the needle. God knows you need one of those to live a full life.


I suppose that doesn't mean anything to most of you.  But there are lots of medieval monks from Tennessee who are laughing their asses off.


Sunday, July 07, 2024

Awkward moments

 

I decided to seize the censorship of my Viking design by the horns and revamp it since teepublic.com never did explain why they pulled the original one. Though I think it was because I translate the original headline into Icelandic or some other Scandinavian language that Google said was closest to the original Viking language. It said something akin to "what is this shit." But I'm willing to bet teepublic.com reviews things in languages that they don't easily understand to make sure you aren't saying something really offensive in another language. Apparently it is okay to be really offensive in English.

So I just changed the headline to one in English and is actually funnier. And sure enough teepublic.com accepted it without question. 

That took place last night. This morning I woke up and cranked out about nine other designs. This was my favorite:


I halfway thought teepublic.com would have some rule against designs that depicted legal documents. And although I'd like to think that Picasso's Spanish passport actually looked like this, I think it is far enough from the real thing to avoid any danger someone would try to forge a passport by copying it. 

It is sad the things you worry about when you are just trying to be creative.


Saturday, July 06, 2024

Kettle calling the pot black

 


I was just trying to play around with a spoof on the first Devo album that came out years ago with the band wearing flower pots on their heads. I gave Artie (my AI Art designer) simple instructions to spoof the album and show four men with upside down flower pots on their heads. Artie gave me this (which I thought was pretty darned good...and it added the plants):


So I post it on teepublic.com and I'll be damned if it doesn't immediately get pulled for potentially violating their community standards. I'm baffled. First, they are wearing pots on their heads so "potheads" is a literal description. Second the plants aren't pot plants. Third it doesn't say DEVO anywhere and looks different enough that I can't imagine it being a violation of intellectual property violations. Finally, I searched on their site and they have plenty of t-shirts on there about pot, weed, drugs, etc. So why would this one need to be reviewed. 

I'm getting pretty tired of the censorship and arbitrary nature of the reviews my stuff goes through. If it is about the implied reference to pot, I want to point out that it is legal in my state and it isn't promoting being a pothead. 

Geez. 

I never did here back when a design was pulled weeks ago that showed Vikings with horned hats surrounded by longhorn cattle. I was even more baffled by that one.

Being a fledgling designer of t-shirts, stickers, phone cases and buttons is a hard row to hoe.


Friday, July 05, 2024

A pithy statement

 


As you can see I am still a bit obsessed by the concept of a pith helmet. I realize they more or less have a negative connotation of European colonialism and probably don't appeal to everyone. But I do like they way they look and the romance they represent.  And according to my DNA most of my ancestors stem from England. So there is a distinct possibility that one of them wore a pith helmet at some point.

Not that there are too many places to wear a pith helmet these days. I wore one once for a photo in Cozumel after a jeep safari.  It was the tour guides helmet and it cost me to take the photo. And it didn't fit very well and definitely wasn't a British colonial version.  It didn't help that I just had a moustache and no beard. We do many things in our youth that we regret.


I did kind of want an iguana after I returned from that trip. But then I found out that they are expensive and difficult to keep as a pet, especially in the Pacific Northwest.  The whim passed fortunately or I imagine I would have had an iguana as part of my pet cemetery at the time.

Perhaps I should rethink the pith helmet. Though I think they are easier to care for than an iguana.

I have such deep thoughts.


Thursday, July 04, 2024

Keep your eyes on the road (and don't look back)

 

Not that I'm petty or anything, but I couldn't resist flipping off Warner Music Group with a design that isn't that intellectual and definitely isn't their property. So what if it means nothing to anyone and no one buys it. I won a minor battle against the petty intellectual police and their battle bots who never sleep.


Now this is a t-shirt design I may just have to buy for myself because it says it all. And I'll be damned if the man with a beard planting his flag on the portion of the brain he is claiming as intellectual property doesn't look like me (except for the long hair and pith helmet). Artie seems to know me a bit too well.

And I impressed myself that I knew the safari helmet was pith helmet though I had to ask ChatGPT what a pith helmet was because I didn't have a clue why they are called pith helmets. ChatGPT informed me that a pith helmet is a lightweight hard hat made of sholapith (a dried pith from certain plants). It is covered with cloth and has a rounded crown and a wide brim. They were popular during the 19th and early 20th centureis among exploreres in tropical and subtropical regions. 

I like the sound of "sholapith." It sounds like the name of an epic hero. "I am Sholapith, son of Mallomar."

I now have a slight desire to possess my own pith helmet. So you can bet I'm going to do a search on eBay and bet you dollars to doughnuts that they sell them. 

Give me a minute.

Yep. There are a plethora of pith helmets and I am watching a couple. My problem is finding one that fits. I have a huge head. It has always presented a problem when it comes to finding hats that fit. I like to think it is because I have an abnormally large brain but I'm sure the medical naysayers will dispute that and say I just inherited a large head.

Genes are a bitch. Ironically my father's name was Gene. 

You are learning a great deal about me today.

Speaking of today, yes it is the 4th of July.


And I sat with my wife and mother-in-law in camp chairs we place out last night at a strategic location on the 4th of July Parade route in my town. I will go on the record that I truly hate 4th of July parades, flag wavers and the other crap that goes along with a 4th of July parade. I wouldn't mind the parade if there were a bunch of bands and drill teams, but it is summer so you basically get Rotary Clubs, politicians, Tai Kwon Do classes and random people on trucks and motorcycles.  This parade had a tanker truck from a septic tank pumping business and a garbage truck decked out in festive red, white and blue (which explains why they didn't pick up our garbage this morning). I was okay with the garbage truck because I feel like they are part of the community but the septic tank truck baffled me. Did someone think it was a good marketing move to drive a septic tank pump truck in a 4th of July parade because there would be tons of people watching who would suddenly need their septic tank pumped? And who in the hell has a septic tank in small city that is built on 100s of underground streams. 

But this is America.


Happy 4th of July.


Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Trying not to look back

 

No one can look back at this design because it was pulled for violating intellectual property rights.  Seriously, how do they find these obscure things. Some bots are working overtime. And come on, how can you copyright the phrase, "Don't look back, you can never look back." 

You would think I'd learn by now. Though I'm tempted to just change the words around. ChatGPT suggests I say, "Keep moving forward; the past is behind you." That does open up a whole can of worms about time being linear with the future in front of you and the past behind you. But where is now.

All of that is too long for a t-shirt.  As for a can of worms:


See how quickly an idea can evolve? Though I really do wonder why anyone would conjure up the idea of opening up a can of worms. Again ChatGPT tries to rationalize it by suggesting that you open up a can of worms and they get tangled up in a to a writing mess, symbolizing the complexity and difficulty of a situation.

Worms would not be my first thought when confronted with a complex problem. Though I reflexively used the phrase in regards to time being linear. Maybe it it more like worms and worm holes? Huh, pretty deep don't you think?

I wonder about things like that.  I wonder about lots of things which makes me a pretty prolific t-shirt designer.  


I think this is a perfectly reasonable question. Artie had difficulty with it, however. Because apparently Artie doesn't see lots of mimes in its data banks. Because I specifically asked to show me an image of mimes pantomiming a tug of war with an invisible rope. Artie just couldn't give me an image of mimes without a visible rope engaged in a tug of war. I started typing in all caps DON'T SHOW A ROPE. IT IS A PRETEND ROPE. But the bastard kept throwing a rope into the image. And it couldn't just give me traditional mimes with stripped shirts and berets. It kept conjuring up some medieval image of clowns from a French village. Thank god for Photoshop or I would still be begging Artie to listen to my direction. It gets more like a real designer every day.

Then I asked Artie to give me an image of a mime pretending to be inside a box. But above the mime was a real box suspended from a cable that was about to actually trap the little pantomiming asshole in a real box. And the headline was IT'S ABOUT MIME. And this is what Artie gives me:


WTF? It looks more like a zombie intern at Amazon popping out of a cardboard box with a block about to fall on his head.


And this one looks like Data from Star Trek the Next Generation being transported into a concrete block. Even Photoshop couldn't help me with that germ of an idea so I gave up.

But all was not lost today because I did get what I think is a pretty genius of a design out of Artie based on Jean Paul Sartre.

Even this one took quite a few tries because for some inexplicable reason Artie likes to put mustaches on French philosophers, especially existentialists. 

It's absurd.





Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Holy, holy, holy

 


One thing I appreciate about creating designs and writing a blog for myself is that I don't have to worry much about offending people. If someone complains I don't have to care or respond or worry.  I'm not being directed by or paid by anyone to come up with my designs so I can be a bit sacrilegious.  

So the Holy Moley design got me on a roll.  Because there are lots of phrases that begin with "Holy." Holy Moley led to:


But asking Artie, my Art AI friend to dress up different creatures as the Pope was not without its challenges. For some reason, Artie does not like to give anthropomorphized characters hands or feet that aren't human. Artie does fine with giving them the animal's head, but it can't bring itself to give them fins or hoofs or claws like they were born with even though it doesn't make sense to give them human hands. This created a bit of work in Photoshop to surgically remove human parts and graft on the animal parts.

This one really threw Artie's algorithm into a tizzy:


Artie just couldn't seem to fathom a Pope made entirely of smoke without giving it human features. I compromised on the face, but had to work to create smoke hands.

But it was this one that started to get weirdly creepy:


I definitely didn't want to have a Holy Cow with hands. So I specifically asked Artie to use hoofs instead of hands. And it must have really blown its circuit because it spit out this:


Now tell me there isn't something Satanic about that image? And it didn't even create it right side up. I had to rotate the image in Photoshop to get it to this point. I swear the writing is either Russian or some dead languages used by Devil worshippers.  I did take the hoofs off this image to create this:


Now that's a nice Holy Cow. I think it has this Gary Larson Far Side vibe about it. 

Finally I couldn't resist one more holy:


I think Artie hit this one out of the park on the first try. I was okay with the Avocado having human hands because what else kind of hands could you give an Avocado. And the Holy Guacamole holding a bowl of veggies to dip in Guacamole was a touch of genius. 

The only other Holy I could think of was Holy Shit, but something tells me Artie would have displayed the cat photo it spits out when you have violated its sense of propriety. 

I think in whole, my holy design make a hell of a great series.