Wednesday, July 17, 2024

If we're all Bozos, how can we send in the clowns?


I'm finding coaxing designs out of Gemini cricket takes just a bit more work than it did to coax them out Artie. It doesn't seem quite as intuitive as Artie, which is ironic considering they are both AI and theoretical don't think or intuit anything. They have no soul.

I do find that Gemini Cricket is much more serious than Artie and its designs seem much less whimsical and more dark. Sometimes that matches my mood. 

I didn't even know what to do with this one.  It was an alternative to the image above it with the headline I added about a soul devoid of life and substance. It was Gemini Cricket's take on a soul devoid of life and substance. Kind of freaks me out.

Oh well. It's deeper than my usual gibberish.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Who knows what evil lurks?


I didn't intend this image to refer to any video game, book or movie. I just asked Gemini Cricket to produce an image based on the name "Shadow Man." It had failed me a few minutes before when I asked for a spoof of the movie "Dances with Wolves" but called "Dances with Cats." I think being a Google product it shies away from any intellectual property or copyright disputes. So I briefly gave Artie another try and it pretended it hadn't shut me out yesterday.

I think Artie did a pretty decent job of a "Dances with Wolves" spoof.  But still I went back to Gemini Cricket and asked for the Shadow Man image. Again I had to add my own text but I do like the moodiness of what it provided. So I asked for more.

This one had more of a boogeyman quality to it that I also liked. Who knows whether it is something Gemini Cricket conjured from a video game. It is still pretty cool and spooky. Gemini Cricket seems to be more artsy and less cartoony than Artie. Still a nice change of pace. The Shadow Man reminds me of the first Clef Dweller image Gemini Cricket produced for me.

Thing is, people don't seem to buy the artsy designs. Though I have had success with my "In-a-gadda-da-vida" Iron Butterfly design and have sold several including another one last night. I do think it comes down to what people are searching for. So if you are an Iron Butterfly fan you'd find my design. Not so much Shadow Man unless you know the video game or book and randomly search for it. 

I'd probably be more successful if people just when to my storefront and browsed through the hundreds of designs. But then again it can be intimidating. Even I get a bit overwhelmed at the shear volume of designs I've produced (with my Art AI buddies). 

Just me and my shadows.

Monday, July 15, 2024

1000 connections to Bacon


I surpassed 1000 t-shirt designs today despite a rebellion on the part of and my former Art AI friend Artie. Like all things on the internet they lured me into their Artificial Intelligence Art world with the promise of free designs with no strings attached. And Artie gave me some doozies despite it's horrendous spelling and inability to capture a realistic image of a dog crapping on a grass field (among other anomalies).  But the greedy bastards started reducing the number of designs you could ask for in a day. Then they had a slow cue they put you in that TSA and Disney would have been proud of. Finally they just cut me off at ten slug-like inquiries a day and then tried to extort money out of me to speed up rendering of my designs with a lump sum annual payment.

The Kevin Bacon images were some of the last designs I eeked out before ideogram went south. And I post them here quickly because I'm figuring will be getting a request soon by the intellectual property Nazi's screaming foul (even though they should be screaming  Suidae(which ChatGPT tells me is a generic word for animals of the pig family). And Kevin Bacon should be screaming for putting Macaulay Culin's screaming mouth on his face. 

Then ideogram got greedy on me just as I was two designs away from 1000 designs. So I went elsewhere. I found Google's AI circus called It is kind of a combination of ChaptGPT and ArtAI. And they let you load your own images (but then refuse to use them claiming copyright issues even though I loaded an image I'd taken years ago). Still I was able to coax a few more designs out of Gemini. 

The first ones were quite nice and gave me hope that I won't be back to searching Google for image parts to Frankenstein together into my own designs. 

So far Gemini (I think I'll call it Gemini Cricket from now on) seems pretty artsy fartsy compared to Artie. But I like it. It even gave me a "If you meet the Buddha by the side of the road" design.

Gemini Cricket can't spell worth shit either so I ended up just adding my own headlines. And Gemini Cricket doesn't take direction very well either. 

I can't tell you how many times I asked it for a complete guitar image of a 12-string guitar and it gave me a six-string guitar with seven pegs to hold the strings and wouldn't show me the next or head of the guitar.

Oh well, at least Gemini Cricket gives me more options even if there are strings attached. 

You could see that one coming, couldn't you?

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Beware the lying Buddha


I was at an Antique Mall this afternoon with my daughter. We had actually been there Saturday afternoon, too, but my daughter saw something and thought about it all night and wanted to go back and get it. That is the way with antique malls. I had seen something as well that I decided I wanted, too, so I was happy to return.

My daughter was overjoyed that the Princess Diana Wedding doll was still there (don't ask) and I was happy to find a small figure of the reclining Buddha that I'd seen. I have been collecting Buddha figures lately and I still didn't have a reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha represents the Buddha in his last moments before entering Parinirvana, the final state of enlightenment (which obviously isn't one of the United States of America). Anyway, I didn't notice what the description was the dealer had written on the sales tag until the person ringing us up started laughing. She showed me the tag. It read, "Lying Buddha."

I thought that was a pretty good one as well. It is hard to imagine a lying Buddha. But it did make me think of the Zen koan, "If you meet the Buddha by the side of the road, kill him." I always thought of the statement as speaking to the concept that a real Buddha would not all themselves a Buddha so the one by the side of the road claiming to be Buddha is lying. This is my interpretation of it. ChatGPT went on about killing the Buddha means to transcend the conceptual understanding and direct experiences, and not rely on external teachers or symbols, but to look inward for true insight.  I like my interpretation better and a koan is supposed to make you think on your own.

I tried having Artie, my ArtAI pal create a design based on the koan but apparently Artie's AI moderator thinks killing a Buddha violates their community standards and wouldn't create anything. I'm not sure what it would create if I said to design a lying Buddha. Artie can create stereotypical images of Jesus, but it doesn't do well with Buddha, lying, laying, reclining, weeping, laughing, sitting or standing.

What he said. And technically we are all always dying. 

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 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 wait, that is 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 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 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 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 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 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. 


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.