Sunday, March 31, 2024

Poisson d'Avril


I realize April Fool's Day isn't until tomorrow, but no one but the bots read these the day I post them. So I'm getting a jump on the festivities for tomorrow. Not that I tend to play April Fool's jokes. 

Regardless, I vaguely remember researching some of the origins of April Fools Day years ago and discovering that the French call it Poisson d'Avril, or April Fish. It may or may not have something to do with April 1st falling after Easter when Lent ends and the fasting traditionally concluded by eating fish. 

I love the image of the fish as a jester. 

Speaking of jokes and spoofs, I started the day expanding my album collection of the BigBeats, the Bigfoot Beatle's cover band I invented. I wanted to do something in the lines of the White Album. But it would be a stretch to turn it into a t-shirt (unless you just labelled a white t-shirt "the White Album." So I thought maybe the BigBeats would do a black album where all you could see were their eyes, but I think it would have be hard to tell they were Big Foot. So I went for a Gray Album

I think even the Beatles would have been impressed. I realize it is a stretch to sell this design for a t-shirt because you'd have to a) follow my blog or my store and b) get the humor of a Big Foot Beatle's cover band.  Both are kind of a stretch.

I also created a version of Sgt Peppers for the BigBeats over the weekend.

I think Lt. Lemons Solitary Soul Society Band sounds like an album that would sell like hot cakes (though I've never understood why hot cakes would be a big seller other than you have to sell them while they are hot).  

Now lest you think all I have to do is dictate to Art AI to give me a Big Foot cover band knock off of Sgt Peppers and the White Album, it took a zillion repetitions to get ones close to what I wanted and then I had to patch them together using bits and pieces from different designs to land on the one I wanted to load to my store. For example, for the Gray Album I had to cut and paste four different Big Foot faces onto the album background I liked because Art AI couldn't get the concept that I wanted the album cover to have four different big foot. It kept giving me the same big foot face four times.

And the Lt. Lemons album required the same thing. Plus I had to cut and paste the BigBeats written in carnations onto another image. And I had to add umpteen background faces to look kind of like Sgt Peppers. So don't think there is no art in what I do. It's not all about clever slogans, puns and spoofs. It's got to match what I'm picturing in my head before I use it.

So the jokes on you if you think this is easy.

I guess I'm fishing for a compliment.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

An Easter to dye for


You can't really go wrong with an Easter Island design for Easter. Of course, Easter Island is only Easter Island because a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen stumbled onto the island on Easter Sunday in 1722 and declared that it would be known as Easter Island much to the bafflement of the people who were living there. They just kept calling it Rapa Nui.

Funny how Europeans had this nasty habit of discovering things that were already there long before they showed up. It would be kind of like me driving to Texas for the first time on my birthday and declaring that Dallas would known as My Birthday despite the irate gun toting Texans who had been there since they stole it from Mexico.

Oh well.

But back to Easter. In my new design world, I discovered all you really need to do to make an Easter design is slap some bunny ears on something.

It's not like the Easter Bunny (a totally fictitious character like Santa Claus but without an reasonable explanation for existing ) gives a rip.  He (or she) are probably too busy dyeing eggs to worry about an Orangutan moving in on their territory. I'm not sure why I chose to put bunny ears on an Orangutan and suggest they would make a good back up for the Easter Bunny. Something tells me they would be more likely to fling feces at you than hand you a dyed egg.

And this is how I imagine the real (imaginary) Easter Bunny dyes eggs. Though I'm not sure why we think the Easter Bunny dyes eggs. I have been dyeing my own Easter eggs since I was a kid and it has always involved a cheap dye kit from the grocery store, food dye tablets, vinegar and a lot of patience.

Though I am a little vague on why we dye eggs for Easter anyway. I understand the egg is a symbol of fertility (as is the bunny...see my post on Fibonacci numbers). I just don't know what dyeing an egg has to do with it. 

Marketing no doubt.

I imagine that is where the whole chocolate bunny tradition came from. I don't know why we can't just hand each other the candy rather than putting out the empty Easter baskets and then pretending an imaginary bunny fills them with candy overnight using the same miracles Santa uses to do it all in one night.

Okay some of you may be getting impatient with me because I have glossed over that Easter is supposed to be a Christian tradition celebrating the resurrection of Jesus after he was crucified. And of course the Church co-opted a pagan festival called Eostre which celebrated the spring equinox and the renewal of life to get the Jesus angle in there after they converted more locals.

I would kind prefer to just believe in the Easter bunny and leave it at that.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Going to bat


I wouldn't consider myself a big baseball fan. Oh I used to take the family to games if someone gave us tickets, but it was more for the food than for the sport. I find watching baseball to be very much like watching paint dry. But I did occasionally see a few fans like the one above. He seems a bit like the rabid foaming train fans I wrote about back at the end of February (Trainbies).  This next fan is a bit more sedate and cute (in a repulsive bat kind of way).

I assume baseball bat puns have been done, but I'm beyond caring these days. Art AI seemed to like the idea and didn't misspell baseball or bat.  It did get a bit confused when I asked it to create a "Baseball Bat out of hell" design with an angry Vampire bat. Apparently Art AI only knows about one kind of Vampire bat and it isn't the tiny fanged version with leathery wings.

Still, I kind of like it. Looks good on baseball shirts if you are curious.

I have created more than 300 designs on my storefront now. I think it is pretty impressive though it still hasn't fostered an outpouring of people flocking to it to buy massive amounts of t-shirts or coffee mugs. I still have an occasional brush with authority at teepublic. Even though I had decided not to create anymore Trump designs I couldn't resist exploring one with Trump as the Wicked Witch urging his monkeys to fly.

I didn't see anything wrong with the design. But for some reason teepublic flagged it for review. I thought it might be because of the whole Wizard of Oz tie in, but I found tons of designs at their site for the Wicked Witch and flying monkeys. Same is true for Trump and the MAGA monkeys (though I didn't find any flying MAGA monkeys other than mine.  So I don't know what triggered the censors.

Not that I give a rip. No one is buying Trump insult t-shirts anyway. Again, I think it has too much potential for you to become a target of the flying MAGA monkeys if you openly diss on the shithead.

Regardless, I don't need Trump to sell t-shirts. I've got plenty of other fish to fry in the vast ocean of t-shirt design. The only limit is my (and Art AI's) imagination.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit


I have always been a sucker for what I assume are Southern colloquialisms. Like "Butter my butt and call me a biscuit." It expresses surprise, wonder and an opportunity to talk about putting butter on your butt without be thought a pervert.

My favorite colloquialism in the same vein is "Well smack my ass and call me Sally." I think I first saw it on a a hot sauce label in New Orleans. The "Smack my ass and call me Sally" hot sauce also had a companion hot sauce called, "The second smacking." If I wasn't creating great art for t-shirts and coffee mugs, I would probably be creating hot sauce labels.

The problem with trying to convince Art AI to create a design using "Well smack my ass and call me Sally" was trying to keep it PG and not get too much into the smacking of asses realm. So I tried the safe route with asking it to show a Jack Ass that was getting smacked on the ass instead of a person. But apparently "smacking" is not a word Art AI really understands and it kept creating images of mutant hands with six or seven fingers and a grinning Jack Ass with really big testicles. 

I try to keep my t-shirt designs pretty tame so I didn't want to go down the path of a Jack Ass with big balls being smacked on the ass by a six-fingered person. It reeked too much of a sleazy stage show in Tijuana. Eventually I arrived at a design that did the phrase justice without getting me in trouble with animal rights people.

Now that is one fine ass if I do say so myself. 

I did create a kind of off color design with an idea I had for a stand up egg comedian.

I am really kind of proud of it in an embarrassed kind of way. It's got your dad joke humor with some sophomoric dirty joke stuff thrown in. The egg comedian kind of reminds me of George on Seinfeld. But that wasn't by design. And George never did stand up so the intellectual property police can just relax. 

I didn't intend to egg them on about it though.

I think I may do a whole line of Egg Yolks. I'll have to scramble tomorrow to come up with some more. I'm afraid they won't go over very easy though. 

I am so ashamed.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

For those who are about to rock...


I like the concept of old Rockers in rockers. It isn't that far from the truth. I see bands from the 80s playing at local Native American Casinos all the time and the only thing a little more disturbing than aged rockers shuffling across the stage are the fans who come to watch them (or fall asleep at their concerts).

I think it is fair for me to poke fun at old rockers since I've crept into that geriatric phase myself. Not that I ever was a Rocker. I pointed out in my last post that I couldn't get my hair to do the 80s spike like Corey Hart, so I couldn't have sported the heavy metal band look either. 

The closest I came to having rocker hair was when I made the error in judgement to sport a ponytail in the 90s. It was not a proud time in my life. I looked a bit like a non-buff Steven Seagal. 

Fortunately that phase of my life passed. And now that I am well into my 60s, I avoid things like long hair, pony tails and ear rings. I have one tattoo, but that was done in my 40s and I've always enjoyed it. My one concession to non-conformity now is my beard. I sported a goatee for years and it has only been recently that I let it grow into a full blown beard. And I have to say I like it. For one whereas the goatee drew attention to my double chin, my full beard does a great job of covering it up.

And I like to think my beard makes me look like a pirate, Viking or medieval lord. Though I did get mistaken for Santa Claus when I was walking my dog with my teen aged son a couple of months ago. We passed a group of what appeared to be middle school aged girls. They kept saying hi to me as we walked by and tried to get me to holler "Merry Christmas."  That's when it dawned on me they thought I looked like Santa Claus. That's the drawback of having white hair and a white beard (not to mention a bit of a belly).

But I digress.

The Rockers design is a perfect example of some of the challenges of working with Art AI. I kept telling the app to include four aged Rockers sitting in rocking chairs. I also specified that one would have a microphone, one an electric guitar, one a bass and one drumsticks.  Art AI would give me one image of Rockers in rocking chairs and then spit out three others of them standing or two standing and two sitting. If this had been a true Creative Director giving direction to an Art Director, I would have fired the Art Director for trying to mess with my design direction. Because my point was that these were Rockers in rockers.

Next up during the day was an idea I had for Hannibal Lector to be riding a War elephants like Hannibal the Carthaginian military commander marching an army across the Alps into Italy in 218 BC. I thought it would be funny to see Hannibal Lecter in a straitjacket and muzzle on the elephant leading an army.

Art AI apparently had difficulty with the concept of Hannibal Lector being from our time but leading and army in 218 BC. It kept dressing Hannibal like the original Hannibal and didn't seem to get the concept of straitjacket or muzzle like the one Hannibal Lecter wore in Silence of the Lambs. I finally had to ask for an image of Hannibal Lecter in a straitjacket and muzzle. When I finally got one that looked like the movie Hannibal Lecter, I had to do a lot of Photoshop work to get him on a war elephant leading an army.

It turned out okay. The quote at the bottom is an actual Hannibal Lecter quote from the movie. It seemed to fit Hannibal crossing the Alps to invade Italy pretty well. But this concept is probably a bit too esoteric for the average t-shirt wearer. So I am guessing it won't be a best seller.

Oh well. Rock on!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The future is so bright...


Okay, I know for something so bright it is kind of dark. But some people like that kind of thing. I grew up with the threat of nuclear war pretty much common place (remember the Cuban missile crisis?)

Putin tends to threaten using nukes a lot these days too. And we have had umpteen books, movies and television shows dedicated to end of the world scenarios. So why not put one on a t-shirt.

 I actually produced four different versions because you never know which end of days people are going to prefer. 

I only produced one version of this one about wearing sunglasses at night. It's an old Corey Hart song from 1984. I though Corey Hart was pretty cool (for a Canadian). And it was pretty much the only song of his that was a hit. I liked his spikey hair. I tried to get the woman who cut my hair to copy it, but my hair, although abundant, has always been pretty fine and wouldn't spike up anyway.

In retrospect it was the 80s and the 80s isn't known for culture and classic fashion. So it is probably better that I didn't remake myself into Corey Hart.

I did have Ray Ban  sunglasses. But I didn't wear them at night even though I liked the song. 

But I did think my future had the potential to be bright.  But I wore shades because I also wore contacts and they make your eyes really sensitive to light. 

Just not nuke you until you glow light. I don't think sunglasses would help much at that point.

Monday, March 25, 2024

In hog heaven (or hell)


I worry about hogs. I suppose I worry about pigs, too, but before this post I didn't know there was any difference between a hog and pig (other than the confusing habit of some people to call their motorcycles hogs). ChatGPT set me straight on the subject. A pig is a young swing, typically less than one year old A hog is a mature swine, usually more than one year old. Both pigs and hogs are used for meat, but hogs can be raised as breeders to produce pigs.

It is a bit more complex than I thought it was. 

But back to why I was worrying about hogs. I read an article the other day that doctors transplanted a genetically altered pig kidney into a human. So since they said pig kidney I should be more worried about pigs than hogs. I just figured that now that pig organs can now be used more reliably as human organ replacements, it doesn't bode well for pigs in general. 

I think hogs have bigger fish to fry (but that is probably another blog post...bigger fish to fry, that is).

But thinking about pig parts made me think of the expressions that we humans use that involve hogs. For example we say somebody is "in hog heaven" when they are experiencing something enjoyable or pleasurable. Apparently we associate hogs being happy when they get lots of food and some warm mud to wallow in. Let's not go into the fact that we are fattening them up to either eat them, produce more pigs or harvest their organs. So they don't really have much to really look forward to. Kind of like happy clams before they are thrown into a pan of boiling water.

So I had my buddy Art AI create a pleasant design of Hog Heaven complete with hog angels (which could theoretically send me to hell). And speaking of hell, if there is a hog heaven, shouldn't there be a hog hell? Which led me back to good old Art AI to illustrate what hog hell must be like.

Considering how humans treat pigs and hogs, hog hell seems a bit more plausible to me than hog heaven. I asked for hog devils and demons and they just look like regular ol' devils and demons to me. I suppose hogs kind of look like the devil anyway. And we seem to associate them with demons. As I recall there was a hog demon in the Amityville Horror story. 

I'm kind of hoping my hog heaven and hell designs will become big sellers in the t-shirt market. I figure most people will want a set and will wear the hog heaven or hog hell t-shirt depending upon their mood for a particular day.  

I think people will go whole hog for the idea (a pun that will likely send me to hell...that and depicting hog angels). 

These are pearls I'm casting out here people.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

In record time

I liked the whole record label concept from yesterday so much that I decided what the hell, I might as well become Dizgraceland Records for awhile. So I bought the domain name, created a new masthead and a couple of labels and I have myself a record label.

I just don't make or sell records.

But I figured that, figuratively, blogging is making a record of my life. So these are technically Dizgraceland records. And does anybody really buy records anymore. Well, sure they do, but generally vintage vinyl. And who knows, maybe someday I'll sell a few vintage records.

 I also figured this could be a catch all for what my blog has become. I write, I design, I shamelessly promote and hawk snake oil. I might as well have fun with it.

I feel jolly good about it.

Whatever makes me happy, right?

Saturday, March 23, 2024

It's just a label


I don't think you really need a record company to have a label. For that matter, you don't really need to have record. It just looks cool, especially on a t-shirt. Of course, I am a bit biased. I seriously doubt anyone would actually buy one (except for me).

So I created three different ones anyway. And damn it was fun. I wish I did have a record label (and a record).  
Although I really like them all and the orange graffitti one really pops, I think I like the first one the best because it looks kind of like the Sun Records logo. 

There actually was a Disgraceland Records. It is a sore subject for me. Forgive me if you've heard the story before, but my original web page probably 30 years ago was Disgraceland. It was before I even knew domain names were a thing. By the time I figured it out, someone bought the Disgraceland domain name and had a record company in Tennessee I believe.  I have tried for years to reclaim it, but they keep renewing it.

So I settled for Dizgraceland (which I think is actually cooler).  It does make for a bitchin record label.

If only I could write songs, compose and carry a tune. I'd be on to something. And the first album could be the Lugubrious Howl and be maybe 30 minutes of howling...very slow and lugubrious.

A man has got to dream.

Friday, March 22, 2024

It's a mad, mad, mad world...

 "What, me worry?"

--Alfred E. Neuman

I've always liked the Mad Hatter. One, you could call him mad without triggering the politically correct police who would scream "Abilist" and accuse me of not being sensitive to the plight of people with mental issues. To which I would love to reply, "You're crazy."

The Mad Hatter is mad as a hatter because he is a hatter. Hatters in the 19th century used mercury in the hat-making process. The toxic fumes could lead to mercury poisoning with symptoms of well...madness. 

The Mad Hatter utters nonsense that actually seems to make sense. He is very much like many politicians in that way. He would probably be a strong contender for President of the United States if he was around today and actually was a real person and not a fictional character.

For the record, I am not a big fan of Johnny Depp's interpretation of the Mad Hatter in the Alice in Wonderland film he starred in. He bore too much of a strong resemblance to Madonna to be taken seriously. And I don't mean that in a good way.

 I do like the notion that the Mad Hatter could have been a good friend of Don Draper and hung with the Mad Men of advertising. He definitely would have been a creative director and come up with some real "big ideas" that shine during the Super Bowl.

I was so happy with my Really Mad Men design using the Mad Hatter that I had AI Art create a Mad Tiki design for me.

If only I could actually turn this bad boy into an actual Tiki Mug I'd be bringing in real coin on eBay. Tiki Mug collectors love them some quirky new designs (especially if they aren't patterned after something from Disney's Haunted Mansion...those are getting real old).

Oh well, I'll just have to wait for 3D Art AI Printer to be invented (if it already hasn't been).

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Just desserts


Before you correct me, I know it should be "just deserts" not "just desserts." But you need to know the rules before you break them and I used "just desserts" on purpose. It seemed totally appropriate for a giant graham cracker oozing chocolate battling an equally giant marshmallow man.

Where does he come up with these, you ask? I don't really know. For some reason it is the way my mind is wired. I don't even know if it has anything to do with years of experience coming up with headlines and one liners. 

And forgive me for gloating here because after popping out five our so design ideas in a day I sometimes want to tell someone and get some nod of approval.  But it isn't something I get much of.  For example, I was proud of this one:

My daughter had starred in a high school production of Mean Girls last summer. She was Gretchen, one of the Plastics ( this will only mean something to you if you have see the movie or the stage musical by Tina they just released a movie version of the musical recently).  Anyway, I thought this was hilarious. So early this evening I show it to my daughter and she politely nods and smiles and says, "That's funny." Then she goes back to eating her chicken teriyaki. 

I kind of wanted more of "that's so funny, how did you do it?" I mean it isn't all AI Art. It was my idea and I had to do some Photoshop work because AI Art left a human girl's face on one of the squirrels. It isn't easy grafting together a squirrel face.

I just get the feeling that I could have hand painted the thing over a period of weeks and I would have got the same bored reaction which loosely translated to "Yeah papa, another one of your dad jokes that really aren't that funny."

I didn't even bother showing her the Stay Puft Man versus the Graham Cracker design. I probably have to explain the whole, "Want s'more?" line. And once you have to explain it it defeats the whole purpose of having a way with puns and dad jokes.

My whole business model for these designs is to try to appeal to a wide swath of the public but at the same time appeal to certain niche groups who will get the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) nuances of my punny references. 

So far it isn't working, but as with my blog career and two decades of waiting, I figure it is just a matter of another decade or two before I'm discovered.

What? You doubt it? E tu Brute?

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Space Needle, the final frontier


Don't needle me about this post. I'm waiting for the Space Needle people to begin screaming intellectual property and pointing at me in a biblical "unclean, unclean!" way. If they do it will just be because they didn't think of this first and sell overpriced t-shirts at Seattle Center.

On a bright, optimistic note, I sold one of my designs the other day on a sticker. There is 50 cents I would never have seen without all this hard work and the support of Art AI. The dam is about to burst now! Not sure what I'll do with all of the extra income.

Space seemed to be a theme today.

Well, I actual had Art AI create a bunch of Ford Galaxy designs last week. I had this inspiration that there was a galaxy called the Ford Galaxy and that is where all of our beloved old cars go when they give up the ghost. Technically the Ford car model is the Galaxie, but I think that is kind of stupid. I think this is an image of a 1958 Ford Galaxie.  But all cars of that era pretty much look the same to me.

I am aiming for the vintage car foamer with this series. 

Other than creating new t-shirt designs, working, driving my kids around and giving the pets attention I spent some time today dropping my son's seven year old gaming laptop at a computer repair place. It, like the Ford Galaxy in the above design, died. And like medical doctors, the laptop technicians ruled out an expired batter, battery charging ports and not using a charger issued by the company who made the computer. And like medical doctors they still didn't know what the real problem was, but they were happy to keep charging me to find out. In the case of my son's laptop the computer place today said the mother board just gave up the will to live because none of her children came to visit and she felt unfulfilled as a mother board any more.

Once I pick up all of the parts from my son's dead laptop tomorrow I think we'll bury it in the backyard along with umpteen dead goldfish. I just wish we had sent it off to live on a farm before it expired.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2024



Most people know that a poltergeist is a type of ghost or supernatural entity that basically messes with you. It is a German word that translates to "noisy ghost." 

There was a movie called Poltergeist that came out in 1982 (which was coincidentally the year I graduated from college).  It was about a family living in a modern (1980s modern) subdivision. The family's home becomes haunted by some really nasty poltergeists. The haunting begins when the 5-year Carol Anne starts seeing the ghosts in the static that used to show up on old televisions when the broadcast went off the air or you turned the channel to a channel that wasn't broadcast on.  Carol Anne's famous line from the movie comes from her sitting in front of the television and then saying in a creepy voice, "They're hereeeeeeee."

So that in a nutshell was the inspiration for this design. I just thought that poltergeists and polterguests were pretty much the same thing. This design would probably be more appealing during the holidays when most people have a influx of unwanted noisy guests (usually family).

It took a few tries going back and forth with my Art AI program, but eventually I think it nailed it. I was kind of picture Cousin Eddie and his family from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Though I do wonder if anyone under 60 will remember the movie Poltergeist or Christmas Vacation. I think they should make movie trivia from the 80s and 90s a requirement in high school so these generation gaps in popular culture knowledge don't slip through the cracks.

Which reminds me of a conversation that came up at work today. This young man said something about someone named Geraldine. I commented that who would name anyone Geraldine. The young man said he liked the name. I responded that he must not have heard of Flip Wilson. He stared at me blankly.

For the youth-impaired who may read this, Flip Wilson has television variety show in the early 1970s. He was a comedian. One of his characters was Geraldine Jones whose catchphrase was, "The devil made me do it." 

Ironically there were t-shirts at the time with the phrase, "The devil made me do it."

Today the MAGA freaks would think such t-shirts were signs of devil worship.

If you don't know popular cultural trivia from generations before you are born, you are doomed to repeat those popular culture mistakes.


Monday, March 18, 2024

Once more into the breach


Okay today is my birthday.  I took the day off and basically enjoyed not being on call to work. I worked on designs. I went to Starbucks and got my free birthday coffee drink. It was okay.

I removed my birthday from Facebook. And frankly it was kind of nice to not having people wishing me a happy birthday just because it popped up on Facebook. I kind of just wanted to be wished happy birthday by people who remembered it was my birthday. 

I got happy birthday wishes from my dentist, my acupuncturist, my public library and my eye doctor. So much for only hearing from people who remembered it. Okay my nephew texted me a happy birthday. And of course my wife. One old friend sent me an ecard of Dolly Parton singing me a happy birthday song to the tune of 9 to 5. That was a bit surreal because it was personalized for me. And I didn't even know Dolly Parton knew who I was.

And what does my birthday have to do with an image of an ancient drive in theater at Stonehenge? Absolutely nothing other than I visited Stonehenge about 35 years ago. I just needed some image to post because I've long since gotten past any blog posts that don't have an accompanying image. And the Stonehenge design is pretty random and probably a bit obscure for most people. 

But it is unique like me and it is my birthday. 

I also have started to feel a bit self conscious about every post being about my design storefront. I've been afraid it was starting to get old. But no one has complained. And no one has complained because I'm pretty certain no one is reading any of them but the Google bots and they don't really give a rip about anything they are sent to look at. They are just gathering data for Google.

So the bots don't care that I really have never liked my birthday (though this one has been nicer than most).  Birthdays usually make me want to break into a rendition of Tennessee Ernie Ford's 16 tons and point out that it means very little other than I'm another day older and probably deeper in debt. Though fortunately I don't owe my soul to the company store.

Oh well, the day is almost over. And tomorrow I'll be back to posting about coming up with more designs at 4 a.m. and not being able to fall back asleep because I am anxious to run them by AI Art and co.

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 17, 2024

It's uneasy to be green


So it is finally St. Patrick's Day and I didn't do a single thing related to it. No green beer, no corn beef and cabbage, no stupid leprechaun hats, shamrock pins or "Kiss me I'm Irish" tshirts (though I could have made one).

I created most of my Irish shirt designs last month to give people plenty of time to stock up before St. Patrick's Day. I guess they are waiting until next year now to stock up.

No one snatch up this one of me as an old Irish dude, either. Perhaps it is the same face I used for several pirate designs. Or perhaps no one wants an old man face on their t-shirt for St. Patrick's Day. 

I assume people still go out to bars on St. Patrick's Day. It has been so long since I went out on St. Patrick's Day, I wouldn't have the slightest idea where to go. There used to be a ton of Irish bars in Seattle. Most seem to have gone belly up.

But I also lost interest in whooping it up on St. Paddy's Day when my DNA test revealed I don't have a whole lot of Irish going on. Most of my ancestors came from Great Britain.  Go figure.

Despite not doing anything for St. Patrick's Day I was actually quite productive this morning with creative ideas for designs. Here's one I especially like and it is more in line with my English roots and love of the Beatles.

It took me several tries to squeeze this one out of the AI Art program. It kept wanting to put Bigfoot in with several Beatles from the 60s.  I almost cried when it produced this one. I did have to do some Photoshop work to remove extra arms from some of the Bigfoot characters. Not sure what that is all about. And I would have preferred if the Bigfeet were dressed more like the Beatles were in the original Abbey Road photo. But AI Art seems to have an artificial mind of its own.

I also produced this one that is more of a homage to my white trash Idaho roots:

For whatever reason "The Recline of Western Civilization" popped into my head at about 5 a.m. this morning along with the Big Foot designs, one about Track giving you runs, and one about a cheap skate. 

I am using both versions of the "Recline of Western Civilization" because I really like them both. There were some disturbing female versions, but I'm still debating whether to put one of them in the store.

They just crack me up though.

I will end on a story about how people react to my sense of humor in real life. I went to a pet food store yesterday to pick up some cat litter. The cashier asked me if I would like some free samples and asked me how many cats I had. I told her two. She held up two packets of cat treats and asked me if my cats liked duck. I responded, "I don't know I've never asked them." I wasn't really trying to be funny. It seemed the logical response when someone asks you a stupid question like that. 

The cashier didn't laugh. If fact she didn't say much else.

I don't think she'll be buying any of my t-shirts.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Talking through a hat


Technically I talk through many hats.Though ChatGPT says talking through your hats describes someone who speaks nonsense or makes unfounded claims (sound like any MAGA presidential candidates you know).  It implies that the person is talking without having any real knowledge or understanding of the subject matter. 

I still don't know how speaking through a hat would convey that.

My point with the many hats concept is that more and more people don't specialize and do multiple things. I've always felt I have done that. The problem is that it reinforces this feeling that I'm good at many things, I'm just not great at them. Which is what this image says to me. It is inspired by the beach vendors you encounter when you spend any amount of time on the beaches in Mexico. There are usually several guys selling hats to protect you from the sun and often the have stacks of the hats on their head or in their hands. They literally wear many hats but I'm pretty sure none of them are the ones they would choose to wear.

I got up pretty early this morning because my wife was taking my daughter to an orchestra workshop about an hour north of our home. They had to be there by 8 a.m. I got up at the same time they did as a show of support. And I have found myself waking up earlier and earlier.

Once they left, I began working on my t-shirt/artwork/coffee cup/magnet/sticker/pillow/poster and tapestry designs. I worked on them off and on most of the day. And I started feeling like I could actually do this as my job (as long as it was just for myself and I had complete license to create whatever I felt like without having to put up with the normal bullshit I do in my real job. Oh, and the other condition is that I don't need to do it to survive.

It makes it a lot easier to wrap your brain around creating stuff if you aren't doing it out of necessity. 

I was concerned when I first started doing this that I would run out of ideas quickly or get burned out. And that may still happen, but so far I have found that I get inspired my many random things.

Like hats.

Oh, and speaking of happy clams, I went ahead and tried out modifying my instructions to the Art AI to add an element of foreshadowing that the happy clam may be headed for an overheated hot tub it wasn't expecting. And I liked the results:

It is pretty amazing that the AI Art thingy can actually take my direction and eventually give me something that matches what is in my head. If you have ever done creative work or advertising you are probably aware of people called Creative Directors. That is what I have fancied myself to have become (or aspired to become) in the work I do for a living after I stopped doing copywriting. My work with AI Art is teaching me that even though you aren't technically physically creating the work, you are still creating it through your direction and vision.

At least that's what I've been telling myself to make me happy.

Why is that pot of water boiling over there?

Friday, March 15, 2024

Happy talkee, happy talk, talk, talk

 I will be the first one to admit that this happy clam image is pretty darned creepy. You should have seen some of the other versions AI Art dropped on me. But they are a far cry from the original Are Clams Really Happy image I posted in 2006 (which was one of my most popular posts. 

And this clam looks real happy. I toyed with asking AI Art to include someone in a chef's uniform in the background boiling a big pot of water just to add a little plot twist to the whole thing (and I may still do that).  The beauty of having a tshirt design storefront is that I can plaster as many designs as I want out there. It doesn't cost me anything.

So far it hasn't earned me much of anything either.

In the post I brought up other sayings that imply how happy people are.  One of them was this really obscure one that came out of Australia or New Zealand: "We would be happy as Larry if it were not for the rats." That's a puzzler. But that didn't stop me from having AI Art create this:

I have to say I really love it. ChatGPT was able to shed some light on what the phrase actually mean: "In essence, the phrase is used to highlight a contrast between a desired state of happiness and the reality of an unwanted or troublesome situation, such as dealing with pests like rats. It's often used humorously to acknowledge life's imperfections and the unexpected challenges that can arise." Got to love ChatGPT.

Larry does look a bit too happy surrounded by rats that also seem to have mutated in the AI Art process. But I really like the outcome. I would wear this tshirt despite the potential looks it would get.

I do have to say that as I revisit old blog posts from 20 years ago, I am starting to feel less enamored with the quality of stuff I thought I was producing. I am feeling self conscious and a bit embarrassed about what I thought was funny at the time. Even the puns seem forced and stale.

Could this be why my blog never took off?

Larry says, "Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwwww." I'm not sure what the rats think though.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

The mummy should have gone before he left


Years ago, I used to do theme weeks at Dizgraceland. I did Egyptian week back in 2006 and had one image of a mummy stepping out of a sarcophagus that had a toilet in it. And there was a piece of toilet paper stuck to him. The mummy coincidentally had my face. Because back then I still thought it was a novelty to put my face on everything.

But it wouldn't be something that someone would generally want on a t-shirt. So I upgraded the image. It wasn't easy. The AI Art site couldn't quite fathom that I wanted the toilet in the sarcophagus. So eventually I had to piece together the image. I think it is pretty damned good. 

There was a point where I did a series of posts on wanting to be knighted by the Queen of England and having a title. I wanted to be Tim Edwin the Fair and Flatulent.  I created several primitive coat of arms. I decided to recreate one of them here: 

Alas, I never did become a knight. Turns out the United States does not really allow its citizens to be royalty (despite what Trump thinks). So my royal aspirations fell by the wayside.

I did create this pretty cool ultimate coat of arms today, though:

I think the AI Art program nailed this one. Though it did give me a series of random one that didn't have arms on them. Not sure where the disconnect was. But it finally succumbed to my dad joke nature and gave me my pun. 

So I won that one. Or I pun that one.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Silly rabbits Trix are still for kids


I had this epiphany that I should go back to old blog posts and recreate some of my earlier images. This one goes back to 2004 when I first started blogging. I wrote a post about Fibonacci numbers, a mathematical sequence based on the rate at which rabbits multiply. I was fascinated by the fact that such a sequence even existed. The cool thing is that the pattern within the Fibonacci sequence exists throughout nature.

I had learned about this in my early years in college. When I worked in the periodical collection of my college library I discovered there was even a Fibonacci Journal. I was so enthralled with this kernel of obscure knowledge that when I started blogging I had to show off and post about it. I included a small portrait of Fibonacci (Leonardo of Pisa) who wrote a book about the sequence in 1202.

So today I fed some of the information into the AI Art site and came up with this gem of Fibonacci surrounded by rabbits multiplying...literally. Quite a far cry from my initial post.

I didn't really post that many images when I started blogging. When I did they were rough and small. You had to be concerned about loading speeds back then when many people were still logging on to the internet via telephone modems. So graphics couldn't be too complex or large. I also hadn't really mastered Photoshop yet (not that you can ever master it).

Who would have thought that 20 years later I would converse primitively with an artificial intelligence site that could turn my thoughts into images within seconds. I can't even imagine what it will be like in another 20 years. Though I imagine I will either be dead or pretty darned close to it. But maybe I'll be producing holograms of real rabbits hopping around Mr. Fibonacci.

Changing topics quickly, I had another design pulled out of my store yesterday. It wasn't even a very good one.

I think it was the James Bond people who killed it (pun intended...all my puns are intended). I find this ironic because I was sure it would have been the 7-11 people who would have taken umbrage with it and cried foul (which is pretty much what the food from 7-11 is). But the teepublic people weren't very nice about taking this one down and warned me not to try and repost it or I would risk having my account removed for repeat violations. This confused me because I have never done that.

It did make me so paranoid that I went through my design inventory and removed anything I thought was of imminent risk of offending the intellectual property police. This ruled out anything that related to a iconic movie or institution. 

Now more than ever I am happy I discovered AI art because I think it's primary directive is not to use anyone's proprietary images, trademarks, logos or names. So the intellectual police and their bots that search for such things are probably hard pressed to find something to get nasty about.

God knows I would hate to have my account on teepublic cancelled at lose that extra 50 cents of income each month.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Show them your nuts

 Obviously my blog and my designs are not the most politically correct. If I created this as part of my day job I would be responding to complaints that using the term "Nut Job" was offensive and not sensitive to the plights of the mentally ill. And if this was created as part of my day job I would apologize profusely and say that the term "Nut Job" referred to the person's profession as a street nut vendor.

But this isn't my day job and if someone complained I would just ignore them or say something like "nuts to you," or simply to fuck off. The humor to me is the double meaning and layers of complexity of this nut job. I love the crazed look on the man's face as he hawks his nuts on the street. He is showing people his nuts on many levels.

Here's another less than politically correct design:

I don't think you are allowed to use the term "hunchback" when referring to someone's deformity in this day and age. Victor Hugo had no problem with it. But he published the book in 1831 and they were less concerned with niceties at the time. I am not sure anyone uses the term "hunchback" anymore. It would be considered "ableist" (a term I despise).  According to my good friend ChatGPT, the modern term to use is "kyphosis" or "hyperkyphosis." It is a medical condition that creates an excessive curvatue of the spine and a rounded or hunched back. HyperKyphosis of Notre Dame probably wouldn't have become a classic for Victor Hugo.

The hunchback football player of Notre Dame cracks me up and I'm hoping it will appeal to the less politically correct who are still sensitive to such things but will think it is funny (even though it suggests we will all go to hell for doing so...not that I believe in hell or heaven for that matter).

It took awhile to get AI Art to create a hunchback football player. Apparently it is more sensitive than I am. That's my hunch anyway.

Yes, if there is a hell, that's where I am going.