Saturday, November 28, 2009

Randomology


Did I have a 'good' Thanksgiving? Many people have asked me this in the last 24 hours. Not particularly. I am so focused in on all the negative crap in our lives I haven't yet evolved to that person I hope to be at some point in all of this. That person who starts looking more at the positive and less of the negative. And the new anti-depresso and anti-freakout drug I am consuming takes many weeks to really start making a difference. (That's cool with me, I did not want a repeat of the weird-o-licious symptoms within 72 hours of being on Cymbalta.)

Anyway, after Thursday's downer post (the subject matter of which contributed to my Thanksgiving ennui with much greater intensity than I thought it would), I wanted to do just do a mish-mash. My thoughts and feelings today are quite random, and my writing is reflective of that.

Essentially what that means is that today I'm bored, have nothing really that interesting to write about so I am just sitting here clacking away in the hope that something will just come to me.

Besides, my only other choice would be to write about how concerned I am about Bennett's latest regressions or about how nervous I am about our upcoming 2-day trip to the Cleveland Clinic for Bennett's first of many new serialized MRI and tests, and I don't have the energy for that.


You know how I like to occasionally pepper my blog posts with photos that are not my own? For effect...sometimes I do it just to make a point, sometimes I do it to make a joke, sometimes I do it just because people like to look at pictures and it helps to break up the monotony of a ton of text, and I am one wordy sumbitch.

When I go searching for these pictures, sometimes I find the ODDEST things. Check this out. I found this one while searching for a Minnesota Vikings jersey actually for a work thing. I can't remember exactly what I typed into my Google Image search, but one of the pics it spit back at me while trying to see how the Vikings jersey looked from the side was this.


Do chicks really wear this kind of thing? I guess somebody does.

Found this one while I was searching for something related to a statement I was making about how you can't dress up a turd or you can't turn shit into gold or something. I think the photo I used was of a Shit Trophy in bronze, but this one was pretty funny. Someone actually DRESSED up like a turd.


Now THAT'S a clever costume.

OUT...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Party on the Field


I totally forgot to post some pictures of that event I went to in Baltimore two weekends ago. Meant to. Plum slipped my mind. Well not totally. I did actually post a HUGE album of them on Facebook, but not everyone here has Facebook.

Essentially, these photos are but a few from a party hosted by the company I work for at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, November 8th, 2009. Food in a really nice suite while the Ravens got beat by the Bengals in Cincinnati on HD TV, and then the guys all got the opportunity to play 2-Hand touch football on the actual field.






GREAT experience to be on that field, and touch that logo, and see the stadium from that perspective. I did not play...in case you were wondering. I am far too fragile in the degenerated disc category to take a chance on throwing out my back. So I decided to take pics, and lots of them.






Tough to shoot in that light, with the sun creeping across the field, so some of it is a little hinky. But hey, with the camera rig I have, I actually think they turned out pretty cool. And besides, it was a helluva lot of fun, and that's what mattered in the end. Best part about it was seeing Mike and Kate again after what, around four years? Felt just like old times. Groovy.





OUT...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chronolillogy III: A Spaced Oddysee


(Part 3 in a series about my journey down the career path I am on and some of the stuff that happened along the way.)

Yeah...it's been a while since I have written anything in the Chronolillogy section, hasn't it? Well, that happens when your kid is diagnosed with a brain tumor and seizures, has surgery, hefty developmental delays and all that stuff...kind of takes you out of the moment, so to speak. Thus, most of the blogging I do is of an entirely different nature these days.

But occasionally I have drifted back to some of the other things this blog was originally created for...showing off some newly acquired toys and goodies, re-playing old Palisades and Creatus Maximus blogs, etc., and of course working on this very self-centered history of my career, which I call Chronolillogy.

I got my 'soft' start in the world of toys and collectibles via a freelance comic-book style drawing gig for The ReSaurus Company Inc. that I explained with much delight in the first installment of Chronolillogy. That got my toe in the door, and I kept my foot firmly planted there with some work on the Duke Nukem action figures, that I discussed in the second installment of Chronolillogy.

You might be thinking that this is the chapter in which I let you in on how I actually got a job with the company, but NOPE, you'd be wrong. Between these first two projects and that glorious event was a third and fourth freelance gig. The fourth freelance gig was designing some hand and finger puppets of characters from Warner Bros. classic cartoon universe of Looney Tunes, but since I sort of took that project over when I started working there officially, it went from freelance to non-freelance and I'll go over that later.

But for pure freelance, before I as an official 'employee', there was one other thing they asked me to do some drawings for while I was angling to get more work there. They needed some art created for a pitch kit they were putting together to show the owners of the video game series called Oddworld, in an attempt to get the license to make products featuring the Oddworld characters, starting with the game called Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.


For those of you not in the know, here's a little tidbit about that first game from Wikipedia (still to date one of my most favorite games I have EVER played):

At the beginning of this game, Abe is a happy, ignorant worker at Rupture Farms, a meat-packing plant. Working late at Rupture Farms, Abe passes an advertisement billboard for the upcoming latest product in the Tasty Treats line of snacks, and eavesdrops the factory’s annual board meeting. Here, he learns that wildlife resources have become depleted, for which reason Abe's boss Molluck the Glukkon has decided to use the factory's Mudokon slaves as a ready source of meat. After this epiphany (reminiscent of the end of the film Soylent Green), Abe panics and escapes from his workplace. At the end of the game's introductory sequence, which is a retrospective voiced-over by Abe, Abe runs for his life. The Mudokons’ spiritual leader, the BigFace, appears to the unconscious Abe in a vision, revealing that the Mudokon race once lived freely with nature before they were enslaved by the Glukkons, and that their sacred animals were the very same ones being slaughtered and processed to manufacture 'Tasty Treats'.

Prophecies have foretold of a Mudokon saviour whose worth would be tested by a journey to relight holy flames that were extinguished by the Glukkons. Abe does this with the aid of his pet Elum and then receives mystic tattoos. Abe infiltrates Rupture Farms, killing its entire board of executives before being captured and taken to a holding cell, where he has enough time to pore over the last day before facing execution. Should the player save over a certain number of Mudokons, Abe's actions will have impressed the holy Mudokons, who rescue Abe and transport him to safety, where he receives a hero’s welcome from the Mudokons he rescued. Should the player not save a sufficent number, Abe will not be rescued and is executed by Molluck.


Sounds bleak doesn't it? But what an AWESOME game that was, and the characters that populated Oddworld are some of the coolest you will ever see. We all LOVED the designs of the stuff, and ReSaurus really wanted that license.

They pulled out all the stops to put together a mind-blowing pitch kit. First, they commissioned me to do a bunch of art for the kit, and I drew some shots of Abe and some of the creatures that populated the universe of Oddworld.











It didn't stop there, though. The guys that worked full time for the company created a TON of prototypes of some various products as part of the original kit. There was to be a latex mask of Molluck the Glukkon, along with a hand puppet of a creature called a Paramite. This is either Jay or Chris modeling those original prototypes.


The product line was also to include some other things, though I can't remember all that was supposed to be made. See the heads of Abe in the below photo? NO idea what Steve is working on there, but maybe it was some kind of holder of something, I dunno. The Abe head sculpt was pretty cool though.


And of course, even though the first series of action figures would have had some of the side characters like Mullock and an Elum and a Slig, it would also CERTAINLY have Abe as the centerpiece, and several prototypes of an Abe sculpture were cast in resin and fully painted. I would have LOVED to have ended up with one of those, but I never did.

Here's a couple of shots of Jay and Chris working on the figure.



I have these photos only because you gotta remember when this all took place. Digital cameras were REALLY expensive so we took all our product photographs and photographs we needed for production information with a standard camera and then drove it down to Cord Camera to have it developed. There would always be leftover film on a roll, and we needed the roll developed, so a 'Wall of Shame' started to develop where all these candid photographs would end up.

When the first waves of layoffs started, years later, I grabbed as many of the photos as I could get. In many ways the photos were more precious to me than any prototypes, but I grabbed my fair share of those too. Sadly, I have no actual photo OF the wall of shame. But trust me, it was there. It was fun. Those days, despite all the bullshit that went down between the warring factions, usually were.

You never saw any Abe's Oddysee action figures, did you? Nope. ReSaurus was never able to get the license, and strangely enough NO company has produced action figures of this video game franchise. Very peculiar. Rumor had it that the owners thought that product or merchandising would cheapen the brand of Oddworld. I don't think so. I think it would have enhanced it. I mean...c'mon, honestly, how many of you non-gamers ever even HEARD of Oddworld?

Not many, I'm sure. The game probably could have USED the exposure, and we would have loved making the stuff, which I'm sure is clear by the work we put into the pitch. But that's how things go in the business of making a pitch kit. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Back in Block


I get so wrapped up in work, my kids, the wife, the NFL and everything else that is going on right now I keep forgetting to be sure I keep my blog updated with all the cool new block figures I've added to my ever-growing collection.

Of course, I just did a quick count...there are around 263 photos that I have taken and NOT SHOWN here in the pages of Blogzilly, all block figures that I have added to the collection in the calendar year 2009. That includes any MiniMates and Kubrick figures, and an occasional odd figure here or there that qualifies to be in the category. Not to mention all the ones I HAVE NOT EVEN TAKEN A PHOTO OF. That's a lotta figures. But they're small. :)

SO...let's get to it, shall we? In the rapidly expanding world of the MiniMates, it is SICK how many I have been picking up lately. But then again, they are releasing SO many SO often it's hard to keep up if I don't get the stuff when it all comes out.

See this Ghostbusters MiniMates checklist? Pretty cool huh?


Well, I have managed to get every figure you see on here, except I have not yet received the box set with Gozer in it yet, though I have paid for and ordered it, and the only other thing on that whole page I am missing is that black figure at the upper right with the Ghostbusters logo on it. Can't seem to find him. But even though I HAVE all the stuff, I have only had time to shoot these four.


Yer saying...Lilly, have you lost your mind? I don't remember seeing any of those guys in Ghostbusters OR in Ghostbusters 2!!! Well, yeah, that's true. That's cuz they are from this summer's Ghostbusters video game. Natch.

As for the Kubrick universe...


That's a piece I added to my Universal Monsters Kubrick collection. I know, yer saying...hey Lilly...that doesn't look like a block figure to me. It isn't, technically, but this casket WAS a chase 'figure' in the Universal Monsters series, along with a Frankenstein table and some other items like it I believe. I also believe I have used the 'Hey Lilly' gimmick too much.


Those are from a set of Reservoir Dogs Kubrick figures that came out a LONG time ago. But like I always say about these collections. I am patient. I wait for opportunities. I look for a time when I can get it cheap. Well, I used to do that. Nowadays, I have a 'Kubrick Buddy'...he knows who he is, who kind of has my back in the Kubrick world and is helping me get these things so I can stay focused on other things. Nice guy. You'd like him.


Anyway, these Reservoir Dogs figures came out in two box sets, labeled 'A' and 'B'. The folks at Medicom don't worry so much about coming up with fancy names for their sets. This is what their old box sets used to look like a lot of the time. Less window, more design with flap.


And in case you were wondering, I actually did pick up the other set, and realized only then that these guys actually have some accessories. So this time around I shot them WITH some stuff in their hands. Though gotta admit, they dropped the ball on Mr. White. He HAS to have two guns, people. Even I know that. But then again, I got to work on some pretty nifty Reservoir Dogs figures myself, and we went accessory CRAZY on that line. It was fun.

But that's a story for another time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Week in my Rear-View Mirror

I can't think of a better way to cap off a very difficult week for me than posting up the rest of the photos that I started to show in last Friday's Blog, photos of the kids and their cheesy 'studio' portraits they get every year at school.

Not unlike this kind of portrait, of yours truly, taken in 1972 when I was a mere 5 years old.


Now, when I say 'cheesy' studio portrait don't get me wrong. I like cheesy studio portraits. There is a place for them in this universe. Are they as cool as some pro photographer shots or as cool as some candids and stuff? No. But they have their sense of nostalgia, and I am nothing if not sentimental as hell.

Here are the rest of Bennett's, taken in early November.




That last one is a class pic, that's the group of 'Age Two-ish' kids that all hang in one of the rooms. It may very be the last group portrait of him with so-called 'normal' children in a classroom setting for a while. At some point he will be transfered to a different facility for more specialized learning.

Now, here's Carter's pics from the same shooting day. Let's not forget about him. He loves hamming it up for the camera. Apologies about the haircut. We actually DO care how the boy looks, but he is more afraid of haircuts than I am of sharks. He screams when you cut his hair, and we have no idea why. So when he gets it done it is done fast with a 'do-the-best-you-can' instruction given to the unfortunate hair cutter at Cookie Cutters. We tip her A LOT.





That last shot is of Carter and his 'class'. Officially, Carter could be in Kindergarten, but because he turned 5 late in the year we decided to let him mature a bit more before putting him into the public school system. He needs it. One day he'll be glad we did it.

Have a good weekend everybody. It's crazy wacky here for tomorrow's Ohio State vs. Michigan game. Seriously I have never seen anything like it. Even if Ohio State lost every game of the season but won this SINGLE game, Buckeye fans would be happy. That is wild.

I'll watch the game. I have to, I live in Columbus.

OUT...

A Beautiful Blank Page

Christmas is over. That sound you hear is my sigh of relief. The tree is not actually down, as the opening image suggests. That was a tem...