Continuing with the list of Random Things I'm Thankful For in 2010, or what I like to call LOFTY 2010, until someone else blows me away with something better. These aren't in any order as far as importance, I just wrote them as they came to me.
Now...on with the thanksgivingfulness...
#06 - Thanks...For The Mammaries
Of COURSE you knew I was going to go there eventually, I figured I'd get it out of the way early, that way you wouldn't always be wondering when I'd be dropping in a reference to the Golden Winnebagos. And let's face it guys...when we feel down, nothing perks us up better than a peek at nature's bounty...so to speak. It's a sad truth...but it is a Truth nonetheless.
At least give me some credit...for visuals instead of a photo I chose a piece of art.
And what a great piece of art it is. I have a print of this super awesome painting of Catwoman by Adam Hughes, signed by the man himself. Mr. Hughes is known for his comic book artwork of ze wimmens, and his work has made many an appearance not only in the header above but in the text of Blogzilly, and for that, we should ALL be truly thankful.
#07 - Thanks for Priceless Pieces of Original Art
Like this one, not sketched by the aforementioned Adam Hughes, but by ANOTHER giant in the comic-book world, Alex Ross.
Note the signature.
Yup...that says MY name in there, as Mr. Ross signed this original sketch of Super Grover and sent it to me as a gift. It was a thank you at the end of a project I had the good fortune of working on with Alex Ross, when he painted the cover of a box for a Super Grover action figure I designed and did the product development for while working at Palisades Toys.
The painting is gorgeous. Beautiful. Almost bought it. Came close. Lost out. He knew I was bummed. But when this arrived in the mail? I gotta tell you...priceless moment.
#08 - Thanks for All Those Other Muppets, Too
Before the Sesame Street figure was even a blip on the radar, we were hip deep in Muppets at Palisades Toys. We made 9 series of figures, a bunch of playsets, some big chunky figures and some mini figures. It was one of the highlights of my career, creatively.
And there were so MANY mini-highlights within the entire experience, not just limited to the Muppets line itself. Though I could write a book about just THAT line and all the amazing things that came from it. professionally and personally.
One such highlight? Creating a figure of the legend himself...Jim Henson, and a memory that accompanies it. While attending the ceremony that unveiled the statue of Jim Henson that was erected at the University of Maryland, I was smoking a cigarette with Brian Henson and chit-chatting.
The conversation was going so well, we double-dipped. For you non-smokers (well US non-smokers, I quit two years ago) that means we smoked two ciggies back-to-back. We talked about all kinds of things, about why I thought Phil Van Neuter worked so well as a Muppet (and never got the recognition he deserved over, say, Pepe) and he was so jazzed at how hard we were trying to actually MAKE a Sal Manilla.
He was also completely overjoyed about the Jim Henson as a Muppet figure.
As the conversation was winding down, he crushed his cigarette under his heel and said in a very casual way something that I don't think he even thought twice about, but something I have never forgotten. As we walked back in to the reception he said 'I think my Dad would have really liked what you've done.'
I'll definitely take that one with me.
#09 - Thanks for Hundreds of OTHER Memories...Just Like That One
Nobody likes getting laid off. And in early 2000, shortly after having MET Jennifer in that Meijer parking lot, getting laid off from ReSaurus was no way to kick off the Spring. The job search began, and I saw a website for a company called Palisades located in Baltimore, Maryland...gasp...my 'hometown'.
I drove the 6.5 hours for the interview wearing a full suit and tie and walked into the building you see in the photograph, the old Oella Mill, where the old offices were. Everyone else was in shorts and T-Shirts. Oops. Mike Horn got a kick out of it, and I could tell right away he and the rest of them all had a sense of humor.
It was a small, tight-knit group...more like a family than a workplace. A family I was adopted into, and one which, over the next five years, remains the best career experience I have ever had and one that I am still very much thankful for.
I don't know what my future holds...will I wind up in a different career altogether? I can't really say for sure. But those Palisades Days, as I like to call them...man they were some of the very, very best.
#10 - Thanks for the Reunion Tour, Even Though Nobody Showed Up
In 2008, Mike Horn, that very same president of Palisades, which had closed up shop in 2005 for various reasons, most of which were due to the very shitty marketplace for the types of action figures and collectibles we'd been making, reached out with a proposition to work together again on a line of NFL products.
The company, to be called The MVP Collection, would feature NFL Statues and Busts, and essentially I would do what I did at Palisades...do the Product Development side of things.
The situation, to begin in 2009, was perfect for me, since at the time Bennett was having daily seizures, we didn't know what the hell was happening, but I could work from home as the job did not require me to be in an office environment full-time.
In the end, there were a number of setbacks, most of which would take too long to explain in brief here, but suffice it to say that MVP didn't work out the way any of us hoped it would, and it's in the rear-view mirror for me now.
But I'm grateful for the opportunity to have worked on some NFL products, and it was great to have some of the band back together, if only for a little while. Reminded me a little of the old days. Yeah it wasn't exactly the same, but it was a nice rhythm to have, it was great to have regular contact with many of my peeps again, if only for a little while.
And the stuff LOOKED terrific! ;)