I drew this girl for Austin Madison‘s Chades (Character Design) Challenge LXV.  I sketched her and her furry mount with Procreate on the iPad.  Still experimenting with all of the tools, but thought I’d throw it out there.   Great way to share fresh ideas.  Thanks, Austin!

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Becoming A Real Boy

PinocchioI have been thinking about Pinocchio.  Yes, the wooden person.

I have been thinking about other people, family, community, peoples’ needs, others with whom I am apparently “designed” to connect.  I have been thinking that maybe these things are inescapable if I am to become a “real boy.”

But honestly, it seems like almost everything that I want drives me away from other people.  A little peace and quiet, some privacy, time to paint, or read or write, or to go for a walk in the woods.  I don’t really want other people to bother me, to start talking to me, to impose their thoughts upon my quiet moments.  I watched a documentary recently about an old guy who loved living alone up in Alaska, keeping himself busy building a log cabin, hunting, fishing, gardening, and avoiding getting consumed by grizzlies.  It looked good.  Simple.  A little scary, but simple.

Our neighbor is putting up a fence around her yard, and I get that.  She wants to provide a safe place for her little dog to run about, and she hates us, because I sunbathe in the nude*.  So I got to thinking about how nice it might be to hem in my own space, close the gate, and keep the weirdies from passing judgment on my personal mess.  But I guess I surprised myself when my first reaction to her fence was, “Oh no.  We won’t be able to share the big backyard space like we used to.”

I’m conflicted.  My brain seems to think life would be a whole lot easier if I kept people from infiltrating my personal perimeter.  Fewer fights, fewer distractions when I have 9 things to do, minimal interactions about meaningless crap.  But my heart, somewhere down deep in there, seems to squeak out, “Hey, where is everybody?”

I really do love some other people.  There is nothing like sitting around a table drinking a bit of wine, laughing and telling embarrassing stories.  And most recently, when I’ve gone fishing around the corner at the Little Black Poison Ivy Pond, I have thought about how much more fun it is when someone else shares the moment.  Not even just a fish-catching moment –  ANY moment.

So I think I am starting to accept the idea that I may be “wired” to have relationships with other people; maybe God designed it that way.  And that maybe the independence I want isn’t always what I need – or even what the people around me need.  I do live in a family after all.  And they drive me nuts.  A lot.  But the other day I had to drop my daughter off at her soccer game.  She was only going to be gone a couple of hours, but I missed her as soon as I said good-bye.  And my son made me laugh so hard the other night I almost peed in my pants.

Emotions, hmph.

Some friends were over here last night, and we started talking about what it means to be honest with each other.  Among the laughter, we talked about our fears and grudges and insecurities.  I found myself wishing it were simpler.  But people are complicated.  Including me.  I guess it’s a little dangerous to be a real boy.

We all concluded, though, that sometimes just knowing that someone understands that they drive you crazy is enough to continue the friendship.

*No, I don’t.  Ew.

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Ferrari. Meh.

Oh no.  I never thought it would happen to them.  I mean, they have always been, like, the beacon.  The ones to emulate, the ones to imitate.  But I think they’re being duped.  Yes, Ferrari.

I look at cars all the time.  You know that.  I’ve told you before – I love cars.  I love to watch them move and race and even just sit there.  I am inspired by beautiful automobiles, moved by what amount to mobile and practical sculptures.  And I truly feel both sadness and anger when a company with the potential to create moving art wastes immeasurable time and money on what ends up looking like a giant Tylenol.

Sometimes when we’re out shopping or something, my wife will backhand me across the chest and tell me to quit staring at the girl in the Corvette.  Without really noticing the rebuke, I tell her that I really prefer the newer model to the old one, and I inevitably receive another whack.  It’s sometimes difficult to convince her I really was looking at the car, and that I think that the Corvette’s most recent styling changes were a monumental improvement.

One of the reasons I like the styling of the newest Corvette is that it has obviously been inspired by some of Ferrari’s most gorgeous cars.  But in recent years, Ferrari cars have suffered from some sort of homogenizing agent.  Everything the company has produced since 1992, save a couple examples, has been… dare I say it?  Blah.

OK, don’t get me wrong.  The company has not been turning out Tauruses.  Every car they have sold has been more beautifully created than almost every other car on the planet.  But really striking designs from the Italian maker over the last 20 years have been exceptions to the rule.  And the recipe seems to be: red sports car, basically bullet-shaped, with some subtle curves and a dash of air intakes.

Seriously, they’re all like that: the 1992 456 GT, all of the 348s and 355s from the 90s, the late 90s 550 (I seriously think the 550 Barchetta was Ferrari’s attempt to copy the Corvette – what?!).  The 456M from 1998 (I think “M” stands for “Mom”), the 2003 Challenge Stradale, all of the F430s (six years of the same shape!), OMG – the 2007 Sessanta (I think this is Italian for “nap”), then the SuperAmerica (we have enough dull cars – don’t pull us into this mess), and the plain ugly mistake of the new California.  What the hell’s been going on ??  Are all the good designers taking a Sessanta?

Now, I would be remiss to omit four lovely models: the F50, the 360 Modena with its unique vibe, the 2002 Enzo flagship and it’s insane bat-sibling the FXX, and the 458 Italia, which has some striking features (like bursting into flames, although that is apparently being resolved).

Four.  That’s the number of distinguishable, inspired Ferrari cars from the last 18 years.  Eighteen years!  That’s too long, especially considering that four is also the number of bizarre auto-styling mistakes the company has produced in its entire 60+ year history prior to 1992.  Hideous blobs include the shoebox-inspired 1973 400, all of the the (sorry, they are not exciting) 365 Daytonas no matter what Richard Hammond says, anything with Mondial in its name, and the stunted and deformed 1987 408 4RM).

Seriously, I used to know the name of every car on the street.  Largely because I could tell them apart.  Now I can’t.  They are over-engineered bars of soap stuffed with computers.  I sort of expect that from Toyota and Nissan.  Even Audi and BMW.  Boring, number-crunching people shall design boring computer-stuffed automobiles.  I can deal with ignoring cars that blend in with the cement blocks of the buildings to which they’re designed (term used loosely) to transport the humans.

But please, Ferrari, reach deep and and go all Hot Wheels like you did in the sixties, before we all go business casual and order beige Camrys.  Or Altimas.  Or Accords.  Or A8s.

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I Like Miley. Bite Me.

I’m sort of sorry. I know a lot of people aren’t going to respect me for saying this, and I guess I still question myself a little, but I can’t help it. I like Miley Cyrus.

Well, her music, anyway. I don’t like watching her on TV. My daughter (10) falls perfectly into the Hannah Montana demographic, and regularly laughs out loud at the show. And though she won’t wear HM clothes to school anymore, she does get a kick out of the slapstick. We watch iCarly together because the writing and acting are good (thank you, Dan Schneider), and because Jerry Trainor is weird and hilarious.

Anyway, Miley – I was playing guitar with some friends a few weekends ago, and I brought up how I like Miley’s voice and the production of the songs in general, and as I expected, I got some instant feedback. I tend to bring it up when the conversation gets a little dull. You should have seen the looks of disgust. It was amazing how many of my musician friends had just thrown the young pop sensation on the pile with all the other sticky-sweet, gummy-bear-smellin’, Disney-fied singers like whats-his-face and Ashley Tisdale an the Jonases, and assumed she was the next (and hopefully last) Hillary Duff.

Well, I maintain that she really isn’t. She’s an incredibly talented (off-screen) performer, with a voice every bit as unique as Reba McEntire’s, she rarely sings out of tune during concerts, she writes a lot of her own songs (the teen-creepy lyrics don’t interest me at all), and somehow comes up with really interesting melodies. As a song-writer, I can’t help but get some good ideas from her tunes. My wife loves “The Climb,” by the way. There’s a reason for that. It ain’t bad, y’all.

OK, OK. It’s all subjective, I know. You don’t have to like (selected) Miley Cyrus music just because I do. One thing I did learn in college is that art moves individuals at different times. I just don’t want people to assume that just because something is commercial, it isn’t artful. Or that every little singer out there can act, too.

Love her, hate her, I don’t care. Just don’t throw the baby Diva out with her billion-dollar bathwater. If she doesn’t Britney this thing, she could be around for a long time.

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It’s A Wall-E World

our future

Our Future

I sat down with a friend yesterday morning in a very weird Starbugs. There was a bank next door, and apparently the two businesses have established some sort of symbiotic relationship whereby you can buy your coffee and then go sit inside the bank at any one of the 10 or so tables, and drink it while looking at posters of very happy home owners truly enjoying their new mortgage.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to tell you about. What I wanted to say was, after accessing my line of credit to buy a Grande Half-Caff Americano with room, my friend and I found a place to sit in the StarBank®, and we were talking about FaceBook. Like it was a good thing. To me, FaceBook isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that whenever I go there, it reminds me of how easy it is, in our super-busy, emotionally pubescent culture to isolate ourselves from each other. So, FB’s not bad, it’s just sad. I think that’s why it’s blue. Plus, I get stuck in there.

My 14 year-old son was running off of a rain-soaked soccer field yesterday and got his shoe stuck in some really thick mud. When he finally pulled his foot out, the shoe didn’t come with it. It was so gooey and hilarious that my wife took a picture. That’s exactly what happens to me with FaceBook. I’ll be trying to get somewhere (like, I don’t know, bed, or something), thinking I’ll check in to see if anyone from Middle School still remembers (loves) me, and I get hopelessly waylaid for two hours, staring at the screen until my eyes water. So I’ve resolved to open the BlueDoor only about 3 times a month. Or when I have a gig.

So I said something about that to my friend yesterday morning at the BankBucks®, and that we were all destined to become the chubby, hovering, atrophied screen-starers of Wall-E, (Dude, have you seen the new thing from Honda that scoots you around?? This is getting nuts!!) and he said he disagreed. He said he thought that could happen, but that, if your shoe doesn’t get stuck, FaceBook has been a remarkable way to truly connect with people, people with whom we would’ve completely lost touch if left to traditional means of communication. He said it’s up to him (us, me) to take the next step and call that person whose status says they just got back from a funeral and are exhausted. Or to meet with an old friend from Middle School who’s coming through town.

So, apparently it can actually be used to connect real people in real ways, provided we really care to know each other.  Weird, huh? Now, if we can just find a way to attach an iPad to that Honda thing…

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…they want to see you sneeze.

I was talking with Erik Deckers today about social networking and communication.  The guy’s a complete guru, and was apparently blogging years before someone named “Blog” invented the wheel.  Anyway, a self-proclaimed tight-wad, Erik suggested I open a free WordPress account.  So here I am.

Anyway, as we drank caffeine and (I) talked, we arrived at the subject of stories.  People’s stories.  Not just their ideas, but the honest expression of their emotions, passions, failures and lessons.  People have lots of thoughts about lots of things, and the blogging world has given lots of them lots of anonymity as they sling their thoughts around.  Wikipedia.  But that’s not what I want.  I don’t think that’s what any of us wants.  I want to know who people really are.  The next time you watch TV, make a mental note of how many commercials have a voyeuristic approach.  Not in the creepy sense, but in a way that suggests that if you sneak up on Tina the Soccer-Mom’s deck, and look through the glass door, you’ll see what she really thinks about the Swiffer Wet-Jet.

It’s the reason that even though I have every album ever produced by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, I would LOVE to go see them in person.  I’ve even had dreams where I’m playing guitar with them at a smoky gig in the Bahamas.  (Sorry, too much information?  Ha!  Got you!)  Anyway, you get the point: I don’t just want to hear the music or read the liner notes.  I want to be there (I haven’t always, it has taken a long time for me to realize other people exist.  More on that later).

To be fair, hearing what people think gives clues to who they really are (unless the person’s a complete sociopath), so the sharing of thoughts and ideas and facts is perfectly okay.  Not to mention that most people are completely different in social situations.  But the point is summed up by a wise man who said, “You don’t know a person ’til you know their story.”  So, tell us the facts.  Just wrap them up in what you really care about.

So, it’s true – nobody cares what you think…   until they know your story.  Or unless they hear it in the context of what is meaningful to you.  It was fun for me to share stories with a new friend today over coffee, and this blog is hereby dedicated to the mission of story-telling.

Here’s a hatch to my right brain if you’re interested: littlelordmusic.com

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