Wednesday, January 31, 2007


as with most any job, there are times when work becomes dull and repetitious. it happens to the best of us. sometimes you're just not in the mood. sometimes your mind is elsewhere. many days, i'm alone in the studio working on designs, singing along loudly as my ipod blares whatever. its a pretty relaxed environment, but without much interaction with other people, i resort to creating my own entertainment. little games. personal challenges.

people don't come into the gallery too often. on an average day, we'll get maybe 3 or 4 unexpected visits. stained glass isn't much of an impulse buy item. i can usually be found in the back diligently chipping away on the progress of a project until i hear the bells jingle. in the event that the bells on the front door clang, its my duty to greet whom ever and give them the spiel. usually i open with a friendly, "hello, can i help you or answer any questions for ya?". no matter what, eventually, i dole out my speech.

i go on about how long we've been in this location, what kind of services and products we offer, how we do all custom work, how we are great and nice and yada, yada, yada. its become a mantra. i could write it down in the dark.

some days, to keep it interesting, i'll create a theme to my dealings with customers. one of my favorites is "the roaring twenties" (keep in mind, this is what i do when i'm by myself). since many of the people who come in are of the senior persuasion, i thought i could strike up more interest in them if i spoke their language. at least something close. i googled for depression era slang and printed out a list.

the first time was an experiment. i memorized two words and tried to squeeze them into our exchange anywhere i could. i just wanted to see if anyone would call me out on it, even question me on what i was talking about, but they didn't. no one did. i'd salt and pepper my dialogue and they'd just roll with it. out of necessity, the game evolved in order to survive. i started to see how much slang i could get in. this is harder than one might think. most of the words and phrases revolved around alternative words for men and women so my reservoir wasn't as full as i had originally thought. i really tried to hear the question, "what do you mean?", but it never came. once i came close. a couple asked me if our work was expensive. i responded, "Our pieces aren't orchids, but you'll need a little heavy sugar." the woman looked puzzled and started to speak but her husband cut her off with another question. this past week, i've started to integrate trucker jargon. its easy to ask for someone's "handle" and "20" as they fill out a sheet with their contact information. finding ways to work the words in is tough, but keeping a straight face takes all i've got. if you can't sell it as normal, the proverbial jig is up.

go out, attempt it and see. try saying "Now you're on the trolley!" or "It's the berries!" to a total stranger with complete seriousness. without an explanation. without even smiling.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


a little over a week ago, i drove to warrington to see the film "Children Of Men". since then, i've discovered that its being received with a "love it or hate it" response. personally, i'm on the loved it side, but i understand how people could respond the other way. its a movie set in the future. its the year 2027, 18 years after the last baby was conceived. nearly every government has collapsed except for Britain. its become the destination of immigrants from everywhere and the powers that be have resorted to a fascist, totalitarian, xenophobic position of control. Theo, the lead (Clive Owen), is dragged away from his 9-5 and back into his radical protesting ways by his ex-girlfriend. she's come across an illegal immigrant who's miraculously gestated a fetus to third term. with her pals in the anti-government terrorist group and Theo's help , they plan on sneaking her out of the country via boat to a secret place of scientific study. there's the story in a very tiny nutshell. pistachio sized.

now, why was it hated? i think people saw the trailers and thought, "a future when women can't get pregnant anymore?" this creates questions in minds everywhere. why can't women conceive? how will this be resolved? to answer these burning quandaries, they shell out the price of admission. then, upon seeing the movie, they're left unfulfilled. these questions aren't answered. i think this makes the audience members feels like there are loose ends and no conclusion. while this may be true, its off the point.

the film plays out like how a book is written. most modern movies revolve around a cast and a story. most times, the audience see the plot unfold from an almost omnipotent perspective. books tend to tell one person's story. this movie is the story of Theo. its not about the world. its about the people in it, more specifically, those directly involved with Theo. its about the time that Theo lives in and the events that happen in this particular part of his life.

in proxy to my first point, the movie is about the result, not the cause. the people in Theo's time are wildly desperate. there is no future beyond their own lives. its a race without hope.

also, the directing and cinamatography were money. there are a few scenes in particular that dropped my jaw. there's a huge uncut shot involving a motorcycle chasing a car in reverse. the camera is contained in a car full of passengers yet moves with all the choreography of a manic ballet dancer. all the while, complicated stunts, action and acting take place. its one shot, about 5 or 6 minutes long. its really impressive. there's another similar scene towards the end that's goes for nearly 10 minutes. you'll know it to see it.

of paramount significance to me was the animal references. i think this could have, and probably did, go over a lot of heads. the prerequisite was one needed to have read George Orwell's "Animal Farm", listened to and understood Pink Floyd's "Animals", and noticed the symbolic connections in the film. the Pink Floyd disc is a concept album based off of the Orwell book. early in the film, the album art is recreated in a scene - the famous pig balloon floating over battersea power station. the music and the literature both satirize people in society. pigs are the wealthy who live with ease and power. dogs fight and squabble, attempting to take some of the pigs' power from them. the rest are sheep, followers, the apathetic working class. this recreation of the cover of "Animals" sets you up to look for the references. the pig balloon, after all, floats outside of Theo's rich and powerful cousin's art gallery. whenever terrorists, protesters or police are around, so too, are dogs. the immigrants are herded up, much like sheep. the last quarter of the movie is in a refugee camp where the foreigners are imprisoned. sure enough, herds of sheep are roaming everywhere. i thought this was genius. and yet, i hadn't seen this pointed out in a single review i read.

Monday, January 29, 2007


"rhyming words on sinking suns"

feet leave the maps of people's course
the land will quick forget
seas beat down like a frothing horse
carrying off the debt

stallions play with an orb of fire
they flicker blue to red
skies will mirror the earth's desire
before they go to bed

gusts of grit and white birds in drift
drown sound in static noise
the gray of later hours shift
a race against horse toys

and in one burst of cross hatched light
the flares are pulled below
stars always sink without a fight
but not without a show

Friday, January 26, 2007


hip, hip hooray for modern science!

the brainiacs have mapped out the human genome. we now have a fully detailed blueprint of the double helix that is homo-sapien. they are currently utilizing this information to get to the root of diseases, to get to the base of what make us what we are, and that's swell. really, kudos to them. still, i'd like to think that somewhere there is an outcast group of genetic engineers working on splicing genes from animals into humans. its 'how to make superheros 101', people. spider man, for instance, was nothing more than a spider-human cross breed. aqua man swam with the fishes, chatted with them even. hawk get the point. so this post is for them.

i've got some ideas i'd like to share.

1. Wings - eagle wings, bat wings, dragon fly wings. whatever. i'm not picky. if it results in me being able to stay in midair for as long as i want, i'm cool with it.

2. Gills - i'll admit, they may be a bit unsightly, but it's a sacrifice i'd be willing to make. the oceans cover most of our planet and we still don't know a whole lot about them. biologists discover new animals in the sea all the time. plus, we haven't had a worthy and notable explorer since Magellan. it wouldn't be so much for me, more for the sake of humanity.

3. Chameleon Skin - i'm sick and tired of running from predators.

4. Super Vision - hawks and eagles would make for terrific donors. i have a friend who i'm nearly certain will soon discover she can see microwaves. i, too, would like this ability. hummingbirds can see a broader range of the visible spectrum, including ultraviolet. i'm not sure how i could take advantage of it yet. let me worry about that afterward.

5. Shark Teeth - again, maybe not that attractive a feature, but it would be nice to never need a steak knife again, or really any cutting tools at all. dentist visits would be a thing of the past. cavity? chipped tooth? yank that sucker out! there's 20 more behind waiting to bite stuff.

6. Ultrasound Skills - bats, dolphins and whales use it like radar to map their surroundings in a radius of up to hundreds of miles. you could "see" around solid objects. vision is far too limited these days. i feel i need something more, like sonar.

7. Cheetah Legs - i could sell my car and save tons of loot on gas if i could just run 70 m.p.h. in addition, we wouldn't have to endure any more geico advertisements.

8. Ant Strength - they can lift ten times their own body weight. that means a 200 lb. man could lift a ton with ease. we could hammer nails with our fists. no jar would ever be tough to open. sports would be far more interesting. i could throw out all my nut crackers, or i would if i had any.

9. Octopus Flexibility - i've seen an octopus the size of a watermelon get through a hole the size of a baseball. with this sort of contortion, people would be fighting for the middle spot in the backseat, making shotgun all the more easier for me to secure.

10. Monkey Tail - i think its slender enough to tuck away for a day at the office, and then break out at night for some tree swinging fun. i'd use mine all the time. it'd be like having a third arm. also, this would crank up my balance points big time.

i'm available sundays for medical testing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. everyone knows the name. i'm almost certain everyone has read at least one of his 44 books. his imaginative illustrations and whimsical rhymes danced in all our eyes at some point in our formative years. i've never lost my appreciation for his work, but it wasn't until i reached adulthood that i really began to understand the genius of this man.

his earlier books were definitely more whimsical and generally fantastic. aimed towards younger children. first time readers. imagination building tales of crazy worlds full of crazy creatures doing crazy things. as his career progressed, his messages developed. he began implanting morals into his stories. many of his latter books revolved around deeper, satirical, and/or rhetorical messages. here, in two of many possible examples, in lies his brilliance.

"The Lorax" is an account being retold by the Once-ler to a small boy. his story explains how he discovered the monetary potential of the truffala tree and how he then began concocting bigger and better ways to mass produce them. all the while, a small furry creature, the Lorax, urged him to stop.
he spoke for the trees.
it wasn't until nothing was left but a barren plain of stumps and pollution did the Once-ler realize the error of his ways. As he finishes his retelling, he tosses a truffala tree seed to the boy with the last written word, "unless?". hope, and this all made sense in my little, growing brain without becoming preachy. i somehow understood the dangers of greed. short-sighted capitalism. the problems of pollution and environmental destruction. i couldn't put it into those words, but i understood it.

"The Butter Battle Book", still one of my favorites shearly for the devastation it suggests in children's literature, was published in the midst of the cold war. in this world, two neighboring towns, the Zooks and the Yooks, have grown to despise each other over a trivial indifference. one side insists that bread should be buttered on the top. the others say the bottom. this dispute has led to a wall being built to keep each other out, ala the berlin wall. this divide is guarded on either side. one day, a guard shows up with a stick. this provokes the sentinel on the other side to get a bigger weapon. quickly, this escalates into an arms race, similar to what was happening between russia and america. a bigger stick to a sling shot to a gun to a canon to an army. the climax finds both guards standing on the wall, holding a tiny but extremely destructive bomb over the edge with a question. "who's going to drop it?" "be patient...we will see." the end. neither has defense. i was left to think how things count mount so quickly to such chaos. again, a mature topic, here being the threat of nuclear holocaust and the arms race, was made evident to a small boy. i was too young to fully grasp the historic context, but i saw the problem and how it arose. there is no benefit of blind hatred. the importance of acceptance and compromise, peace and understanding, were all made clear. he just made things click.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


until moving to Philadelphia to go to college, i knew of only three varieties of muffins. bran muffins, corn muffins and blueberry muffins. shortly after relocating to the big city, i noticed an enormous growth in the muffin aisle of the supermarket. suddenly, there's banana nut, there's chocolate chip, there's double chocolate, there's cranberry orange, there's cinnamon streusel. "what's a steusel?" thought i (probably). just about anything you could think of now came in muffin form. cranberry and banana had always been homemade breads in my book, so seeing these wasn't too surprising, but double chocolate was a birthday cake. chocolate chips came inside cookies.

i grew up in a simple place in what seemed like simpler times. the town always seemed a step behind. i spent the first 18 years of my life in the same town, in the same house even, so i thought to myself that maybe this next generation of baked goods didn't just pop up. its more than possible that these had been around and were forcibly kept out of town by the conservative locals fearing muffin change. i thought that maybe my ability to point out an observation on this matter was completely out of line.

to play it safe, i looked "muffins" up on wikipedia (its a pretty extensive write up, actually. who knew?). as it so happens, sometime in the 1980's, as gourmet coffee shops like Starbuck's and other specialty food stores started gaining popularity, so too did the exciting new muffins they offered. they blew the minds of muffin eaters everywhere.

let it be known that given all options, i'll take a chocolate chip muffin 9 times out of 10. they are, for lack of a better word, awesome. i think this is so because i also love cupcakes. muffins have evolved, my friends, into icing-less cupcakes. this can quickly become a very slippery slope. we, as a nation, seem to have accepted this change and these new additions without balking. i've never heard anyone remark on this matter before which leads me to believe that appointing the title of "muffin" to any cakey-bread in a mushroom shape is fine.

so here's my plan: i'm going to start making butter cakes in rectangular pans, then slice them into half inch slabs, then bag those bad boys up. i'll sell them as "Uncle Tyler's Sweet Sandwich Bread". if a muffin goes for about $2.00 a pop, i think i could reasonably charge $10.00 a loaf.

pre-orders are currently being taken by email only.
visa & mastercard accepted.
(free insulin shot with an order of 10 or more!)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


i've decided to bypass what i was originally planning on writing for today's bit of "knowledge dropped". two albums (yeah, i still call them albums. so?) that i have been eagerly anticipating were released into the wild today. the second full length album by Menomena entitled "Friend & Foe" and the debut of the british super-group The Good, The Bad & The Queen, which is self-titled.

i opted out of this line of action due to a pattern i've noticed in myself when i get eager to discuss something. i'll be the first to tell you exactly what i thought of anything if you care enough to ask. normally, i'm just excited to dole out an opinion. i'm aware that it may not be the best idea i've had, but i think ego helps to spit the words past my teeth. the flaw is the haste i make. allow me to elaborate.

let's say i go to a movie with some friends. immediately upon leaving the multisupercineplex, the question invariably comes up, "what did ya think?". i've noticed most people will reply as if the question was, "did ya like it?", when it clearly was not. now you've got to place your vote on the spot and give some reason. let's say i throw out a "ehhh, it was okay. it seemed too long. they should have cut a lot of the extraneous, meandering shots." then, two days later, as i stir about a cup of sugar into my morning caffeine fix, it dawns on me like an atomic blast that the meandering camera shots weren't pointless. maybe they were showing some recurring symbol that always seemed to pop up if you paid attention. or maybe it was actually the perspective of a character and i hadn't made the connection. maybe it was a million, billion things. now i've totally changed my mind on the matter. my "ehhh" turned into a "yeah" but i feel as if i can't take it back. i've dropped the gavel and everyone heard the verdict. i'm often faced with this dilemma when someone lends me a cd because they think i'd dig it, then calls to see what i thought of it before i've had the chance to really pay attention to it. i feel i have to say something, otherwise i look like the guy that doesn't appreciate a kind gesture.

so i'm hesitating.

i'm going to listen the pants off these two albums and get back to you with the skinny. i promise. i just want to give it some room to breathe.

Monday, January 22, 2007


its one of the great mysteries of the universe.
when one encounters a banana runt in the otherwise delicious fruity kaleidoscope of runt flavors, the typical response is to move on. i've known few people who enjoyed the phony banana candy, but i've never encountered anyone who claimed them as their favorite. yet still, the runt remains. willy wonka, the maker of this and a number of other sugary confections, obviously sees something i don't. possibly yellow dye is the cheapest. maybe it requires the least amount of flavoring. either way, i think its time to cut the losses and move on. maybe grape is ready for its time to shine. almost everyone likes pineapple. that would keep with the tropical element banana brought to the table. or mango for that matter. mango is highly underrated. i'd even be willing to accept lemon.

that's a whole other animal.

lemon spoils a mouthful of mike & ike's. whenever i buy a pack of starbursts, i count the ratio of flavors. weird? sure, but i've discovered that lemon out numbers any other single flavor in the original assortment. in the rare case that its not dominant, orange (the second worst) takes the prize. ask anyone what their favorite starburst flavor is. the vast majority will tell you either strawberry or cherry. on more than one occasion, i've fought for the last cherry. lemon, at least in the taffy world, needs a replacement. maybe i'll start a petition. state the proposal from a grass roots level. from a marketing standpoint alone, i would think that cutting back on the lemons and cranking production up on the cherry and strawberry would sell more candy. aren't candy makers trying to turn a profit like the rest of us? they could try a little harder.

i was in the airport recently and while waiting for the boarding call of my flight, i perused the candy counter of a nearby news stand. to my joy, i noticed they carried runts. in the movie theater sized jumbo box no less. i made the transaction and scurried off to my gate.

it wasn't until i was settled on the plane that i pulled the box from my pocket. bold neon letters in the top corner exclaimed "New Flavors!" can it be? i tore the box open and sifted through a fistful to see what was added and what was discontinued. sadly, they've given lime the boot, and seemingly replaced it with the an even more sour watermelon. also, they've tacked on blue raspberry (which was an unexpected delight). banana is still in abundance.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


rant. rave. regurgitate. repeat.

isn't that's the point of it all.
just to get the inner monologue out of our skulls into the visceral existence we live in. everyone wants a voice. we need to add weight to our thoughts. in descibing what makes my gears spin round, perhaps i can gain a new perspective because nothing is ever black and white. there is no yes or no option.
in reading this hogwash, maybe you'll gain insight into some aspect of your own world, maybe you'll take a chance on something different, maybe discover something that drifted past you unnoticed. or maybe not.
i whole-heartedly encourage response. everything is open for discussion and debate. your two cents is always legal tender.

and so it begins...