Sunday, December 21, 2008

no, earlier

As much as I would like to feature one of my recent art projects on Cards in the Attic, I just couldn’t bring myself to post something on that blog that has nothing to do with either baseball or trading cards. I considered trying to justify the entry by discussing that one of the main reasons I was eager to work on this project is that I consider it a step forward in the direction of creating an opportunity where I will get to design trading cards to be published by a professional sports team. At any rate, it is probably a more appropriate time to dust off the old Blog Kabin Fever login and add some long overdue content.

I started picking up a little freelance graphic work with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, our local semipro basketball team, at the tail end of this past summer when I was already splitting my time finishing up the Isotopes season and getting cranked up working in the video department at the racetrack. A fistful of print ads and a brochure announcing tryouts for the team’s dance squad later, and I found myself designing the official 2008-2009 Storm Chasers calendar. It was a fun project.

I did not shoot the photos of the dancers, but rather utilized those provided by Kim Jew Photography. I didn’t have any sort of calendar layout software, so I simply did the work in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

The 14-month calendar features 17 different dancers, a 12”x18” team centerfold, some advertising and the basketball schedule, seating chart and ticket sales information. The calendars include date-specific reminders for Thunderbirds home games as you can see for yourself in this peek ahead to January 2009…

These things are selling for ten bucks each at Albuquerque Thunderbirds games, various fundraisers and Storm Chasers public appearances. I do not believe they are available on the Thunderbirds website, so let me know if you need one or more of these for your home or office wall- or as a gift for your favorite mechanic, and I’ll see what I can do. You shouldn’t sweat it if you don’t pick one up before the start of the New Year since they will work again for the year 2015 (as well as 2026). By that I mean that the days will all line up correctly, but there may be slight shifting of a holiday or two. The dancers’ birthdays will still fall on those dates in 2015, but they will not have aged a full six years (according to Mayan calculations and theorems).

The bottom line is that the client was pleased with the product, I like the final result, and it provides me with an interesting addition to my portfolio of commercial and other artwork. Well, a couple of quick glances and a double-take at my calendar revealed that Krismas is only a few days away, and blogging isn’t going to help get the tree decorated.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

where's the baseball?

A bit of a programming change to note for those readers who swing by here to check out my baseball-related musings…

Although I may include some stuff about baseball here from time to time, I expect that the majority of that sort of content will instead be funneled through the blog created in support of the new trading card business I have partnered into called Aardvark Trading Co.

Be sure to add “Cards in the Attic” to your RSS reader in order to keep up to date on all my published writings.

Monday, February 04, 2008

when in n'walins

Yes, I will gladly pay you next Fat Tuesday for a crawdaddy today. Happy Mardi Gras to those still sober enough to read. Krej skjsl pqki yb wjsg to the rest of you. (Either way, don't forget to click on the image!)

I must say that the reactions to my komix so far have ranged from gentle recommendations that I find some sort of day job to utter confusion. I received the following telegram after I published my last offering “Used Car Salesmen.”

“Dear Kris, STOP

Please cancel my subscription to your blog. STOP

You may keep the change. STOP

Signed, Anonymous. STOP”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

raise high the roof beam, kristopher

(Alternate working title for this entry was “papa got a brand new shop-vac filter.”)

Those of you who enjoyed reading about my bathroom renovation project during the autumn of 2006 may be in for a real treat as I turn my eyes toward our unfinished attic. My goal is to determine the feasibility of converting it into a functional living space that would serve as a bedroom.

The first order of business is to clean up some 102 years worth of dust and to create strong, well-defined walking paths to help prevent anyone (say a contractor or myself) from crashing through the non-existent “floor” during subsequent inspections. Tomorrow I need to hang some brightly colored flagging tape in the areas right before where I’ve been crashing head first into the rafters while concentrating on proper feet placement.

As it currently stands, the only access to the original attic is through a small hole cut into the roof. That portion of the roof was encapsulated within an addition that I believe dates to the 1920s. I can access that portion of the attic through a tiny trap door in the ceiling of our diner room. Two smaller attic areas resulting from later additions (40s and 50s?) are also present within the space. It is a real mishmash of rooflines, construction debris, and a jungle of old and new electrical wiring that would have made Nikola Tesla’s hair stand on end. The space probably should be cleaned up no matter what in order to help prevent termites from ever feeling welcome. Clearly too low for comfortable living spaces, those pockets still could provide an amazing amount of storage.

Not wanting to climb over the ductwork for our swamp cooler to access the main attic area, I set about creating a new “doorway” by removing the old wood shingles from the original roof, and cutting away sections of spaced sheathing between two rafters. It is still a tight squeeze, but if you can fit through the trap door in the ceiling, this is a slice of cake. To give you an idea of the size of the trap door, it is too small for my 10-gallon shop-vac to fit through. Luckily, I was able to remove the single window on the front of the house and pull the shop-vac up and through (in pieces).

It is very interesting how easily the old wooden shingles crumble in my hands. It is even more frightening to see how quickly they burn. Another great reason to get them out of the attic!

At first glance, and not knowing anything about the process, I estimate that there is enough space up there to at least proceed with the process. There are also a few issues that could possibly be addressed by a well-planned remodel. For instance, at some point in time, it appears that a large tree (I assume one of those hideous Chinese Elms that dot the neighborhood) crashed into the roof and damaged a couple of rafters. Possibly, that area would be a good choice for the location of a dormer. Quite possibly, having the ability to show existing damage that should be repaired would go provide a good starting point when explaining any proposed project to the historic buildings commission. I’m quite sure that they would have to approve the addition of something such as a dormer or even a skylight.

I know they sometimes offer tax credits to refurbishing historic structures, but I’m not sure if that includes just repairing a roof. Obviously that is something else to check into before making any decisions.

Watch for more exciting updates in the near future!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

lettie's memory book

My “Lettie Mize Research Project” led me down a path this week that I had not anticipated traveling. I spent several hours Monday afternoon in the historic records office at the Monte Vista Christian Church reading through old documents and chatting with a very nice woman connected to the church’s history committee. I really wasn’t sure what sort of additional information I would gather from that source, but given that Lettie and Isaac Mize were both charter members of the church having split from Albuquerque’s Broadway Christian Church in 1931, I figured it was worth a shot. As interesting as the details behind that split are, they are beyond the scope of my original research goals- to locate photographs of Lettie and her family, preferably photos taken in the house or in the yard. But if you really want to hear the details, ask me sometime over a beer.

One of the items I began thumbing through at the church was this several-inch-thick red scrapbook that was filled with newspaper clippings, photos, copies of mimeographed weekly church bulletins, hand written notes and various other ephemera entitled “The Book of Remembrance.” As it turns out, Lettie was a bit of a history buff, and it appears that she would have wholeheartedly approved of my project. The book was one of her pet projects.

It was very interesting to see all the stuff that Lettie and Isaac were involved with in the church. However, it made me wonder if all those commitments left them with enough free time to follow baseball. Probably not. It is beginning to look like my only hope of ever finding OLD baseball cards squirreled away in the house is if their son Wallace chose to rebel and run off to the ballpark instead of attending church. I KNOW he played marbles.

Although I generally attempt to avoid stealing ideas and words from other people, I can’t help but include a portion of text that was prepared by Lettie, and delivered to the congregation during a ceremonial dedication of “The Book of Remembrance” on June 25, 1953. While you are reading that, I will be deciding whether I should record the names of all the committees Lettie served on during her 41 years with the church, so take the easy route and only list the ones she wasn’t involved with.

“But memory is an individual thing. Your memories are different from mine. We would not all agree on the important events that have taken place in our congregation.

Even if men were absolutely authentic and infallible, we don’t live in this world forever. While we are here, we are helping to make history. But no one will ever know about it unless it is recorded for future generations to read.

Someone has said, “One who knows nothing about his ancestry cares little about his posterity.”
(See, even Lettie saw fit to using someone else’s words once in a while!) So we might say one who knows nothing of the past takes little interest in moulding the future.

We are indebted to the past. What we are today, we owe largely to the generations that have gone before. What we do today is the past history of tomorrow.

All this is true with families, so it is true with nations and congregations. Someone laid the foundation, others built thereon, and still others added to what they found.
(I wonder if she wrote this stuff in the same room of the house that now serves as blog kabin central.)

In order to keep the record straight and that your account and my account may not conflict, we need a place in which to record important events as they take place so that our great, great grandchildren can say, “Look, ‘The History of Monte Vista’ says”----

The planning and recording for the beginning of the book will take time. Old records will have to be found and verified. There will have to be consultations with members who were “witnesses” from the beginnings.”

There is another full page of text that spells out what sorts of information would be recorded in the book, including photostatic copies of signatures of charter members; photos and details of ministers; lists of memorial gifts and donors; copies of programs of historical value; lists of names of all young people in the Armed Forces during World War II; and much more.

Lettie’s text concluded after describing the scene of how “The Book of Remembrance” would be paraded out into the congregation after she completed her oration. During the singing of the hymn “Follow in Their Train,” the book was to be carried down the aisle by a child on top of a white pillow adorned with purple streamers. After that, a prayer was offered to ask that the book be revered as the years pass, and serve as an “example and inspiration to each succeeding generation.”

It really is a neat piece of local history. Unfortunately, it seems that I am one of the few people who has shown much interest in the document for quite some time. I wouldn’t classify the document as “dusty,” but it was clear that the book hadn’t received all the attention it had become accustomed to once Lettie retired her scissors and rubber cement in the late 60s.

Ultimately, I was quite pleased with the new source of information, as I was able to finally locate a photograph of Lettie. This one was taken around 1967ish when Lettie was in her mid 70s.

Another interesting tidbit I brought away from the church was the discovery that Lettie served as the Superintendent of the church’s “Junior Mission Band.” That, and the fact that they often held practice in what is now our living room. I’m beginning to suspect that Lettie didn’t keep any cats in the house.

Friday, January 11, 2008

excitable boys

I’ve noticed a trend among the various baseball card bloggers I read and sometimes trade real cards with to be in the process of e-publishing their “dream” baseball cards now that we are in the middle of winter, and Spring Training seems so far away. I figured I’d toss one of my own out into cyberspace and see where it lands.

Keep in mind that this is a card that I WISH Topps or Upper Deck had/would produce, and against odds so astronomical they would make Carl Sagan’s head spin, I would somehow manage to pull this 1/1 card from a normal pack of baseball cards that I picked up at Target while standing in line to buy a bag of charcoal.

The irony that Topps would probably choose to portray one of the most colorful baseball players in the modern era in black and white isn’t lost on me. From a design standpoint, I think it “works.” Normally I would tend to steer as far away from a dark background as possible, but since this is a fantasy card, it would already be featuring a dual autograph in some beautiful copper-colored ink currently unknown to chemists at the Sharpie Corporation.

The choice of honoring Bill Lee was easy. There simply are not enough cards of the man who was pretty much kicked to the curb of major league baseball by the owners for his crime of being a free thinker. Sure, he was also a hell-raiser, but he wasn’t alone in that department. Including Warren Zevon on this card was also a no-brainer.

Lee was born some 27 days before Zevon. I’m sure Warren was aware of that fact, and was fine with it. After all, 2 + 7 = 9, and a nine is but three 3s, and Warren loved 3s as much as he embraced his OCD.

Both were living in California when Bill was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1968. Lee made his major league debut on June 25, 1969- the same summer Warren broke away from his gig with the Everly Brothers by releasing his first solo album “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and having one of his compositions, “She Quit Me,” featured in the Academy Award-winning film “Midnight Cowboy.”

I’m not sure when the two first became friends, but it isn’t difficult to imagine Lee sitting around the Fenway Park clubhouse completely hopped up on painkillers listening to Zevon’s self-titled album which hit the music stores just days after Bill suffered a career-altering shoulder separation during a Red Sox-Yankees brawl on May 26, 1976.

The controversial Spaceman wasn’t shy about quoting Zevon lyrics to reporters whenever a good opportunity presented itself. Warren returned the favor by including the song “Bill Lee” as the ninth track (again with the 3s?) on his 1980 album “Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School.”

The “relic” portion of this dream card doesn’t feature a ticket stub or a fragment of a baseball jersey. Instead, it contains a portion of the label from a bottle of Oban single malt scotch whisky to commemorate the day in the early 1980s when Lee stopped by Zevon’s for a visit. Warren was currently on the wagon, attempting to dry out in an effort to extend his marriage, his career and possibly even his life, but when Lee arrived he decided to have just “one drink” to welcome his friend. Legend has it that the two partied like madmen for THREE straight days.

Lee’s major league career ended after the Montreal Expos released him in May of 1982 and every other team refused to even take a look at him, having decided that he was too much to handle. Meanwhile, having survived a drinking binge that nearly finished him, Warren gave up drinking that same summer and remained sober until he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of 2002.

In an interview in May of 2001, Bill Lee stated that he and the Mutineer still kept in touch- “on an ESP level.” There is no reason to believe that the two excitable boys haven’t maintained their special relationship even since Warren’s death.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

things to rent from netflix when you're dead

I recently rented a film called “South of Heaven, West of Hell” after reading about Warren Zevon’s cameo appearance in his biography written by his ex-wife Crystal in 2007.

I was fortunate to have seen Warren in concert twice while he was alive, so there was no way I wasn’t going to watch this movie. The first time I saw Warren perform was January 9, 1996 in the Rockin’ Horse Saloon in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a fantastic show. Every time Warren would finish a song, some jackass would yell “Werewolves of London!” Finally Warren said, “Look… I’m going to play it, but not now. If I play that song now, most of you will leave as soon as I’m done. So I’ll play it at the end of the show.” And he did. And nobody had left. And nobody seemed ready to leave even after they brought the house lights up. Well, I’m sure Warren was ready to leave, but he was probably the only one. Interestingly, that venue burned to the ground like the following week.

I caught Warren in concert again outside of Alice Cooperstown in Phoenix on April 1, 2000. (No fooling!) It was another amazing performance by the man with his guitar, a harmonica and a keyboard. Who needs a band?

While waiting for the movie to be delivered by the mail carrier, I settled in and read the 48 reviews submitted by various Netflickians- 29 of whom absolutely “hated” it. The vast majority of the rest didn’t care for it, and many probably didn’t watch it all of the way through. A few people claimed they loved it, but I suspect that they were probably trying to instigate some sort of cyber fistfight.

Pretty much the only item of value I got from the reviews was the knowledge that Paul Reubens also had a small role in the movie. Just think of that, Warren Zevon, Peter Fonda and Pee Wee Herman appearing on the silver screen together!

The movie was filmed in Arizona- appropriate, as it is a western set in the finals days of 1907. Warren only appears in the movie for a short time. He plays a character named Babcock who sticks pretty close to Billy Bob Thornton and has very little (if anything) to say. Paul Reubens plays a convincing cowthug named Arvid Henry. Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize him at first.

I wish I could tell you to rush out and rent this movie and that you’ll love it. But I can’t. Possibly it could have been better if it wasn’t written, cast, directed, edited and produced by Dwight Yoakam. But that would pretty much make it a different movie. Still, it is a far cry from what some folks have deemed the worst movie of all time. I could easily list twelve dozen worse films if I wanted to bother.

If you are a Zevon fan, you really should watch it. Same thing goes for Paul Reubens fans. If you aren’t fans of either of them but love Peter Fonda, just watch Easy Rider again.