File this away for later.

That's America by Bruce McCulloch

Some people look at a flag, swaying in the breeze at the White House and say, "That's America." Whenever I see an American flag hung in a window of a basement apartment by guys who have better things to do with their money than buy curtains, I say, "That's America to me."

In America, there are fifty-one states. Or maybe it's eighty by now. Does England count? I'm not quite sure. The one thing I am sure of is: If I'm standing in a warehouse beside a timeclock, and a guy is punching in his best friend who's too hungover to get out of bed, I'm standing in America, the Makeover Capital of the World.

The place where every young man has to answer in his heart the question: What do you love more, your girlfriend or your car? Where that young man can buy a beat-up car for three hundred dollars, but have to spend a thousand to insure it. The land where even a paperboy can option the film rights to a book.

America. In America, a woman on an assembly line works out her overtime in her head to infinity, and at the exact same moment, her husband gets into a car crash because he was looking at a girl in a tube top.

America. A land where spelling doesn't count, peoples' pets do! Where else can a guy get a job riding a whale at Marineland? The land where a guy's girlfriend breaks up with him over the phone, so he takes a gun and kills the principal. Everyone's sad until... they get the day off. Next week, another guy, another gal, another "we can still be friends" phone call. Whuh-oh! The assistant principal gets killed. And everyone is sad because they don't get the day off. Because he was only the assistant principal.

America. A land of opportunity. Yes, that great lumbering beast that journeys tirelessly and stops only to eat a clubouse sandwich, pick its teeth with a matchbook cover, and fall asleep with the TV on.

America. A place for Americans.


Season finale wrap-up.

If I missed your show, it's only because I don't watch it. Because it's dumb.

1. American Idol
Does anyone else find it ironic that the parade of singers they brought out in the finale (with the exception of Carrie Underwood) wouldn't win American Idol, and in some cases wouldn't even come close? Just the other day I was listening to Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia" on the way into work and thinking to myself that it definitely had to be one of the top three background vocal performances in the history of popular music, hands down. So AI producers thought, "Hey, let's replace the Pips with six twenty-something girls dressed up like the virgins from 'History of the World, Part I'! It can't miss!!!" Disappointing. I didn't watch the whole thing, mostly because of that move.

2. Dancing With the Stars
We all knew Apollo Anton Ono would win from day one. I just like to think that he and his dance partner are getting married in June. I defy you to find a cuter couple on network TV.

3. Grey's Anatomy
Most depressing season finale ever. Seriously, out of the ten or so plotlines, not one single person was happy at the end. Is there some sort of rule that this show has to make you want to blow your brains out? Or are the writers off their Paxil?

4. Heroes
Somehow Sylar can stop five bullets in midair, but he can't stop Hiro running at him very slowly with a sword? And what kind of Samurai is Hiro anyway? He didn't even chop off Sylar's head! And suddenly DL is ok, even though he was near death last week? And in one of the biggest plot holes ever, Peter can absorb peoples' powers, but he has to have Nathan fly him into outer space?! That was a horrible finale. Like James said, middle schoolers could've written it better. I want to give up on this show again, but I'll probably be sucked in once more come fall.

5. Medium
Meh, I think my wife and I are the only ones who watch this show anyway. You wouldn't care what I thought.

6. National Bingo Night
Not really a season finale, but still. Great show. I had a blast playing along at home, and they found plenty of ways to spice up the traditional Bingo game. Love the commissioner too. No Bingo!

Enjoy your Thursday and remember: Joe Perry will do anything-- anything --for a paycheck.


Press release.

Attention everyone: we totally helped you out today. Here's a new word (see below), and food is great now, we call. Feel free to shower us with accolades. You're welcome.

Love and hugs,
Gordon and Nick

Another new word!

In an effort to bring back much of the designer's mystique that has been lost through the advent of desktop publishing, I've decided to employ the same technique of the Renaissance Masters: make up fancy Italian words. Introducing:

moltovachiccino (mol-toe-vah-KEY-chee-no): drop shadow

Yusssss!!! I have mysterious techniques! Give me more money! Be sure to use this word whenever possible, people will be impressed and slightly intimidated. That's probably it for today, enjoy your Monday and remember: "Ballroom dancer" isn't that impressive. I know some people who can learn to do that in eight weeks.


Attempt at creative writing, I

Tomatoes and Missing the Point
By N. Lee

A: I think I’m dying inside.

B: Nice to see you again too, Mr. Melodramatic.

A: No I’m serious. Not in an emotional metaphor kind of way but a very real physical kind of dying. My insides are being torn apart.

B: Had some tomatoes again, did you? How many times are you going to torture yourself before you stop eating bruschetta?

A: Only a few more times at most. This is beginning to be more than I can bear on any kind of basis. I live in a confined area, you know? I have to consider how I come across to others. My wife is really starting to be concerned with how many foods I seem to be allergic to.

B: It turns out that few people ever learn enough to stop doing the things that hurt them. It sounds simple enough in theory, but much like communism it falls apart in practice more often than not.

A: I’d never have pegged you for a hardened capitalist.

B: I’m more of an opponent of human schemes that don’t put themselves to good use. You can probably imagine how little I have to work with under that philosophy. I have a few ideas myself, but all the advertising money can buy won’t get them to be put into practice. Not in their purest forms anyway. You know how it is.

A: No, I don’t. Enlighten me.

B: You hire an army of spokespeople to spread the word about some great idea that you’ve been sitting on for a long time. Maybe it’s legitimately ground-breaking, maybe it’s not. Doesn’t really matter anyway, because the chances of everyone in this army getting the message right is virtually nil. For instance: say I had a plan for getting you to quit ingesting fresh tomatoes for the rest of your life. It wouldn’t harm you in any way, you wouldn’t feel the least bit of suffering at giving up a favorite treat, it would just work in the most simple and amazing way. Only, I couldn’t tell you the plan. Let’s say for whatever reason it had to be told to you by somebody else. That would make it a little more complicated, wouldn’t it?

A: A bit, probably. I don’t know, maybe.

B: Trust me, it would. Now say that there were twenty people in the room with you, all trying to get you to try my plan. Naturally, they’d have twenty varying approaches to sell you on the idea. But what goes unnoticed is that, in all honesty, they have twenty different plans to sell you, even though they all got it from the same source.

A: What was that? I’m sorry, I dozed off there somewhere in the middle.

B: Oh nothing. Guess you’ll just have to live without it.

A: Done and done.


Skaletons in the closet.

The other day I'm watching The Tube (thanks to the miracle of digital television signals) and what should come up but Madness' seminal classic, "One Step Beyond". For about the first thirty seconds I was bemused. It was very obvious he was lip syncing (I guess music videos hadn't been refined as of then) and the clothes were so dated. It's a little frantic and goofy, but it's classic Madness. I personally love the bassist in this video. If you watch closely you'll see Jan's clean-shaven circa 1997 doppleganger in there too. And I'll be danged if I hadn't gotten up and started skankin' around my living room by the end of it.

Go ahead, click on the link. Watch the whole thing without tapping your toes or getting up to dance. Then walk away and somehow have any other song in your head today. You can't.

Little did I know that this seemingly innocuous event would awaken a long-dormant ska freak in me. I'm ready to admit it, I was a huge ska fan in high school. Many of you already know it, but it's an important step that I admit it. It's not like I'm ashamed to know the differences between ska, rocksteady, and reggae, or that I've been living a lie for the past few years. But I've been deliberately ignoring a very large part of my music collection, dismissing it as a childish phase that I went through. And I was wrong.

Since then I've been rediscovering some of my lost treasures, especially in the car to and from work. Man, the Specials really had something going, didn't they? The Slackers, Skavoovie & the Epitones, mmm mmm mmm. I have to complain about iTunes at this point. I wanted to fill in some gaps in my collection so I tried to find three songs and only found one. I was able to locate Desmond Decker's "Israelites". Which is a relief. I heard that in Goodwill of all places a couple months ago and just about flipped out. But iTunes didn't have the aforementioned "One Step Beyond", nor Barbie Gaye's classic "My Boy Lollipop". If anyone has these songs (or knows someone who does), could you help a brutha out? Eternal gratitude awaits.

My advice to you: embrace your inner ska freak. Let the checkers out, dust off your pork-pie hat, maybe toast a little somethin' if you feel up to it. That's it for now, enjoy your Thursday and remember: Californians are people too.


Seriously, WTF?

I'm doing some research for a law enforcement Bible, and I came across a stammering piece of footage. I've always heard of Cop Rock, like some fabled mythical creature along the lines of Bigfoot or OJ Simpson's "real killers." But actually witnessing its horrific glory is almost too much. Enjoy it.

Excerpt from Midnight in the Velveteen Sector.

Sunlight flooded through a bay window, bathing the living room in a warm orange glow. The grungy brown carpet was worn thin under his knees, the long shaggy knap betraying the neglect and lack of vacuuming that gave birth to a musty odor that brought with it a deluge of memory. The room was familiar in every way, down to his very core. Without so much as lifting his eyes from the floor, he stretched out his right hand and felt the familiar threadbare fabric. Slowly he got up and eased himself onto the uncomfortable orange sofa that held him in its awkward embrace so many afternoons as a child.

He ran his hands over the wooden arm of the sofa, with its numerous dings and bite marks. Somehow he still remembered the exact taste of that wood, though it had been ages since he was little enough to partake of it. His eyes ran over a room that was more precious to him than any place in the world. Each object was a jab of emotion that was silently overwhelming him, bringing him to the verge of a cathartic but voiceless wail.

He got up and walked a couple steps to the other side of the room, to the varnished oak bookshelves that once held an aquarium with snails and translucent minnows and a black fish with eyes that seemed too big to be possible. He remembered the hum of the filter, the eerie bluish-green glow that the tank gave off in the night when all other lights had gone out. He looked over the pictures of kids in Halloween costumes, or visiting a forgotten landmark on a vacation long ago. He was compelled to brush his fingers over the spines of a nearly complete set of encyclopedias, the gold foil of the writing glimmering against the ageless maroon faux-leather material. The K volume was missing, lost in a school project. He had torn his room apart looking for it, stayed up nights fretting about how he was going to explain its absence when the project was completed.

He turned to his right and saw his most valued memory: his piano. It was just as he remembered it, an island of austerity in a sea of whimsical nostalgia. He longed desperately to play it once more, and he felt as though he were hovering above the floor as he slowly moved toward it and reached out his hands to press the keys.

It was silent.

At first he pressed softly, expecting with every fiber of his being the sweetly dull timbre of mallets and strings that had laid dormant in his memory for who knows how long. But nothing came. He pressed harder yet and harder still, but no sound would come from this magical box. He felt frustration boiling up inside him, the frustration of one who finds himself in someone else’s sadistic house of horrors. He had come so close to being at peace and it was cruelly being denied him.
His fists came down thunderous against the black and white fingers, and all at once the sky outside turned an ominous shade of green. Panic arose like a flash flood from the pit of his stomach, a deep fear of something he couldn’t name or remember but of which he knew he would not be able to escape. He dropped once more to his knees and shrunk into a ball as he waited for it.


Vote Petrelli or suffer through another year.

Heroes better stop jerking us around sooner or later. I'm about to swear them off for a third time. They have two more weeks left including tonight, so here's a few thoughts:

1. The superhuman/human ratio needs to be restored. This show worked a LOT better before everyone had a power. Ando needs to live, some supers need to die, and they BETTER NOT introduce anymore super characters in the next two weeks. I'll flip a table. I'll do it.

2. Sylar could die. Or not. He's actually turning into a decent bad guy, so I'd be okay with seeing him go on to next season. In fact, if he were there next fall it'd let them save some time having to develop a new bad guy. But who am I kidding? They'll probably spend all next season dancing around any real action. Kill him, see what I care.

3. One of the following group needs to die: Claire, Peter, Linderman, or Hiro. These four have powers that make death kind of pointless. They can heal or travel through time. We know Hiro's not dying. Probably not Claire either. That leaves Linderman or Peter. Linderman seems to be leading the side opposite Horn-Rimmed Glasses, so he's probably staying. Bye bye Peter.

4. Just get rid of psycho blonde chick already. Seriously, can't care less about that whole story line. Maybe she'll die at the same time as the shape-shifter.

Tune in and we'll see how they do at appeasing my demanding viewership!

Monday again.

Ready to have your mind blown? Check out Chris Jordan's current work.

I was able to sit down and write three days last week for about an hour each time. The result is about 3,400 more words for my ongoing book, "Midnight in the Velveteen Sector." The plot is taking me in a few unexpected directions. I'm kind of getting excited about it, but I'm always cautious about blowing it at any moment. There's a kind of tension about writing a work large enough that you can't see the whole thing. A mistake this early on (I'm only 12% through my goal of 100,000 words) could be catastrophic to the work down the road. On the other hand, books that are too cautious early on get set down and never picked up again. One solution is to take some time and flesh out the entire book in more detail before I dive in on the actual writing of it, but I think that method doesn't suit me too well. I like to be surprised by where the story goes, because then I can be relatively assured that the reader will be surprised too. So I guess I'm stuck with having to plow through from beginning to end, hoping it will all work out for the best. When I get the chance I'll post a little tasty blurb f'yallz.

That's it from here, enjoy your Monday and remember: If you touch your brain when you have Alzheimer's you could still, like, die.

PS: My regular readers from Stacy, MN and Prior Lake, MN, identify yourselves! I have a suspicion that we know each other. Shoot me an email if this is the case. Propa!


Paco Rockwell.

Sometimes an image and a song just come together. It's beautiful really.

Peep dis.


Instead of a long post, I'm going for a picture. It's of a logo I invented for a coffeeshop idea Gordon and I have. The picture is of my new favorite guy in the world, Paco Rockwell.

Enjoy your Wednesday and remember: Copyright infringement only sounds bad if you're an uptight shmuck.

Something more: Cherry Coke changed their design again. For a brand with such a recognizable look, they sure can't fight the itch very well. What a clumsy-looking font for "cherry" too. As G-Money put it:

"I pitty the sucker that had to work on it, because you know that they had some marketing schmuck over their shoulder hounding them to put in more cherries."

Couldn't have put it better myself.


"Game of the Week."

I've been ranting about this at work a bit today, but I want to make my perturbation known worldwide. I found a couple hours to sit in front of some televised sports on Saturday, the perfect remedy for a rainy, gloomy afternoon. There were three sports on: golf, horse racing, and baseball.

I watched a bit of golf. It was fine I suppose, despite it being the 3rd round of a non-major, and despite Tiger being off his game a bit. (I did see him tear off a 190-yard 6-iron from the fairway rough, I couldn't hit a 6-iron 190 to save my life from a freaking tee. Yeah yeah yeah, Tiger's superhuman, let's keep it moving.) I turned over to FOX for the game of the week and was met by the Seattle Mariners at the New York Yankees.

[Just keep breathing, everything comes to an end...]

Let's forget the fact that because Denver is only 40 miles away, I get a fair bit of crappy NL-west matchups. I can deal with that. And I suppose I can even put up with some crappy AL-west matchups too, which often come up. But why is it that every single other game on non-cable television has to feature the [long string of expletives] Yankees?!?! Did the FOX executives not realize that the one game they got to show this week featured two losing teams?!

In the words of Pearl the Landlord, "I'm tired of this crap."

So rather than have my proverbial head bashed in by the insufferable Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, I decided to watch the Kentucky Derby. That's right, I picked a 4-hour program of people talking about horses over a Major League Baseball game. And I'd do it again. I caught the top of the 8th, luckily the only part of the game that made any difference. The Yankees pitcher had a perfect game going with only five batters to go, only to lose the perfect game, the no-hitter, and the shutout when a Seattle player launched one into the right field bleachers. There. You just learned everything you could ever want to know about that game with one simple sentence.

There were only two redeeming qualities to the brief period of time I forced myself to behold the travesty that is 21st-century broadcast baseball. 1) When the perfect game was broken up you could almost hear Joe Buck's heart breaking, and 2) The near-historic pitcher's last name was Wang. Don't judge me. That's a funny name.

It's not like FOX couldn't have found a different game to put on. How about Boston at Minnesota? The team with the best record in baseball against last year's Cy Young winner? Nah, that'd never sell. Jerks. Luckily, next week I get Oakland at Texas. Yee-haw, an AL-west craptacular showdown. I can't wait. It almost makes me want to read a book. But that would only make me more bored.

That's it from here. Enjoy your Monday and remember: Celery may be a fine conduit for ranch dressing, but it ain't like you really need it.


In a white room with no curtains.

What does it say about Colorado that I had strep throat for several days before I realized that it was more than just the dry air? I've been laid up on the couch for the last two days, and I am B-O-R-E-D. PBS is cool and all, but there's only so much of History Detectives that I can take. Ugh.



Yesterday afternoon my colleagues and I went on a sort of tour of local design departments. I wore an annoyingly loud tie. A swatch that I simulated in Illustrator is here:

Our tour started at Focus on the Family. I'd never been in there before, despite some weird thing where lots of people who come out here just have to see it. As I was walking in the front hallway, or "Main Street," I couldn't help but think to myself that there are thousands of people in this country who couldn't think of a more evil place than where I was treading. Kinda made me feel like a hard a**. We had lunch in one of their three cafeterias. I was surprised at how awesome a hamburger they can throw together. Honestly, if you have the time and the fortitude, have lunch at Focus someday. Our host, Ray, kept referring to Dobson as "the Doc." I found that quaint. Apparently the Doc is a Mac guy. Who knew? Focus's design department is pretty freakin' awesome, honestly. They do good work. They have a lot of space. They have a lot of very creative people. They have several IT guys who devote themselves to Macs. I'll admit, I coveted. I still maintain that I wouldn't want to work there though. Despite all the perks, I couldn't devote myself to a company that I was largely fundamentally opposed to. Shame.

Our second stop was CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance). They also have a nice setup, especially their project management system. I sure hope we can come up with a system that works and that people will buy into. We keep hearing that the larger an organization is, the more problems can arise if you don't have a good system in place. And we just merged, so... You know who you are.

Our last stop was downtown at TKA. They were your typical small-scale ad agency. It was about what I expected, and of course they had all the legs up on our little rinky-dink non-profit design department.

So after seeing these places, I feel a little worse about myself as a designer. I really want to start pushing myself again, being better by the end of the day than I am now. I'd also like to start bringing the Christian designers in this town and across the country together as a community more. I've registered a blog for just this purpose but I haven't put anything together just yet. We'll see.

Enjoy your Thursday and remember: National Get Your Girlfriend Pregnant Day is only two weeks away. So you know.