I’ve got a new title to add to my resume: “filmmaker.” The past couple of weeks I’ve been making some simple homemade videos for my daughter, Monica who is a middle school English teacher in Phoenix, AZ. Next month her seventh graders will be reading the book, “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park. It’s a touching story about a homeless twelve year old boy in twelfth century Korea and his desire to make pottery like the master potter in his village. The videos I’m making for Monica’s class are designed to compare how I make pots in the present day with how they used to make pottery nine hundred years ago. Surprisingly, there are more similarities than differences. You can see more on that when we get those videos edited and up on You Tube.
So last week, I came up with this wild idea to do a time-lapse video of the process of unloading and loading my kiln. The following Monday we were going to be doing back to back firings with a glaze rolling out and a bisque loading in. My little camera doesn’t have this function on it, so I called my friend Len Aitken (professional filmmaker) and he loaned me his “industrial strength” camera for the project. It turned out to be a lot of fun setting up the shot and learning how to use the camera. I estimated that I could do the kiln job in about an hour, so I bought a cheap big clock and nailed it to the post by the kiln. The shoot went pretty smoothly except for thirty-five minutes into the film where I bumped the clock and it came crashing down on to the floor. But I totally hit my mark at the end of the hour, and this project far exceeded my wildest dreams for what I had initially envisioned. This is primarily due to the fact that Len did an amazing job on the editing and the technical support. I’m also really happy with the song we picked for the film. Keep on Movin’ is by King Tuff. I’ve been listening to the King Tuff album practically nonstop for over six months now and if you like this song, you should just go buy it because every song on it is a total gem. And now, without any further ado, I present you with my new video:
Well, it was a tough year to pick the top entry in our yearly ornament design contest, so I took my wife and oldest daughter out to dinner and sprung on them the job of helping me decide on the top honor for 2013. They took on the job admirably and with three people we had the perfect number of judges to avoid any ties of the votes. And fortunately, it was a unanimous decision for the winner, but let’s go through some honorable mentions first:
-Kudos to last year’s winner, Pam Hamilton, for sending us a flurry of decent material. My favorite of these was “Snowden leaks Wally’s famous dog biscuit recipe.”
-A big “YEOW!!!” to Bruce Block for his wonderfully tasteless and unprintable joke riffing on xmas balls and neutered pets.
-And much appreciation to Jamie Gould for sending in two great sketches in her bid for the #1 spot. Check out her lovely depiction of the death of Miley Cyrus under a Christmas tree:
And now the drum roll for the top spot….
Here it is! This year’s winner of the 2013 Holiday Ornament Design Contest is a timely little piece that riffs on the fact that the National Security Administration just replaced Santa Claus in the spying on our private lives department. So who thought of this timely, salable and easy to draw design? None other than my assistant, Kelly Clements! That’s right, this contest didn’t have any silly rules about employees or family members not being eligible for the grand prize. Seriously, a big “Thanks!” to everyone who entered and look forward to your crazy ideas coming my way next year.
If you want to purchase this new NSA ornament, the new “FUCK THE TREE! MY BACK HURTS.” ornament, all the other ornament designs we carry, or anything else in my line, hop on over to my online store. Our next firing comes out on December 5th so there’s still time for us to make just about anything you want for Christmas.
If you’re looking for an amazing gift for your favorite pooch this year, consider having us create a custom porcelain dog dish! I just added four new designs to the “Custom Items” section of my online store. Here’s how it works: there are two bowl sizes: 5.5 inch diameter ($33.00) and 7.5 inch diameter ($44.00). You can pick one of four designs for the inside of the bowl, and there’s a drop-down menu that allows you to choose one of four colors (blue, green, red and yellow) for your dog’s name. It’s pretty easy to follow and you’ll need to allow 2 – 4 weeks for delivery. We’ve got just three more firings to go this year, so just about anything ordered in November will get to you with time to spare for the holidays. Here are some pics of the four designs, plus a nice grouping of milk bone jars that we made last year for a customer who really wowed his family and friends with this awesome collection of dog treat containers ($48.00 each).
It’s that time of year again! It’s time for you, my customers to show us what kind of jokes you’ve got and what weird kind of ornament you want to hang on your tree this Christmas. It’s been an amazing year for weird stories in the news, so there is lots of material out there for us to work on. As always, the person or persons who come up with the best design(s) will win an ornament with their design on it and the bragging rights to having come up with this year’s winning design. Here are a few guidelines for coming up with a winning entry:
Keep it simple! I need to be able to hand-draw this design on a two inch diameter bisque circle. Elaborate designs are too hard to reproduce.
Try to tie in the holiday theme. The Balloon Boy joke above works so wonderfully well because it brings in the holiday verbiage.
Make it something that will just get better as the years go on. What current event do you want to remember every year as you trim your holiday tree?
DEADLINE: Wednesday, November 13! We’ll announce the winners in an email on Tuesday, November 19th.
Want to get some inspiration for this project? Take a look at my line of ornaments (for sale for just $13.50) in my online store.
And here’s a new one for 2013: The Lou Reed memorial ornament! I’m a big fan of his music and was impressed with the number of tributes to him around the world last week. But it seemed kind of odd to see the mainstream media gushing about him with phrases like “he wrote about the dark underside of life.” Actually, he WAS the dark underside of life and he was pretty mean at times, too. So here’s my tribute to Lou:
I threw this “car mug” shape a while back, but decided not to make it part of my regular line because it’s a bit too difficult to produce. It fits in a car cup holder slot really nicely so the design I came up with is the perfect thing to celebrate all those women who take on the high stress task of ferrying kids around from place to place. “AIN’T NOBODY GONNA BE SAFE WHEN MAMA’S GOT ROAD RAGE” is a limited edition design that’s only available in Wally’s Bargain Basement while supplies last. They are a real deal at just $18.00 each, but don’t order more than the quantity it says are available in the online store. I ain’t makin’ any more!
And here’s yet another entry in this year’s crazy theme, The Paranormal Testimonial Mug Series. “The toddler who ate my brain” is practically the sequel to the wonderfully successful baby shower gift, the “I am carrying Big Foot’s love child” mug. Also really popular in this series is our current top-selling design, “My cat is a psycho killer!” Check them out in my online store!
Check out these two new designs! The first is yet another take on the timeless theme of not being able to sleep. “SOMEBODY PLEASE SAVE ME FROM THE CURSE OF INSOMNIA!” is the perfect mug to drag into work when you’re dragging yourself to work after a rough night of unsuccessfully trying to get a good night’s sleep. The artwork distills the insomniac’s early morning hell down to its basic elements: the night, a tired soul and that damn clock radio beaming the time out into the dead of night. The red and blue lines were done with a sgraffito technique where the black underglaze is scratched through with a razor blade and then red and blue color is painted over the lines. This awesome new mug is for sale in our online store, of course!
And here’s the perfect bowl to take to your next Colorado potluck! With the advent of legalized marijuana here in the mile high state, it’s important to let everyone know that it’s just dried parsley in your yummy hummus on the communal food table. This bowl holds about two cups, so it’s a good size for dips, etc. Look for a larger size coming out next month. We only made a few of them, but we will have more when our next firing comes out in mid-October. You can purchase these world-premier items in our online store.
I created this graphic back in 1982 and I sell it on mugs and t shirts.
It’s so weird the way stuff travels around on the internet. This weekend I noticed that my Caffeine Curve image was making the rounds on various Facebook sites. The groups, “Food Inc.” and “Give a Shit about Nature” posted it last week, and as of today almost three thousand people have shared it with their friends on Facebook. This graphic has been all over the web for well over a decade and it’s always a thrill for me to see how people respond to it. The comments on these sites range from appreciative raves, to prickly criticism like “the shape of the graph is all wrong”, to downright indignant anger over the fact that I had the audacity to make a joke about gun violence. A Google images search yielded some really interesting finds. My favorite discovery was a pastor in Adelaide, South Australia who related to the joke so much he posted it on his blog but changed “triple shotgun murder” to “kick the dog for no reason.” That’s so funny on so many levels! And I guess I should have realized that this would eventually happen, but there’s a commercial site selling knock-off mugs and T-shirts with slight variations on the wording. My legal team is in the process of getting them to cease and desist with this outright theft of my copyright on this joke. More on this story as it develops.
I’m hoping that all this internet buzz will eventually lead to more traffic making its way to The Caffeine Curve mug that sells for $28.00 in my online store. I did sell one of these wheel-thrown-hand decorated mugs last weekend due to the recent Facebook posts. And I’m going to get some more T-shirts printed up for the upcoming gift season. These will be done in classic black, of course. This blog is going to be the cornerstone of my campaign to get the world to realize that I’m the creator of this time-honored internet meme. But what is the origin of this crazy graphic that is slowly becoming one of my biggest claims to fame? It’s got a really interesting humble beginning, and if it weren’t for the actions of one observant co-worker at the time, “The Caffeine Curve” would have been lost forever.
Way back in 1982, when I was renting studio space at Santa Barbara Ceramic Design and making reduction fired functional pottery without cartoons on it, I drew the very first caffeine curve graphic on the chalkboard in the lunch room. I did it merely to get a laugh out of my co-workers and the wording on it was exactly the same as it is today. This happened during my pre-Wally period, about a year before I ever made any pots with cartoons on them. The caffeine curve drawing stayed on the chalkboard for a long time, and it would have been lost forever if it weren’t for the instincts of then intern and now master potter James Haggerty. James was about to clean off the chalkboard, and he respectfully came over to my corner of the studio and suggested that I write it down somewhere because it was so funny. I took his advice, wrote it in my glaze notebook and, sure enough, about a year or so later when I was drawing jokes all over my pots, it came in really handy. And it has been a highly popular design ever since!
I just rolled out a glaze kiln yesterday with some great one of a kind pots. One of my wholesale accounts received an order for some platters with classic Wally designs on them and I’m really happy with how they turned out. We do these platters on a custom basis and they are for sale for $85.00 in my online store. It’s fun to come up with the decorative motifs for the borders and I like having more space to draw the designs.
And one of our yearly rituals here at Wallyworld is to create the awards for the Evergreen Big Chili Cook-Off. This is a great local event that features live music, firefighter competitions and lots of great chili. I started making these awards about eight years ago, and they are now a time-honored tradition with the locals. My favorite joke this year? The Restaurant awards feature all the amazing things that will happen to the winners of these awards: getting a key to the city, your name in a local paper, and the world-famous environmental artist Christo, wanting to fill Evergreen Lake with millions of gallons of your chili!!!!
Over the past year I’ve developed a genuine fascination with Ayn Rand and the people who relentlessly champion her objectivist philosophy. It all started during the 2012 U.S. presidential election when VP candidate Paul Ryan stated that he was an avowed fan of the iconic author. This was the tipping point that finally got me to plow through “Atlas Shrugged”. For years I’d been hearing conservative pundits rave about it and, since I love good sci-fi with a dystopian theme, I assumed it would be well-written and interesting. It is neither. Listening to the book on tape was a mind-numbing experience, not unlike getting cornered at a party by your staunch Republican relative who has had way too much to drink and has way to much to say about “them libberalss who are ruinin’ everything!“ I was amazed at how dumb the plot is, how ridiculously one-dimensional the characters are and how insanely long-winded the author can be. Ayn Rand has absolutely no sense for editing and her rambling diatribes are proof that you should never give typewriters to Benzedrine addicts (she had a decades-long dependency on amphetamines).
It is my personal belief that it was the creepy combination of Rand’s addiction to speed and her staunch atheism that helped her craft the concept of “the virtue of selfishness”. The “heroic” characters in “Atlas Shrugged” are egotists and narcissists who love work and hate people. They are addicted to their own grandiose self-image and they have none of the humility that comes with a belief in God, a higher power or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I love the virtue of self-sufficiency. For over thirty years I’ve run a small business where I don’t get paid unless I work hard and come up with new ideas. But this belief that we are all here on earth to feed our own desires and not serve the needs of the people around us is downright creepy. It is the exact modus operandi of a sociopath. I’m amazed that conservative pundits and politicians have fallen in love with this philosophy and championed its teachings. I think the whole idea of “going Galt” (abandoning society because you don’t want to play by its rules) has permeated the right wing so much that it’s now a permanent fixture in their world view. So you lost the 2012 election? Start talking about getting your fellow red states to secede from the union! Are you unhappy with the latest gun laws and the new oil and gas regulations in Colorado? Form a group to try and create the 51st state of Northern Colorado! The “I’m just gonna take my ball and go home” mindset is the number one defensive position among Republicans now that the Democrats are in power and the economy isn’t in the dire straits it was at the end of the Bush administration. Ironically they sound like whiny victims in the process (e.g. “Yes, oil companies made record profits in 2012, but the government is robbing the rich!“)
Now if you don’t have the time to read the book (the unabridged audiobook clocks in at 59 hours), be sure and check out the first two installments of the “Atlas Shrugged” movies. They are wonderfully bad and I found them to be marvelously comical in their own unintentional way. For some reason, the producers of the films couldn’t come up with much of a budget to make them so they are really cheap and poorly written. The actors must have been given instructions like, “Act as wooden as possible while delivering this hackneyed dialog”. But these movies stick to the original plot like glue, and I guess that is why Part 1 and Part 2 have received rave reviews among conservative movie critics. Here in Colorado, talk show host and Denver Post editorial columnist Mike Rosen has gushed about them repeatedly on his radio show and in his editorial column. After I plowed through the two “Atlas Shrugged” movies back to back on consecutive nights on Netflix streaming, I watched the documentary “Ayn Rand & The Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged”. This film tries to make the argument that the Obama administration is similar the cartoon bad guys in Rand’s magnum opus. Seriously?!!! We live in a world where successful industrialists are flourishing and succeeding like no other time in history. It’s anything but desperate times for men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Do you think our current government business restrictions could ever push them to “go Galt”?
So my latest mug is the culmination of the hours and hours of research I’ve done on this topic. And it’s the latest installment of my “Paranormal Testimonial Mug Series”. Others in this group include, “My cat is a psycho killer” and “I am carrying Big Foot’s love child”. While it took Ayn Rand decades of work and 1088 pages of text to tell her story, mine was envisioned in just one afternoon and it fits on the outside of a ten ounce wheel-thrown porcelain coffee mug. The plot is riveting: Ayn Rand’s brain is kept alive for decades and when modern computer technology is developed to communicate with her, the first thing she asks about is how well the film adaptation of “Atlas” did at the box office and at the Academy Awards. Then a joyously tearful Paul Ryan asks Rand’s amphetamine-fueled brain to be his running mate in 2016. A love scene ensues. Meanwhile, Obamacare sinks the economy and Justin Bieber, the Koch brothers and Paula Dean mysteriously disappear and escape to Sarah Palin’s secret hideaway in Arizona. That’s my pitch, Hollywood. I think we can do it for under 50 million if we can get the right cast. Have your people call my people.
Those of you who have followed my blog posts on running might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in this category for quite a while. Three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic knee arthritis and had to quit the sport. It was pretty devastating at the time, and I’ve learned to deal with it and realize that nothing lasts forever. Fortunately, I still have a good exercise ethic so I’ve been swimming and biking a lot lately. This is two-thirds of a triathlon, so I decided to try the Evergreen Sprint Triathlon this year and it was a blast. Yesterday I placed fifth out of eleven contestants in my age group, and with a mere five training runs during the two months before the race, I ran a “sizzling” nine minutes per mile in the three mile run. Note: this is the exact pace I ran a 30 mile trail race just three years ago! For more pics and more details on the race, check out my Facebook photo album.