Rainy is the New Snowy

I think I must not have recieved the memo about how starting in two thousand twelve, January will be required by unnatural law to behave exactly like March. If I was March I’d be so pissed to have my unique role as “The Crappiest Month Alive” snaked out from under me.

In other news, I think my blogger spell-check is on the blink, because whenever I’ve clicked it lately something other than flashing red lights and miles of highlighted text appeared. So until further notice, my spell check is broken. I consider the odds of the computer software (whose only purpose in life is to fix spelling errors) being messed up as being far better than the odds of me, after 29 glorious years of inneptitude, having learned to spell.

Belated Greatest of the Latest


So yeah, while I’m at it, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday. And by everyone, I of course mean most people. For instance, I don’t particularly care if Lindsay Lohan had a lovely holiday.  I hope that Glen Beck’s holiday was downright rotten.

What an awful shit I am.

But you, gentle reader!  I hope your holiday was lovely and fantastic!  Joyful, even.  And triumphant!

Anyway, my holiday was pretty nice. Those of you who have suffered my company over the years in even a peripheral sense have probably gleaned some notion as to my enthusiasm for the electro-shock-injected sport of whirly-ball. It has become customary for me to claim to be planning holiday whirly-ball outings. It has also become customary for these claims to be treated by my friends as invitations to be baked into a giant pie and eaten ala mode by a monstrous hill person.

Needless to say, whirly-ball matches never ever come to fruition.

Never, that is, until this year! This year marked the first time in a long time that I was able to flatter, bribe, intimidate, seduce, or otherwise force enough people to commit to a game of whirly-ball, which made me very happy. Moreover, I think everyone had a good time. I, for one, had an excellent time. This was due –at least in part– to having been struck by an inexplicable fit of competency (see mad skillz), which resulted in the best played whirly-ball game of my life and, eventually, the only time you will ever see someone blog about how good they are at whirly-ball.

In any case, thanks for tuning in.  And happy Twenty Dozen!

On matters of the hypothalamus

Man, freelancing is great and all, but sometimes someone really ought to revoke the “make my own hours” privilege that is irrevocably attached to the whole enterprise, as it occasionally leads to things like “poor time management,” which tends to leads to “sleep deprivation,” which tends to lead to friggin’ “PROBLEMS.”

For instance, I’d swear that the lace to the shoe sitting next to me was actually a giant face-eating spider if the giant face-eating spider on the shoe next to me didn’t seem so steadfastly affixed to the shoe sitting next to me and bare so close a resemblance to a common shoe lace.

You see what I mean here, people? PROBLEMS.  I’m having some flippin’ problems at the moment.

Crap.  Just now, entirely without warning, some Weather Tracker application flickered up, consuming the entire screen.


Also, I am beginning to wonder if the “rant” and “nonsense” tags in this blog will ever be used independently from one another.

A touchy subject. AKA, You’re a sensitive lad, aint you, Tommy?

So I was perusing the site of one of my glorious benefactors, shirt.woot.com, when I happened upon a design that seemed strangely familiar to me.  It seemed familiar to me because it is uncannily similar in color, composition, and concept to a design I made a while back called Close Enough, about a drunk-on-the-job stork that mistakenly delivers a baby platypus to a couple of beavers.  Granted, the punchline is different… The design on woot has dropped the booze-addled angle and inserted a pair of ducks, but that’s where the incongruencies begin to become largely aesthetic.

Now, I’ve seen people (especially younger people, and especially on the internet) sound the “RIPPOFF” alarm and get up-in-arms about less striking similarities than this (And obviously I have to at least wonder about the possibility of my work being reprocessed and pilfered for financial gain ($1,000+), which is not at all a good feeling) but I am generally inclined to think otherwise.  One thing I’ve learned the hard way after a few years in the biz is that’s there’s a lot of room for cross-pollination, as it were, and there’s a lot of room for convergent evolution, as it were.  It’s just not that uncommon for two or more people to have the same idea.  It’s not even that uncommon for them both to execute it in similar manners.

I know this the hard way because I once designed a shirt about a narwhal impaling some arctic friends on its horn, which scored well on Threadless and was later printed by them, only to find my work being called a blatant rip-off of a previously existing toy of the same concept*.  I had never seen the toy in my entire life.  I had never heard of the toy in my entire life.  I had zero knowledge of the toy before the day my tee was put up for voting.  And yet, some folks were dead certain that I had willfully plundered the ideas of another for my own personal gain.  This was not, as you might imagine, a pleasant feeling at all.

But, as I mentioned earlier, the feeling that you may have been ripped-off and that someone else may be raking in dough that might have been yours, well, that’s not a good feeling either.  And while it’s not necessarily uncommon for convergent evolution to independently produce two similar solutions to a problem, it’s also not that uncommon for people on the internet to play fast and loose with the art of appropriation, as it were.  In any case, you can decide for yourself, and frankly you may find that these illustrations are about as similar as a cactus and a porcupine, but I thought it was at least interesting enough to blog about, if not fuss over.

Mine, from long ago:

Theirs, from not so long ago:

* Though, I might add, dramatically inferior geographic realism/plausibility 😛

The things we do when we lack things to do…

Also known as, This Recession and All its Buddies can at Least Buy Me Breakfast.

Anyway.  I have been lacking client work lately.  There has been, as they might say, a dearth of client work.  And, left to my own devices, as they say, I have seen fit to spend my time doing all sorts of things that are–they might say– unproductive… For instance, I have been catching up on my reading (about 2,000 pages in the last three weeks thankyouverymuch).  But mostly, I’ve been making foolish stuff like the following.

Dinosaur War - Work in progress

Turtle Transit Authority - WIP

Something Strange, as they say...

Speaking of reading.  One of my recent reads was Cormac “Turbo Buzz-kill, as they say” McCarthy’s The Road.  Good book, but dire.  Nightmarish, as they say.  Jiminy Cricket.



Summer storm

For anyone not in the loop, there is a place called “Up North” in Michigan.  There is probably a place called Up North in other states as well, but I have a difficult time imagining that it has earned quite the Proper Noun Status as Up North, Michigan.  It’s something of an institution in the nomenclature here.  That being said, if you’d like to know exactly where Up North is, don’t ask, because nobody knows.  Or rather, everyone knows but no one agrees.  Like pornography, they know it when they see it.  Everyone would agree that Traverse City is Up North.  Well, everyone from the lower peninsula anyway.  But ask a fellow if Ludington falls within the fabled confines and you’ll draw mixed remarks.

If you go far enough back in history there was a time when anything north of Detroit was considered Up North, with US-12 the acting boundary between civilization and wild frontier (Bear in mind, there is an average of only about 25 miles of real estate between US-12 and the Ohio/Indiana border).  Nowadays, I’d say a safer analog would be M-10, but I still might prefer an even more selective designation (I used to say, “Wherever the black bears aren’t,” but apparently that is far less discriminatory than I was able to appreciate).  All of this is, of course, just a very roundabout way of telling you that I went Up North last week (Frankfort, if you are interested) and that I saw an opportunity for a mini rant regarding perhaps the most general of Michigan’s many mythic regionalities.

As is fitting of a late evening journey Up North –mysterious place as it has been above described– my compatriot and I encountered some curious –if not epic– doom-type meteorological events at the outset of our trip, not far north of Ann Arbor.  It was documented on an iphone and later cut and assembled into the video embedded below.  This was all accomplished by my friend, Anna K Jonsson (one-time Up North native), whose brilliant choice in listenables may have taken some of the DOOM out of the experience, but none of the beauty.  I just wish an iphone had the same color capture capabilities as a peice of professional HD hardware, because damn, there were colors.  In any case, I’m quite taken with the vid, and not just because I’m in it. 🙂

Back in the game.

Moons have passed.  Exactly how many I am not certain –perhaps a few, perhaps more– but moons have passed since I last mustered an honest effort in the competitive tee design game.  I suppose my recent lack of production could in small part have been motivated by a bout of discouragement, since a handful of very promising designs were teased with voting success only to fade into the Threadless purgatory fated to so many well-scored illustrations that will never see the light of day.

But a far greater agent in this fall from proliferation is simply that I have been pretty damned busy.  Well, maybe not absurdly busy, but certainly busier than when last I felt free to spend hours doodling things like hacksaw-brandishing scuba bears.  There have been road trips and weddings and road trips to weddings and a weekend retreat or two, plus a new studio to furnish, a new marathon to train for, and my own intrinsic spacey-ness when confronted with the various effervescent entanglements that summertime affords.  Trees need climbing.  Turtles need catching.  Rivers need exploring and warm nights need the attention of a distracted late-youth and his misplaced freetime every bit as much as the coffee shops need his twilight work sessions and pocket change.

None-the-less, the flee-bitten hens of my imagination have not ceased popping out stray nuggets of inspiration these last months, and I have recently found time to incubate a few of these bastard ideas into full-fledged works of art-like visual consumables– Luckily, my ability to extend an already awkward metaphor far longer than anyone is comfortable with needs no practice to retain its potency.  Anyway…

Hiatus termination notice: Served.  (The pictures, they are clickable.)

tricky licky

new kid on the block

As always, emptees love is always appreciated, though ultimately unimportant.  It occurs to me now that I may have never really explained what the whole emptees.com thing is about.  Simply put, it’s a good way to whore yourself out to those who might wish to aquire your t-shirt illustrating services.  If a tee design happens to become wildly popular on emptees it can lead to a lot of attention.  That’s basically it.

Trough-pissers / Evil-doers, beware.

Man, one of my favorite Ypsi bars is apparently considering installing a trough style urinal.  GROSS.

For anyone who has not experienced The Trough, I have one thing to say about it: Multi-vectored close-quarters spray-back.

Seriously. One should not have to foster concerns regarding how much of another man’s urine may accumulate on his person whilst visiting the loo.

In case you’re wondering, yes, it IS drop-random-British-colloquialisms-like-they’re-hot-potatoes-day.

IN OTHER, NON-POTTY NEWS:  I’ve created Frankenfeather– Mad Raptor Scientist.  His wisdom.  He used it for eeeeevil.

Bring on the belly-achin’.

Yuck.  It’s been a rough week.  Started getting sick on Sunday, spent the next two days getting sicker and the previous two days in Chicago helping my girlfriend get her condo ready to be sold, which, for my part, involved some painting, some heavy lifting, and a fair amount of coughing.  Monday, however, was spent alone in Michigan and at the height of my varied “flu-like” symptoms (swine flu-like symptoms?) in a laziness-induced coma of sorts, during which a number of minor evils were visited upon me.   Most notable among these evils was the viewing of 1986 animated blockbuster, Transformers: Teh Movie, with Robert Stack, Orson Welles, and Leonard Nimoy (as Galvatron).  That seems to have had some effects which I currently perceive as both negative and lasting.  Although… when it’s not busy being inferior to the TV version in nearly every way imaginable, the movie can actually be sort of hilarious.  Allow me to demonstrate: “Me, Grimlock, not nice dino! Me bash brains!”

Five-Point-Five Liter Americana Overdrive!

“Spring starts when a heartbeat’s poundin’
When the birds can be heard above the reckonin’ carts doing some final accounting”
– Tragically Hip (incidentally Canadian)

So I’m still dumbstruck by this whole “nice weather” thing, and am likewise coping with some of the consequences of being dumbstruck by this whole “nice weather” thing… most notably the involuntary nature of some seasonally-dependent behavioral expressions.

Autumnal expressions, for example, might include rolling in piles of leaves and any number of things relating to apples or corn. Brumal expressions might include wearing inappropriately scant clothing outdoors and instances of tunneling. Vernal expressions of seasonally-dependent involuntary behavior are, as witnessed by the weekend of May 17th, in a word, exhausting.

The prior 72 hours included multiple occurrences of each of the following activities: Running, playing basketball, playing frisbee, bicycling, driving with the windows down, night-creeping, tree climbing, beer drinking, weight lifting, grilling, Dairy Queening, crawdad hunting, and, finally, whiffleball playing.

There was no decision-making involved any of this. This was all completely involuntary.

Next up: Fishing!



Ever have a dream that you’re driving to the north pole to keep the Emperor of Japan from getting assassinated and that this is all totally plausible because the north pole is in the Detroit River up around Mt. Clemens? And that you would surely succeed in your quest if you could stop getting lost and making out with the woman (Monica Potter) riding shotgun in your Honda Civic?

The best part? Even in my dreams I drive a crappy car.

monica potter

Just kidding, the best part was making out with Monica Potter.

I reckon this post will be melodramatic…

I wondered, I really did.  I honestly wondered if I was somehow “Woot Proof,” incapable of creating anything that resonated at the appropriate Woot frequencies, something that could be embraced by the mysterious and fickle wooters of the world.

Every week Woot holds “The Day of Reckoning,” in which they eliminate the 10 lowest-selling shirts on the site.  Forever and for good.  My designs have all launched themselves into that void at break-neck speed, heedless of the oblivion into which they descended.  The Casualties List is their familiar home.  Failure is their nourishment.  Anonymity their joy.

— Dramatic Pause —

No More!  In a bold and unprecedented endeavor, it seems that I have actually produced a successful t-shirt design for shirt.woot.com, one of my biggest and most beloved clients.  Its success is documented in the records of The Reckonings… Five times it has been tested, and five times it has endured and emerged from the rubble of Reckoned shirts unscathed!  At the peak of its glory it even managed to crack The Top Ten, a lofty territory that I was sure would forever close itself from my designs, those loathsome and pitiful denizens of The Bottom Ten… It’s name is Navy Seals, and I am very pleased to say that it is still for sale.

navy seals brian walline

The proof is in the pudding screen-shot:

brian walline navy seals


OK I know I just posted but since I’m mysteriously still awake at 5:45 in the morning I thought I’d take this opportunity to inform you that there are just about a zillion birds across the street and they’re all going BONKERS.  They’ve been going bonkers for hours, actually.  There are probably about twice as many going bonkers right now as there were an hour ago, which was twice as many as the hour before, but honestly at least 10 of those guys have been going bonkers since about midnight.  Birds, I’m trying to look out for you here, take up hiking or meditation or reading or something… before you piss off an owl.



I’m buying an owl.  Tomorrow.  A hungry one.  Until then… *Produces shotgun, wrestles desire to menace local wildlife*