insurance design

Smoking Charges Ignite

Last night, Amy took Anna, our seven-year-old, to the dress rehearsal for her 2015 dance recital. I was left in charge of Will, our nine-year-old, and Ella, our three-year-old. What follows is a litany of the kids showing me that I exist in their world as a piece of tightly-spun twine, permanently...

[ Swap Article ]

Sad Child

Mimicry

Our actions become our kids' reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it's a truism all the same. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Car radio

Piece of Sh*t Car Reprise

When I was in high-school, a popular song named "Ode to My Car," by Adam Sandler, spun regularly on the radio. No, it didn't. All foul-mouthed teenage boys wished such happy, unfiltered radio days would appear, but that didn't stop the explicit lyrics from making an impact, even if the song's plot...

[ Swap Article ]

ad-sample

Advertise Here

The entertainer waited patiently at the street corner. Regaled in his Darth Vader mask, he struck a menacing, if not eye-brow raising, figure. A black cape flowed behind him in the soft downtown breeze, also ruffling the hem of his …...

[ Swap Article ]

Re-gifting

Certain messes in life are unavoidable. If you get a DUI and your hair is sufficiently mussed or you manage to jam your finger into the nearest outlet just prior to the mug-shot, chances are you'll be a big-time celebrity some day. ...

[ Swap Article ]

A Reasonable Explanation

Therapist: Take me back to the beginning. Tell me how it all got started, how you eventually wound up holding the bloody knife in the aftermath of your killing spree. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation....

[ Swap Article ]

That's a Mouthful

Waking up to the sounds of birds and (outside) insects is alluring, and when you have your second 10th cup of coffee and realize you are on vacation, and this auditory lovemaking is real, not the result of an ambitious-carpet-cleaning hallucination, you can finally relax, letting your bulk stress...

[ Swap Article ]

Stupid Piece of ... Oh, That's Right

I'm a realist. I call things like they are, and if I look stupid in the process, well, so be it. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Deadly Donuts

The morning started off good. Four eggs fluffed with a splash of milk, mixed with Parmesan and salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and slathered with Cholula hot sauce; four ounces of Bob Evan's spicy Italian sausage (sorry for the smell, honey, luv ya) fried into the wonderful concoction;...

[ Swap Article ]

When Did I Become a Pushover?

I've never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to...

[ Swap Article ]

As I Approach 30

I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

[ Swap Article ]

0
???????????????????????

Filed Under , on June 30th, 2018

Editor’s Note–TFF Issue #18

By Seth Kabala

The entertainer waited patiently at the street corner. Regaled in his Darth Vader mask, he struck a menacing, if not eye-brow raising, figure. A black cape flowed behind him in the soft downtown breeze, also ruffling the hem of his kilt.

Still he waited.

He waited with eyes/mask eye-hole cutouts raised toward the pedestrian signal box, one foot planted on the ground, the other on a pedal of his unicycle. He made no attempt to cut the distance illegally, no rolling dart across the cross-walk and in-between motorists traveling in perpendicular fashion. He appeared content to rest in his slanted pose for an indeterminate period of time, so confident in owning the pose, and even the ground on which he had paused, he appeared a living, silent, motionless embodiment of leadership. If influence is measured in involuntary strangers’ gazes, this man had become the new Obama of 2008. He was audacious. He gave hope. He inspired.

He moved.

Off the curb, down the sloped pedestrian entrance ramp, and into the street. Halfway across, the signal changed from walk to flashing hand. His time for movement would soon end, and, evidently desirous to give his impromptu audience their money’s worth, he shifted his weight mid-pedal, swung a set of bag pipes onto his hip, gave the bag a couple of hard slaps, and produced the first low and scattterred tones of the evening’s performance.

But the show had only just begun.

Safe on the other side, he rolled down the side walk and transitioned the aural mess into a passable version of The Star Spangled banner. The song bounced off the high rise walls, creating a fleeting amplification. Then it was gone, and a George Lucas, Welsh evening stroll changed shades of interesting down a few clicks on the dial.

The train bell dinged. Shit! My stop. How long had I been standing there? Should I run the last block? Should I get out of the intersection? Search Craigslist for bagpipes and unicycles and instructors akimbo? Anything seemed possible. Who was behind the mask? Why had he rolled that way?

***
Why indeed? The preceding was a true account of what I witnessed downtown recently. To determine the rider’s true motivation would require a feat of investigative journalism, so let’s look at things through a Family Farce lens. Specifically, I’m going to frame Vaderkiltcycle in terms of the growing talents of my children. There’s more to a picture than first impressions, for youthful artistic expression as well as for grown ass men.

For almost a year now, Will and I have split creative duties (me, writer; Will, illustrator) on his comic strip, which he’s dubbed Meow, Meow, because, of course, it’s about cats, lots of them. During the same time, Anna and I have split creative duties in the same manner. She’s dubbed her strip Catix, as in cat comics. We’re into hundreds-of-strips territory now. The art has advanced and the writing, too. Comic strip writing is new ground for me. The Family Farce has always been about curated, artistic experimentation. So it shall remain with these strips we’re producing. They’re getting closer. Look for them in these pages in the not-too-distant future.

Will’s character cast includes Simon, Jerry, Quizzle, C.A.T., Smudge, Goggles, Klutzy, and the Owner. Each character has its own identity, backstory, and motivations. Each bears the mark of Will’s artistic pencil strokes. Unique angles and shading among billions of humans capable of applying pencil to paper. And why? Why is it unique? It is unique because Will is unique.

The general premise of Anna’s strip is the same, but the stories diverge. Anna’s approach to creation (animal friends who drive each other crazy) is in some sense a cardboard cutout of hundreds of other strips. Look at the character composition of any talking animal-based strip in syndication today, and I think you’ll see my point. The raw materials are the same. Only the assemblage, building locale, and color choices are different. Anna’s character cast includes Puff, Fuzz, Daisy, Shivers, Sox, and, of course, the Owner. Again, the renderings are unique, because Anna is unique.

Why, at six-years-old, does Ella ride her 10 and 12-year-old siblings’ comically-too-big-for-her bikes? Why does she mirror everything? Why intentionally twist phrases like Doritos Nacho Cheese into word play like Nautical Trees, holding an impish grin, waiting for a reaction? Why create, totally independent of your siblings’ artistic activities, a comic strip about penguins (characters so far: Bob, Joe, and Cinder), named Waddles? These strips maintain the same company line of artistic independence and uniqueness, because, as before, Ella is unique.

While Will and Anna’s artistic skills have, in the space of only a few years, begun to move away from early Simsons-esque to more polished renderings, Ella is still in the amorphous phase of drawing. If she puts in the work, she’ll produce great stuff, and we’ll feature it here in the pages of The Family Farce. Because she exists, she’s capable of producing magic.

Why create comic strips about cats and penguins? Comics bring smiles to rain soaked faces. They bring flavor to mundane lunches, color to black and white pictures, dimension to flat images. They are probably the only portion of a Sunday paper than many have ever read.

Have you seen the early sketches of The Simpsons? Very crude, rudimentary. But who cares? Nearly three decades later, the crude and rudimentary have amassed a fan base in the millions if not billions, have earned revenue in the billions, and have outpaced the expectations of everyone who looked at the jaundiced early sketches and said, “The fuck is this?”

In Q2 2018, I wrote about literal pet peeves, Amazon’s impact on my life, and delved back into fiction with the latest installment of Bullet Proof. (Note-within-a-note: check your pacemaker. Brenda gets a surprise!) With topics as diverse as those, how can we tie together a theme? Simple. It’s all creative art. It’s all people moving and doing and impacting lives. Every freeze frame could be a tableau worthy of inclusion into the Smithsonian.

Filtered through the lens of children, double-filtered through the lens of Vaderkiltcycle, I say artistic expression that spawns further artistic expression is its own source of renewable magic. It is spun from threads of strong bonds. Could your artistry make you billions? Could mine? Could my children’s? Anything is possible, but that’ not why we do it.

We do it in the spirit of Vaderkiltcycle? Of creating for the sake of creating. Damn the consequences. Damn the judgement. Damn the errant breeze blowing through downtown that made us grateful for underwear.

Let it not be a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away that creative memories reside. Let them be here, now, on your street, with you.

Let the sidewalks and airways be clear for the unicycles and bagpipes in us all.

Cheers, Vaderkiltcycle.

 

FacebookGoogle+PinterestRedditTwittertumblrEmail



Leave a Reply





Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments Load Comments


Open and closed recycle brown carton delivery packaging box.

The Unboxing

Shortly after moving to Portland, I asked our office administrative specialist to order me a footrest. I asked for the footrest for a practical reason: lower back pressure relief. I have a stand-up desk. This works well to get my stand hours in during the day--Apple faithful, you know what I'm...

[ Swap Article ]

God character working on telemarketing vector illustration. Telemarketing, sales, business, marketing design concept

Let there Be Devices

We have over a dozen devices now, and the number is only going to grow from here. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Money eye bottle soda water isolated on mascot

Hydrating Water

Phil wasn't sure what caused his muscles to dehydrate and shrivel up into jerky encased in skin, but he understood the aftermath. His career was over. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Einstein - Think

You're Smart

We were talking around the dinner table about what it means to get a college degree. I said you pass a bunch of tests, and then they give you a piece of paper that says you're smart. I finished my explanation saying employers can rely on that piece of paper as evidence that you're smart. Anna, 11,...

[ Swap Article ]

Madre Greater than Padre

Madre > Padre

A couple weeks ago, Amy diagnosed and changed out all three fuses that controlled electrical flow to the outlets in our car. Super sexy. Super cool. When I say that Amy did it, I don't mean that I was standing on the sidelines, guiding hands and helping words coaching her to a successful solution. I...

[ Swap Article ]

Ben Comedy Main Headshot 2019 Lego Tshirt Hi Res_May 2019 Profile Piece

An Interview with Ben Rosenfeld (feature)

Acceptance and Current Events ...

[ Swap Article ]

Cartoon stick figure drawing conceptual illustration of angry man or businessman targeting with antique cannon ready to fire.

Bolt-Action Cannonball Sack

"Can you do the bolt-action cannonball sack?" Ella asked me today during bedtime. She was trying to remember the name of the move I do when I toss her over my shoulder and then flip her onto the bed. (I call it the fireman’s carry/toss.) Earlier, she was playing Fortnite with Will and must have...

[ Swap Article ]

?????????????????????????????????????????????????

Time Traveling Titan

At Toastmasters last week, the theme was National Velociraptor Awareness Day (a real thing). During Table Topics, one of the questions was this: describe your experience finding the first velociraptor claw. Tonight, the whole family is going to watch Avengers: Endgame. In the spirit of honoring the...

[ Swap Article ]

Customer icon emotions satisfaction meter with different symbol on background

Peaked Performance

I feel like the brain-training app Peak is a walking, talking (or, more accurately, a clicking, screen-time bloating) irony. The stated goal of this app is to improve your lifelong mental processing potential in several categories, like problem-solving and memory. The irony is that you Peak quickly....

[ Swap Article ]

Grunge green accepted word round rubber seal stamp on white background

Editor's Note--TFF Issue #21

On Easter Sunday afternoon, we took our kids to a trampoline/obstacle course park, but not just any ordinary park. This wasn't a collection of four-feet-across questionable exercise equipment in the trailer park's social activities room. (If we cobble together a bunch of small trampolines, we could...

[ Swap Article ]

Mad scientist holding up a test tube

Ammo Arms (part one)

...

[ Swap Article ]

Set, collection of colorful socks icons with different ornaments isolated on white background.

Waiting for Sock

Think about stuff you need to get you through your day. Does coffee come to mind? Of course it does. For millions of Americans and billions of people around the world, coffee, in its various forms, is a daily ritual. Not just a daily ritual--an hourly fix, as in you need to grab more black sludge...

[ Swap Article ]