Category Archives: Creativity

Fun with filters

So Ron and I went to the last regular-season fireworks night of the year tonight at OneOK Field. Drillers lost, but when the ushers handed out what they referred to as “3-D glasses” (which were more like taleidoscopes), inspiration struck. Prismatic film, as it turns out, makes a pretty sweet filter for an iPhone camera:







Bonus: Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi were making rehab starts with the Drillers tonight, so we got to see a couple of big-leaguers play with our usual guys.

Hope your Friday was good, wherever you are.


A nerdtastic proposal

Ron posted something on his blog the other day about a British celebrity couple traveling Route 66 and hoping to avoid the paparazzi. One of them, Catherine Tate, played Donna Noble on Dr. Who.

Given the time-travel quality of the Mother Road, the TARDIS really wouldn’t seem out of place on Route 66 — which brings me to the most nerdtastic idea I’ve ever had: Life-sized replicas of famous sci-fi time machines placed along the Mother Road in strategic locations. They’d need to be positioned very carefully so geeks traveling 66 could use them for clever photo ops, with the time machines in the foreground and various historic landmarks in the background, but far enough from the landmarks themselves to avoid disrupting more historically accurate images.

For example: Why not stick a TARDIS across 66 and just west of Seaba Station so you could photograph it with that awesome old outhouse?

How hilarious would it be to find this in the middle of rural Oklahoma?
Imagine this in the background behind the TARDIS. You know you'd shoot that. Don't even try to tell me you wouldn't.

Or how about parking the Delorean from Back to the Future on that abandoned stretch of I-44 near Newburg, Mo.?

This would be great ...
... in front of John's Modern Cabins.

You’d have to put Bill and Ted’s phone booth out there someplace, of course:

Inconspicuous yet entertaining.
Perhaps Bill and Ted would enjoy stopping for a photo op with the Gemini Giant.

That steampunk-looking time sled from The Time Machine would look spectacular parked at, say, Little Tin Barn:

The only question ...
... is whether anybody would even notice the Time Sled sitting there with all this craziness in the background.

Or how about a Stargate out between Glenrio and San Jon?

How awesome would it be to find this ...
... on this lonely stretch of road?

Of course, the Enterprise has been known to boldly go through time as well as space when the occasion warranted. A life-sized replica would look about right in the Texas Panhandle, which is already sprinkled liberally with roadside oddities, courtesy of Stanley Marsh 3.

To boldly go ...
... to Conway, maybe? Can't be any weirder than the giant cross to the east in Groom or the Cadillac Ranch at the western edge of Amarillo.

Once I got started talking about sci-fi on 66, Ron offered up what might be the simplest and most potentially unnerving of all possible geeky roadside attractions. It’s not a time machine, but how creepy would it be to run across this …

… in the middle of the Mojave Desert?

It would freak me right the hell on out if I saw the sun setting over the monolith as I approached Cadiz Summit.

I could also see the TARDIS or a Stargate showing up along 66 somewhere between Hackberry and Kingman, perhaps in the general vicinity of Giganticus Headicus.


This is brilliant.

I got a Christmas present in the mail today:

It’s a toilet-paper cozy. My Aunt Jean designed it. She’s wicked with a ball of yarn — she also sent two sock monkey potholders, a gorgeous (and very soft) robin’s-egg-blue sweater for me, and a scarf and hat for Ron — but this is the most Craftster-worthy thing I have ever seen.


This may be the coolest Christmas present I’ve gotten since 1981*….


* My smartass little sister was born Dec. 25, 1981.


I just remembered that I never got around to posting these photos I shot on my trip to visit my family in July. Oops. Better late than never, right?

The highlight of the trip was the day Mom and Dad rented a big van, loaded up all three of us kids and all the grandkids, and took us to St. Louis to have lunch at Union Station and play at the City Museum, which is basically what you’d get if I had an unlimited budget, a seven-story building, and altogether too much time on my hands.

Jamie and Hazel feed the fish in the koi pond at Union Station in St. Louis while my dad looks on.
The kids really enjoyed feeding the fish.
I have no idea how these fish are not morbidly obese.
Jamie and Ollie visit with the trained circus dogs at the City Museum.
Protip: The iPad cat video game app will keep a toddler busy for a good 20 minutes.
Hazel explores a playhouse at the City Museum.
Our friend Kayci and her son, Gruvis, met us at the museum.
Mom entertains Ollie while Grace and Kayci chat with Gruvis.
Dad inexplicably let this lady talk him into letting her paint his head.
Here's her glittery, fire-breathing handiwork.
Jamie totally dug the skate-free indoor skatepark.
Ollie thought it was hilarious when Geoff pushed his stroller over the ramps.
Watching a performance by a pack of trained dogs, Ollie squealed and clapped and waved. Somewhere, Mom has a picture of his namesake uncle at this age, reacting in precisely the same way to a herd of trained elephants at a circus.
I'm totally making one of these for the kitchen.
I keep saying this, but one day, I really WILL cover my ceiling with chicken wire and strips of shredded fabric.
When I get around to redoing the bathroom, I am stealing this idea.
This is the roof of the City Museum. Love the giant praying mantis.
I have GOT to make one of these for my classroom ... except I think it's going to have the quadratic formula or something on it instead of "art city."
I want a giant turtle like this in my living room.

Hope your summer was full of love and inspiration.


The third-base coach waved me home.

Sorry I’ve been so quiet; I’m nearing the end of a 10-day road trip. I’ll post a full report when I get home, but in the meantime, I’m contemplating the strange and graceful way a figure from my childhood keeps sending my thought into familiar places with new eyes.

Last summer, I spent three days watching Ryne Sandberg manage the Iowa Cubs in a series against the OKC RedHawks. I got back to Tulsa to find that most of my friends and colleagues were unfamiliar with my childhood hero.

I thought, This would never happen in Southern Illinois, and three days later, I was sitting in a dugout at Diamond Three in Herrin, reading a W.P. Kinsella novel and watching a thunderstorm roll in while I made my peace with my hometown.

At the Triple-A level, the manager coaches third base. Last summer, my favorite third-base coach waved me home.

This summer, Ryno is managing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in Allentown, Pa., so Ron and I used that as an excuse to head east on the Lincoln Highway. Along the way, I discovered that it might be possible for me to survive somewhere besides Route 66: I fell in love with the farmland of Iowa; the vibrant energy of Chicago; the charming downtowns of Goshen, Ind., and Van Wert, Ohio; the giant teapot in Chester, W. Va.; the winding mountain roads of rural Pennsylvania; and the ethnic neighborhoods and skinny townhouses with old men killing time on their front stoops in the narrow side streets of Allentown.

Everywhere we went, I mumbled, “I could teach here,” until this afternoon, it suddenly occurred to me that I don’t want to live in any of the places I’ve visited; I just want to gather up what makes me happy about those places and bring it back to Tulsa, the way I gather up little souvenirs and glue them all over my dashboard. That love-the-one-you’re-with ethos that drove me to paint pictures on cabinet doors and turn my ordinary Honda into a unique artcar suddenly spilled over, and it clicked for me: Tulsa does not understand its own potential. Forget the Glenn Pool. We are sitting on a much larger reserve of a much more powerful resource: our own diversity and creativity.

After tonight’s game, we’re heading back to Tulsa, and I am bringing a boatload of shiny objects to glue on my town’s metaphorical dashboard. From here on in, I am indulging all of my artistic impulses, and I am encouraging others to do the same, even — and maybe especially — if those impulses involve public acts of eccentricity, because it is high time we tapped this giant pool of creativity we’ve been sitting on all these years.

Once again, the third-base coach is waving me home.

Stay tuned. I feel a massive, contagious creative outburst coming on.


What I’ve been up to

Here’s all the stuff I’ve been doing instead of blogging lately:

1. Babysitting. My friend Linda is recovering from surgery, so last weekend, I borrowed her kids and spent the day doing kid stuff: We fed turtles and petted starfish at the Oklahoma Aquarium, had cheeseburgers for lunch in Jenks, headed out to Catoosa for an afternoon photo op at the Blue Whale, and capped our adventures with a trip to the playground at Tracy Park.

The kids enjoyed signing my car … which leads us to my next adventure:

2. Inadvertently joining an artcar parade. Really. We pulled out of the hardware store parking lot Saturday afternoon and found ourselves smack in the middle of the Tulsa ArtCar Weekend, which we didn’t even realize was going on until someone stuck a note to my car while I was at dinner Friday night. Since we were already in the middle of the parade anyway, we just cruised along with the other artcars to Blue Rose, where the participants welcomed the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar as a late, unofficial addition to the show. I didn’t have my camera with me, but Ron had his, so he got some shots of the festivities. Here are a few highlights:

This is the Rockin' Holy Roller. It belongs to C.M. and Grace Kelly Laster, a pair of Southern folk artists whose work reminds me of what you'd get if you crossed Howard Finster with Wes Freed. They were very cool and gave me an awesome "God Hates Hate" bumper sticker for the Dreamcar.
This is the Stink-Bug, a rolling statement about the evils of cigarette smoking. It is completely covered in mosaics made from old cigarette butts that have been treated with sign sealer to make them weatherproof.
And here we have the classic Splittie-turned-artcar. This great old VW Type 2 is a tribute to the owner's poodles. It is outfitted with 3-D poodles that wag their tails and a cutout city skyline illuminated by LEDs.

That was just the beginning of my Memorial Day weekend. The adventures continued on Sunday afternoon, with:

3. Feeding animals. We spent yesterday afternoon at Safari’s Sanctuary. I take back all the snarky stuff I’ve said about Broken Arrow being nothing more than a breeding ground for boring yuppies. In point of fact, it is a breeding ground for boring yuppies and kangaroos.

For the record, kangaroos totally dig Cheetos, which you can buy in the gift shop.
You can also buy frozen chicken legs to feed the big cats. This beautiful tiger really enjoyed a cold treat on a hot afternoon. I wanted to pet her, but apparently there are federal laws forbidding that sort of thing. Poop. 😦
Luckily, the feds don't have a problem with it if you want to let a California king snake climb up your shoulder.

I want a snake, but Ron won’t let me have one. He did, however, let me buy a sparkly rubber dragon to wear around my wrist at our last stop for the weekend:

3. Going to the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival in Muskogee. A couple of my students work down there on weekends, and they kept telling me how much fun it was, so we went down to see them this afternoon.

This is Gabbie. Isn't her costume cute?
Tara was selling jewelry at one of the outdoor booths.
The children's area looked like what would happen if Dave Dardis partied with the late Hugh Davis.

Hope you’ve had lots of adventures, too.


One of the perks

There are down sides to being a teacher in a public school, the three main ones being — to borrow a line from the late Warren Zevon — lawyers, guns, and money. If legal requirements aren’t tying your hands in one direction, security policies are tying your hands in another … and don’t even get me started on funding issues.

Throw in self-serving political maneuvering by people who have never set foot in a public-school classroom for anything more than a carefully scripted photo op; standardized test scores and all the attendant pressure and paranoia surrounding them; and the endless (and moronic) scapegoating of mythical “bad teachers” who are supposedly to blame for everything that’s wrong with public education, and … well, it’s almost enough to make a girl wonder why she ever let a certain smooth-talking little smartass coax her back into the profession in the first place.


And then the girl in question runs across a student project from last semester that reminds her of exactly why she let said smartass talk her into said profession:


Precocious teenagers can’t fix everything, but their off-kilter sense of humor definitely makes the down side of working in the public sector easier to stomach.


Paradise by the dashboard lights

<Don LaFontaine voice>

“In a world populated by glow-in-the-dark lizards, sushi-eating rattlesnakes and robots, and chopstick-wielding aliens, the gods have gone mad. Poseidon menaces a Care Bear with his trident, Crete’s mythical Minotaur threatens to steal sake from a drunken flamingo, and a fearsome chimaera fixes its frightening gaze on all who dare to look upon it. Only one man has the range, the batting average, and the speed on the basepaths to restore order to this debauched land of plasticine mayhem….”

</Don LaFontaine voice>

<Harry Caray voice>

“It might be … it could be … IT IS!

Holy cow! Ryne Sandberg has come to the Friendly Confines of the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar!”

</Harry Caray voice>

Or will as soon as this sucktacular weather gets above freezing long enough for the superglue to work, anyway.

For those of you who are interested in such things: This is a 1989 Starting Lineup action figure. I got it in its original packaging, but the blister pack was partially crushed, and the accompanying baseball card was poorly printed and appeared to have sustained some sun damage, destroying its value as a collectible. As dashboard garnish, however, it’s worth the whole penny I paid for it.

Yeah, you read that right. I got a 22-year-old action figure, still in its original (albeit severely damaged) packaging, for a penny. A Ryne Sandberg figure would have set me back somewhere between $5 and $40, + Ivan DeJesus … but thanks to the magic of functionally illiterate eBay sellers, his little-known identical twin “Ryan” was going for a mere penny.

My dashboard is about to get a little bit hotter….


How cool is this?

Craftster Best of 2010 Winner
I’m a Craftster Best of 2010 Winner!

One of my classroom projects actuallly made’s “Best of 2010” list!

Remember the chalkboard number lines I made out of yardsticks and blackboard paint to help my kids get the hang of graphing inequalities? I posted them — and the little robot chalkboards that went with them — on Craftster, mostly to offer a little inspiration to other teachers who might be lurking around there. I’m not sure how they beat out so many awesome projects in the “Miscellaneous” category, but there they were on the list!

Incidentally, Craftster is a terrific site. The creativity over there makes my occasional outbursts look downright tame by comparison. A few examples from the “best of” list:

Homemade deodorant. Based on the ingredients, this looks as if it would actually work very well.
Video game-themed manicure. I’ve got some fake nails in the bathroom that I’ve been thinking about attacking with paintmarkers. Hmmm….
Crockpot granola. Also known as “what Emily is making for breakfast tomorrow.”
Adorable eyepatches. Mad props to this little girl’s mama for thinking up a cool way to turn something potentially traumatic into something fun: Little kids sometimes freak out over eyepatches, but the other kids all thought this little girl was cool, because her kittycat eyepatch made her look like a kick-ass pirate with excellent fashion sense. Bonus that her cat-with-an-eyepatch design reminds me of the illustration one of my students drew while we were reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Black Cat” during class one afternoon. ,|..|
Stained-glass window. Dazzling.
I think I just figured out what to do about my ugly-kitchen-light-fixture problem. I just need to round up about two million LED Christmas lights.
How adorable is this?
Love this. I’ve been plotting something similar, in a different color scheme, for my kitchen chairs.
This one is definitely on my to-do list for next weekend.
Love this.
Clever Shrinky Dink ring. I think Princess Wiggly and I need to get together soon, because this looks like a perfect project for her.
Craziest spice jars ever. I’m totally stealing this idea.
Coolest purse ever. The Green Woman motif has me contemplating the possibilities of a soft-sculpture sheela for my vaguely-Irish-but-mostly-just-garden-themed kitchen….

There’s plenty more on the list. Go take a look. Just don’t blame me if you end up in the throes of an overwhelming creative outburst by the time you get done looking through all the cool stuff other people thought up.