Tag Archives: family

High-pitched Squeals.

x-babies x-babies

“I wake up dreaming again.”

– Little Feat

I am done pinching myself. That card is real. The one deck archetype that I created all by myself, immortalized on official Vs. System cardboard. Life just keeps getting better for me. Being human in 2008 is simply exquisite.

One of the ways I maximize the human experience is a sort of deep reflection coupled with the urge to figure things out. So why do I like the X-Babies so much? I wonder.


I think one of the main attractions to Chibi characters is the sense of vibrant color that youth infuses into the grey mental objectivity of adulthood. I don’t ever want to grow up.


Kids retain an essential purity. People can be so cruel. They often grow increasingly ugly in attitude and perspective. Youngsters start fresh, and they represent the hope of remaining uncontaminated.


I also adore flying eyeballs, so I guess a certain quest for philosophical simplicity may be in play. I love to distill things down until they are a single point. Then, when I return to the complicated experience of humanity, it looks like a little child all over again.


That’s a photo of my classroom this morning, and it brings me to one more reason that I will always dig the X-Babies. Today I am teaching computer theory to second, third, and fourth graders. I explain how a silicon chip converts binary codes thanks to the ability of their individual atoms to be programmed to stay “on or off”. You can see the fabulous drawings that one class of seven-year-olds did scattered around the tables. Want another second grade artistic interpretation of the atomic-level workings of computer memory? Okay.


That, however, is not the thing that I feel every time I see the X-Babies bursting forth from their new Vs. System card.

When my son was four or five years old, I taught him about atoms. They are spinning bits of matter that are really made of energy, and there are no batteries inside. He figured out, in true X-Baby style, what that means.

“God is in the atoms!”, he said.

It was the best explanation I have heard, and I have been squealing like this ever since.


Filed under Comic Books, Vs. System, X-Babies

President Obama, the Artist.


My formal education was focused on Fine Arts, yet I consider every person an artist. No matter what you do or how you do it, you have your own sense of style.

But.  If we do not rescue the Arts at this turning point in our nation’s history, our cultural identity will be reduced to basic marketing and data processing. We will all still be artists, but we won’t be any good.

When it comes to the visual arts and Arts education, we are in trouble. The struggling economy combines with an emphasis on high-stakes standardized tests to strangle the creativity from our national voice. Arts programs and teachers are being cut from the system like blooming branches, leaving nothing but a bare trunk.

That is the main reason I focused all the energies I had on electing Barack Obama as President of the United States. After our completely exhausting, yet utterly satisfying victory, the new website change.gov was launched. I rushed over to see how the platform for the Arts contained in my first link had been preserved. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Before I go any further, I would like to introduce the work of Michael Murphy, exhibited in the Blackridge Gallery at Georgia College & University. The magnificent drawing at the top of this post is his, and his wire sculpture knocks my socks off.  Mike was gracious enough to give me permission to host his stuff here, but you really need to visit his site to get the full effect. Again, that’s www.mmike.com. It will enrich your soul.

The swirling uncontrolled greed that George W. Bush and his cronies unleashed on our nation has depleted the resources necessary for the Arts to thrive in our schools. Barack Obama understands that “The Art Spirit” needs to have a home in education and in our culture as a whole. He clarified his position a bit more within an issues page on change.gov, and he actually admitted that he considers himself an artist!

Barack Obama’s Plan


Our nation’s creativity has filled the world’s libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books – Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.

At first I was conflicted. Whoever wrote “as the author of two best-selling books” should have known how crass and common that pitch would sound. When I calmed down enough to understand what it was trying to say (taking out the “best-selling” would help for me) I realized that basically…

Our new President Elect considers himself an artist. As should we all.

John Lee took that photograph. It was two years ago, as Barack the Artist was sharing his work with an appreciative audience during a book signing. His chosen medium has changed drastically in 24 months. He will now be molding the clay of the entire planet.

Of course the tiny blurb about the Arts on the new website is nothing substantial. It is still more than we have heard from anyone this close to the ability to enact real change. Combined with the call for feedback sitting one click away from it on the page, it is more than enough for me.

Our cries have been heard, and understood, and championed by a fellow creative soul. President Obama, we salute you. Artist to artist.

By Joe Raedle, right down here in Miami.

By schwa242 at deviantart.com.

By artumus-gonzo at deviantart.com.

By roberlan at deviantart.com.

Whatever your style, whatever your most important issue, make sure you click around on change.gov until you find something to add to the new national suggestion box. There is a new day rising for feedback between the government and its people. Be creative with it, and express yourself. We are all artists in our own way. And now we have a President who understands that.


Filed under Politics, The Interwebs Rock!, Weekend in Heaven

Getting in the Spirit.

This, the month of all months, is almost halfway gone. What are you going to be? Today I’d like to share with you some of my students, turning themselves inside out.  Boo!

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Filed under Art I live with.

The Greatest Compliment.

My friends, I am humbled.  The new job has not only enlarged my soul and recharged my spirit, but a second grader filled me with so much pride yesterday that I barely know what to say.  As I was finishing my spiel and revving them up to get glowing with abstract art, I heard a whisper in the corner of the room as she exclaimed to her friend…

“When I grow up I want to be an Art Teacher!” she said.

It was the greatest compliment I can imagine.


Filed under Art I live with.

Big-time Update: Life is Good.

Hello my friends.  I hope life is treating you well, because she is dancing for me.  Some amazing new things I have to share.   Hang on tight.

My one and only sister got married Saturday, to a former Michigan Wolverine football player.  He has mad stories about Bo Schembechler, and he makes my sister really happy.  A very welcome addition to our family, especially since the rehearsal dinner was conducted on a local wooden roller coaster with all the kids!


One of my former students made the biggest of big-time splashes in the art world.  Stephen Bauman now sports a New York Gallery and a feature in Art Collector magazine.  He is also selling every painting he finishes for thousands of dollars.  Huge pride swells in me.  Steve is the most talented artist I have ever known, and the three years he spent in my class were the best of times.  He really deserves this.

This is what Steve looked like (on the right) when he graduated from my high school program, before he got his scholarship to Italy:

And now, my new job!  I taught last summer at the most wonderful old-school Elementary.  It sits a mere two miles from my house.  It is Heaven on Earth.  When I lost my job officially at the alternative high school that I had spent the last 12 years of my career, the phone started ringing.  I went to three interviews and was offered all three positions.  The morning I was about to make my decision, I decided to call Greynolds Park just to make sure that my dream gig was not available before I committed to another school.   My dreams came true.  The one school in the whole world that I would choose above all others had a new opening.  They remembered me from the previous summer, and hired me on the spot.  I am typing from my office, smack dab in the middle of paradise.  Thanks to everyone who sent me prayers and good vibes.  We did it!

Those are two windows into my new world, taken last summer.  Stay tuned during the upcoming year for some spectacular kid’s stuff.  My life is floating through the clouds with a dream job, and it is good.


Filed under Art I live with., Rambles

Thursday Thirteen: Meeting the Goals.


(Magneto gets inspirational, by Adam Kubert and Mark Irwin)

Hello friends, and welcome to the Spring Break edition of the Full Body Transplant Thursday Thirteen!  I have to get back to my week of cavorting, so this one is going to be a bit different. 

I got this email yesterday.  The subject line simply said ‘Thanks.’  I am going to chop it into 13 parts and share it with you.

1. “Although this is not the first of this kind of message I’ve typed up to send you, they remain important to me, regardless…”

2. “… because the revelations they signify are something that I need to express my gratitude for.”

3.  “Rian, you’ve been an immense source of inspiration…”

4.  “… both in this silly trading card game that binds and brings us all together…

5.  “… and as a person too.”

6.  “It’s that kind of unflinching dedication and experience that you have…”

7. “… and openly share…”

8. “… that made me realize that we are creatures of unlimited potential.” 

9.  “That as long as we try…”

10. “… there’s nothing stopping us from changing the world.”

11.  “Although not nearly enough, I’d like to thank you as sincerely and as I humanly can…”

12.  “… for talking to me on occasion…”

13.  “… and for being the extraordinary person you are. ”

I was touched by that letter, and it filled me with a sense of accomplishment.  It was from someone I have never met in person.  Someone nearly 30 years younger than I am, who will live on to enhance this world long after I am gone.  I don’t really set goals in my life, but if I did… a lot of them would have been confirmed by that letter.  The best part?  It inspired me to write a similar letter of my own and send it to someone who has inspired me. 

Happy Thursday, everyone.  Now back to my Spring Break!


Filed under Thursday Thirteen.

Keeping the Game Alive.

Team Spirit.

(Deadgirl arising with Team Spirit, by Dan Panosian, from Upper Deck’s Vs. System.)

Okay gang, it’s time to show the hater(s?) what we are made of.  Thankfully, there are only a tiny few nasty boys left on the boards.  Let’s leave them behind and really progress this time, as a community.

I just found some spectacular aphorisms that are very appropriate at this moment in our evolution as a trading card game commmunity.  (Thanks Sandy!)

 We can do this.  I know we can.  Let’s take these to heart, and keep the good vibes going until the “dead body” of our beloved game jumps up and starts dancing wildly again.

1. Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
2. Words that soak into the ears are whispered, not yelled.
3. Meanness doesn’t just happen overnight.
4. Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.
5. Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
6. It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
7. You cannot unsay a cruel word.
8. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

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