Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Joe Bluhm

On the inside cover of my copy of REJECTS, Joe Bluhm was kind enough to do this drawing of my girls, Brady and Kaley. I ordered an advance copy, so he did this for me. I love it, so I just thought I'd share it with you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Rejects Rules!

Joe Bluhm , I'm proud to say, is a great friend of mine, and one of the most amazing caricaturists and artists I have ever known and had the privilege to work with. In his new book, "Rejects, the Extreme art of Retail Caricature", Joe shows some of the incredible artwork that has made him a legend among theme park caricaturists. He's since left retail caricaturing, and gone on to greener, more lucrative pastures in illustration for magazines and animation character designer. But this book is a great snapshot of the brilliance he gave themepark customers each and every time they sat down for him to draw. Sometimes grotesque, occasionally cruel, but always incredible, each piece in this book is a work of true caricature art.

For anyone interested in caricature, who wants to see the extremes that a talented purveyor of the art form can go to in rendering a person's face, go to and buy a copy of this book. Or even two. Or three. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tour, Tour, Tour, Part Deux

HEEEERRREEEE'SSSS Stonehenge! Seeing this place in person was amazing. Yeah, I REALLLYY believe some neolithic people spent centuries bringing these stones up here by rolling them on logs. And they JUST happen to be measured by the same "divine measure" (yes, they call it that) that the temple fo Jerusalem was, the Egyptian pyramids are, and the Central American pyramids are. Hmmm...methinks they're on the wrong trail here...
Next we went to the amazing town of Bath. Originally built by the Romans, the British rebuilt it centuries later.
It's in the middle of nowhere, in the English countryside. Too cool.

Well, that's it for now, gang. Thanks for reading, if you have been. We're flying out of here tomorrow, and will be home in sunny Florida by bedtime. We've had a great time on Jeremy and Shalisa's anniversary trip. It's a bit early still, but this was kind of an early anniversary trip for us as well (November 27th will be 14 happy years).

Signing out for now....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

London Daze

Today's been another great day in London (we love this city), as Steve and Wendy Hearn came over for the day and have been hanging with us. Here's us and the James' at Westminster Abby.
Next, me and Barbie beside one of the Beefeaters on horseback outside Buckingham Palace.
We couldn't get a time when no one else was taking photos, so we had to have the kid in the orange jacket back there in it with us. Sorry. We tried running him off, but it didn't work.
Here's all of us outside the Palace gates. I guess the Queen didn't get the message that it was us, or she would've had them let us in.
Finally, me next to favorite word lately.

To be continued....

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tour, Tour, Tour, part 2

Kee at Oxford
John Wesley's picture at Oxford

The nest and final stop on Saturday's tour was ChristChurch at Oxford University. It was amazing. The architecture, the "vibe" of it, just everything....was really impressive.

Plus, it has connections to:

Alice in Wonderland-Lewis Carroll was a math professor here for many years. Alice was the young daughter of one of the head guys at the school. Many of the characters and scenes in the book were inspired by things and people at the school.

Harry Potter- Lots of the movie scenes were filmed here, and several were inspired by things here. (I'm NOT a fan of these books, BTW, have never read them, and have big problems with a lot of the stuff in them, so this was all a little lost on me, but interesting, nonetheless.)

John Wesley- Who began the "Methodists"-originally a derogatory term by his enemies, by the way, attended here for awhile.

It was a tiring day, but an educating one. Now, finally, some sleep......

One last thing, though, before I sign off- I hear my almost nine year old is reading this back home with her grandparents...


Oh yeah...don't eat too much pizza and ice cream, okay? Love you, girl!


Me and B at Warwick Castle
Me pulling Jeremy into the Dungeon at Warwick
Giant Keelan at the Pub

After dining last night at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant (the guy from Hell's Kitchen, the reality show), we didn't get back to the hotel until after 2 am (we're five hours ahead of the STates, if you're keeping track). We were in bed right before 3, and the tour bus came to pick us up at 7:45 this morning! With our 7:15 wake up call, that was, oh, about 4 HOURS OF SLEEP!!!

We all piled on the crowded tour bus, barely awake, and snoozed most of the way to our first destination...Warwick Castle, up in the Cotswalds area of England. It rocked! This castle has been in several movies, including that Kevin Costner debacle, Prince of Thieves, and the classic Errol Flynn ROBIN HOOD. The orginal Guy of Warwick was supposed to have been a giant, basically, and fought dragons, monsters, etc. His descendants built this castle (or he did...I'm a bit confused). It was kept in the family for centuries, they were relatives of England's royalty, and many of their Kings and Queens stayed here. At least that's what I gathered from the tour.
One of the most fascinating things there, and THE CREEPIEST thing we've seen so far, was the dungeon here. Yikes. More on that later!

Next, we piled on the bus and went to a local pub for lunch (pubs are the only restaurants around). It was so old, and it's ceilings so low, I just about had to bend down to walk through it.

All of this was in the Cotswalds area, an area of England that used to produce wool. When the Industrial revolution hit, and cotton overtook wool in popularity, the Cotswalds plunged into financial despair, becoming virtually ghost towns overnight, with the people moving away in droves. But the result was now these towns exist very much like they did hundreds of years ago.
It's almost like they're in a time warp. I had never heard of the area, and so wasn't really jazzed to go see it, but now I'm so glad we did.

Next we went to Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. I never cared for Shakespeare's work, personally (or Francis Bacon's work, depending on the story you believe), but seeing the house with it's incredible gardens (where the kissing pic was taken), was really incredible. And the village itself was really picturesque.

To be continued.....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Touring on the Big Red Bus!

That's Big Ben... and, no, it's not actually growing out of Barbie's head.
My honey, looking at the map.
The London Bridge, as we rode over it.
Me and Barbie at Hyde Park, in front of the "Speaker's Corner".

Today the James' got into London. They came right to the hotel from the airport, and caught me eating breakfast at the buffet downstairs (it's difficult to eat every 2-3 hours here like I do back home, I'm finding...but that's another post). We spent the afternoon touring around on one of the big red tour buses you always see. Big Ben, London Bridge, Tower of London (which we toured through), Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, we saw them all. And even had time for lunch at an outdoor diner. It was a great day. And I'm finally getting over my jet lag. Mostly.

Merry Olde England!!!

Me and Barbie and the Hearns in the gorgeous backyard of their home.
Me unpacking in our hotel room, to give you an idea of where we're staying (yeah, I should've taken the shot BEFORE we through our bags everywhere..oh well).
Steve and Wendy at dinner at our restaurant at Covent Garden.

Yep, our traveling continues. We're now in the mother country, Merry Olde England. With someone like me, who'd rather stay home all the time, I keep did this happen? Well, it's like this... if you've been reading my blog this Summer, you may remember our trip to Myrtle Beach with my family and the members of Toxic Audio ( Particularly our very good friends, Jeremy and Shalisa James. Well, it was on that trip that they mentioned to us they were coming to London for their tenth anniversary. I JOKINGLY said maybe we should go along, since we had such a good time here a few years back. When they said they thought it was a great idea, and we realized they were serious, then we started thinking about coming. I did NOT want to fly eight hours over the Atlantic, especially since we'd only been home for a week or so, but, how could I pass it up? I mean, come on, touring England with two of our best buds in the whole world? It was a no-brainer.

We've been here since yesterday morning, and are having a great time. My friend Steve Hearn, from the NCN, picked Barbie and I up from the airport (we came in a day earlier than the James'), and took us back to his lovely home (about an hour or so outside of London). He and his wife, Wendy, and their daughter Louise, showed us a great time and took us to a local restaurant called a carvery for lunch. Later, Steve and Wendy took us into London to our hotel. We had dinner with them last night at a restaurant at Covent Garden. They were so nice to tour us around, and were great hosts. Thanks, guys!!!

I was so jetlagged, that I kept falling asleep, uncontrollably, all day long. Just doing stuff like riding down the road. Temporary narcolepsy. Weird. Oh well, a good night's sleep will fix that...

To be continued.....

Monday, August 06, 2007

Family Stories

If you've been reading my blog this Summer (And if you have, why aren't you posting comments? Hint hint, to all you lurkers!), you've seen a lot of pix of my family. Well, here's a couple more from recently. My grandmother continued her 80th Birthday celebration from Myrtle Beach (the trip we were on) a few weeks later up in Greenville SC, where we're all from. This was the "official" birthday party. Barbie and I and the girls weren't able to make this one, since we'd been in Myrtle. Mom and Dad went, though, as well as my sister, Lorie.

One of the two pix here is of my Dad and his Dad, Papa Parham. The other is of my grandparents and two of my Grandfather's sisters. Aunt Joyce, the one in blue, has written a couple of volumes of her autobiography over the past few years, telling old stories about she and my grandfather and their family growing up. Most of them I've never heard, but some of them, of course I have. She tells mostly the good stories, but some of the not-as -nice ones, too. Some of the family has gotten a bit miffed at her for telling the unflattering stories, mostly about my great-grandparents. But I think they're some of the best ones to hear. There's nothing truly bad in them anyway, it's just stories that show their "human-ness". To me, the "good" stories are good to know, but it's the other ones that really "flesh out" the people involved. I WANT to know their shortcomings as well as their strengths. Dealing with, overcoming, and sometimes just surviving those shortcomings, those faults and missteps, are what truly make a person who they are.

I think writing the stories down about your family should be a requirement for everyone. Unless you record what your life was like growing up, how are your kids, or THEIR kids going to know about you? Maybe they can learn from your mistakes, so they don't have to make them, you know? Or maybe they can just learn a bit about what made you like you are. Heck, maybe they'll just learn what your favorite cereal was growing up. Minor things, major things, ANYthing. When I think about the things I'll never know about my Grandparents on my Mom's side, because it was never written down, it makes me start to cry. These people that I loved and cherished so much, there's so much I don't know. And so much I barely remember. All my Grandfather's stories...they're all gone to me now. He used to love to talk. And I loved talking to him.

I've been after my parents to start their own memoirs for awhile now, ever since I read Aunt Joyce's first book. I find her books fascinating. To be honest, they're a lot of my inspiration this Summer in writing my blog here. This, in a way, IS my autobiography. Thanks, Aunt Joyce, for doing them. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Last week when I was in the MAD offices in NYC, Simpsons versions of all of the editors, the art director, etc., were displayed on the walls. Turns out they were just generated from the Simpson movie website. Try it yourself! It's a lot of fun. I think the address is I made one of me, but still thought it was a bit generic. So, I did some Photoshoppery on it, and this is the final result...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Escape From New York!

I always loved that Kurt Russell movie, "Escape From New York". But Sunday we really WERE trying to escape the Big Apple. Our flight was to leave at 4:20, and we were told to get to JFK about 2 hours early. We got this great limo/cab from our hotel, and took a nice, leisurely ride to the airport. The driver, an older gentleman from the Dominican Republic, was dressed in a white shirt and tie, was polite, and even spoke English (although with a heavy accent). His "cab" was a big black new Expedition SUV with cold air, leather seats, and was clean as a whistle. NOT your average NYC cab, that's for sure! He even managed to have DVDs of "Ratatouille" and "Surf's Up" for Brady to watch on the DVD player in the car. I didn't ask how he managed to have DVDs of MOVIES THAT ARE STILL IN THE THEATER. It was such a great cab ride, I found myself wanting it not to end, if you can believe it. Two hours later, I would bemoan the end of the cab ride even more.
We got to the airport almost exactly two hours before our takeoff time. As we caught a bite to eat at the "Chili's" there, we could hear the thunder rolling in. Yep, huge bands of storms were coming into the area. Storms were coming everywhere that day, I guess. We heard Orlando's airport, which we were flying into of course, even had it's power knocked out at one point. JFK was beginning to become a mess. I knew we were in trouble when I overheard two flight attendants talking. One said "Yeah, THIS is gonna be a rough day. They're canceling flights all over".


The photo above is where my girls and I spent the last SEVEN hours of our stay in NYC. It was a small sliver of space I found below a stairwell, behind a lighted NYC sign. But it was all ours, and it had an electrical box that we could hook our laptop up to. So, Barbie and I watched "24" on DVD while Brady played Nintendo. All day. But, you know what? We were fine with it. WE always pray that God puts us on the right flights, with the right attendants, the right pilot, the right passengers, in the right air. So, when we kept getting delayed, I just figured it wasn't time for us to fly yet. HE knows best. We had our little area, with plenty of stuff to eat and drink at the Food Court by us, and we were safe and sound. And together. It wasn't a bad setup at all.

Finally, at 10:20 they let us on our plane, a full six hours later than we should've been on. We sat on the runway for another hour (UGH), and finally left NYC at about 11:30. We got home around 2 am. Our VERY long day finally ended. We're now safe and sound back at home.