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Not too long ago I decided to do some miscellaneous Facebook surfing by lurking on a group that has been set up for alumni of my old high school. Part of the reason was to keep my mind off my continuing job hunt and the latest political news. (I remember that was the night when new White House communications direction Anthony Scaramucci went off the profanity-laden deep end. Scaramucci was fired soon after that incident—after he had spent only 10 days working at his new job.)

While I was lurking on that high school alumni group on Facebook and scrolling through old posts that one recent night, I learned that my former music teacher, Tim Landers, had died last year of complications stemming from a liver transplant. He was either 63 or 64 (I was only able to figure out his age because he wrote this Facebook post on October 14, 2013 where he said that he was 61 so I did the math and, no, I don’t know the date of his birthday so I have no idea if he managed to celebrate his latest birthday before his death or not). In the comments section someone posted a video of a song that he wrote and sang about Ocean City, Maryland. I watched the video and I kind of liked the laid-back vibe of the song. It’s the quintessential summer song that’s perfect to listen to if you’re on a beach anywhere in the world. Here’s the video below, titled “It’s a Shore Thing.”

If you like “It’s a Shore Thing,” you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.

I also found another video he did as part of a trio known as The Landers and Heinz Project. It was a live performance of another song he wrote as he and his partners were playing on a local radio station in Ocean City. The song is called “Scotch and Soda” and it is just as laid-back as the other song. (Tim Landers is the guy in the glasses and mustache playing his guitar and singing.)

If you like “Scotch and Soda,”  you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby or iTunes.

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis would know that I don’t have too many fond memories of my old high school. In fact, last summer I went back to my old school for the first time in many years just so I could photograph my hand giving the middle finger to that school. I was on my way to the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Baltimore (link is NSFW) when I did this. Yes, I took advantage of the longer days so I could check out my old school quickly before driving on to Baltimore.

While I was mostly miserable in the five years I attended that huge school complex known as the Old Mill Educational Complex (one year in Old Mill Middle School-North and four years in Old Mill Senior High), there were a few teachers there who provided a few bright spots in what was otherwise a miserable existence. Like I wrote in last year’s post where I included that picture of my hand giving the finger:

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics.

Among those teachers who were dedicated at their jobs was Tim Landers, who taught music (mainly guitar). I took four semesters of guitar class with him until I had exhausted all of the guitar classes that my high school offered. The one thing I never realized about him until after I learned about his death and I started reading his Facebook postings is that he was only 9 or 10 years older than me. (I know it sounds kind of strange but it wasn’t that unusual to have a teacher who was close in age to the students he/she taught in my high school. When I was a senior I had an English teacher who had only received her teaching degree the year before and she was just five years older than me.) Mr. Landers bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Van Driessen from the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon series, more in terms of temperament than his looks. (He didn’t have a beard and he wore his long hair in the feathered style that was very popular back in the 1970s.) Here’s a photo of him I scanned from my sophomore high school yearbook.

Looking at his personal Facebook page, I found that he was a spiritual person like Mr. Van Driessen with the big difference being that he expressed himself as a devout Christian while Mr. Van Driessen was more into New Age spirituality. But he definitely shared Mr. Van Driessen’s hippie vibe in terms of his outlook on life and the funky clothes he wore to school. The main difference was that Mr. Landers was far less of a pushover than Mr. Van Driessen. He was the kind of person who was willing to help you unless you crossed him. If you did anything to push his buttons, he would not hesitate to send you to the principal’s office or to even fail you for not doing the required coursework.

Here’s one example of Mr. Landers not being a stereotypical pushover hippie. I remember it was the end of the semester when we not only took our final exams but we also were given an evaluation form where we could write about what we liked or didn’t liked about the class. Unlike the final exams, we were not required to write our names. The idea was that we could freely give our opinions without repercussions.

So we turned in our exams and the evaluation forms then returned to our seats while waiting for the bell that would signal the end of the class. Mr. Landers happened to glance through some of the exams and evaluations at his desk until he came upon an evaluation form where, according to Mr. Landers, someone had written “Mr. Landers can do something to himself.” (Given the fact that I saw that Mr. Landers was visibly angry at the time, I suspected that the wording was stronger than what he indicated—somewhere along the lines of “Mr. Landers can go fuck himself.”) By that point it was almost the end of the class but Mr. Landers was determined to get to the bottom of who wrote that evaluation form. He said that he would read what we wrote on the evaluation forms out loud and if he came upon something that one of us recognized that he/she wrote, that person was to go up to the class and pick up that form then bring it back to his/her seat. Mr. Landers came upon my form (where I basically wrote that I wished he hadn’t done so many classical guitar songs because I prefer rock guitar) so I picked mine up. It wasn’t until Mr. Landers came to the last of the evaluation forms that a boy in the class confessed that it was he who wrote that nasty message on the evaluation form.

At that point the bell rang, we returned our evaluation forms to the teacher’s desk before we headed to the next class, and Mr. Landers escorted that boy to the principal’s office. (I’ve long since forgotten who the boy was or even what he looked like—other than he was a white kid with dark hair—mainly because I wasn’t friends with him.)

Fortunately I got along pretty well with Mr. Landers and I enjoyed his classes. I think he had a high opinion of me as a student. I managed to get him to sign my yearbook only once, which was during my sophomore year (the same yearbook where I posted that photo of him).  His signed it “Kim, Take care of yourself and be good. I’m sure you will. Love, Tim Landers.”

I remember that Mr. Landers’ real ambition was to be a rock musician and he only got into teaching to pay the bills. He turned out to be one of the many talented musicians who never quite made it to the big time and it was not due to a lack of trying. He would spend evenings, weekends, and school breaks writing new music and recording demos that he would try to shop around to various agents and record companies. (I remember the times when he would occasionally play one of his demo songs in class.) I remember that he was a big Beatles fan and he used to drop tidbits about the band and their music because he was such a fan. In fact I remember one of the first songs he taught the class in Guitar I was “Let It Be.”

I loved his wacky sense of humor and his vast knowledge of famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. I still remember the time when it was the last class before Thanksgiving break and he played Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant” song and we laughed at some of the humor. (It was the first time I had ever heard that song. Up until that time the only Arlo Guthrie song I knew was “The City of New Orleans” and that was because it was a hit on the radio and my father had purchased that song on a 45 r.p.m. record.) He also introduced us to the original soundtrack to the Broadway show Grease as he brought the album to class one day and he played it for us. (This was about a year before the movie version came out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.)

I still remember the year when Frank Zappa came out with his disco parody hit “Dancin’ Fool,” which was played quite a bit at the major rock stations in my area. Mr. Landers brought in a couple of Zappa records where he not only showed us what a gifted guitar player Zappa was but he introduced us to an another disco parody that Zappa did just a few years before “Dancin’ Fool,” which was called “Disco Boy.” The lyrics to that one was even more hilarious than the “Dancin’ Fool” lyrics.

The most memorable thing he demonstrated was the time he went to the piano to demonstrate how classical music influences pop culture. I don’t remember the context in which he did this but I vividly remembered what he did to this day. He started to play the song “Chopsticks,” which is the one song that nearly all beginning piano students are taught as their first song. He then started to sing the tune to the theme song from the TV show My Three Sons while he was playing “Chopsticks.” We all laughed and chortled at his contention that this theme was taken from “Chopsticks.” Soon afterwards I was home when I was changing the channels when I happened to catch the beginning of My Three Sons rerun right at the moment the theme music was playing and I began to notice the underlying “Chopsticks” melody and I realized that Mr. Landers was right. Here’s the link to the full version of the My Three Sons theme song where you can clearly hear “Chopsticks” as the melody.

Despite the fact that he loved The Beatles and other rock bands of the 1960’s, he was a traditional music teacher in many ways. He was adamant that we learned how to read music, which was a skill that many of his favorite 1960s bands, including his beloved Beatles, didn’t have. Thanks to him, I learned the mnemonic method of music reading where I learned the lines of EGBDF as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge while the spaces between the lines spelled out the word FACE.

He was also adamant that we learned how to do chord building, which I quickly learned was not my strongest suit. Chord building involved learning the music notes that make up a certain chord and it involved a lot of memorization (which we later had to regurgitate on the final exam). The only reason why I still know that a D chord is made up of the notes D, F#, and A is because I made up my own mnemonic sentence that went “Dick Fucks Sharp Asses.” (I didn’t dare share that secret with Mr. Landers.)

During the time that I was taking those guitar lessons from Mr. Landers, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was frequently played on the local rock radio station for many years after it was first released back in 1971 and it would go on to become one of the biggest rock hits of the 1970s. Many people were turned on by Jimmy Page’s exquisite guitar playing throughout that song. Naturally many of Mr. Landers’ guitar students, myself included, wanted to learn how to play that song. Mr. Landers was frequently inundated with numerous requests that he teach us this song. Some kids wanted to go from a relatively easy song like “Let It Be” straight into “Stairway to Heaven” while they were in the first few weeks of Guitar I.

Eventually Mr. Landers relented sometime around Guitar III or Guitar IV and he handed out mimeographed copies of “Stairway to Heaven.” That was when we got a dose of reality about how complex that song really is as we struggled with the various chord formations. From that time on the students in the advanced guitar classes stopped wanting to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven,” while I’m sure that the students in Guitar I were probably still begging Mr. Landers to teach them how to play that song while they were learning how to play their first chords.

There was only one time I felt Mr. Landers was wrong about something. It was when punk rock became a huge such deal in the UK that the US media started doing stories about this new phenomenon. I was intrigued by the music so I purchased The Sex Pistols’ debut album. I found that record to be a revelation in that it was so unlike the heavy metal and disco music that was prevalent on the radio at that time. A few weeks after I purchased Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Mr. Landers openly disdained punk rock in class and he felt that all of the punk bands consisted of untalented musicians who were destined to not last very long. A few other students piped up talking about how they disliked punk rock as well. I disagreed with Mr. Landers’ low opinion of punk but I kept my mouth shut because he was one of those people whom you could never provide a contrary opinion once he made up his mind strongly about something because he never attempted to listen to the other side. (In addition, I was having a hard enough time constantly trying to avoid being someone’s bully target and I didn’t want other kids to pick on me because I owned a Sex Pistols album. I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low until college when finally I met other punk rock fans and I felt comfortable enough to admit that I liked punk as well.)

Okay, Mr. Landers was right about The Sex Pistols being a short-lived phenomenon because they disbanded soon after they hit the big time but he was wrong about punk rock’s longevity because there were other punk bands (such as The Clash) who had longer careers and who released albums that are now considered rock classics right alongside albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and other punk bands have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which definitely proves how wrong Mr. Landers was about his assessment of punk rock.

Mr. Landers also formed the school’s official folk rock group known only as the Old Mill Folk Rock Band. (Yeah, I know it sounds original. LOL!) The group performed at school assemblies. Each year they would go into a local recording studio to make an EP record, which consisted of four songs (which were all covers of the big hits of that era). Once the record was printed, the members would sell copies of that record among the student body. I wanted to join that band as a guitarist but competition was intense. (I had a few friends who were in that band.) While I was an okay guitarist, there were other students who were far more talented than me and I was too intimidated to every try out.

I didn’t know much about his personal life aside from a few times that he mentioned that he had a wife when I took my first guitar class with him. By the time I took my second or third guitar class he briefly mentioned that he was separated from his wife a couple of times. Then he briefly mentioned that he was divorced once or twice by the time I took my last guitar class with him. (He never mentioned why he got a divorce nor did he ever say anything nasty about his ex-wife during any of classes I took with him. He also never mentioned having any children from that marriage.) When I saw his Facebook page for the first time and he listed his marital status as “single,” I thought that my memories were wrong. But then I read an interview he gave with a local newspaper (which I’ll get to in the next two paragraphs) and he briefly mentioned “my wife at that time.” I guess he must’ve gotten married sometime in his early 20’s and it only lasted just a few years until the two of them decided to go their separate ways. It’s very likely that, by the time he created his own Facebook page, he probably felt that he had been divorced for so many years that he might as well list his marital status as “single.”

I looked on his personal Facebook page and searched his name on Google after I learned about his death and I found that he later transferred to a different high school as a music teacher before leaving the teaching field entirely in order to work as a full-time musician and songwriter. (Of course all this happened years after I graduated from high school and moved out of Glen Burnie.) He had a professional Facebook page focusing on his music career but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. At one point he had his own website, which basically had a short biography and dates of upcoming performances, which I was able to access thanks to the Internet Archive. (The last update was done after his death, which announced that he was deceased.) He even wrote a Christian musical called Walk With God, whose official website can only now be accessed through the Internet Archive.

I saw on his personal Facebook page that he had adopted a Golden Retriever puppy just a couple of years before his death. He frequently posted pictures of that dog and it was obvious that he loved his dog. I only hope that this dog found a new loving forever home after his owner died.

Recently I came across this extensive interview Mr. Landers did with a local Ocean City publication called The Coconut Times in 2014 where I was not only able to catch up on whatever became of him after I left school but I even learned about his early life before he became my music teacher. This interview is so extensive that it’s divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It’s really quite a fascinating read that I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of whether you actually knew him personally (like I did) or not. I learned that he grew up in Baltimore (in the same neighborhood where the since-demolished Memorial Stadium was located) in a very large extended family that included numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of his relatives were singers and musicians and he even had a cousin who was a singer whose main rival was Patsy Cline. He landed his first job at 12 helping out in a local music store where he met professional musicians who played with the big acts like Buddy Holly.

Mr. Landers totally opened up about his life in that interview, including admitting that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s due to a tainted blood transfusion he received in the early 1970’s. (Which probably explains why he underwent a liver transplant in the first place.) He also mentioned that, when he was 21, his father took him to a bar so he could have his first legal alcoholic beverage while engaging in some father and son talk. His father would suddenly die of a heart attack just nine months later. (Reading that interview and seeing his old Facebook posts, it seems like longevity wasn’t exactly a family trait. Not only did his father pass away at 45, he had a brother who died in a car accident at 52, and a cousin who also died an untimely death as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War. And that’s not to mention Mr. Landers’ own death while he was in his early 60’s.)

Amid the bad times there were plenty of good memories as well. He mentioned in the interview that he had recently ate lunch with a member of Pink Floyd whom he did not identify. (I can safely say that it wasn’t with Syd Barrett or Rick Wright since they were both dead by 2014, when the interview took place.) He also mentioned meeting many famous musicians, such as the band Danny and the Juniors, who is best known for the big 1950’s hit “At the Hop.”

As I read that extensive interview, I realized that Mr. Landers lived a very interesting and fascinating life and I found myself wishing he had written a book or even started a blog about his memories. That 2014 interview is about as close as we’ll ever get to an autobiography and I’m glad that it exists. (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

As I look over that three-part interview and those Facebook posts, I have to admit that the saddest thing about his death is that it seemed like Mr. Landers was at a point in his life where he was basically content with the things that was going on in his life over the last two or three years before he died. He had a thriving music career despite never becoming a major recording artist who sells millions of copies of his music. He was spending his summers in Ocean City where he was doing gigs at various bars and nightclubs throughout the Delmarva region. The rest of the year he was in Nashville where he was recording music and meeting people in the music industry. He had even contributed a song to this independent movie called Patapsco Valley that, as far as I can tell, only exists as a location camera test on Vimeo. (That is his song, “The River,” playing in the background of that video.) He had a dog whom he seemed to have loved very much. He achieved a point in his life where he was basically happy and content then he dies while he was in his early 60s. Yet there are a lot of loathsome people who are still alive and kicking and many of them are older than he was when he died. (I don’t want to elaborate on this any further or else this post will veer into something that would be as inappropriate as President Trump’s recent notorious speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.)

I had pretty much cut myself off from most of the people I knew back in high school mainly because I wanted to protect myself from reliving any painful memories. (I went to my five-year reunion and that was enough for me.) I have to admit that Mr. Landers is one of the few people from my old high school I wished I had a chance to re-connect with before he died. I would’ve loved to have visited him in Ocean City (where, in his remaining years, he had spent his summers while living in Nashville the rest of the year) and I definitely would’ve brought my guitar with me so we could’ve done a jam session or two.

Ironically I used to go to Ocean City with my then-husband, his sister, her son, and an invited guest (some years it was a friend of my nephew’s while other years it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s) for a week-long family vacation every year until 2011 (just a few months before my husband left me). If I had known that Tim Landers was also there as a performer, I definitely would’ve made the time to at least spend one evening attending one of his shows. (My then-husband and sister-in-law could’ve either come with me or stay in our rented condo.) It would’ve been really cool if I had brought my guitar with me and we could’ve gotten into a jam session. If only I had actually taken the time to thoroughly read those various free publications that used to list various events that went on in Ocean City, I would probably have come across his name and gone to one of his shows to see if he was actually my high school teacher. Oh well. It’s my loss and I have to deal with it.

I still have those mimeographed ditto sheets of guitar chords and song lyrics that Mr. Landers handed out in class stashed away in folders. They have survived various moves over the years. Writing this post has inspired me to pull out those old ditto sheets, take a look at them, pull out my guitar, and start playing it using those old sheets from years ago.

R.I.P. Mr. Landers.


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Last May I was briefly involved with a startup that was test-marketing disposable jumpsuits that were pre-treated with Sawyer Permethrin spray at the annual Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. I basically did administrative work (including helping with designing flyers, doing online research into filing for trademarks, and manually spraying each disposable jumpsuit with Sawyer Permethrin). During the course of my two weeks with that startup, I was convinced to write a blog post in this very blog about that startup instead of getting a separate blogging account just for that startup. (I was unable to get the owner/founder to devote any time to setting up that blog. In addition, he insisted on using my Square card reader that’s connected to my PayPal account because he couldn’t be bothered with getting a separate Square card reader/PayPal account for that startup.)

At one point he accused me of being secretive and he said that I couldn’t help it because of my birth order. The reason for that accusation: I hadn’t used my Square card reader in a while (due to the fact that I had to cut back on selling my handcrafted goodies at various shows because of declining sales after the 2008 economic crash) so, ON HIS REQUEST, I was silently trying to figure out how it worked. According to him, I was “secretive” because I didn’t orally announce within his earshot “I’m going to do Option A. If that doesn’t work I’m going to try Option B” and so on.

There were more incidents like that but I’m not going to get into any of them since I wrote all about it last year.

Ironically today is the one-year anniversary of the 2016 Loudon Lyme event. (This year’s event was just held on May 7. No, I didn’t attend this year.) A day or two after that event, the startup’s founder sent me a text message asking me what should have been done differently. I replied that maybe we should’ve started with a smaller run of 10-20 jumpsuits to test market instead of 60 jumpsuits we attempted to sell. That was when he sent me a multi-part text message accusing me of being into self-sabotage. (Never mind the fact that he was the one who didn’t register for a vendor booth and had this unrealistic expectation of selling stuff from backpacks.) This was on top of the fact that I was paid for the first couple of days I worked for him but the payments stopped because the founder had plowed the bulk of the startup money into getting 60 jumpsuits and Sawyer Permethrin.

I finally walked away from that startup a day or two after he accused me of being into self-sabotage when he sent another text asking me to show up at a few upcoming Lyme disease related events selling those jumpsuits from out of backpacks. (He didn’t register for vendor booths at those events either.) Between the self-sabotage insult and the fact that I wasn’t paid the rest of the money I was owed for the work I had done, I realized that I had no future with this startup. I wrote a retraction post where I announced that I would no longer write about work that I’m doing for other people in this blog until after the work was finished or there was some kind of a closure.

The startup founder eventually paid me the rest of the money he owed me last November. Granted six months is a long time to wait for a paycheck but at least he paid so I thought I had some closure on this startup.

But then there was new drama earlier this year when the founder had decided to try reviving the Sawyer Permethrin-sprayed jumpsuit idea on a Facebook page using a selfie I took of myself wearing one of the jumpsuits without asking permission first or even trying to get me to sign a release. I didn’t hear any further from my ex-boss for a while after that incident.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I spent the entire day basking in the sunshine while attending the annual Greenbelt Green Man Festival (which I’ll write about in a future post). I had brought my laptop with me so, from time to time, I posted some of my pictures from the previous day’s Gateway Arts Open Studio Tour (which I’ll also write about in a future post) on to various social media sites like Facebook. I saw a lot of people writing online Mother’s Day greetings and posting pictures of mothers with their children. Imagine my surprise when my ex-boss posted something outrageous on Facebook where he not only accused his sister of doing something horrible to their mother but he even posted personal information about her that should never have been posted online. I took a screenshot of that post, which you can see below. I edited out the personal information but you can still get an idea of what he wrote.

He not only named his sister but he posted her personal phone number and encouraged anyone who read that post on Facebook to call that number. In a nutshell, this post says a lot more about him than his sister. That post reminded me of last year’s Square card reader incident when he accused me of being secretive (and my birth order only confirmed his suspicion) because I didn’t verbally announce “I’m going to do Option A…”

What’s more, he immediately made this one comment where he only linked to the notorious documentary Grey Gardens. (For the record, I have never seen that documentary. I did see the made for HBO movie that featured Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore as the dysfunctional mother-daughter pair back when I was still happily married and we still had cable TV.) It’s like he’s cryptically implying that his mother is trapped into a similar dysfunctional relationship with his sister (I think but I don’t know what is going on inside that man’s head). That is so reminiscent of when he cryptically sent me that text asking for feedback on what we could’ve done differently at the Loudon Lyme event, I provided a straightforward opinion, and he responded with that multipart text saying that it was really a trick question because he expected me to write about my own mistakes and he accused me of being into self-sabotage.

Because of my past dealings with him, I’m not inclined to immediately side with him or even accept his version of events—especially since I have never met his sister or his mother. It’s possible that his sister is a total elder-abusing bitch but it’s also possible that she’s not doing anything wrong and it’s her brother who has issues with her for some reason that is none of my business.

If he has concerns about how his sister is taking care of their mother, he should seek legal advice from a lawyer instead of making that nasty post on Facebook urging anyone who sees that post to call his sister (regardless of whether that person even knows the sister or not).

If his sister ever finds that post, all she has to do is take a screenshot of that post, print it out, show it to a lawyer, and he could end up getting sued for things like libel, slander, and invasion of privacy.

Last night I sent an email about that post to a friend of mine, who was the one who recommended me for that job in the first place, because he is still housemates with my ex-boss and he rarely goes on Facebook these days. (Twitter is his preferred social media platform.) I wanted to warn him because there’s the chance that he may end up being indirectly involved with this drama, especially if his housemate’s sister decides to go by their house to confront her brother in person. He basically thanked me for alerting him to this.

I’m still looking for a new day job to replace that startup. (I’ve been applying to various temp agencies and employment agencies to no avail.) At least I have an unedited version of that screenshot that I could show to any hiring manager or recruiter who wanted to know more about that startup and why I had quit it after only two weeks because it basically proves what kind of person I was dealing with as my boss when I worked there. What’s more I can prove it using his own words that he wrote himself on Facebook.

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Why open source pharma is the path to both new and cheaper medicines.

New tools makes 3D printed objects look less 3D printed.

How the sudden unexpected fame of the 13-year-old Cash Me Outside How Bow Dah Girl has highlighted the double standard between the way that white teens and teens of other races are treated.

A World War II era photographer in Poland documenting the Lodz Ghetto buried his negatives in 1944 in an effort to preserve his work. After the war he returned to the burial site and and found that more than half of the original 6,000 negatives remained intact.

Viddyoze is a fully automated video animation that allows marketers to create magnificent animations in just a few clicks.

Microsoft’s Top 10 grammar mistakes made in Word and Outlook.

This Lego-compatible tape will turn anything into a Lego-friendly surface.

This self-taught Polish embroiderer’s 3D embroidery creations using polymer clay are one-of-a-kind.

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Adobe’s plan to reinvent itself for the era of AI and VR.

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A New York Times article about the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, which specializes in art from outsider and self-taught artists.

Ever since I started this blog back in 2010 I’ve been using both this blog and my social media accounts to promote myself as a creative person. I have to say that each social media platform is a completely different animal and it can be a chore at times to tailor a message to the audience on that platform. Based on my own personal experience, if I ever had to do a succinct definition of what each social media platform does, it would go like this:

Facebook: This is where you see your friends and family write about their children’s latest accomplishments or post photos from their recent awesome vacations to such really cool places like Cancun or Walt Disney World or London or Rio de Janeiro or Austin or Niagara Falls, etc. You’d better watch what you write about your parents or other family members and friends because they are on Facebook and they won’t hesitate to scold you online if you write anything that they perceived as being too critical of them—even if it’s something that’s relatively benign. (As a silver lining, if you’re lucky enough your scolding friend/relative might end up having his/her words re-posted on Lamebook for everyone to read and mock.)


Instagram: Selfies, selfies, and more selfies. If you don’t pay enough attention to my selfies, I’ll risk my life taking my selfies in dangerous locations without a safety net.

YouTube: I’ll become a YouTube star simply by making video reviews of toys and video games or making videos about some expensive upscale fashion items that I have just purchased during my recent trip to the upscale shopping mall. I’ll emulate PewDiePie’s method of continuing my YouTube stardom by making regular appeals for money while claiming that I’m a destitute poor person and threatening to delete my YouTube channel once I get a certain number of subscribers.

Flickr: I’ll post photos from my awesome trips to really cool places like Cancun or Walt Disney World or Rio de Janeiro or Austin or Niagara Falls, etc. along with my very arty photos of sunsets.

Tumblr: I’ll post my fan art of comic book superheroes (especially ones from DC and Marvel), My Little Pony, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who then watch everyone reblog my work.

DeviantArt: I’ll post my fan art of Japanese anime characters that will get a lot of attention.

Google+: Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just hit the “Like” button or reply if you are reading my Google+ post. Is there anyone at home?

MySpace: Wait, this social media site still exists?!? Well, hot damn, it’s still around! I’m amazed that Rupert Murdoch didn’t totally run this site into the ground when he made that ill-advised purchase years ago. I wonder if Tila Tequila is still the Queen of MySpace despite her fascination with Adolf Hitler and the White Power movement?

LinkedIn: I’ll focus exclusively on my current job and my previous work experience. I’ll make it as plan vanilla and boring as possible with no drama whatsoever. I won’t even attempt to add any flair, creativity, or anything else that expresses my individuality because then I’ll get pegged as being “unprofessional” and it’ll be such a turn-off to potential employers that I’ll never be able to find another paying job ever again. Boring is good but try to be as unique as you possibly can without standing out from the rest of the LinkedIn crowd so much that you’ll get denounced as being “unprofessional” and you’ll become so unemployable that you’ll be forced into early retirement.**

Pinterest: I’ll pin whatever arts and crafts sites I find. If I happened to pin an arts and crafts site that shows how to make a certain Disney character, I’ll see that pin get re-pinned by others so many times that my e-mailbox gets clogged with notifications of all these re-pins.*** Here’s where I’ll find the latest conspiracy theories, dispatches from Anonymous, and alternative health remedies that may or may not actually work.

**Here’s a message for those of you who are staunch LinkedIn users: This post is satire. I know that, in a perfect world, I shouldn’t have to write this disclaimer but I’ve encountered enough stuffy humor-challenged professional people in various jobs over the years that I know that some stuffy humor-challenged businessperson who’s a heavy LinkedIn user would take this post 100% seriously if I didn’t include this footnote.

***This actually happened to me nearly two years ago when I pinned a site that provided a free pattern on how to crochet an amigurumi Stitch from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. That one pin is the most re-pinned pin on my Pinterest account. People are still re-pinning that Stitch crochet pattern to this very day. I had to disable all e-mail notifications because I grew tired of my inbox getting clogged with so many notices of people re-pinning that one pin. Especially since I didn’t create the original pattern nor do I hold any legal rights to the Stitch character whatsoever.

Here’s an interesting article on how playing with dolls can unleash a child’s creativity in many different ways.

One of the earliest photographic process was the daguerreotype, which was such a huge hit all over the world that it was the most commonly used technique in photography for many years after it was invented. Here is a review of the then-new form of photography that was originally written in 1840 by none other than Edgar Allan Poe.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the current incident where an anti-U.S. government armed militia (consisting mainly of white men) have taken over a wildlife refuge in Oregon. (If you’re not, you can read this excellent article on The Guardian‘s website, which contains some background information of this current story. Or you can view this hilarious yet informative Taiwanese animation.) The militia have been derided on social media as Y’all Qaeda and Vanilla ISIS. At one point the militia members begged the general public to send snacks to them because, apparently, they didn’t bring enough food with them before they began this armed standoff. There is a Facebook group called Snacks for Y’all Qaeda whose members have been busy churning out hilarious parody memes at a very high rate. There are some incredibly creative memes out there that words alone just can’t describe.

Or if memes aren’t your thing, you can check out some hilarious Oregon Militia Homoerotic Fan Fiction.

UPDATE (January 10, 2015): Cliven Bundy has apparently set up a GoFundMe page in order to raise money for this beleaguered sons who are among the Y’all Qaeda militia members currently holed up in Oregon. As of this writing no money has been raised but it has attracted plenty of hilarious comments. Here’s a sample:

Sorry, but I don’t believe in perpetuating a cycle of dependence to abled bodied, big strapping specimens of masculinity who’ve spent all the government checks on guns and ammo. Maybe chewing on a bullet will help to ward off those hunger pangs.

UPDATE 2 (January 10, 2015): The above GoFundMe page has been cancelled just a few hours after I provided the link. Had I known this was going to happen, I would’ve provided a few more choice comments from that page than the above quote.

With all the hype about the killing of Cecil the Lion, I decided to try selling my art, Revenge Against Kendall Jones, on eBay. Even though it was originally a lampoon of Kendall Jones and her fascination with hunting animals for sport, it is definitely timely because 1) it features a lion and 2) it’s a statement on trophy hunting in general, regardless of who’s doing the actual animal killing.


You can read this post from last year if you want to learn more about the making of this piece. It measures 5 inches x 7 inches (13 cm x 18 cm) so it’ll fit most homes, apartments, and college dorms. It has been decoupaged on a thick block of wood so one can even display it on a tabletop, desktop, or on a mantel. If you prefer to hang it on a wall, there are two eyelets with hanging wire in the back so you can display it, just like when this piece was displayed at last summer’s Station North Salon Show in Baltimore.


I’m selling this on eBay for a minimum $10 bid. I decided against listing this on Etsy again given the bad experience I had from the rabid Kendall Jones fans as well as Etsy turning a blind eye towards a complaint I filed against a guy who pretended to buy my piece only to never pony up the money. (You can read all of the gory details right here.)

I slightly altered the title to eliminate Kendall Jones’ name mainly because I’m hoping to deter her rabid fans from going after me and also because the issue of trophy hunting is far larger than Kendall Jones. She is not the only trophy hunter in existence, only the most notorious because she plastered photos of herself cuddling with the animals she killed on social media, which resulted in outrage and a series on YouTube that’s sponsored by Remington. The fact that I used a lion to wreak revenge in my piece makes it even more timely given what happened to poor Cecil.

I’m pricing it at a minimum $10 bid so take a look at it right here.

I know that this crazy Internet drama happened to me four months ago but it’s only now that I’ve gotten around to documenting it on this blog. At the time this happened I was a bit on the annoyed and upset side but now that time has passed, I can look at all the hate mail I received and laugh.

So what brought on the Drama Llama last November? Here’s some background, which has been documented in full detail on Know Your Meme. A teenage college cheerleader from Texas named Kendall Jones created a public Facebook page after she signed a contract with the Sportsman Channel for a reality show about her and her hunting exploits. She began posting pictures of herself with various animals that she killed during previous trips to Africa on her Facebook page, which led to people linking and re-posting all around Facebook and other social media sites. All this resulted in people being outraged over those photographs. In the meantime, Kendall Jones seemed to be basking in all the attention—both good and bad—being thrown her way.

I decided to do a series of parody artwork based not only on the Kendall Jones controversy but other wealthy people who have also posted photos of themselves with animals that they have killed for sport (such as Ted Nugent and Kid Rock). The series was to be called Revenge and it was based on t-shirts and sweatshirts that I used to see as a kid growing up in Maryland (which is noted for its blue crabs) which showed a giant blue crab about to use a mallet on a tiny human with the word “Revenge”.

Since I already wrote at length about the creation of Revenge Against Kendall Jones last summer, I’m just going to provide a brief recap. I drew this in ink and watercolor.


I then scanned it into the computer then traced over it using Adobe Illustrator. I brought it into Adobe Photoshop where I did this effect where it looked like the lion posted his photo of his killing a young woman on Facebook and his friends posted back with their approval.


Then I printed out the fake Facebook post and decoupaged it on a block of wood that was painted black. It was displayed for the first time at the Station North Art District Salon Show in Baltimore where I saw it displayed at the Station North Arts Cafe.


The only negative responses I got came when I posted a photograph of my art on Instagram as part of an effort to promote my pieces in the Station North Art District Salon Show. You would not believe the comments I’ve gotten over the next few months, long after the art show ended. (So far I haven’t gotten any new comments on that photo in 2015. <KNOCK WOOD!>)

But that was nothing compared to what happened when I tried to sell this piece on Etsy during the holiday shopping season back in November. I’ll admit that in the past few months I’ve gotten more and more ambivalent about Etsy, especially since Etsy changed its policy from requiring that everything must be handmade to sellers being allowed to use outside manufacturers, which has resulted in a flood of cheap stuff from Third World countries that has totally undercut the genuine artisans. Yet Etsy is still the name that most people think of when they want to buy something handmade online.

So I decided to re-open my Etsy shop for the first time in a while just for the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa shopping season. Each day in this blog—from November 14 to December 14—I highlighted a different item in my online shop while I also made similar postings on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Revenge Against Kendall Jones was highlighted on the second day (November 15) of my 31 days of hyping my Etsy shop before the holidays. Things were pretty quiet for a while.

But then, on November 20, all of the hostile Etsy convos came. It was obviously something that was organized somewhere (probably on Facebook, some other social media outlet, or a forum) where someone posted a link to my online Etsy sale and urged others to start harassing me. Here are a few of them I received. I realized that these e-mails fell under a few categories. First there are the ones that basically said that my art sucked.







I’ll admit that my art isn’t for everyone—especially those with no sense of humor. As for that man who claimed my art is in danger of affecting his 12-year-old daughter, all I can say is that if his daughter is really so freaking sensitive that just seeing an illustration (an illustration, mind you) can easily inflict psychological damage on her, then I say that he has sheltered her far too much. When I was his daughter’s age, I was reading Mad and Cracked magazines and the humor in those publications were way more blunt and, at times more graphic in its depictions of various gross stuff, than what’s even in my own art. I could go more into the long-term harm of extremely shielding his daughter like that, especially as she reaches adulthood but it would make this post extremely long.

Then there are those who claim that I was wrong when I mentioned Kendall Jones killing animals that were on the endangered species list.





I just want to say that the charges that Kendall Jones killed animals that were on the endangered species list wasn’t something that I pulled directly from my ass. Just doing a Google search on “kendall jones kills endangered” pulls up all kinds of links on sites like the International Business Times, Hollywood Life, The Daily Mail, Perez Hilton, and Elite Daily. All of the aforementioned sites are a far cry from PETA and other radical animal rights organizations. Even this link on the Los Angeles Times site, In defense of Texas huntress and conservationist Kendall Jones, admitted this:

Yes, the African white rhino — Jones boasts of bagging one at age 13 — is an endangered species. There are only 20,000 of them left, mostly because of rampant illegal poaching (the rhino’s horn in powdered form is believed in China to have medicinal properties). But as a 2010 article in the Economist reported, 16,000 of those rhinos live in South Africa, where the government a few years back instituted a policy of allowing farmers to own wild animals on their property, with the right to sell them and their offspring. The policy — catering to wealthy trophy hunters, tourists and others — has resulted in a surge in the South African white rhino population, which had numbered only 20 individuals in 1900.

The article goes on to mention that even though Kendall Jones did kill animals on the endangered species list, it also tried to make a case that she did under certain circumstances that made such kills okay.

Then there are people who claimed that I somehow picked on a private citizen or did some copyright infringement or needed some kind of official authorization before I did Revenge Against Kendall Jones.



First of all, as to the idea that Kendall Jones is a private citizen is laughable when you come across her Facebook page and, underneath her name, you’ll see the words “Public Figure.” In addition, she has a series on YouTube called “Game On” that’s sponsored by Remington. (Yes, that’s the rifle company.) Having seen a few minutes of the first episode, I can tell that this is not something that was shot on someone’s smartphone, tablet, or laptop then edited in iMovie. The production values along with the editing are just as high as a network TV show.

As for getting permission or how I have no right to criticize her whatsoever, these people don’t get that I was doing something called satire or parody. Some people need to do some remedial research on the definitions of satire and parody then watch actual examples of satire and parody. (Try The Onion or The Daily Currant for starters.)

Then these people may need to learn that what I did was perfectly legal because I was mocking only what she had posted online (mainly shots of her posing next to the dead animals that she killed). In addition, I had picked on a public figure who has become a celebrity among certain hunters, not a private citizen. She became a public figure through her own choice and not because she was some private citizen who somehow got caught up in some public controversy that escalated beyond her control or wishes. You can read more about what is a public figure right here.

The Supreme Court has ruled on parody being an example of legal fair use (where I don’t have to obtain permission before creating a parody) not once, but twice. Here’s an article on that explains everything.

Then there is this next Etsy message I got that I have to say it’s my favorite because of the sheer hilarity of it.


To date, no police officer has shown up to my front door about this, I have not been arrested, and there are no criminal cases currently pending against me. If he honestly thought that I was going to cringe in fear, he totally failed. Oh, by the way, Adam Bortz, if you happened to be reading this, you need to familiarize yourself with the U.S. Constitution—especially the First Amendment.

I did get one positive post through Facebook from The Real Kendall Jones Exposed group, which was pretty cool.


I even got a sale on the item, which is when another chapter of this drama started to emerge. So this Etsy user, duartejason, indicated that he wanted to order my piece but he didn’t pay me. So I held on to the piece and, following the typical protocol that Etsy and other online commerce sites have come up with regarding fulfilling orders, I held off on sending his order until he came through with the money.


So I waited nine days and he didn’t send any money. So I sent this friendly reminder on November 29 to please send me the money so I can fulfill the order in time for the holidays.


Two more days passed and I still didn’t hear back from him. So I sent a slightly more urgent message saying that I needed for him to send me the money soon so I can have the item delivered to his home in time for the holidays.


I waited another week and that second message also went unanswered. I began to realize that he was one of these trolls who only pretended to order my item so it wouldn’t be visible in my Etsy shop but had no intention of ever paying. When I looked at his profile, I saw that he joined Etsy on November 20, 2014—the same day that I started getting all of those hostile message from Kendall Jones’ fans.

At that point, I reported him to Etsy for non-payment. I even clicked on the link where I can directly report this man. I never received any response from anyone even connected with Etsy. In addition, I don’t think they did anything about my complaint because I filed the complaint in December 2014, I’m typing this post in March, 2015, and not only have I not heard from duartejason but this guy still has an active profile, which means that he could do something similarly immature to other Etsy sellers based on his own personal whims.


I really wished that someone at Etsy had taken my complaint seriously. But, in a way, I’m not surprised because, over the years, I’ve seen Etsy ignore the concerns of its sellers on a variety of other issues and Etsy can be inconsistent on enforcing its own rules. What’s even worse is that even though customers can rate and review sellers, sellers can’t rate and review customers so I can’t post anything about duartejason as a warning to other Etsy sellers, which is really frustrating.

So, taking inspiration from former Boston Red Sox baseball player Curt Schilling, I decided to take matters into my own hands and do some research on this guy. Thanks to that ill-fated sale, I know that he lives in San Diego, California. So I did a few Google searches under San Diego along with the names “Duarte Jason” and “Jason Duarte” and, lo and behold, I found his LinkedIn profile.


And the photo on his LinkedIn profile matches the photo on his Etsy profile.


His LinkedIn profile says that he’s the the CEO of two separate companies—Mass Tort Legal Group and J. Shafer Law—plus he’s the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Calliope Media, Inc. You’d think that someone who’s currently simultaneously working for three separate companies in high positions would be beyond such petty antics as pretending to buy something from an individual Etsy seller then not come through with the money.

I’m not going to bother with analyzing why someone like him would do something so childish and immature. All I can say is that from now on, whenever someone Googles the names Jason Duarte, Mass Tort Legal Group, Calliope Media, and/or J. Shafer Law, this blog post will come up. Anyone reading this post can decide for him/herself whether he/she wants to do business with someone who would go to great lengths to pretend to buy something from an individual Etsy seller, not bother with making a payment, then ignore all subsequent e-mails. He did this fake buying all on behalf of a woman who has become a celebrity in the hunting world and has her own YouTube series. (Chances are that he has never met Kendall Jones in real life and he’s just one of her biggest fans who somehow feels the need to defend her from the likes of me.) My contention is that what he did was unprofessional and immature.

I know that some of you would question whether I’m making too much over an item that I priced at $25. At this point, it’s not the money, it’s the principle of the matter. This man made a purchase on my Etsy shop, which automatically put my listing out of circulation. Because he didn’t answer my messages, I was unable to re-list the item because I feared that had I done so, he would’ve come through with the money and I would’ve had to scramble to finding the materials to create a second piece to satisfy the other customer. Because he dragged his feet, I wasn’t able to re-list the item so I was unable to sell it before the holiday season. Any other person who would’ve been interested in buying my item as a Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa gift for someone else and actually paying for it lost out as well.

Some of you would probably even question the professionalism of publicly outing a customer like that. Well, had Etsy done its job and banned that person after I reported him, I would not have gone through the effort of looking this person up and outing him like that. Since it’s obvious that Etsy doesn’t give a damn in my case, I feel that I need to speak up because as long as this person has an active Etsy account, he can go on to do something similar to other Etsy sellers and I find that unacceptable.

Jason Duarte, if you’re reading this, I have to say that there is a way that I can undo what I’ve written here—either you pay me what you promised to pay back in December or issue a heartfelt apology for what you’ve done. Do either one of those and I’ll edit this post to delete all references to you and you companies. Otherwise, this information will be part of your online record that is easily accessible by a quick Google search.

Update (April 6, 2015): I came across this video from Erin Janus, a self-described vegan who’s around the same age as Kendall Jones, who made this video questioning Jones’ hunting activities. She provides an alternate viewpoint and she even backs her points up with facts. It’s definitely worth watching.

If you’re looking for unique reasonably-priced one-of-a-kind art that doesn’t take up a lot of space in your home, I have this piece currently on sale in my Etsy shop.
Skull Art 8
This art is very small so it’s perfect for people with limited display space. It’s also the ideal gift for people who are into skulls. For more information about this piece, read the post I originally wrote on October 22, 2010. You can order this skull art right here.

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