Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I should have some stuff to post tonight, but today is a special day of sorts. It's my grandmother's birthday, and were she alive today, she would 99. We called her, "Granny."

Unlike a lot of my posts on this subject, I'd rather stay focused on how great and funny she was.

My dad was working on his master's at KSU back in the '60's, and we would travel there, staying the weekend at the basement apartment he'd rented. At some touristy place, I bought some things to booby trap cigarettes. (My folks and Granny all smoked back then.) I still get a chuckle when she lit up one of her cigarettes that I'd loaded, and the look on her face as the thing began to "snow." (I have another trip for rigging the bread wrapper so it won't open, but that's another post.)

One story she would tell was from her elementary school days. Way back when it was in a one-room school. And before lawnmowers. Back then to trim the grass, they would run sheep in to graze and keep the grass down. But when you have sheep, there will also be "sheep dip."(If you don't know what that is, I'm not explaining it.)

During lunch time, she and a friend would sit under a tree at the school and eat lunch. There was a boy named, "Grover," who would consume his lunch, only to proceed to beg from the other kids for what ever extra they might have. A bit of a glutton.

One day, Granny and her friend had a watermelon. They cut out a big slice, picked all the seeds out and replaced them with sheep dip. And when Grover came by, they offered him some watermelon. He didn't just eat it, from her description, but inhaled it. He never knew, and she never told. And I hope none of Grover's heirs are out there to read this. Awkward.

LAST NIGHT'S ADVENTURE!--I was painting on my "girlfriend" last night(that's code for painting at the Oceans of Fun booth to get it sealed up for the winter. Sorry. Nothing more racy than that.) There were a couple of coons trapped in a dumpster close by the stand. I thought one was dead, but the other one was crying out. I really hate raccoons. They are nothing but diseased ridden vermin, but even I don't have a heart to turn off the tugging at the heart of hearing an animal crying.

I put a drop cloth over the edge thinking he would climb out, but he just pulled the cloth into the dumpster. I wasn't going in after it. He'd already hissed at me a few times. So I finished the primer coat and was considering going to the Wood 'n' Leather shop at Worlds of Fun to find a plank to see if that would help him escape.

I'd also made the mistake of contacting a couple of female types--my wife and Taryn--asking what to do, as I had thought of just leaving them. But got the, "Aww, can't you do something?"

Before I could leave, WF security was buzzing through and came to see what was going on, and heard the noises coming from the dumpster. So we were in the process of trying to see what could be done when Amanda, one of the security guards, notice that one of the coons, the one I thought dead, wasn't, but had its head stuck in the dumpster drain pipe. It was sticking out from the front.

We found a plank, put it in the dumpster, and the non-stuck raccoon crawled up and out of the dumpster, Proceeding, as it were, to crawl onto one of the tikis flanking Trader Nick's. Security prodded it from there and he scampered off to the woods. But the other one was still stuck.

We tried covering the head with a dropcloth to shove the head back through. Dicey, because that end had teeth. One of the security guys, normally a tough hombre, said he couldn't euthanize it without crying. Funny and touching, as none of us wanted the option of killing the animal.

I suggested lubing the head and neck to see if that might help. Amanda drove us to a food stand and we found some liquid shortening, brought it back and coated the beast's head and neck to see if that would do the trick. Couldn't pull it back through.

It was suffering and had struggled to the point of having ruptured both eyes, blinding itself.

It didn't make it. And while I did take pictures before hand, showing our stages of rescue, it wouldn't be right to post them now with the outcome as it is.

On a brighter note, I tipped the scales this morning at 255! On my way from obesity to just fatness! Yeah, baby!!!


Monday, September 20, 2010


A few hours ago, I found myself in strange territory...having to eat something late at night. I was feeling strange and having trouble with my vision. Checked the blood sugar to find it at 68. A bit low.

Some comments in earlier posts talked of the "dragon," but now I find more concern for the "disease." At the beginning of this year, I was tipping the scales at 292. Yesterday I weighed in at 256.2. But with this comes readjusting medicine, continuing to exercise, etc. One thing I did notice was a feeling of rage. It seemed to run its course after supper, and my wife and I took a walk, and I did some nightly exercising. Couldn't really get into the new "Hawaii 5-0," but it does have Grace Park. Boo YEAH! I could see her replacing Emma Peel in my heart. BID. Then I noticed my hands shaking and my heart pounding.

The disease is going to fight back. Is fighting back. Should make for an interesting conversation tomorrow with my diabetes doctor.

If the events from this past weekend are any indication of what this upcoming year is going to be's going to suck. I joked about it being HaShem's answer to my Yom Kippur prayers, but this past Saturday was nuts. The "Halloween Haunts" were starting up. It rained at Worlds of Fun in the early evening. Then it became torrential. Then flash flooding, lots of lightning and thunder, hail--small and large--followed by a complete power outage at the park and 70mph winds. Sucked.

We shot the vampire house at the park, or tried to...that pesky power outage thing...and we had a new "queen of mean" to hail! One of the girls who works for me dressed up to be a monster for the pictures, and she really out did herself. Her name is Maren, and here's how she looked...
Marin's costume and makeup

The name of the house is "Lore of the Vampire," and she nicknamed herself the "Lore Whore," which I told her she couldn't really use that moniker. Here we are hamming it up before going to the house...
Hamming it up

Maren did a great job under very difficult circumstances. She's one of those people that the camera loves, and I saw nothing but an easy and efficient flow of park guests with her and her photographer, Patrick. I hope to add another set of "monsters" soon, including a girl named Taryn. I did this caricature of her a few years back...
Taryn in Vampirella costume

I'm working on a portrait of her. Once I get a little farther along, I'll post it. She offered to do the Vampirella costume, but I'm not sure the park could handle it.
One last thing from this past summer...we had a couple of get togethers at the park for the employees, and this is how I usually ended up...
July Kaman's party
Whipped cream in the face...ya' gotta love it! But I preferred "Splash Bash." Gena got 3/4 guys together and they tossed me into the pool. As hot as it had been, it was just what was needed, although it did make for more laundry.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

working through a likeness...

Not much to tell other than I did some doodling watching "Dexter." I hope soon to post some of those doodles in a more finished form.

In previous posts I've griped about struggling with getting a likeness on one of my artists. Gena won one of the competitions we have had at the park called "Top Gun." I implemented this program to get the photo artists to think less about how many clicks of the shutter they were getting and more about making their photos more "sell-able." It's a term we have frequently used with the other operations...caricatures, airbrush art, wood cutting, and the like...and it made sense to use it for this discipline, too. Not being a front gate photo peep, I grew very impatient and annoyed at those who came in to give me the "how to," finding that the strutting of "shot counts" and "capture rates" came off more like phallus measuring between egos.

Whose is bigger?

It also wasn't translating into per capita(aka "how much money are we squeezing?), either.

"Did you see how many shots I had today? Huh? Huh? Huh? Huh? 400! Oh, yeah!..."

"...but only 5 of them sold. You sure those were all legit and you weren't taking pictures of the clouds?" Or your feet? 400 pics and 200 have the heads cut off..."

You get the idea.

So instead of rewarding high shot counts, I rewarded the number of pictures sold. Top Gun. Anyone can "spray bullets," but who can hit the "targets?"

Gena did it twice at Oceans of Fun, as did Emily and Laura. At Worlds of Fun, Nick, A.J., and Michael did it twice. Emily has the distinction of being the only one to do it at both parks, and the only 3 time winner.

Gena is a comics and animation fan. Previously I showed drawings of her as "Phoenix" and "Black Widow." But my 4th try in caricaturing her, I drew her as "Medusa" from the "Fantastic Four." After all, she is a redhead, so it fits to draw her as those characters. She has been gracious enough to send me a pic of that drawing. My camera is on the fritz, and I wanted to make sure it arrived for her birthday, so I was unable to get a pic of it. Still not that happy with it, but it's closer in likeness then earlier attempts. Some caricature subjects are like that.
Gena Ford as "Medusa"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2... 5... 8...

258. Haven't seen that in a while. In fact, since some time in 1998/1999 working for Brian Miller. At that time I saw it as my weight was going up. I tipped that this past Wednesday. It felt good to finally be under 260. May be a skinny man, yet!

I get to see "Nurse Dracula" this morning. That's my own code for going in for blood work. I really hate doing it. Usually no bullet is given for me to bite down on. Not that it hurts...sometimes...I just don't like the idea of getting stuck.

It's also this time of year when I have to schedule the examination that "men doth not speak." If anyone out there doesn't know what I'm talking about...I ain't explaining it.

I met Taryn's dog, Kaden, yesterday. A really cute, but huge, puppy.

Last night, I was at the park late working on some stuff. It was raining, but not the torrential floods which identified this past summer...when it would rain. It was soothing. At one point I took a break and texted my buddy, Grant, who called me and we chatted. Some time out of town for a few days may just be what I need. And Grant's been really nagging me about getting back to my sketchbook. If George Harrison's guitar bleeds, I wonder what that makes my sketchbook?

I'd had something confirmed that had been nagging me for a while. A statement in passing from someone I trust about a situation and person, but it still cut rather deep. Guess I hate being played.

This time of year brings out my introspection, I guess because it's during the 10 Days of Awe now. In studying Judaism, final judgment for the coming year will finalize this coming weekend with Yom Kippur. My fate for the coming year will be sealed. Good and bad.

"Yitgadol v' yitkaddash shmeh rabbah"...when it is my time before the "throne," one question would have to be answered...why did He take Chris when he did? Today marks the 4th anniversary of the passing of Dr. Chris R. Bullard...

He seemed to love the "Indiana Jones" movies, and wore a fedora when conducting tours.

Chris was the best teacher I'd ever had. Nobody had ever opened up biblical things to me the way he did. It was as if a veil were lifted. Becky and I wanted to go on one of his tours of Israel, and were planning on it back then when I got the email from Chris' brother that he'd died of a heart attack.

Why I'm still here and he isn't, makes no sense. He had something to say, I spout dribble. He made a difference in the world, I watch the rain.

I miss him. And it isn't because we were close personal friends. I just loved learning from him.

Time to get ready for the giving of blood. I think that Dr. Menon will be pleased next week with my test results. Dr. Nash, however, is always a bit too cheery for me. No one should love that kind of work that much.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sometimes the "Dragon" wins...sometimes...

This past weekend found me in both familiar and unfamiliar territory. Labor Day is one of the tougher weekends usually because of its proximity to schools back in session. And staffing issues were there a bit.

It also signaled the end of the season for Oceans of Fun, and I'd have to say that I preferred its atmosphere to Worlds of Fun, for the most part. Most would try to paint me a bit of a lech because of the amount of exposed flesh there, but in truthfulness it had better music, a different excitement, a staff with a different mentality, and I felt somewhat more welcome there. We did well there this season, and I'm proud of the efforts of all involved.

It had become a habit of mine to take some time and soak my feet in one of the pools while the staff began to get ready for closing. Take some time to relax a bit before helping them wrap things up. And it was strange to find myself weeping a bit at the finality of the season's end. Last time to splash my feet around.

The weekend also provided for the usual tension that is at our household during this time. My wife goes out of town and I'm left alone and with the dogs to care for. I don't blame her as I wasn't home a lot during the season except to sleep. But the "dragon" was clawing at me, and it was capped with having to take the cat to the vet. He had been hobbling around a lot. Being 17 years old, we figured he was just slowing down, but of late he just wasn't "with it." She and I argued as to the best course. The vet said he needed to be catheterized, but might not survive the procedure...translation: "maybe you should put him down." I told her and the vet I was tired of being the one to hold down a family pet while it was being killed. It takes too much out of me. I could live with him dying while having a procedure done that might make him better. He'd always been rather tough, so I could see him pulling through. One last fight on Saturday before she headed out to her sister's, and I was just waiting on the vet to call me.

He did. And it wasn't with good news.

A mass in his bladder would just cause the problem to continue and would eventually kill him. So I, again, got to put a pet down, and it hurt. Still does. Here he is in happier times...

The "dragon" won this past weekend, and I hurt a lot. Not just the vet thing, but issues at work and personal things. Fortunately, there were enough things that needed my attention that it kept me busy.

One of the kids, one of the "Kansas Kids" as they have been identified, had been bugging me to draw him. I guess I'd shot off my mouth about WF's "Big Bash" and being a volunteer at the splash tank, and that I would give some sort of prizes to those who could put me in the water. The first year I did the splash tank I only got dunked once. Last year in a 10 minute segment, I only went in 3 times, so I felt pretty safe with the odds. But this year I got dunked about 8/9 times in 10 minutes! Sheesh!!! Where's the love?

Any way, Brendan wanted me to draw his caricature as "Superman," and I'm thankful he bugged me enough to draw. It felt good, so here is the finished piece...

One program I did this year was called "Top Gun," at the Front Gate Photo stands. The reward is an airbrushed hat to be worn while being "top gun" that week, and I display a caricature of them(not a photo). In theory, it would help to cross plug the other operations at the park, and had some success. At Oceans of Fun, the "top gun" seemed to be cursed in that virtually none of the winners were there the next week to strut their stuff, save about one.

One girl in particular, Gena, went on vacation the next week. She also is one who I can't seem to get a handle on her likeness, and it is frustrating. She's also into comics and was one of the first "body" drawings I did for "Top Gun." Of course after that, they ALL wanted body drawings. Here's my first "top gun" drawing of her. It's close, but not. Her brother said I made her look like Sarah Palin...

As it turned out, she won "top gun" again, but left for college this past week. I got closer this time, particularly with the hair color, but the face and jawline are too narrow. I drew another one of her(as "Medusa" from the Inhumans,) but my camera is jacked up so I don't have a picture and sent it on too her. Here what the "Top Gun" display looked like at Oceans of Fun with her caricature...

...and a closer view of the drawing...

If I have one gripe about my Ocean's experience it would be over a parking space. "You can park in a visitor's spot..." But I'm not a visitor...the name tag says "manager." "You're not over here often enough..." Sorry, but I'm over here every day. In fact, more than other get the point.

But I made up a sign to "claim" a spot. Here's what it looked like...

The kids seem to have a handle on things better than I. They have a purpose this time of year. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels. I hate being at the park by myself doing stuff, mostly maintenance and counting things. Shuffling paper. Kim came out to help me a bit the other day, and it felt good to have someone else there. Someone to talk to. Ray came out too and it made things easier. Taryn and others have all offered to help out. I really do appreciate it. They all seemed to know I was hurting a bit.

Tonight I saw a movie with my wife, and Thursday I will take my daughter to Starlight to see a "Beatles" tribute. I resigned from teaching Sunday School...time for a change. And I've pulled out some drawings that have been sitting around begging for completion. Time for me to fill the void. Keep the "dragon" at bay. Have been giving serious thought to dancing lessons and a beginner's class in Hebrew.

Some one took down my sign. No one has said anything, but I doubt they saw the humor in it.

All in all, this is what a defiant old fat man looked like from this past weekend. The "dragon" won for a time.

But not always...

Friday, September 3, 2010


Not sure how to begin this, since it's been so long between posts. The good thing is that this post will be virtually ignored. Some things should best be expressed. Maybe blogging isn't the best way to do that.

I'm reminded of the current psa on the boob tube which shows a tweener girl first enjoying the attention she is getting. But as the commercial goes, she comes to realize that lots of other folks...not necessarily the most desirable ones...are also viewing her online postings. The creepy, yet nerdy, usher at the movies who asks her her underwear color may be the funniest. (For the record, mine are briefs...whitey tightys...think "Homer Simpson" with out the "Mister Plow" jacket dancing around the house.) Hey, pervs! Doesn't quite have the same titillation when done by a fat, bald guy, eh?

I've had a rough week. Rough summer, more like it. And while others in the theme park biz are jumping for joy with full-time now done, I've felt both disoriented and rudderless. Eventually, it will dawn on me to plan out some times to do repairs and such while also putting my home studio back to order from the shambles it now is. And get back to some drawing. But this week has been more "out running the dragon."

For those not knowing my expression for that, it is code for the feeling of a wave of depression beginning to overtake me. I have to do things to stay ahead of the "dragon." Focus harder. Find things to occupy my mind and spirit. Sometimes it is tough. Some times it is inevitable that the "dragon" will over take me. And it hurts.

Of late have been the realizations of things I can't change. One of those things is the position of "outsider." My wife hates when I get this way, but I've never felt like I "belonged" anywhere. Of late, she and I aren't on the same page and I'm unsure of how to rectify that. I've been at the park so much that I don't feel comfortable at home. Stupid really.

As "boss," I will always be "outside," and should be. This smacked me hard as I worked around 3 of my folks last Friday. They are survivors. The ones who came from Kodak to Kaman's. The only ones. (I should know. I hired them, and only them.) And as they worked that night, I could tell a kindredness and kinship. Me? On the outside looking in. At the park, I'm not with the other managers because I'm not a Cedar Fair employee. There. But definitely not one of "them." The walking around from problem to problem helps me to stay ahead of the dragon.

Both Becky and I have felt like outsiders at our church. And have felt like such for years. There, just not quite belonging no matter how much we tried to get involved.

We used to talk about situations we've observed, such as those who seem to come into situations...high school, jobs, churches, etc., and immediately just seem to fit. Others never do. So in a way, a catharsis for this is the acceptance that I will always be an outsider. Maybe it helps me to see through the crap and some of the conning that goes on.

I've had some rather unique cathartic moments of late. About a month ago when it was up in 100+ degrees, I was a bit dehydrated and my knees were hurting. As I was going up the staircase to the Wave Pool, I was looking down and clutching the hand rail, but as I began to look up, I saw a magnificently sculpted female tush in a skimpy bikini bottom sauntering and swaying back and forth as she, too, ascended the staircase ahead of me. And while this might not be the best thing for a "righteous man" to post, what jolted me was the realization that, at the same time, the PA system was blaring the Raspberries hit tune, "Go All the Way." I was both exasperated and tickled. It was sensual and hilarious at the same time. And when I did make it to my vehicle, I spent some time giggling and laughing.

Last Saturday, another catharsis came when I ran into someone I'd gone to high school with. I really do hate running into people I know from my past. It was a time when I had a full head of hair, only one chin, and a waist! Later, after closing of Oceans, I took out all essentials from my pockets and just jumped into a pool fully-clothed. It felt good even though the wife complained of my making for of a mess and more laundry.

This past Wednesday I saw one of my employees off as she headed off to college. She had worked hard for me this season. A lot of the success we had, particularly at Oceans, I would give a lot of credit to her. But I also know that in the scheme of her life it(the job, other employees and friends, me, the season) were all in the "rear view mirror." And should be. What I learned was the harsh lesson that instead of being in someone else's "rear view mirror," the question is what, and/or who, is in mine? Where are my dreams and goals? Where is life taking me?

So I mark time a bit, looking to see this upcoming Labor Day Weekend to its finish. I will be bidding my "second mistress," Oceans of Fun, goodbye. And I will find it sad. I put a lot of sweat and tears into trying to make that venue a go this season. In many ways, we were quite successful. But it comes to an end. And in the scheme of things, I don't think it really mattered.

But it's time for bed, and to get up early to get some things ready for the day. Some things mundane. Some things exciting. Some things rather unpleasant, but necessary.

Good night! And I do promise to get this back to what it was intended...a sketch blog.