Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

New friends, family ties and the edge of the desert.

After passing beneath a super-ominous and very cool storm front yesterday morning southwest of Eureka, Missouri – that cloud was so low and heavy-looking it felt like driving beneath one of the Independence Day invasion ships – the rest of the short 6-hour drive to Arkansas was easy and entertaining. It included a long stretch of winding two-lane through some very small towns in what was apparently once a river beach resort destination region, and I wish I had been able to stop and take some photos of a few incredible shots where the road actually undercuts these stone cliffs, so you’re driving with tons and tons of rock hanging overhead, with a river off to the opposite side. Unfortunately, I was being rudely tailgated because I refused to speed (I’ve grown up around enough small towns to know speed traps when I see them), so you’ll just have to trust me: If you ever have some time, check out Missouri Route 59.)

Got to Arkansas in the early afternoon and finally got to meet Kirk Demarais, who, it turns out, is as incredibly awesome and kind and fun and generous in person as he’s been online. And though he had no obligation to entertain me or anything, Kirk figured it would be fun to take a mini-road trip for the afternoon, so we zipped over to Eureka Springs – spotting, along the way, totally by chance and entirely fitting, the self-proclaimed World’s Largest Traveling Reptile Show in a parking lot. (Truth be told, things like that make me sad for the animals, so they never get my money, but the cheesy sideshow art on the trailers was too garish and bizarre and odd not to stop and gawk at.)

We wandered the three or four balconies of the supposedly haunted Crescent Hotel –

Crescent Hotel

Crescent view 2

– and walked around Eureka Springs for a little while, then went to check out the view of the place from across the valley, from the vantage point of the Christ of the Ozarks –

Christ of the Ozarks

The day passed in a non-stop conversation bouncing from nerdstuff to nostalgia to movies and science fiction and videogames and being dads and art and writing and books and road trips, and it was a total blast, and Kirk and his family are seriously great people for letting me crash at their place during my odyssey.

I got up and hit the road this morning about 6 a.m.

Today was quite the drive for changing scenery:

From an approaching storm over Oklahoma –

to the Texas panhandle –


to a blazing afternoon stopoff in Amarillo and a visit to the site of the former Air Force Base where my dad did his basic training back in 1968. It’s not a pretty place these days:

former Amarillo

And even though I wasn’t yet in the world when Dad was here and when mom and grandma drove down to visit him, I still wanted to see it, and I tried to imagine Dad coming down here on his own and being in this strange and isolated and expansive region so different from the parts of Ohio where he grew up.

From Amarillo, it was just a couple quick hours to Tucumcari, New Mexico, where I’m staying tonight, and I’ve got a couple good hours of the evening to explore, which I’m going to go do now, since tomorrow’s another hit-the-road-early day.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Family history, geek, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

From action figures to X-ray specs

Kirk Demarais has done it again. As the artist responsible for the new look of “Collect All 21!“, he’s already got my gratitude and admiration in abundance, but now – now he goes and writes this on his Secret Fun Blog:

“…this book is highly entertaining and well written.And here’s the truly amazing thing about it— it’s full of all of your own memories. Really! I spent half the time reading, and the other half experiencing long-forgotten Star Wars flashbacks. It has sent pulses into my brain that are reawakening moments and stories that have been dormant for decades. And when you enjoy visiting the past as often as I do, that’s no small feat.”

This is an incredibly rewarding thing to hear, and Kirk is making it awfully difficult for me to thank him enough for his contribution and support of my book. That said, hopefully I can start by returning the favor somewhat:

If you picked up a comic book pretty much ever, then you were probably intrigued and mystified and enticed by those oddly vague ads for ultra-cheap stuff like “Life-Size Monsters!” and “Eight Billion Army Men in a Sturdy Footlocker” and pranks like Sneezing Powder and Hot Pepper Gum. I know I was. (Never enough to actually send away for any of it, of course – I mean, spending money was for Star Wars loot.)

Well, Kirk’s uncovered some of the mysteries for us:

Life of the Party - available at

Life of the Party - available at

Archie McPhee, purveyors of Great Piles o’Awesome like the Cold War Unicorns Play Set, now sells Kirk’s book “Life of the Party: A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Company, Makers of Pranks & Magic for 100 Years” and has lopped almost half the original cover price off this big 200-page hardcover pictorial history.

Kirk’s dedication to and love for these long-lost bits of pop culture oddity is apparent in his short film Flip,  on his blog and Secret Fun Spot, and I can’t wait to dig into this book.

And – almost as if I did send away for those X-Ray Specs when I was eight – I am already watching the mailbox in anticipation of my just-ordered copy’s arrival.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Terribly Odd, Terrifically Neat

Last year, my friend Jim sent me a signed, limited edition Boba Fett print of this piece by Orlando artist Terribly Odd:

As it happened, the last night of our recent Florida trip coincided with the artist’s “Terribly Oddio” show at Uberbot in Winter Park, which Jim was planning to shoot, so Jenn & Kelsey & I figured it would be a fun way to spend an hour or two.

We were right.

I think my favorite piece was the They Might Be Giants-inspired one seen in the left side of this picture by Jim:


There was a similarly great take on the Guns-n-Roses “Appetite For Destruction” cover, and a tribute to Ohio-born Devo, seen here on display at Terribly Odd’s booth at last weekend’s FX convention:

Terribly Odd at FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

Terribly Odd at FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

That’s the artist (Terribly? Mr. Odd? I mean, I met him, but are we on a first-adverb basis?) on the right.

We talked for a couple minutes at the show, and he mentioned being invited to this year’s Crazy 4 Cult show at gallery 1988, which is, needless to say – and yet I will say it – Terribly Awesome.

Speaking of the FX show, Jim went and shot his usual impressive bunch of celebrity & pop culture photos, including:

KITT toy, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

KITT toy, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

A K.I.T.T. car just like the one my brothers had when we were kids: I assume the rubber band is there because those doors popped off with ridiculous ease. I also recall that pressing the rear license plate triggered several sound bites, and a sliding switch on the bottom of the car that enabled you to speed up or slow down the speech for accuracy. (Of course, it was usually used for humorous effect, to make K.I.T.T. sound like either the fourth Chipmunk or like he was prepping to deliver the “Sheeeee’s myyyyy buuuuuuutterfly” line for the Young Guns peyote trip scene.)

And, at my request, since I’m a “Firefly” fan, a couple pictures of visiting guests Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin:

Jewel Staite, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

Jewel Staite, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

Morena Baccarin, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

Morena Baccarin, FX Orlando 2009 by Jim Carchidi

It’s funny: Jim said despite this year’s impressive guest list (Leonard Nimoy & Jonathan Frakes were also there), attendance at FX seemed significantly lower than past cons. I haven’t been to the show since 1997 or 1998, back when it was kind of heading into the downturn that would leave it overshadowed by MegaCon for much of the past decade. I wish I could have been there for this one, though.

April 21, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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