Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mid-week observation: A bizarre and disappointing redirect

As my spring break (post-Easter) continues, I would like to point out bad news for me on a personal level, and an unusual way I found out about it.

Those of you who have seen Jennifer's part of the biography pages know that I have been using this link to represent Brandy Barefoot, whose face I have used to represent her.  This is a real person who lives in south central Alabama, not the Brandy character I have, who is portrayed by Benson, NC resident and UNC Wilmington student Amanda Barefoot.  There will be a quiz on this.:)

The link is a heartwarming story about how "Alabama Brandy" received a kidney transplant from Aaron Strickland, a fellow member of her church, after no one in her own family was a match.  It was posted and published by WSFA, a television station in Montgomery, AL which is the NBC affiliate (although as I remember no video was posted).

I wanted to credit the web link for my upcoming picture book, but when I typed up that link in the address bar, it was redirected here.  What makes it bizarre was the contents - a bunch of upcoming events in and around Montgomery.  There is no mention of the file or the page not being found, except for the "404" code in part of the address.

I can only speculate that the unusual page is a result of the station and its web design partner, WorldNow, wanting to soften the blow of bad news.  If so, this would not be a first.  Two more examples:
  • Type up one of Belinda's doll's names (Boogerberger, MacSmelliefoote etc.) into Ancestry.com.  Notice how the result comes up that they could not find any "good matches."  Now, I've been to Ancestry.com for a long time, and even have a limited free membership, and I can recall when the same "search" landed on a page saying that there were no matches.
  • DirecTV offers a feature called GameSearch to be used if a national or regional telecast of a sporting event is blacked out.  Sometimes, this occurs because of local exclusivity; if so, it tunes to the appropriate channel.  But if it can't be seen locally at all, another message is generated that ends, "...but we'll keep searching."  This is absolutely dumb, as we all know the software can search forever and nothing will change.  (Aside: The message is a dumb as DirecTV's ad campaigns, which embarrasses me personally since I'm a subscriber.  Fire your ad agency and get a new one, guys!)

By the way, I entered their names and "kidney transplant" into the search engine in various combinations and found no results.  So sadly I assumed that at some point in the last few months, WorldNow simply purged the article.:(  Oh, well, I was able to save the accompanying picture to my hard drive, and you can see it on the right hand side of this page.

UPDATE: According to her Facebook page, "Alabama Brandy" had a follow-up treatment on March 13 - my 42nd birthday - at UAB Medical Center in Birmingham, AL.  Otherwise, she has lived a normal and healthy life for the last two years with her husband, Graham.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Any questions about Jennifer?

As my planned photo book is slowly coming together for release sometime this summer, I am still finding new ways to put together the world I have made for my characters.  The latest example is Buddy Wayne's sister-in-law Jennifer.

According to the biography I have for her, Jennifer was - appropriately - a podiatrist before leaving it all behind to join her husband Bobby Ray and their daughter Belinda in the grand experiment called the Barefoot Family Farm.  (A reminder of that is shown in the first picture below.)

However, until this week, I neglected to depict Jen in her previous job, so the impending book project was incentive for me to get to work on that.

I took a picture from the Indiana Podiatry Group in Indianapolis depicting a podiatrist's office and a scrub I found at the web site of Charles Sturt University, which has campuses through Australia.  Add "Alabama Brandy's" face, Bailey Miller's arms, and the legs of the girl found on the roadside, and there you go!  Then, just a few minutes ago, I added an inset montage, based on a photograph from the HowStuffWorks website showing a podiatrist at work.  I changed her hair and skin colors to match Jennifer's.

Friday, April 11, 2014

New photo book in the works

Some weeks ago, just before the Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 took place at Auto Club Speedway here in the Los Angeles area, I received a telephone call from one of my cousins, Freddie Maxie.  She told me that the owner of a store which hosted a show car display was planning to share information on the sale of the book that spun off into this blog.   (A show car is built exactly like an actual race car, but it is intended for display only.  One example is the one below, the #18 car driven by Kyle Busch; it's at M&M's World in Las Vegas, coincidentally Busch's hometown.)  Maxie then asked me if I had any plans for another book.  I told her that I did not, but if I changed my mind, it would most likely be a photo book.

After some more thoughts, that is exactly what I plan to do.  Sometime this summer, my third book will be published through Lulu.com.  It will be a collection of my work through Photoshop, Illustrator, and other related programs.  In my judgement, this is the best way for me to explain to a larger audience what the Barefoot family is all about.  Of course, most of the book will contain pictures, but I will also have short summaries of what is being depicted and I will also explain exactly how these illustrations were put together.

I will continue to create new pictures and montages through the end of the school year at ABC Adult School, then put them all together.  The plan is to have both a print edition and another for tablets and e-readers.

And here's one of the montages you'll see there.  It's the only one I created using Photoshop this week, and it's a redo of an earlier "promotional poster" of Hambone's TV series, What the Buck?  For this modification, I changed whatever was mounted on the wall (a map?) with a picture I created of Hambone's immediate family: herself, her brothers Ralph and Harvey, and her parents Popeye and Annie.  Below that is a replica license plate with my favorite two-word entendre phrase printed on it.  (Somehow, I doubt the state of North Carolina would accept a real plate with those words on it.)  The font is Orator Standard, which is the closest I could find to what states use to engrave plates.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A moment with Brandy and Bunky

Just one new photograph to share as the third quarter of 2013-14 ends at ABC Adult School.   It goes back to the original "family photo" that dates back to the fall of 2012.  In that picture, shown immediately below, Bunky shows his obvious support for his sister, Brandy.

However, as I looked back, it should have been the other way around!  As you have read in his bio, Bunky had his life turned upside down as he moved into the house; after all, he had the most modern lifestyle, pre-Rapture, of all 13 of them.  Being without electricity or running water, let alone other conveniences, really scared him more than anything else, and he didn't know where to turn.

Brandy showed him the most support, and that should have been reflected in the original picture.  All I can say is, I just blew it!  And besides it no longer matters because the current "official portrait" as seen here shows both of them with their hands in a more conventional position.

So this week I decided both to correct the mistake and give myself one final reminder of the old photo.  How it happened: their familiar faces, arms, and legs were used; puppet warp was used to slant Brandy's left arm onto Bunky's shoulder; and the patch on both shirts were taken from a logo on the website for Barefoot Chiropractic and Wellness, a real business owned by Billie Barefoot and based in Arizona.  Finally, I added a caption that says it all.

Here is the result:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I made Hambone look better!

Before I show Hambone's new look, and how it was obtained, a personal note.

As a lifelong resident of southern California, I have lived through many earthquakes before, but I have never been in a car prior to the one that occurred on Friday night.  We (my father and I) both thought that it was some kind of failure with the car we were in at the time.   Only after we arrived home did my mother (his wife) tell us that it was indeed an earthquake.  And the scary thing is, all of us are told always to expect the worst, maybe something like the 7.1 that hit 25 years ago and disrupted the World Series that year.  I don't know if I would be able to live through that!

OK, now on to Hambone.  Since I created the character some two years ago, I have tried to find a way to show all of you her hidden talent: playing music with her body.  I tried to turn this YouTube video into a "performance" using Adobe Premiere Pro, but I just wasn't able to finish; besides, it wouldn't look right anyway, much like one of the funny videos on JibJab.  Prior to that, I captured one of the scenes as a still photo and superimposed Hambone over it, but it didn't look right, because it looked more like Reba Pearl was doing the Macarena instead of a hambone.

So this week I revisited it with some changes:
  • The background photo is lifted directly from a screen grab of Steve Hickman's original performance (shown below).  Before that, only his hands were used.  In the sitting position, the performer is slapping his (her) right arm on the right knee while the other hand overlaps free.
  • I replaced Hickman's Hawaiian shirt with a ladies' tee and re-colored the shirt pink.
  • Using the same technique of making a selection and applying hue/saturation, the color of the pants went from Hickman's white to Hambone's blue.
  • I made sure to line up Reba Pearl's face with the shoulders of the original photo.

Here are the before and after.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

'Black Crow' correction

Unfortunately for me, the second post is a correction.

Some months ago, I shared the story of Black Crow on the Window, a mystery novel about rookie detective Ella Nellie Bell Littlebridge and her search for a "Jack the Ripper" in New Orleans.  Until this week, I didn't realize that I had the name of the author wrong.  It's actually Jennifer, not Annie.

I had forgotten that I had made Jennifer into a budding author in her bio, which is in the middle of this string of biographies.  So I changed the name to stay consistent, even though Annie also loves to read, too!:

By the way, here's the cover:

Ribble, Ribble!

After a week without a post due to a personal vacation in Las Vegas (tips: the Cirque du Soleil Ka show is a must-see, but the MGM Grand buffet is far from worth the money), I am back with some of the things I did during my week back at the adult school.

In this post, I share the story is another one of the shows I have made up for the mythical BMN (Barefoot Media Networks) television service.  It stars the Ribbles, who I debuted as the Bryants in chapter 7 of my original book.  Billy Bob Ribble is a famous former pro football player and bull rider.  He is the redneck version of Bo Jackson, known for mythical feats and first-class performances in both sports.  How he met his wife, barrel racing champion Krista, is the stuff of legends: When both were teenagers, Krista Bamburg (as she was then known) was traveling back from a rodeo while Billy Bob was delivering farm equipment.  When the truck approached Lake Waco in central Texas, Bamburg was involved in a single car accident which left the car she was riding in floating in the water.  Ribble dove into the water, swam up to Bamburg, and pulled Bamburg from the water thereby saving her life.  Years later, the two were at the same rodeo in Arizona when the two recognized each other.  Once the shock passed, Bamburg and Ribble began dating and married some years later.  They went on to have two children, Adam Michael and Michelle MacKenzie ("Mac" for short).  The Ribbles now have a "reality TV" show called The Best Little Ranch House in Texas.

I derived the show title by substituting "ranch house" for "whorehouse" (which was a 1982 movie that starred Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton).  As for the people themselves, they are based on the Jeters, an actual clan captured in this gallery by a North Carolina-based photographer.  Only three people were in the original picture, so I had to duplicate the original long shot, flip and trim the second picture, merge the photos together, and resize the original people.  The faces were placed on the originals as follows:

When the photo was expanded, I was finally able to put in Adam, whose body shot was taken from a selection of Billy Bob's reduced to about half size.  The face is that of former Oklahoma State University tight end Bo Bowling.

Here's the end result: