Nice Guys Finish Third

Nice Guys Finish Third

In writing this post, I’m working under a few assumptions:

1) You value art in some way, or at the least, you do not hate it.
2) You are inspired, or at least intrigued, at the thought of innovative ways of distributing creative merchandise.
3) You spent at least part of the holiday weekend outdoors, and in so doing, noticed that your t-shirt collection could use some refreshing.

Now, a bit of background:

Months ago now, we promised a free t-shirt to he or she who placed third in the Nasty Chipmunk Essay Competition. Said t-shirt (yet undesigned, at the the time) was to feature a cross-eyed zebra and the words “Nice Guys Finish Third.” The winners were named, two people tied for third place, and there the issue stood, us not designing or producing the t-shirt and the winners going unrewarded.

Until now.

Using the holiday weekend to dust some cobwebs off her TO DO list, Robbi sat down and designed the zebra t-shirt. The result pleases us so much that we both want one for ourselves.

Here it is:


Here’s where things get murky. We could either order four shirts on Zazzle (two for the winners and two more for ourselves) for around $80, or for $260, we could order 20 shirts, leaving 16 for the likes of you.

So here’s what we propose: If 11 of you out there in the Idiots’Blog readership also admire this shirt and want one for yourselves, we will be able to have it nicely printed and break even. And if an additional five of you decide you want one, we could actually make a small profit! It’s the same business model that fuels the subscription service. Why not, we say, try it with shirts?

So, if you like this shirt and would gladly part with $18 to buy one, send me an email and we’ll start a tally. As soon as we get to 11, we’ll call the t-shirt people and get the presses rolling.

But here’s the thing, this model only works if those who say they want the t-shirt actually end up buying it. So we’ll invoke the honor system and call it an experiment. At worst, we’ll be out $260 bucks, but at best, we could start a new way of distributing small-run t-shirt designs.

And whatever comes to pass, we’ll both have (what we believe to be) a really stellar shirt.

Let us know what you think. Comment to this post or write me an email (matthew null@null idiotsbooks if you want in. And be sure to let me know what size you want (unisex S, M, L, XL, XXL).

The Patience of Job

The Patience of Job

… and the skills of Edward Scissorhands:


See more here at Designers Couch (http://bit
Amazing paper crafted little people. Not to mention the excellent photography. Not to mention teeny tiny Elvis lips. Not to mention awesome set dressing.

Just wish we knew who actually did these. Unless “Russian Design Studio” is somebody’s actual name. In which case, I’d like to say, “Da. DA, Comrade!!”

The Truth Comes Out

The Truth Comes Out

So, today I was doing some cleaning (cleaning? yeah, I know…! I must be procrastinating or something, hm?), sorting through the piles of detritus that are our home. Most of it was paper. Things to be recycled. Trimmings from books. Catalogs from Pottery Barn. Drawings of Alden’s (art is her latest enthusiastic endeavor, when she can’t be swinging). Discoveries were made.

I was most impressed by her neo-formalist conté drawing in black and orange, titled “Neo-Formalist Conté Drawing in Black and Orange”.


She did it on a piece of heavyweight pulp card stock that was used as a divider in the Makers Tiles shipping boxes. Which maybe makes it less neo-formalist and more post-minimalist. Anyhoo – I was pleased to have discovered it before it got accidentally tossed.

Feeling rosy inside about my young progeny’s budding interest in the things that interest me, I got a little emotional. A tear came to my eye. Maybe she would be the artist, after all, not the writer (actually, we’re both really really hoping for an accountant). I felt very close to her in that moment. Close in the way that two fellow artists can feel close, not just in the way a mother feels close to her daughter. And then I found this:


Right next to the voodoo dolls. I’m totally watching my back from now on.



We go to the playground a lot these days. A lot. Along with the emergence of Alden’s vocabulary has been a heightened ability to articulate her desires. And what she desires most afternoons is going to the playground. And because I am a generally tractable father, I usually take her.

Although she delights in many of the playground’s offerings (slides, climbing structures, colorful plastic dogs on springs), we always start with the swings. As soon as we get out of the car, she points toward them with glee, screaming, “Swings! Swings! Swings! (just in case I have forgotten what they are called, I guess).

The girl loves to swing.


Usually, while Alden swings, Kato lounges comfortably in his car seat. But lately Alden has insisted that he swing too. Apparently she cannot bear to have all the fun for herself.

And so Kato swings, too.


They swing together.


I can think of worse ways to pass the afternoon.

The Sweet Life

The Sweet Life

A few weeks ago we headed off for a day at the Washington Zoo.


Alden has recently become very interested in animals. She has a puzzle featuring a zebra, a tiger, a hippo, and various other denizens of the animal world not often to be found in Chestertown. But so far she hasn’t actually seen them in the flesh. She was excited to say the least.

Robbi and I were gratified that our young daughter was so excited to experience the wonders of the animal kingdom.

Yet, when we go to the zoo, we parents were in for a rude awakening. Was she fascinated by the lions? She was not. They lay inert in the grass hundreds of yards from where we stood, looking far less interesting than a sleeping Kato. Was she riveted by the hippo? No sir. The hippo has, apparently, been traded to the Milwaukee Zoo for some other brand of wildlife. Surely, we thought, surely she would be awestruck by the Western Lowland Gorilla, whose species name (gorilla gorilla gorilla) is at the least repetitive and memorable.


But no. The gorilla provided no enchantment. He seemed content, like the rest of the animals, to loll about despondently. And who can blame him? The day was hot and muggy.

No, Alden’s trip to the zoo was highlighted instead by a different kind of majesty, that of the Pucker Powder being sold in one of those helpful kiosks.


What’s Pucker Powder, you say, Is that some new kind of dangerous animal?

No friends, Pucker Powder is a gleaming apparatus dispensing pure colored sugar from vertical tubes, made ever more enticing by the presence of a smiling pickle in a festive hat.

Alden was in awe.


Her inertia was short-lived. Once she realized that she was not dreaming, she lunged for the Pucker Power pedestal with the nimble enthusiasm that the lions might have demonstrated on a cool fall day.


We elected not to take photos of the scene that followed: the wrenching of a tiny child from her personal promised land while trying to explain that the key virtues of the Washington Zoo were elsewhere to be found.

What Alden learned in Washington is unclear. Robbi and I, on the other hand, now know to visit the zoo in the late afternoon, and not on a Saturday, and not when the temperature is flirting with unbearable.

I have no doubt that the day she turns 35 and is no longer subject to my draconian rule, Alden will be the first in line at the Pucker Powder stand, waiting for her long-deserved taste of the sweet life.