I haven’t been writing much in the last few months. Ever since the election I have put my head down to grind through work, perform the daily functions required of a husband and father to keep the house running (somewhat) smoothly. That doesn’t mean that I have turned my back on democracy because the Russians elected a nudnik dotard in an effort to embarrass us and bolster their influence across the globe. On the contrary. My other full time obsession has been designing active measures for #TheResistance through my semi-anonymous Twitter account (this month @Maltaplication is under the pseudonym REX HEADROOM). I may have stopped writing, but I haven’t stopped creating.
Not many people follow the account. I’m not even sure my voice is heard by more than the 1,700 odd followers I have, but I pretend it doesn’t matter. I can be caustic and volatile (12 hour bans are something you get used to), measured and thoughtful, almost always satirical and sarcastic. Creating memes, videos and animated GIFs seems to help me cope with the utter insanity that has become the Republican Party, led by a dangerous, self-serving madman. Some days, my target is Trump, some days Paul Ryan, Mike Pence or Devin Nunes. It really depends on who usurped the other for the daily title of most godawful (often borderline or outright criminal) human detritus. I must say that Trump usually holds the top spot, but it can fluctuate wildly. Each day the bar somehow lowers past bedrock. The abyss is bottomless.
This week I took some time away from work to attend one of my favorite conferences, Adobe MAX — graphic designers, art directors, photographers, videographers…every aspect of design gathering in one place to experience and celebrate what’s new in digital design, and rub elbows with some of the greatest creative minds in the world. This year, 12,000 attendees descended on a still shaken Las Vegas. For me, MAX 2017 is the best conference Adobe has put on to date.
My job is a mixture of creative director/graphic designer. Partnered with my extremely talented wife, our boutique marketing studio primarily works with Fortune 500 companies, helping them achieve their marketing and design dreams in the niche of CSR.
Amidst all of the hands-on labs there are also sessions where living legends share their experiences in their field, how they work, what inspires them, how to stay inspired, and sometimes – activism.
Two sessions this year kicked some serious ass. Both given by fearless women that are on a mission. One was Jennifer Kinon, founding partner of OCD with her soul-crushing talk as the design director for the Hillary for America 2016 campaign, the other was Bonnie Siegler’s retrospective on political resistance.
Jennifer took us by the hand and gently walked us back to the beginning in 2015. Sharing her work and collaboration with other young graphic designers as they were added to the team. Unfortunately, 7-day work weeks and all of that amazing talent couldn’t have anticipated (or held back) the immense, criminal enterprise that the TrumpRussia campaign executed.
Bonnie Siegler of studio Eight and a Half is the reason I am even writing this today. Her presentation during her session The Design of the Resistance helped me realize that my Twitter trolling needs to get some serious focus. Thus far, it’s really been about as effective as public toilet graffiti scrawl — you may see it, chuckle, but forget it as soon as you are clear of your short, biological reason for being there.
Today I make a promise to myself to volunteer my time for congressional campaigns across the United States. They need design, social media help, and creative direction. I plan to help.
My son came home with an interesting homework project from his 8th grade Physical Science class. Simply, take the human digestive tract and write a song that describes it’s various functions. Needless to say he was having a challenge coming up with a lyric, so for once he asked me for assistance (usually I hinder more than help).
I started out by humming a few toons, and then Hotel California by The Eagles popped into my head.
I may have taken his project a little too seriously.
On a dark digestive highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of burritos, rising up through the air
Up ahead on the dishes, I saw a succulent light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
My teeth had to take a bite
There it stood in the doorway;
My tongue started to swell
And I was thinking to myself,
“This could be Spicy or this could be Mild”
Then I opened my esophagus and it showed me the way
There was saliva down the corridor,
I thought I heard it say…
Welcome to the Digestive Cornucopia
Such a lovely taste (Such a lovely taste)
In the end it’s waste
Plenty of room at the Digestive Cornucopia
Any toilets near? (Any toilets near?)
You can find me there
The line is gettin’ kinda twisted, I got the Menudo Benz
I got a lot of sloshy, sloshy acid in my stomach, friends
How it churns inside, solid food becoming wet.
Some eat to remember, some eat to forget
So it fell into the stomach,
It churned in the acid for a while
It said, “We haven’t had that mixture here since nineteen sixty nine”
And still those gases are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…
Welcome to the Digestive Cornucopia
Such a lovely taste (Such a lovely taste)
In the end it’s waste
Breakin’ down food in the Digestive Cornucopia
Eating fiber is wise (Eating fiber is wise)
I’ll have a side of fries!
Donald Trump has swept up the world in the most controversial Presidential election of the century. Against all odds, and contrary to nearly every poll leading into the final days before election night, he has surprised everyone.
Let’s step back to the 4 weeks prior to November 7. Polls were showing Hillary Clinton in the lead. The damage from so many stories about Trump’s mysoginy, sexual assault allegations, racism and an endless stream of his own inflammatory remarks seemed like the end of the historic run. Then, in a letter to Congress, James Comey of the FBI stated that they had new information that might re-open their investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal, not to mention a weak link to shamed politician Anthony Weiner and the race tightened.
Yet Donald continued to rail that the system was rigged. That our democracy was a sham, despite the fact that the race looked neck-and-neck.
I would argue that Donald Trump expected to lose at this point. Rumors were plentiful that he was going to take this newfound popularity and use it to start a multi-million dollar media company, even as difficult as that might be. Access to Media is changing rapidly from a cable provided system to on-demand and device independent subscriptions. One could argue that the inner circle he was surrounding himself with was preparing for just that. They now own the entire GOP database of registered voters, not to mention the growing nationalist alt-right movement. That’s a lot of viewers.
Fast forward to today and you have a President Elect that is scrambling to make appointments that they never expected to make, a man who is now looking at being a public servant in public housing for the next 4 years, with all of the round the clock scrutiny that the President of the United States gets from the ‘corrupt’ press. You see where I am going…
So, in the first year I predict that President Trump will be impeached. It will look like some kind of witch hunt, and he will label it as rigged, but think of what he gets! A completely Republican run Executive and Legislative branches, all of the key cabinet appointments in place, key appointment in the Supreme Court, and finally, a pocket President in Mike Pence.
Not to mention a lifetime supply of taxpayer paid Secret Service protection for his whole family.
We are nearing the end of 2016, and the final outcome of the Presidential election has come to pass. Donald J. Trump is the President Elect.
I know that this has disturbed you. You have heard the same things that I did throughout his campaign. No, we didn’t make them up. Someone else didn’t tell us about them, or spin a story that was hard to fathom. You’re not going crazy. I heard him say and do those things as well.
I have some changes to the way I will be bringing you up so that you, too, can become a Great Man
I know that I wasn’t a big fan of Hillary Clinton and I am sorry for that. It was an extremely difficult choice for me to support her, but at the time I felt like it was a sober one in light of all that we learned about her opponent.
But now, days after the election’s completion, I question everything I have said. Not just about Mr. Trump, but about every moral or value I instilled in you thus far. Millions of people have spoken. Perhaps I have been wrong all along. To be the President of the United States is the highest honor an American citizen can undertake, and he (or she) has to prove to be an exemplary human being. The entire free world looks to them for guidance, wisdom and fairness in equal measure. Therefore, I question all that I have shared with you about my opinions of our President Elect.
With that being said, I have some changes to the way I will be bringing you up so that you, too, can become a Great Man that the world looks up to.
- Lie. Believe your lies so that people around you start to believe them as well. Making things up and telling as many people as possible will help spread the lies even faster. The more people that start to tell the lie with you, the less likely people will question it. Facebook is a great place to do this!
- Be really, really mean. If someone falls down in front of you, don’t help them up. Laugh at them. Call them a loser. It makes you feel like a winner!
- Never, ever be charitable. Only you, your friends (if you have any), or your family matter. Feel free to create a bogus non-profit if some bleeding heart liberal puke questions you on this. Just use the money you put into it to bribe other people, or politicians. It’s kind of a tax-free slush fund.
- Be a racist. You are white and male (and fucking American!). Take advantage of that. There are millions of other assholes in America to back you up, so don’t worry about who hates you, either. Gays? Women? Latinos? Ok, your mom is Latino, but still, you look white. Just ALWAYS check that box.
- Women are just used for sex. Some are kind of smart, but don’t trust them. Let a few that you don’t find attractive work for you, the rest you can grab by the pussy, tits, or…wherever. They love it, especially the more of a celebrity you are. Even if you get married, you can cheat on her all you want. Try to find a hot wife that knows you will cheat on her to make it easier, or just a good looking stupid one that believes your lies (by then you should be a gifted fabulist).
- Some of these women are bitches and you can sue them, or threaten their livelihood. Usually they just want to keep their job and that keeps them quiet. Remember, they are just objects, not a winner like you.
- Please, work with me to convince your Mother and Sister that this is the new normal. Resistance is futile. Millions of Americans can’t be wrong.
- Sue people. Lots of people are just dumb and deserve to be impoverished. Again, this makes you feel like a winner.
- Winning is everything. Don’t be a loser.
- Don’t pay people for their work. Spend other peoples money. Never pay taxes. There are plenty of Americans that are too stupid to dodge their taxes and stay out of prison. Don’t be a schmuck, son.
- Whine. A lot. People LOVE a whiner. Things not going your way? Say they cheated! Someone says you touched their pudenda? Deny it! Ugly social media meme about what you really did? Deflect to someone else that did the same thing, just years before you! As long as you did it second, it’s not actually bad or against the law.
- Be a bully. No one likes a pussy, son. If they are a weak loser, they deserve to be called names. Kick their ass. Especially if they have a disability. It’s much easier to make fun of them than someone that can hit back!
For those of you that have been through this before, and didn’t fall into the same mental trap that I did, feel free to move on to your next task instead of reading further. Might I suggest Brian Greene’s TED talk “Making Sense of String Theory” or describing the plot of The Big Short to a room full of 6th graders.
I’ll make this quick. My son is 13 and a gamer. He is highly creative as well, making videos of his creations, no-scope 360’s, and other mayhem. He keeps his grades up and helps about the house, so he has earned his recreational time. Still, he will game long past when we go to bed, leading to an unhealthy lack of sleep.
Our Linksys WRT 1200AC is loaded with features. When confronted with this issue, I remembered the Parental Controls that were built into the router, and set up a block schedule that ensured he was winding down at 10PM on a school night, 2am on the weekends.
This looked correct, but on my first Saturday night, while deep in REM state, my son rapped on my door to let me know that he had lost his internet connection at the RIDICULOUS time of midnight. How could this be?
Grumbling and bleary-eyed I shuffled out of bed in my tighty-whiteys, not even bothering to put on pajama bottoms so as to make him feel uncomfortable for disturbing me, since this was clearly something that he did wrong…but was it? Things looked just right when I logged into the router.
The problem was that I was overlooking the fact that each day starts at 12 midnight – and thus my block schedule was incorrect. Once fixed, it looked something like what you see below. Arriving at this simple construct still required a second set of eyes (my wife) the next day to make sure things made sense.
So if you find yourself up in the middle of the night, blaming the hardware or some other technology, remember that human error is more likely the issue.
Maria has been working on the screenplay for Cada Alma for years with her Mother, and although my Spanish has improved since I married her sister over a decade ago, I still needed her to translate the screenplay for me. As my wife read it to me, I was moved to become a part of the project and help however I could.
Naturally, I had heard many stories of the families’ journeys, but the vivid clarity that the prose revealed gave me inspiration for the designs. Immediately I thought of the period when their stories began in the late 50′s. I toyed with some ideas; engaged in conversations with Maria and her parents, the extended family, and my wife, as well as hours doing research of my own. I was surprised to learn that Cuban and American histories are closely tied together — that the countries were once allies. Our flags even share the same colors. Yet now, even as red, white and blue represent freedom to Americans, the opposite is true for the people of Cuba. Just 90 miles away, these are a people full of art, love and life. Listening to the families, they speak of Cuba as if it is alive, as if it is their belated mother. The heartbreak they all hold is profound. The passion they have for their soil and the grief over losing it to Communist ideology, tangible.
One designer came to mind from that period; Saul Bass. His work in film during the 60′s and 70′s inspired the design. So, while I decided to channel Saul Bass I still needed a hook – What was going to pull my designs together? A little more research and I came across it. The Cuban national bird, or Tocororo, shares the same colors as the Cuban and American flags. Not only that, the Cuban Tocororo enjoys the greatest freedom of all – the freedom of flight.
That’s when I came up with the Tocororo sitting on barbed wire and oppressed by the red backdrop – the color widely associated with communism. I played with the weighting of the red pushing down the blue – the color of the sky where the Tocororo can fly freely.
CADA ALMA translates to “Every Soul”, but Maria was inspired by the powerful symbolism of this design and has chosen “To Claim the Sky” as the English title: “The design is a perfect analogy for what the movie is all about and a true reflection of what Cubans continue to experience every day.”
This was originally published on the cadaalma.com website.
TRABAJO ARTISTICO DE CADA ALMA
Maria ha estado trabajando en el libreto de CADA ALMA junto con su Madre y a pesar que mi español ha mejorado desde que me case con su hermana hace una década, todavía necesite que ella me tradujera en español el libreto. Mientras mi esposa me lo traducía me sentí deseoso de ser parte de ese proyecto y ayudar en lo que fuera necesario.
Naturalmente, he oído algunas historias de los estragos de estas familias, pero la vivida prosa revelada con tanta claridad me dio la inspiración para diseñar el logo de Cada Alma y su significado. Inmediatamente pensé en la época de los años 50.s en que los eventos ocurrieron. Empece a formar ideas después de conversar con Maria, sus padres, mi esposa y los familiares envueltos en las historias escritas, decidí hacer investigaciones y descubrí con gran sorpresa que la historia de Cuba y America son muy parecidas – que los países fueron una vez aliados. Nuestras banderas comparten los mismos colores, rojo, blanco y azul, que significan libertad para los americanos, es lo opuesto para el pueblo de Cuba, solamente a 90 millas de nuestras costas hay un pueblo lleno de amor por la vida y el arte en toda sus manifestaciones.
Escuchando a estas familias que hablan de Cuba como la madre patria que existe y al mismo tiempo la han perdido. La nostalgia es profunda, la pasión que sienten por su tierra y la añoranza y el dolor de perderla por un sistema comunista es tangible.
Un diseñador de esa época me vino a la mente, Saul Bass. Su trabajo filmando en los 60s y 70s inspiró el diseño. Mientras trataba de canalizar el arte de Saul Bass, necesitaba algo más que investigar, como proyectar simbólicamente el mensaje que este libreto revela ? Investigando encontré el símbolo perfecto. El tocororo es el pájaro Nacional Cubano que tiene los mismos colores en su plumaje que las banderas de ambos países. No es solamente que el Tocororo cubano disfruta de algo muy importante que es el poder volar.
Así es como pude visualizar en mi mente al Tocororo sobre una cerca de púas, el rojo simboliza la opresión comunista donde él se siente prisionero y el azul significa el cielo donde el Tocororo puede volar libremente!
Cada Alma traducida al Inglés se titula Every Soul, pero Maria al ver el impacto causado por el simbolismo de este diseño ha decidido que el título en Ingles será To Claim the Sky ya que el diseño es la perfecta analogía con las historias que representa, y la verdadera reflexión que los Cubanos continúan experimentando.
Maria, pasa esto por algunas palabras que no pude ponerle el acento, necesite tiene acento en la última e y vivida también tiene acento en la segunda i Si tienes alguna pregunta me llamas.
Rudyard Kipling wrote it for me, so now I can leave it for you, my children.
by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!