Friday, December 5, 2008


Note: This is the first time in a good six weeks that I've tried to write anything of substance, so please excuse me if this post ends up being dryer than the back of Bea Arthur's ankles.

Greetings adoring public... long time sans sight, eh? Well, I assure you it's been a mightily eventful month and a half since I last blathered upon you, but most of the goings on are tied up in the enigmatic nature of my internal composition, so I'll spare you the intimate details and just provide the Cliffs Notes:

I did not end up getting my gallbladder removed, but don't let that fact fool you into believing that the little guy's decided to start working properly again. Also, last Tuesday I got laid off from my job. The end.

As you might expect, I'm none too excited about either of these facts, but they're mine to live with so I guess I'll... well, you know, live with them. The new found joblessness is of far greater concern for me than my gut problems, as I really am not sure how I can go about looking for work at this point. I've been on a detoxing diet for about a year now, and as a strange side effect I've grown ABSURDLY sensitive to perfumes and colognes, to the point that I can smell the perfume of someone entering my house from 2 doorways and a steep flight of stairs away before the front door even shuts behind them. Worse yet, instead of just getting a rash or a cough from exposure like a normal person, the effects of my being around perfumes goes directly to my brain, putting me in this really panicky/uber-irritable state that takes hours to wear off and can really do a number on my sleep.

I suppose it's kind of a neat trick, this super smelling of mine, but in terms of being capable of working in your run of the mill office building in America it's nothing more than a certifiable pain in the ass. I was very fortunate that at my last job none of the people I worked with were vain enough to carry around any scents other than Pert Plus and Dial soap; and even if someone was hired on who had a strong hand lotion or something like that, it was a small enough workplace that I could discreetly inform them of my hyperactive olfactory system, at which point they would politely express sympathy for my situation and return to work the next day not smelling like a taxi cab air freshener and/or Liza Minelli.

Will I have much luck in finding a virtually scent free working environment going forward? Seems unlikely, but certainly far more inexplicable things have occurred in the past (I'll provide the celebrity status of Dane Cook as exhibit A), so I'm not about to rule out the possibility. For the record, the over/under on "the number of times your boy Enron will walk into an office, encounter an interviewer who's draped in Liz Taylor's musk, then simply say 'nevermind' before sprinting out of the building" is currently set at 2.5 - place your bets accordingly.

Alright, that's enough bitching from me. I'd hate to see this once proud blog turn into a "please enjoy reading about all of my personal problems" website like the Drudge Report. Let's move on to something resembling a project, shall we?


Frequent browsers of Good Rubbish may recall that a while back I crafted a Ronald Reagan shirt for my shop on cafepress. The response to this design has been lukewarm at best (assuming that "lukewarm" and "zero shirts sold" can be used interchangeably), but Artimus Mangilord, the oft-est referenced of all Good Rubbish's associates, was quite taken with the shirt's tagline, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear off this roof." He requested that a second shirt design be commissioned under this same tagline, this time featuring a more simplistic/less stupid image - that of Reagan's trademark "Dutch in a cowboy hat" photograph:


Now if I remember correctly, this request came in about 3 or 4 months ago, and I've been working on the design intermittently ever since. To call this image a real son of a bitch would be a gross understatement - simply put, I have never had so much trouble converting an image to black and white in all my life. Allow me to explain why, while simultaneously providing a tutorial on how to make your own spectacular black and white t-shirt designs that will sell slightly better than the plague...

The primary method I use for converting photos to black and white is the "threshold" filter in Adobe Photoshop, which takes a color photo and converts it into a 2 color image (if you have Photoshop and would like to know how to find this filter email me at, though bear in mind that my copy of Photoshop is quite literally 8 years old, so my instructions may not do you much good if you're using a less archaic piece of software).

Usually the threshold filter works just swimmingly, assuming that the photograph you're using is of a decent size. To provide an example, let's assume that I wanted to craft a t-shirt that would showcase the awesomeness of silver screen magnate Gary Busey, as shown in the following photograph:


7 seconds later, following an application of the threshold filter, that picture magically becomes...


Boom. Perfect. Now all I'd have to do is go in with the lasso tool to clean up the lines (this usually takes far longer than you'd expect), add a tagline for the image (perhaps "batshit motherfucking crazy" or simply "TEETH!") and I'd be ready to roll. Unfortunately, not all photographs make the threshold leap as cleanly as Dr. Busey just did. The classic "Dutch in a cowboy hat" shot just happens to be one of these photographs. Here's the closest it can come to being a decipherable image after applying the threshold filter:


Admittedly, you can still probably tell it's a picture of Reagan, but you can't tell that he's wearing a cowboy hat and it appears that he's either just crawled up from the set of Backdraft (has that pop culture reference become terribly obscure yet? If no, will it ever?) or he's going through a George Hamilton circa 2013 sized bout of melanoma. Either way, it doesn't appear to hold much relevance to the "Mr. Gorbachev, tear off this roof" line, now does it?

To combat this "cavernous abyss in the middle of Ronnie's face" problem, I had to chop the photo up into about 8 pieces, then run the threshold filter on each of those individual pieces (doing this allows me to add more light to certain areas of the picture and less light to others), then put those pieces back together over the original picture to create a complete and cogent (albeit a bit grainy) image. Observe:


Not perfect, but pretty decent considering the circumstances, right? Well this is the point I'd reached as of about 6 weeks ago - all that remained was for me to go back in and clean up all of the grainy shit on the picture to come out with a somewhat polished and only modestly disappointing end product. Unfortunately, this is where I stalled once more. There seemed to be no way to clean up all of the grainy pixelated crap on this photograph without losing all of the picture's character... every time I'd try I'd just end up creating a black and white picture of what appeared to be an extraordinarily wrinkled clown, and that really wasn't the image I was going for. That's when I experienced nothing short of an epiphany that may or may not have led to this project's long-awaited conclusion.

What was this epiphany? Did it in fact lead to this project's conclusion? How unapologetically does the final product in fact suck balls? Tune in next week for the thrilling answers to these and many other questions... you know, after I actually complete the work on this fucking thing.

1 comment:

Artimus Mangilord said...

Well done, sir. I'm pleased to see what I think will result in a high ROI on the advanced commission given to you, funded by the fine art allocation of the Mangilord family trust's investment portfolio. It's a ray of sunshine, considering the family's slave holdings are down precipitously again this year. I've once again declared it time to cut bait in that sector, but the old boy just can't seem to let it go. Nostalgia, you see.