Four Talking Boxes 1668


So there I was nearing the end of my usual bike ride early on Sunday morning when my bicycle started acting funny. The pedal under my left foot felt weird. It seemed to be twisting a little under my foot. I stopped the bike to inspect it but couldn’t see anything wrong. I even checked the bottom of my shoe to see if my old sneakers were wearing out and the sole slipping off them. Nope. I got back on the bike to give it another go and that’s when the whole pedal and its crank arm fell right off. Somewhere along my route the hex bolt that held on the crank arm (that’s the part that connects to the bike’s axel on one end and the pedal on the other) fell out. That’s not supposed to happen!

Luckily I was about a mile from home so I didn’t have too far to go. I put the pedal and crank arm onto the axel and tried gently pedaling to see if it would fall out. It did fairly quickly. After all there was nothing holding it in but a little friction and the pressure of my foot on the pedal could easily overcome that. It was a mostly flat ride with a slight downhill grade the last quarter mile home so I made it by coasting and gingerly pedaling as the crank arm fell off a couple of times. I was really annoyed when I got home.

I had just replaced both crank arms on my bike last year and have had a little problem with them. Mostly it’s been that the hex bolts that held them on would loosen slightly and cause the axel to shift almost imperceptibly but enough to make my front gear not shift correctly. Just about a month ago that happened and I tightened the hex bolts and everything was okay. That’s what made this so weird. I never felt anything was wrong until the hex nut was long gone and the crank almost off.

After I got home I looked around to see if I had an extra hex bolt. I have a bunch of old bike parts around in case I need them but somehow didn’t bother to save the hex bolts from my old crank set. I had a thousand other useless things but not the part I needed. I wasn’t even sure if I could buy a hex nut all by itself or if I would have to spend $40 on a new crank set. I went on Amazon to see what I could find and found some crank set hex bolts. They were from a third part seller and the reviews on them were mixed, mostly because they weren’t the name brand they were claimed to be, but in the end they were $6 so I ordered them. What choice did I have?

Before ordering the part I actually went out to look and see if I could find the hex bolt on the road. It was a long shot. I couldn’t even ride my bike to look for it so I only covered the last mile or two of my ride on foot. I found nothing. After all the hex bolt could have fallen out any time on my ride and then it took time to work the crank loose. I didn’t give myself much chance of success to begin with but it made me feel good to try before I ordered the part.

Since the part would take about a week to get here (I declined to pay the $5 for faster shipping) I looked around to see if I could find something to use as a temporary fix. That way I could still go on bike rides while I waited for the new hex bolt. Turns out the bolt has a common quarter inch thread (I think) and I found an old round plastic knob with a quarter inch bolt on it. Though it looks familiar I can’t remember where the knob is from. I put the pedal crank on the axel and the bolt on the knob actually set in place and grabbed the threads in the axel. Since it was a knob I tightened it down by hand. I thought it might work.

A couple of days later I finally got to test it out with a ride. I barely got out of the driveway when the pedal started wobbling. Not good. I tried tightening the knob but that didn’t help so I turned around and went back home. After I got home I got a piece of wood and a hammer and banged the pedal crank onto the axel to force it on more. Then I put the knob back on and tightened that by hand. I was hoping that would now be tight enough and started another ride.

After stoping one more time to turn the knob even tighter things went pretty well. I could still feel a little wobble in the pedal but it wasn’t nearly as bad as on my first attempt. I decided to continue with my ride. After a couple of miles (my ride is only eight or nine miles and 35-40 minutes long) I thought I should watch the ground with a little extra scrutiny in case I might see the hex nut. Turns out just a few minutes later I did. There it was. Right on the side of the road a few miles into my ride where it fell off a couple of days earlier. It was missing its rubber cap but was there none-the-less.

Since I have a small saddlebag under my bike seat with a portable thirty-in-one bike tool set in it I thought it would be a good idea to take off the knob and put in the hex bolt. I found a quite spot and did just that. I knew there was a hex wrench of the right size on my tool set since I had used it to tighten the hex bolt en route before. I think the rubber cap just keeps out the weather so I didn’t worry about that. The rest of my ride went smoothly. Nice.

I still have two new hex bolts coming in the mail and when they get here I’ll put one of them and its rubber cap on but it sure did make me feel good to find the old one.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.

  • The Beauty – 7
  • Dark Horse Presents (Volume 3) – 22
  • Dept. H- 2
  • Drifter – 11
  • Invincible – 128
  • Manifest Destiny – 19
  • Spawn – 263
  • Usage Yojimbo – 154
  • Jackpot 2
  • Preacher AMC Special – 1
  • Check them all out here:


    The land that lies between idea and execution in called work. I’ve heard many a creative person bemoan the fact that they have no ideas. They wanted to do or make something but they had no idea what to make. I can understand that because ideas aren’t always so easy to come by especially by those who aren’t really practiced at it but I’d say that at least as often people are scared away by how much work it took to see an idea through. If you are not dedicated to putting in the work it takes to pull off an idea there is no point in starting. That’s where a lot of people find themselves. With no point in starting.

    I find myself in that place when dealing with video. I want to work more in video but it’s an inordinate amount of work. It’s also one of the most collaborative of the mediums. It usually takes a whole lot of people to make a movie. People who want to make movies are usually very motivated to do so. I’m not as motivated when it comes to video so I never seem to get anything done. That’s the way it is in the land between ideas and execution.

    I’ve also met plenty of people who are reluctant to talk about ideas. They often say it’s because they don’t want to give anything away or that don’t want to jinx anything but I’ve noticed it’s just as often because it’s embarrassing to talk about an idea that never comes to fruition. Sometimes a new idea get you so excited that you don’t know you’ll never be able to pull it off. Once you realize that you can’t pull it off you come crashing down hard. That is no fun.

    This topic comes to mind today as I sit here and reflect on some work I’ve done and some work I have to do. For a while now I’ve wanted to make some kind of book. A physical book. I’ve managed to finish a couple of digital books over the last year or so but nothing I can hold in my hand. I decided to look into some print-on-demand stuff on the web once again. I’ve looked before but usually the books aren’t suited to comics or art. They still aren’t but I noticed one site started doing fairly cheap full color twenty page magazines. That intrigued me and I thought it was something I could maybe do.

    Of course then it took me a while to nail down an idea. What did I possibly want to fill twenty pages with? I have enough art I’ve made over the decades to fill plenty of twenty page magazines but that still doesn’t mean I have an idea. I did finally decide to go with art and not words though. My last two digital books were a comic book and an art and story book and I didn’t want to do any writing for this one. I already have a third digital book ready to be written so I wanted a purely visual one. That lead me to some recent drawings I had done. My “Painted Lady” cover series and my Swirl series.

    Both of those series involved female figures with decorated bodies so they fit well together. The only problem was that I only has three of the Swirl prints finished and I was going to need ten if I was going to fill up the twenty pages. I decided that wasn’t going to stop me and I would finish six more. A bold idea but now I’m in the middle of the work part and it’s a lot of work. It always is.

    At first I decided I’d work on them two at a time. I’d draw two in pencil at six by nine inches, blow them up and ink them at ten by fifteen inches, and then scan them into the computer to color them. Sounded like a good plan but after I finished inking the first two I really didn’t feel like working on the computer to color them. So I drew and inked two more. That took the better part of two days by the way. A lot of work.

    Today I decided to start coloring them. Working on the computer seems to take more out of me than working at the drawing table. Especially this type of coloring. I color these Swirl drawing in Illustrator but the technique I use is to draw more color shapes than are in the ink drawing. I color the ink drawing in flat colors and then add swoops and shapes of color with no black holding line to add depth, dimension, and interest to the drawing. It’s similar to what I do in my paintings. It takes a bit of thought and contemplation to do. And I have to build it up piece by piece. It’s one of those processes that takes longer than it looks.

    Since I had four of them to do I made the decision to get as much done on them as possible without finishing them. That allowed me a little more speed at the beginning of the process because often finishing them takes the most thought and energy. That’s when I have to look at the piece and judge all of my decisions to see if they work. I find that the further I am from realism the more thought it takes to finish a piece. Especially these pieces for some reason.

    As I write this I made it through coloring three Swirl Women today. I didn’t finish the three but I got most of the work done on them. I still have the fourth one to start plus one I have left over from when I first started doing them. That’s a lot of coloring left to do but I’m burnt out for the day.

    Another of my habits is to put my finished drawing onto my painting easel. I stack them up there, usually two across, so I can look at them. Right now I have two of the inked Swirl Women up and I have to say that I’m very happy with them in black and white. I’m sure I’ll be happy with them in color too but there is something to be said about the simplicity of a black ink line on white paper. Plus it’s making my head hurt right now to think of how much work it is to color them.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • Sirens – 5 (of 6)
  • Jackpot – 1
  • Pencil Head – 4
  • Southern Bastards – 14
  • Swamp Thing – 5
  • Check them all out here:


    “All the Best Action is in My Mind” is the name of the photo piece that I’m looking at right now. I know that because it’s written in type on the photo. It’s made from some of my street photos and with some of my Photoshop filter recipes. That means it doesn’t look like a normal photograph. The filter recipes are like special effects. I use them to add a little texture and style to a photo. It’s what I do to make a photo my own.

    As I write this it’s early spring and it’s almost warm enough to head down to NYC and take some street photos. I was even going to do that this past Saturday but I just didn’t have the energy to make the trip. In straight up miles it’s not far to NYC from where I live but to actually travel there takes a bit of effort. Driving is probably the easiest way but it’s also the most expensive and unpredictable. It costs twelve dollars alone to cross the George Washington Bridge. Then there is parking. I’m sure there must be a good place to park for free in the city but I don’t know it. I’d probably have to pay for parking on the street or in a lot and there goes thirty bucks. Welcome to midtown Manhattan.

    I used to take the bus into the city all the time and then came the Great Recession in 2008 and they cut the number of busses in half. Eight years later and it’s still cut in half. So much for recovery. My choices in trains to take are New Jersey Transit from Nanuet or to cross the TZ Bridge and catch the Metro North train from Tarrytown. The bridge has a $6 toll plus a $20 train ticket while the Nanuet train is $17. The Tarrytown train goes straight into the lovely Grand Central Station while if I take Nanuet I need to switch trains and end up in the dingy and badly designed Penn Station. I usually end up going with the Nanuet train but none of my three choices are optimal. They all end up taking almost two hours door to door each way so you can see why I can’t always drum up the energy to make the trip. Especially since it’s only forty miles away. Forty miles in any other direction other than towards NYC and I could drive their and park in less than an hour.

    In looking at this photo the first thing I notice it that it’s square. I made my first square photos this size (12×12 inches) back in 2005. I made seven or eight of them but then abandoned the format until this past winter. I don’t even know what made me want to go square again except that ten years had gone by and I still had a bunch of the mylar sleeves I bought to put the photos in. They were just sitting on my shelf abandoned and reminding me that square photos existed. I suppose Instagram has also reminded me square photos exist.

    When looking at this photo the first thing I notice is long legs and long hair on the woman on the left. I took her picture as she was crossing Fifth Avenue headed towards the Midtown Library. I was actually across the street from the library which was unusual for me since I’m most often on the library side of the street. That’s where the people are. I just happened to cross the street so I could get far enough back to take in the whole library building. That’s when I spotted this woman. With her long hair, high heels, and short-shorts she stood out. She’s made anonymous by me not having the angle to catch her face but I’m okay with that in street photos. It gives a sense of a fleeting moment in time. Even frozen in a photo not everyone is knowable.

    I’m quite fond of the woman with her hands on the sides of her face as she looks like she’s imitating a frill-necked dinosaur. What she’s really doing is putting on sunscreen as she sits in Bryant Park but I like the gesture none-the-less. Once again it’s one of those passing moments that I look for in my photography. Unposed and unplanned they come and go without us much noticing them. But they sure can be interesting. This photo has one of my filter recipes run on it. It’s my very first filter recipe that I’ve been using since about 2005. It’s a monochrome graphic translation recipe that emphasizes one color and a bunch on littler shapes. It takes the smoothness of a photo and gives it some line and texture. In this case it gives the expression a little more texture too.

    The third largest photo in this picture is of the two women on the park bench. Its presence is much milder as the subjects look like they’re taking a break, resting, and enjoying the day. Though the woman on the left is caught in the middle of a gesture these two are more about stillness then motion. Take it easy.

    Most of the rest of this photo is about stillness. Even the other people who are walking are doing so slowly without great effort. None of them have the energetic style of our woman in high heels. Our man laying down in the top left corner is certainly not in a hurry. So we have energy and stillness. Those two contrasting things can move the eye around a photo. That’s one of the things about a photo like this. I want the eye to move around it and discover new things. Get caught up the looking. Keep the action going in your mind.

    Taking street photos is such a different thing than making something like this out of them. When I’m out there with my camera I’m looking and reacting. I take so many photos so quickly that by the end of the day I’ve forgotten a lot of the moments that caught my interest as they happened. One of the fun things about after a day of shooting is done is looking at the moments caught by the camera and see if they line up with what I remember them being. Sometimes they do and then sometimes you get a lovely photo of a woman with her hands on her face.