Jonah's Brothers Tour T-shirts

I almost feel bad about my new design on cafepress... almost. 

Do a search for T-shirts on your favorite search engine and count how many times Jonas Brothers comes up. I'd be willing to bet that 12-14 responses out of the first 100 will mention something about them. Most of those will be tween and teen girls asking how they can get their hands on a tee from a concert that they are unable to go to.

I had heard my 18-year old sister-in-law mention the Jonas Brothers (Joe is apparently the hot one) and at that point I had no idea who they were. I am not a Bible scholar, but I don't remember mention of any of Jonah's siblings in the Good Book– and that was the only Jonah I had ever heard of.

I guess I feel a little bad because I am exploiting the popularity of the Jonas Brothers to attract people to: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez and, possibly make a buck or two out of the deal. Its not that there isn't a whole lot of exploitation going on here anyway. Disney is exploiting these young boys from New Jersey to make them all kinds of jack and the whole bunch of them are exploiting all of those tweens and teens.

The kids do have some talent and the message of the design is a scripture from the Bible. I am not intentionally trying to mislead anyone into buying something that they don't want. In fact, I wrote in the first line of the description that "This is not the Jonah that you think!" Although there is some exploitation going on, I don't think anybody is really getting hurt in the long run.

It is kinda a cool design. Check it out at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5821601


I Survived a Major Brain Injury...

Before I go any further, let me explain myself. I am in know way, trying to make fun of any individual (except, perhaps, myself) and I know first hand that a brain injury is a very serious thing, but that doesn't mean that we can have a little laugh about them.

I suffered a stroke eight months ago yesterday. By God's grace, and a lot of hard work from many people, I have made almost 100% recovery which is pretty incredible in that short amount of time. Through four months of therapy, I met many people with brain injuries and many people trying to help them. I would, in no way, want to make fun of any of those people or the tragic situation that many of them or in, but because the situation is so somber, many of those people can use a good laugh.

I tried to keep a good attitude when going through therapy. This was very hard some of the time (some days it was harder than the therapy) but I am convinced that the good attitude contributed, greatly, to my remarkable recovery. A good sense of humor improved my attitude, as well as the mood of my doctors, therapists and other patients.

There were many funny stories that came about in my group psychological sessions because it was just 6-8 patients (usually all guys) sitting around and talking about their recovery and the challenges that each one faced. I hope I can share some of the other stories in the future but today I want to concentrate on the one that inspired the design above.

The discussion in group that day revolved around getting back to the real world. Most of the patients had been away from their jobs and such for some time and were soon going to be going back in some capacity. I had been in therapy for ten weeks or so and was starting back to work in a couple more. The doctor asked how I felt about that. (That's always their big question: How does that make you feel?)

I thought for a second and then told him I was pissed off. "I mean I am grateful and all that I was able to recover and get back to some of the things that I was doing before the stroke but, overall, I was pissed off."

He, obviously, wasn't expecting that answer out of me so I went on. 

"I have worked at the same job for almost 18 years, never taking more than a week off at a time (and that was for my honeymoon). I had almost three months of vacation saved up that I could always use in case of an emergency, like this one, but I had hoped that I would get to use it for something more satisfying or productive– or both."

"Now its all gone and what have I got to show for it? I had no fun and got absolutely nothing done for 13 weeks! I feel like I should be given a T-shirt that says... I survived a major brain injury and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

The doctor got a good laugh out of my comment. He really liked my idea for the t-shirt, even mentioning it several times in the sessions in the last few weeks. It wasn't until my graduation day that I realized the prophetic meaning of it when my Occupational Therapist gave me my T-shirt and sent me on my way. My doctor was sure to be there to see that.

The shirt didn't say my slogan but it may as well had. I joked and promised them that I was going to produce the design and get it printed on some shirts. This is my fulfillment of that promise. I hope Dr. Gillespie and Liz OT at St. John's Rehabilitation Hospital in West St. Louis County will get to see it because I really don't expect to sell any of them, but if you want to check it out go to http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5779576. I will contribute any profits from sales of this shirt to StrokeNet.

Thanks guys


Weekend with Just the Boys

I had a great weekend. My wife went out of town on Friday and left me at home with the baby through Sunday night. 

I guess I should be done calling him the baby as he will be three years old next week and he really is getting to be a "big boy". He is learning to go on the big boy potty so he is wearing big boy unders.

I always promised that when I had kids I wouldn't be one of those parents that bragged endlessly about how smart they were, but I am having a hard time keeping this one. I don't know if it is just an "every parent" type of thing or if he really is extremely advanced, but he just freaks me out sometimes with how he presents himself and what he understands. I want him to be smarter than me– just not yet.

It has taken almost three years but I am almost completely comfortable with staying alone with him– even for as long as 2-3 days like this weekend. His clothes will probably not match like they do when Mama dresses him and we may have cold pizza for breakfast, but we are going to make it through without any major catastrophes– and we might learn to pee standing up (in the backyard) as a bonus.

My weekend with just the boys was the inspiration behind my most recent design available at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5804026

One of the tricks I have learned to make the weekend move along smoothly is to keep my son busy and make sure he feels involved. Saturday morning we went to the Home Depot to pick up some stuff so we could do some work in the yard. I felt much better about my fathering skills when I saw how some of the other dads had their kids dressed. There was a 6-7 year old girl wearing cowboy boots, a fairy dress, cape and stocking cap. 

Why not take the easy way out and dress the kids in a shirt that explains your predicament right off the bat? http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5804026 Then you can concentrate on more important stuff like teaching them how to pee standing up.


Cafepress Marketing

I am becoming more fluent on SEO (search engine optimization), Affiliate Programs and other ways to market www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez. Cafepress and the people in the community do a great job of educating the new shop owner. There are a ton of tutorials and posts in the forums and message boards that are provided to help you sell your product.

As suggested by the community, I have signed up for two new Web services in the last week or so that I hope will increase my exposure:

The blog you are reading right now are the first of those attempts. The concept behind http://skeetzteez.blogspot.com is to attract an individual that has some interest in a particular topic that I have developed designs for and then drive them to http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez. It really is a slick site... and it is free. I don't think, however, that I have seen much action from it. 

From what I understand, though, it can take up to 3-4 months before some of the search engines will direct anybody to a new site. This is somewhat encouraging me as I do have some content that people are searching for so I will continue adding content in the hope that it will someday be read. Besides, it is fun to write, thinking that everyone is reading, and my wife thinks I'm funny sometimes.

The second one is: http://www.squidoo.com/cafepress/skeetzteez. Squidoo is more of a mystery to me as I have only been a member for a couple of days. From what I can tell, though, it is basically a networking portal like Facebook or MySpace. I created a lens for free-- a lens is, basically, what they call a web page-- and then added the provided modules to customize my page. I think there are two primary concepts behind this site:

1) They are an affiliate of cafepress so any shopper that finds my skeetzteez product through squidoo, they get a cut of my profits. I'm not exactly sure how it all works but I guess, in the long run, everyone comes out ahead.
2) There is a community of cafepress owners that each has their own page and they partner (for lack of a better term) by linking together to increase the exposure. This, I'm not too sure about. I don't want to partner with just anybody. I think it could be beneficial to both parties if you get in the right relationship but I think it is important to find a good match.

Anyway... I am looking for that good match. I would like to partner with someone who is fairly new to cafepress and is excited, like me, to get things going; someone with high-quality and creative designs that will complement but not clash with mine; and, most importantly, someone with similar visions, philosophies and goals.

Tall order? No... not really, but don't rush into anything. Do your research. Check out the site at: http://cafepress.com/skeetzteez and if you are interested, reply through comments on this site or on one of the others mentioned in this blog.


A Trip to the Land of the Lost

To be brutally honest, Land of the Lost didn't make that big of an impact on me. I was about ten-years old when the original series aired in 1974-1976 and I do remember the show. I guess it was pretty cool at the time as they were pretty progressive (for a Saturday morning show) with special effects and such. This would have been a big change from the regular cartoons at the time.

I also remember the sleestack. Not that I was afraid of them (and at 10 I wouldn't have admit it even if I was) but they did freak me out a little. Looking back it is really funny because they are not frightening at all. In fact, they are almost hokey with the really bad latex costumes and freakish masks. But again, at that time, they didn't have a lot of the special effects that they do now. We didn't expect more so it could be a little scary.

My memory of the sleestack is why I developed the design at: www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5662197

It had nothing to do with the upcoming film starring Will Ferrel and based on the original series, Land of the Lost. It is listed at the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) as a Adventure/Comedy/Sci-Fi.

According to the message board at IMDb, there are some problems with costs and such so production is shutting down. You would think fans of the show would be disappointed in this, but here is a quote from the board: "So we are in luck! They won't rape this childhood classic! We WIN!!!".

Apparently the original series did make a big impact on some people as there are a bunch of posts out there condemning the making of this movie. I think, mostly, because of Will Ferrel and the fact that it is a comedy (to at least some degree) but some want it be a great epic feature film.

I understand their point, but the producers of the film must think they are wrong or, at least, in the minority. A comedy with Will Ferrel is likely to make more money than an epic film with Orlando Bloom. Unfortunately, that's what it all comes down to-- money.

I'm not sure what side I'm on, but I would like to encourage both sides to check out the unique, custom Land of the Lost T-shirts and gifts at: www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5662197


My History of Saturday Night Live

I, currently, have five different designs based on Saturday Night Live available at: www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez. I, probably, have another half dozen or so in research or development that I just haven't had time to complete. There is just so much material available to work with (and so much history with the show) that it really hard to narrow down what I want to do.

I quick search on cafepress for SNL will find a ton of stuff. Mostly the more popular skits like "More Cowbell" and all of the overdone catch phrases from the past few years. The show is so creative and has featured such talented people over the years that I think much of the better material is forgotten.

I was nine years old when the show debuted on Saturday, October 11, 1975 and really too young to watch. Fortunately, our babysitter at the time didn't care. As long as we ran to bed and acted like we were asleep when my parents came home, he let us stay up. 

I remember acting out the skits the next day with my brother and sister, totally oblivious to the real meaning behind the jokes. In the early years of the show there were a lot of references to drugs and sex and at nine I didn't have a clue.

As I got older, I did start to understand and, for the most part, I could relate to what the show was saying. I still acted out the skits, through my High School years. After I turned 21 and was, usually, not home to watch on Saturday Nights, we would record the show and have marathons viewings on a night we had nothing to do.

The show has gone through many changes over the years and there are, definitely, some periods that have been better than others, but overall there is not a more creative presence on the air, especially for the longevity of SNL.

One of the best parts of the show are the parody commercials or mockommercials that are usually featured after the first skit after the monologue. Wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive list of these at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Saturday_Night_Live_commercials and you can purchase SNL T-shirts and other unique custom gifts at: www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5663053


How to Announce Your Expecting (A Baby)

My wife and I recently found out we are expecting a new baby in the early part of next year. I can say this now, openly on this blog for all the world to see, for two reasons:
1. No one, yet, is reading this blog. And by the time anyone does... the baby will be here.
2. I have already told everyone else.

I didn't realize that was such a big deal! There is a hierarchy– a politically correct and, even more importantly, a maternally correct way to announce the news. 

It wasn't like this with our first child. Maybe because it was such a traumatic experience that we were unable to speak until we were halfway through the second trimester. (The anxiety leading up to the due date put me in the hospital– twice.) But we've already been through all of this and I am really excited that we are going to get to experience the whole thing again. What is the harm in telling our family and friends the good news?

My lovely wife wanted to make the announcement in some creative way. Being an artist, her creative idea, quickly becomes my creative work. Honestly, I love my wife and think she has some wonderful ideas but, as any independent designer will tell you, the people that are closest to you are the most difficult ones to work for. And the closer they are– the harder it is.

The first idea was to do a card, but that didn't pan out because we were going to see both families for the holiday in just under two weeks and I stalled long enough... I mean we didn't have enough time to get the custom cards from Snapfish. On to plan B:

We both thought that a T-shirt for our son would be a good idea. He could just wear a shirt that said something witty like, "I'm the big brother" or "If you think I'm cute... just wait until you see the new baby", and we'll let everyone figure it out for themselves. The only problem with idea is that we couldn't agree on a witty saying. I did several designs of my own, but none were what she was looking for.

I do have to give my wife credit though. The T-shirt designs have been very popular at: www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez. One design in particular (pictured) has be my biggest seller, generating almost half the sales of all my other designs together.

Plan C: Paulie's Secret- Our son is amazing. For being just under three years old, he is amazingly smart and has the incredible ability to grasp concepts that I didn't fully understand until my teen years. I was convinced that he could handle this secret with some careful explanation from his mother and me and, considering he is my best friend, I wanted to share the news with him first.

I was so proud of him (and he of himself) when he went to tell his Nanu (my father) his secret, "My mama has a baby in her tummy!" I think that was the best way we could have announced we were expecting (a baby), but if you would like to check out Plan B go to:



I recently opened a shop on cafepress and it said that it was important to blog and get you name out there, so that is what I'm doing. I really like the creativity it takes to develop the designs I'm putting together. It's odd that I, basically, do this for a living and hate it, but when I'm doing it on the side it is fun!

The site address is www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez. When I came up with the name I thought I would do, mostly, T-shirts (and I do), but there is some other "unique and custom gift items" available also. I would wear most of the stuff but, then again, it was designed for me-- me and my idiot friends.

It is a lot of somewhat obscure stuff that we would think was funny, cool or stupid (or a combination of the three). I am trying to be a little different, though, by not being too obvious with the designs. For instance, instead of having a design that says: "Save Ferris" for Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I did the Shermer H.S. Bulldog design. (That's the High School in all the John Hughes films.

Besides the Classics Movies category, there are Classic TV (The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, Saturday Morning Cartoons) and Fashion (for guys, gals, kids, adults, and maternity) sections. I will post some designs and provide more details in the near future. I will also be soliciting input through comment discussions and polls to determine what designs I should add. Hopefully, I will be able to add some fun and entertaining posts to my blog that people will find interesting.

If you happen to stumble across this blog and would like to see the stuff that is available, go to: cafepress.com/skeetzteez and be sure to bookmark and check back often to see the new designs.