Let's Roll! 1.01

I have another feature that I think we can do fairly regularly. Let's Roll! will feature links to websites that I have found. Some of them I have found to be helpful tools for my shop at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez, some I may find to be interesting or informative, and some I find to be very creative or just too darn cool to pass up and I have to add them to my ever growing bookmark page.

If you have favorite links that fit into one of these categories or that you just can't live without, I would love to hear about them!

Oh, and one more thing. I want to be, perfectly, upfront about this. In addition to being helpful, or interesting, or cool, some of these sites may be, somewhat, profitable too. I am not saying that I am going to get rich from you visiting the site but I may make a few cents if you click on a certain link or do a search for something using the search engine on a particular page. In addition, I may make a portion of the profit if you buy something from one of the sites that you access from my links. It is all pretty interesting stuff, now that I am starting to learn about it. I will try to write about it, further, in a future blog posting.

Editor's Note: I would be very interested in hearing any comments from readers of SkeetzTeez, so please don't hesitate to submit anything. All comments are reviewed, personally, by me before being posted for the public to read so if you do not want yours posted– just tell me so in the comment!

Something happened last night that caused this blog to get more unique visitors in a few hours than in the whole previous month. I don't know what happened but, in a matter of four-minutes, there were readers from Illinois, Connecticut, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia, Canada, Hungary, Egypt, Columbia, Chile, Portugal, Ireland, Thailand and the Netherlands. I am also getting regular readers from St. Louis, Missouri, Olla, Louisiana, Redwood City, California and Marion, South Carolina. That is one of the coolest parts about having this blog– seeing where the people are reading from! 

Do not fear! I can't tell anything more about you than what city, state and country that your server is located and even if I could, I wouldn't know what to do with the information. If you have a blog or website of any kind, you can use the some product I do to track visitors. Go to: http://statcounter.com, register for free, download the code and paste it into your html code. You can then go back to the site to find out how many visitors you have and where they are from.

This is one that is helpful, informative and cool, all rolled into a neat, little package. Let's see... how to explain this one. You register for free and then, immediately, start building your first lens (what they call a web page) using the provided modules featuring just about anything you can think of. The whole process is very user friendly and, dare I say, so simple that an adult can do it.

You will be amazed at the variety of subjects that lenses are created on. One of Squidoo's tag lines is "Everyone's an expert on something". I, for instance, started with a lens to promote my cafepress shop (http://www.squidoo.com/cafepress/skeetzteez) and now have a total of seven lenses on subjects ranging from "Giving it 110%" to "That's what she said" to "Jorts Fashion" and one Squidoo Group, the "Alliance of ShopKeepers on CafePress" (ASKCP) to cross-promote members' T-shirt shops.

Each lens has the potential to generate profits for the creator and, from what I am told, some people make a decent amount of jack from it (over 100 lenses owned gets you a title of Giant Squid). That would be nice but I am using it to increase exposure for http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez and I have seen quite a bit of traffic from it.

Please check out some of my lenses and then, if you would like to create your own go to: http://www.squidoo.com/lensmaster/referral/skeeeeeetz

This is entirely too weird to even begin to try to explain, but it is also too cool in a odd (almost scary) kind of way. You may have seen it before because, from what I understand, it is hugely popular, but for those who haven't... you've got to check it out. 

That's it for this week. I hope everyone has a happy and safe long holiday weekend. Why do they call it Labor Day if nobody works? I'll have to see how things go before I commit to writing on Monday or Tuesday. I will probably continue with my own blog policy: I'll write when I have something to say. Peace.

I have, absolutely, no idea, whatsoever, that picture of Ross Perot has to do with the rest of this column. I, simply, typed "Let's Roll" into Google Image Search and this is what came up. I thought it was funny and I figured that it was appropriate with all of the election stuff going on right now. Besides, that was a long time ago and most people have forgotten him or have no clue who the man is.


What I know about fashion.

If the length of this article corresponds with my level of knowledge on this subject, this will be the shortest post in the history of this blog. In fact, I can't think of a single thing that one would call a "do" when it comes to fashion. I have been called, though, on more than one occasion a "walking don't". Several years ago they, actually, had a dress like Skeetz day at work.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. It's not that I don't care about how I look (I want to look nice for my wife) but, in all fairness, I think people worry way too much about how other people look, and therefore, how they look, themselves. Yes, I do make fun of what someone is wearing or a silly haircut or something but that is all in fun and, unless someone is dirty or stinky or dressed inappropriately for some reason or another, I don't care what they look like.

With that being said, there are some fashion rules that I have learned to live by– whether I want to or not:

Mullets. On boys or girls, this hair style has not been in fashion since the mid-eighties– and even then, it was ugly. I, of course, had one until the mid-nineties and a modified one into the new millennium (most of that time, with a tail to boot).
Shoes and belts should match and don't cross your brown and black color pallets. This one I have never really understood. I'm an artist. I have taken classes on what different colors mean and how they work together... and got an A. They can't say that nothing on the brown and black color pallets can go together, but they do and I am tired of fighting it so I follow the rule.
Wear clean underwear. What if you get in an accident? Who's going to know if you follow this rule? And if you do get in an accident (and you don't crap yourself), do you really think anybody is going to care what condition your drawers are in? The reason I follow this rule is because the answer to the last two questions is: MLW
Jorts. They're jeans. They're shorts. I should've known that they were bad fashion because I often wear them... but I didn't. Jorts, or jorts being uncool are a, fairly, new phenomenon. Here again jorts haven't been cool since the mid-eighties (if ever) and now they are definitely not. Whether the young, beautiful, cool people like it or not, they are, highly, outnumbered by the old, ugly dorks in the world... and we don't have a problem with them. 

In fact, I have created a Squidoo Lens dedicated to jorts. Visit the page at: http://www.squidoo.com/jortfashion and check out my jort t-shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5891514

If you don't like these shirt designs (Cubs Fans) leave me a comment on who you think wears jorts and I will produce those designs too!



BFF, LOL, BTW, BRB? Is there some kind of reference document for all of these acronyms that kids are using on the internet and in texting? And how do I submit my own suggestions for Webspeak words that should be added to this new age dictionary? Because I think I have a good one...

MLW- My lovely wife, or my loving wife. Either one would work. I don't really like to mention people's real names on the internet. There are too many crazies out there (present company excluded). Granted, there aren't many strangers reading this blog, but its the strangers that do are the ones that I would be concerned with.

For this reason I avoid using my wife's or my son's names, but it seems sort of impersonal to give them some kind of made-up name and I write about both of them too much to not come up with some solution. So, from this point on, whenever I write of my lovely wife I will use MLW and when I have something to say about my son I will use M3S (my 3-year-old son). If you know of how I can get these submitted into the Webspeak dictionary, please reply comments section.

Okay, back to business! The reason all this came up today is because I have been saving up some notes about MLW.

1) Is there a common expression about, "If you have to ask... you shouldn't have to ask"? If there isn't there should be. I was on the phone with her and she was telling me how she was upset because someone was asking her, "Do you think this is alright?" MLW tried to explain to me that she felt the person knew that it didn't and probably knew that MLW didn't think so either, but they just wanted her to be polite and say, "Sure, it's alright" to make the other person feel better about the wrong decision.

You would of thought this other person would know MLW better if they were going to ask that question. She is not going to agree with you if she doesn't truly agree with you and she was put in a position where she was going to upset someone else so that, in turn, upset her. That's when she coined the phrase, "If you have to ask... don't ask."

I didn't fully comprehend the statement until the next morning. I had finished getting ready for church and was on my way out the door and I had to make the mistake of asking, "Do you think I look like a jerk?"

I began changing before MLW got a word out of her mouth.

2) MLW is 14-15 weeks pregnant. Something about when she is expecting makes her very creative. Maybe it's a craving thing, or nesting or something, but I'm not complaining for two reasons: a) you should never complain to a pregnant woman unless you are ready to deal with her hormonal wrath and b) she is coming up with a bunch of designs for my cafepress shop.

So many designs, in fact, that I am having a hard time getting all of them done but I'm not going to complain about that either. Besides they are some of my favorite designs and I think they're going to be good sellers. Check them out at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5711936

3) In addition to the designs, MLW writes a boatload when she is with child. She thought it would be neat to do a blog like me. Her first attempt can be viewed here: http://justjenn-mycrazysocalledlife.blogspot.com/

I will link her blog to this one for anyone who is interested. BTW, the title of her blog, "How your day Fruithead," is what M3S asks everyone at the dinner table every night. Don't ask me! I don't know where he gets this stuff from!


Is it me or am I getting old?

Today it finally happened. There is a new guy at work that was born after I started here almost 19 years ago. I am definitely getting old but I am extremely lucky to have a really good core group of friends that has been together since our childhood to soften the blow by growing old with me.

I was very lucky to have a lot great friends come a visit when I had my brain attack. So many, in fact, that we had to limit the number of people and at what time people could come to see the freak. 

In the beginning, that is exactly how I felt and I was unsure about allowing anyone to see me in my pathetic condition. My concern over modesty, however, diminished quickly as I had to rely on others to help with the most simple of acts. There is something about being almost totally helpless that makes you re-evaluate your priorities and gain a new found faith in the human race so after a day or  two, when I fully understood what had happened to me, I was fine with visitors. Many of my visitors, though, were not fine with me. 

I can't really explain the looks on my friends faces when they saw me for the first time... pity, worry, fear, mortal, fragile? I don't know exactly but I know that I had felt the same thing in the past. I tried may best to make my friends feel comfortable with the situation– joking around with them and letting them know that everything was going to be alright. It worked, to some degree, with most of them... but not Stew.

I have known Paul (Stew) for 35 years. I had never seen him so white, so quiet or so disturbed to that day or ever since. We finally got a chance to discuss it, Saturday, at our annual fantasy football draft and he came clean about how uneasy he felt in that situation. Because I have made a truly remarkable recovery to almost 100%, we can now laugh about how I had to flop my right arm around with my left for the first month or so after the stroke, when it freaked the bejesus out of him before. Hopefully, he has grown from the experience and will not feel as awkward next time he is in a similar circumstance.

It is probably just because we are getting older but it seems as if we have to deal with more tragedy as we age. It is no longer your contemporaries' grandparents passing away, but their parents now. I just heard that a young lady that I worked at McDonald's with when I was in college died of cancer over the weekend and there were more than several of my High School classmates that didn't make the 20 year reunion because they were no longer with us.

I can believe that everyone is truly uncomfortable with death, illness and aging when they're young and as you age, yourself, and are exposed to more sick and dying people, your tolerance grows and you learn to accept that growing old and passing on are just a part of life, itself.

Stew and the rest of my friends are starting to warm up to me and treat me like they did before the event. They are somewhat amazed that I can do most of the stuff I did before and even some of it I can do almost as well so they feel I can take some teasing from them again. One of them said on Saturday, "I think you just had the stroke so you could get the attention!"

Not that this All you need is love design has anything directly to do with this story I really like it (and I had nothing better handy to use). If you like it... Buy it! At: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5792803


Monday Morning Quarterback 1.01

To Every Season...

It just seems like there is a huge amount of transition going on right now that seemed to hit me over the weekend. I guess it's the time of year. Baseball is drawing to a close and football is going to start and the kids are going back to school. I don't think it helped make me feel any better that the Summer Olympics is just over and the Democratic National Convention begins today, reminding me of the Fall election... Turn, turn, turn.

• Speaking of the DNC... Does one of the major networks have rights to this thing or is it going to suck up all the prime time TV for the next week? Not that it matters a whole lot. I vote for more quiet time.
• Saw the previews for a show called, "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" Nothing against fifth graders but, for anyone watching this show, the answer is no.
• I have been thinking of starting another blog documenting our family's experience through addition of our new member and today my wife came up with the same idea.
• Two things I had planned on writing more about this week that I may have changed my mind about because neither lived up to my expectations: The Olympics and the NoSoCo Fantasy Football Draft.
• Two movies featuring Chevy Chase that everyone should see before graduating High School: Caddyshack and Fletch
• Two St. Louis professional sports franchises that, unfortunately, I'm afraid, are not going to make the playoffs this year: The Rams (better but not good enough) and the Cardinals (much better than expected and unfortunate that only two better teams in NL are in the same division).
• Even though the Cards are not going take the pennant, the upcoming Cards vs. Cubs series should be fun. St. Louis Cardinal fans, check this design out: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5891514
• Funny: When my doctors realized I was going to recover from my stroke and get back to the real world way sooner than expected, they were concerned for me and said I should, "avoid head injuries for the next 12-months."– like I go looking for ways to have head injuries all of the time.
• Went to Walgreens last night to pick up a prescription. (I have four different meds on four different schedules... insurance companies!) Get this... two full rows of Halloween stuff. It's still August! There are... one, two, three... too many days to waste might time counting... days left until Halloween!

If you would like to get an early start on Halloween visit: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez

There is not yet any Halloween designs available but, then again, what are you going to really do with any, at this point, anyway?


Fantasy (Football) Weekend

It's that time of year again! On the weekend before Labor Day, 17 or so of my friends and I get together to drink too much, gamble too much, get too much sun and draft our fantasy football teams for the upcoming season. I have been in the league for 16 years, I think, but it was around for a few years before that. Some teams are co-owned, like ours, and other owners go solo. The guys come in from three different states (it used to be four but Dreamer moved to N.C. where the McNabbs were already settled). 

Winners take home a good chunk of change at the end of the year, however Gereetz (Gerkens and Skeetz) has only finished in the money one time. I figured we are down about $3000 over that period of time. It's a good thing we split it.

It's not a coincidence that it is called "fantasy" football as most of us are not in good enough shape anymore to watch a gridiron game, much less play "two-hand touch" on a Saturday afternoon. We do, however, have a lot of pride about the teams that we "own" and, although there is a huge amount of luck involved in doing well in the standings, the winner always proclaims superior coaching skills as the cause, even though they probably think a "red dog" is a type of lager, a strong safety is another name for a prophylactic and collective bargaining is something you do with your wife to get a little extra cash out of the budget to go to the boat for the night.

It does keep us a tight bunch, though, and if you ask anyone who has participated in a fantasy league in any sport, I'm certain they would say that it makes the games more exciting. In addition to this weekend we all get together on Sundays throughout the season as well as several other times, directly or indirectly, related to all of this. I think most of the guys would agree that this (along with opening day and Thanksgiving) would pick this as one of their favorite times of the whole year.

I would write a lot more about the fiasco that I'm sure the next three days is going to be but I will save it for the Monday A.M. QB Column. There is more quality stuff from one good outing with these guys than what I get from all the other weekends in the combined so I know that I am going to have a ton of great stories... I just don't know how much I'm going to be able to post on the blog without changing the rating to PG-13.

The main objective of this blog is to promote SkeetzTeez shop on cafepress. As the title of this article is "Fantasy (Football) Weekend" and I have no designs related to either Fantasies or Football yet, please take this opportunity to visit: http://www.cafepress/skeetzteez and browse the other designs available for imprint on fine selection of T-shirts and gifts while enjoying this classic video hit that climbed to number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, from Aldo Nova's, 1981, self-titled, debut album... Fantasy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GylirgHfgeQ


Follow the bouncing ball...

There was a time, quite recently actually, when I was considered extremely knowledgeable about music. I may not be asked to participate on a general trivia team but I was a first team all star at music trivia night. Not that I knew my classic rock as well as Dupee or the 80s as well as Cox and I definitely had my weaknesses, like country/western, but overall, I had a general, overall knowledge about a very wide range of music genres. 

I said that this was fairly recently but I must be getting old because I realized that I haven't been in the band since just after Jenn and I were engaged– that was almost six years ago now. Except for when I am listening to my Zune during my workouts (which is not often or long enough) I rarely listen to any of the music I used to. 

I guess most people most often listen to music in the car. That's why radio stations are so concerned with drive times for ratings. When I'm in the car alone I am usually listening to talk radio. Maybe that's because music stations in this town suck, maybe it's because my single-CD player skips after you get to the third track or maybe it's because I'm getting too darn old.

When I'm in the car with my wife and/or son (which is most of the time now) we usually go with no radio at all. I wish I could say this policy is to promote conversation and family togetherness, but honestly, it's so there are no arguments over what we listen to. My lovely wife prefers (get this) either Hip Hop or Christian music while my three-year old tends to lean toward Rock 'n Roll but can surprise you, go off the board and request something that he heard seven weeks ago... "you know, that one song– about... babies!" He's an incredibly bright kid but he can't understand the concept of a radio and my inability to control what song they play next.

So this one-time front-man for a band called 1.sick.puppy now finds himself, most days, with either something we sang at church or heard on the Disney Channel or a tune like "The Pirate Song" or "Who Let the Dogs Out?" stuck in my head. 

That's enough to make you old.

I have a few more music designs inspired by my wife added to the cafepress shop at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5792787

I am considering doing a whole series of license plate frames in the follow the bouncing ball theme! Tell me what you think about that or give me lyrics from good driving songs to use in the comments section!


Can't Keep Up!

I was going to write about the Olympics and all of the ridiculous spin that accompanies them, but I decided to wait, at this point, until they are mercifully over. Instead I want to write about some of the designs I am working on for the SkeetzTeez cafepress shop at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez.

Although sales don't reflect it, the shop is getting some decent exposure. I am getting hits from Squidoo, Twitter and even this blog. I have also seen some traffic directed from Google and affiliate shops, however all of my sales have come by way of the Marketplace. That's OK. As my exposure grows so will traffic and sales. Some shopkeepers claim that they get no action at all for months after opening.

As the word gets out about my designs I have gotten quite a few requests, recommendations and suggestions for T-shirts ideas from friends and family and friends and family of friends and family. I think I have mentioned some of these ideas in my previous posts. 

My wife and her cousin are both pregnant. They were both peppering me with ideas for maternity and baby stuff on Saturday. Matt at work specializes in the "That's what she said" stuff. I have done a few of those designs but not even half of what we have come up with.
Various other people have given me ideas too, including the mother of a friend of lady that works on our warehouse.

I am having a hard time keeping up with the demand even though even when I do get the product up very few people are buying them. Mav's ideas, however, have been completed and posted very quickly.

Maverick, or Mav for short is one of the funniest guys I know. He's got a really quick wit that has me cracking up whenever he is around, even though he is usually kicking my butt at fantasy football. He posts his ideas on our league's message board. They are usually simple, yet hilarious, so I knock them out and put them up. It's a shame that I will probably go to hell for doing so.

Funny story about Mav. I was living in a townhouse with two other guys when I met Mav. We had a terrible habit of laying around, drinking beer and wasting our Saturdays in that place. He came over with his future brother in law, Schwa. Schwa's real name is Steve but so is Dupee, Stupo and in addition to all the Steves we have three Scotts that hang with the group. So we all use these nicknames all of the time. I mean, I didn't know Dupee's real name until four years after I met him.

Well– this has got to look pretty stupid to a newcomer so Mav asked, "What's up with the code names? What is this Top Gun?" I replied with, "Yes it is... and now you will be called Maverick!"

He's been known by that for the ten or so years since.

He did come up with some pretty funny concepts for T-shirts though. Check them out: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5889001 and


ShoutOut 1.01

Hopefully Shout Out can be a regular column on this blog too.

Hey– somebody is, actually, reading this thing! She is even a subscriber! I won't mention that she is only a subscriber because I signed her up, but she told me tonight that she is actually reading it!

Okay– this ShoutOut goes to... Ashley Monique (we will use code names to protect the innocent). Asher is my favorite sister-in-law (unless you ask me in front of Felicia), our summer Au Pair and the only person under the age of 21 that will talk to me like I am a normal human being and not a grown-up.

She really did a hell of a job for the last few months watching the monster and helping out around the house. If you ask me she should have held out for twice the pay she got. 

Ashley will be attending her freshman year at Indiana Wesleyan in the fall. I am really going to miss her because now my pregnant wife will have no one in the house left to pick on but me. I think I have her convinced to start a blog of her own so family and friends can keep up without her having to call everyone constantly (if you new this family, you would know what I mean).

Hope you enjoy my stories, kid. And let me know when you start up on your end. See you around your birthday. (I'll try not to stroke out this year.)

I would love to hear from anyone else that may be reading this blog. I'll even give you a ShoutOut if you want–or I won't if you don't. Just leave me a comment or send an email (unless you are another sister-in-law... then you can call.)

P.S. Ashley: I didn't get a chance to tell you: outstanding job on the basement. I owe you one so I'm sending you a selection of T-shirts and gifts from: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez

Monday Morning Quarterback 1.0

The weekend is usually very busy for our family. We have a three-year old that needs a ton of attention, my wife is pregnant with our second child and we both work during the week so there is a lot of stuff that needs to be done on the weekend, not to mention that we need some time to unwind and get ready for the next week. This makes it hard to find the time to write in by blog or design anything for the shop at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez but I still have ideas over that two-three day period that I want to be sure to follow-up, on later in the week.

My intention behind the Monday Morning Quarterback column is to note a few major themes that I thought about during the busy weekend. I can come back to them later and blog in more detail. I figure it can only be an improvement. I will forget less than I did before and even if I don't get a chance to go more in depth on the subject, if anybody ever reads this blog, it might stimulate conversation.

• Michael Phelps is an incredible swimmer, but that may be the only thing that he can do well. Did you see the interview with him and Mark Spitz on Friday night? They are both idiots.
• Interesting conversation with Paulie on Saturday. Among the questions he asked: "Where does Jesus live?" and "can he fly". You can't answer a three-year old with, "Good Question!" 
• There may still be a chance for me in the 2012 Olympics– Think Badminton!
• Even my wife agreed that the female pairs diving competition looked like a lesbian porno with all the hugging and kissing and showering together.
• Note: remember the funny video: British Game Show MC: Name a kind of bean. Contestant: Les-bean!
• Joined a blog exchange to promote the cafepress shop. Look for a critique of another member's design in upcoming weeks. They, in turn, will write about one of mine!
• Summer's almost over. Bowling started up last week. Good news: look's like I have recovered from the stroke! Bad news: I still suck!
• Skeetz Teez may be the new sponsor of the bowling team. I hope this helps as sales are still off it seems. In addition to the sponsorship, I am purchasing a bunch of shirts at discount to wear around for more exposure.

You can help Skeetz Teez with exposure and it won't even cost you a dime. Visit these websites:
http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez, http://www.squidoo.com/cafepress/skeetzteez, and bookmark them, favorite them, digg them, etc.! Follow me on twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/skeeeeeetz and find other interesting lenses I have done at: http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Skeeeeeetz


That's what she said...

I've been on a roll developing a series of T-shirt designs based on the pop double entendre, "That's what she said". The phrase is being made even more popular by the hit NBC series, "The Office". I have seen the show a couple of times but I am unaware of the running joke and I know that it wasn't started there. In fact, I think the writers on the show are, cleverly, mocking the fact that every office has one of those guys that thinks he's funny by dropping the line in response to every other comment they here.

I would have to say though, when done correctly– with a little tact and wit and not overdone– it can be pretty darn hilarious. We have a guy at work, Matt Lamb, that is pretty good. Although it is not really my thing (I prefer the witty comebacker, "You're a ______!"– fill in the blank with whatever word you just ended your last sentence with) I find him very funny. Matt, in turn, likes my creativity and we have joined forces to amuse ourselves and maybe make a buck or two selling these shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez.

It all started by accident. Matt was at my desk discussing a marketing piece I was working on. We were just finishing up when we overheard a model in the photo studio say, "You want to get me from behind, don't you?" It was the perfect set up and Matt couldn't resist saying, "That's what she said," as he was leaving the department. One our designers said, "Matt Lamb, you are bad!" 

Instantly, an idea for a T-shirt popped into my head. The combination of "bad" and "Lamb" made me think about sheep and a few minutes later, I had the "That's what sheep said..." design done. This was quickly followed by "That's what..." "Chi" said and "bee" said and a couple for "tree" said. All cute, in their own right, but they haven't gotten a lot of action in the shop.

A couple of hours after I showed the designs to Matt, though, he came back with a real winner: "Favre Goes Deep... That's what Cheese Head." Now that's just funny no matter who you are. (Unless you don't follow current events in the NFL.)

I think it is funny. Someone else does too, because we have sold a single shirt. I'm sure once the word gets out, everybody's gonna want a piece of it...

That's what she said.

*If you are interested in a whole bunch of stuff related to "That's what she said..." Check out my Squidoo lens on the subject: http://www.squidoo.com/twss


Beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it...

This is a re-publish of a blog article originally posted on August 13, 2008. I am running it again as a tribute to the man who inspired it-- Tony Tocco-- who passed away this week after a battle with cancer...

Peace, Tony and Many Thanks...

Last week I wrote about how music was so important to me in various stages in my life. This week, for reasons I will explain later in the article, I would like to tell you about, by far, the most important of those stages.

In 1982 my friends and I were into soccer more than anything. We had a pool for the World Cup Tournament and when Italy took the championship, I won the top prize money and invested in a "Italy... World Cup Champs '82" T-shirt with my nickname, "Wopper," on the back. Several of my friends also purchased shirts and put similar names (Greaser, Hoser, Rambler, Loser, etc.) on the back to mock me. 

I had just started driving and because there wasn't much else to do, my friends and I loaded into the car on Friday night and we went to a large parish soccer tournament– all, of coarse, wearing our shirts. Well... to make a long story shorter, the shirts attracted a lot of attention, we met some attractive young girls and met them at a dance the following night.

That was defining moment in our life and, from that point on, soccer was not the thing I was most into because I had discovered music, CYC dances, attractive young girls and Tony Tocco. I was a nieve, sheltered, shy boy before that day but something came over me when I walked into that first dance at St. Sabina and I haven't been the same since.

From that September night through when I graduated High School in 1984 we averaged close to 75 dances a year. It started off slow in the beginning but quickly grew in frequency and the distance that we would travel to get our fix of The Fixx and Duran Duran, WHAM!, Dexy's Midnight Runners and many other one-hit wonders that were seen on the new MTV as well as superstars like Michael Jackson and Madonna before they were superstars and still, somewhat, cool. We would drive to a private girls' school in O'Fallon, Missouri before half of North County moved there. Although we were good catholic boys we would regularly attend dances at Lutheran and Methodist churches, shopping malls, public parks, swimming pools and community centers within a 50 or so mile radius of our homes. Most of the events were held on Saturday, or possibly Friday, nights during the school year but when Summer break rolled around, any day of the week at any time of the day, was fair game.

Bands like Fantasy, Deliverance and even the KHITS band (sponsored by a local radio station) played some of the gigs but the vast majority of the dances were DJ'd by Tony Tocco. Tocco dances were the hottest ticket in town. I know because my main source of income through my senior year was from scalping as many tics as I could get my hands on.

He did put on quite a show. There were flash pods and smoke machines for some pretty decent visual effects and the music spoke for itself. This was at the pinnacle of the MTV era, when the music video station actually played music videos. The songs that didn't have a dance that was featured in that video had one at the Tocco dances after making the regular rotation for a few weeks. I actually made up my fair share of line dances. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you step back from dancing on the gym floor to look behind you and there is a couple hundred kids following your lead.

Tocco led his fair share too. The title of this story, "Beat it, beat it, beat it..." was inspired by how my brother would mock the little Italian man, and in doing so, his biggest fan– when Tony would play Michael Jackson's big hit and join me on the floor to pace four beats left and then four beats rights through the song. Not really that complicated or fancy but 95% of the kids in that hall were doing it right along with us and the other 5%, my brother included, still showed up and paid their $5.00 to be there to make fun.

I could go on and on... I had my first slow dance at a Tocco dance, met (and broke up) my first girlfriend at a dance. Hell, one of my best friend is still married to a girl he met at one. The nickname that I am still called by today, Skeetz, evolved from events surrounding Tocco and the song that he always ended the night with was the last song played at my wedding reception.

Last week on casual day at work a young lady was wearing a T-shirt that immediately caught my eye. It was very similar to the Tony Tocco Entertainment tees that he would toss into the crowds to let the teenagers to wrestle over, but it had a pink ribbon on the sleeve and I website address on the front: www.tonytocco.net. I was sad to hear that Tony is fighting a rare form of pancreatic cancer and the T-shirts were being sold as a benefit to raise money for his treatment.

I really didn't know him personally so I don't know what kind of man Tony Tocco was or is now. All I know is that he was a (or the) major player in a two-year period of my life that defined much of the kind of man that I was and am now.

I am usually pleading for readers (if there are any) to buy T-shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez but today I am going take this time at lunch to buy a shirt at: http://www.tonytocco.net. I don't really expect anyone else to do the same... except maybe my brother if he is reading.


How to Quit Smoking Overnight

I just drove past the company smoking lounge on the way back from lunch and realized, for the first time, how stupid people look standing out there on the side of the building in an almost perfect circle, like there are some imaginary lines drawn on the parking lot in 103 degree weather (or 9 degree in the middle of Winter) puffing away on those expensive little suckers (do you realize one cigarette costs over 20 cents now?) like it is the last one they will ever be able to smoke.

I can say this, only because as little as nine months ago, I was one of those people standing under that large plume of smoke, out there, getting my nicotine fix thinking mainly about when I was going to get to sneak out for another one. That was until 258 days ago when I found a way to quit smoking overnight!

I had tried just about everything there is to help an individual quit: the gum, the patch, the ear thing, hypnosis, pills and cold turkey. Each had different levels of success (or failure) but the final results were the same. I was still out in the smoking lounge a day or week or month later.

It's not as if I didn't have any motivation to quit. I tried when I met my wife (she hated it but was very understanding) and before our Son was born because I didn't want him growing up in that type of environment. Each time, though, I started up again and blamed it on the stress and pressure of everyday life...

Until the early morning hours of November 28, 2007. I woke a little after midnight to go to the bathroom. I felt as if my leg was asleep, did my business and went back to bed. Again, at 3:30 I got up to pee, but this time my right leg wouldn't hold me up and I fell to the ground waking my wife. I knew that this was serious as it wasn't just my leg, but my arm and the right side of my face as well. As my wife got the herself and the baby ready to get me to the hospital, I went out to the garage to have, what I somehow knew, was my last smoke.

In the emergency room, just before they told me that I had suffered a stroke, I relinquished my two-thirds full pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights to my wife to be disposed of. That was it. I quit just like that. It took a major brain injury, but I will never pick up another cigarette again.

And it was really, kind of simple. The doctors offered me all kinds of aids to help with the withdrawal but, because I was putting so much effort into my recovery, which was not at all simple, I hardly noticed any. If I did, it certainly wasn't as painful or hard as the physical rehabilitation.

I feel very blessed that I have made it back close to a 100% in the last eight months. It took a lot of time and hard work, not to mention a whole team of doctors and therapists, but we made it through with, what we can only call, a remarkable recovery.

Besides me kicking the habit, there was some other good results that came from my brain attack. I have a new outlook on life and am trying to spread the word about how precious each moment is and how to keep your priorities straight; some of my fat friends have gone on diets and are exercising; and maybe the biggest impact has been that several people at work and my "I'll smoke 'til I can't breath on my own" sister have also quit the nasty habit (although she got her nose pierced as "a reward" for herself... but that's another story).

You know, my brother smoked for many years until a doctor told him there was a spot on a routine chest X-ray. He quit overnight, before they had a chance to tell him that it was nothing to worry about. Thank God.

It seems like there is something to say about being "scared to death" or "scared of dying" to clean up a person's act. It's a shame that doctors can't say, "You will die if you don't change" and have people believe them, but I guess that wouldn't go along with their ethics and stuff.

Too bad... it may be the best smoking cessation ever!

Oh– buy T-shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez


Smart Religion

I take offense to the stereotype that bible belt Christians are, somehow, not as bright as your average American. 

I was raised Catholic in a city that, when you meet someone new, you don't ask where they live, you ask what parish they are from. I converted to a non-denominational Christian church when I met my wife– not only because I met my wife, but I did my research and I agreed with the belief structure: It's not about Religion– Its about Relationship. And besides, the Christian services were a lot more interesting than the old Catholic mass. I am not arguing a point (here and now) that one religion is any better than another or the right or wrong of any beliefs. I am, merely, stating my preference.

To get back to my original point, though, I don't like the way traditional Christians are thought of as unintelligent. I guess there is a certain amount of blind faith that is involved with believing everything the Bible teaches us, but really not more than any other religion.

I consider myself pretty darn smart, even though I (usually) don't go around bragging about it (or necessarily act like it). Most people that know me well, I think, would tell you the same. I can hold my own in a conversation on just about any topic because, for one, I have learned that "if you don't know what you are talking about, don't say anything" and I just try be well informed on things. This policy works well for me most of the time... except for when the topic turns to religion.

Most of my personal, religious principles that have been questioned in the past can be explained with two basic theories:

1) I find it easier to believe that a loving God created this world and put man (and woman) on it to inhabit the world and love him back than the idea that a great accident caused non-living moleculer material became living matter and evolved into what we have become, over any period of time, or some alien race put us here and left us as an experiment or pet project or something.

2) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I guess the second one takes a little more of that "blind faith" than some people are willing to let themselves believe, but if you can't bring yourself to do that your not going to get the rest of it anyway. 

I wish there was a more scientific way to explain all of this. As an intelligent person who wants to find the reasons behind things, that would make being a good Christian and spreading the good word much easier for me. However, just because I am going to believe these things without proof doesn't make me an idiot. I would rather be right about this and wrong about everything else in the world than be the smartest man in the world and not be remembered as a believer on Judgement Day.

Spread the Word... Text the Word.


Audition tonight!

I'm not exactly sure why but I am very nervous about my audition tonight. Its not that I haven't been through auditions before and, as far as auditions go, this one should be a breeze as they have no male vocalist currently and I am the only one trying out! It is church, though, and I have not really sang in public, or out loud for that matter since the stroke.

I really didn't want this blog to be about the stroke so I have avoided the subject completely but recent events have made me felt I have to get some things off my chest. Since no one is reading this thing, this seems like as good a place as any...

No one understands how hard it is!

Maybe I was super-gifted before and now this is just how the general population struggles with ordinary things on a day-to-day basis. Maybe I recovered too quickly and so well that friends and family don't remember that only 9 months ago I couldn't speak or move anything on the right side of my body. Maybe I should not have tried to be so tough, listened to the doctors that told me I probably wouldn't be close to normal even a year after the event and not try to get back to a normal life as soon as possible.

I have always been a person that believed you get what you deserve. Other peoples' sense of entitlement really made me enraged. No one was holding me down or threatening my family when I made the conscious decision that I was going to work as hard as I possible could to recover as close to 100% as I was before the stroke. I didn't sue my chiropractor for (hypothetically) breaking off the piece of plaque from inside the vein in my neck causing a blood clot in my brain. I didn't suck as much as I could out of my disability insurance even though I have paid into it for over 18 years and they were still a major pain in the butt to squeeze a penny out of. (I had a bloody stroke, for God's sake! How much more disabled do you want me to be?) That's the kind of person I had always been and I didn't seem any reason to change because of this unexpected misfortune.

At the time, my wife and I didn't think we need and didn't want any special help from anyone (but we were very grateful for what we were offered and the help that was given). We felt blessed that I survived without too many complications and the struggles we had were few because the recovery went so well.

However, now I have a simple request to ask of anyone who knows me or anyone else who has survived a similar brain attack... Please understand.

Understand that I am not the same person that I was before- besides the more obvious physical challenges, my brain is still healing so mentally, although I still am as smart as I was before, it may take me a little longer to get it together, and emotionally I have different priorities than I once did and a new outlook. This was, after all, a near death experience. (At least near enough for me.)

Understand that everything (and I mean everything) is harder than it was. Staying awake is harder–sleeping is harder (which I don't understand at all). Speaking is harder. Eating, walking, reading, typing, not to mention anything physical– all harder. There are some things that I cannot or am afraid or embarrassed to do and there are some things that it just physically hurts too much.

I'm not saying this will always be the case but, as it was form the time when I started the recovery process, we can't tell when or how much we will get back. The doctors can give you information like, "your brain will heal the most in the first 3-6 months and most of the recovery process will be done in a year to a year and a half," but honestly, they are guessing too and they don't really have a clue.

I do get stronger and more coordinated every day. I just don't see the improvements like I did in the beginning because they were so drastic then. I still have faith that I am going to make a full recovery... and faith is what got me this far.

In the mean time, though, please remember to understand that everything is much harder to do than it was and, because I don't want this to be a blog about strokes, buy some T-shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez 


cafepress update

Just added a coupon feed to skeetzteez: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez

I hope this will increase conversion of visits to sales. I have been getting plenty of hits– more and more by the day, but sales have dropped off dramatically. I even lowered my prices!

A sure sign that the economy is in the crapper... people can't even afford to wear T-shirts!


How to make a Suck for a Buck T-shirt

By far, the most search engine inquiries that I have hit has been, "How to make a Suck for a Buck T-shirt". So much so that I have dedicated a Squidoo lens to the subject at: http://www.squidoo.com/suckforabuck

It amazes me, to some degree, but then again–it doesn't. Being involved with bands and bars for many of my vast single years, I have paid more than my fair share of bucks for the "so-called" sucks. It was all in good fun, at the time, however looking back now, I feel that it was a rather silly ritual.

The public beckons, though, and needs to find out the answer (simple as it may be) to the oft-asked question, "How to make a Suck for a Buck Shirt". Who am I to deny this generation of attention-seeking Maid of Honors and Bachelorettes from the privilege of having every inebriated young man in the club drooling (literally) on them and their friends for a night– no matter how silly they one day will think it was.

So... as simple as it may be– here is the four-step process for making a Suck for a Buck T-shirt:

1) Determine what shirt you will use- This is actually one of the more difficult parts. Traditionally, a white T-shirt is fine, but in recent years, Bridesmaids have gotten more elaborate with colors and styles including tanks (which focuses the sucks in the more vital areas. You may purchase high-quality, professionally imprinted (which takes care of step-two) Suck for a Buck T-shirts at: http://www.cafepress.com/skeeteez/5842826 or use your own source.

T-shirt Tip: make sure you bring another shirt for the bachelorette in case the Suck for a Buck shirt tears or the bride-to-be wants to change later in the night.

2) Imprint the Shirt- This may be done professionally (see step-one) or at home. Iron-on sheets can be purchased and run through your computer printer or, if it comes down to it, you can use fabric paint or permanent marker.

3) Determine what kind of candy to use- Lifesavers are, traditionally, the candy of choice but, in all reality, the sky's the limit here. Any hard candy is good– mints or butterscotch candies, Blow-pops or Tootsie-pops, or any cheap candy that you have to suck. I have even seen those candy necklaces used. They left the candy on the string, wrapped it around the young lady and attached them with safety pins around the whole shirt. Pretty original and it worked well!

4) How to attach the candy- Honestly, this is the only part of the process that I can really see anyone would have questions about. Here again, if you are talking about tradition, you are using Lifesavers and you just take a needle and thread and sew them, with a couple of stitches through the hole, right to the shirt. This really works best because they are fastened securely but most grown men can snap the stitches with their teeth.

If you are using individually wrapped candy of some kind, you can fasten them with safety pins. This also works with lollypops or anything you can stick a pin through. Another option with the lollypop type candy is to poke the sticks through the shirt, but this doesn't seem very stable to me.

The last method seems a little (or a lot) gross to me but, then again, who's going to know. Lick and stick the candy to the shirt. I don't know... besides being gross for the guy, I don't know if the bride wants to wear around something that her friends' saliva is all over.

One last tip: I have seen candy for Suck for a Buck T-shirts applied with glue. I don't, in any way, recommend this method. Besides being messy, you don't want to poison any of the poor guys with toxic adhesives.


All you need is love... bum ba da da dum.

It is just amazing how things in your life can be so important to you and then something else comes along and you hardly even care about the other thing.

Music was like that for me. One of my earliest childhood memories is music. I vividly remember at the age of 3-4 riding in the car while my mother was taking my dad and grandma to work. The Beatles, Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds, was playing. (I know I was that age not because of when the song was released, but because this was the only time my father and grandmother worked in the same place.)

I also remember, starting a little after that, my mother cleaning on Saturdays. I recall she had a very specific routine, but what is most vivid is the music– and the harmony. My mom would never sing the lead to any song. It was always the harmony and it was loud so it could be heard over the vacuum cleaner. Her favorites were soundtracks to musicals like The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Godspell and artists like John Denver, Anne Murray, Kenny Rodgers, Bette Midler and Barry Manilow. They were all considered lame by most pre-teens but I kind of liked them and I could sing most every track on the albums, word for word, front and back– and in harmony.

I am going to have to write about some more of my music memories. They really are powerful as they can stir up such emotion– bringing you back to places and times that otherwise seem insignificant.

I need to do some more music based designs for the shop on cafepress too. I only have one available right now: http://www.cafepress.com/skeetzteez/5792803 but it is one of the most prolific lines in rock 'n roll– if not the entire history of music...

All you need is love.


The Alliance of Shopkeepers on CP

I'm sure many cafepress shopkeepers have heard of Squidoo. I have mentioned it, myself, on this blog (not that anyone is reading this blog). Squidoo is an excellent resource for the CPSK. There is quite a large CP community and a ton of valuable information to the new or experienced SK.

As I have spent an considerable amount of time in that community in the past week or so, I realized that many of the group members were not using this tool to it's full potential. Too many SKs and lensmasters are trying to (here's that word again) exploit the technology for their own benefit when it would be so easy for them to partner up so everyone benefits equally. I am not trying to say that everyone is just trying to make a buck and just looking out for themselves but, in all honesty, I think most people are. 

Now... even though I am talking like this, who's to say that I'm not full of carp and just looking out for myself myself? There's not, but that's not where I'm coming from.

As someone that has been in the professional creative field for over 20 years, I think that is the way of most artists. Most designers welcome a good critique. They are driven by the competition. And when it all comes down to it, they are over confident enough to think that it really is no contest anyway because their stuff is the best by far.

So what I have proposed with the creation of this new group is an alliance– a partnership between all members of the group to collectively gain more exposure– to network and promote all of the shops so everyone benefits equally.

Its a really simple idea that could really take the members of the group to new levels... all on the simple concept of: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

If you would like to explore the opportunities of partnership go to: http://www/squidoo.com/groups/askcp