Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Scenes From Western PA

I am in Mercer, visiting family, for my Christmas vacation. Here are some things that have happened, so far:

I saw this from the road, on the way back from a trip to Grove City:

I had Joy turn around and go back, so that I could investigate.  

I think that it is the foundation and central fireplace of a ruined house. The wood lying about looks like it might have been floor joists and planking. This is the kind of place which appeals to my inner 10-year-old.

I got my nephew, Sean, a SOG tomahawk for Christmas.

This was his first throw with it.

This was the distance. Pretty fun toy...

My other nephew, Kyle, got a Santa Cruz longboard. I didn't buy it for him, but I picked it up, in Denver, and shipped it to Mercer, for Joy. He was pretty thrilled with it.

My college chum, Tim, sent me this, via Facebook message. That is me, circa 1981, building up a prop for an as-yet unfinished space opera that we were working on. Yes, Virginia, I once had hair! (Note the Moosehead Beer shirt and flannel. Neil Young was my major fashion influence, at the time.)

More as it happens.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Merry Christmas, For Me, Already

Back when I was 14 years old (1975), many of my lifelong obsessions were already in place. I was into motorbikes, girls, guitars (even though I was just beginning to try to learn to play), and comics. I was especially into comics about my obsessions.

As such, I was a huge fan of Dennis Ellefson, at Petersen Publications. You may know Petersen as the publisher of HotRod Magazine. They also published quite a few other titles including CarToons and CycleToons. And, at that time, Dennis, the editor of CycleToons, was the current artist for the long-running feature "Hogg Ryder". The plots for the HR comics followed a pretty standard form: Hogg would plot to show up his nemesis, The Old Poop, usually through some fantastic modification to his Webley Vickers chopper, and The Old Poop would somehow outsmart him and win the race/prize money/girl, or whatever.

While relatively entertaining, the plots held but a secondary interest to me. What I loved about "Hogg Ryder", from Den-Den's hand, was the same thing I loved about his incidental illustrations between articles in HotRod (or anything else that he did, for that matter). Namely, I was blown away by his art. The cross-hatching, the use of black space, the highlights which gave the illusion of gleaming chrome on a black and white page,, and the depth of field that he accomplished still are amazing to me. I aspire to his level of quality, but miserably fail, to this day.

I was so enamored with his work that I wrote him a letter, telling him pretty much all of that, in the Spring of 1975. I didn't really expect to hear anything back, but I did. Imagine my surprise when, in September of that year, I received a manila envelope in the mail, with the return address of Petersen Pubs!

Inside was a very nice handwritten note from Dennis, and some random original panels of his artwork! I have to tell you that I was blown away by that, and I treasured that package of material.

Unfortunately, in the midst of all of the life changes I went through as I got divorced, in 1998, that package went missing. I assumed that it had ended up in the trash.

Then, when I got to my sister's house, two days ago, for Christmas, she showed me the stuff that she had saved out of the big clean-out that she and my mother had done to my mother's house, just before Thanksgiving. There, in a cardboard box with some old toys and records, was my envelope from Dennis Ellefson!

Even though my name has the common misspelling, I really love having this note! (The graphics on the page are a good example of Dennis's work, btw.)

This panel shows some of the tricks that Dennis used to achieve that almost-3D depth of field.

Brush work! There is some damage to the image, in the right-hand panel, unfortunately.

This is my favorite of the original panels, not only for the execution, but for the subject matter, as well. It's 
5-1/2" x 7" of pure delight, for me.

Sadly, Dennis passed away in 1997, according to what I can find on the internet.That makes finding these panels even that much sweeter, to me. I plan to frame these, and hang them in my house, so that I can make up for lost time, enjoying them.

I hope to find the story that htese panels are from, somehow, and get a copy. If you know anything about it...


Friday, December 05, 2014

The Nail Collector

This morning, I got up, took the rear wheel (with the flat tire) off of the Scrambler, threw it into the back of the truck and went to the coffee shop to hang around until Performance Motorcycle Parts opened at 9:00. I got to Performance a little after 9:00, and showed them the nail sticking through my tire. A little after 10:00, I walked out of with my repaired tire, and noticed that the front driver's side tire on the Dodge was low.

After I replaced the wheel on the motorbike, I threw the Funk bicycle into the truck bed, and drove over to Discount Tire, where I left the truck to get the tire fixed. I biked home, then took the Scrambler out to run some errands. While I was out I got a call from Discount Tire; sure enough, there was a nail in the truck tire, as well.

Discount repaired my flat and re-balanced my tire at no charge. I was pretty surprised, because I knew that they did that if you had bought the tires from them but, these tires were on the truck when I bought it. I have bought tires there, before, and you can bet that's where I'll buy my next set.

Both the bike and the truck are back on the road, and I am hoping to avoid adding to my nail collection, anytime soon!


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Flat, No Scruggs...

Yep, that's what it looks like when all of the air suddenly evacuates the rear tire of Ye Olde Triumph Scrambler, on the way home from work. Luckily, it happened just up the street from my house, so i was able to 5 mph it to the drive, rather than having to get home and take the truck back for a rescue mission.

Just what I need in a December when my power bill mysteriously tripled, Christmas presents need to be bought, and i am already living on peanut butter and Ramen because of that.

End of self-pity. Life goes on.

Love, Jon