Sunday, November 25, 2012

here we go...

 ...barrelling full force into the holiday season.  The semester speeds up, the weeks fly by and the stores sell my favorite holiday treats.  I've had a couple of boxes of white chocolate covered oreos already and even though I'm not drinking much of the carbonated juices lately, I'll take a glass bottle coke any day of the week.

 So Thanksgiving break came.  Blue and I spent Wednesday grading tons of sculpture projects and doing yard work.  Don't worry, I did most of the grading and he did most of the yard work.  Then we settled in with the rest of the family to watch Charlie Brown.

 Thursday morning I met brother Daniel at USC Upstate for our second running of the Gobble Your Giblets 5K.  I got lucky and won my age group but I also got beat badly by a girl with one shoe and a dog.  Seriously.  This one young lady literally ran out of her shoe at the second mile marker and was apparently going so fast she couldn't stop in time to find it.  She finished the last mile with one shoe and a sock and still beat me so bad she had time to catch her breath and get cold before I finished.  Of course, she beat most everyone else too, so I don't feel too terrible about it.  The dog also beat almost everyone else.  I knew he was going to be trouble when he showed up not dressed as a turkey, but wearing a racing bib.  Yes, the dog was wearing a racing bib.  I just feel bad for the guy who had to keep up with him to hold his leash.

 There are a lot of kids on the McAbee side of the family.  The fooseball game was paused to capture them all.  We had the Thanksgiving meal with the McAbees...

 ...and still made the coast before all the light had faded.  Then we headed out to TFI Fridays for our smaller and less traditional Thanksgiving meal.

 Black Friday started with coffee.  Relax, it's chocolate milk, but Violet was pretending to have coffee with me.  I'm sure there are great deals to be found if you venture out to shop on Black Friday but when you have an entire family of people who do not like crowds,

 there's a great alternative called Beach Friday.  After breakfast we mixed our summer and winter wardrobes and headed out to the sand to play.  These kids either have saltwater or sand in their veins.  They love the beach.  Blue drew pictures in the sand and was 90% wet by the time we went inside. 

 Violet was 50% wet but what wasn't wet was covered in sand.  It warmed up nicely and it was an absolutely beautiful day.

 The kids wanted to jump in the waves like we do when it's warmer.  Blue ran in with me but made a quick exit when the first small wave hit.  Violet made me carry her so that only one of us would have to feel the pain of the cold water.  My feet were numb the moment the water touched me.  It was worth it.

 Then we gave thanks at Russell's. 

 Russell wasn't there but everyone else was.  The hostess has been greeting us pretty much since she was a child.  We've been going there quite a while.  Best seafood in the Grand Strand area.

 And you get to enjoy the beauty of the inlet while you're there.

 If there are more beautiful spots, I haven't seen them.

 Oh, and we tried to see Santa's big arrival at the Market Common.  We waited in the cold for a long time and endured several local talent acts as we waited.  This somehow led to us accidentally seeing most of the Nutcracker ballet before we couldn't keep the kids still any longer and had to bail.  But it turned out great for us.  We had ice cream and coffee and then found Santa waiting on us by the tree.

Before we headed home we let Blue demonstrate his powerful lungs.  He nearly blew this tree out of the ground.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

great moments in sculpture #422

My students are awesome.

This is the time of year when I get most excited about teaching.  I know most teachers love the start of the academic year when everyone is excited about restarting.  But since I teach sculpture, a dirty, grimy, sweaty class where students have to wear crappy clothes and they have to take the class as a requirement - the start of the academic year is not always so exciting.  Many of the students are not exactly looking forward to the class so it becomes my goal to make them love it. 

It takes some time to see them come around and many of them would sooner die than let me know that I've won them over, but during the steel project people start smiling more and walking around with a new confidence.  That's when I know I've got them.  That's when I get excited.

The fall time change makes our sculpture patio more of a challenge but we added some halogen lights to extend the work times.

In the daytime all the visitors and even some of the students see and hear us working on the patio and think we are the physical plant.  I can't imagine what they think when they see us illuminated at night.

Not only do the students stop caring about being fashionable, they embrace the safety attire.  The fire resistant "mad scientist jackets" are worn with pride and the students carefully pick through the box of welding caps to find one that speaks to their personality.  That's Shawny wearing the Dolla' Bills cap.

Everyone wants to wear the flame welding helmet.  I'm told it makes the welds more awesome.  I spend time with each student when they weld for the first time and teach them what to do.  I stay with them until they get the hang of it and then sometimes I snap a photo to show them just how cool they look.  When Ashley saw this image of her welding she sent me an email that simply said:  "let me just say that i'm a badass!"

We don't allow hearts, stars or glitter (or hugging or crying) in sculpture.  But I have to admit that this note on the dry erase board made me smile.  It also made me realize that there are 31 more people in the world now who know how to weld.  But I still erased the heart and smiley face.

 What started out as this...

...ended up looking like this.

And what started as this...

 ...turned into this.

 And Mia (please take a moment to notice the welding cap sitting high up on her head to protect her curls) turned this...

 ...into this.

 The only problem for me is that after everyone knows how to weld and the project is winding up, there's not much for me to do but observe.  I get bored easy and on this particular Saturday...that's right, they came in to work on a Saturday...I paid tribute to The Kids In The Hall by taking pictures of me squishing people's heads. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

zombie run update

Male age 40 and Older in division ALIVE
Bib #
Michael Martin
Richard Wheeler
Doug McAbee  0:25:57

Well there's good news and there's bad news. 

The good news is I apparently finished 3rd in my age bracket.

The bad news is that my age bracket is "age 40 and older".  And my greying beard makes me look like a homeless person. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

superstorms and zizwheels

So apparently there was some sort of storm in the northeast recently?

It was kind of a big deal and I know you've all been worried wondering if my sculpture was ok.  Well you can relax, "The One With The Zizwheel" is fine.  No flooding or wind damage in the art storage facility where he's relaxing until the exhibit goes up.

The SRAM website has been updated to feature the artists and 3D works of art for this year's Part Project.  You can find my big round head here: with a link to that really bad bio I wrote. 

And you can go here: to see images of all the work for the exhibit. 

You can also buy tickets to the auction on Nov. 29 if you're going to be in the NYC area.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

the zombie outrun

What's worse than running a 5k race?  Running a 5k race while sprinting away from zombies who are trying to kill you.  Brother Daniel called me a while back and told me I had plans for November 3.  He said something about zombies and a race and it sounded like fun to me.  With the cooler temperatures it's running season and we normally try to sign up for some races during the fall and winter.  We read over the website and read things like "there's a reason they are called the walking dead" and we assumed we'd be running a race through fields of old school zombies.  No big deal.
 That's us still in our blissful ignorance just before the race began at Heritage Park Amphitheater.  Can you tell we're brothers?

The red things hanging around our waists are flag football flags.  Each runner was issued 2 flags and the goal was to finish the race as fast as possible with at least one flag left intact.  Runners who finished with no flags were "dead", killed by the zombies and would not be eligible for prizes or awards.  These little things are held on by a small spot of velcro and when you run they tend to hang in the air behind you like a little red zombie handle.

 Georgie and the kids went to watch the spectacle.  They were able to hang out at a couple of places along the course and watch as the zombies tried to eat us.  These two blue zombie girls were in a field of slower zombies right at the start of the race.

 Apparently zombies are still plagued by smart phones as they walk the earth.  Perhaps he's checking his Apple maps for "brains nearby".  Not sure how Siri would respond to that.

 Here I am entering the "field of screams" where zombies started hobbling toward us.  Some of these people really took this seriously and had great costumes and makeup.  Most of them stayed in character during the race.

 That's me navigating my way through the slower zombies.  This was about 50 seconds before I realized just how hard this race was going to be. 

 Brother Daniel makes his way through the slow zombies.  You can see that the zombies are living up to their "walking dead" name. 
 After clearing the first hay bale pyramid obstacle (did I mention there were also obstacles?) the look on my face tells you how I'm feeling.  I should explain a couple of things here.  First, I run 5 kilometers every day.  It's never easy, but I'm used to it and I can do it most days without feeling like I'm going to die.  I have a comfortable pace, lots of peace and quiet and I just do my thing.  Second, back in my day we had slow zombies.  My friend David L and I snuck into Night of the Living Dead at the theater when we were teens and we mostly laughed through the slow motion terror of zombies.  I think this was one of the first remakes of the really old Night of the Living Dead movies and by the time they started remaking them again a few years back, apparently slow zombies were not good enough for the MTV kids.  Fast zombies starting racing across the screen because they were scarier.  I didn't see those fast zombie movies so for me, zombies are supposed to bumble around looking for brains until some punk with a mohawk pops them in the head with a baseball bat. 

So here was my problem:  Just before the hay bale pyramid I had my first real life encounter with fast zombies.  They would jump out of the woods and sprint toward me.  Keep in mind I've been running for several minutes now and all of the sudden I had to run as fast as I could from some very quick teenage makeup artists.  Way too much sprinting and fast zombies.  This was going to be painful.

 Brother Daniel cleared the pyramid with both flags still intact.  He was just as tired and just as troubled as I was.

 If you look closely you might note a slight age difference between most of the zombies and me.  To the tune of 20-30 years.  Lucky for me most of them have been playing video games most of their lives instead of exercising.

The bald guy in the white shirt in the center is me.  I'm being accosted by 2 fast zombies and I'm trying to zig zag my way through them.  I'm pretty sure one of these guys got one of my flags.  This was getting close to the halfway point of the race and the zombies started getting faster and more blood thirsty.  This was a long uphill stretch with woods on one side and a barrier on the other, trapping the runners in a narrow lane.  Uphill was bad enough but with the extra zig zagging at full speed, my heart was starting to plan a revolt. 

Later in the race I almost lost my second flag to a lightning fast 12 year old girl.  At that point I was one of the first runners to encounter the zombie zones.  This one featured a sea of young and eager zombies and I swear this little girl was faster than me.  I gave her my best football moves and she was steady gaining on me when I dove head first under the next obstacle.  I heard her shouting to her friends that she had my flag in her hand twice and couldn't pull it.  I had to crawl on my hands and knees for several yards under a black tarp and I was happy to find my flag was still attached when I got out. 

A long stretch followed and I had no idea if I was still on the course.  I had to ask a couple of volunteers and they seemed just as unsure as I was.  This seemed odd to me, but I kept running.  I wasn't sure how much farther I had to go but I rounded a turn that was marked again and I was jumped in a narrow gate by at least 3 zombies.  I raced past the first two and the third one ran me into a fence.  I ducked under his grabby arms and realized this was the finish line. 

All the spectators were gathered here and realizing everyone was watching, I turned on all the speed I had left so I wouldn't look like I was about to pass out.  Apparently I was the third runner to finish the race and the first one to finish "alive" with a flag left.  Don't get excited, my time wasn't that great, I was just in the top of the first of 4 staggered starting groups. 
 My official time was 25:57.  Georgie thought it was 21:57 and since I was too distracted to look at the clock beside the finish line I felt great about myself for a little while. 

 Brother Daniel finished soon after and also had his flag intact.  He had the exact same experiences with zombies.  We realized the key to doing well was to run in the later starting groups.  We saw the young cross country teams starting at the end and using the slow movers as blockers to keep them away from the zombies.  We also saw a runner dressed up as a zombie.  Genius.

 So our times were not great but we both survived the zombies and we had a blast.  Georgie and the kids enjoyed it too.  So much so, that they want to be zombies next year.  After the race we were photo bombed by zombie nurses.