1997: Budget Locksmith

(From five years ago. I remember that at the time of this event I felt so very much ” in the future” – but it’s been almost twenty-five years)

David R. Deitrick, Designer

It’s been just over a year since moving  into this home on Bauling Lane with the  anniversary commemorating  the inevitability of Murphy’s law as much as the passage of 365 days occupancy. This structure that was so seemingly completely void of problems or defects started showing those defects on the 366th day, but to be honest, I can’t feel a whole lot of disappointment.  We left our own share of “issues” with the home we sold in East Tennessee nine years ago and one issue in particular comes to mind often: I do wonder what the current occupants think of a utility room doorknob that rattles slightly when turned.

It all came about ten years before the sale when both boys were high school students living at home and Meghan was a toddler.  Conrad and Sean were wonderfully low maintenance kids to raise but life on a freelancer’s income…

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Music: Apocalypse by The Mahavishnu Orchestra

I didn’t actually see Star Wars (known later as A New Hope) until two months after it premiered when my battle-buddy Doug and I managed to escape FT Lewis for an afternoon and make our way into Tacoma for a non-government issue meal and a movie. I’d known about it, having suffered though the novelization the winter1 before and feasted on preproduction art published in Jim Steranko’s seminal trade journal Mediascene not long afterwards. We managed to get the last two seats, so I saw everything from the center of the third row where I was mesmerized by the stunning visuals and breakneck pacing.

…but as much as I enjoyed Mr. Lucas’s masterpiece, it wasn’t the most important piece of speculative fiction that I encountered that year. That honor fell to Larry Niven’s Known Space series as published by Ballentine Books. My Beautiful Saxon Princess and I spent a good part of our leisure time that first year of our marriage scrambling between bookstores in search of those books, which were readily identifiable by their superb Rick Sternbach covers. As for why I preferred the books: I prefer hard science fiction to the softer variety and (oddly enough for a soldier) “space battles” lose their appeal for me quickly as I am more intrigued with problem-solving and dealing with a harsh environment (totally believable for a kid raised in rural Alaska).

I’m not sure of the exact moment Apocalypse got paired up with the Niven books. We were “economically challenged” that first year so books were our main source of entertainment and I always had something on the turntable while we were reading. I’d inherited the record from my roommate2 the year before and being so new this particular record was played a lot…and as it played while I read the ethereal, other-worldly music seemed a perfect fit to the books in both scope and mood,

It still does. Whenever I dive back into Protector or Ringworld I cue this album up, albeit via streaming tor CD these days instead of vinyl.

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Notes

1. The only shaky point in our engagement was when I elected to stay in and read rather than take my betrothed to dinner on Valentines Day. I was totally oblivious as I had plenty of books for my Beautiful Saxon Princess to read while I finished the book.

2. Lonnie Magnusson a.k.a. the one non-family member that I had lived with the longest prior to marrying Lori (one year at Ricks College and another at BYU after serving our respective bicycle penances.)

1980/2021 Good Night Felix Knight

( I’ve run this post a couple of times but after the week I just went through it seems most appropriate to run it again. It’s impossible to convey the fear, desperation and frustration that comes with a life with chronic pain, but just to give you an insight: when the government tightened up across the board on opioid prescriptions a few years back the suicide rate amongst chronic pain patients made an immediate uptick of 5-7%)

This is a hard one to write.

Felix Knight was an army buddy of mine back in the early 1980s. To be totally accurate he was more of a church/Scouting/army buddy of mine; we were both serving at the same base but saw each other more at church and Scout meetings that we ever did while in uniform. I don’t think that I ever saw him without a big smile on his face, but that big smile hid a lot of pain.

A decade earlier he had been an Army aviator serving in Viet-Nam, flying the OH-6 scout helicopter (a.k.a. “loach”). As was the case with most Hughes Aircraft products the OH-6 was extremely survivable; in the case of a crash the rotor blades would detach and fly away from the fuselage, unlike the OH57, a Bell product whose blades would dip down and across the pilot’s side window during a crash. The egg-shaped OH-6 fuselage was also designed for “crash attenuation”; the tail boom would also break off upon impact, allowing the fuselage to dissipate crash energy by rolling around unencumbered.

All these factors contributed to Felix overall survival, but he didn’t escape the crash unscathed.  He had been approaching a landing zone that had been hacked out of triple-canopy forest, and when his helicopter crashed he was hurt quite badly (especially in his back) when the aforementioned survival features of the OH-6 were impeded by the close-set tree trunks. The Army subsequently attended to his needs, but the reality of Army life meant that he could no longer fly. What’s more, he was reduced in rank (and pay)  from Chief Warrant Officer 2 to Staff Sergeant and put to work as an office.

I interacted with Felix mostly in connect with Boy Scouts; he was the scoutmaster and I was his assistant Scoutmaster. There were many Wednesday nights when he’d call to say that his back was giving him a bad time and if it were possible for me to run things at the troop meeting that night. I’d faithfully fill in for him and deal with the boys on my own, but there were many nights when the air would turn blue in my little Audi wagon as I’d drive home complaining bitterly about having the whole program shoved off on me. I mean, his back couldn’t hurt that bad – to the point that he couldn’t still show up and help me a little…and I was annoyed at the way his voice would kind of tremble but still sound cheerful when he’d call. I mean, I’d already agreed to run the whole show. He didn’t have to get all theatrical on me.

The last time I saw Felix was in 1982, so he wasn’t around when I had my own service-related injury. It was a night parachute jump with full equipment and I had the misfortune of first getting caught in a wind-shear ( change in wind direction part-way down)  then landing in a freshly plowed field, all benefits of that plowing being negated by the muddy areas where the adjacent irrigation ditches overflowed. Instead of a “parachute landing fall” (or “PLF”) I had a “PFL” – a “poor f***ing landing”).  I ended up with two compressed discs and some herniating with a third but I was young and buff enough to keep up with my duties, no matter what .  

No, it wasn’t until I contracted Ankylosing Spondylitis some years later that I the light finally clicked on. ( A/S  is a autoimmune condition of the spine involving progressive joint immobilization and eventual immobilization and went undetected for years because of my jump injury. There is no cure and it is extremely painful) Then the arthritis got into my hands and feet, twisting and inflaming the knuckles and making both complex artistic activities and simple everyday chores an exercise in misery.

The “ light came on” late one night as I was rocking on the side of the bed in severe pain and wondering what to do after being rebuffed by a fellow church member I had just asked for help with activity. He had refused then intimated that I “was using health problems” to avoid my responsibilities…and while those words hurt, they were nothing to the pain I felt when I thought back to when I said those same words about Felix.

Few things in my life have prompted me to cry like I did that night.

I haven’t seen Felix in over 40 years. I hope that he has been able to find some comfort and relief from the constant pain. Mostly I hope he has forgiven me. It’s going to be a while before I forgive myself.

1970: Requiem for Harvey

A repeat from four years ago and a chapter to my next book , which REALLY is going to the press soon. It seems like any kind of creative effort, be it visual art, sculpture or writing takes an every increasing toll on me…

David R. Deitrick, Designer

I don’t think it has ever been easy for a young man to learn proper boundaries with authority figures. I’m sure that there was more than one 19-year-old Roman legionnaire making bunny ears every time his centurion turned his back, and plenty of lewd comments were made just out of earshot when Shaka Zulu paraded his retinue of wives in front of the unmarried warriors’ regiment…but I do think that learning proper boundaries was a little more complex for for those of us coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Challenging the establishment seemed to be a required subject in any course of study and a required component of every other comedy show on television. The mixed messages I got at home just complicated the issue – it seemed like every day I’d hear my dad talk about telling off someone at work and my mother seemed…

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1982: “…she’s gone”

My former company commander Bob Moore and his wife stopped by for a brief visit today and the occasion seemed to merit the retelling of this post. While these events came about long after “Captain Bob” was my C.O. but many of the events/conditions in this narrative were equally valid when he was….

David R. Deitrick, Designer

As a newly minted second lieutenant I assumed that troop leadership would be the least pleasant aspect of my duties, but within weeks of becoming a platoon leader I found out I had been dead wrong – I really enjoyed being a leader, but then I had been prepped for the job, having been a teacher’s aide in high school, a trainer on my mission and an adult Scout leader for years.

The only part of leadership that I didn’t enjoy was enforcing rules. Oh, I had no problem leading my guys into difficult situations but I’m not one to crack a whip and rules often seem like punishment to your most capable troops because the restrictions feel like punishment. That’s because rules are made for the lowest functioning people in the group and by setting a limit that keeps them reined in everyone else will be under control as…

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Creative Curmudgeon Commentary #6 Thank You Kenny Rodgers

Last of the CCC reprints. #7 will follow soon as in probably next week.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

There’s a messageI appreciate inthe KennyRodgers’ ballad“The Gambler”. At one point in the chorus the Gambler says that during a card game you “have to when to hold / know when to hold ’em” .

The same thing holds true in creative work.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post detailing the process involved with doing a cut paper sculpture of a Hawker Hurricane, which was then going to be integrated with other pieces to make an Avengers illustration (Not the Marvel Team – Steed & Emma).The Hurricane was out of sight/mind while we bought a house/moved in the interim…

…and Patrick McNee died.

My concept for the Avengers piece has changed and theHurricane is not going to work anymore. It will go into the Deitrick Home for Un-used Cut-paper Sculpts so it won’t get just round-filed, but it is still hard not to think I have wasted the…

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Creative Curmudgeon Commentary #5: “Idea Men”

I’m running low on these Creative Curmudgeon commentaries – I think I have just one left (besides this one) to re-blog. However, I do have one in the works and may have it done by sometime next week.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

I love Silver Age comics, especially the Superman titles penciled by Curt Swan. I was so enamored of Mr. Swan’s skills that long after a comic was gone I would be mentally superimposing his panels over real-life situations with the accompanying dialog running alongside in my thoughts. Todd Moore and Steve Morgan arguing about a contested goal in soccer would become Superman fighting Metallo. Mike Endsley tossing the softball to second base became Batman hurling a Batarang. Walking into a Howard Watson’s tent at scout camp after he had corn for dinner would turn me into Superman being overcome by Kryptonite.

I even included the sound effects: ZUD-ZUD-ZUD! ( Kryptonite radiation)

“Must escape! (Gasp!) Kryptonite only substance harmful to me! Prevents me from speaking in grammatically correct sentences! (Choke) 

I haven’t seen Howard – or dealt with his flatulence – in over 40 years but I still have situations where…

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CCC4: Convention Vampires

David R. Deitrick, Designer

This latest foray into my “Creative Curmudgeon Commentary deals with convention vampires – though before hyperventilation and lowered neck-lined set in I’m not taking about LeStaat, Angel or Edward. The type of vampires I’m talking about today are fairly specialized and their appetites involve money and personal attention rather than hemoglobin. Explaining all of this is going to take some time so crack open a package of whatever “yellow bar” Little Debbie’s is flooding the market with until Twinkie manufacturing comes back on line and settle down for a lengthy explanation.

Science Fiction and Fantasy depends on visualization more than any other form of literature and because of that there is a healthy supply of art for sale, mostly through convention sales. Changes in generational tastes as well as a dramatic revolution in mediums available  for creating art has knocked the market a** over tea-kettle but for now let’s go…

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Creative Curmudgeon Commentary 3: No Golden Tickets.

…still haven’t run out of these…

David R. Deitrick, Designer

I’ve been teaching since 1988 and during that time I have seen an unfortunate trend growing – the idea of the “golden ticket”. Other than being a major plot point in the sadly misunderstood Arnold Schwarzenegger 1993 action flick ‘The Last Action Hero” a “Golden Ticket” is something – a tool or qualification that will inexplicably grant you incredible success by merely being in your possession. Aladdin’s Lamp. Green Lantern’s ring. An airbrush. A Waccum tablet.

Or a degree.

It’s sad because students pass through my classes now with absolutely no desire to actually learn anything. They seem to be there solely to pass the class with as little work and as high a grade as possible in order to check off a box on the way to a degree which they assume automatically qualifies and entitles them to an extremely well-paying job. I can understand being pragmatic about school…

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Creative Curmudgeon Commentary 2.2: Client Rules

Continuing the revisit to Creative Curmudgeon Commentary

David R. Deitrick, Designer

There’s an old saying that differs in anatomical detail from time to time but the “G” version goes ” Opinions are like arm-pits; everyone has them and they all stink”. With that in mind I’d like to pass on a couple of lessons I have learned about finding and working with clients.

1. Make sure there is some common ground with a new client. Research the company before you approach them in the same way you would if you were looking for a job…because that’s what you are doing – looking for a (short term) job. Have something pertinent to their business in  your portfolio. You may do the very best rendering (ever) of the USS Enterprise but that means nothing to a company that makes tractors.

2. If they are signing the check they are your boss. You’re not doing them a favor by working for them. Remember – there is…

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