Tag Archives: toys

What We Keep

First Bug Drawing

Last night Maura and I attended a reading, signing, and conversation hosted by the wonderfulNational Museum of Toys and Miniatures. Seriously, if you are anywhere near KC and haven’t been, you MUST go. Authors Bill Shapiro (the former editor-in-chief and founding editor of Getty Images FOTO) and Naomi Wax (whose work has appeared in the New York Times, LA Times, and the Iowa Review) were at the museum to present their latest book called “WHAT WE KEEP, 150 People Share the One Object That Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning“. Bill and Naomi interviewed people from all over the country, from all walks of life, asking them about an object that has deep meaning and then publishes images of the objects along with the stories, in the person’s own word. At the event, they did a reading of some of their favorite objects and stories, then did a Q&A answering some great questions from the attendees about their process, how they chose who to talk to, etc. They started by talking to people they knew, then took an exponential approach, talking to people that they people they knew knew. They then decided to travel across the country, seeking out people that they decided might be interesting to talk to. During their travels, they came to Kansas City, heard about the Toy and Miniature Museum and decided they had to stop in to check it out – only for half an hour or so. Unsurprisingly they ended up spending four hours there, missing an interview in Iowa.

After the reading and Q&A session, they did a book signing – before the reading, they were making their way around the room to introduce themselves to everyone. It was so great to meet them and have a brief conversation with them before the talk and at the signing – this project is obviously very meaningful to them. So meaningful in fact, that the last segment of the evening was a group conversation where the attendees broke into two groups to discuss their most treasured objects. During the break, Maura and I were naturally thinking about and discussing what objects we would have selected. Bill led the conversation at our table. He gave us a few minutes to draw the object on one side of a card, then flip it over and answer several questions about the object and why we chose it. We then went around the table discussing our objects. It was very touching, hearing these intimate stories from strangers and sharing our own.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. At the top of the post, you can see the drawing I did, from memory, of the object that I selected. Here is the actual car: First Bug Original I don’t think I did too bad, for a non-illustrator. As I was listening to the stories in Bill and Naomi’s book, I was thinking what meaning this toy car has to me.

Many of you know that I collect toy VW Beetles. Well, this is the original. I have many more Beetles now but this was the object that started me down the path to becoming a collector. I had never thought about what deeper meaning might be behind that Bug, but as I considered it last night I realized several things that I have never fully acknowledged. It was given to me by my father, early in my high school years. I have never had a strong relationship with him. He left when I was pretty young and for the first several years after that we didn’t see much of him. I ended up living with he and his second wife when I was in high school. My father came home one day after work and surprised me with the Bug out of the blue. I’m sure I had mentioned my love for the VW Beetle and that I wanted to drive one someday (I still haven’t bought one and yes, it has to be a vintage one, not the new abomination). This was one of the only truly thoughtful gestures I ever experience from my father. It was a small thing, but it meant that he had heard me and more importantly, done something about it. The majority of what I learned from my father was what I didn’t want to be as a man or as a human being. Thinking about the history of this car last night, I realized that I had learned something positive from him after all. I learned that listening is powerful, and no matter how small the gesture, acting on what you hear even more so. It’s difficult for me to acknowledge that I might have learned something positive from my father, he was pretty worthless as an example most of the time.

It was interesting to talk about it so openly last night with a table full of strangers. As we were leaving, an older gentleman who we shared the table with approached me, placed his hand on my shoulder, and told me how much he appreciated what I shared. This, I believe, is what Bill and Naomi’s project was ultimately about. Everyone has stories, they simply used a person’s cherished object as a focal point to bring out some of these stories. It must have felt like a tremendous privilege to be able to talk to all of those people as they shared theirs. I can’t wait to read the book and experience more of them!

Vancake

If you didn’t already know, I have a soft spot in my heart for vintage VW’s – Ghias, Vans, Squarebacks, Things, but particularly Beetles. I have an extensive collection of toy VWs, mostly Bugs, only a portion of which I have the room to display. Someday I hope to photograph my collection and post it. We just buy a beautiful new display case which lives in our front entry so several more of my friends can live out in the open. They love sharing the space with Maura’s robots too!

display case with robots and vw bugs

The observant amongst you will notice that the walls are a different color. It’s a bad picture taken at night with a flash, so the color’s not 100% accurate but you get the idea. We did that last weekend, it needed new paint and we decided to go with something a little different.

However, none of that was what I really set out to write about. What I wanted to share with you was this:

VW vancake

From the original post:

Volkswagen parts specialist Just Kampers teamed up with artist Andy Saunders to produce the World’s Lowest VW Bus – also known as the Camper. The 3-foot (1 meter) tall VW Bus entitled “Vancake” that’s fully road legal was created by Saunders and his team in just three days during this past weekend’s (July 18 to 20) Bug Jam festival at the UK’s Santa Pod Raceway. Apart from lowering the roof the team also applied a custom paint job and an electric sunroof.

I love seeing the modifications people have made to their classic VWs. It’s great to see them restored to their original condition, but some of the mods are very creative and fun!

Spore!

Electronic Arts will soon be releasing Spore by game designer Will Wright (creator of such titles as Sim City and Sims). Today, as a way to get people addicted, they released the Spore Creature Creator and it’s very cool. I’ve wasted (XX) hours playing with it today!

My Spore Creature

Meet Yarfla, one of my Spore Creatures

You can create creatures using all sorts of parts, body colors, and by stretching the pieces around to liking. Then you can move him around a test area and take snapshots! The full game will be much more complex, involving the survival and evolution of your species. If the Creature Creator is any indication, I can’t wait to see it!

I made a couple of different creatures and took some candid shots of them in action. Check them out! And then go download the Creature Creator, the demo is free!

Twittering

I’ve been neglecting my blog lately and I had been doing so well! I got sort of addicted to Twitter and it seems all my writing juices have been filtered into it. I promise I’ll try to do better, but I’ve also begun studying to become Leopard certified. Not a monumental task, but the tests are very detailed – like stuff I’d never need to know in the real world.

As for the Twitter thing, I’m not going to explain why. If you think it’s a dumb idea, don’t do it. If you’re mildly interested, give it a try and either find yourself totally addicted or drop it like the dumb idea you initially thought it was.

I like it because it’s like a constantly updated IM blog. There are a ton of interesting people, some even saying interesting things!

Road Rovers

I officially have another collection. The rule in our household is if you have three or more of anything, it’s a collection. I’ve had one of these for years – Scuttle Bug, the little yellow guy, second from the left. I found the Banana Bus in the River Market Antique Mall a couple years ago. This weekend I found three more in the Antique Mall in Lawrence – Fuzzmobile, Vroom Broom, and Carpool.

While I’m not one to collect items made by Hallmark, I love these little cars. They were made in 1975, 1983, 1984 and 1985 and I don’t think very many were produced. I keep my eye out for them whenever I go to an antique mall. They’re so colorful and cartoony – they make me happy! For more pictures, go check out my Flickr set!