Emotional Action Figures

When I joined the Official Star Wars Fan Club, I took an oath to the Rebel Alliance. Somewhere in that oath I agreed to write about the movies whenever the opportunity presented itself. This week provided that opportunity. Well it wasn’t really the week but IBD reader and fellow Rebel Howard Aprill. That’s right, we are rebels.

The following correspondence is from Howard.

Hi Shea,

I recently visited the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, WI. They had an exhibit featuring some of America’s favorite toys from the 1940’s through present day. It was awesome! Lots of toys that took me back including Shrinky Dinks, Slinkies, Rubik’s Cubes, and more. What caught my eye first however was the Star Wars material It very much took me back long,long time ago to a galaxy (childhood) far away. I have to admit that my wife Paula was very indulgent of me lingering at the Star Wars case for far longer than most.

I’m sure the curator who assembled the exhibit was probably a museum studies major and not an interpreter. Furthermore, it was not a fancy exhibit as it was mostly objects with little text. However, I have to admit that it really connected to me on an emotional level. It was a very basic exhibit with few “bells and whistles”. They took “objects” (ie Star Wars action figures) and allowed me to forge the intellectual (or in this case and emotional) connection. It was awesome and it worked. Sometimes you can just let the resource or object speak for itself.

I have taken the liberty of including a few photos that I hope you will appreciate.



P.S. I love sweater vests, bald is beautiful, Thursday is the best day of the week, cereal should be a food group, red heads make me uncomfortable, and he National League should be abolished.

Okay so the post script wasn’t exactly what Howard had to say but I do want to clarify two things before I continue. Like me, Howard is married. It is possible to speak Jabbanese and find true love. Secondly, the greatest toy besides action figures (not dolls) are Shrinky Dinks.

I could end this post here because Howard made some excellent points. Now even though he alluded to the display being more of a museum presentation of artifacts and less of an interpretive exhibit, at times letting visitors draw their own conclusions can be just as valuable as drawing it for them. Also you can’t beat showing the thing itself. No matter what you do, people want to see original objects and the thing itself. When you are making your plans and your programs, don’t forget their wants and needs.

Seeing Howard’s pictures brought a flood of memories coming back to me. The picture above (that he titled Jabba et al, which happens to be the greatest name of a photo in digital imagery history, for the record et al in this picture is Salacious Crumb) immediately reminded me of a friend’s Jabba Palace Play-set that was painstakingly set-up as a shrine to reenact the scene from Return of the Jedi. Okay, that seems a little creepy now, considering we were in high school and the play-set stayed in tact well into college. Anyway, it was a good memory that could have been easily replaced with something like prom. At this point, as if I had a choice, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thanks for reading and sharing Howard.



Obnoxious Use of Color

IBD Management would like to welcome the return of snarky Shea back from his hiatus after several weeks of posts that were slightly confusing, borderline awkward, and weepy.

Well, it is official that Paul and I have gone 10 posts without one that carries the underlying theme of sports. Now that I have separated myself from the touchy-feely Shea (much like the Tickle Me Elmo), there is something that has been bothering me for several weeks and I just have to get it off of my chest—the use of the color orange by the University of Tennessee should be banned.

I have always considered the color orange to be my favorite color. There is something about it that makes me want to buy orange clothing and accessories (primarily sweater vests and bow ties), as well as anything that I don’t already have that comes in orange. I also find myself using it in design work, just because I like looking at it, even though I usually end up changing it to something different.

The strange part of this obsession is that I love the color orange and it really bothers me how it is abused by the University of Tennessee. You would think that since I am drawn to the color orange, then I would be interested in supporting the University of Tennessee. But in reality I have a strong emotional connection against the University of Tennessee and if they really want to be the Volunteers, well, I wish they would volunteer to dial that color down and make the world a better place. I should provide you with some background information of why I carry so much disdain for the University of Tennessee and its obnoxious use of orange.

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and by default most Memphians are fans of either the University of Memphis or the University of Tennessee. (Before Paul makes a comment, I will insert that I am a Yankee fan due to a strong influence of my grandfather and with baseball I really had no choice.) That being said, I attended school at the University of Memphis and found a great outlet of my inner anger and frustration that could be directed towards the University of Tennessee’s sports teams. It was and still is a great outlet. In fact, the single greatest moment in my college life was when the University of Memphis beat the University of Tennessee on the football field at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, November 9, 1996, by the score of 21-17. Well, that’s the single greatest moment in my college life, next to meeting my wife.

Tennessee-TSo, I love the color orange and hate the way the University of Tennessee abuses it.

So, why am I drawn to the color orange? A lot of thought has been put into the psychology behind how and why people respond to various colors and color palettes. I wish there were a solid foundation of color theory that everyone could agree upon as the definitive expert on what colors mean to individuals. There is no such source, but rather many theories and interpretations. Many are contradictory to others, with others finding common ground. Care.com offers this interpretation of my personality based on my connection to the color orange.

Orange: This color of luxury and pleasure appeals to the flamboyant and fun-loving person who likes a lively social round. Orange people may be inclined to dramatize a bit, and people notice them, but they are generally good-natured and popular. They can be a little fickle and vacillating, but on the whole they try hard to be agreeable. Orange is the color of youth, strength, fearlessness, curiosity and restlessness.

I’m not so sure about the “fickle and vacillating” portion of the analysis, but there may be some truth there. This site offers an analysis of most colors and the personality traits that may be associated with specific colors. The problem with this type of analysis is that I find it to be about as valuable as what you would find in a fortune cookie. Maybe that’s what she means by “fickle and vacillating.”

In interpretive design we try to use colors to connect the tangibles to intangibles. Colors are used to help connect visitors to a resource. They can be used to evoke emotion, represent a sense of place, or even be used to create an environmental design that has little impact on the setting where the media is being used. We should spend as much time in the decision-making process of choosing colors as we do creating the theme, writing the text, choosing the typeface, or any other design element.

While I am in this frame of mind, for those of you that enjoy the color combination of pink and green, you are next on my list.

Paul’s Grammar Pet Peeves: Part 2 is Comprised of Five Points

The first installment of Paul’s Grammar Pet Peeves, “Part 1 of Literally Millions,” garnered literally fives of comments, some of them from people I didn’t even go to college with. So it’s clear to me that nothing excites you, the IBD reader, like reading about things that annoy me. With that, I give you five more pet peeves!

Comprised of/Composed of
The phrase comprise means to include or to be made up of. For instance, you could correctly say, “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe comprises many sweater vests.” The word compose means to make or form. So you could say, “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe is composed of many pastel shirts.”

shea-PaulSimonWhen you say this: “Shea Lewis’s wardrobe is comprised of stylish and contemporary clothing,” you are both factually and grammatically off the mark. Not only does Shea look like the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon when he goes out in public, but the phrase is comprised of is grammatically nonsensical. It translates from English to English as is included of or is made up of of. (Thanks to Nick Racine for pointing out that Paul Simon was a senator from Illinois, not Minnesota, as I originally posted. I must have been thinking of Al Franken, who is a senator from Minnesota and played Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live.)

I frequently hear people say that they are tired and need to lay down. This makes sense only if they are carrying a large, heavy box, which would explain why they are tired and what they intend to lay down. Usually, however, they are not carrying anything and what they mean to say is that they need to lie down. The act of laying (time to put on our mature faces, people) requires a direct object (stay with me, I see those smirks), as in, “I need to lay down this large, heavy box.” When you position yourself in the angle of repose, you are lying down.

What complicates this one is the past tense. The past tense of lay is laid; the past tense of lie is lay. Not to mention what happens when you’re talking about those Hawaiian flower necklaces: “I laid down those leis and then lay down.” (Note: Thanks to Sarena Gill for catching my misuse of “your” in the previous example. Sarena is no longer welcome here.)

Okay, so this is one of those quirks that makes people learning English as a second language want to stab native English speakers in the neck with a fork. Adding an apostrophe-S to a word makes it possessive. Just adding an S makes it plural. So why, then, does adding apostrophe-S to “it” not make it possessive? And why is it that just adding an S to it does make it possessive? The simple answer is that “it’s” already serves as the conjunction “it is,” so to make it less confusing, we English speakers invented a new rule that applies only to this one tiny word, making “its” possessive, thereby confusing everybody. You’re welcome, speakers of other languages.

One technique to try is to replace all instances of “it’s” with “it is” or “it has” and see if it works. Then replace all instances of “its” with “his or her” and see if that works. If it does, then you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, you are ready for a career as a writer for The New York Post.

Everyday/Every Day
DaveMatthewsBandEverydayEveryday (one word) is most commonly an adjective, but it can also be a noun. It means commonplace or ordinary. Every day (two words) is an adjective followed by a noun. The phrase simply means daily. For example: “Every day, the everyday activities of my life make me want to stab myself in the neck with a fork.”

Here’s another sentence to consider: “Every day, I think that Dave Matthews should have had a grammarian look at his album cover before he named an entire album ‘Everyday,’ unless he actually meant to say that his music is average or ordinary.”

Presently means soon. Currently means now. If you say you’re on your way presently, it means you haven’t left yet. If you say you’re on your way currently, then you are actually en route.