Ed Brock, Amateur

I office in a metal building in the Texas countryside. Out one window a llama keeps watch over the herd of a cattle baron. The other window looks at the workshop of the property owner where my office is situated. It’s an atypical work environment, and fascinating every day.

Stan Richards has  been favorably or unfavorably compared by various Richards Group “alumni” to Leonardo da Vinci, Midas, Machiavelli, Hemingway, E.F. Hutton, Michael Jackson and God. In his book, The Peaceable Kingdom, this modern day Leonardo writes an ode The Amateur. Stan is writing about the man in the next door workshop. He is writing about Ed Brock.

Not long ago I read a line that I liked. It was on a fourth- or fifth-generation photocopy pinned up on the wall in, of all places, an old sundries store, right next to the soda fountain. “Choose a vocation you love,” it read, “and you will never have to work.” “Chinese proverb,” it said at the bottom.

Now, personally I’m a little skeptical about the “Chinese proverb” part. You see an awful lot of little aphorisms billed that way, most of which I suspect are actually written by a guy named Maury who works out of the Brill Building in New York City. In any event, regardless of its provenance, I like the adage about loving your vocation. I like the fact that it was photocopied and pushpinned to the wall by the soda jerk in a sundries store. It makes him and me brothers in a family that I wish were a whole lot bigger: people who love showing up at work every day.

We get so caught up in our careers, in trying to be professionals, that we forget what it means to be an amateur: somebody who does it out of love, pour l’amour. I got into the advertising business because it gave me a way to make a living doing what I would gladly do for free: expressing ideas through art; figuring out extraordinary ways to say ordinary things; meeting and hashing out ideas with bright, interesting, funny people. If this is work, then I feel like I’ve pulled a fast one on society all these years, because this is fun.

Ed sketched this up the other day

One reason my organization has worked so well for so long is that I’ve tried to hire people who, like the soda jerk and me, have the old fire in the belly, the lover’s zeal of the true amateur.

For a good example, look at Ed Brock. He’s the “B” in our design group RBMM. Ed (who, by the way, once cycled through China and never once encountered that proverb about choosing your vocation, which I think proves my earlier point) is a filmmaker, an animator, who joined me as a designer in the early days of the agency and was part of the cadre that spun off the design group as a separate operating unit in 1979. He was the first person at either RBMM or The Richards Group, other than me, to celebrate a twentieth anniversary as an employee.

Ed’s reel of work is a wonder – elegant and wacky and inventive and, in terms of media and technique, impossible to categorize. The guy could empty the grass bag off your lawn mower and animate something spectacular out of the clippings. He is, by and large, a soloist. He looks at your storyboard or conceives the film himself, assembles the materials, works out the technicalities, and shoots it, typically, with a fine old camera that I think he bought at Sergy Eisenstein’s last garage sale.

Portrait by Ed Brock.

Click, shoot a frame. Then move the little pile of grass clippings and click, shoot another frame. Then rearrange the clippings again, and so on. He works like a medieval stonemason dressing columns for a cathedral. You can feel the artisanship.

Ed, you can tell when you’re around him, does it for the love. More so than other people, I’d wager. You’d never be able to assemble a staff composed entirely of Ed Brocks, but you don’t need to. A few people like Ed, strategically placed, can leaven the whole organization. All you have to do is find people with apparent potential and evident zeal to do something with the potential, put them around an Ed Brock, and watch the inspiration happen.   Source

What do you love to do?





Mac turns 10

The pictures tell the story here.  Friends, movie, gifts, Six Flags!

After Cinco de Mayo comes…

Cinco de Mayo is followed by the 16th of June-o, a lesser celebrated holiday. It commemorates when Mexican President Benito Juárez wouldn’t/couldn’t make the interest payments on their national debt. That angered Mexico’s major creditors Spain, France and the United Kingdom; France took this “all the way” and placed provisional (French) President General Almomte inside Mexico City on June 16, 1863. American pressure later helped remove French-elected King Maximillian from the Mexican “throne”. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated as a Mexican victory, but that battle just slowed the French down a little.

p.s. China holds the largest foreign portion of America’s $12,000,000,000,000 debt. Last year China began to reconsider whether to loan any more money to the US, and who would blame them? We’re not looking like a good credit risk nowadays.

“The borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

Just Girls Playing

Playing around on a Saturday

Lost my Winter Coat

Alan had a beard; Jamie started nicely asking when he would shave once the New Year came around.  Alan’s face is cold.

New Camera

For Christmas, Jamie bought me a new digital camera.  Truthfully, she handed me the money and said, “I don’t know what camera you want.”  I knew; for over a year I have been eying a line of cameras with a superzoom, decent low-light performance and video capability.  Given the green light, I placed my order for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35.  Click the link for reviews; I’m sure for most readers of the blog this is getting too wordy already!

So, some first pics.  Nothing fancy; just using the intelligent auto mode; no crops or edits.

Self Portraits

TaeKwonDo.  Pictures turned out noisy but usable at 800 ISO

Another challenging lighting environment.  Not too bad.

Libs, age 8, took this.

So all in all, I am pleased with the results I can get with a point-and-shoot, super-zoom, versatile camera with HD video tossed in.  It’s a great all-in-one toolkit that will fit the hurry-to-the-next-event stage of life. Next step: read the 100 page PDF manual and see what happens when we venture away from full auto.  Stay tuned!


Fifteen years ago, a college freshman girl took a “friend” home for Thanksgiving because he had no where to go.  Three years later they were married.  It’s 2009, and we’re still making the trek to Sulphur Springs, with children of our own.

Playing around.

Lounging (left: Adam & Maigan; right: lazy dog Brownie)

Happy Thanksgiving!  And just for fun, because no day is complete without a tumbling pass:

The State Fair of Texas

It’s become an annual tradition.  School gives kids free tickets to the State Fair of Texas.  Mommy has inservice.  Daddy withdraws obscene amounts of cash and takes girls with their “free” tickets.

Facepainting is always a hit.  Libs was up for the activity but removed it in the car!  Ash enjoyed closing her eyelids to reveal the snake eyes.

This were hasty snapshots that were inspired by better photos.  Having fun with depth of field.

Singing in Wal-Mart

Yes, we are your in-store entertainment.  Reminds me of a video this time two years ago.

Ash gets glasses (too)

We’ve been down this road with middle sister Libs.  And because of that we were extra sensitive to getting thorough exams.  Ash passed an eye exam last year, but this year complained things were fuzzy.  We left the house to visit the optometrist, and returned with glasses.

ash is modeling her new glasses and proudly holding the glasses case too

Can you tell she’s so proud?

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