The auto-centric Jalopnik recently compiled its list of The Ten Craziest Concept Cars of All Time, which includes a couple of wonderful midcentury designs that sadly never made it into production.

Unfortunately, they squandered slot number 9 on the fictitious, though slightly Googie-esque, 1991 Powell Motors Homer, rather than awarding it to something like the 1958 Ford X-2000 with its Enterprise-like nacelles or the Ford Volante of the same year, with its triple ducted fans that powered intercity flight (both pictured here).

Still, they did recognize the atomic-powered Ford Nucleon (1958 was apparently a great year for Ford's design team), as well as Buckminster Fuller's unrealized 1933 Dymaxion. Have to give them credit for that.

A few days after I discovered the horrifying error on the QuickStudy cover, I sent an e-mail to both the publishing company's customer service department and the company's president:

Mr. Gabbard;

While I was at my local Kinko's recently, I plucked a copy of your QuickStudy English guide from a nearby rack, hoping to amuse myself a few minutes while waiting in line. Unfortunately, upon reviewing the book's cover, I was less amused than I was saddened.

Among your list of selling points for the book at hand was a list of "commonly mispelled words." I would hope I needn't point out the pathetic irony here, but seeing as an untold number of people involved in the design and creation of your book missed it, I'm compelled to do so: you misspelled the word "misspell," which incidentally is one of the English language's most misspelled words. If the absurdity of the mistake weren't so laughable, I probably would've slit my wrists with paper cuts from the very book I was holding.

... Continued

Not too long ago, I decided to take my love of art, power tools, roadside travel and midcentury signage, and combine them into what I hoped could be a new, artistic aspect of my career.

Well, the day has come, and I've just posted the first in a series of handcrafted, Googie-style pieces to eBay. It's simple in appearance, but complex in character, bringing to mind aging diners, motels and bowling alleys.

The big, red arrow's thirty-one bulbs flash in sequence — adjustable in both speed and brightness — and its surface is weathered with a light patina that suggests years of roadside pointing.

I'm already working on future pieces, but this is number "001," so head on over and have a look before it's gone.

Oh, and I've created a short video showing the arrow in action (below). ... Continued

I don't know if I've become a grammarian because I'm a writer, or if I've taken to writing because I like studying the rules of the English language. Either way, I've acquired somewhat of a superpower (it's a blessing and a curse) for spotting English mistakes.

That's why, when I stopped by Kinko's today and noticed a rack of QuickStudy pocket guides on various school subjects, my spidey spelling sense started to tingle, compelling me to pick up a copy of The QuickStudy for English.

Among other things, as you can see, it boasted a list of "commonly mispelled words."

If you don't get what I'm after here, then I recommend you pick up such a list yourself — just not this one.

When I hit the road, I take way too much crap. Suitcase, camera bag, walking camera bag, laptop, peripherals, emergency supplies, tools, grab bag, spare water, spare gas, books, CDs, souvenir-storage solution — it all comes along. I have to rent a small SUV and jury-rig a shelf unit in the back. But when you've got a deadline looming and need to cover four dozen sights in 12 days, you've got to be ready for every eventuality.

For the recreational road trip, one need suffer neither the anxiety nor the cumbrous cargo. In fact, with a little thoughtful culling, you might be surprised how little you actually need on the road. And packed carefully, you can probably dump that roof rack and still have extra space for all the shot glasses and lacquered alligator heads you plan to buy. ... Continued

As I was zipping over to Fry's yesterday to pick up a little something for my latest project, I spotted a couple on the highway proudly driving a Smart Fortwo, a somewhat defiant choice of automobile in a state obsessed with transparently large and underutilized pickup trucks. The practical little transport was especially conspicuous here in north Dallas where the soccer queens reign from the seats of their Excursions and H3's.

For me, it was a refreshing sight and something I'd love to see more of. I couldn't help but shout "Good for you!" vainly through my windshield and across two lanes of traffic.

Microcars are not only the ideal transport for the intra-city drives and lone commutes that make up most people's wheel time, but, as I suddenly realized in that moment, they're absolutely perfect for the interstate road trips loved by faithful guests of the Roadside Resort, when all a person needs is a motor, a CD player and a space for their overnight bag. And just imagine how easy all those U-turns would be, looking for the right back road that leads to the world's largest whatever. ... Continued

Microcar photos courtesy of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum.

I haven't had much time to update the site, being busy with Weird Oklahoma and all, but I thought I'd at least take the time to share a few things I've recently come across in my work-avoidance surfing.

First up, a man after my own heart. Steve Lodefink has discovered what he believes will replace the Altoids tin as the homebrew tinkerer's project box: the coconut.

"The shell is hard and durable, easily machined, has a pleasing organic texture which can be left hairy, sanded smooth, or anything in-between. The little brown dome of a half-shell is cute as a bug, bringing a smile to all who see it. The dome shape is extremely stable and tip resistant. I could go on all day."

For anyone who loves the look of tiki as I do, Steve's innovative implementation has opened a whole new chapter in retro design, which it appears he himself has termed "cocopunk." His inaugural project: an amplifier for a homebuilt electric ukelele. ... Continued

There's good news for all the fans of the Weird series. The Marks (Moran and Sceurman) are currently tying up a sequel to Weird U.S.!

Weird U.S. 2, which should be released around October 1, will bring together another set of oddities from across the nation, some of which I myself have been lucky enough to contribute.

My additions, should they make the final cut, will include many of the sights I saw on my trip up north last August, like the Floyd Collins museum, featuring "the Greatest Cave Explorer Ever Known," the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, an exclusive organization that does not revere what you probably think of as a "hoo-hoo," and the Mindfield, a bewildering Tennessee structure reminiscent of L.A.'s Watts Towers.

I also wrote about what I've termed the Stubby Hubble, a small town's tribute to Missouri native and astronomy legend Edwin Powell Hubble, the complete text of which I've posted here as an exclusive preview for all the fans of the Roadside Resort. ... Continued

As I was going through a few of my Googie images the other day, I was reminded of a somewhat cryptic phrase I've noticed on a significant number of motel signs over the years: "American-Owned." I couldn't quite understand what that meant exactly. Was there a large foreign corporation that's been buying up motels across the United States and running them from overseas? Or was the cynical side of me correct when it detected an undertone of racism?

Turns out, unfortunately, that the latter appears to be closer to the truth. What's being exhibited as a cry of patriotism looks to be, at best, a misperception of ownership within the lodging industry and, at worst, outright bigotry.

Road-trip aficionados, or anyone else who's spent a great deal of time on the road, have almost surely noticed a considerable East Indian presence behind the counters of highway inns. I — and I like to assume all the fans of the Roadside Resort, as well — couldn't give a damn either way. But it's certainly evident. ... Continued

I found out about last night's total lunar eclipse just in time to get my equipment ready for some nice photos, but thanks to the weather, I was forced to spend the evening pickling my disappointment at the Fallout Lounge.

I was hoping to finally produce a nice time-lapse of the entire event, which I tried to do back in 2004 when I was thwarted by cloud cover the last time. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait almost 3 more years to try again.

Until then, I can at least share this shot, one of few that I was able to capture in '04 during brief cloud breaks.