Words of Advice for Young People

I told my friend Dave last night that whenever I realize I’m half-assing a project, I remember what he said while we constructed a coffin in my basement. Measuring the wood, I realized the weight and width of the coffin would be quite pronounced if I followed my intended plan, and I suggested we scale it down. This would, sadly, make it too small to get into (you know, in case I wanted to occupy it some Halloween in order to scare the living shit out of the neighborhood kids). Dave put a hand on my shoulder and said, chuckling:

“Dan. If you’re building a coffin, YOU’RE GOING TO WANT TO BE ABLE TO LAY IN IT!”

Truer words were never spoken. Always remember that kids: make your coffin large enough to lie in.

Side note: hard to believe I built this while my five-year-old son Nate was still in the womb. Time, you are a merciless bitch.


What’s He Building in There?

My latest project. What could it be? I’m sure some of you know already. I’m just happy that after two years of fatherhood, I’m returning to the workshop. God, it’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I took that woodworking class. That crazy, crazy-ass woodworking class… If we ever meet, buy me a drink and I’ll tell you all about it.



Recently, at work, I was considered competent enough to win several gift cards in recognition of my diligence and industry—not once but THREE times. The pebble in my shoe, however, is that the gift card site offers few alternatives that accommodate my tastes—I am not an aficionado of auto supplies, and I find the cuisine at Red Lobster…uninspiring. Thus, I always go with a Borders gift card. How I wish the gift card company provided Amazon certificates. I can stretch those out to their snapping point by searching the used and new categories, finding perfectly acceptable books sold for less than their shipping costs. New Borders’ books, on the other hand, usually cost twice what they do at Amazon, and, if I read the qualifiers correctly, they won’t let you buy used books with gift cards. Foo.

I’ve been using my gift cards to collect sci-fi and fantasy classics published under the Modern Library imprint.  The list so far:

By H.G. Welles

The Time machine
The Invisible Man
The Island of Dr. Moreau

By Jules Verne

Journey to the Center of the Earth

By A. Conan Doyle

The Lost World

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars

I already own several of these books in mass-market, paperback form, or read them long ago in my hometown’s library. I just thought it might be nice to have them around and waiting for Nate when he gets older. While it would be lovely to collect first-edition hardcovers, I don’t feel like spending the cash, and, to me, a book isn’t simply made to look lovely, but to be read—read the hell out of.

The Modern Library has done a nice job, despite falling into the Getty Images/Photoshop rut.  I don’t want to be one of those book fetishists for whom it’s more important to fondle than read a tome, but whether I’m reading Welles’ The Time Machine or Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, I love the feel of the Modern Library’s covers and pages. The typefaces are quite restful too.

But as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so to does Mr. Dan Kelly react to a new collection with the thought, “What can I build in my workshop to accommodate my new collection?” Because I flit from interest to interest like a spastic hummingbird, I’ve recently been intrigued by the steampunk aesthetic. While I find the bronze valved goggles and prosthetics taken to ridiculous extremes, and the steamwhore look favored by a few of the ladies peculiar, I dig the movement’s appreciation of wood, antique metal, and earth tones. I shall employ them in my design. Stay tuned.

Now in a perfect world I’d be able to make things like this little number. Good God, I want to make sweet love on that desk. Hell, I want to make sweet love TO that desk.