Posts with Category This Writer’s Life

What we learned from the guy who builds $250K Batmobiles

IMG_4209

We met the guy who made the Batmobile. His name is Mark and he lives in Indiana.

We were celebrating Free Comic Book Day at our local shop, Aw Yeah Comics, and Mark was there with one of his 1966 Batmobile replica. It had a a “Bat Beam” button, and an “Emergency Bat-Turn Lever.”

Even as a kid, I recognized that the original Batman TV-series starring Adam West was cheesey. I loved it. The corny jokes. The word sounds–Bam! Pa-Zow!! Bat shark spray. Bat-everything. But the Batmobile was just plain cool, so to see it, or at least a pretty darn good replica, of it was awesome.

Mark Racop, the owner of Fiberglass Freaks, stood a watchful yet not hovering distance from the car. As Harper, 8, and I walked toward the store’s entrance, we stopped to talk to him. I asked if he was with the Batmobile.IMG_4199

He confirmed that he was and then launched into an unexpected motivational soliloquy that went something like this:

I built my first Batmobile with a few friends in 1977 when I was 17. I never knew it would become this. DC officially licenses us to build replicas. There was a one-in-one-thousand chance that my hobby would become anything. Whenever I get a chance to talk to kids, I always tell them to follow their dreams.

“How much does a Batmobile go for?” I asked, wondering if it was outfitted for car seats.

“$125,000 to $250,000,” Mark said, as matter of factly as superhumanly possible.

To which I thought, “Holy shit, Batman!”

When I first started chatting with Mark, I thought I was talking to a grown man with a quirky hobby. But when I realized I was talking to a grown man who builds cars that cost quarter-of-a-million dollars, I took him more seriously.

I’m not sure why, but the numbers made me see Mark differently. They shouldn’t. Because before Mark had a business building replica Batmobiles, he did it because he loved to do it. No doubt society looked at Mark as a quirky kid with a silly hobby who should probably find something more productive to do with his time.

I can relate. Before I earned a living as a writer and speaker, I was a quirky kid with a silly hobby, and a lot of people told me I should probably find something more productive to do than travel around the world and write stories for ten bucks a pop. My asking Mark what a Batmobile cost was the equivalent of the questions I’m often asked: “What’s your day job? What does your wife do?”

Yet even I judged Mark this way.

Why is it that as a society we’re so quick to dismiss someone’s passion instead of supporting it?

Mark builds Batmobiles. And they are freaking awesome! That’s enough on its own for us to celebrate him.

Mark is proof that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our passions and hobbies. We should embrace them and we should support the passions and hobbies of our family and friends regardless of how quirky.

If you want to buy a Batmobile and have the funds to do so, check out Mark’s site Buy Bat Parts.

More Batphotos below the break…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

“Don’t forget to explore!” A lesson in creating from my daughter

IMG_3663

On Monday, Harper and I explored the woods. We found puff balls, a beer bottle, a rabbit, and a squawking heron. We climbed a deer stand and tried to patch a beaver dam.

When we walked from the woods into the clearing next to the pond, we saw what appeared to be snow flowers. It was as if tall weeds that had managed to stay upright through the winter bloomed petals of snow.

Harper wanted to show “everyone,” so we recorded a short episode of Harper & Daddy TV, our hit YouTube show. (I mean, like, one of our video has 100 views.)

While we were filming, we realized that the snow flowers had formed atop nearly invisible spider…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

Union City Pride

Union City lady indiana

I haven’t watched a high school basketball game from start to finish since my wife hung up her sneakers in 1998. (Annie was #44 in the playbook and #1 in my heart, although I was too cool to admit it.)

That changed this past Saturday when I cheered on the Union City Lady Indians against Wood Memorial in the Class 1A State Championship.

“I don’t know why I’m crying,” I said to Annie after a girl from Union City drilled a three out of the gate. (To qualify crying: I had a single tear welling up in each eye. It wasn’t like I was ugly crying.)

“I had tears running down my face watching The Facebook video of them leaving town,” Annie…

Read More >
 
8 comments
Read More >
 
Add a comment

My friend/grandma Frances

GmaBirds

My grandma, Frances (Copeland) Wilt, looked like Bob Dylan and laughed like Popeye. Two inarguable facts that I’ve kept to myself until now.

She died on Monday morning in Rockford, Illinois, while I was eating donuts and drinking coffee in Muncie, Indiana.

The smell of coffee reminds me of her and Grandpa. They were the only reason our house had a coffee maker growing up. When the coffee maker came out, I knew they were on their way and grandma would be loaded down with paper bags of garage sale toys–He-Mans and Han Solos and some of the weirdest toys you could imagine.

They’d pull up in their multi-Brown RV and it was like a whole planet just showed up in the…

Read More >
 
2 comments

A house on wheels provides tons of adventure

This  article first appeared in the CS Monitor on June 12, 2016. My Grandma just passed away and I’m dusting it off in remembrance of her and her love of travel.

My cousin Brice is armed with the bow and arrow. Of the two of us, he is the better shot and the more ruthless. I have a plastic bag filled with paper “snaps” that go bang! when thrown on the ground.

A foolish woman thought she could steal a few moments of rest alongside this winding road in the Great Smokey Mountains. Little did she know that lurking behind the shade tree she had parked under were two 7-year-old boys about to attack.

She is asleep. This is going to be easy. First, I will…

Read More >
 
1 comment

What my autistic son taught me about happiness

img_2950

It’s that time of year when we are constantly reminded through ads, resolutions, and unrealistic expectations that we are less than others. People are more organized, fitter, harder workers, better looking, and overall live better lives being better people than you and me.

Feel better? Are you overcome with hope and positivity?

Perhaps the happiest human I know is my son Griffin. This might surprise some people because Griffin, 5, is on the autism spectrum. The stereotype for someone on the the spectrum is that he or she becomes easily frustrated by people, lights, sounds, a break in routine. This can lead to anxiety and sometimes depression.

One night recently Griffin woke us up, not crying, not whining, but laughing an uncontrollable, body trembling belly…

Read More >
 
12 comments

The sweetest Obamacare story you’ll hear this week

img_3001

Griffin was down in the basement in his “boy cave.” Harper was doing an art project on the kitchen table. Annie was preparing dinner. And I was shopping for Obamacare on healthcare.gov. My appetite a bit less as I scrolled down past ever-rising premiums and deductibles trying to find a plan that worked for us.

We are thankful for Obamacare and the fact we can’t be turned away for my son having a “preexisting condition” of autism. No private insurance company would insure us otherwise.

Basically, we pay the insurance company $10 and they pay $100 of our expenses. Of course, we pay a lot more than $10 each month to have insurance. Our premiums and our deductibles (which we…

Read More >
 
2 comments

Thanks for the inspiration, Donald Trump. Let’s get to work!

There are a lot of reasons I didn’t want Donald J. Trump to be our next president, but there is one reason (and probably only one) that I’m glad he won.

The night of the election, I went to a watch party hosted at The Downtown Farm Stand. (Can you get more liberal than drinking organic beer and eating organic free-range, potato chips with your GMO-free friends? Probably not.) Like everyone else we expected to watch the election of the first female president. I can’t say I was a vigorous supporter of Hillary Clinton (there’s something rather unappealing about political dynasties), but earlier that day when I cast a vote for her I did get the “feels.” I have a daughter and if her fascination…

Read More >
 
5 comments

This photo shatters a common myth about autism

There’s this myth that people with autism aren’t affectionate.

Allow me to shatter that into 1,000 pieces with this pic:

IMG_3726

This morning my wife took this photo of our 5-year-old son Griffin, who is on the spectrum, snuggling with his sister, Harper. Griffin gives great hugs and high-fives. He giggles so hard he toots and then giggles even harder because toots are funny. And he has a smile that will make your day.

Not all people with autism can express their affection through actions or words. We’re fortunate that Griffin can. But I’m pretty positive that every single person on planet Earth, including those who are on the spectrum, feel love and affection just like you…

Read More >
 
4 comments