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Alex Lewis

Christopher Locke

If you're not having fun, what's the point?

Alex is a 30-something father of two, and he works for a gigantic entertainment company, which I'm sure you've heard of. He's a lot of fun to be around, and has the kind of personality that lends itself to working at a place where happiness is the prime directive. He's also the kind of person that would stop on the side of the highway to help a stranger fix a flat tire. Alex has done so many favors for so many people, he could probably retire tomorrow and live off of the karma.

He's boisterous and enthusiastic. He doesn't settle for generic. And he knows a good deal when he sees it. If he had the time, he could teach SPLOTCH! a few things about semi-sophisticated living.  He likes Hess Trucks and Moxie and things that go "plop."  Let's see what he has to say about the SPLOTCH! life.

SPLOTCH!: What did you have for breakfast?

ALEX: Today I had... Two eggs with ham and... uh four cheese shredded Mexican cheese in a tortilla, with... Kona blend coffee and ice water... So homemade breakfast burrito in a microwave.

SPLOTCH!: Where was your last vacation?

ALEX: That would be the western Carribean to Key West Cozumel Grand Cayman and Castaway Key starting in the magical port of Canaveral.

SPLOTCH!: What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

ALEX: Generic answer- birth of my children... Of course, that's everybody's answer. But I think honestly at my wedding... My wife surprising me with... My great grandfather's 57 Thunderbird being on the road for the first time... In almost 20 years, since the last time I rode in it was with my father.

SPLOTCH!: Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

ALEX: Hell yes. But a certain kind. I hate flip-flops with the little toe thing. They have to be flip-flops with NO toe thing... And they do exist. I own a pair, they're called “Flo-Jos”... They're from Flo Jo... Like the runner- her company.

SPLOTCH!: What do you laugh at?

ALEX: Apparently poop! [laughs]... Actually, it's funny. Whenever I walk in [redacted] the cobbly red stone path you see running through there represents... human feces running through the streets. So every time I walk through there with friends or family, I go “poop!” when I'm stepping in it, and then “not poop!” when I step off it. So that's a continually running joke for 20 years now. [laughs] But you know, that's pretty much a given. But you know, Monty Python, fish slapping dance... Most of Kevin Smith's products... I have a great appreciation for good humor.

Later, Alex and my wife and I all went out for queso, and talked for several hours. We met up around 6:30 PM, and finally parted ways around 1:30 AM. I'm already thinking about doing it again.

Tom Strubbe

Christopher Locke

Man of many faces

Tom Strubbe is very persuasive. He's got a tempo and cadence like a sportscaster or sideshow barker. So it should be no surprise that he's worked multiple sales jobs in the past. At one point, he was the proud owner of a boat repair shop, and he's happy to tell you stories of his craziest customer experiences. He also is an avid fisherman, a capable drummer and guitarist, and a devoted husband. In addition, he actively pursues all things leisure.

I conducted this interview just outside a diner, north of Austin. People were milling around, waiting for tables, saying their goodbyes, and checking their phones. Tom's wife and my wife chatted nearby. The rain had let up just a bit, so water was still dripping off the building's overhang, and the pavement was slick. The air smelled like it had been steam-cleaned.

We rested our elbows on the windowsill and began.

SPLOTCH!: What did you have for breakfast?

TOM: So, I had a waffle, and I had two scrambled eggs and about three cups of coffee.

SPLOTCH!: Where was your last vacation?

TOM: Puerto Rico.

SPLOTCH!: What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

TOM: I helped pull in a 242-pound blackfin tuna in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico... I should say also I was married, but we're gonna go with the fish. Hehehehe [breaks into full laughter]

SPLOTCH!: Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

TOM: Hell yes! Not just yes, but HELL yes. Any time you can get away with 'em!

SPLOTCH!: What do you laugh at?

[I think he gave this next answer without breathing. He didn't really speed through it, he wasn't talking quickly. He just didn't pause between phrases. Remember, he sounds like a sportscaster.]

TOM: Everything and anything, life to me is hilarious, I love things that are juxt- juxtapositions, I like irony, I like things that are very unexpected, I also tend to laugh a lot when very very sit- serious situations occur, but I can instantly see they won't have ramifications if I laugh at them, I do that pretty much constantly. [breathes]

We shook hands, as semi-sophisticated men do. I realized how contagious Tom Strubbe's smile was. As we headed for the parking lot, he patted his full stomach and looked both ways. Climbing into his big white truck, he repeated his catch phrase. “Good times.” And in an instant, he was gone.

Terry Tolleson

Christopher Locke

Computers and design

Terry has a degree in Communication Design, with a focus on Branding and Identity Something-Or-Other.  He's a former Senior Art Director and Graphic Designer for a tech company in Austin's computer nerd zone.  It's mostly gibberish to me, but I'm pretty sure I know what he's getting at. Terry is not only superbly capable with computers, but with art and design as well.  He's a real character.  His chinbeard makes my chinbeard look like peach fuzz.  He wears a tie every day to work, even though he really doesn't need to.  And everywhere he goes, he carries a leather sleeve with his personal notebook/sketchpad and his mechanical pencil.  I wonder sometimes what he keeps in the pad.  It could be hastily-scrawled to-do lists, passwords, important dates, and reminders.  But knowing Terry, it could just as easily be a plan to take over the world, sprinkled with caricatures of his coworkers' heads mounted on robot bodies.

Let's see what he's got to say for himself.

SPLOTCH!:  What did you have for breakfast?

TERRY:   Cheerios and an apple....

So... I like- I like the crunch of Cheerios, and when it's been sitting in the milk a little bit, it you know, it gives you that- It's not like super super dry, but it still really retains the crunch and I just like the flavor of Cheerios.  Which is a little odd, because back when I was a kid, Cheerios was the worst cereal you could get! [laughs] Like when your mom would say "You want some cereal?" you'd be like all excited "Oh Sugar Smacks" or "Fruit Loops" or something like that and then Cheerios would come out, and you'd be like "are you kidding me with this?  This is terrible!  Why would you do this to me?"  But now, man...  Some like- Some like blackberries... and Cheerios and stuff?  Phew.  That's just...  That's the winning combination.

And then I tried to eat uh, two apples a day.  Y'know...  I know that whole thing with like an apple a day... Keeps the doctor away and stuff.  But it actually has a lot of cool benefits and stuff.  And I like apples...  So... [laughs]

SPLOTCH!:  Where was your last vacation?

TERRY:  Oh that's a good question.  We did go somewhere recently... Um...  Well, I say recently.  It was...  [long pause]  Not to say that it wasn't memorable, but we've been- We've done a couple of road trips because of the fact that we've had this you know, Destination Imagination which is sort of a project-based thing that my girl belongs to- A club that my girl belongs to, um...  And then we also went up to... uh...

But then I'm trying to think when was our last vacation vacation...  I know it was in the last like year and a half...  Boston?  I think it was Boston.  It was the last like, true vacation, go out, go somewhere that's not like...  That we really had planned for a long time and stuff.  Boston was great!  Oh my god it was great.  My son loves it, always wants to go back.  He's five years old now, I think he was four when we went.  And uh...  He got boots specifically for the trip, just these hiking boots style, Timberland-type boots.  He calls them his "Boston Boots."  And anytime we start talking about "what are we going to do this summer?"  "I wanna go to Boston."  Y'know "where do you wanna go tonight for dinner?"  "Can we go to Boston?"  You know, so...

Boston is just so rich in history, and so...  I don't want to say "old" but there was just something about it that was all like "this city is here, forever, and it's beautiful, and it caters to people that walk to work."  And y'know, the mass transit was the first time I had experienced that kind of mass transit before, never been on a subway like that before...  All that was just...  Everything was.

And the big main park.  I can't remember the name of the big main park.  Boston Common or- No.  Yeah.  Yeah, it's the huge huge park right in front of the State Building and all that other stuff.  Underneath it are these enormous parking garages!  And we didn't go down in there because you have to have a ticket to even get through the door.  But when I found out, I was like "Oh, this is awesome!" And I saw these little houses- Just these little bitty like boxes that were about I dunno, maybe 500-square-foot houses.  And I thought they were like greenhouses, or maybe some kind of like cover-up for a power station...  And we walked in there and I found out it was the staircase!  That basically the entrance and exit to get down to this huge subterranean multilevel parking garage underneath this park that has been there since the 1700s!  Not the parking garage, but the park itself.  So they built all this stuff up underneath it, keeping- and I was just like [surprised look]


But yeah, so I think Boston was the last major vacation that we had that I would consider as definite vacation.

SPLOTCH!:  What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

TERRY:  [sighs]  Most amazing thing.  I'm gonna have to go with the birth of my daughter.  Because a lot of stuff changed.  For me.  Just my outlook on life, altogether.  I didn't matter anymore.  Doesn't matter.  I mean, whatever I do or anything like that, as long as, as long as it doesn't adversely affect Serif, I'm fine with it.  And, I started becoming less arachnophobic after she was born.  I'm still pretty arachnophobic but not as severe as it used to be.  Um.  And you know they always say that if you have a second child, it always gets left behind, middle child, you know all that other stuff, but I'm still enamored, and enjoy my son, who came five years later, but the most significant and almost really truly miraculous thing was just when my daughter was born.  It completely shifted every thought concept I had for- for life in general and especially about myself and my wife and my family and all that.

SPLOTCH!:  Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

TERRY:   That's a "depends" question.  Um...  So around my house, I only typically wear flip-flops to go in and out of the house for something like right in the front yard or backyard or something like that.  I don't really wear- I wear sandals outside.  But the flip-flops are mostly just a around-the-house kind of thing.  I mean, I'm looking at- there's nothing wrong with flip-flops, they're an easy shoe to get in and out of.  They really work well for- Like when I'm going to check on the plants I've got in the backyard, or something in the backyard, and it's a little wet or something...  Slip 'em on, come back in side, slip 'em off.  You know...  It's just a thing to protect my foot from stepping on a sticker or some errant twig or something.

SPLOTCH!:  What do you laugh at?

TERRY:  I laugh at stupid things...  My favorite joke is there's-  And I think I've told you this before.  There's two muffins in an oven...  One muffin looks to the other and says "Phew, is it hot in here?"  The other one looks over and goes "OH MY GOD A TALKING MUFFIN!"

And I think it's just the absurdity of that- that joke that makes it really funny and lasting for me.  But yeah, I laugh at a lot of stupid things.  Not- not like slapstick stuff, or like uh...  um Three Stooges style stuff or whatever... Um.  But like, things that- that are like that, that have these underlying stories that they didn't tell you.  That you can imply or whatever, I guess.  So...  And like- like your duck comics [referring to Post-it Notes I pass him on occasion.]   There's a lot that's not said, and I think that's what makes them hilarious.  Like this one right here, with the "_UCK" wheel-of-fortune thing.  And it's his eyes are like- You know what he's thinking but you're like "you're a duck!  Use your name-what are you? It's DUCK!"    And so that's- and it's a silly thing, you know?

Bender actually pooping a brick when [laughs] So that's the kind of stuff that I find funny, is stuff where...  it's- it's simple and they don't go into a whole lot of detail, and YOU get to infer a lot of stuff.  But it's easy for you to infer it.  


Terry loves to talk, as you can see.  His wife asserts that he would turn a "knock knock" joke into a half-hour discussion.  I believe it.  But he's a happy guy, and that's contagious.  So if you meet him, just ask him about being accused of arson, or about a spider bite on his eyeball, and sit back.  It'll be a good time.

Ian Kahn

Christopher Locke

Michigan Trombonist

Ian lives the quiet suburban life, but has adventures on the weekends.  He's always off hiking or biking or climbing or partying or playing or meeting freaky friends for frisbee friday.  It's exhausting just thinking about it.  He's an active guy.

Of all the guys I know, he's the most interested in sports.  Not just playing them, but actively watching them.  He's a big Michigan fan, probably because he used to play trombone for their band.  One time, he and his friend "The Hammer" came over to my garage and blared trombone noises at 11PM while I laughed until I cried.  I wondered if the neighbors knew it was a trombone, or if they thought whales were mating in a cul-de-sac.

So Ian is a lot of fun to be around, and I'm lucky to call him "neighbor."  It was my pleasure to interview him in his carport at the end of a rainy day.  We were both tired from a long day at our respective jobs, and the bugs were out.  And Ian probably had some healthy food waiting for him, so he kept it short.

SPLOTCH!:  What did you have for breakfast?

IAN:   Oatmeal, with cinnamon.

SPLOTCH!:  Where was your last vacation?

IAN:  Uhhhhhhh... We- we went to New York.  Long Island.

SPLOTCH!:  What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

IAN:  I got married!  [big grin]

SPLOTCH!:  Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

IAN:  Depends on the occasion.  On the right occasion, yes.

SPLOTCH!:  What do you laugh at?

IAN:  Oh, that's a tough one.  Uhhh...  Things I find funny.  Sarcasm.  Dry humor.  [pause]  Yeah.

I thanked him and let him go back to his evening.  He may have had more to say if I hadn't ambushed him as he took out the trash.  But life is full of surprises, and he did well.

I think he was wearing flip-flops.

Paul Love

Christopher Locke

Tough Guy with a Heart of Gold

Paul looks young for being 50.  But when he speaks, he draws from the wisdom of a much older man.  He's lived several lifetimes in his lifetime, and accumulated volumes of good stories.  Ask him about his time in a punk rock band, his life as a bouncer, or the time he guarded heavy equipment for a mining company.  Oh yeah, and a pro football player in Italy?  Of course, following the natural progression, he's now a middle-school teacher.

He's a modest mountain, towering over me with a sly grin.  But what strikes me most is his habitual over-polite conversational style.  Paul will get halfway into a story and suddenly chide himself, asserting that you must be bored by now, and he should give you a moment to speak.  It's endearing, and the kind of thing I wish more people would be aware of.

So it was my pleasure to interview Paul, and give him an opportunity to speak about himself without that lurking cloud of self-doubt.

SPLOTCH!:  What did you have for breakfast?

PAUL:  I had an HEB brand microwave burrito, piece of toast with peanut butter on it, and um, a cup of milk.

SPLOTCH!:  Where was your last vacation?

PAUL:  Fort Davis.  Texas.  No internet, no movies, no cable.  Just a sky full of stars and a family that wanted to kill each other.

SPLOTCH!:  What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?  

PAUL:  There's two answers.  The one that everyone would give is like- is when my first child was born, I looked down at her, and she's this very long... Baby.  And I was holding her in my arms and realized that uh... That I'd been listening to her heartbeat on the microphone, like a little toy submarine propeller.  And this is this person right there, and she's looking kind of unfocused on me or whatever.  I'd just given her a bath after she was born.  And it was the most powerful...  Experience... Of my life.

The other answer has a lot to do with um...  Driving a 1968 Firebird down 35, and we hit about a hundred and fifty, and the car started shaking and rising up and I smelled burning brakes as I tried to slow down and I survived through that.  So two things.

SPLOTCH!:  Flip-flops: Yes or no?

PAUL:  Absolutely yes.  Pro flip-flop.  With or without socks.  Doesn't matter.  You rock out with your flop out.  It's real.  It's a thing, man.  Flip-flops yes.

SPLOTCH!:  What do you laugh at?

PAUL:.  I laugh at my own stupidity.  I laugh at the pain and suffering of others, especially if the people, I think, are stupid too.  I laugh at fart jokes, toilet humor.  I laugh at intellectual stuff.  Uh, but I think mainly the funnest- the most fun a person can have is laughing at, uh, at one's own foolishness and the suffering of others... that are fools... and dicks.


We had a good laugh.  Paul shook my hand with his gigantic steak paw.  He had to run, because his daughter was waiting for him.  His absence became the loudest thing in the room.  And I looked forward to the next time.

Carlise Dove

Christopher Locke


Carlise is originally from Bryan/College Station, Texas.  He's worked at EcoBox for almost 15 years.  Of all the purveyors of beige containers I've ever met, he must be the happiest and most generous.  Every trip to EcoBox is like stopping in on a friend, except I always leave with a stack of packing and shipping supplies to go with my smile.

This interview was conducted late in the day.  The rain had been intermittent throughout the week, so the weather was cool but humid.  The radio on the desk played something smooth and modern to set the atmosphere for working without getting too stressed.  Through the window behind Carlise's desk, I could see a warehouse worker being lifted on the front of a forklift, arms outstretched like the spirit rising from a fallen messiah.  I imagined the other workers' laughter mixing with the more uptempo music in the warehouse, although I couldn't hear any of it.

SPLOTCH!:  What did you have for breakfast?

CARLISE:   Man, I had a frozen Jimmy Dean bowl.  It was sausage and gravy.  Man.  It's not too bad.  I kinda dig Thursdays, cuz that's my bowl- the bowl for Thursdays.

SPLOTCH!:  Where was your last vacation?

CARLISE:  Wow.  Well, it was more like a staycation, man.  You know, I just bought a house, stayed home and worked on the house.  So that was my vacation.  Yeah, that's pretty much it, I don't go on vacation.

SPLOTCH!:  What's the most amazing thing that's ever happened in your life?

CARLISE:  Kids, man...  Kids.  And havin' four of 'em.

SPLOTCH!:  Flip-Flops: Yes or no?

CARLISE:  NO!  (laughs)  Especially if you're a dude!  

SPLOTCH!:  What do you laugh at?

CARLISE:  Everything!  If I can't laugh, then you might as well go ahead and just put me in the ground.


When it was over, Carlise offered a firm handshake, a hearty thanks, and a genuine smile.  He's the kind of person who turns a customer into a repeat customer, and EcoBox is lucky to have him.

Thanks, Carlise!