Ted Fines: The man behind the bust

By Amy Lieberman

Inside network administrator Ted Fines’ Humanities building office, there are stacked cardboard boxes and a sparse bulletin board with thumbtacks in the shape of a heart. There are two figurines of Jesus Christ, displaying J.C. dancing with young ballerinas and playing basketball with boys in short-shorts and high-top sneakers. There is a Homer Simpson ceramic cookie jar, pictures and stuffed animals of apes, including an orangutan and a chimpanzee. And then, there is the clay Lionel Richie sculpture. Richie’s thick, slightly misshapen head rests on a rectangular slab of clay. His little ball-shaped eyes bulge from their sockets and his narrow lips, pursed together, protrude, almost in a pout. Fingerprints scattered across Richie’s face leave potholes and crevices. He has no hair, and as Fines pointed out, only one ear.

From behind his desk, Fines proudly looked at the bust and chuckled.

ƒ?oeThat’s him, in all his glory,ƒ?? he said.

Fines, a Mac ƒ?TM93 alum, has recently appeared in Macalester’s limelight because of his jobƒ?”the email server OCS’s unpredictability has left Fines and his staff quite busy. But Fines is willing to talk about much more than computers or the internet. After all, there are more important things to discuss.

Fines said that at first, creating a Lionel Richie bust was a joke modeled after Richie’s video ƒ?oeHello,ƒ?? in which a blind girl constructs a bust of her own. It isn’t that Fines has a particularly strong affinity for the 80s pop starƒ?”ƒ?oeOh no!ƒ?? Fines exclaimed upon question of his devotionƒ?”it’s just all in the name of a good laugh.

ƒ?oeIt didn’t stop being funny,ƒ?? Fines said. ƒ?oeIt’s so completely incompetent, it is so bad. I couldn’t stop laughing. Then I knew it was ready. It was a masterpiece of sorts.ƒ??

In 2003, after the bust was complete, Fines presented it for friends and family at his wife’s birthday. He propped it up on a pile of logs, surrounded by headshots of the inspiration himself.

Fines admitted that the Polaroid photo he showed me of the bust display was somewhat creepy.

ƒ?oeIt looks like a serial killer shrine,ƒ?? he said, ƒ?oebut no. It was just for my wife’s birthday.ƒ??

Finesƒ?TM website (www.macalester.edu/fines) contains a step-by-step rundown of the bust’s creation, offering, as he said, a way for novices to understand the process.

Aside from his artistic endeavors, Fines said that he likes to read, garden and spend time outdoorsƒ?”the usual hobbies. But his uncommon sense of humor allows him to put an individual spin on just about everything he does.

Take, for instance, his love of apes.
ƒ?oeApes and monkeys are just fabulous animals,ƒ?? he gushed.

Fines doesn’t like to play favorites, or even categorize something within that term. He said that the word ƒ?oefavoriteƒ?? might be applicable if one were judging a dog pageant, for instance. But as Fines said, he hasn’t judged any dogs in any pageants, so he doesn’t know much about that.

Nevertheless, King Kong remains up there on his list of movies, as does MVP: Most Valuable Primate, a story of a chimp on an ice hockey team.
Fines said that King Kong was a difficult movie for him to watch. ƒ?oeI love these animals,ƒ?? he said. ƒ?oeIt wasn’t the beauty that killed the beast. It was human desire. Apes are absolutely unique, one of a kind. It’s an incredible, incredible animal, and we kill it. It’s very sad.ƒ??

As for MVP, one can’t go wrong with an ice-hockey playing chimp.

Fines conceded that both of the movies are horrible by most standards. But their ridiculous nature is what he enjoys most about them.

Fines presented his appreciation of the odd and the weird with a chocolate metaphor.

ƒ?oeSometimes, you just want milk duds,ƒ?? he said. ƒ?oeIt’s not good for you, it’s just what you want. This is kind of like mental milk duds.ƒ??

Fines’ appreciation for animals (he and his wife, also a Macalester alum, have four cats) even creeps into his personal thought tangents.

One question Fines has been considering as of late, he said, is why there are no green mammals.

ƒ?oeThink about it,ƒ?? Fines said. ƒ?oeThere are green fish, insects, anything you can think of. But no mammals. It’s a huge question, it’s really big.ƒ??

Fines has done a little investigation, but as he said, it is difficult to find someone who can answer him thoroughly. Saying that green is not a natural hair pigment doesn’t satisfy Fines.

ƒ?oeWhy not green hair?ƒ?? he asked. ƒ?oeI don’t know. I’m just thinking about stuff. Maybe there are green mammals. But even if you went to Morocco and found one, isn’t it weird that there is only one?ƒ??