Monday, May 29, 2006

Kintaro Walks Japan

My favorite team, BJ and Tyler, won the Amazing Race. If you're not watching the Amazing Race, well, you're really missing out on a great show.

Check out this documentary movie made by Tyler. It's called Kintaro Walks Japan.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

a movie and a mystery

Last night we watched The Ringer. I thought this movie was actually quite funny.

Then late at night my dog felt sick to his stomach. Maybe I gave him too much popcorn during the movie. He had to run outside a few times during the night and eat grass.

Around 1:00 AM as I opened the back door, I heard the sound of a light "thud" on the roof, and then a bunch of soft grey bird feathers came floating down off the roof, landing in front of me there on the deck.

I figured there must be a bird's nest in the eavestroughs, so I checked up there this afternoon and there is nothing. Hmmm...

Skippy ate a bunch of the feathers before I could stop him. Interesting, but he wasn't sick at all after that.

We're getting some nice warm weather now, after a string of cold and rainy days. I sat outside and read for a while.

Skippy needed some shade, so I made him this little shady spot out of my chair.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

book 11

I always carry a little sketchbook with me, and in the past I've used it mainly to improve my drawing skills, and just to sketch my surroundings wherever I happen to be.

Then a year ago I read this book called Aha!

The author suggests bunch of methods for bringing out your creative ideas. One thing he said (for anyone not just artists) is to always have a little book to write down any creative idea that happens to come to your head before it gets away and you lose it forever.

I found the perfect sketchbook at that time, to replace all the other sketchbooks that fill my closet. This little 4"X6" Strathmore drawing pad goes everywhere with me. It is the perfect size, and unlike some sketchbooks with cheap paper, I can write on both sides and the ink won't bleed through.

Every book gets numbered, so here I am a year later on book #11. Sometimes I post doodles from these books, but I also write down any genius little idea that I get for just about anything... a cartoon, a greeting card, an invention, a gift idea for someone... (the best ideas are TOP SECRET!)

Here's some recent doodles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I have been really tired today. I've gotten plenty of sleep, but I keep having dreams where I'm anxiously running around trying to get somewhere.

All I can remember about last night's dream is something about an amusement park, and trying to get everyone together so we could leave, and everyone kept getting separated.

In another recent dream I was in an enormous house in a foreign country. It had multiple staircases all throughout the house. I was with George and our dog and trying so hard to find our way out so we could leave and catch an airplane. At every turn in that house it was another part of an endless maze. Sometimes there would be a person and I'd ask directions, but no one spoke English. I kept losing either George or Skippy. Every time I'd find them again, suddenly they were gone and I was frantically searching for them.

I wake up exhausted, feeling like I need to go back to the dream and give it a happy ending, because there is no end.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

George's Crispy Hollow Bagels

I got married in 1996. My husband, George, has some very unusual eating habits which early on I learned to accept. His anchovies, sardines, and other miscellaneous canned fish I can attribute to him being born and raised in the former Soviet republic of Georgia... eating ketchup on pizza, well, I don't know where that came from.

Here is one habit George has that I think could actually be marketable. Before toasting his bagels in the toaster oven, he carefully picks out all of the inside, so it comes out all crispy and toasty, inside and out. Then he fills up the inside with cream cheese, or hummus... or any number of things.

I think people would buy these, except we would need to invent a machine that makes bagels without centers so George wouldn't have to be a one-man bagel picking factory.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Day at the Harriet Carter Spa

Why spend hundeds of dollars at some fancy schmancy spa, when you've got Harriet Carter, "distinctive gifts since 1958."

Start out with a fool-proof Flowbee haircut.

Just in case there's any trimmings Flowbee didn't catch, be sure to wear this haircutting umbrella.

Then pamper yourself with a refreshing leg massage with your very own air massage boots.

Firmalift removes wrinkles... it's just as if someone Photoshoped them off! Amazing!

Suck pimples and blackheads right off your face with this pore cleaner.

For a few extra bucks this creepy mannequin lady will come over and string festive patriotic lights all around your home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

more from the doodle files

Some years ago I decided I'd create a portrait as a gift to a couple of friends getting married. I really wanted to make it more of a funny caricature than serious. These are a bunch of sketches of the idea I had. I love this pen & ink/watercolor style, but I just don't have the patience to finish anything this way. (Half way through something always gets messed up and then I have to start all over again).

She is not quite this glamorous in person.

I ended up chucking the whole caricature idea and drew a portrait in pencil, straight from a photograph, and used a graph to make sure I got it drawn just right. If you stick a photo into a plastic sleeve, then draw a graph on the sleeve, then draw an enlarged graph on paper, it makes it a lot easier to draw from a photo.

I like the looser style better. I should go back to practicing this again... I hardly do anything anymore without help from my computer!

Monday, May 15, 2006

a couple of things

I got this very cool postcard from Nerdine, all the way from Norway. Nerdine actually knows this Viking. How cool is that? Cool stamp too.

I watched the Memoirs of a Geisha movie Friday night. I had expected it to be disappointing, and it sure met my expectations. If I had not read the book I would have been pretty confused about what was going on. They did not explain a lot of things that really needed explaining. It did not portray very well the evil manipulative control of Hatsumomo, and it did not really explain Mameha's plan to destroy her. Then of course, they changed a few things around that weren't even in the book. In the movie Hatsumomo sets the okiya on fire... at that point in the movie I thought, well, they might as well just write a new story and call it something else. Another thing that bugged me is that in the movie Nobu was not very ugly looking, and he had two arms. He should have been older, and his skin should have looked much worse.

The only good thing I can say about the movie is that the scenery was very nice.

too busy to blog

I've been too busy to blog lately. Maybe I'll have some time later tonight or tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

a book review, sort of

I finished Memoirs of a Geisha last night. I am not much of a reader, although I should be, I just need a little help getting started. My friend Jenn gave me this to read. Most of the novels I've read are books people have loaned me.

This was great for my mind... the writing was incredible.

I just love the use of words in this book to describe things. Here are a couple of examples...

"I'd sometimes hear her stomach making noises from hunger that sounded like an enormous door rolling open."

"She seemed to regard her hair the way a train regards its smokestack: it was just the thing that happened to be on top."

In my mind I saw some of the characters as people I know, and it brought back memories of my 1994 trip to Japan. I stayed with my friend Kaori and her parents and sister in Shizuoka. We did some traveling too, including Tokyo and Kyoto.

This is our friend Kazumi. When I thought of what Mameha in the book must look like, I thought of Kazumi. I used to joke that Kazumi is the lady on the box of orange Celestial Seasonings tea.

We went to a sumo tournament in Tokyo. This was nothing like watching American sports!

Here's a guy with a rickshaw in Kyoto.

Kaori's neighbor was a professional kimono dresser, and another neighbor was a photographer. The lady here dressed us up and then we got our pictures taken. Yes, I know I'm sporting a headband. I'm not the only one who wore a headband in 1994.

We visited another friend, Tomoko, who lives in a house surrounded by rice farms. Nobody in the book made me think of Tomoko, because there is nobody like Tomoko, real or fictional. She is the one there on the moped.

Tomoko's dad there on the left of this picture, for some reason came to my mind as Chiyo's father in the book, even though his head looks nothing like an egg.
This boy is Tomoko's nephew, proof that Japanese kids are not much different from American kids. I love the face he's making. This is one of my favorite pictures.

Here's Kaori and her mom. I guess you could call this the livingroom. That sumo wrestler on T.V. is the one who won the tournament while I was there. Takahanada. I still remember his name. People were so excited they kept yelling it when he came into the ring.

Anyway, back to the book... as soon as I read the first chapter I couldn't put it down. I brought other books along with me on vacation to read in St. Martin, but all I read was this.

On Friday Jenn, who loaned this to me, is coming over to my house and we're going to watch the movie. We're going to make it a matinee, while George is still at work. This is not a guy kind of movie for sure. George is not the least bit interested in this.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

anybody know what this is?

This bush/tree was already planted in our yard when we moved into our house. This year only one branch has flowers growing on it. Does anybody know what this is?

Monday, May 08, 2006

what I'm working on

I draw a cartoon for Keeshonden Magazine, which comes out every other month. I need to have a new cartoon in a week. This where I do my work. Even though I have an art room, and an art table, I still prefer to draw and brainstorm here at the kitchen table.

Here I can spread everything all out. I've got my snacks, my tea, my to-do list, some folders full of ideas, and my phone so I don't have to keep getting up just to see it's another 1-800 "unknown caller."

I pretty much have this idea figured out, I think. It's something I came up with nearly a year ago and I'm determined to make it work.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Quote of the day

Actually, it's the quote of February 22 from my Don't Sweat the Small Stuff calendar. This is one of the quotes I kept and have stuck to my monitor. Reading this from time to time is a good motivational reminder for me.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Artist Joke

I drew this cartoon during the time I was working in a frame shop, and spent a lot of time matting the watercolors of one particular artist. They all looked pretty much the same to me, and often the colors were really muddy. Then the thought occurred to me... "well, it IS a painting of a swamp!"

My coworker who was a painting instructor loved it, so I sent it with some others to the Artist's Magazine. Unfortunately they were not interested, at least at the time they said they did not need any new cartoons for a while.

For those of you not artists, "a little muddy" means all your colors are running together too much and creating too much brown.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

look what I got in the mail

Today I got a postcard from Meow in Melbourne Australia!

Tangible evidence that the dancing kitty is real.

I'll have to visit Australia someday... that must be some long plane ride, but I'll bet it would be worth it.

Thanks Meow!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

long lost relatives

I worked for a number of years as a picture framer. Often people will buy frames from a garage sale, then they will bring them into the frame shop and pay for mats, glass and fitting, so they don't have to buy a brand new frame. Usually these old frames are extremely crappy, the corners are hanging on for dear life by loose rusty nails, the wood is stinky and rotten, little bugs are crawling out from under acid-stained cardboard... and the customer is beaming with enthusiasm over how much money she saved.

One woman came in with her garage sale treasures, two frames, each had one of these photos inside. I asked if she wanted to keep the photos, "No..." she replied condescendingly, "I bought these at a garage sale! I only want the frames!"

Something felt wrong about tossing someone's old relatives in the trash, and I thought they were kind of cool anyway, so I kept them. I thought they should at least have the dignity of maybe someday ending up on the wall of a Cracker Barrel somewhere...

I'm sure they must have been lovely people, especially the woman, what do you suppose she's thinking there? She has gigantic sleeves. I've never seen a dress quite like that, it's almost kimono-like.

Monday, May 01, 2006

spring cleaning

Here's some weird stuff from my old files...