Idiots’Books subscriber Tara Scherner de la Fuente (no joke) has just moved across the country, taking all of her belongings to the Pacific Northwest to start a new chapter in her life. Being a woman of letters, she took a lot of books. Boxes and boxes, each one heavier than the last. Moving the books was a sacrifice—an act of loyalty and love.
And when she got to her new apartment and set up her bookshelf and prepared to set up her library on the far coast, where did she begin? What was the very first book she removed from the boxes and placed on the shelf?
In case you are unfamiliar, it is none other than Nasty Chipmunk, our tribute to the unappreciated virtues of profound unpleasantness.
In honor of Tara’s ultimate compliment, we have slashed the cover price of Nasty for a limited time, that others may get a taste of this slender volume and all it’s cringe-inducing wisdom.
Which is to say, if you’ve been hoping for discounts on any of our other titles, all you have to do is move across the country, put that book on your new bookshelf, snap a photo, and send it our way. We’re not easy, but we are susceptible to flattery.
Which is to say, thank you Tara. May Nasty enjoy his new home. And you yours.
Robbi has been drawing. Because of various recent high-pressure and time consuming events, the creative and production time for our next Bobbledy book has been compressed from the ideal time frame of roughly two months to about 10 days. And so Robbi has been spending 90 percent of her waking hours here at command central.
Robbi’s job is to sketch, ink, paint, and place approximately 40 drawings. And design a book for them to live in.
My job is to keep the kids fed and amused and otherwise stay out of the way.
Even though Robbi is technically present, I kind of miss her. But she’s doing good work.
The new Bobbledy book is called Even Ninjas Eat Asparagus. It features a star-studded cast. Including an opera singer.
A professional wrestler.
A racecar driver.
And King Kong, in various guises.
And asparagus-eating ninjas, of course, but Robbi hasn’t drawn those yet.
But maybe she will at some point in the night. It’s 11:oopm, and I’m going to bed.
Robbi’s day is just beginning.
Another Friday, another batch of answers. Were you right wrong? Are you amused or outraged? The next few minutes will be telling.
I started with this sexy morsel.
You had lots of guesses: Bruce Willis, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Walken, Ed Harris, Sting, Willem Dafoe, and “my elementary school principal, Dr. Ferlick.” All good guesses, especially Dr. Ferlick, as any of the actors here mentioned would do an excellent job of playing a hard-nosed elementary school principal. I’m guessing Dr. Ferlick carried a glock and ended a hostage situation at least a time or two?
I also appreciated this little nugget of epistemological angst: “After a lot of staring, knowing I know, I just don’t know.”
Two of you were correct in identifying this grizzled and stony-eyed gentleman as Mr. Clint Eastwood.
For my second subject, I drew this:
One of you was correct, but not specific, in identifying her as “a black woman who sings.” Alas, Matthew Draws is neither horseshoes nor hand grenades.
Neither is this person Billie Holiday, Dionne Warwick, Mae West, Nell Carter, Oprah, Valerie Jarret, or Pink.
Three of you went out on the gender limb and suggested that this was a black MAN who sings, Bruno Mars. Alas, no.
No, this is none other than Ella Fitzgerald, as three of you correctly surmised.
Then I tried to draw a lovely young woman. It’s like Kryptonite for me. The smoother and prettier a lady is, the more impossible it is for me to do her justice. And yet I persevere. Because my failures seem to bring you joy. Or exquisite pain, which, apparently, produces similar amounts of pleasing endorphins.
Your guesses were noble, if misguided: Amanda Peet, Sarah Jessica Parker, Laura Dern, Pippi Longstocking, and Josh Groban’s sister, with a mullet.
Two of you decided to pick on Martina Navratilova, (“with a ‘stache” and “due for her lip waxing”).
Some of you went the man route: Jered Leto, Nicholas Cage (deranged), Weird Al Yankovic.
Some of you got creative, which always pleases me:
Whoa! Hot mustache.
A euphoric progr rocker from the seventies, high on life and drugs
A very mustachioed mulleted woman
A crazed soccer mom
Alas, none of you correctly guessed (which is ether a failure or success on my part, depending on how you look at it) that this is Sarah Silverman.
Apparently, I saved my most recognizable subject for last, as several of you guessed correctly.
But first, the misfires: Ben Affleck, Joey Fatone, Jonah Hill, Peter Jackson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, or “one of those guys from the Backstreet Boys after the band broke up and he gained 20 pounds”.
My favorite answer, to which I would award a huge cash prize if I didn’t prefer to keep my money for myself: “The 2013 Boston Red Sox roster.”
Several of you correctly identified Zach Galfianakis (though no two of you spelled his name the same way).
As for the bonus question…
If you could give one of these people a makeover, who would it be, and where would you start?
I would give #2 a clear gender.
I would have to ixnay the ulletmay on that woman.
I would perform surgery on #1 and separate his neck from his collar.
Sarah Jessica Parker. And I’d start with her entire face.
What’s up with spiky hair’s neck-collar? Unmorph that jazz.
The bottom guy. I’d shave him and tickle him to make him smile.
Combo maker of Clint and prog rocker. First item of business: hair extensions on Clint, created from locks harvested from prog rocker.
We are all beautiful in our own way, and Matthew’s drawings capture that beauty, every time. No makeover necessary.
To which I say, aw shucks. Is that you, Mom?
Takeaways from Matthew Draws 21:
This was not my worst effort, nor was it my best.
My drawings capture essential human beauty.
Must remember to draw line between neck and collar.
This week’s Bobbledy theme is ostriches. As such, Robbi has drawn an ostrich-themed painting that should appeal to the kid in you or the ostrich lover in you or the biplane buff in you.
Robbi has been documenting her progress lately as she paints, sharing process shots via Instagram.
Here she is, post-linework, painting the wings.
Once the plane and ostrich were painted, Robbi wondered whether some clouds were called for.
But she worried about screwing up the painting if her clouds turned out badly. And so she watched some online videos about painting clouds. And then she practiced her new techniques on a rejected first sketch of the painting.
Once she was satisfied that she’s be able to pull it off, she added clouds to the actual painting.
And the rest is history.
You know the drill. Bidding is happening. There is some early enthusiasm, but nothing like last week’s flattering insanity.
And…if you are not yet sufficiently distracted by the scourge of modern technology, consider following Robbi on Instagram @bobbledymom. She posts photos of her drawings, the kids, and the various things that interest her. As do I, for that matter, @bobbledydad.
Just a quick post this morning to share a few recent photos that show why, in spite of not having robust restaurant choices, nearby museums, and madding crowds with which to mingle, I love living in this place.
Here is a view from the Chester River Bridge the other night. The sky and the river were distinguishable only by the line of trees along the water.
And here we are a few nights later, driving out by Great Oak. We paused by the side of the road to see the final exhale of the sun before it set beyond the treeline.
I tried various Instagram filters on the image just above, but nothing could compete with the original.
Alden, usually my late sleeper, woke early on Saturday morning, excited at the prospect of a play date with her good friends Donald and Ann. August, who follows her dutifully, also crawled out of bed a bit earlier than expected. While I heated water for some tea, they huddled together for comfort and warmth.
Eventually, the clock struck a more decent hour, and we drove ourselves up to Washington College to set up our computer for TEDx.
We waited in the green room, which was actually green, which is not always the case.
Apparently, the walls were coated with a special paint that approximates a chalk board. The children were invited to doodle. Or perhaps this was an elaborate lie they were told to keep them from running around in loud and unsettling ways, which they had been doing before the chalk was produced.
While waiting in the green room, we admired the poster. There we were. There was no denying that, by the end of the day, we would be expected to get up and say something useful.
While we tested our presentation on the big screen, the kids waited with anticipation. They were, apparently, eager for a dose of “ideas worth sharing,” which is what TEDx purports to offer.
Instead of ideas, they got to see their mother projected on a very large screen.
Satisfied that things were in order, we went home to dress and drop the kids off at the aforementioned play date. We we had been practicing for weeks. It was time to do our thing.
But it wasn’t quite time yet. First there was the matter of lunch.
The good folks of TEDx saw fit to provide us with a very large pizza. Very large. The largest pizza I had ever seen. I knew right away, that there was no way our talk was going to be as successful or as inspiring as that pizza.
After lunch, we had a sound check.
For whatever reason, the sound check was an unmitigated disaster. It was our first time on the stage, the first time wearing the headsets, the first time seeing our presenter’s notes on the monitor placed on the floor in the middle of the stage. Everything was different from how we had practiced it, and we did terribly. We forgot our lines. We stumbled. We felt horrible.
Fortunately, the house had not yet opened, and there was not a soul to see our shame.
Which is, in all probability, the reason they do a sound check in the first place.
We went backstage and nervously walked through our presentation a few more times. But then it was 1:00 and time for the show to begin. We took our seats, and watched.
We learned about the chemistry of the animal/human bond from Meg Olmert.
The potentially devastating impact of carbon emissions on our oceans from Mike Arms.
The problematic state of US immigration policy from Kaitlin Thomas.
The inspiring story of the Freedom Riders from Frank Bond.
The power of mentoring in combating gender inequality from Mary Yerrick.
And the history of the steel drum (along with an inspiring performance) by Kevin Martin.
During the session break, we visited with friends in the lobby.
Including Man of Mystery Don Schulz.
What seemed like moments later, it was time for the second session to begin.
As people took their seats, we knew the inevitable was near. TEDx had scheduled us in the final spot, the anchor leg. It was an honor, but also an awful lot of anxious waiting.
The second session began. From Tynesha McClain, we learned about the science cheerleaders, a group of current or former professional cheerleaders with science degrees or careers who aim to reverse stereotypes about women in STEM careers.
We learned about remarkable new cancer screening and treatment techniques from Richard Thorp.
A group of students from Washington College shared their vision for a single-sourced internet authentication portal.
And then, believe it or not, a gentleman named Robbie Blinkoff spoke about an app that helps students studying abroad to document and share their experiences with others around the world. I was not able to take any photos of Robbie’s presentation, because I was backstage, preparing for disaster.
We were nervous, of course. In less than 18 minutes (the limit for TEDx talks), we would be walking onto the stage.
We considered the alternatives.
But ultimately decided to stay. After all, we’d done our homework.
And the headsets were so cool.
And so, eventually, the moment arrived.
We were introduced.
And the rest is history.
We did not forget our lines, though we stumbled on a few. The audience laughed at the appropriate places and listened attentively in the moments we’d hoped they would. At the end, we left the stage, and they clapped without throwing fruit. What more could we hope for?
Most of it is a blur. We look forward to seeing the tape when it becomes available.
Afterward, we attended the reception, where people assured us that we had, in fact, said a few interesting things.
A few people even claimed to have been inspired.
When we got home, the kids were already asleep. So we took a moment to reflect.
It had been a really good day.
Our friend Robin had brought a gift, two small birds from India. They are similar, but also distinct. They seemed to be in conversation. Perhaps conspiring, perhaps collaborating. If one is meant to be Robbi and the other one me, there seemed to be but one place to set them down to perch.
On the high beam that looks over the studio, on the exact dividing line between Robbi’s side and mine.
Robin has a way of giving perfect gifts.
And on that note, we went to sleep.
Today has been for cleaning, resting, recovering. We took a walk by the river, enjoying the clear sidewalks before another storm rolls in tomorrow.
Thanks for everyone who sent their love and support to us yesterday, and especially to those of you who came to see us in the flesh.
We had an amazing time, but of course, a presentation is nothing without the audience. Thanks for listening, for completing the circuit, for collaborating with us.
Whether or not you thought our idea worth sharing, we appreciate having had the chance to share it.
Okay, so we have a bunch of websites. A bunch you don’t even know about.
There this one that you’re on, idiotsbooks.com.
Then there’s the Bobbledy Books site.
There’s also the old, original version of the idiotsbooks site, called TheBarnstorming.
And then there’s our misbegotten but not forgotten Daily Affirmations for Realists site.
And then there’s my very very very old illustration portfolio site.
And the one that started it all, idiots’box.
And then there’s also my sister-in-law’s NewFarm store, which we helped her set up and which is on our account (and which opened for business yesterday, CONGRATS LINDSAY AND CASEY!!!!!).
All of this is to say I spend a lot of time communicating with technical support over website shenanigans. Which is why I’m writing this post today, because I want to give a HUGE shout-out to my very best friends, the very best and most supportive group of tech support people I have ever dealt with, the SUPPORT TEAM AT NEXCESS.NET – our favorite hosting service (as their tagline suggests, they go “beyond hosting” – we buy our domain names from them as well).
But then, last week, they totally outdid themselves. I had been communicating with them back and forth about our new site, and, on a separate thread, moving idiotsbooks to a new server, and on a separate thread a bunch of boring mundane nonsense you will be more than happy not to hear about. And somehow in all of the back and forth, I accidentally opened a support ticket by accidentally forwarding Ian’s valentine’s day Bobbledy Books prompt response to them:
And they responded almost immediately to my support ticket with this:
This made me so happy.
So, if you are in the market for hosting services (or want to register a domain name) go to these guys, they are THE BEST. They are always happy to hold my hand when I don’t understand what I need to do, and fix things when I’ve completely f-ed up our site, thinking I knew what I was doing. I cannot tell you how much I love them.
And no, they aren’t paying me to write this. They know I don’t hold that much sway. That I’m small potatoes. That I’m a technically unsavvy webmaster (hilarious) who taxes their support team.
And they evidently know that I can be easily bought with a simple, shoddily drawn and highly pixellated valentine.
They know me SO well.
Yes, it is Friday, and so I offer you four more drawings to consider. So consider away.
I am feeling better than usual about the results. Some of the drawings are not quite awful. Robbi guessed two of the four correctly with no hints. You might cite this as an evidence of improvement on my part. Or you might just say that Robbi, who is intimately familiar with my neuroses, has an unfair advantage when it comes to seeing them played out in art.
Regardless, the gauntlet has been thrown. Can you get half of these right? It’s still a failing mark, to be sure, but even if the score is yours, the only reputation damaged is my own.
I’ll be posting the answers next Friday. Until then, happy guessing.
As has been well established on these pages, we do not live in a city. As such, we thought it high time to embrace the benefits of rural living by enrolling our kids in 4-H.
In case you do not know, 4-H is a youth organization administered by the Department of Agriculture, the mission of which is “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential.” The four H’s in question are head, heart, hands, and health, which are the four areas in which our kids will presumably develop in months and years to come.
I’ve always thought of 4-H as an organization centered around agriculture, but, apparently, today’s 4-H focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs. I learned this on Wikipedia just now. Read more if you care to.
For now, let’s turn back the clock to last Saturday, when we drove out to our local CSA, Colchester Farm, for our very first meeting. We got out of the car and were confronted by chickens. In case you do not know, chickens are fascinating.
And a little bit terrifying. But they may be easily tamed with chicken feed, as my young agriculturalists quickly discovered.
As other kids started to arrive, we gathered to begin our tour. August displayed his 4-H pride by grabbing the flag and waving it with enthusiasm.
Our first stop on the tour of the farm was this greenhouse.
It was winter outside. Inside was a completely different story.
It was 85 degrees in the greenhouse, and lettuce of many varieties was growing enthusiastically.
Alden begged me to let her take off her coat. And then her sweatshirt.
It was as if we had been suddenly transported to the tropics.
After our tour of the greenhouse, our host, Christine, led us to a corner of a nearby field where the kids are going to be planting their own garden.
The kids, being kids, were somewhat distracted by the presence of an iridescent garden ball.
I must admit it was quite mesmerizing.
Next we headed to the chicken house. One of the kids’ 4-H jobs moving forward is going to be caring for the chickens.
August felt a certain kinship with the chickens, I think. He and they share a certain inability to speak in sentences.
Meanwhile, Alden and Kato collected eggs inside.
Afterward, we headed over to visit with the goats.
The goats were eager to see us. Very eager.
At first, I took it as a compliment.
But then I realized that all they wanted was to be fed.
The realization was crushing to August.
But only for a moment. As soon as he realized that a goat sufficiently distracted by food can be petted at will, he changed his tune.
After feeding the goats, we headed back to the barn for a craft project. It involved getting one’s hands completely coated in green paint.
And making an impression on a piece of paper.
And then, stickers were distributed. August was pleased.
4-H sure has something figured out. Warm greenhouses, mirror balls, animated chickens, hungry goats, paint-covered hands, and stickers. What’s not to like?
This was just the first of many meetings to come. Although the boys were welcome to tag along, only Alden is of official 4-H age. For now, she is a “Cloverbud” and will learn the basics of agriculture and caring for farm animals. I’m excited that she’s going to be learning this stuff, and so is she.
Apparently, 4-H has 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages 5 to 21, in approximately 90,000 clubs.
After this past Saturday, that number has risen to 6,500,001.
Thanks so much to Christine Betley for organizing this club for local kids. And if you don’t yet know about Colchester Farm and want to learn more, here you go.
Yesterday morning, Robbi painted. She was over there for a while, scratching away. Of course, I wondered what she was up to, but I left her alone. No one needs a writer looming when she’s trying to make a painting.
It turns out she was drawing a hot air balloon (in honor of hot air balloon theme week, of course).
And a whale.
But the thing I like about the painting is the space between them.
And above them and below them. I love how Robbi’s washes capture the weight and movement of the water. I love how her quick, thin lines suggest a storm is blowing in.
Here is the finished piece, should you be inspired to place a bid.
But before you venture over to Ebay, let me warn you that the early bidding has been fierce. Often, when I write you on a Wednesday, a painting may be had for pennies. The same is true this time, but this time the number of pennies would be difficult to carry without some sort of sturdy trunk.
If you are interested in seeing Robbi’s process, head on over to Instagram and follow BobbledyMom. She posted a series of in-process shots. Here’s one.
But there are several others.