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The Past Few Days

It has been a good stretch of days. Weather not too hot. Schedule not too busy. Plenty of time with the kids.

Perhaps my favorite moment was turning right from Water Street onto 213 and seeing these skies open up above me as I ran onto the bridge.

There was something in the light’s determination to make itself known through the blanket of clouds that felt vaguely holy. Some runs hurt more than others, and some runs (like this one) leave me feeling better than I did before I set out.

What else? The letterpress printing continues apace. New plates arrive each day. This one below is the black plate for a three-color broadside we’re making for the upcoming River Arts studio tour. We’re going to print the two color plates ahead of time and visitors will have the opportunity to print the black plate themselves on our Chandler & Price.

It should be fun. You can’t see the very fine print in this photo, but some fun is had at the expense of Kennedyville. For those of you not from these parts, Kennedyville is even smaller than Chestertown. And thus susceptible to reckless mockery.

Last week, Alden had a one-hour early dismissal, so she and I took the opportunity to loiter a while on High Street, getting ice cream from Stam’s.

And visiting with our neighborhood’s newest arrival: Willow Rae, tiny daughter of Doug the Baker.

I’ve spent a lot of time at playgrounds this week, a lot of time pushing small people eager to test the limits of their boldness.

I’ve spent a lot of time admiring Kato’s premature facial hair this week. Draw a kid a mustache, and you’ll have the pleasure of admiring it for a day or so. Teach a kid how to make his own scotch tape mustaches and you’ll get that same pleasure endlessly.

Alden had her very first gymnastics lesson this past weekend. For her, it was an affirming presentation of natural ability combined with a sobering reminder of all the skills she has to learn. The verdict: she liked it. A lot. We will be heading back next week.

Visiting a friend in Easton on Saturday, we had the good luck to come across (without stepping on) a surprisingly lackadaisical praying mantis. The kids kept close tabs on his slow and not terribly steady progress across a long front step.

For the most part, we’ve been leaving Robbi alone, and she has been getting a remarkable amount of work accomplished, which had been her hope, after all.

But a few times each day, we do see her, whether for an evening meal or a walk around the block.

And now it is Monday, and so we start it all again. I hope you all are well, whoever and wherever you are.

 

Matthew Draws 34 - The Answers

It’s Friday. I have a long to-do list. And so I will skip right to the point of things.

I drew this fellow.

And, as requested, you attempted to guess his identity.

This week’s results were terribly gratifying. There was near-consensus about his identity (if somewhat less agreement about how is name should be spelled).

Actually, there were two schools of thought: Jimi Hendrix and Prince (or, to be more accurate, “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”)

  • Jimmy Hendrix!
  • This is pretty spectacular. Jimi Hendrix, for sure!
  • TAFKAP!!!
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • The artist formally know as Prince
  • Jimi “Excuse me while I kiss this guy” Hendrix
  • I’m going with Jimi Hendrix. I hope. Unless it’s a bad rendition of Prince. Which would be sad.
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jimmy Hendrix
  • Jimmy Hendricks
  • It’s Jimi Hendrix. The better question is, what on earth is that around his neck?
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Prince! Unless this was during his “artist formerly known as” period, then it is Love Symbol.
  • Jimmy Hendricks as a backup dancer in the “Thriller” video.
  • Jimmy Hendrix
  • Jimi Hendrix!
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Prince
  • Prince
  • Classic Hendrix!
  • Hendrix?
  • WOW! HENDRIX! You are awesome. I knew it would happen – you would accidentally get better at drawing. This fun is time-limited.
  • This is, dare I say it, pretty good. Jimi Hendrix.
  • Mick Jagger
  • Prince after a three day bender
  • Prince or Jimi Hendrix
  • Little Richard
  • Jimmi Hendricks! He spells his name “Jimmi,” right?
  • The artist formerly known and Prince
And the Jimis have it. (Thanks to those of you who went out of your way to actually PRAISE my drawing [note the use of such adjectives as "spectacular" and "awesome."]). This is new indeed. I could get used to this. Though, I’m afraid I won’t get the opportunity to.
 
And my next drawing. I’m guessing that my spectacular and awesome streak ends here.

I am shocked and pleasantly so by the number of you who correctly identified this person. Before I reveal the correct answer, let me share the range of speculations.

  • Oh dear. Harriet Tubman? Unless it’s a man. Sorry Harriet Tubman! Or Mr. Non-Harriet-Tubman!
  • Amish Amy Sedaris
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Betsey Ross
  • Yes. 1640′s Boston. It’s Hester Prynne, of Scarlet Letter fame. Very clever to cut off the drawing just above her blouse where the letter would be
  • Holly Hunter in The Piano. Unless you’re doing an ode to Grant Wood….
  • Kelly McGillis in Witness.
  • Holly Hunter in the Piano
  • The woman on the wall at Shrewsbury Church
  • Ada Lovelace, in her gambling period.
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Whoa. Harriet Tubman?
  • Helen Keller? Wait, she seems to be staring quite intensly at me…or should I say through me…straight into my soul. Yea, def Helen Keller.
  • Jane Austen. Or possibly Jack White with a neck kerchief.
  • Emily Dickinson!
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Oscar Wilde
  • E. Dickinson?
  • Susan B Anthony
  • Mia Wiasowski in Jane Eyre … After she ran into a glass porch door and squished her nose
  • Emily
  • Sookie. Anna Paquin.
  • Wow. That is one pissed off colonial broad.
  • Adele Nazeem
  • the gothic farmer’s wife (who I think was actually his sister in real life)
  • Kate Winslet
  • An Amish woman (perhaps inspired by your trip to Dutch Wonderland)
  • One of the Brontës. Charlotte? Emily? Also, I just learned how to do accented letters on my iPad, so thanks for the learning opportunity, Matthew Draws!
  • Maybe Susan B. Anthony?
What a wonderful range of guesses. Think how much richer the world just became as a result of my bad drawings.
My favorite answer (and most correct) is:

  • Emily Freaking Dickinson!

And now we step forward a few decades, with this sassy thing.

It is often the fetching young woman who proves my undoing, stumping you and leaving me hollow inside.

  • I am stumped…
  • A peacock with a really big face.
  • Pink?
  • Do you believe in miracles? Hilary Swank does.
  • Kelly Osbourne
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Christopher Walken
  • I kind of want to say this is Pink, but those eyes . . . those eyes . . . they keep following me . . . Pink is a nice lady; she wouldn’t want to hurt people the way this lady clearly does.
  • P!nk?
  • Joan Collins from her Dynasty days. Those earrings are straight up ’80s.
  • Homage to Joan Rivers pre-collagen-lip-implants, post-facelift? ‘Twas an unbalanced periold in the history of her cosmetic surgery
  • Elizabeth Taylor. Or Dennis Rodman with a hairpiece.
  • Oh, good lord, I have no idea, but those earrings look heavy.
  • QVC- & meth-addicted Erma Bombeck
  • Beyonce????
  • Carmen DeLavallade
  • Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Don king
  • The scary stepmom in every horror film?
  • Ann B. Davis (I had to google her name of course – Alice of the Brady Bunch!)
  • Megan Fox
  • Beyonce doing her best RuPaul impression
  • Joan Cusack
  • I know it’s not Jennifer Anniston, but now that I have Jennifer Anniston in my head I can’t seem to see anyone else.
  • Beyonce
But a few of you saw through the horror, and got it right:
  • Katy Perry as the wicked stepmother
  • I want to say it’s Katy Perry? I feel weird about it, though. Probably b/c she’s staring at me like that.
  • Katy Perry. Unless it’s Prince again

I ended with a drawing of which I am truly proud. I’ll be curious to see if the rest of you agree that I captured the essence of this fellow if not his actual likeness.

 

And though many of you were stumped…

  • A cross between Saul Bellow and Samuel Beckett. Or someone else with initials SB….
  • I hope this isn’t James Franco in a very dramatic role.
  • You know how in those Saturday morning cartoons, every so often they would have ‘cameos’ by old 1940′s actors, like Laurel and Hardy, or Humphery Bogart, or Groucho Marx? This looks like one of those characters. Growing up, I had no idea who they were supposed to be, and I still don’t know who was who. So, I’m going with Humphery Bogart. But it could be one of the others.
  • A hungover Anthony Bourdain.
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • It is all of the above. It is everything. (Also, John Travolta.)
  • Someone in robert downey jr.’s age group, and of his style.
  • Jean Paul Sartre
  • Bart Simpson
  • Eric Begosian?
  • Poor guy! Must be Robert Downey Jr.
  • Christopher Walken
  • Chris Noth

…about half of you were not.

  • It’s not easy being Rodney Dangerfield.
  • Middle-aged Rodney Dangerfield applying pressure to one of his notorious ‘ear bleeding episodes’. Geez, whats with all the deceased Jewish comedians this week?
  • Rodney dangerfield’s young son Buddy
  • Rodney Dangerfield getting no respect!
  • Rodney Dangerfield. Or maybe Robert Downey Jr.
  • Rodney Dangerfield cuddling a blankie
  • Oh shit. This is actually quite good. That is, so long as it’s Rodney Dangerfield!
And there you have it. Matthew might actually be getting just a little bit better at drawing. Of course, I am conflicted about this. But only time will tell whether this is but a glitch in the matrix or a more disturbing, long-term trend.

Please write a limerick dedicated to one of these fine examples of Matthew’s artistic prowess.

I fully expected that most (if not all) of you would balk at this challenge. After all, you are smart, busy, good-looking people with better things to do than spin verse on this blog. I was prepared for a long list of responses like these:

  • Why you gotta go there?
  • Limerick, really? You have to be kidding me! It took too much brain power to come up with my guesses. I have nothing left to write a limerick.
  • Sorry. I got nothin’.

And I bear no grudge to those of you who chose not to wax poetic.

But let me state my delight to find this trove of incredible limericks waiting for me this morning. You people have outdone yourselves. Truly. Let it be known.

There once was a voodoo chile from Amherst
Her poems most certainly weren’t da worst
Her Verse was alive
And that ain’t no jive
At a poetry slam she’d have come first

Is it a kerchief or tie?
And what the hell’s wrong with that eye?
The giant duck nose
And colonial clothes
Make me think that this dame is a guy.

There once was a singer named Prince
His songs rocked, but they made parents wince
He could fit in a thimble
Changed his name to a symbol
And we’ve called him TAFKAP ever since

Alas the poor man is in pain,
An aspirin he needs for the strain.
When an artist inept
Drew him, he wept.
Rodney’s been disrespected again!

Number three is wearing a wig
She holds it on with a twig
There is nothing finer
Than her scary eyeliner
I think i’d rather kiss a pig

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who caught lobsters and fish in a bucket
He loved Matthew Draws
And fresh lobster claws
But he couldn’t find an appropriate rhyme for his limerick that could be published on a family-friendly blog such as Idiots Books, so he just submitted his guesses and waited for the inevitable disappointment when he found out that only one of the four was right after all

My comedy seems very direct
Social normals I often reject
But I’m not mean
I maybe a little obscene
Just my luck, I get no respect

There once was a woman called Ada,
who never had her family’s favour.
She wrote a book on wings,
designed algorithms and things,
and refused to listen to haters.

Emily Dickinson didn’t need rhymes
She slanted most of the times.
Jimi Hendrix was good,
If nearly misunderstood.
But the other two drawings are crimes.

There once was a one liner king.
White shirt and red tie were his bling.
He would oft pause to reflect
“I get no respect.”
Self-deprecation was his funniest thing.

There once was a rock musican
who ODd and was brought to the taxidermi-tion.
Brought back from the dead,
he turned his life on its head
And became a zombie-obstetrician.

There was once a great author named Jane
whose appearance was really quite plain.
Matthew’s skillful representation
makes me think without hesitation
that she and Jack White look the same.

There once was a frustrated comic
Adjusting his tie was his hallmark
He got no respect
His suit was a wreck
And his bug eyed condition was chronic

There was once a rock god most electric
Both metaphorically & literally pyrotechnic
But the flames from his Strat
Scorched that poor cat
Now he looks like he was hit w/ a brick

There once was a belle from Amherst
Who truly had a great thirst
Which she couldn’t quench
Not with words, not in French,
But – oh – she had hope So she didn’t mope.
She came out of her room evench.

There once was a man who was a writer
whose wife was a fantastic illustriter
He got it into his head
That he should draw instead
But he couldn’t have been any unrighter.

There once was a young man named Jimi
Who took to guitar with a shimmy
He came from the heart
Exuded his art
and his albums made listeners cry ‘gimme’

There once was a college of moo cows
Which taught all its students some know-how
But Williams aside,
Jimi looked quite fried,
After Watchtower brought down the hizz-ouse.

The Matthew Draws readership is the single most enlightened and talented group of blog-reading people the world has ever known. And you can quote me on that. You people make me smile. Thanks so much for making this so fun.

Here’s a little sneak peek for you. The next Idiots’Books volume (to be sent out within a week or so) is none other than history’s first-ever gloriously bound copy of Matthew Draws favorites.

This is our press proof (full of pink sticky notes to mark the places that needed adjustments). The corrected files have been returned to the printer, and a large crate of finished copies should arrive any day now.

Which is to say, if you are a Matthew Draws enthusiast who is not also an Idiots’Books subscriber, there is no better moment to join the fray. You can also preorder a single copy if so inspired.

Thanks again, you beautiful poets, you. I am inspired to keep drawing.

 

Holding Our Own

Entering the fifth day of Robbi’s sabbatical, I am in good spirits. As are the children, for those of you who have been wondering. For the first few days, they kept asking, quizzically, “Where’s Mama?” And when I informed them that she was two blocks down the street drawing stuff in someone else’s house, they said, “Oh, right,” and went back to whatever it was they had been doing at the time—eating grapes, making lego planes, drawing on the easel, etc.

We have been seeing (and feeding) Robbi every day. She reports good progress on various projects, having spent the past few days drawing illustrations for our upcoming Society of Illustrators keynote. Next, she will turn to creating the final sketches for the LB Kids version of our book Babies Ruin Everything.

For my part, I am using the time away from Robbi and her distracting good looks to dive into a few projects that have been simmering in the background for a long time, a few middle grades manuscripts that aren’t going to finish themselves. One is about a little witch and her best friend (a monkey), one is about a boy who can see (and draw) what is not really there, and another about a brother and sister who solve problems together.

But enough about me. We spent the weekend enjoying ourselves, first attempting to figure out how many kids you can fit in one small pool and still have room for a dance party.

The answer is “at least six.”

While the kids were getting wet, we were enjoying the fruits, lovingly grilled to perfection.

It was exhausting having so much fun and eating so well.

Nevertheless, we headed West on Sunday to visit cousins near DC. The theme of restful basking continued, however.

And continued.

On and on.

And on.

We were there for a birthday party, which was at a little gymnasium.

Alden, who has grown up climbing and leaping out of our cat tower, took immediately to the exciting challenge of using actual gymnastics equipment.

She is seldom one to shirk from challenge or uncertainty, and the uneven bars seemed not to daunt her. She started on the bottom…

And, moments later, found herself at the top.

Meanwhile, Kato took his own approach to defying gravity.

There was no shortage of marching and shouting.

Punctuated by moments of quiet equilibrium.

And followed by chances for free-form leaping.

Eventually, Rip Van Winkle woke up and tried to figure out what was going on.

All that he cared about were the balloons and the fact that his was orange.

A fact which Kato helped make clear the next morning. Using a sharpie, he wrote out August’s name, turning each letter into a smiling face. Each letter except “A,” that is, which he turned into rocket ship (Kato loves rocket ships) with Mickey Mouse inside (August loves Mickey).

To further reduce the danger of balloon confusion, Kato labeled his own as well. I commend him for not consulting with me on the spelling front.

The real theme of the past few days has been legos, and the staggering varieties of space ships that can be made from one small bin of them.

Here is one with R2D2 at the wheel.

And here is another that “goes very, very, very fast.” This according to Kato. I have no reason to dispute the claim.

Now is the time of day when I go make breakfast, and so I will go. I hear the distant thunder of tiny feet charging toward me. Which is the only alarm clock that matters these days.

First Day of Single Parenthood

My friends, we have some news.

After careful deliberation, Robbi and I have decided to separate.

In the name of art, in the name of sanity, she is moving out of the barn and I will raise the children.

But she’s not going far. And the arrangement is only temporary. And mostly I’m just messing with you.

Here’s the thing. Robbi is a nocturnal creature who does her best creative work from 10:00pm – 4:00am or so. Being forced to live within the antagonistic confines of the typical American workaday schedule puts a cramp on her style. Add to this the fact that she has a lot on her plate right now, and we both decided to see what would happen if she were allowed to live and create according to her natural biorhythms.

I will text her occasionally to make sure that she is still alive. She will still come eat dinner with us every night so that the children can remember what their mother looks like. But for the time being, she will be free to abandon the time-space continuum and surrender to the whim of her muse.

I’m excited to see what she comes up with. And she is excited at the possibility of getting ahead in her work.

In anticipation of her migration two blocks down the street to my mom’s house (currently vacant as my mom counts down the eleven months that remain until her retirement), we headed to Costco to provision Robbi with desirable snack foods.

Left to her own devices Robbi has a tendency to forget about typical human urges like eating. When I go out of town, I often return late in the evening to find she has eaten nothing but a cucumber since breakfast. Therefore the task to was to accumulate a stockpile of attractive, easy-to-eat foods that she would have no excuse to avoid.

We might have gotten a little bit carried away.

But I am fairly confident that she will not starve.

Costco is adjacent to the Christiana Mall, which was our next stop.

Having thoroughly torched our credit card on snackfood, we headed to the Lego store.

Kato has recently become deeply enamored of these timeless plastic bricks, and, as the result of various good deeds throughout the summer, was given the opportunity to fill one small tub with pieces of his choosing from the endless colorful glory of the Lego wall.

This incredible place did not exist when I was a kid.

But then again, neither did Lego Tower of Pisa and Lego Trevi Fountain.

Though Kato made the bulk of the selections, Robbi exercised her powers of patience and mechanical prowess to fill every last nook and cranny. If it’s possible to juke the system, Robbi might have done it.

While we were there, I took the opportunity to officially claim an honor that I’ve rightly deserved since early childhood.

That’s right. I am a Lego Club VIP. And I’m not afraid to say it.

Our tub of assorted Legos in tow, we headed next for the Apple store, fully prepared to embrace bankruptcy in style.

We were there to pick up a machine we had special ordered online a few weeks ago. It has been five years since Robbi got her last Mac, and her poor, exhausted G5 tower has been growing increasingly sluggish. We figured her new life as a solitary nocturnal bohemian was as good an excuse as any for an upgrade.

So she started with the 27′ iMac and made a few memory and processor enhancements. The result: this large white box.

She tells me that as much as she loves the new machine, she still loves me more.

But I’m not sure I believe her.

I think the only reason she brought me along was to carry the thing back to the car.

Back home, she began the process of copying all her old files onto the new Mac.

Further evidence of her fuzzy allegiances was abundant.

She is so enamored with its gleaming newness that she refuses to take off the plastic.

Earlier today (Saturday), we went to the Chestertown farmer’s market for a final walk as a nuclear family unit.

When we got home, she packed up her stuff (including her new boyfriend, which she not-so-subtly refers to as Husband 2.0)…

…and drove her to my mom’s house. Notice how she’s trying to look wistful. But it’s all a pack of lies. LIES! This is the face of a happy woman. A woman on the brink of liberation. A woman on the cusp of aesthetic bliss.

The woman is thrilled. New computer. New house. So many delicious snacks.

How many delicious snacks, you might ask?

So many.

Great masses of granola.

Various chips and Pirate’s Booty.

Extraordinary granola bars.

An entire case of San Pellegrino.

Easy-to-prepare, lunch-sized Indian food.

And various salsas, dips, and salads.

More than enough to keep one rather petite illustrator going for weeks if not months, right? What could possibly be missing from this spread?

If you were thinking “gratuitous block of gorgonzola cheese,” you know Robbi even better than I do.

While I was marveling at the sheer majesty of the banquet, Robbi wasted no time in getting Husband 2.0 up and running.

After all, it was time to consecrate their relationship. I knew I had been officially replaced when she finally removed the plastic.

Eventually, it was time to say farewell. A sabbatical can do no good until it actually begins.

The kids said their farewells.

And I said mine.

Robbi did her best to look heartbroken, but nothing could pierce her smile.

Now it is Saturday night, the kids and I are snuggling in bed, getting ready to sleep and wondering what Robbi is up to. Is she drawing a picture, coding a website, or eating gorgonzola by the spoonful.

Does she know what time it is? Or day it is? Or that she’s still in Chestertown and not floating idly on the deck of a cruise ship lost in a tropical sea?

Is Husband 2.0 giving her a foot rub and asking how her day was?

What time will she go to bed (or will she ever go to bed at all)?

For now, these questions are all rhetorical. For now, the answers aren’t important.

We miss you, Robbi. Enjoy your sabbatical. Please don’t forget to eat. We will see you soon.

Matthew Draws 34

You know how this works. I have done my part. It’s time for you to do yours.
I feel pretty good about 2.5 of the drawings below. If anyone correctly guesses #3, it will be proof that miracles do happen.

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Dutch Wonder

For two years running, our good friends and neighbors Donald and Ann have taken Alden and Kato to Dutch Wonderland, a kid-themed amusement park in Lancaster, PA.

To listen to the kids report back on their days there, being in Dutch Wonderland is like spending the day in Heaven. Heaven with roller coasters.

Robbi and I have, of course, been curious, but the Dutch Wonderland trip has been the kids’ special outing with Donald and Ann, and so we have had to experience the wonders vicariously.

This year, however, we were invited to come along. And, of course, we jumped at the opportunity.

Much to my surprise, Lancaster is not so far away, just a pleasant 77 mile journey through Pennsylvania countryside that happens to take two hours on account of the winding farm roads that account for the final third of the trip.

If you have never been to Dutch Wonderland, just close your eyes and imagine your wildest fantasies realized.

There are knights. There are princesses. There are dragons.

And there are strict height requirements (and resulting color-coded categories) that determine one’s fate for the day. Since last summer, Alden had inched her way into the amber category and Kato into emerald. August, who was making his debut appearance at Dutch wonderland, seemed unfazed by the indignity of being relegated to the under-three-foot category, the name of which I will not even mention in an attempt to match his silent shame.

Even the untouchables were allowed to enjoy themselves however. Whether riding monster trucks…

…or bulldozers…

…complete with functional, plow-lifting handles…

…and cheerful flying pandas.

Given the variety of mechanical distractions, I was somewhat surprised at the glee the boys took in this simple maze, the elastic walls of which created a fun surface against which to hurl one’s body.

While Alden and Robbi took in the more adventurous rides for the more vertically fortunate, Kato, Augie, and I did our best to seek thrills wherever possible.

And so we stood in the very long line for the Double Dip Flume, biding our time by gazing with excitement and trepidation at the tall watery mountain we soon would be climbing.

When the thrill of anticipation wore off, we bided our time by making ridiculous faces.

Eventually, we came to the front of the line. There were three of us, so we followed the directions and sat up front.

The ride began, and we climbed up that steep, steep slope.

And came thundering down the other side. Oh, but it was very exciting.

After the water ride, we met up with our good friends Christian and Emily and their three small children. Iris, their eldest, rivals Alden in the plasticity of her face and her willingness to show it off.

If you had told Christian and me when we were college sophomores and roommates back in the fall of 1994 that we would one day be riding a roller coaster with our six-year-old daughters at Dutch Wonderland, I probably wouldn’t have had such a hard time believing you.

This is exactly the sort of thing I hoped would happen in my life. Keeping in touch with good friends and writing new chapters of our lives together.

Dutch Wonderland has many modern distractions, but it does remain grounded in certain Amish fundamentals.

Such as an extraordinarily tall tower that a man dressed as a frog climbed and then did a twisting back flip from the very top of.

 

Into a deep pool of water, mind you, but boy howdy was it a long fall.

The leap was part of a water show that I did not attend but which Robbi declared to be extremely entertaining.

Which is to say, Dutch Wonderland has something for 34″ tall two-year-olds and voyeuristic 38-year-old thrill seeking illustrators alike.

Alden and Iris braved the Fun Slide.

And had such a good time that Kato and I were inspired to do the same.

Augie, ever the traditionalist, claimed his favorite ride was the carousel.

Alden, too, saw the virtues of gently bobbing plastic horses.

And Iris.

Kato? Kato keeps it real by salting every occasion with a healthy dose of skepticism. Kato reminds us all that any glass that is 7/8 full is actually 1/8 empty.

I ended the day on the flying trapeze, a grand ride for which my boys were ineligible.

I admired its long chains, is throwback typography, and the fact that it offered a place to sit down.

Spinning around and around reminds me that I am rapidly approaching 40 and that my inner ear is no longer a garden of resilience.

I remember a trip to Hershey Park when I was very young, perhaps not much older than Alden. There was a ride that spun you around so fast that you stuck to the wall. And then the floor dropped away. I loved it. I thought it was the greatest. I did it four times in a row. And I have never been the same since that day.

Perhaps in some small way my children have been similarly changed in indelible ways by the wonder of Dutch Wonderland.

Alden is already talking about our next trip. No matter that it’s still a year away. No matter that she’s unable to make it to Sapphire by next year.

 

Two More

Now that Alden is in first grade, our back to school deployment is a two-stage affair. Today, the boys head back to their beloved Friendship Montessori School for their respective classroom open houses.

Kato will be in the “primary” classroom. To celebrate this exciting fact, Robbi wrote his name in bold, black marker on the orange pocket folder that was a fixture of his school supply list.

If you’re not in the know, Kato loves orange. But he loves rockets even more.

August will be in “pre-primary.” They require certain skills like the ability to communicate verbally with other human beings before one is allowed to graduate to primary.

If you don’t know, August loves red. He loves Mickey even more.

Wednesday is the last day of child-laden summer. Thursday, for the first time since Alden was born, every child in the house will be at school full time.

I could weep for joy. Instead, I will make every effort to enjoy these waning hours with my two small folder enthusiasts.

Happy Tuesday. Back to it.

 

Matthew Draws 33 - The Answers

I will not bore you with preamble. Let’s do this.

To start:

You people were wrong, wrong, wrong. And, yes, I freely admit that the fault is mostly mine.

Here’s who you thought I was trying to draw:

  • Mikey (The Life Cereal kid)
  • Oh god, that hair and face. So disturbed.
  • I just can’t . . .
  • Male? Female? Chef? Serial Killer who uses a spoon?
  • Jay Leno about to get seriously freaky with some silverware
  • One of the witches from A WRINKLE IN TIME. What, I am wrong?
  • Joan Cusack with a bowl cut (and accompanying spoon)
  • Reese Witherspoon
  • A Keebler elf who turned into a serial killer. Yikes.
  • John Cleese
  • Jay Leno on Celebrity Chopped? The chin gave it away.
  • Is that a bib? Some evil toddler. Probably one I see in my clinic. Looks like he wants to hit me with that spoon . . .
  • Jim Carrey
  • Wolfgang Puck
  • Peter Pudding Pilferer
  • Michael McDonald as Stuart
  • Gordon Ramsey?
  • Oh my! You are mastering the art of expressive lines, facial expressions, or something like that! Not a clue. Some sort of cooking show host. I don’t watch TV.
  • Ben, or maybe Jerry. Blended with a pedophile.
  • Jim Carrey and his exceedingly dumb haircut in Dumb and Dumber

As I said, a whole bowl full of folly. But one of you saw through my failure to the underlying truth. One of you guessed Amelie.

Also known as Audrey Tautou, who is, perhaps, the second most beautiful woman I’m aware of (not that you’d be able to detect how I feel from looking at my drawing).

My next subject is not a beautiful woman. But us see if you were able to tell which beautiful woman he isn’t.

This time, five of you guessed correctly. Which means the rest of you did not.

  • John Cleese
  • George LOONEY?! GET IT?!?!?
  • Remak Ramsay
  • My next door neighbor, Cal? He is awesome and makes the best homemade ice cream!
  • John Cleese, or that guy from BLADERUNNER
  • Yikes. IDK – some Mexican?
  • John Cleese?
  • Still John Cleese, just older
  • Virgil Barnes, physics professor at Purdue University. Amazing how you captured his likeness without ever seeing him!
  • Ray Liota
  • John Cleese was my first instinct, but contemplating the craziness of the eyes, I’d go Joaquin Phoenix. If pressed, A Fish Called Wanda-era John Cleese.
  • Bryan Cranston
  • Mel Gibson, because he’s crazy.
  • John C. Reilly.
  • Alan Alda’s second tent-mate/BFF on M*A*S*H. Was that BJ Hunnicutt?
  • Tom Hanks in Castaway if he had been washed up with a bunch of razors from Dollar Shave Club. But for some reason couldn’t shave his mustache.
But those of you in my quintet of success correctly identified this chap as William H. Macy.

Believe it or not, the following fellow is extremely handsome in real life.

Just not in the version of life that consists of people who were drawn by me.

This guy is not:

  • A man with a face.
  • I’m all out . . .  can’t even guess
  • Mike Wallace
  • Anthony Bourdain
  • Mel Gibson
  • Alec Baldwin
  • Donald Sutherland or that other guy with white hair who’s in those TV shows all the time.
  • I want to say Bruce Willis, but I know whoever this dude is would kick my ass for saying that.
  • I think that might be my Dad, actually . . .
  • This has to be Lou Ferrigno. Not pumped up.
  • As much as it pains me, I’m thinking Clooney: stubble, laugh lines around the eyes, deep-set eyes. But it’s no a version of him I’d ever want to meet.
  • Javier Barden
  • David Bautista
  • Anthony Bourdain in 20 yrs
  • Anthony Bourdain
  • Anthony Bordain
  • George Clooney after pretending to be on a bender.
  • IS THAT MY EX-BOYFRIEND???
  • Javier Bardem or that guy who played Frankenstein
  • Humphrey Bogart? or Sad George Clooney?
Ok, I led you astray. A few of you correctly identified this guy as none other but George Clooney, though I must admit that the Anthony Bourdain guess was a pretty reasonable one.

I am particularly proud of this last drawing. As soon as I finished it, I ran over to Robbi, who told me that I’d done a great job and that she could tell right away that I’d drawn James Van Der Beek.

I did not draw, James Van Der Beek, and I told her so. With some disgust, I might add. Not only was this drawing the spitting image of my subject, I told her, but furthermore, any serious fan of Matthew Draws knows that I always draw two women and two men, and the two male slots were already taken by William H. Macy and George Clooney.

Robbi insisted that I must be mistaken, that the Van Der Beek likeness was too compelling to be a mistake, that my only error had been forgetting who I was trying to draw in the first place.

I was livid, of course, but if you have ever been in an argument with Robbi, you know that you do not win. And so I did not press the point.

I tell you this to let you know how delighted I am that not one of you (save Robbi) thought I had drawn James Van Der Beek. And that almost ALL of you correctly identified my subject.

Those guesses who failed to hit the mark include:

  • Hmmmmmm….
  • I just can’t even.
  • Ellen Degeneres on the worst day of her life
  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • Ellen Degeneres with sad face.
  • A very dismayed Uma Thurman
  • Susan Boyle.
  • Dawson’s Creek der Beek!
  • I don’t know who you are, but you look so sad and pathetic that I kind of want to slap you.

I would really advise against the slapping. What you interpreted as a look of “sadness” was, in fact, a look of “come one step closer and I will rip our eyeballs out with my little finger.”

Because, as almost all of you guessed, I was trying to draw Glenn Close, or, as one of you wrote, “Glenn Close Up,” or, better yet, “Glenn Close, made of wax and put too close to the heat.”

If you haven’t yet watched Damages, do it. The woman gives me nightmares.

As for the bonus question, If one of these people was one of your “Five People You Meet In Heaven” which one would it be and why?

  • Cleese. Obviously.
  • I mean any of these freaks could potentially be there, heaven seems super weird and boring.
  • William H. Macy b/c he’s awesome in everything.
  • #4 because he/she really needs a hug
  • Well, if it the WRINKLE IN TIME witch, then I will have to recalculate my entire worldview . . .
  • William H. Macy, because, well, Fargo!
  • William Macy . . . cuz he strikes me as the more spiritually evolved of the bunch…
  • I can’t tell you. It would violate my restraining order.
  • This is a tricky one, given the cast of characters above. John Cleese all the way.
  • My Dad. I’d definitely rather see him instead of John Cleese (twice) or Glenn Close.
  • Are you kidding? The Freaking Incredible Hulk. I used to play pretend wedding with the plastic bust bank I had of him when I was a wee lass. My dog officiated. Did I say that out loud?
  • Ummmm . . . none of the above, please?!?
  • Glen Close, cuz if I don’t pick her she’ll boil my pets.
  • Who says I’m going to Heaven?
  • Bourdain, maybe he’d cook for me.
  • God help me please none of them
  • I don’t think any of them are getting into heaven. They pretty much all look like sociopaths. Sorry, Tom Hanks.
  • Thank you, I choose hell.

That’s all, folks. It’s time for me to go to bed. I have a carful of junk and a date with the town dump at 8:00 sharp. You didn’t need to know that of course. You might not have even wanted to know it. But Matthew Draws is all about honesty, airing the dirty laundry so to speak. It’s what brings us together you and me. Thanks for guessing, for closing the circle, for letting this lark live on to see another day.

See you on Friday.

Bad Words Aplenty

This arrived today. And, boy, are we excited.

If you are wondering, it’s a sheet of high-density polymer that we’ll use to print a series of letterpress greeting cards. Back in the day, all letterpress work had to be hand-set. Type had to be lined up in perfect rows of tiny lead characters, letter by letter. Illustrations had to be carved by hand in wood or forged in lead.

We have neither the time nor the patience nor the skill set for that sort of mastery. And so Robbi creates her designs in Adobe Illustrator, converts them to a PDF, and sends them off to Boxcar Letterpress. A few days later, we get a sheet of polymer, which we then cut into separate chunks, adhere to the printing plate, and use to create our stuff.

I wish I could show you some of the finished cards printed from the plate above, but I can’t because they are not yet finished, but I can show you some other stuff that we’ve been up to, including our Baby is Disappointing letterpress card set, which includes six illustrations from the book.

Perhaps my favorite is the baby with the flaming baton.

Our partner Jodi is doing all the actual printing. In addition to being a savvy business woman and an excellent printer, Jodi is a flautist, and an accomplished one at that. She goes to all sorts of flute conventions where flute-loving people gather and engage in flute-related consumer frenzy. To sate their desire for flute-themed merchandise, Jodi teamed up with various famous people who have made famous observations about the flute to create a set of art prints.

Perhaps you did not know that the flute was an instrument of questionable moral standing? Are you willing to question Aristotle?

Perhaps you did not know that the flute is nothing but an elaborate metaphor for the body at work?

I am particularly excited about our set of Matthew Draws greeting cards, featuring four of my favorite portraits.

These will eventually be fore sale on the Haywire site, but for now, every Idiots’Books subscriber will receive one card with his or her copy of Matthew Draws Anthology, which is due to go out in a couple of weeks. If you think your subscription might have lapsed, here’s the link.

Yes, the Chandler & Price is getting something of a workout these days.

Jodi is busily printing, creating inventory for the Haywire store, which we hope will launch some time this fall.

We say “hope” because, like all things, the ideal is a moving target. This fall we’re also trying to launch a new umbrella website (robbiandmatthew.com), overhaul the Idiots’Books and Bobbledy Books stores, illustrate our book with LB Kids, write and illustrate two more Bobbledy Books and two more Idiots’Books, give two talks, and do a workshop/presentation at a local elementary school.

So we’ll see what’s doable. In the mean time, we’ll keep sharing work as it rolls off the press.

First Day of First Grade

Yesterday was Alden’s first day of first grade. I tried to snap a photo of her posing in front of our house, but she was too excited to get going, and so I snapped a photo of her running away from me as quickly as she could, with little brothers in tow.

The little brothers were being brought along for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Alden’s desire to show them her new school, which is significantly larger than the only school any of the three of them has known until this point, our beloved Friendship Montessori.

The brothers were also being brought along to sate their own curiosity. Kato, especially, was entirely skeptical that this new school could possibly be up the challenge of providing the educational necessities for his only sister. August expressed his concerns as well, but because he is almost entirely incoherent, we have no idea what they were.

Our journey took us up High Street and through Fountain Park.

Alden paused for just a moment, so I took the opportunity to ask her how she was feeling. She “answered” by jumping up and down in a frenzy.

I think it was a sign of enthusiasm.

We managed to convince her to pause a bit longer in the middle of the park, that we might pose for various family portraits in front of our very lovely (and recently restored) fountain.

These are the sorts of shots that will make us weep someday.

I remember when this thing weighed six pounds and felt so fragile I thought I would break her as I carried her across the room.

Now she is but the sturdiest member of our tiny band.

We walked a few more blocks and reached our destination. Henry Highland Garnett Elementary School, the very same building where Robbi spent her elementary years.

The doors were not yet open when we got there, so we stood by, basking in the excitement that ran through the crowd. There is something so earnest and hopeful about beginnings.

And then the doors opened, and we all streamed inside.

Alden knew where to go. She led us down the hall to the first grade wing.

August and Kato took it all in. “This place is pretty big,” said Kato.

Augie made an observation that might have been quite thoughtful. The world will never know.

A moment later, we reached her classroom.

A short search brought us to a desk that seemed to have her name on it. Alden confirmed the desk was hers, and August seconded the motion.

I cannot say with certainty, but I think the child was pleased.

We exchanged various hugs and words of wisdom and advice.

Mine was, “don’t bump against the tank, thus causing a minor avalanche of rocks that smashes the class newt.”

Fortunately, Alden’s classroom lacks a newt and thus also the possibility of her repeating my tragic mistakes.

The time came, and we prepared to make our departure. I stoically prepared for the tears, for the wailing, for the trauma of being left behind in a brand new place, forced to face the driving winds of first grade on one’s own.

Instead, we got a cheerful smile and the faintest suggestion that everything would be perfect if we would simply mosey on back home, thank you very much.

And so we left and returned to our desks and spent the whole day wondering what was happening a few blocks down the street at Garnett Elementary.

At 3:25 sharp (we had to ask a friend to let us know what time to pick her up, as we had neglected to ask this ourselves).As directed, we headed to the gym, where Alden was waiting in a small cluster of kids who do not ride the bus.

We asked her about school and she responded with an entirely nonspecific series of affirmative statements. School was no less than “great, awesome, and perfect.” And no more, apparently.

In an evident attempt to contain the overwhelming waves of enthusiastic energy that were at that moment coursing through her, Alden picked up August…

…and carried him right out the door. And halfway down the block.

Before joining her good friend Sidney (also a newly minted first grader) for a hand-in-hand serenade down Calvert Street.

During dinner, we got a few more details: she did an alphabet-based connect-the-dots, she made an autobiographical book, she learned the rules, she ate lunch in the cafeteria, she went outside for recess, she met a few new kids, and she had a good time.

She admitted that she had been a little bit worried because she had feared that first grade was going to be “really hard.”

But instead, it was really fun. Apparently, she is really looking forward to going back tomorrow.

Which is, I think, the most important measure of the day.