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Lately...

…Jodi has been printing and printing and printing. The Haywire studio will be open to the public for the first time during the River Arts Studio Tour, which takes place over two weekends (Oct 25-26 and Nov 1-2). If you’re curious to see what we’ve been up to, please do stop by.

What else? I made a delicious smoothie.

And Alden had hat day at school.

And August had “Learn how to be smooth with the ladies” day at school.

Apparently, he didn’t fare so well on his maiden voyage. I’ve taught him all my moves. But wasn’t nearly enough.

Also, I have been binding hundreds of books. The next Bobbledy mailing goes out this week. If you have let your kid’s club membership expire, now’s the time to renew.

On Friday, I stopped at the world’s most beautiful and well-provisioned rest stop, the estimable Delaware House.

Even the stonework on the front patio is lovely.

Yesterday morning, I paused to notice how beautiful is the building in which I get to spend my days.

Later that afternoon, I took my children to a birthday party at a vertically impressive indoor playground.

My favorite part were the weirdo signs on the bathrooms.

Not only do you have to be a girl to go through this door, but you have to be wearing a clown dress with a huge collar.

And only use this one if you are a portly boy in a ski jacket.

The playground was in Smyrna, which is not far from Christiana. And so we were technically within the gravitational pull of Costco.

We did not fight it.

This morning, Alden found August in the laundry basket and used the opportunity to read him a story.

Contrary to how it looks in the photo, the book was not on fire.

Today (Sunday), we went to visit our friends Amy and Glenn. We paid a visit to Amy’s pottery studio, which is full of lovely, curated spaces. Like this hanging cabinet of small wonders.

And this shelf of glazes and other chemicals.

Glenn is a chef. An excellent chef. He served food that made me emotional. Our friend Ben was also there. The brunch invitation had included a suggestion that pajamas were acceptable fare. Apparently, Ben does not take suggestions like these lightly.

We gave Amy and Glenn a few of our sockeye fillets earlier this week, and in the mean time, Glenn has been curing them. Using a special knife made specifically for cutting thin slices of cured fish, he cut thin slices of cured fish.

Even more miraculously, a few minutes later, he let me give it a try. Robbi does everything she can to keep me away from knives.

If you don’t know, lox is among my favorite things in the world, along with seaweed salad and my children.

Glenn grilled flatbread on his Weber. He sliced red and green tomatoes from his garden. He pickled some onions. The assembled offerings resulted in the single most delicious lox-based sandwich thing I have ever experienced.

I ate it and then I ate it again. And then I ate it again. I finished all the lox and had to go back and cut more.

While I was embarrassing myself, Robbi demonstrated the proper way to be smooth with the ladies.

August might have taken a few notes, but he was too busy at the sandbox.

It was an excellent stretch of days, thanks to friends and fish and and the combination thereof.

Matthew Draws 35 - The Answers

Good morning. This post is a day late, so let’s get right to it.

I gave you this fellow.

I think my drawing is excellent. EXCELLENT, I say. But did any of you reward my enthusiasm with a proper guess?

There was a definite theme…

  • Leonard Nimoy
  • John Travolta! (Though Jon Cryer is a possibility…)
  • John Travolta
  • Ummm. An Extra…Bad Dude #3 with helmet hair? I am 0 for 1.
  • Squinty McSquarechin
  • John Travolta in some acting role that required his chin cleft to be filled in with concrete?
  • No, the helmet hair doesn’t help at all. This is just your generic, maybe makes action movies, good-looking guy.
  • Stephen Seagal?
  • Looks like a athletic Leonard Nimoy. Not saying Leonard isn’t fit, but this guy looks heavier, but not in a fat kinda way.
  • Marky Mark. Or Spock.
  • Oh man – it’s not William Shatner but I don’t know who this is. I’m sorry I’m so lame.
  • Leonard Nimoy.
  • Mr. Spock, with his right ear on upside down, of course.
  • Leonard Nimoy
…unfortunately, it was the theme to a bad movie where everyone gets blown up by dark alien forces.
Although I am fond of going where no man has gone before, this is NOT, in fact, Leonard Nemoy.
This is Lance Armstrong.

Moving on, then…

 

Again, I felt optimistic, but less certain I had succeeded.

  • It is the lovely Emma Thompson.
  • Claire Danes
  • Toni Collette
  • I am 0 for 2.
  • Meredith Baxter Burney
  • Emma Thompson – with those wistful British eyes
  • Emma Thompson? (May she forgive me for this guess if she is an Idiots’Blog reader)
  • Emma Thompson
  • Marion Cotillard? (Again with the question marks. I feel so uncertain this week.)
  • Emma Thompson
  • Penelope Cruz?
  • Anna Chlumsky?? Emma Roberts?
  • Emma Thompson, right after rolling out of the sack
  • Emma Thompson (and very nicely drawn, btw

And, Lo! From the murky darkness there emerged a bright light that lit up the world and made everyone glad.

Clearly, I am no great judge of the quality of my own drawings. This is, in fact Emma Thompson. You people are so good for my self confidence.

Now we are entering that special, awful, treacherous space in which I attempt to depict the young and (supposedly) beautiful.

 

  • I can’t tell. My eyes keep moving away from her bad teeth and strong jaw to the wardrobe malfunction about to happen.
  • Kate Winslet
  • Pink?
  • Kelly osborne
  • Minnie Driver
  • She’s on the verge of a serious wardrobe malfunction. Otherwise = I am 0 for 3.
  • Pink
  • Pink? Though I don’t think of her dressing quite so glamorously!
  • I’m too distracted by the enormity of this person’s lower teeth to make a plausible guess. Hollywood must have broadened the standards of beauty for ingenues which I suppose is a good thing?
  • Portia De Rossi?
  • That ingenue needs some double sided tape and some gum surgery. But, I digress. Could it be … no. I don’t even know. I can’t.
  • Molly Ringwald
  • um …….
  • Kelly Osborne???
  • Jennifer Lawrence. Or that guy who played Jaws in that James Bond movie. So hard to tell.
  • Shailene Woodley
And, much to my dismay (if not surprise), not one of you correctly guessed that this is none other than Kate Upton.
And those are her upper teeth by the way.

I’m guessing that this fellow’s awesome mustache is going to have led at least a few of you to the right answer (though I’m guessing that an equal number of you will have guessed the other guy who has this mustache).

Let’s have a look.

 

As I suspected, it came down to a two-man race between Lionel Richie and Richard Pryor.

  • Oh that’s totally Richard Pryor. Totally.
  • Richard Pryor
  • Richard Pryor
  • Lionel Ritchie
  • Richard Pryor
  • Richard, thank you from making me strike out, Pryor.
  • Richard Pryor or the Swedish Chef
  • Lionel Richie. Boom!
  • Richard Pyror going to some formal event that required a tuxedo? because why else would Pryor wear a bow tie? But the hair, the ‘stache and the brows….
  • Richard Pryor
  • Richard Pryor!
  • Richard Pryor
  • Gene Shallitt?
  • Lionel Richie
  • RICHARD PRYOR! But he sure is worried about something.
  • Richard Pryor

And the Richard Pryor’s have it.

And now for my very favorite moment of any given week, the Matthew Draws bonus question. It is always at this moment when I realize that I am surrounded by smart, hilarious people. We Matthew Draws enthusiasts should start a club. Or a cabal. Who’s with me?

Here was this week’s question:

We will not ask you to write a limerick this week. You’re welcome. Instead, please expound on which of these people you feel would make the best babysitter for Matthew’s children. Matthew needs a night out!

  • Richard Pryor all the way, man. He would be amusing and not get stressed out by kids doing their thing. He would join in the fun. You may find that they didn’t eat a good dinner, but I can almost guarantee tired kids sleeping well that night. If they ever go to sleep.
  • Emma Thompson, of course! She’s got that ‘edgy Mary Poppins’ vibe
  • Ritchie!
  • John Travolta, because he can dance. Or, if desperate, he can break into his Vinnie Barbarino character!
  • Not Richard Pryor.
  • Emma, only Emma. Frightening political/ quasi-religious beliefs take John out of the running; a predilection for crack voids Richard’s chances; and, the ingenue’s blatant disregard for dental hygiene reduces her to an image best-suited for a “scared-straight” campaign to promote of teeth brushing.
  • Emma Thompson in her role as Nanny McPhee.
  • Well, they’d be quite safe with Stephen Seagal. And, my husband would want me to point out that he’s a deputy sheriff in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. So, babysitter with law enforcement AND Hollywood experience. Win.
  • Natch, Richard Pryor
  • Uh, well, I don’t want any one of these persons of clearly questionable character to look after the Behr-Swanson babes. They have Iggy and that’s enough (think Nana in Peter Pan).
  • Lionel, because he’ll let them dance to “All Night Long” and jump on the beds until you come home, thus exhausting them into sleeping late.
  • Well, number 1 has the vulcan nerve pinch in his corner. Number 2 has the eye-rolling down. Number 3 has teeth that will throw fear into their hearts. And number 4 is watching his own back, which is a good move when you’re dealing with three kids. So, I’m going to have to go with an amalgam of all four.
  • Leonard Nemoy would be great a childcare. If the kids get out of line he could knock them out with the Vulcan neck pinch thing.
You people have given me some good ideas.
If only I were Vulcan, I could neck pinch my children to sleep each night. No wonder Spock was so calm.
If only Iggy were drawn by Disney animators, she might be a worthy guard dog.
If only I could draw better teeth, the young and beautiful might have a better chance of being recognizable.
Thank you, my friends, for another week of fun. If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of Matthew Draws Anthology, what are you waiting for? I depend on book revenue to buy the incredible volume of supplies it takes to make Matthew Draws happen, namely one black Uniball, one sheet of blank white paper, and one lifetime of failing to understand the nuances of dental structure.
These things are not free, my friends!
Buy what critics are calling “Perhaps the greatest collection of Matthew’s drawings ever assembled.”
Or just subscribe, already. I know you want to. All this self-denial is unbecoming.
Until next week.

Apple and Henny

For those of you who came here today looking for the results to the most recent Matthew Draws, I am sorry to say that you will have to wait another day. I have a business trip tomorrow (and an accompanying early morning rise) and so must now call it a day instead of spending the time and energy it would take to lovingly curate your many wrong guesses into an acceptable post.

Instead, I will share a gift that arrived in our inbox yesterday.

This is Vivien, a spirited and intelligent young woman with shocking red hair and outstanding taste in books.

Those of you familiar with both the Bobbledy Books oeuvre and the Jewish tradition will immediately understand the joke. For those not in the know, here is the information you need to decode the photo.

1) Robbi and I made a book called Henny Wampum Had a Really Big Head.

2) One of the most popular customs for celebrating the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah involves dipping apple slices in honey, a practice which stems from the “age-old Jewish tradition of eating sweet foods to express hope for a sweet new year.”

If mixing apples and honey is a sign of hope, I have to wonder about the desired effect of mixing apples and Henny.

Perhaps only Vivien knows.

 

Field + Foundry Recap

This past Saturday night, Robbi and I drove across the bridge to attend Field + Foundry, a gathering of Baltimore and DC creative types. The occasion was good food and conversation. The location was an empty storefront that had previously housed a fried chicken/Chinese restaurant.

We had been asked to speak, and so we volunteered to get there a bit early and help set up. When we arrived, a long table was set up for dinner. But there were still preparations to be made.

We volunteered to help. My task involved a tall ladder, some twine, and a long pole.

Robbi’s involved helping Laicie (of A Thousand Threads) – baker, blogger and co-creator of Field +Foundry – assemble foliage into a kind of chandelier.

The pressed tin ceilings were decaying but beautiful.

My task (to hang a horizontal pipe that would support the crepe paper photo backdrop) was surprisingly successful.

Though at one point I did have to call in the cavalry in the form of the estimable Mark Heely, co-creator of Field + Foundry, husband of Laicie, and provider of all things alluringly edible.

The edible things started appearing long before it was appropriate to eat them. After all, the doors were not yet open to the guests-at-large. And yet I had to stare at exquisite cheeses, spreads, and great heaps of gin-cured salmon.

Robbi thwarted temptation by applying stickers to the backs of the books we would be giving away later in the evening.

As part of our current branding overhaul, we’ve recently developed a new R & M logo. The event seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a test run.

Because Field + Foundry is curated by people with taste and knowledge of all things lovely, everything was so nice to look at.

Even the beer was stylish.

It was the sort of setup one might expect to see in the middle of an open field in Tuscany. And not in an empty storefront on North Avenue in Baltimore.

But such is the wonder of Field + Foundry. Creating something wonderful in unexpected places.

Before the rest of the folks arrived, there was a bit of sweeping to do.

And there was the matter of personal beautification.

After some initial missteps, Robbi emerged quite lovely on the other side. (This is just my opinion, of course.)

Eventually the doors did open and the others did arrive. I might have taken photos of them were I not so utterly focused on the salmon, itself a collaboration between Robbi (who pulled it from the Pacific) and Mark (who exacted a ruthless campaign of culinary wizardry upon it).

I attacked my plate with my patented relentlessness and might have been content to remain grazing all night long.

But Robbi reminded me of the photo backdrop I had worked so hard to create.

And so we paused for the obligatory selfie.

The event was sponsored by Microsoft’s search engine Bing, which sponsors (if you did not know) lots of creative ventures and events in an attempt to fulfill their mission to create and promote beautiful experiences.

By way of saying thanks, they provided each of us with a Bing tote bag filled with various goodies, including a collapsable light reflector (for taking beautiful photographs, of course).

We set a smattering of our books on a bench so that people could get a sense of what we do.

And so they did.

And we set one Micro-Flash Picture Book at each table setting, in anticipation of the group exercise we had planned for later in the evening.

One of the many multiply-talented folks in attendance, Lindsay Ponta, happens to be a calligrapher (among other things, which you can find HERE), and so she created this lovely sponsor board.

On which we were included.

Along with our Joshua Wolf Shenk and his publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which generously donated copies of Josh’s book Powers of Two to every Field + Foundry attendee. It seemed to us like the perfect follow-up reading material to an evening devoted to collaboration. Since you probably weren’t there, you can buy your own copy HERE. It’s a damn good read.

One of the evening’s activities involved a “make your own bitters” station. Laicie and Mark had spent weeks preparing various ingredients by soaking various fruits, herbs, and spices in grain alcohol.

Guests were invited to mix their own bitters blend by combining a bit of this with a bit of that (clove, lemon, cardamom, anyone?).

It was kind of like an elaborate chemistry experiment.

All the while, Mark was working away in a tiny non-kitchen in the back, preparing dish after breathtaking dish with surprising grace. Robbi and I both agreed that left to the same challenge we surely would have scorched everything beyond recognition while burning the place down.

We ate dinner.

It was superb. Crab cakes and fresh baguettes topped with homemade spreads and pasta salad topped with fresh ricotta and farm fresh tomatoes and kale salad with fresh figs. It was the kind of food so delicious that I forgot to stop to take photos. And so you will have to imagine it.

Then, suddenly, it was time for us to speak, and so I felt that obligatory moment of gut-leveling concern. Would they like me? Would I be funny? Did I have anything…ANYTHING…at all to say?

Robbi, cool as a cucumber that has been recently refigerated, squeezed my hand, and all was well.

We talked a bit about the three types of collaboration we encounter most commonly. Passive (in which one takes something created by another person, whether a piece of writing or an image or even an idea, and uses it as the inspiration or platform to create something new), Active (in which two parties come together in equal exchange to discuss, plan, and create some new thing drawing on the roughly equal contributions of both), and Directed (in which two parties come together to make or do something, but one of the parties has a degree of authority or ownership that exceeds the other; we most often encounter this when working with editors and art directors, who are, by definition beholden to agendas beyond the creative work itself, most often the need to sell a certain number of copies, but also the need to live up to certain editorial standards or sensibilities of the company they work for).

After all the blah, blah, blah, we ran the group through our tried and true Microflash Picture Book exercise. Robbi explained how it worked.

And then we dived in. As is usually the case, fun was had.

Laughter rolled throughout the room.

In the exercise, one person writes a sentence and passes it along to the next person, who must draw a picture (in only 45 seconds) that communicates as well as possible the meaning of the sentence. Then, in the next round, another person is asked to translate that drawing back into a sentence. And so on.

As the game continues, the original sentence becomes badly lost in visual to language to visual to language translation.

Robbi and I shared our books with the group at the end.

And a willing volunteer shared his.

Beyond the fun, the idea is this: even in this extremely passive collaboration (there is no discussing what one will write or draw with one’s partner) there is a great deal of energy and fun. Collaboration is a means of tapping into a central vein of inspiration. It has a way of moving that which is stuck. It is fuel, it is process, it is access to a greater world of possibility beyond one’s own.

Eventually, it was time to go home. We had a long drive ahead.

As we walked back to our car, we stopped to admire the murals on the outside of the building.

The area (in the vicinity of North Avenue and N. Charles St.) is emerging as a kind of arts district.

Looking at the variety of styles and the quality of the murals…

…it’s nice to see that things are off to a solid start.

And that’s that. Thanks so much to Laicie and Mark for creating Field + Foundry, for inviting us to speak, and for feeding us so very well. Thanks to Bing for providing the funding to make it happen. And thanks to Melissa Hope, who joined Laicie and Mark in curating the event and in assembling the group of creative folks who made it such a special evening – check out her much more beautifully photographed recap of the event HERE.

We drove back across the bridge inspired, remembering why we do what we do, excited to have had the opportunity to share our ideas with willing ears, and certain that it would be a long time before we would eat so well again.

Back to School Night

Last week, we were invited to spend an hour or so at Alden’s new school, Henry Highland Garnett Elementary School (site of the elementary education of one Robbi K. Behr).

Of course, we went. And, of course, we brought the whole family. Kato and August have been very curious about this strange new place where Alden has been spending all her days.

Our first task upon reaching her classroom was locating her desk. It took a bit of hunting about, but eventually we found some clues.

And I’m not talking about her name, of course, but of the self-portrait/puppet that was attached to her chair. I’m sure it’s impossible for you to tell which of these two heads is Alden’s and which is the puppet. I’d tell you, but I’m a bit unclear myself.

Our activity for the evening was to go around the classroom and review a series of color-coded posters, each of which dispensed some sound parenting advice. The idea was that we would check a box each time we read (and considered the weighty implications of) a poster. When all of the boxes were checked, we were to report back to the teacher as a means of proving our preparedness to raise a first grader.

The first sign we encountered gave us pause.

Although we do occasionally go to the library, I think it would be overstatement to describe our visits as frequent. Alden’s face makes clear her disgruntlement at discovering what the parents of first graders are SUPPOSED to be doing.

Her spirits couldn’t be kept down long, however. Soon we discovered another sign, this one purple. Surely THIS one would dispense some advice we were already following.

And, in fact, we DO talk to our children quite often, and we also do our best to listen to what they have to say.

But then we moved onto the black sign. And winced a bit.

While it is true that we don’t technically even HAVE a TV due to the fact that I disconnected our satellite in a moment of self-righteous frugality last winter, we do have streaming Netflix and we are occasionally guilty of handing them the controller, saying “here” and disappearing into the studio for a few hours.

I’d say “absolute limits” and we are not cozy bedfellows.

Which is why one comes to Back to School night after all. Not just to see your kid’s classroom, but to learn and stuff.

Onward to the orange sign. As everyone knows, Robbi takes no pleasure in reading.

The only magazines, newspapers, and books she handles on a regular basis are the ones for which she is drawing pictures.

Because of our natural aversion to books, we were collectively shocked (though none more than Alden) to learn that the right kind of parents are reading them to their children as much as 30 minutes a day.

It was shortly after this photo was taken that Alden asked her teacher if she knew of any families who might be willing to acquire an extra kid.

To preserve our flagging sense of self worth, we took a break from reading the signs and went over to check out Alden’s “bucket” into which a colorful fuzz ball is placed every time she does something good.

It was comforting to see that Alden had been good at least a dozen times since the start of school.

I requested details on the nature of her goodness but got only blank stares in return.

And so we returned to the rules.

We have to allow that our children are exposed to various “interesting experiences” by virtue of proximity to our unpredictable lifestyles. They go to Alaska. They’ve been to Japan. To get to the bathroom they have to venture down an unfinished staircase, through a gauntlet of rickety shelving and through a heavy fire door.

But what about the pink rule? Alas, Alden has never written a shopping list and I’m not sure she has ever attempted to read a restaurant menu. She does, however, make an attempt to read road signs, or at least to scan them for letters (when we are playing Alphabet Bingo on long trips).

And what about the blue rule?

The children do not yet set the table, but they are often encouraged to clear. Further, they are required to clean up the clutter in the living room before launching into unregulated marathons of Netflix streaming.

Admittedly, we do own a variety of books. The problem, of course, is that many of them are written primarily for the amusement of adults.

While we were bravely facing our parental shortcomings, Alden was admiring her winning set of school supplies.

Basically, there’s nothing that one can’t accomplish when equipped with a scissors, a glue stick, and a box of Crayolas.

Perhaps the evening’s most exciting discovery was the concept of the “mystery number.” Alden had come home talking about it in vague and shifting terms a couple of times, but any attempt we had made to discover the true meaning of the exercise were lost in the swirling winds of six-year-old obfuscation techniques.

Now we DO understand what the mystery number is and how it works, both from a practical and pedagogical perspective. And now we can tell you all about it.

But then we’d have to kill you.

Alden is lucky to have not one, but TWO teachers this year. In addition to classroom admiral Mrs. Hopkins (right), there is Mrs. Iller, who is a teaching assistant currently working on her degree at Washington College.

Alden seems very happy with her school, with her teachers, with her glue stick, and with the mystery numbers.

And so far as we can tell, these are the only metrics that matter.

As we were walking out the door, we saw proof positive that this school year will be (incredibly) “the best.” A seemingly outrageous claim, given the number of schools and the number of years in which schools have been happening.

And yet, it is a claim we are willing to humor. With great anticipation.

If only Robbi and I can rise to the occasion and figure out how to follow the damn rules.

Matthew Draws 35

Good morning, you tireless fools. “Today,” you think to yourself, “Today is the day that the stars will align, the clouds will part, the angels will sing, and I will know in the depths of my heart the true identity of every single one of Matthew’s subjects. Today is that day. It must be.”

And that is my sincere desire for you as well. I wish you all the best as you walk the slippery path ahead. It’s the least I can do after withholding all meaningful visual clues.

I spent all day yesterday thinking about Matthew Draws as I handled various Matthew Draws-related materials in anticipation of the Matthew Draws Anthology, Vol 1 mailing that goes out today.

Every subscriber will receive a Matthew Draws greeting card (with envelope) lovingly hand-printed on our Chandler&Price (and lovingly presented in a plastic sleeve).

Every subscriber will receive a copy of the Anthology itself, which contains 61 of our favorite MD drawings from the past few years (including the unfortunate souls featured on the front of the card, of course).

Each subscriber will also receive an attractive manilla envelope (which some of the most ardent collectors among you will faithfully preserve for the sake of posterity (or value at the Christie’s auction that will someday fund a mid-life (or late-life) crisis)).

Solo copies of the Matthew Draws Anthology, Vol 1 are now available for shipping. But if you love Matthew Draws and if you want to be a part of the ongoing experiment that is Idiots’Books, why not subscribe and kill two birds with one stone? Why not give Matthew Draws to someone you love? Or, if you love no one, why not give it to someone you hope to irritate or confuse?

To get the book. 

To subscribe (which will also result in your getting the book, plus three others).

To read about Snookie.

Thank you, folks. We couldn’t (or maybe just wouldn’t) do it without you.

This Weekend in Baltimore - Field + Foundry

On Saturday evening, Robbi and I will be speaking on collaboration at a small gathering of creatives in Baltimore, the second installment of the Field + Foundry series curated by Laicie and Mark Heeley of the blog A Thousand Threads. (If you like gorgeous photography, sumptuous foodstuffs, and date ideas, check it out).

Laicie and Mark, who we met at Alt Summit in June, have collaborated with Microsoft’s search engine Bing to create the series, which combines great food and even better conversation for the sake of inspiration, networking, and celebration of all things beautiful and stylish.

Which begs the question of what we’re doing there.

As opposed to our other recent presentations, which are carefully orchestrated talks backed by hundreds of illustrations, this time we’ll be standing in front of the room, freewheeling with no projector. Which means people will actually be looking at us. Which makes it more likely that I will shower beforehand.

We plan on doing a hyper-consolidated version of the talk we’ll be giving at the Society of Illustrators next month (telling our story while introducing key modes of collaboration and describing their relative virtues), followed by the no-fail Microflash Picture Books exercise, which should, at least, make people laugh.

And it’s harder to throw fruit when one is laughing, right?

We’ll post photos from what promises to be an extremely lovely evening next week.

For now, here are some shots from Alt Summer (in Salt Lake City), where we met Laicie and Mark not so long ago.

On vespas, flaunting the aforementioned style.

And a close-up of the ladies looking ravishing.

Followed by a close-up of the ladies looking goofy.

Somewhere in the middle lies the truth of things. Come Saturday night, we’ll see which Robbi (and Matthew) shows up.

What a Wonderful World

Was shopping at the Acme with the kids yesterday afternoon. We were there for lasagna ingredients. Now that the morning temperatures are in the 50s, it feels like lasagna season again. And I do make a mean lasagna.

We found the onions and leeks (my secret ingredient); the noodles and the ricotta cheese (must be whole milk based for proper taste). We resisted the many tempting items placed along the aisles for the express purpose of inciting my children to new heights of consumer desire.

We were making our way around the final turn, the checkout line in sight, when we passed one of those end-of-aisle displays full of dish detergent.

Dish detergent and a terrifying zombie clown skeleton with polka-dotted shoulder pads and a festive red bow.

He was just sitting there, daring us to buy some Arm & Hammer Plus Oxi Clean. Or was he daring us NOT to? I’m still not sure. But whether or not it was the right move, I opted to push the cart quickly past before he could do further damage to my soul.

Kato, of course, needed to have him. I heard various arguments as to the necessity of owning the clown/skeleton as we unloaded the groceries onto the conveyor. The need was growing desperate when, suddenly, thankfully, it was replaced by the need to own some M&Ms. And then, moments later, by the need to run with Alden to the scratch-off lottery ticket machine to examine the wonder therein.

 

 

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.