Wednesday, September 30, 2009


You might slip and kill somebody! Oh, looks like you already did.

Accidents do happen, don't they?

Speaking of accidents I almost ran over a bicyclist today. It's not the first time. Cyclists in the Chicago area tend to not pay attention to street signs or stop lights. The odds of hitting one have to be pretty good for the amount of times I have jam on the brakes and yell profanities at them.

Thankfully, I am leaving the Chicago area for the weekend. My wife and I are going to Wisconsin to see some theater and take a little break.

We are headed to American Players Theater (APT) in Spring Green, Wisconsin. We'll spend Friday in Madison having a nice dinner and perusing the farmers market on Saturday morning. Then it's off to the theater.

APT is a wonderful outdoor amphitheater that hosts 5 (I believe it could be 6) plays all summer long. They have an ensemble cast that performs all the plays throughout the summer and fall and they always do a fantastic job. We've been going for years. If you ever get to Wisconsin you should look it up.

Speaking of looking up, did you hear there is water on the moon? Not a lot, but someday we may be able to use it as a launching pad for future exploration. Space 1999 anyone?

(And around the barn we go.)

I don't like slacks that have the pockets too far down on the sides. My keys are always falling out and I can never seem to get my hands in them to retrieve anything.

Dropped off some artwork for the Ravenswood Artwalk this weekend.

Made guacamole yesterday. I like tomatoes in my guacamole. Some people don't.

Have to remember to cash some checks and make some international phone calls.

(I'm back)

Anyway, besides bicyclists behaving badly I must say I am seeing more and more graffiti and littering popping up in my neighborhood. For some reason those two offenses are death penalty material for me. I' not sure why. Maybe it's the lack of respect for other peoples property. I don't know it just irks the heck out of me.

But enough rambling for this evening let me leave you with this thought:

Does the price of tea in China really have anything to do with anything and why should I care if I drink coffee?


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Portrait of a killer

This portrait is from the movie "The Man Who Laughs". It is an old German (I believe) film that Bob Kane used as a prototype for Batman's nemesis The Joker.

I was sketching it out knowing I had to draw a barbarian and then thought, "The Joker is pretty barbarous." My house my rules. It counts. It also gives me some breathing space to create more guys killing each other.

I am going out of town on Thursday and will have to try and sketch on the road, find a Kinko's and upload from there. We'll see if I can actually get it done. If not I'll post them all next week so I will still have completed a barbarian a day. That or I'll change the rules to,

"One hundred barbarians in 100 days (but not in a row)."

We'll see how it goes.


Shorter days

Today's image is kind of fun. It was inspired by my friend Brian's post on Influence People. He had a post about criticizing others as a no win situation due to the push back you get from the person you are criticizing (and I had some reference of a couple of sumo wrestlers). He ran this image on his post so I wanted to run it after he did.

It's funny where you come up with ideas. They seem to be all around if you're looking for them, but hard to capture when you actively try to chase them down. At least it is for me. Every time I sit down at the drawing board to come up with an idea my mind seems to go blank these days. Creativity is a tricky thing.

It's probably one of the reasons I've been posting images and just little short messages lately. I'm not going to apologize for it, but I would really rather do some bigger critical thinking on this blog and fitting it into my recent schedule has been quite a chore. I've been trying to stay out of the political realm because that's a zero sum game. I will come up for more of a direction for this blog soon, but for now please bear with me as I mill about directionless to see where the ideas go.

(Subject change. Hang on)

I have always found the word opportunity to mean one thing to myself and another thing to people in advertising. In advertising if anyone approaches you with an "opportunity" it usually means there will be no money, no creative control and usually a whole lot of work. I've decided recently that I will no longer be responding the same to these "opportunities". It's time for a change.

It's not that I don't like working hard, but the no money/no creative control option that people keep coming up with doesn't really fit for me. I was always under the impression that if you wanted someone to do something for you for FREE you offered them something in return. Apparently the rules have changed and I was not cc'ed on that memo.

My friend Brian understands this. He emails me with some thoughts and just asks if I have any images that might go with it. He leaves the creative part up to me. It's a fair trade. He helps me with the ideas and lets me be completely creative trusting that I am not going to offend his readers by being crass. We both benefit. That's an opportunity I enjoy.

Large charities seem to work differently. I have done more pro-bono work in my career than I care to admit and I have not been happy with one piece of it. I have never been able to use any of the work created to further my career. After the groupthink of some board of directors or "marketing" department gets involved the pieces are so mindless and uninspiring that I usually ask for my name to be removed and I throw them away.

The next time a charity asks me to do something they will have to give up something. I know they don't have any money, but what is it with giving up creative control? Do they think I am going to just put together a completely offensive piece to see what I can get away with? Do they think I value my own creativity so little that as a creative professional and communicator I am just going to throw all my knowledge out the window to do something "cool"? It's laughable that they would think so little of me.

I've got to run now, but we will explore this topic a lot tonight. I finally have an idea for a post, but time has run out for me because I have to be in a meeting in an hour.

Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back this afternoon/evening.


Monday, September 28, 2009

She's a witch!

Okay, more of a witch than a barbarian, but she'll do.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday night. A short post and an old picture. I did this one a while back, but I think it fits in the whole scheme of things.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Pretty simple piece. Mostly because I'm too drunk to draw you a real picture and too upset to make it count.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where did I leave that head?

Remember the ink pen I was telling you about? It's okay,but I don't know if I'm that happy with it. It sticks a little. Hopefully, time and usage will loosen it up. Oh, and animals are hard to draw when you don't have a lot of time.

I went to the theater tonight to see Arthur Miller's "All my sons." Great play, set just after WWII about a family trying to come to grips with the aftermath and some family secrets. I love me a good drama. It's much better when it's on the stage and not in your own house.

Short post tonight, lots to do in the a.m.

Think about this and we'll talk more tomorrow. Do you really think headhunters help? I have another meeting with one that I met over a year ago. They haven't gotten me any work, only one interview and now they're acting like they don't even know me. Is it me or should I be expecting them to see me as a piece of meat?


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Before battle

Meditating before you go into battle. Clearing your head. A smart thing to do.

Every day when I sit down to work (okay, to look for work or to paint or draw) the first thing I usually do is clean the desk. This little bit of meditation, as I think about what I hope to accomplish during the day, is quite calming for me. I believe it helps me focus. It could also just be procrastination, but why linger on the negative?

I was talking to some friends the other day and they all seem to have a "ritual" of some sort before starting their day. Whether it's reading the paper, finishing that cup of coffee, or like me, cleaning your work area.

Of course, by the time I am three minutes into doing whatever it is I am starting to do, the desk and sometimes the entire office, becomes a complete shambles (there's an underused word "shambles"). Needless to say I am not a neat freak. I tend to get into a groove and keeping things neat and tidy just doesn't seem to fit into that groove.

Speaking of grooves, does anyone buy albums anymore? There is a store at the end of my block that has sold records for over twenty years. Yes, they have CD's, but they are still selling records. How cool is that? I wouldn't even know where to go to purchase a turntable.

I was listening to my Ipod tonight while I cooked chili for a party we are having this weekend. My Ipod is filled with songs from the 70's and 80's. This is the music that I enjoy, probably because I grew up in that era. I'm sure my college professor friends would say there is an proven link between the music and the carefree days of my long lost youth that I am constantly trying to reconnect with. Who knows, I just know that when "Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook plays I can't help but think of summertime in the city growing up. And when "That's the way I've always heard it should be" by Carly Simon comes on I get the distinct feeling that it is Sunday night and I have not completed my homework. Exciting and creepy at the same time.

I am supposed to go apple picking on Saturday...

(Does this post feel like the fractured ramblings of a confused mind? That's what it says at the top of the page so remember you asked for it.)

...but not a lot of people are going with me. A lot of people are coming over in the evening for cocktails, food and great conversation, but the shine, as they say, has worn off the apple of pretending to do migrant work.

I remember years ago we had a huge group that went (something like twenty people) and spent the day trudging through mud just to pick apples we could have gotten at a corner store. It was a fun time. I'm not complaining, I'm just remembering.

If I get one more email about how ED is ruining my life I may actually have to check into it. That, and I'm pretty close to to finding out how much money my friends in Nigeria are going to give me to help them release millions in Swiss bank account transfers! Yay!

Does anyone really buy this stuff? SPAM has been around for years, don't you think the human animal is smart enough to adapt? People, please, if it seems too good to be true it is! Look at Wall Street!

No, no, no, no economy talk today (struggle, struggle, struggle....gain control).

Did you ever notice the constant barrage of laundry that permeates your life. Even when you think you're done after you've just ironed 20 shirts you realize that you're wearing one and the cycle will never, I repeat never ever, be over. I don't think nudists have this problem.

Ah, anywho, got to call it a night, first of all because it is, and B because I have to finish a painting tomorrow, make a ton of phone calls and set up some meetings for next week. Which means I have to be at my desk bright and early to clean up the mess that I just finished making this evening.

And so the world turns.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No. 76. Whew, still have 24 barbarians to go. I better start thinking of another project.

Used ink tonight. I found a fountain pen of my wife's, cleaned it out and screwed around with it for the evening. I think I would like it more if the tip was sharper like a crowquill pen. Just a little finer. The ink was also a little thinner, but I think that's just residual soap and water I used to clean it.

Speaking of cleaning....

Okay, I got nothin' with that. How about....

Just the other day I was thinking...

Who cares? It's late. We should all go to bed.


Monday, September 21, 2009

The gladiators...ooh look birds!

I had composed 90% of this post this morning in the shower. Now that it is late at night I've completely forgotten whatever it was that struck me as so insightful this morning. Next time I think, okay I hope, I'll write it down. I always forget that you can write to this thing and just save it to edit later. It's not a Facebook post.

My memory seems to be taking a beating lately. I forget the simplest things and am distracted by almost everything that comes into my view. I leave the house knowing I am headed to the store, tell myself to make sure I grab some money and then promptly run down three flights of stairs before remembering that I needed some money. It's frustrating. It's not like I'm spending my time coming up with a cure for cancer, but my mind seems to be getting more and more muddled.

As my mother used to say, "You'd lose your head if it wasn't attached." When I was young I thought she was out of her mind, but lately I'm pretty sure I would misplace the damned thing, even with it's huge shiny veneer.

I always think to myself, "Someday I'll be smarter." Then I see our president (I no longer say "new", because after 6 months you legally have to stop saying "new") on Letterman sounding like he knows what he's doing and he's only 3 years older than me. I can't find my car keys and he can run a country. It irks me.

I used to think I was a pretty smart guy. These days I'm not so sure. After you search for a job long enough, even though the economy is in the crapper, you begin to doubt yourself. It's a hard thing to come back from. You begin to wonder whether or not you had the skills to do your job correctly in the first place. Then, you begin to wonder if there is another job out there you might be qualified for. Then you start to think about starting or buying a business.

My father was out of work for a few years in his fifties and he and my mother went out finally and bought a business. He figured if no one would give him a job he'd have to make one on his own. I'm starting to think that way.

But the problem keeps coming back to my memory. If I'm not smart enough to remember where I left my keys how can I be smart enough to run a business? Once more, it irks.

I don't want this post to sound like a big pity party. It's not. I do wonder though how you pick a new business or career to go into and know that it's the right decision.

Last year I almost bought a silk screen printing company. The deal fell through because they couldn't get their financials together to our satisfaction and at first I was a little disappointed. A few weeks ago my wife and I went to an art fair here in Chicago called the "Renegade Art Fair" and there were more silk screen printers there than I've ever seen in my life. The competition was fierce. I am so relieved I didn't buy that company now because I don't think it would have survived.

What are you gonna do? You move on with your life, look on the bright side, charge back up that hill and remember that grit and determination does...something, but I'm having trouble remembering.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Busy Weekend

Work, work, work, work. Well, if you enjoy your job it doesn't seem so bad, does it?

Speaking of work, I went to work with my wife this weekend and learned how to dye yarn. If you didn't know, my wife owns a small hand-dyed yarn company that produces yarn for knitters and people who crochet. It's called Lorna's Laces. If you see it in a store pick some up for a friend or loved one. Maybe you'll get a skein that I dyed!

She had some extra work to do this weekend and since the advertising business is bleak at best these days, I asked her if I could help her out in some way. She needed help dying yarn and I figured I could add a new skill to my repertoire (if you know any advertising agencies or clients that need a hand-dyer let me know). She didn't have me doing anything overly complex, just solid colors, but it was fun to work with her and learning new things is supposed to be good for me. One night this week I may learn how to do multi-colored yarns. Slow me down!

It was good for me. I had a great time and I think she appreciated it as well. It reminded me of when she first got into the business. We spent many late nights and weekends there those first few years.

A lot of people we know were working this weekend. It's something we all seem to be doing more of these days. It feels good to accomplish things, but it can become taxing, so if you're doing it make sure you take some time for yourself anyway. You don't want to burn out. Burn out is not fun.

Two flags!

(If you live near a Six Flags Theme Park you'll get that joke.)

Just noticed on Facebook that my friend Brian of the blog Influence People is going to Italy for a seminar. I am suddenly jealous.

I love Italy and really want to get back. If you've never been I cannot tell you how much you should go. It is a beautiful country. The food, wine and people are just wonderful and the art and architecture is nothing short of amazing.

I will say that I also want to go to Prague. I was having dinner with some friends last night and they said Prague was just amazing. Everyone I know who has been there just falls in love with it.

Here I go, just worked hard for one weekend and already I'm thinking about a vacation.

Maybe I should check out the ad industry in Poland? Or Italy?


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Night

A quick stroll through the swamps on your faithful steed?

I had this image in my head for a while. What if you could ride a bull as you do a horse. Scary for your enemies I suppose.

As you may have become accustomed it's Saturday night and the post is short. Tomorrow I'll have a long post about how I learned to hand-dye yarn this weekend. Until then...


Friday, September 18, 2009

Older and better?

Who says an old guy can't enjoy a good beheading? Not me. The older you get the more... proficient you get. Wait, that doesn't sound good.

Moving on, I noticed the hair on my right shoulder this morning. Don't get creeped out, just yet. It was nothing special, I am not hirsute by any means, but while I stood there drying off I noticed that more hair had shown up on my right shoulder than my left and one of the little buggers was gray. I stopped looking right away and thus, for the time being, ended contemplating my mortality. I spent the better part of the morning trying to reposition this little gray hair as a fashion statement, but my guess is Heidi Klum would disagree with a wry "auf wiedersehen."

Let's talk about really scary things like aging.

I wear slippers now. No reason, I just saw them in a store and thought, "Hey those might be nice to wear around the house on a chilly night." What worries me more and more each day is that I find myself thinking of things I wouldn't have before. "Tums are helpful and even quite tasty." "Maybe I should try black licorice once more to see if I like it." "Where are my teeth?" Okay, the last one I made up, but honestly these phrases scare me as I approach middle age.

I am beginning to think that I am no longer the young buck I once was (I know what you're thinking, "Beginning to think? Ha!" but it's true). I just can't seem to wrap my head around being the old guy in the room. What used to be seen as "youthful exuberance" is now just "cranky old guy with a 'tude and, on a good day, a vocabulary."

Well, what are you gonna do? I can't stop time, but I can alter my situation by installing a screen door on my porch to kick open and yell, "HEY, YOU KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!" Embrace change as they say.

On another note, I've always thought that "time" cannot be a dimension. According to certain Euclidean space perceptions, the universe has three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. I'm not buying the fourth dimension angle because in time you can only move in one direction. In space you can always move in two (left, right, up, down, back, and forth). Some would argue that you can't move backward through time "yet", but I don't see that happening any time soon and I even have a reason why.

Time, to my thinking, is nothing more than a measurement of decay. Now, I don't mean decay as something horrific, although it does sound bad, but more as a progressive decline. If we hold that this is true then, per my theory, after each and every moment the previous moment ceases to exist. Which means you could never go back to it. It only exists as a thought in yours or somebody else's memory.

It could be why reunions are so scary and so fun at the same time. Your memory (and any errant pictures you happen to let someone take right then) are all that remains of that time. When you look back on them they are enhanced or diminished based on what you choose to think at that new moment. Conversely, it also is being viewed by everyone else at the party and this is where the scary part comes from.

(I have got to stop ending sentences in prepositions, but I can't stop myself. Except right there.
It's a bad habit that I gained from years of reading advertising copy. I have to stop over thinking it. It's not like famous authors don't do it all the time. After John Dryden first issued that doctrine it has been a thorn in the side of anyone on this side of grammar school. Bet you didn't know about John Dryden. I love the interwebs. But I digress.)

I heard a great phrase the other day. I think it was from a Harold Pinter play or Star Trek, I forget. Either way it went something like, "Memory is a velvet cloth placed over the tiles of our lives." Or some such. I thought that was just a great way to say that memories soften the harsh reality of our past.

As I get older that is the way I am going to choose to think of it.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have some meddling teenagers to scare out of my amusement park.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Man vs. Wild

Hiding behind a tree with a couple of arrows in you. I bet Bear Grylls never had to deal with this.

Speaking of which, I love that show. Not that I am a hunter/camper/fisher guy, but man, you gotta give the guy on that show (and Les on Survivorman) credit. Those kinds of guys are tough. Me, I see a spider and squeal like a little girl. These guys would turn it into a meal.

I've never really liked the woods. I've camped in my life, but there's something about being out in nature that seems wrong. I'm an urban dweller by nature and the closest I like to get to roughing it is a Holiday Inn. I will admit to watching those shows and trying to remember everything I can though. You never know when your plane will go down leaving you stranded a hundred miles or more from civilization.

Survival is a funny thing. We watch people do crazy things on television, putting themselves in harms way on purpose, but did you ever think about how vulnerable you are on a day to day basis? People get injured and killed everyday just going about their mundane lives. I almost want to see a show where Bear Grylls or Les Stroud has to sit through an entire day of meetings. Traverse Michigan Avenue while dodging tourists and bike messengers. Catching a bus. Dealing with the idiots at the grocery store! All of them trying to kill them, not as fast as a king cobra or a polar bear, but just as sure.

I didn't quite finish tonight's sketch. I started to ink the barbarian himself, but then couldn't work out the background. I also did it on sketch paper instead of board or two-ply which turned out to be funny as ink went everywhere.

Side note: Prismacolor markers suck. I may have to go out and get a Rapidograph. I am using a crowquill pen and I love it, but I am having trouble building up the patience to keep dipping it in ink. I have always been a marker guy.

Got a lot of painting to do tomorrow and more practicing with ink and just to warn you I plan on reading a paper and watching the news tomorrow so the weekend posts may get political or at least funnier.



(It seems last nights post did not post. So here it is in it's very short entirety)

Y'know, nothing good ever crawls out of a pit in the basement.

Speaking of basements or at least outdoors in the garden since i don't have a basement. Rats. And I do mean rats. Got an exterminator coming by to try and drive them to other peoples buildings, but what are you gonna do when you live in the big city? Do you think anyone would ever wear a full length rat-skin coat? Would PETA be outraged? Or is this one idea they may go, "Well, they are rats. Kill'em!"

Gonna make it an early might and leave you With that thought because I'm tired and have a lot to do tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back and forth

Give and take. Up and down.

The art of compromise seems to be on vacation these days. Remember when a good negotiation was when everyone came away feeling they had gotten something? Why is it that these days someone must lose for someone to win? I don't get it.

I see it everyday. One person wants something, but refuses to give an inch to get it. They must have it all or they would rather the whole deal goes to pot. It's strange.

I took a class once on the proper art of negotiation. It was sponsored by the company I was working for at the time. It was great. A guy came in and taught us the subtleties (at least as much as you could pick up in two days) and really showed us how absolutes just ruin the process and people begin to feel cheated. I loved that class. Of course, when everyone went back to work it was business as usual and I never saw anyone use the techniques that were taught, but it was good information for me at least.

Absolutes get you nowhere. I know, people with all the power can and do use absolutes all the time, but in the end everyone they talk to will hate them. I, personally, don't want anyone hating me and think that those people will never get the respect they think they deserve.

I did some painting today (as I've said before segues are rare and sometimes very odd on this blog, hang on). I enjoyed it, but forgot how frustrating it can be. Even though I live in a colorful world translating that to canvas is quite troublesome for me. I like my little black and white sketches.

Tonight I scanned the entire page so you could see how my process works. I just sort of sketch around until something comes into my head then I try and finish that one out. I really like the super rough one in the middle, but couldn't quite figure out the composition.

It gets back into absolutes. (See, I got back on point. Sometimes I do like to run around that barn.) I sit there challenging myself to draw the entire picture correctly the first time and that never works. You have to move the pencils around and negotiate with yourself, the paper and the pencil to define the composition and realize your goal.

Some days that doesn't go so well. As you could see from yesterdays post I spent the entire evening fighting the composition and ultimately just banging out a sketch. It didn't feel good, but it had gotten late and something needed to go on the blog, so I just posted.

It's that way a lot in business if you deal in too many absolutes. Suddenly, something needs to happen and everyone tacitly agrees to do something inferior because no one wants to compromise. You just put it out there. You just get it done without realizing that every time you do that you sell yourself and your colleagues short. Compromise is what actually makes good work great and great work phenomenal, but that's just my opinion.

Now if I can just get my paper and pencils to show up for a meeting on time I'll be in business.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Quick sketch

Well, I barely got that done and I'm sober.

Ever have one of those days where nothing, and I do mean nothing, creative is going on in your head. Whether it's filled with bees, or you just can't keep a thought in it for long? It is hard.

I spent the evening, after cooking a fun dinner, trying to think of an image. I sketched and did thumbnails, but nothing was coalescing in my minds eye. On days like this it's time to recharge. I need to go to the library and pick up a book or something.

Sad news about Patrick Swayze. Not that we were good friends or that I loved his movies or anything, but you do have to be touched when anyone dies in such a horrible manner. Cancer is, and I don't think anyone will disagree with me here, a terrible thing. I'm sure we all know someone who has either won or lost a battle with cancer, but these days it seems like more and more people I know are losing. It's tough. My thoughts go out to his family.

In other news, the Daily Show is back from vacation. now I can start getting my news again from the properly irreverent people who actually tell you the truth about what's going on in the world and summer is officially over. I can tell because today it was hotter than it's been in a long while and that signals the fall in Chicago. Someday we'll get our seasons straight. Maybe before we get the Olympics in 2016. I'm sure the athletes would prefer the blistering heat of a real Chicago summer when running around a track at the speed of Usain Bolt.

Not that anyone will be running that fast. That guy is amazing.

Moving on, did you ever get a note from your state saying they were going to take action against you because you overpaid your taxes? I tend to get these every fall. Apparently the state of Illinois doesn't like to have extra money on hand and they blame me. Man, I can't wait to win the lottery and take all kinds of money out of their coffers. That would teach'em.

Someday, someday.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Of yetis and other myths

Had a great weekend. I hope you did, too. Enjoy the sketch.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

No swimming!

At least no swimming in these waters! It could prove disastrous.

Got the inspiration for this drawing tonight while watching Iron Chef America. The secret ingredient was octopus. And while tasty, they are not the prettiest beasts are they?

I love watching that show. Even though they are not really secret ingredients. I think the chefs know what they're making ahead of time. Otherwise how would they have everything they need in stock? Either way I am always impressed with the food that is made and the inventiveness of the players. If you haven't seen it check it out on Food Network.

Went for a long drive today, out to the suburbs. Went to a yarn convention and then off to Woodfield Mall for lunch with an old friend. He was hosting a Paul Stanley art opening this evening. That's right, Paul Stanley of KISS. He is an artist and my friends gallery represents him. They sell a lot of paintings. I don't mind his stuff, but I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan. We got there a little too early to meet him, but had lunch with my friend and that is always good.

The yarn convention was fun too. My wife is a bit of a celebrity in the yarn community and it's nice to see people who love her work run up to her to talk her ear off. They get so excited. It's a great thing to see.

Tomorrow is another big day. We've got a craft fair to go to and some serious relaxing to do before Monday. Have a great Sunday.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Out for a stroll

"Don't go alone. Go with a friend"--Jay Ryan

Just a few guys out for a walk. A little more abstract, but kind of fun.

It's September 11 and I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention it in some way. I won't dwell, but I did take a few minutes this morning to remember where I was and to think about all of the brave people that lost their lives that day. I also remember how that day brought a lot of us, and people from other countries together. I'm not going to go into what happened afterward because I want to remember the good that came out of that horrific morning. I hope you do too.

Moving on, I must say I had a great dinner tonight with some friends we haven't seen in a while. Our friends Neal and Mark invited us up to their house for a meal and a tour around their newly renovated home--it is beautiful. I also scored an old sink they were throwing away that Beth and I think would work perfectly in our small bathroom. Now I just need to install it. Neal and I also spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the benefits of the Kitchen Aid versus the Cuisinart. Good times.

I like to start and finish handy work around the house. It's all the work in the middle that I usually procrastinate on. I just finished a small TV stand for our family room. It only took me 5 short years to design it, buy the wood and put it together. It breaks down as 4 years and 325 days of planning and 3 days to put it all together. For the sink I have a goal of getting it installed in less than two years. I'll keep you updated as I move through the planning.

Alrighty then, it's late on Friday and I'm going to cut this short as I usually do on the weekends.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Alas, poor Yorick...

I knew him Horatio."

What better way to end a week than finding a the skull of an old friend? Whew, 64 barbarians and counting. Now I just have to ink them all and put them in a book.

Took a long walk today. I go around downtown every few weeks delivering postcards as a self-promotion. It was a beautiful day here in Chicago and I love the anonymity of being a messenger. Nobody asks any questions. They just guide you to the mail room and go back to their Iphones.

The sad thing was that a few people on my list were no longer with the companies that I had them listed at. These days hearing the phrase, "He's no longer with the company." always has a sting to it. They may have left of their own accord, but you don't really know until you track them down at the next job or see them delivering postcards. I like to think that they all left because they wanted to.

I also ran into an old friend who's company is closing it's doors. He seemed okay with it. He's that kind of laid back guy that rolls with things, but it was still a little sad. It's hard to build a marketing company and then watch as a recession comes along and everyone's first response is to shut down all marketing efforts. I saw a lot of it when the tech bubble burst, now this and even knew of a few back in the eighties when I was just getting into the ad biz. Tough stuff, but I know he'll survive as will we all.

The weird thing to me is that in a recession no one is spending money, right? So you would think that the first thing to do is to start talking to your customers more. To go out and try to convince them that your products and services are worth spending money on. You would think that marketing would be the first thing that you would increase. Now, bear in mind that I don't have an MBA or some other high level economic degree, but it just doesn't seem to make sense. I'm sure I'm missing something, but I'll be darned if I can figure it out.

In lighter news I went out for $1 burgers today with some friends. It's good to know that they still exist and they were fantastic. Duffy's Tavern on Diversey in Chicago, every Thursday in case you're in town.

Also, I have been emailing back and forth with an old friend, Brian. He has a blog that I've mentioned before about influencing people in your life ( and it always makes me think. He's got a lot of good information if you're into self-help and improving your interactions with others. You should check it out.

It's kind of cool. We knew each other in high school, but didn't hang out a lot together and even today I'm sure our world views are different, but I think we enjoy hearing other people's opinions and aren't frightened that others may not think like us. If he was ever giving a speech before congress, at my local comic book shop, or even on a soap box in the park I would like to think I wouldn't shout out, "You lie!" when he was trying to make a point.

This brings me to civility. Does anyone know where it's gone? I used to remember that you could disagree with a friend without shouting. That being respectful of others in public was something you didn't have to think about, you just did it. I don't think I'm dating myself here or fondly remembering a past that didn't exist. I know for a fact that there used to be rules to how we behave in public.

My mother and father drilled respect for others into our heads when I was a kid. You looked people in the eye. You listened before you responded. When someone, anyone, was giving a speech you kept your mouth shut. Not that you had to be a wilting flower, but you weren't supposed to go out of your way to be a d**k. And if you were there were consequences.

I'm not sure if that's so true today. Great, now I sound like an old man, "Hey, you kids, get off my lawn!"

That said, I am an old man and that's enough ranting for this evening. Time to get some sleep and dream of simpler times like long gas lines, a recession, and bad clothing.

Hey, that 70's Show is on. Cool!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No big post tonight.

Went out and had too good a time helping the stray dogs and cats of Chicago.

Enjoy the sketch and I'll see you tomorrow.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And another thing!

Where's my handbag?

Okay, I don't know where that came from but it just popped into my head. I need to get out more. It's hard when I am hiding from presidential speeches in my own home. Me and fourteen local schoolchildren huddled in a back closet trying to avoid the indoctrination process of the socialist....What? They're not socialists? He was just trying to inspire kids to do better?

Oh, never mind.

People are silly. I've said it before and I'll say it again, people are the only thing holding the human race back from greatness.

But on to other thoughts.

I watched a great documentary tonight, "Painting with Fire." It is a documentary on the great Frank Frazetta. He is a legendary illustrator that I consider one of my biggest influences. I actually had him do an illustration for one of my clients. Talking to him was so funny. I was gushing and stumbling ver my words as I talked to one of my "heroes". When I told him he was a hero of mine he said, "What? Why would you have me for a hero I just paint pictures. You should pick a ballplayer or something." I told him I couldn't because I was too nerdy to be a ballplayer so artists would have to do.

It's getting colder now and the days are starting to get short. Kids are back in school (unless their parents listen to Glenn Beck). Leaves are starting to turn color. Life is good.

I love the fall. I like sleeping with the windows open and pulling the covers up high. I like getting out of bed into the cold morning air. It wakes you up and gets you ready for your day.

(Subject change, hang on)

Going to a benefit tomorrow night for Chicago Animal Care and Control. It is their annual fundraiser for the abandoned cats and dogs in the city of Chicago. What is up with abandoning a pet? I'll never understand leaving something so helpless out in the cold. There's no understanding some people.

(Subject change, hang on)

I think I am going to go apple picking sometime soon. It's fun to wander around with friends picking apples and pumpkins and basically getting ready for the holiday season. Not that I celebrate much. The holidays I mean. Of course, I drink a lot and never turn down an invitation to a party, but the actual observance of the days was never really my thing. I think this year I may change that.

Not too much, but maybe a tree for the holiday, a fall planting in the garden (okay, the flower boxes off my back deck), fill the house with gourds. No corn stalks though, too creepy.

(Subject change, again?)

Hard to keep my thoughts straight tonight. Jumping around too much, a little wired. I don't know why. I think I'll go read a little now.

I really should let those fourteen kids out of the back closet and where is my handbag?


Monday, September 7, 2009

A barbarian's work is never done

Watch it with that pigsticker, son!

Wow, Labor Day already. It seems like the summer just flew by.

Geez, I had a post all set to go and it has completely left me. I saw my friend Brian at Influence People ( has just posted a piece on "What's your Worldview" and I think I was supposed to get a piece of art done for that and now I am gobsmacked, as some of my friends from the British Isles put it. My apologies Brian, I'll send you something soon.

Okay, now that I am clearing my head, I think I was going to talk about Labor Day and what it means to me, but since it only means taking the day off, hoping stores aren't closed and winter isn't coming too soon I'm not sure I'll have a lot to say.

When I was a kid I guess it meant a little more to me. When I was in school it almost always started after Labor Day. This was your last weekend to screw around, stay out late and find some trouble before school and homework started. Of course, going back to school also meant seeing all those girls you hadn't seen all summer so it wasn't all bad.

I never did well in school. Apparently, I didn't apply myself. At least that's what the teachers told me and, with much reflection, it is now something I know. I don't apply myself much. I try, but I get distracted easily. It's something I'm still working on as I've said in previous posts, although in those I think I referred to it as staying focused.

I think back on school and wonder how much I actually missed by not studying harder. By not really trying to grasp what was being taught did I do myself a disservice? I think I may have. I would not be the same person I am today had I done things differently, but as a thought experiment it is interesting to think about.

Would I have become a lawyer or doctor? Okay, not a doctor, medicine and sick people are icky, but maybe a lawyer. I do tend to argue with everybody. Would I have become something more? Like a politician? The current President of the US is only a couple of years older than me and I never see him at the comic book shop? Wonder why? Maybe he grew up and I'm still having trouble with that.

I think about these things not as regret, but kind of like that million dollar walk people do. You know the one. Where you imagine what you would do if you actually won the lottery. You walk around and think about whether or not you would be the same person? What would you spend the money on? Who would give money to? So, you don't do that? It doesn't make me creepy, I have to think about something when I walk the dog, but I digress.

Thinking about what your life may or may not have been like is how we understand who we are. It's how we can tell kids, "Hey, don't do what I did, even though I'm pretty successful, most of that was just luck." We look back on our lives and think, "Y'know, I could have done some things better. I could have been a better person." And then, if we're smart, and I'm not saying I am, but if you are, you look forward and try to figure out how not to make the same mistakes again.

At least that's my new labor, as I'll call it being that it is Labor Day. I want to spend the next year trying to be a better person than the one I was last year. I'm not going to bite off more than I can chew. I'm going to start small. Try to remember things I always forget. Try to remember to tell the ones I love how much I love them. Try and finish all the things I always say I'm going to finish, but never do.

Wow, sounds like New Year's resolutions have come early. Of course, I've never been one for New Year's resolutions in the past so I guess I'll try Labor Day resolutions and if they work out I'll come up with something for New Year's. Maybe you've got a couple of resolutions of your own. Maybe this will be a whole new beginning for all of us.

Just the sketch tonight.

I'll be interesting tomorrow. Enjoy.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Watch it!

I'm not going to rant and on tonight because it's Saturday and I want to to get to sleep, but I did want to talk for a second about launching yourself out into the world and being afraid of what might happen.

It is scary to put yourself out there and try new things, but every now and then if you don't jump off that ledge you condemn yourself to standing there and watching the world go by.

It's like the scene in Butch Cassiday and the Sundance Kid, where we Paul Newman and Robert Redford are about to be caught by some lawmnen chasing them. They come to a point where it is shoot it out or jump off a cliff. They know that shooting it out gets them killed or jailed. So they jump. Scared as they may be, they jump. And they live to fight another day.

Not that I am condoning criminal behavior, but I am condoning, when you find yourself stuck in a corner why not jump? What do you have to lose. Go ahead and jump Based on the history of man my guess is you'll land in a better place.

But that's just me.


Friday, September 4, 2009

No Trespassing

This one came out pretty nice. I found my old nib pens. I think I might ink this piece over the weekend. I have been looking at a lot of Norman Lindsay and Charles Dana Gibson (remember the Gibson girls?) this week and I have always loved drawing with ink pens. I'm excited. Yes, I know it's a nerdy kind of excitement.

Was reading in the paper today that having Barrack Obama speak to children in school is tantamount to indoctrination. Really? Do people hate this guy so much that as the leader of the free world he's not allowed to tell kids to stay in school and learn? Do we really think he's going to lace his speech with content that will have the little kiddies gaping open mouthed and spouting the party line?

Please, I've met children, while they may be "sponges" for information, but they're not as smart as every parent would like you to believe. Anyone out there know a paste eater? Ever seen a kid shove stuff in his nose, "'cause it seemed like the thing to do."? Trust me, they're gonna listen to Obama for the requisite ten minutes or so then go right back to devil worship and Harry Potter so everyone can just relax.

Speaking of devil worship, anyone know where I can find a goat?

Kidding. I'm not a devil worshipper so put down your pens. Although, in defense of devil worship, I saw The End of Days last night and that Gabriel Byrne makes a pretty good Satan. I liked The Usual Suspects better, but hey, at midnight a movie's a movie.

Ah, the fine sounds of tuck pointing. If you don't know what tuck pointing is then you don't live in a brick building. Tuck pointing is where workers grind out the mortar in between the bricks and refill it with new mortar. You have to do it every few years o any building to keep things solid. My building had it done, um let's see, 90 years ago! Which is why we're now having the entire building done. The joys of home ownership.

It's the Labor Day weekend so I hope I don't get too busy to draw and I am going to spend some time this weekend thinking about bigger topics for the next few weeks. We need a little brain food to keep this life interesting.

Don't drink and drive. Just find a pregnant lady to hang out with, they have to stay sober.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some days

Some days you just don' feel like writing or drawing.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dangerous Swim

Be careful when you get in the pool. Not everyone wants to play.

I have got to start drawing earlier (or faster). These late posts are a little tough. It's not that I can't think of things to write. I just have a hard time keeping my eyes open.

Remember when we were young? Okay, remember when I was young? I would stay up all night working on projects, come home, get a few hours sleep and get right back to it. Yeah, and hangovers had a lot less impact. As my mother-in-law says, "Getting old ain't for sissies."

I saw a post today that said Texans are talking about seceding again. Hopefully it's just a couple of nutjobs out stirring up the locals. Not that I care. The last time I was in Texas I got food poisoning and was sick as dog, so I have no feelings one way or the other what happens there. What bothered me though was one guy saying he "hated", not disliked, disagreed with, was upset with, but "hated" the United States of America. That doesn't sit well with me.

Hate is a strong word and should be reserved for talking about bad drivers and talk radio hosts.

This country has been pretty great over the years. Yes, we have also been sh**ty to certain countries and peoples, but what country hasn't? Countries are run by human beings and you know how I feel about that bunch of idiots. Give a man a brain and the first thing he'll try to do is figure out is how to screw somebody over. Cain, have you seen your brother?

Anyway, enough about politics let's talk about design. Or something like it.

I went to a client today. It was a good meeting (as we say), but I gotta tell you I could have saved myself a whole bunch of time doing the layouts for this one.

The client is an old friend and I love him dearly, but he is the perfect "DIY Client". You know these guys. The ones where you sit there and think, "Well, why don't you just do this yourself so I can go draw barbarians." or something along those lines. Well, he doesn't know InDesign and Photoshop so he needs the extra hands.

I don't blame him. I blame myself. Even as I created the pieces I was going to show him I thought, "Why didn't you just have him draw a layout for you? You know that's the way this is going to go." And it did. He always likes my work, but he has a certain way he wants his layouts to look and I need to remember that. It will save me time next time if I can remember to do it that way.

I've had a lot of clients like that over the years. They tell you that they want your best, your expertise, your whatever-it-is you happened to have convinced them you have, and ultimately you're sitting in a meeting going over way too many layouts that aren't making them happy and you say, "If you have something in mind why don't we just lay it out right now." You pull out a pencil and sketch it up like some kind of police sketch artist and everyone gets to go home early.

Ah, well, if I start following my own advice maybe I will be able to start getting these posts done earlier.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where's my helmet?

Oops, seems our boy here has lost his helmet and could soon lose much more.

Reminds me of how I've felt during some meetings.

You know the ones. You're on the ropes, no one likes anything you've created, no ones backing you up and you can feel the edge of the sword coming for the back of your neck. Will Caesar give the thumbs down? Eek!

But then there are cases when this is happening and, as the enemy comes up behind you, you strike out with one last gasp...and win the day! Okay, maybe not the day, but you convince them to take the work to the next level.

And that's all you need is one more shot.

I got the new issue of Communication Arts Magazine today. It's the photography annual. It is beautiful. I love the new paper stock they're using for the cover and the photography is, as always, phenomenal. Congratulations to everyone in the issue, nicely done.

I love looking through award annuals. You see all of the best work in the world and it always makes me want to be a better creative. It gives me the hope that the next ad will be that good. I just love that feeling.

I have a meeting with a client tomorrow and hopefully I will convince them to try something new, to reach for that brass ring, to have their Caesar give the thumbs up. That would be a good feeling.