best of the drawing of the day, week 114– a magic user

Welcome to Best of the Drawing of the Day Weekend, a festive long weekend of posts devoted to catching up on the weekly Best of the Drawing of the Day feature, which was sadly neglected during the World Cup.  This feature now returns to its regular Thursday night spot on the schedule.  As if this blog has a schedule.  It is to laugh.

This, according to the handy caption provided at the time it was drawn, is a magic user:drawingoftheday-week114--a magic userI have a love-hate relationship with the term “magic user”.  It’s general and useful, and of course it reminds those of us of A Certain Age of youthful ventures into the world of the creative imagination in the form of games of Dungeons and Dragons.  But it’s a dry term that lacks the charm of words like wizard and sorcerer, and my usual default, “mage”, which is open to endless interpretation.  I don’t know exactly why I used the term here. Perhaps I was suggesting that even the character doesn’t want to define his abilities or his ethical position by using a more emotionally loaded word.

This burly hexapod, with his nonchalant display of some kind of raw power,  may be a psi anyway, if there’s a difference.  (And doesn’t that open a whole new kettle of fish. )

To change the subject, you can see that my new “scritchy scratchy pen” is developing nicely– the entire drawing was inked with that fine nibbed pen,  for what I am hoping is an etching-like effect.  The “magic” was added after the drawing was finished, with a brush.  Anyone with an opinion about why for about the last year, year and a half, I’ve started drawing so many characters with dark finger and toenails is welcome to share it.

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a last look at the world cup notebook

Taking one last tour through the eleven (!) pages of letter sized legal pad (not a real notebook, sorry) I filled up while watching this summer’s World Cup games.  As always, it’s not about sports at all– it’s about looking at the world, listening to some really elegant language, and having fun with the weird stuff. (Sport is a microcosm, blah, blah, blah …)

  • During the Argentina/Netherlands semi, a former Argentine player who had recently died was described as “One of the greatest wizards ever to wield a football wand”.
  • “Argentina in the vocal ascendancy now in the arena …” means that their fans are getting louder.
  • “Late joy”= goals scored late in the game.
  • From now on whenever I see a guy in a dark blue suit, a white shirt, and an orange tie, I will automatically assume he is a member of the Netherlands national football team’s coaching staff.
  • During the long scoreless tie in the final, the commentators were mightily irked by the network’s repeated cuts to “beauty shots” of the sun setting picturesquely behind the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado.  Perhaps, they suggested, we should be watching the football match?  One snarkily informed “returning viewers” that the score is now two-nil, and was immediately hushed by the other.  I pictured him getting kicked in the shin rather hard.
  • Quoted without comment: “Argentine fans are quite fond of singing that recreation they have of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit ‘Bad Moon Rising’, which is all about how [Argentinian football great] Maradona is better than [Brazilian football great] Pele, and one or two other themes as well.”
  • “One or two other themes.”  I bet.  That’s one way to put it.
  • All through the tournament, I was amazed by how effectively the players controlled the ball, particularly how they seemed to be able to stop it dead in its tracks at exactly the place they wanted it to stop.  Of course, it doesn’t always work that way.  On many occasions the ball seemed to stop directly in front of the other team’s keeper.  Instant clearance, and play goes on.

I’ll be back to watch some more, maybe in four years, maybe sooner.

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world cup finals notes

Generally speaking, I tend to forget about the World Cup pretty much immediately once it’s over.  Then it comes as a big surprise to me four years later when the compelling narrative of this classic tournament seems to start up again out of nowhere.  (I’m planning to keep this blog going, so watch out for it.)  Granted, I keep my eye on the Olympic tournament as well, but that’s really just part of the whole festival.  In the World Cup month, it’s all about the futbol.

I got into it a little deeper this time: learned more about the game, actually came to a full understanding of the mysteries of the group system, and developed an oddly passionate attachment to stoppage time  as it is traditionally administered. FIFA football does not need a time clock, especially one that stops and starts.   This is the beautiful game, people.  You can play it on any clock or watch.  That’s what makes it beautiful.

I have also picked up a new dog in international competitions, to join my poor unlucky Selecao Brasileira and the ever reliable Oranje:  El Tri, the national team of Mexico.  Ochoa and his teammates in the lightning bolt kits won me over with their passion and their game and gritty play.  They say it only takes one great performance at the right time to make a fan, and I think I will be a Mexico supporter now.  Why not?

Frankly the finals weekend was a bit of a letdown, but anything would be after the dramatic and historical Brazil-Germany game and the defensive battle between Argentina and the Netherlands.  The defeat of a dispirited Brazil by a tired looking Netherlands was a bit of a nothing, particularly for those who support both teams, and Germany-Argentina for the championship was full of failed scoring chances on both sides that made for a much less interesting scoreless tie than several others I saw during the tournament.  (What a very peculiar thing to say.)

No matter what a world full of Brazil supporters were doing, I could not bring myself to root for Germany.  I think you actually have to be Brazilian to hate Argentina that much.  (I personally do not have any strong opinions about Argentina, as least as regards sporting life.)   I do think the game would have been much prettier to watch if Germany would have been in their very handsome crimson and black “lucky” kit, which they were wearing when they defeated Brazil, and Argentina had been wearing their elegant and iconic blue and white stripes.  Ah well.

The blog bids a final farewell to the World Cup, with more fashion notes and British snark, tomorrow.

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werewolfgifSometimes you see an animated .gif and it just seems to say everything you want to say for a whole day.  Plus, werewolf.  (File this under “I wish I’d thought of this myself”.) The World Cup final and some cool photographs and a lot of catch-up drawings of the day are coming soon, but for now: when the music’s over/turn out the lights.

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tumblr sunday– surrealistic swami

manrayselfportrait1930Today we have a self portrait of surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray in an improvised turban decorated with what appears to be a dried starfish. He looks like he’s dressed as a mystic or a swami for a costume party, though of course a surrealist can do stuff  like this at any time for no reason at all.  I collected  for the Coelacanth Gallery because it’s an elegant black and white portrait of an interesting person, taken by a photographer whose work I admire. (Yeah, they happen to be the same guy in this case.)  It’s posted here as a tribute to my neighbor, T.M., who told me three weeks ago that Germany was unstoppable and was going to take it all in the World Cup.  You’re our local sports swami, dude.

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the answer to yesterday’s question is:

A small statue of a rat meditating!  Everybody needs a small Mexican pottery statue of Happy Buddha Rat*.   He is usually going to sit behind my keyboard under my monitor, but I took him outside to photograph him.  As usual, I kind of went to town with the editing suite on the phone and ended up making a variety of Happy Buddha Rat squares, which might make good icons.

*If nothing else, this wonderful rat inspired one of those famous sentences never before spoken in the English language, in this case: “I have to get my meditating rat out of your car.”

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things to want and buy

A cartoonist spent a day out today, wandering across two counties, scribbling in her notebook, taking pictures of random objects, eating in cafes, and shopping.  There were many things to want and buy! Which of the following did she bring home?

  • large Mexican pottery rattlesnake,  glazed in bright colors and folkloric patterns
  • organic dog harnesses made of all natural soy fibers
  • live banana tree
  • small statue of a rat meditating
  • big baritone wind chime that sounds like a gong
  • beach towel in an Indian blanket pattern
  • package of four cloth leaves, about a foot across, fuzzy on one side and shiny on the other, one tan, one dark red, one dark brown, one olive green)

Answer tomorrow!


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world cup semifinals notes

The semifinals in this World Cup pretty much reflected what most American sports fans know and think about the Beautiful Game.  They know it is gritty yet slow paced, with a lot of action and not a lot of scoring, that even a single goal can be a rare treat and some games, the ones the real fans call the best games, grind through all 120 possible minutes with no score at all, to be settled in the heartbreaking gut check of a penalty shootout.  And they think “the rest of the world’s football” would be a lot better if somebody scored a whole lot of goals.

In the semifinal we got one of each.  Yesterday’s long, rainy struggle between the Netherlands and Argentina went down to a shootout.  And yes, my Oranje lost.  But my man Van Persie (Dutch striker.  Very handsome.)  subbed out near the end of the game having run 11.23 K , some of it in the pouring rain, and everybody else on both sides worked just as hard to get that scoreless tie and it was really sort of epic.  Even if I don’t really understand it.

And then there was Wednesday’s game.  You may have heard about it?  The one where Germany beat Brazil?  Into the ground? 7-1?   I was pretty confident I was seeing something rather special by the second goal, but when the Germans ended up scoring 4 goals in 6 minutes of clock time, I started feeling like I was in the presence of history.  And according to the commentators, I wasn’t wrong:

“I hope the people in the United States are sitting and enjoying this game, because they will never see a World Cup semifinal like this for the rest of their lives.  I am shell shocked.”

And these are old British football experts who have seen thousands of games in person and more on film and who know pretty much everything there is to know about the sport.  Even if you could care less about the outcome it was worth watching to hear these jaded old guys trot out the really strong football related language:

  • “If this was boxing, the referee would be stopping it to save Brazil from further punishment.”
  • “Brazil has simply unravelled.”
  • “You might as well just finish the game and walk off if you’re not going to run around.”
  • “I keep saying ‘appalling’ but I’m running out of words.”

What happened to Brazil?  Well, their star player, Neymar, was hurt, and their captain, and the core of their defense, was suspended for being shown too many little yellow cards.  Maybe they were never as good as they seemed to be, and maybe home field advantage can only do so much.  Maybe national pride and hope can become a burden rather than an encouragement.  Maybe they simply unravelled.

It will be interesting to see who the thousands of Brazilian fans will support in the final– Germany, whose supporters seem to consist of Germans and the players’ moms, or Argentina, Brazil’s major sporting rival.  Will hemispheric solidarity trump everyday hatred between the yellow and green and the sky blue and white vertical stripes?  No European side has ever won a World Cup staged in the Americas.

My football-loving neighbor told me two weeks ago Germany was going to win it all.  I’m afraid he may be proved right.

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how to make fake cinnamon rolls. hint: the cinnamon is not fake.

If you sometimes get a craving for big, sticky, yeasty cinnamon rolls, the kind with the white vanilla frosting all over them, and you also happen to have someone in your household who likes that dreadful King’s Hawaiian Bread, there is an easy solution to your craving.  Warning: this solution is hardly perfect from a nutritional standpoint, but it is much, much better for you than one of those gutbomb cinnamon rolls, and you don’t have to drive to the mall to get it.

King’s Hawaiian Bread, for those who are lucky enough to be unfamiliar with it, is a ghastly,  oversweetened, chunk style version of traditional soft crust white bread.  When used as advertised, as dinner rolls or buns for savory sandwiches, it is really quite horrible.  But I will admit it comes into its own when you let it get slightly stale and repurpose it.

Take a slightly stale King’s roll and slice it in thirds horizontally with a super sharp bread knife.  Soften some butter in the microwave and mix in a bit of sugar (remember the bread is already quite sweet) and a generous spoonful of really good cinnamon.  Butter the top and the bottom of the roll with the cinnamon butter, stack it back up, wrap it in a paper towel, and microwave it for 20 seconds or so.  And you have a pretty fabulous fake cinnamon roll.

Note: when you make these while distracted by a World Cup football match on a cloudy day, and the kitchen is in shadows, be sure to read the labels on those bottles you rummage out of the spice cabinet.  It’s  “Cinnamon” you’re looking for, not “Cayenne Pepper”.

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the dogs who belong to these

My dogs are normally pretty friendly, but they don’t want to meet the dogs that belong to these tie-outs.IMG_20140708_180313(More photographs of dogs with large, inexplicable rusty metal objects found on the sidewalks around the diggings for the new storm sewers.  The corgis report that walking in the dirt and sticking their heads into concrete pipes to look for mice are fun activities for dogs and much better than ordinary walks.)

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