take a ride on one of those great japanese matchbox labels

f0cf7cf359dc4c21338eb70e97a55a6c (1)Saddle up your favorite snail (a pal is always good for a lift) and come with us for a trip to that very special realm of imagination, the world of the Japanese matchbox label: where absurdity meets high levels of craftsmanship for some of the best, and some of the weirdest, small scale printmaking ever.  The level of detail in this little image is delightful.   Ride ‘em bee-boy, even if you look more like wasp with the head of a praying mantis. But that only makes it more fun.

(Find my new collection of Japanese matchbox labels on the “labels” board on my Pinterest. My handle is “blackberry fox”.  Pinterest.  A most amusing internet obsession.)

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music from the tiny desk

Here in Kekionga we’re big fans of that great gospel flavored rhythm and blues band from Alabama, St.Paul and the Broken Bones.  When they played the Manitou this fall, they pretty much blew the roof of the place.  Took this pic with the small camera from the balcony before the show*:DSCF1506-cropNPR’s online series of Tiny Desk Concerts are pretty amazing, too.  I bet you can guess where this is going.  Watch St. Paul and the Broken Bones live from the Tiny Desk.  click here.

(*The part of the imaginary Manitou Ballroom is played here by the Metro in Chicago.)

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tumblr sunday–a short step to steampunk

tumblr_ng893hwOus1s3hp12o1_1280Awesome Steampunk Iron Man image by Jason Kang! But really, isn’t Tony Stark really pretty darn steampunk already? It’s a short step, but one we’re glad that Mr Kang chose to take.

I couldn’t find any commentary from the artist on this piece, but I’m pretty sure the gent with the goggles pretty much has to be Jarvis, and the lady in leather would be Pepper Potts.  Of course, there are multiple steampunk Starkverses; in mine, Jarvis is a steam powered robot.  Or a clockwork automaton.   Or an alien who looks a little like a giant cat with goggles.

I should go to bed.


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origami on a toothpick

toothpick origami-blogSomebody at the Chinese buffet folded a tiny origami cube out of a scrap of blue paper and displayed it on a toothpick.

(Close up with the New Phone Camera, cropped and tweaked a bit in post on the newly upgraded editing suite.  It was, as always, a bit of bear to get the camera to believe I really wanted to focus on the small object rather than all the details of the restaurant gear on the counter in the background, but once I convinced it, I’m quite pleased with the modest depth of field blur it can produce.  Not sure if it’s blurry enough to qualify as “bokeh”, but it looks kinda neat.)

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the collector of stories

Or rather the collector of lists of all possible stories.  That’d be me. There’s lists of 25 or 28, and my favorite is the list of two.*  Today I found a list of four I’d never seen before.  The quote is from Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho,  but he attributes his list to Jorge Luis Borges.

Borges said there are only four stories to tell: a love story between two people, a love story between three people, the struggle for power and the voyage. All of us writers rewrite these same stories ad infinitum.

* Stories where someone is trying to go home, and stories where a stranger comes to town.

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top ten excuses for typos in my blog posts

Been spending way too much time recently fixing typos in my blog posts.  Normally I’m at least a decent writer, good enough to manage it’s and its, anyway.  Miss Foote taught me better than that, back in high school. She wasn’t big on excuses, but perhaps you will be more forgiving …

 Top Ten Excuses for Typos in My Blog Posts

  • It was late./ I was tired. (tie)
  • Cut finger cooking; bandage makes it hard to type.
  • Posting from phone; keyboard too small.
  • Stupid autofill!
  • Posting from tablet; hit wrong suggested word.
  • Dog jumped up on my lap while I was typing.
  • Too much wine with dinner.
  • Posting from desktop; couldn’t find my wrist support and my carpal tunnel was killing me.
  • Stupid autocorrect!
  • You know that thing that happens? When you’re sort of typing phonetically, like you’re taking dictation from your own brain?


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new fountain pen guilt

Hey, it’s a thing.  Normally, you should be gloriously  un-guilty about your collection of fountain pens: they’re actual tools, they last almost forever if you take good care of them,  and as a working artist, you’re pretty good about avoiding the really expensive ones. But every once in a while the lure of a particular Japanese soft steel nib meets the temptation of late night Internet shopping, and a box comes in the mail.  And then a couple days later you have to take the dog to the vet and the car breaks down in the vet’s parking lot, and you have two unplanned bills and you should really send the pen back since you haven’t filled it up yet.

But you don’t. And it turns out to be a really cool pen and you like it a lot.  But it’ll be a while before you can use it without feeling a little guilty.

Here’s the sketchbook sample page from my new Pilot “Elabo”:


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exposure compensation– in neon

Although it is modest and subtle (for neon), the sign in the window of the local Chinese buffet has always been a personal favorite.  Its design has a heraldic quality, as if it is filled with obscure symbolic meaning.December first neon one-blogIt looked particularly good in the grey overcast of last Sunday afternoon, but I was disappointed by my first attempt to photograph it with the New Phone Camera.  Washed out colors are generally blah.  Verdict: overexposed. As often happens, I had a difference of opinion with my camera’s light meter.  Of course, I have exposure compensation,  so I win.

Exposure compensation (EV), for the uninitiated, is the mechanism that allows the photographer to overrule the camera’s meter settings.  To punch up the colors, I wanted to let in a bit less light, so it was time to dial in a little -EV.

December first neon two-blogThere.  That’s much better.  The colors look great.  But it may have gone too far the other way–the image is now distinctly underexposed.  Of course, this is a phone camera running a basic app, and it only offers exposure compensation in full stops.  -1 EV is just too much in this situation.  If I’d had one of my real cameras with exposure compensation calibrated in thirds of a stop, I could have tried -.3 EV and -.7 EV and one of them would have been just right.

But then I think about how amazing it is that I have a camera like this in my pocket at all.

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december first

It’s the first of December, an important first of the month.  It’s the last month of year, the first month that it’s really winter, and it’s the date when most of us really have to face up to the dreaded or anticipated Holiday Season with all its ambiguity.  And if you blog on WordPress.com, or follow blogs you find there, you will notice that the weather has changed.   It has begun to snow.  Don’t worry.  I don’t think it’s going to stick.

(It’s fitting, perhaps, that yesterday, the last day of November, was probably the last day for this for a while.  December first feet-blogGood bye, sandals.  See you again during the Big Thaw.  There is going to be a Big Thaw this year.  There better be.  Or so help me I am moving to Biloxi, Mississippi where I will never have to wear shoes (or snow boots) again.)

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tumblr sunday: a question of identity.

tumblr_nfhsg4x3Li1sn75h6o1_500What is this “dog”  you speak of?  I’m an otter!

Aren’t I?

(Totally amazing image via tumblr.  Photoshopped? Probably.   But who cares?)

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