in praise of the red velvet kitkat

Cue up “Love Cats” by the Cure, and join me in celebrating the return of the elusive and much anticipated Red Velvet flavored KitKats.  For some reason, these are a Valentine’s Day seasonal offering, available only in the miniature size.  Look for the pink and white bag with the not-too-excessively heteronormative cartoon romantic couple on it.  (I got mine at WalMart, but they should be available anywhere midpriced consumer grade bagged candy is sold.)

If you like KitKat bars, you can guess what these are like: sweet, crunchy inside smooth, the cocoa flavored wafers buried under a thick layer of “white chocolate” aggressively (artificially) flavored to taste like cream cheese frosting.  Hardly subtle, but so, so delicious.  If you like that kind of thing.

And hey, the kitties are pretty cute.

 

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the buddha in january

The Buddha waits on red bricks/ his companion: a brave dandelion.

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mystery drawings

These are the base drawings for my experimental story for the Oh, Comics! anthology this year.  Any guesses as to what is going to be going on in Kekionga this week? And why are there two different versions of whatever this thing is?

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antelopia– squares, and a quiz

A tour of the photo archives takes us once again through the fringes of Antelopia, my ongoing project where I photograph every antelope I can find.  Due to the fact that Northwest Indiana is not prime antelope habitat (not recently, anyway), this results in a lot of taxidermy “head shots”.  I found these Antelopia denizens, among many others, at Cabela’s.  I have tentatively identified them in my new antelope handbook, Bovids of the World: Antelopes, Gazelles, Cattle, Goats, Sheep and Relatives by Jose R. Castillo, which is apparently the cornerstone of any antelope-related library.

One of them is a giveaway: the familiar American Pronghorn.  The others are (I think), a Black Wildebeest, an East African Eland, and an Angolan Gemsbok.  Can you match the antelope with its (probable) identity?

Answers throughout the week on my Instagram, @kekiongacomics, and here next week!

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happy new year …(i hope)


Sorry this isn’t a more positive greeting to 2018, but it’s the best I could manage. But at least this little brushwork guy looks vaguely hopeful. The suggestion of background represents snow and deep cold, the round face could be the returning sun (come back soon!) and his deerlike aspect recalls the reindeer of the rapidly passing holiday season.

If you, like me, are very glad to see the back of 2017, my most sincere good wishes for the new year. And stay warm.

(Lenka (new version) black and white from the new iPod.)

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football talk from boxing day

(Think of this, if you like, as the post from the 27th, celebrating a particularly pleasing outing of the traditional Boxing Day football and some truly excellent  football talk. Unfortunately the last two days haven’t lent themselves to celebration, but football talk does not date easily.  Indeed you may almost say it is timeless, which is one of the reason sports can be a comfort in times of trouble.  This blog will resume in the new year, and I sincerely hope it will be a better one for all of us than the one that is dwindling away.  I’ll be spending the next few days watching the football.)

Boxing Day, of course, is the day after Christmas, and it is celebrated in England with a full slate of football matches in the Premier League.  The first on the list, starting at 6:30 am here in the States, featured my personal team, Tottenham, at “home” at Wembley  vs. Southhampton.  I watched the taped version at a more civilized hour, and was delighted to find it was called by Peter Drury at the very top of his rhetorical game.  Here are a few samples from my notebook:

  • “Sometimes you just have to applaud the football.”
  • On a potential penalty: “He gets nothing of the ball and plenty of the man.”
  • “Only the most hardhearted were willing that [shot] to miss.”
  • “A lovely way to finish the half, a half both routine and record breaking”
  • And on Harry Kane, Hotspur’s sublime young forward, who got his second hat trick in a week: “What will history write of Harry Kane, when, eventually, a million goals from now, it is all over?”

And let’s close the blog for year with Drury’s “set piece” paragraph from the beginning of the game, transcribed in several passes from restarts of the recording.  Whatever it is that you want to keep pure and strong in your own memory, may it stay ever green.

“Well, whoever you are and whatever your tradition, this is for you a special time of year.  I do hope that you can join us in feeling this: Wembley Stadium, a sharp, bright Boxing Day morning: all the old sensations, the buzz and the blur, the unique thrill of our proud holiday fortnight.  Let no one, please let no one ever take this away.”

 

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the possum lady of old kekionga

(Our now traditional post for Christmas night, an invented-on-the-spot bit of Kekionga folklore, originally posted in 2013.)

One Christmas night we got home late from spending the holiday out of town.  Our dog sitter left the Japanese lantern on beside the front door, and in the thin layer of snow on the front walk I saw the distinct tracks of two passers by: a woman’s small boot prints and the pawprints of a large opossum.

In the house, nothing had changed, but I was sure the Possum Lady had been there.  In Kekionga, the Possum Lady and her possum visit on Christmas night after all the celebrations are over.  She doesn’t bring material presents like Santa Claus does, but if you have made a significant effort to be a decent person during the year, she may walk by your house and give you a small dose of inner strength or an extra dollop of the will to keep moving when things get difficult– gifts that adults can appreciate.

possumlady1The tracks were soon covered by the snow that began falling heavily as we unloaded the car and let the dogs out, but here’s hoping the Possum Lady thought well of us this year.

You too.

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waiting for christmas

Our annual Christmas Eve post, featuring the drawing of the day from December 24th, 2009. 

December 24, 2009

This little creature in his cave, looking out into a wintry landscape, will always make me think of Christmas Eve.  Here’s hoping you will find whatever it is you are waiting for.

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christmas wolves, part 5

(Our traditional Christmas Episode …)

“And they’re ours.  Rudolph and the Grinch belong to everybody.  But the Christmas Wolves are Kekionga’s.”

Nobody had much to say to that . And so there, Iowa thought.  Logic, mythic or otherwise, was one thing and beloved holiday traditions were another.  At Christmastime, it’s OK for even logical people to believe in Christmas Wolves, at least a little.  She peeked over at Jack and found him peeking back, and smiling that particular Jack smile, the one that said that Jack believed in stuff like that all year round, and that didn’t keep him from being logical at the same time.  (She was going to figure out how he did that, no matter how long it took. )

She looked beyond Jack to Bud leaning on the back of the bench watching the crowd (his crowd?) in a benevolent way, and back the other way to the Professor, who had managed to snag a hot cider in a styrofoam cup and was sniffing it with concentrated, uncritical pleasure.  Bud had lived here for longer than anyone could quite remember.  How many Christmases had he spent in Kekionga?  The Professor had come here when she was in high school; he’d been an adult and he was still learning.  Iowa herself hadn’t had that many yet, but they were all the Christmases she had.

And Jack, well, she knew it was his first time, but he was already better at it than everyone else.  Iowa kind of decided right then that he wasn’t ever going to spend Christmas anywhere else if she had anything to say about it.

“Rankka Rakka Voop Prit Voop!”  Josef popped out of the hood of Bud’s red hoodie, vocalizing at the top of his variable sized lungs. Because really, since when was Josef, who was usually the size of a rather large fox terrier, also small enough to hide in the hood of a Carhartt sweatshirt?

“Josef says any holiday tradition with positive social impact is a good one,” Jack translated, and since Bud nodded his approval he was probably correct.  Iowa and the Professor didn’t have time for their usual debate about whether Josef ever actually said anything or were Bud, Jack, and several of the neighborhood children were just messing with people’s heads when they interpreted his remarks, because Josef disppeared into Bud’s hood again and reappeared carrying a stem of mistletoe.

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“There,” said Jack, “is a tradition we can all get behind.”

“Speak for yourself,” said the Professor.  “I am not going to kiss Bud.”  Bud didn’t protest, so the Professor kissed Iowa’s hand in a Continental sort of way, and Iowa kissed Josef on the head and Bud on the cheek, then she turned to Jack and kissed him. Properly.  And yes, this was definitely her favorite Christmas tradition.

When they finally finished, they were alone.  “Wow,” said Jack.  “Talk about a winter wonderland.”  Iowa went to smack him, because really, he was so corny sometimes, but she stopped suddenly.  Because at that moment, just at that single, exact moment, it began to snow.

“C’mon.”  Jack was tugging at her hand.  “Let’s go by the pet store.  We should get some dog biscuits in case it keeps snowing.”

“Dog biscuits?”

“Sure,” he said. “For the Christmas Wolves.  You shouldn’t give ‘em people food.”

Iowa and Jack went running together down Indiana Avenue. And the snow fell around them, as white and perfect as the snow in a Christmas story.

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A very Merry Christmas, a happy winter holiday season, and a hopeful New Year, from everyone in Kekionga to everyone else, wherever you are.

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christmas wolves part 4

(The discussion of Kekionga’s official Christmas story continues in part 4 of the Christmas Episode.)

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“My guess,” said another voice, deep and with some kind of weird lilting accent Iowa could never quite identify, “is that the historical models were almost certainly feral dogs, perhaps of herding ancestry.”

This was turning out to be quite the little boss/subordinate holiday outing.  Bud was certainly entering into the spirit, with a holly wreath on the brim of his usual grey Stetson fly fishing hat.  If Iowa was an apprentice Librarian under the Professor, then Jack was just as much Bud’s apprentice at whatever it was they were doing at the Junkyard.  It was more than just the salvage business, that’s for sure.

The Professor pulled himself up to as close to his full height as he could get while lounging on a bench.  “Dogs don’t make much of a story, old man.  Oh, dogs herd livestock into a pen!  Dogs eat leftover food! It’s a Christmas miracle!”

‘Not to mention,” Bud went on “that I’ve lived in this town for a long time, and I don’t remember hearing about the Christmas Wolves until sometime in the late 1940s or very early ‘50s.  And I’m pretty sure when I did it was part of a marketing campaign by the Telephone and the Chamber of Commerce to encourage downtown Christmas shopping after the dual privations of the Depression and the war years. Lots of lights, lots of loaded shop windows and a distinctive holiday story to make Kekionga stand out from the next county seat.”

“Really, Bud!” Iowa was sort of appalled.  “The Christmas Wolves are real, or at least a real legend.  We learned about them in school.”

“I don’t doubt that,” muttered the Professor, whose experience with local undergraduates had left him unimpressed with the Salt County School District.  Iowa got to hear about this a lot.

“I’m sure that there are probably some kind of historical basis—I seem to remember some little pamphlets the Historical Society used to hand out; I’m sure there’s one in the Archives somewhere.  But I think if you do some research, you’ll find the Christmas Wolves are just as real as Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or the Grinch.”

“Which means they’re real.”  Jack, who had been quiet up till now, spoke with solid conviction. “They’re real because they tell the truth about Christmas. About miracles happening and people, and Whos and reindeer and wolves, all celebrating together.”  Jack had away of saying things like that and making you believe them.  That was the best thing about Jack.

“And they’re ours.  Rudolph and the Grinch belong to everybody,” Iowa added. “But the Christmas Wolves are Kekionga’s.”

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