farewell to fall in four squares

And a long, warm fall ends suddenly in a weekend of drenching rain at just above the freezing point.  The accompanying high winds have taken almost all the leaves and we are in the winter gap again, waiting (with varying degrees of eagerness) for snow.

The best expression of how I feel was found in a strange-ish place: with all my fall photography this year, the answer was on the camera roll in my phone.  These four pictures were taken together within a few minutes of a sunny October afternoon.  The subject is the large leaves of ordinary American yard maples falling into a garden of Japanese maples and large stones. I was trying to capture the ongoing presence of both kinds of maples in so many local gardens.

(I’ve set this gallery to display in random order, so feel free to refresh and change the composition.  And of course you can click on each image to see it individually, and you can always contact me for a full sized version.)

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best of the drawing of the day: bench

Back in September, I did a warm up to Inktober where I drew a drawing every day that had a piece of furniture in it.  “Bench” is one of my favorites.  The figure’s face, the inking style, and the big black umbrella recall the work of Edward Gorey, one of my favorite artists, though I would imagine Gorey’s rain would have been coming straight down.  The dog is not Gorey’s typical big black dog, but the Dog With Three Tails, a familiar folkloric figure (or Saint) found throughout the Knotted Rope.

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true red

One of the jobs I’ve always wanted is color namer.  Somebody has to name all those hipster clothing colors, all those hundreds and thousands of nearly identical paint colors on those little chip cards, and especially the ever-cool names of car colors.

“True Red” is a pretty sound and accurate, if not a very creative, name for the color this little hatchback with its back wheels tucked into the corners.  “Very Bright Tomato Red” would also work.  On a cloudy day like this one, the intense orange red can probably be seen from space.

The car, of course, is an early 2010s Mazda 2, and it joins the Dolphin Gray Mica Mazda 3 and the NA Miata in Twilight Blue over tan and tan as Mazda members of the household fleet.  Zoom zoom!

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movie time (not at the cinemark): thor: ragnarok

Went to see Thor: Ragnarok, the latest outing in the seemingly endless series we call the Marvel Cinematic Universe, last Friday at a theater that was not the Cinemark.  (This reminded me why I prefer to see my movies at the Cinemark, not other theaters where it smells funny and they don’t turn the lights down for the 3D trailers. Sorry, theater owners, but when the glasses go on the lights go down.  Let people get the most out of that Black Panther trailer.  ‘Cause it’s a beautiful trailer.)

By this time, regular readers know that I consider the MCU a guilty pleasure, that I feel the movies within it very dramatically in quality, that the series is best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that its finales are strongly in need of an edit.  I go to these movies for the character stuff, the worldbuilding and spectacle, and for the first, second, and maybe third action sequence, and then I sit through the usually deadly dull “big blow up” to get to the concluding character bits and the credits and credits scenes.

Thor: Ragnarok is more of the same.  From the trailers, I expected this one to turn on the characters of Thor (not terribly interesting), the Hulk/Bruce Banner (quite interesting, particularly the latter as acted by Mark Ruffalo) and Loki, and to be a representative of the lighter side of the MCU rather than the deadly serious. And so it was, mostly.  The rest is under the cut in case you want to see it for yourself before you read.

Continue reading

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question of the day!

This beautiful little watercolor by Beatrix Potter, an illustration for her story “The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan”, raises a question worthy of deep consideration, particularly for small dogs and those of us who have the souls of small dogs.  Where, o where, is the pie made of mouse?  This is my new “answer a question with a question” response for all philosophical enquiries.

  • “Why are we born only to suffer and die?”
  • ” And where is the pie made of mouse?”
  • “Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?”
  • “Where is the pie made of mouse?”

Etc. Etc.  Also, although I have always had Cardigan Welsh corgis, and love them dearly, there’s a part of me who always wanted to have a little black dog, and to me the black Pomeranian is the quintessential little black dog.

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drawing of the day color special: iowa’s mary marvel twin set

It’s no secret that Iowa Ginsberg’s character design is based in part on Fawcett’s immortal Mary Marvel. (All of Kekionga is strongly informed by Fawcett’s Captain Marvel Universe of the 1940s and 50s, but that’s a bigger story.)  Anyway, Iowa and I were looking at this classic cover for a Mary Marvel paper doll set, and I pointed out that she probably wouldn’t be caught dead in any of the outfits.  Nay, nay, said Iowa, and she pointed out that she would personally rock a yellow and black plaid skirt with a process blue twin set with matching anklets and little pompom cap.  And her red Doc Martens.

I should know better by now than to argue with Iowa.

(Apprentice Librarians never go anywhere without their Satchels That Are Bigger Than They Look.)

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rose gold is real

For anyone who gets mildly annoyed by trends in color, and perhaps gets even more annoyed with “rose gold” everything, saying “rose gold” is an artificial concept … I recommend a walk through a garden of faded hydrangeas on a cloudy November day.  It’s all rose gold, baby.  Even the air is rose gold.

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the halloween episode

(In celebration of the holiday, please enjoy a “rerun” of A Cartoonist in Kekionga’s classic Halloween Episode, “This Halloween in Kekionga” originally posted on this date in 2015 …)

You know that guy who lives in the double house down in the middle of the block on Shakespeare Street?  The really tall guy who fixes up antique radios?  He does programs at the library sometimes, where he brings in a radio and plays all kinds of crackly old shows; they’re like stories acted out with sound effects and music and they’re quite interesting.


His house is always a good one to visit on Halloween.  This year he had one of his radios playing on the porch with a purplish light on top of it, and a purple light in his street light.  It was a really simple style compared to the elaborate setups his neighbors had, with pull-apart giant spider webs and and fake tombstones and about a million plastic skeletons, but that made it even creepier.  And the darker it got, the creepier it was.


Instead of one of the horror story programs he’d played this week at the library, the radio was playing some really weird music, sort of spooky and delicate at the same time.  Nina said it sounded like old Victorian china dolls dancing in black lace dresses, and Mr. Spit made her shut up because the image in his head was creeping him out.

When we knocked on the door (that’s what the sign said to do), he did that thing with making a face in a weird colored light that some grownups do, and even though you are half expecting it, it always makes you jump.

Halloween2015-black and white-blog

But he gave out some awesome treats, peanut butter Snickers and Twixes and mini bags of Fritos and Doritos,  so we were OK with it.

Halloween2015-good night

So Happy Halloween from the Old Radio Guy’s front porch, right here in Kekionga.  It’s all the way dark now, and everything’s all purple and orange and amazing.  Nina and Murphy and Pounce are dancing on the sidewalk to the spooky doll music, and the rest of us are eating Doritos.

(Thanks to regular reader Wolfie, the real Old Radio Guy.  He just started texting me pictures earlier tonight and this sort of happened.  I edited the photographs and wrote the story, but it’s all his fault. He’s Kekionga canon now …)

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a photographer in kekionga: halloween

Iowa:  Suki Halloo is the best photographer I know.  If I had to guess, it’s because she always has a camera with her, and she takes an awful lot of pictures. (Practice is how you develop any kind of skill.) She calls a camera a “third eye”, which coming from her is kinda funny, but you have to know her to get the joke.  Lately, she’s been completely obsessed with Halloween and all the Halloween directions people have up around their houses and in their yards.


We’ve all grown up with things like this: seeing them for sale in every store and walking through the neighborhood seeing people putting them up and enjoying the effect.  It takes somebody looking at the phenomenon from outside (I don’t know where Suki comes from, but I would guess it’s very far away) to see how strange it really is.  Is it genuinely macabre, or just good fun in a dark way we don’t generally let ourselves get into?  I think Suki might be wondering about this too, or maybe she just likes skulls and spiderwebs and hands reaching out of the hosta beds …

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an adorable cretaceous pet

Back before I got my first corgi, my inner life was full of imaginary pets.  Not just dogs, but tame foxes, wolves, crows, hedgehogs, armadillos and giant fruit bats.  And of course, since  imagination is cheap, I also kept dragons, mammoths, thylacines and of course dinosaurs of all kinds.  With all due respect to my beloved dogs, there are still a few of the imaginary beasties hanging around. And modern reconstructed dinosaurs, so much fuzzier and feathery-er , make even better imaginary pets than the giant lizards of my youth.

Add to the list, if you will, Sinosauropteryx, a small feathered bipedal dinosaur from China, who scientists revealed today almost certainly had a cute raccoon-style bandit mask and a long ring tail, and even a white belly like all the best pets.  Imagine this little guy curled up at the foot of your bed, trotting along beside you carrying your phone and sketchbook (and his own treats) in his saddlebags, or watching TV next to you on the couch. He will catch lots of mice and the adorable videos you make with him will go viral on a regular basis.

Read more about the real Sinosauropteryx, and the interesting scientific background behind bandit mask markings (along with ringed tails and countershading, which means having a dark back and a light belly) in this article on Gizmodo.

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