Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Vacation~Old School

I love old photos because they teach us the art of "Old School". "Hey kids, feed the bears some raw meat while I try out this pin hole camera." On the right side of the picture, notice some "Old School" photo-shop tools: i.e. get out the Buck Knife and scratch out the riffraff.

I hope this summer you can get down and dirty with some bit of nature. Yesterday I was struggling with a creative Frankensteinish what-not, and I did not have the upper hand. So, we went for a walk. Even if you can't raft down the Grand Canyon, or climb a redwood, you can go for a summer evening walk. It will cure what ails ya. Guaranteed.

For instance, on the walk I saw a sun dog. A glowing patch of rainbow, (but not a rainbow) otherwise known as a parhelion. It was on the edge of a misty, glowing ring around the sun. When I see such flabbergasters I know that everything is going to be good. On this same walk, yellow birds, blackberries, two herons, plus I found a thingy on the ground which will go into one of my flying saucer models.

Are you having any Old School fun this summer?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lone Star Hospitality: Abilene~Part 2

If you have ever driven across Texas, you have been humbled by its flat grandeur. We drove across it in a blizzard. In a VW bug. With a squalin' baby. They shut down the interstate, so we found back roads. Is that it? Noooo. We also had a flat tire. And the jack wouldn't go high enough. That it? No. We were really cold. Did you know they find cattle with their mouths frozen to the ground? Yes.

In Timothy Eagan's book about the dust bowl, The Worst Hard Time, he describes those southern plains, "It scares {people} because the land is too much, too empty, claustrophobic in its immensity...It scared Coronado, looking for cities of gold in 1541. It scared Anglo traders who cut a trail from Independence to Santa Fe... It even scared the Comanche as they chased bison over the grass...It scared the Germans from Russia and the Scots-Irish from Alabama...It still scares people...a place where the land and its weather --probably the most violent and extreme on earth--demand only one thing: humility."

Now hold your horses. There is something even bigger: Texas hospitality! The NCCIL hosted an art exhibit of the SCBWI Golden Kite award winners. Pictured above: Larry Day, Kristen Balouch, Alan Stacey, David Diaz, Pat Cummings, Priscilla Burris, Barbara McClintock, Diane Stanley, Cecilia Yung, and moi. We were treated like Princess Amidala. Although the guys wanted to be treated like Davy Crockett.

Nice expanse inside and artwork with a remarkable variety of technique, style and emotion.
It is such a beautiful show.

Stephen Mooser and I were fixin' to hunt buffalo. He even had a shirt made for the occasion.

Turned out it was easier to go to the Perini Ranch Steakhouse. You have to bring your own Bowie knife (also known as an Arkansas tooth pick), on account of the steaks that won't quit. We are talkin' steaks that will knock you clean off'n your chair if you turn your back on 'em.

Out front they have an iron armadillo the size of a tank. This is to scare away vegetarians.
Do you know what they call an armadillo out here? A Texas speed bump.

Eating large rare steaks does kind of iffy things to folks. Why that lady in the middle started pawin' the ground. Above: Liz Mertz, Stephen Mooser, Lin Oliver, Jacqueline Gramann, and Mark Mitchell. Seriously, Lin and Steve are the founders of SCBWI. They began with a handful of writers in their living room in 1971, and it has become a vibrant, international organization.

At Frontier Texas, these bronze sculptures by T.D. Kelsey capture the thunder of the cattle drives which are such a part of Abilene's history.

Thank you Sujata, Debbie, David, and the entire crew at NCCIL and SCBWI. I love y'all.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am about to tell you something strange and wonderful~oh, wait a sec, I mean, I'm fixin' to fill yer craw with some right fine viddles. Yer thinkin', "maybe he's a Texan, maybe not." Well, I just got off the wagon train from Abilene, Texas. I'm here to tell you, you either die and dry on that rugged dusty trail, or you eat yer way out.

I ate my way out. See that poor lady at the bottom of the photo? Not so lucky. Don't you know, there's slim pickin' when it comes to vegetables in Texas. Why, there's a law that if they find one, they have to deep fry it to make sure it's dead. And if you want iced tea, forget it, unless you ask for "Aas tay". Also, just so ya know, molasses is pronounced, "Mol-eye-sayess".

I went to the country of Texas for an exhibition of art curated by the brilliant David Diaz, at The National Center of Children's Illustrated Literaure, (NCCIL for short). This art opening features illustrations by the Golden Kite Medal and Honor winners. The Golden Kite is awarded annually by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

There are around eighty original works of art from a mind-blowing array of artists such as Sid Fleichman, David Diaz, Diane de Groat, Alice & Martin Provensen, Tomie dePaolo, Trina Schart Hyman, Don Wood, Barbara Helen Berger, Susan Jeffers, Jerry Pinkney, Kevin Hawkes, William Joyce, Keith Baker, Robert Sabuda, Aki Sogabe, Janet Stevens, Uri Shulevitz, Laura McGee Kvasnosky, David Shannon, Kristen Balouch, Marla Frazee, Barbara McClintock, Larry Day, Yuyi Morales, myself, and many others.

This show will be touring the country, and if you have a chance to see it, don't miss it.

Above, Barbara McClintock sketching and telling stories. She and I had a marker pen duel, and she kicked my but with her robotic fox and its fifty ton tongue. I've gone into therapy and training for a re-match.

There are a lot of skulls around Abilene. This is on account of all the meat everybody eats. Here is Barbara McClintock, me, and a bronze buffalo. Barbara is the one with the sunglasses on.

At Perini's Restaurant in front of the catfish cook. Me, Kristen Balouch, Heather Powers, Diane Stanley, and Jacqueline Gramann.

Heather, Priscilla Burris, Cecilia Yung, David Dias, and Diane Stanley.

The heat and the meat can get to you after a while. Above, Larry Day laying around on the ground in his nice clothes. But this shows the dedication of the illustrator. It seems it was imperative to get a butt-shot of a bronze buffalo.