Monday, September 28, 2009

The word RACISM gets thrown around a lot today...

These videos are not from 60 years ago. They are from now. And while these are set in Russia, the same thing is going on all over the world. 

This is why what ratings sluts like Rush L. are doing is so very dangerous. All this nation needs is the slightest spark. 

So what do we do to CRUSH THIS? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Kindergarten is going well for big bro. He is loving it and doing well.

Little bro is not having fun, but he will get used to it. 

Two more years, I try to tell him, will pass like an hour. 

Take it from me. 
As I look from the upcoming Halloween back to this one... 

and this one...

It was just a moment ago. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Jarrett K is the man! He set up a celebratory blog for Tomie dePaola's 75th Birthday, inviting illustrators to share work for our patron saint of paint.

Below is the link as well as the piece I created for Tomie, who has been a family icon from the time I was crawling.


Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day!

A rainy September morning. A good day for T's first day of school.
He is very excited.
I painted T man whatever he wanted on his lunch bag. He has recently tasted the awesomeness of Star Wars, so.... 
He is good to go. 

Have a good day, my boy. Go get em!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lesson Learned from the Students

These past two days were Back to School Retreat for my school. As an art teacher I rarely get to hang out on these awesome retreats, but I got lucky on this one, it being close enough to drive to. 

First thing I learned from my students, who range in age from late 5th grade through high school, is they are somebody's little babies. I guess I always knew this in one sense, but I watched parents dropping off these kids and this year was spectacularly different for me. I am dropping my own baby off at Kindergarten on Monday and I am nearly overcome with panic about it. I love my little man more than worlds and worlds and worlds, yet I know that for him, adversity, challenges and even pain are the things that will forge him into strong steel and beautiful art. It is the stuff us parents want to keep our precious ones away from but it is the stuff that makes them who they are. I know this and yet I sit here typing in a cold sweat, pins and needles daggering me in the heart. Breathe, Jesse.  .  .  .  Breathe.

Ok, better. 

Anyway, I watched the parents of these big kiddos drop them off, feigning cool as cucumber, knowing inside they wanted to tackle their children with kisses and hugs and "I Love You's".  And, teenagers being teenagers, most of them rolled out of the hugs in typical fashion, putting on the show that they could NOT WAIT to be rid of these old annoying feeblers. (We know they love us, parents, but it is all part of the dance they have to do during this age. And, again, I speak from experience, having the sweetest of all teenagers myself, who if he read this would die a thousand deaths. Good thing he could care less what his daddy is writing. hahaha! Sad but probably true.)

So, as these parents dropped their grown babies off I had one of those sunbeam moments. I was struck by just how precious all these students are. I knew it before but I had not gotten that quite as strongly. This time, my own baby going to school for the first time, I empathized both with the parents and the students and my understanding and compassion grew. 

So, this year, I will be taking even better care of these very precious ones, whose parents love them just like I love my own tiny bear.  And if I can get them to dive into the process of creating art, of appreciating beauty and form and line and understanding their own creative potential, my job will only be half done. The other half? Just love. Easy as that. 

Book Review Thursday

Those Darn Squirrels!
by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Clarion Books

I woke early to the sounds of hilarity. Both boys were combusting into laughter over and over again. The culprit? Their new favorite book.

Here  is the link to order it on Amazon. I highly suggest it if you like silly books with heart that make little boys explode with giggles. 

My quickie review:  The writer is clearly an awesome comic. His delivery is perfect. Very sweet story centered around a grumpy old man. The art is weird and wibbly, enhancing the text to a T. Perfectly simple yet lots of fun details, including the freaky little earlobes of the man and the lips of the squirrels eating potato chips and drinking cherry cola (to stay awake all night).
The story is a classic format of learning to appreciate what is right under your nose, but it is told in such a hilarious way that it makes it an instant favorite. Especially for my silly boys. 

Nice book, fellas. Can't wait to see more.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fear and Loathing in America

I pose these scenarios. 

A Palestinian president in Israel.

A Jewish president in Gaza. 

Suppose that president was making huge reforms that were solving longstanding complaints of the entire country. Suppose that president saved the economy from the brink of collapse? Suppose that president was disarming current and  future conflicts, saving thousands of young lives. 

Would any of that matter? 

Of course not. 
Because for the most part, people are just unable to rise above their animal impulses and their bitter prejudices.

So we have these foaming idiots raging about Obama speaking to kids in school. 
Are you kidding me? 

He is the president. He gets to do that. 
What kind of perverse ideology do these bigots have that they think they can protest the president of the US speaking to kids? (Better, apparently, that he wait a few years and kill them in battles for oil, once they turn 18.) Man, talk about great lessons in Patriotism. These are the kids who are gonna grow up to bomb federal buildings if the conservatives keep it up.

I knew this was gonna get ugly when my man was elected, but I guess I had some little hope that these people would rise above it and put their actions where their mouths have been the last eight years and support the President of the United States. 

My brother Ben, who, like me, was once  a moderate Independent said, George Bush made me a Democrat. I will take it even one step further and say that not only am I now a Democrat, but these evil bastards are turning me into a LIBERAL. I just want to be so far separated from this kind of moronic mindset that hell, I am about to call myself a Communist just to be further away from them. 

Jeez! What to do? What to do?


Among other fun things, this weekend was the Andy Makie Music festival. T man was so excited he was beside himself. He got to "make" a Strumstick (a local favorite-one or three string guitar). I helped a little but T did manage to glue the body and screw in the keys. 
Andy is a treasure. We are glad he is a local here. 

Painting coming soon. I have had several requests to do a portrait of Andy. I shot some great stuff to work from so .... painting coming soon.

COME see more about Andy here

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Book Review Thursday. (on Sunday)

So I dont have a watch. Anyway, regardless of which Thusrday of the week it is, here is my new review:

This morning, I am going to meet up with J. Marshall Martin, of, at a coffee shop in my little town. He has been a total bro, helping me hustle Chess Rumble, pointing me to school visit  contacts in Seattle, St. Luis, and elsewhere. His reviews of Chess Rumble were very cool and he gave us links on his website

Well, he sent me a copy of his latest book, The Bird, a while ago. I hesitantly admit that I am a slow reader (I used to be the fastest reader in the west as a kid, but have slowed down as an old dude for some reason), but my delay in reading this book was due to the fact that my wife and then my 17 yr old son were first in line (both because they are faster readers than I but also because they are fierce, serious readers who devour books like food). So, once they finished it, I was finally able to enjoy it myself. 

My thoughts on The Bird:

Big heart, conveyed through a surprisingly innocent story. It centers around a teenage boy yet the book lacks violence, graphic sex, drugs, all the stuff that pop culture focuses on. Which suits it just fine. Often, especially in movies, we see Formula heavy handedly molest decent story lines. Throw in a sex scene that does not forward the plot in any way, but is required to guarantee sales. Demographics and focus groups and blah, blah, blah. So annoying. Young people like what all people like, a good story told in the best way possible. That's why sincere artists and writers will still attract young readers and viewers to their work, regardless of how well their work fits into the formulas of old, rich suits who will never be on any leading edge but can only ever chase trends. We like sincerity and The Bird has got it. 

I also quite appreciate the blending of reality and symbolic, dreamlike elements. The owl gave me goosebumps, even before I found out its importance later in the book. The tempo of the book was like that of a road trip, cruising comfortably along, not disrupted by the memories and flashbacks. 

The sadness of the main character feels very real. It doesn't feel like a foreign sorrow that the writer conveys.  It makes me wonder how much of the story is drawn from the author's life. 

One last thing, I really love how at the end of the story, we find that Angie, the girl along for the ride, may actually be someone else entirely. That kind of ambiguity is so cool to me. Trusting your readers to draw their own conclusions and not needing to spell it all out for them.

So, big props to J. Marshall Martin on his second novel. I enjoyed this book deeply. 
Good work, bro.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Mom, getting boys ready for bed: "Tomorrow morning is the Andy Mackey Music Festival. You can make instruments, play games and do lots of cool stuff."

T: "I am SOOO excited!"

long pause....

T, with a totally serious look on his face: "How do you make night quicker?"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Freaks and Geeks

I love Superbad and Funny People and lots of those movies but THE best work Judd Apatow has done yet is the show, Freaks and Geeks. 

If you have never seen it, it is a charming, sweet, vulnerable show.
You can see the roots of all of the other Apatow movies in this show. But this is the best of it. 
Check them out on google video. And if you do, just give it fifteen minutes or so. Slowish to start, but you kinda get hooked right in to the characters through the actors' amazing young performances. Bill, pictured above, is the MAN. If you don't know, now you know. 

This is the Pilot. Check it out or don't. Whatever. 
But if you end up liking it, let me know. 

Cause, seriously, I liked it enough to post about it on a freaking blog. (Guess that answers which category I fall into.... ha!)

Honestly, at one point in the last episode of the show, when "Ripple" starts playing, I just lose it. Such a beautiful story, so well told. Aw, damn. 

Gotta go. Got something in my eye.