Here’s a pencil drawing I just finished this morning. It’s a picture of the Noid, a character from the Domino’s Pizza commercials back in the 80s. The Noid was a creation of Will Vinton Studios, who also brought us the California Raisins. I was fascinated with the Noid when I was a kid. Still am.
Here are a few pictures I’ve drawn lately in my Moleskine sketchbook. One is a caricature of Donald Miller, an author I like. The second is Spock from Star Trek and the third is Colonel Sanders. (I drew the Colonel from a black and white photo I found on Google. In all the photos I’ve seen, his face looks different from the illustration you see on the KFC signs.)
I just reformatted and re-uploaded Under the Electric Sun and gave it a new cover. I also finished another book recently, a dark comedy set in Alabama. My friend Hannah is proofreading it right now. I’m planning to upload it to Kindle as soon as she’s finished. I designed a cover for it yesterday afternoon.
Anyway, I’m exhausted. My brain needs to rest now. I feel like a hamster running inside a plastic wheel. For the next several days, I’m not going to write or draw anything. I plan to spend my evenings lying on the couch with the window open, letting a nice breeze blow in on me while I read. I keep buying these cheap paperback novels at the Dollar General, but I haven’t gotten around to reading any of them. It’s time to do that now. I’m also going to do some praying. I haven’t done enough of that lately, but I need to. My relationship with Jesus is the only thing that really keeps me sane.
Hope you have a good week. Thanks for reading. Cheers.
(Oh, I almost forgot. You can click here to download a copy of the book.)
Here’s a drawing of my friend Ann Bisky. She writes, tweets, and creates amusing YouTube videos.
Last week, someone visited Ann’s blog and posted a link to a self-help book. Ann was annoyed with the person for using her blog as a promotional platform … but she was even more offended because the self-help book was about gambling. Ann felt like the person was insinuating that she had a gambling problem … but Ann doesn’t gamble at all.
When she told me about it, I immediately sent her a video of Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler. We had a nice little laugh about it.
Afterward, I poked around on YouTube and stumbled across more Kenny Rogers videos. I discovered some old commercials for Kenny Rogers Roasters, a food chain that served “home cooked” food and specialized in chicken. I saw those restaurants when I was a kid, but I never ate at them. (Whenever my parents wanted chicken, we headed to KFC. Colonel Sanders was a staple of my childhood. At all the important family gatherings, I remember seeing red and white buckets everywhere, speckled with warm grease.)
I haven’t seen Kenny Rogers Roasters since the early ’90s. I’ve never given it much thought, but I always assumed (in the very back of my mind) that the business sank like a rock and Kenny Rogers was sitting in a dimly lit room somewhere, hurling whiskey bottles at the wall and cursing Colonel Sanders.
However, I did some research on the subject. (In other words, I glanced at Wikipedia for seven seconds.) As it turns out, Kenny’s chicken empire is still alive and well … but not in the United States. According to the Wikipedia article, Kenny Rogers Roasters “continues to flourish in Asia, particularly in Malaysia and the Philippines.”
As I skimmed over the Wikipedia article, I was shocked and amazed. It’s so surreal (to me, anyway) to imagine people in Malaysia and the Philippines eating good ole Southern home cookin’. (Especially at a restaurant with the name “Kenny Rogers” written in blazing red letters above the door.)
For me, it’s perfectly normal to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant … or sit down in a sushi restaurant with my cousin Ellice and struggle to operate a pair of chopsticks … or go to a Mexican restaurant … or go to Outback Steakhouse, a restaurant with Australian signs hanging everywhere. But it blows my mind when I realize that people in other countries eat at American restaurants. (Think of the way Marty McFly reacted in Back to the Future 2 when he stepped into the Café ’80s.)
After I mulled it over for a little while, I realized that I’ve experienced this same feeling before. Many years ago, when I visited Germany, my friend Jochen told me that everybody refers to McDonald’s as “The American Embassy.”
I still laugh about that sometimes.
I didn’t sleep much last night because I was working on Ann’s portrait. I need to rest now. I’ll leave you with these videos…
When I first washed up in Chattooga County back in the summer of 2001, I wasn’t very fond of this place at all. I thought it was boring, old-fashioned, and too small. I was eager to relocate as quickly as possible and wipe this town from my memory. That was my plan for a few years … and then a few years became a few MORE years. Now I’ve been living here for over a decade — driving past the courthouse with the gold dome every day, mingling with the entire population of the town every time I walk through Walmart, and admiring the wooden Sequoyah figure in Dowdy Park when I pass by it. (I’m assuming it’s Sequoyah, but I could be wrong.)
I’ve grown to love this community and appreciate its little quirks. And I’ve become so accustomed to it that I feel overwhelmed when I travel anywhere else. When I drive to Rome, my hometown, I feel like I’m in New York City.
Over the past twelve years, I’ve learned to be very cautious of the small, locally-owned restaurants that spring up in Chattooga County. As soon as I get used to eating at them, they fold up and go out of business a week later … and I’m left feeling disappointed and betrayed. I don’t even bother patronizing those places anymore. Call me bitter if you want.
For a while now, there’s been a buzz about a pizza place called The Crushed Tomato. I heard a lot of great things about it when it opened, so I made up my mind I would never eat there. I didn’t want to set myself up for another heartbreak.
But the restaurant is still around and it seems to be thriving. So I reluctantly decided to check it out a couple of weeks ago.
I’m glad I did. The pizza, first of all, is delicious. (And reasonably priced.) But the thing I like most is the atmosphere. It’s an old building. The walls are made of brick — with no paint — and there are vintage Coca-Cola signs hanging everywhere, along with some other interesting antiques. There’s something magical about it. The people who work there are very friendly too.
I hope it stays in business for a long, long time.