Dentist

I went to the dentist today to get some fillings. Then I ate lunch at Krystal. Before the novocaine wore off. I didn’t know I had bitten a hole in my lip until I looked down and saw blood on my cheeseburger. It’s been a rough, messy, awkward day. But the new fillings are really nice.

An Evening of TV

I did this one in Crayola colored pencils while listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio. Chris Thile was hosting the show for the first time that night — well, for the first time as the official host after Garrison Keillor retired. Jack White performed. It was cool outside. It was a lovely evening.

Amanda

Here’s another drawing I did recently. This is Amanda Erwin, a girl I went to school with. I didn’t know her very well, but I always thought she was sweet. She was murdered in 2006. I still think about her sometimes.

Happy Halloween

Miles was a pale, skinny boy with tangled blonde hair. He lived with his mother in an old house at the end of a street full of cracks and potholes. When the sun was shining, Miles liked to ride his bicycle up and down the street. When the weather wasn’t so good, he liked to sit in his bedroom and make airplanes and boats out of cardboard.

One day, Miles asked his mother to take him to the duck pond on the other side of town. He wanted to feed bread crumbs to the ducks and put his little cardboard boats in the water. So his mother rolled off the couch and put on her shoes, grumbling and blowing cigarette smoke in the air like a dragon. Then Miles and his mother walked outside and climbed into their rusty old mini-van.

But when they got to the duck pond, all the ducks were dead. A terrible disease had wiped out the entire population. The ducks were lying in the grass with their eyes still open, covered in flies.

“Don’t touch the dead ducks,” his mom said, snorting. “And stay away from the water too. There might be something bad in it.”

So Miles sat in the grass and ate the bread crumbs himself. His mom sat on a park bench not too far away, smoking a cigarette and staring down at her cell phone.

Miles noticed something moving in the grass beside his leg. He looked down and saw a tiny man standing beside him. The man wasn’t much bigger than a person’s finger. He wore a black business suit and a red tie. His eyes were red too. They glowed like lasers.

“What are you?” Miles yelled. “Are you some kind of leprechaun or something?”

“No,” said the little man with the red eyes. “I’m a politician. A small one. Why don’t you take me home with you and let me institute some rules and regulations in your household?”

Miles squealed and clapped his hands like it was Christmas morning. He had never seen a miniature politician before.

“Mama, guess what!” Miles screamed, running toward the park bench where his mom sat. “I just found a politician in the grass! A little tiny politician! He’s as big as my finger!”

Without looking up from her cell phone, his mom said, “Oh really? What kind is it? Democrat or Republican?”

“I don’t know,” said Miles, breathing hard. “He didn’t say.”

“Don’t pick it up,” his mom said, taking a drag on her cigarette. “It probably has germs all over it. Just leave it alone.”

But Miles went back to the spot in the grass where the politician was standing. While his mom wasn’t looking, Miles carefully slipped the little fellow into the pocket of his blue jeans.

When it was time to go, Miles took the politician with him.

As soon as they got back home, Miles ran to his bedroom as fast as he could. He pulled the politician out of his pocket and put him on the nightstand beside a cardboard airplane.

“Is this your dwelling place?” the politician asked, looking around and sneering.

“Yes sir! This is my bedroom!”

“Very well,” said the politician, snapping his fingers. “Make me a comfortable habitat to live in.”

Miles reached under his bed and dragged out an old shoebox full of baseball cards. He turned the box upside down and dumped the baseball cards on the carpet. He took some glue and scissors out of a drawer and gathered up cardboard, cotton, and toilet paper. He made a sofa, a chair, a coffee table, and a bed. He placed them all inside the shoebox.

Then he picked up the little politician and put him inside his new home.

“This is adequate, I suppose,” said the politician, sitting down in his cardboard chair like it was a throne. “Now I have a new task for you, child. I want you to take all the vegetables you can find and fashion them into the figure of a man. You will place the vegetable man on your front lawn. Then you will walk through your neighborhood and knock on every door. Tell your neighbors to come and place all their jewels and gold at the feet of the vegetable man! And when they do, you will bring all the riches to me!”

“Um … I don’t know about that,” Miles said, squirming and biting his lip. “That’s kind of dishonest.”

The politician beat his fist on the armrest of his new cardboard chair. “Don’t argue with me, child! You were born to do my bidding! Do you hear me? Now go to the kitchen at once and begin making the vegetable man! Do as I say! Disobedience will not be tolerated!”

Shaking his head, Miles went to the kitchen and tried to follow the politician’s instructions. He didn’t know how to make a man out of vegetables, so he just pulled a head of cabbage from the refrigerator and walked into the front yard. He jabbed a wooden stick into the ground and shoved the cabbage on top of it. Then he found a black Magic Marker and drew a face on the cabbage.

When he finished drawing the face, Miles rode through the neighborhood on his bicycle, stopping at each house, telling people to bring their jewelry to the cabbage man. Most of the people laughed and slammed their doors, but a few elderly people seemed to take him seriously.

Later that day, while Miles waited in his front yard, a confused old lady came and placed a turquoise necklace before the cabbage man. An old man came and brought a rusty pocket watch that didn’t work. Then a schizophrenic man with no teeth staggered into the yard and dumped some dirty pennies on the ground.

Miles slipped the items into his pocket and carried them into the house. He went to his bedroom and pulled the necklace, the pocket watch, and the pennies out of his pocket. At that moment, his mother stomped into the bedroom, demanding to know what he was doing.

“Miles, how come there’s a cabbage head on a stick in our front yard?” she yelled, blowing smoke from her nostrils. “And why do you have this jewelry and stuff? Did you steal it?”

“The politician made me do it!” Miles said, sobbing and pointing at the shoebox on the night stand.

His mother waddled over to the night stand and looked in the box.

“You brought that dirty old politician home!” she screamed. “I told you not to touch that nasty thing!”

She pulled off one of her shoes. She leaned over the night stand and beat the politician to death with two hard smacks. Then she scooped up his bloody remains with a Kleenex. She marched to the bathroom and flung the Kleenex into the toilet bowl.

“Miles, I can’t believe you brought that thing home,” she said, shaking her head.

After she flushed the dead politician down the toilet, she washed her hands in the sink and lit another cigarette.

“Miles, you listen to me,” she said. “I want you to get that necklace, that pocket watch, and all them pennies. I want you to go through the neighborhood and give everything back. And tell them folks you’re sorry, you hear me? And don’t ever carry a politician home again!”

Miles walked through the neighborhood with tears in his eyes. He gave the turquoise necklace to the old lady, the rusty pocket watch to the old man, and the pennies to the schizophrenic man with no teeth. Miles apologized to all of them for the cabbage scheme. He tried to tell them a tiny politician with red eyes had pressured him to do it, but they didn’t believe him.

When Miles finally got back home, the house smelled like warm chocolate chip cookies. He heard his mother moving around in the kitchen. He smiled. His heart skipped a beat. He ran to the kitchen as fast as he could, licking his lips.

Then his mother hit him in the head with a rolling pin over and over again until he died.

 

Matthew David Curry 2016

Doodles from last week

Last Tuesday, I attempted to do some book illustrations for a friend of a friend. The illustrations were supposed to show the struggles that women deal with each day. I spent about half the day trying to draw a woman squeezing into a pair of tight pants. It didn’t work. No matter what I did, it just looked like an angry woman with her hands on her hips, scowling for no particular reason. Finally, I e-mailed my friend and said, “I’m sorry. It’s not working. Could you get someone else to do these drawings?” She was wonderful about it. She said it was no problem at all, she could find another illustrator.

Even though I hated the way my illustrations turned out, I had a blast while I was doing my little warm-up sketches. I sat on the couch, watching an old VHS tape of The Andy Griffith Show. The episodes were recorded from a local TV station in 1989. They were packed with old commercials. (I also watched a David Bowie concert on YouTube at the same time.) Anyway, I paused the tape several times and drew various people. I drew two bank robbers, Jack Palance, and a lady from a Time Life books commercial. And David Bowie. (I did several other drawings, but I couldn’t cram them all in the photo.)

I’ve spent a lot of time working with Magic Markers this year. Up until now, I was always afraid to use ink. It’s so permanent. Once you make a mark, you can’t erase it or mess with it. It’s there. Forever. But that doesn’t bother me anymore. I get a certain thrill out of it now. It’s so bold and dark and intense.

I hope you’re doing well. Take care.

Miles Davis and short stories

 

Here’s my little drawing of Miles Davis. The drawing is actually bigger than what you see in the photo, but I didn’t like the way his hands turned out. They were supposed to be clasped together with the fingers interlaced, but they ended up looking like a sloppy bird’s nest made out of old twigs. So I just cropped that part out altogether. But I’m pretty happy with the face. I loved drawing the glasses. I like the overall look of Miles Davis. Serious, intense.

Anyway, I hope you’re doing well, wherever you are in the world.

For the past four years, I’ve been writing and self-publishing books on Amazon. It’s a lot of fun, especially the last one I wrote. I loved watching the characters come to life and surprise me. I even enjoy the proofreading stage of the process ….  although it’s horrendously tedious and gives me six or seven nervous breakdowns and completely destroys my social life. Somehow, that part is still fun too. It’s like solving a giant puzzle. Once the book is finished, it feels good to hold it in my hands and flip through the pages. And it’s good when people tell me they enjoyed reading it.

But the whole thing is time-consuming. Every time I write a book, I neglect everything else. I forget to clean. My apartment begins to look like a crack house. My friends think I’ve forgotten them. Also, it’s hard to get people to notice these books. Every time I send a copy of my book to a critic somewhere, I feel like I’m sticking a note in a bottle and slinging it into the ocean.

So I’m considering a different approach, a new strategy.

I don’t plan to quit writing books, but I do think I’ll focus my energy on writing short stories and sending them to magazines. It would be less time-consuming. I could write little stories and knock them out quickly and get on with my life. And I might get more exposure that way. And maybe make better money.

My newest book, Finding Drake Novak, actually started off as two short stories. Those stories became scenes in the first chapter of the book. This week, I gently extracted those two scenes, edited them a little bit, and turned them back into short stories. And I e-mailed them to magazines. I think I’m going to write some essays too. Funny stuff about everyday life. Observational humor. Stories about ordinary things and lessons I’ve learned and so on.

Do any of you have experience with this kind of thing? Can you suggest any magazines or websites? Or newspapers? Do you have any advice about this?

Visiting David Bowie

A few weeks ago, I dreamed David Bowie hadn’t really died after all. He was actually working as a night shift supervisor at the local textile mill. In the dream, I eagerly drove to the mill at sunset and found him sitting inside a dimly lit office, staring at the wall with his mouth hanging open. I sat down in front of him and handed him my copy of Blackstar. I asked him to autograph it for me. But he just held the record in his hands, gazing down at it like he’d never seen it before. He was dazed and disoriented, like an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home. He mumbled something about cleaning out his office and going home to die. Then I leaned forward and pointed at the record, desperately trying to get through to him. I told him it was his record, that he had made it. He smiled a little bit but didn’t say anything. He was still spaced out and detached.

And that’s how the dream ended. It was disappointing and unsettling … but it was fun to talk to him for a minute. Wish he’d pop up again. I still haven’t gotten over his death.

Anyway, enough of that. Sorry I haven’t blogged much lately. I got busy promoting my new book …. and then I tried to start a comic strip …. but my passion for drawing comic strips isn’t as strong as my passion for other things — like writing books and drawing portraits. I just didn’t have enough fuel inside me to keep pursuing it. Some people (like Carl D’Agostino and Mark Armstrong) have a certain zeal for cartooning. They can keep on creating them without ever getting tired. But I’m not like that. I just shrugged and tossed that stuff in a drawer. Right now, I’m scribbling down some ideas for a new book. I feel good about it.

I hope you’re all doing well in your own little corners of the world, wherever you may be. I hope those of you in Florida are staying cool. And I hope you’re staying warm in Australia, Mabel.

Cheers.

 

Finding Drake Novak

I hope you’re all doing well. Sorry I haven’t blogged in a long time. I’ve been busy writing a new book. Here it is. It’s a dark science fiction comedy set in the South.

Drake Novak is a pale man with bloodshot eyes and a black suit. He owns a plastic factory in a small town in Georgia. The workers don’t know it, but Drake is an alien who feeds on the misery and suffering of other life forms. The factory is his buffet. But Drake’s feeding frenzy is about to end. Malpheus Mallock, a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct, comes to Earth to arrest Drake. Sadly, his tracking device doesn’t work correctly. He lands in the yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine who provide him with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and iced tea. Malpheus struggles to fix his tracking device and find Drake Novak before he destroys the whole town.

If you’re interested, the paperback version is six dollars. The e-book is $2.99. You can click here to order it on Amazon.