Happy International Women’s Day

Here are my drawings of Julie and Indra, two great women I know. Happy International Women’s Day.

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My latest drawing binge…

I spent my early childhood in Tampa, Florida. The local TV station, WTOG, aired a show on Saturday afternoons called Creature Feature. Dr. Paul Bearer was the host. He played “horrible old movies,” as he called them. He introduced the movies and made jokes during the commercial breaks. Dr. Paul Bearer’s real name was Dick Bennick. He passed away in 1995, but I still like to watch him on YouTube.

Snowed in

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Snowflakes are pouring down outside and icicles are hanging everywhere. I haven’t worked since Monday. I’m enjoying my vacation so far. Last night, I spent three hours cleaning out my living room closet, a task I’ve avoided for years. Now it’s immaculate. Right now, it’s a little after three o’clock in the morning and I’ve been drawing most of the night. I’m eating leftover candy canes, drinking hot cocoa, and listening to Overnight America on KMOX via the internet. (I used to listen to KMOX on a little AM radio back in 2000 when I was staying in a cabin in the woods with no electricity. I have happy memories of those times.)

This is a drawing of my friend Brittany Rosser, a girl I used to work with at the mill. I told her I would draw her a long, long time ago. I just now got around to it.

Hope you all have a nice Valentine’s Day.

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You can click here to order my new book, Citizens of Purgatory.  

Ann Bisky (and Kenny Rogers)

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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…

Jessica

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It’s 5:42 in the morning and I’ve stayed up most of the night watching Seinfeld on YouTube and working on this drawing of my friend Jessica. It was a beautiful night. I sat in the living room with the window open, listening to the rain fall outside. In my last post, I mentioned some other portraits I was planning to draw. I’m still wrestling with those. I can’t get Belinda’s eyes to look the way I want them to … and Noemi’s face, even though it’s very beautiful, is hard to capture on paper. Maybe this is because I haven’t slept much lately and my brain isn’t functioning properly. Or maybe it’s because some people are just hard to draw. Oh well. I think I’ll just toss both of those pictures in a drawer for the time being and move on to something fresh and new.

I hope you have a nice Wednesday.

Something else from the sketchbook

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I’ve had a wicked sinus headache all day, but I thought it was time to go ahead and write a new post. Lately I’ve been working diligently on my new novel and cleaning the house. I use the word “clean,” but I suppose the more accurate word would be “purge.” There’s something so glorious and satisfying and cathartic about walking through the house with a big plastic garbage bag, grabbing up handfuls of things I don’t want anymore and shoving them into the bag without mercy. It feels lovely to hurl one bag after another into the dumpster, freeing myself of all this stupid, needless clutter.

I’ve also been watching old commercials on YouTube the past few days, one of my favorite pastimes. The other day, I discovered some 1970s Burger King commercials that were designed for Saturday mornings, when kids were watching cartoons. They’re a lot of fun … in a grotesque, disturbing, psychedelic kind of way. I remember my cousin Troy telling me a long, long time ago that one of his friends had horrific nightmares about the Burger King mascot. Now I can see why.

The picture above is from my sketchbook. I drew it during Memorial Day weekend, in the middle of my epic Vsauce binge. This is supposed to be a picture of Michael Stevens. When I first drew it, I wasn’t happy with it. I thought it looked like the product of a genetic experiment involving James Lipton and Steve Jobs. (No disrespect to either one of them.) However, when I flipped through the sketchbook the other day and looked at the picture again, I decided I liked it after all. So here it is. Enjoy.

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You can click here to download a copy of my science fiction novel, Under the Electric Sun.

My new sketchbook

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When my German friends, Wolfgang and Regine, landed in Georgia last week for a quick visit, they surprised me with a couple of neatly wrapped presents. They gave me a Moleskine sketchbook and a set of Faber-Castell colored pencils in a fancy metal case. (They actually gave me three gifts, if you count the Haribo gummy bears. It was like a mini-Christmas in April.) Even though I was thrilled with all three gifts, my favorite was the sketchbook. I’ve heard a lot of artists talk about Moleskine sketchbooks, but I never knew exactly what they were. Now I have one. The pages are thick and heavy-duty, but soft and smooth at the same time — similar to the card in the back of a library book with all the due-dates stamped on it.

On the first page of my new sketchbook, I drew a caricature of Matt Smith, the current star of Doctor Who. It looked terrible. I almost tore it out, but I didn’t want to cheapen my brand-new sketchbook by ripping out the first page. So I reluctantly left it in there. On the second page, I drew a picture of Billie Piper. This one also turned out to be a hideous train wreck. On the third page, I did a sketch of G.E. Gallas, one of my blogger friends I met here on WordPress. She’s a writer/illustrator who lives in San Francisco. I was actually happy with this one. Tomorrow, I’m going to attempt to draw Carl D’Agostino, a new friend of mine in Miami.

I still plan to draw a few other citizens of the blog universe, but it will take time. I haven’t forgotten you, I promise.