Tuesday, December 26, 2017


And here they are – the bestirring presents given to me this Christmas 2017, beginning with this very cool bag of goodies, our son brought home from Shanghai, where he plans on residing for at least three years.

I’ve always been a fan of the Flash, more so as a young adult, than as an adolescent.  I even have a modest Flash comic collection in storage (somewhere).

When I was a young adult and swimming instructor, tattoos of the Canadian flag were the commonplace skinny expressions of my aquatic ilk.  My imaginary tattoo during that time, however, was not the flag, but rather lightning bolt of the Flash.  This attraction to the Flash was the delusional running bond, I'm sure.  Though I was a professional swimming instructor and lifeguard, I was and still am a long-distance runner -- my positive addiction since 1976.

For the past decade I’ve fancied myself as a singer-songwriter, my favorite gusts being four yearly gigs, one for each season on the Bushwakker Brewpub stage in Regina, Canada, where I sing my original songs.  My next scheduled performance, in fact, is January 24th.

Some of my favorite singer-songwriters discuss their muses in this book: Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn, Robbie Robertson, Carole King, and of course, Bobby Dylan.  Unlike these top charting icons, I've no public or hidden desire to have any song I've ever written recorded.  I write my songs and I sing my songs -- I do not record my songs.

The Living and the Dead is a contemporary comic having the same recurring theme (existential dread) as is frequent in this blog.  The Living and the Dead is both an illustrative and literary treat.

And near to close, dear reader, this compact blog entry pretty much renders my quiddity.

Presenting my CHAUCERIAN PARADE of portrait sketches for this week, all save for the one of Eric, I've copied from an existing picture handed to me by the client.  Drawing portraits from a picture is certainly not my forte (I much prefer live models), but I am honing my calling card in this regard.




ERIC from Victoria, British Columbia

Monday, December 18, 2017





It is apparent that people love their dogs.  And this for me is especially empirically apparent because people are will to pay me dollars to draw their dogs.  Just having their dogs is not enough it seems; there is an obvious need to frame their Fidos in perpetuity.  During Christmastime my canine sketches are a hot item because people love their dogs!

Why do people love their Hooches so much?

One reason is that dogs are relatively easy maintenance.  Not a chef, not a problem.  One does not need to be a culinary arteest or an exquisite cuisine queen to please Pluto.   

Commercial dog food is cheap and convenient and definitely the way to go. The best three dog foods recommended by DogFoodAdvisor are Acana Regionals Dog Food (dry), Fromm Family Gold Dog Food (wet), and Nature’s Variety Instinct Dog Food (dry).

And the healthiest human foods for dogs are peanut butter (unsalted), chicken (raw), and cheese (not processed).  Carrots, yogurt, and pumpkin too, are tolerable.  

Factoid:  Scooby Doo will eat pretty much anything you throw at him.    

Another reason for puppy love is that dogs can be excellent health and fitness partners.  I know a number of couch potatoes who’ve expressed that their canines are a guilty excuse to walk or jog on a daily basis.

Running is good for humans so it must be good for dogs, too, right?  Nope.  For example, if you’re looking for a long-distant running companion, do not pick a Dachshund.  Wiener dogs are wussies when it comes to jogging.

A third reason for the love is that dogs are cheap shrinks.  Need therapy?  Someone to talk to?  A snuggle partner?  With a slobbery head on your lap, you can vent all your problems and misdeeds the whole day long and Rinny Tin Tin will still love you just the same.

A good dog is a good listener.  Your dark and deepest secrets are certainly safe with Sparky.
I charge 130 dollars per session.  Any Bowser will offer services pro-bone oh.

Love reason number four.  It is cliché that a dog is man’s best friend.  Most everyone agrees that adorable puppies grow into long-time old buddies.  Old Yeller is great for goin’ huntin’ and fishin’ if you’re so inclined.

Also, you, being human, might have many best friends, but your best friend, Odie, has just one.  You, dear dog-owner reader, are the brightest light in your dog’s life.

A fifth reason for such love is that dogs provide loyalty and unconditional love.  Your dog will always wait for you to come home.  Though your pooch’s loyalty may simply be based upon food and shelter, dog owners believe it to be much more complex than that.  They know that their dogs are their mirrors.  They know that their curs will always reflect their glee and their gloom, mimicking every emotion their masters signal.

Reason six is dogs provide protection and safety.  Maybe.  Purportedly, the best guard dogs are Giant Schnauzers, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds, all of which are intimidating because of their size, their bark, and their bite. And a reminder, Timmy, that as far as protection and safety is concerned, even if you fall down a well, Lassie will rescue you.

Hound dog humor abounds throughout this essay.  (Hmmm … if you can call these trite and hokum attempts humor.)  Here are more Lucky, Lady and the Tramp alliterations:

Just as every pub has its specials for beer and munch lovers (Tuesday Tacos and Wednesday Wings), every day has its specialties for dog lovers:  Mutt Monday, Towser Tuesday, Woof Wednesday, Rex Thursday, Fido Friday, Sparky Saturday, Snoopy Sunday.  I get it, I fetch it.  Enough is enough. 

There is no Aesop fable in this dog blog entry.  There is no hounding or hidden meaning here.  I don’t have a dog.  I will not have a dog.  (Dogs are too much work, even though I’ve just presented the reasons why dog lovers believe their dogs are easy maintenance).  But I do like your dog (whoever you are).   

Factoid:  My mise-en-scene studio is a public park or city sidewalk.  I’ve very little foofaraw for drawing your mutt.  My sketches are Spotty with no frills and no flash; they are simply controlled scribbles for dollars.

 I am a mercenary mongrel monger! 

Marching in my CHAUCERIAN PARADE this week:



Saturday, December 9, 2017



Humans last around 100 years; whereas vampires, our incestuous cousins, can live forever.   HYDRAS (fresh-water organisms) and TURRITOPSIS NUTRICULA (from the jellyfish family) are biologically immortal.  Greenland sharks can live up to 400 years.  Tuataras and giant tortoises and bowhead whales can live up to 200 years. 

Factoid:  In 150 years from now it is a sure bet that the humans alive today will be dead, but whoever wins the bet won’t be the one collecting on it.

The cosmos is all that is or was and ever will be (Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980); and yet humans, during their speck of time spend only a hundred years breathing and living.  No wonder we think our time so precious and our lives so significant! 

Another factoid:  If time were not an issue and death were not inevitable, nothing would be of importance.

Just think about it.  Nothing would be important because nothing would be urgent.  Learning guitar?  Learning to sketch?  Learning a language?  Finding that perfect job?  Finding that perfect mate?  No problem, lots of time!  If death were not inevitable then the concept of time would never be a concern.  If we could live forever everything we ever imagined to accomplish would eventually be achieved!

Presenting this everlasting argument about urgency in life, our fear of death could be either a motivating or demotivating force.  Bucket lists, for example, are the metaphorical motivating rage for listing a number of experiences or achievements to be accomplished during one’s lifetime, before kicking the bucket.  Fuck it lists, in reverse of the bucket lists, represent a rage of contentment to die happy while accomplishing zeroth.

Attempts at extending our lives have us sign onto fitness plans, feed on nutritional torments, and self-medicate and meditate to relax.  Studies show that clichéd and contrived miracle cures for immortality, eating an apple a day or drinking a glass of red wine a day, will add life to our years but not years to our lives.  We can postpone fragility and general debilitation and death but we cannot stop any of it.  As we age our parts gradually wear out until they just stop working.  And then we’re done.

Factoid:  We are afraid to die.  We do not just strive for longevity; we yearn for immortality.  And even when we are old we are still afraid to die.

Cybernetics is making a quick (pun intended) headway within the human condition.  Pace-makers for our hearts, cochlear implants for our ears, transplanted retinas and kidneys and lungs, newly attached prosthetic arms and legs, and implanted antennae for sight, are becoming commonplace.  Over the next hill on the human horizon we’ll be inserted with artificial intelligence.  Eventually we will be completely assimilated.  We’ll be the final machination, the combination of consciousness and cryogenic uploads.  We will be cyborgs.

We are designed to die.  Is reproduction really the name of the game of life?  Though the act of continuing the species is always an arousing experience, is it worth dying for?  And right after we recreate is it fair to say that our bodies are simply left to spent and deteriorate?

In our youth we imagine aging gracefully into our golden years, living the good life, a million moolah in our retirement funds, California baking on sandy beaches and soaking in salty water.  And we imagine, as early adults, being so proud of our offspring who have grown and become leaders and teachers and other important cogs of Corporate America.  Is this really a good end to a life?  Or should a good end measured by other standards?

Rather than longevity, perhaps the good(s) in our lives ought to be measured by the things we do or the company we keep.  But, if long life is the measure of a good life, then most of us, statistically speaking, will play out our one hundred years and be done with it. 

But if the good life is measured by our deeds and the company we keep, there is a prescribed fountain of youth and vitality in which we can splash to extend our doing of deeds and greeting new people.  The acronym is simply D E A S (not to be confused with D E A D) and an adherence to these, is all that we can do to take the optimum care of ourselves:

  • DIET (eat nutritious food)

  • EXERCISE (be physically active)

  • ADVENTURE (experience new things)

  • SLEEP (eight hours give or take)

Except for those aforementioned and never-to-be-damned hydras and jellyfish, all life forms age and die.  Driving down the freeway to death we suffer disease, the loss of mobility, never mind the loss of hair and the added wangle of wrinkles.  It’s hard to appreciate being when you come to realize that your years to date have literally sucked the life out of you.  To live is to suffer (the skinny of Zen) and therefore the longer we live the longer we suffer. 

Perhaps after decades of suffering, some of us do eventually embrace the conviction of death, resigning, I suppose, to the eternal peace it can possibly provide.  And especially for those with a strong religious faith in a forever afterlife, such a resignation to death certainly seems more apt.  Whether we believe in Heaven or Hedonism, Evolution or Existentialism, each coming season puts us closer to the grave.

Dying and death, I think, is more on my mind than need be.  Metaphorically I am in wintertime and  subject to the chilly winds that come with.  One of these winds is that I am continually woolgathering.
Factoid:  I am in the wintertime phase of my existence.  I am 66 years and the X marking my spot on the linear lifetime continuum is closer to my death than to my birth.  Though I mentioned atop this essay that humans can live to around a hundred years, the actual western statistics evince that females have an average longevity of 82 years, and males 78 years.  However, since I’ve surpassed 65 years, I’ve been elevated into another and higher than average statistical longevity to which I can jump into play (pun intended).  

And so I've a few years left to be living the dream to be a planetary portrait (and guitar and didge) busker!  Yearning and ever preparing for this future plan, in wintertime I keep my pencil sharpened and continually sketch portraits at the market malls, improving my drawing techniques and shortening my vis-a-vis time to ten minutes with my consumers.  I charge only ten dollars, and so ten minutes (one dollar per minute) is my mercenary goal.  (See ALEIYA AT THE MALL at the beginning of this blog entry.)

To close … Life and death is Yin and Yang.  You cannot live if you cannot die. 
If ever by chance I get to choose between stayin’ alive or being dead and gone … 
I think I’ll pass.

Here is a song I wrote about an aging busker, a song I wrote about ME:



Verse 1

 C                                 F
Girls at Canterbury Station
      G                           Am                C                        F
Are flick'ring drooping eyelids, while clinging to their boyfriends
               G                     Am
Who are clapping to my tunes
        E7                                              Am
And tossing coins, toward my redemption.  [X3 at end]


F                       Em      
Gonna play and sing            [X2]
F                         Em
Gonna do this thing
F              G                         Am
Until that last train comes in.

Verse 2

C                              F
Girls at Canterbury Station
G                      Am                     C                     F
Nibble on their French fries and sip their frigid beers
     G                            Am
Beneath the courtyard clock.
          E7                                                                                   Am
And I hearken to the tickings, reckon my beginnings once again.


Verse 3

C                    F
I am but a busker
   G                Am      C                      F
A customary hustler slinging my guitar
            G                     Am
Where certain people gather
     E7                                                                                                Am
At Canterbury Station, where they toss a coin or two for what I do.



It's Christmastime and I'm thinking of my Slovakian friends I met while busking in Dublin, Ireland.  This was a few years ago and we still keep in touch.  Currently Ivika and and Peter have married, have son, Stephen, and have returned to Slovakia.  (I am hoping to travel to Slovakia in the New Year to see them.)