This colorful little shaggy dog looks about as frantic as I feel.
It's a good thing he was already done and waiting.
I'm a bit frantic because I did it again.
I waited until the last minute.
Does that ever happen to you?
It seems like it's in my DNA.
When you're busy, some things have got to give.
Writing this week's newsletter is one of those things that slipped off my radar.
I wish it didn't, but it did.
I go through the week gathering ideas. When it doesn't matter, the ideas come fast and furious. I can't even beat them away with a flyswatter. I discover ridiculous, entertaining, and even funny things to write.
I could talk about an island full of mosquitos. They really will be here long after any nuclear winter. Mosquitos, freaking cockroaches and Twinkies.
Then, when it comes down to putting down my thoughts, the whole universe of ideas I've gathered all week scamper out of my head faster than I can down a shot of tequila.
The hollow space between my ears becomes a cavernous and palpable void. It's like someone polishes the inside of my brain so well the good ideas slide out and leave me with nothing.
There's nothing's left. Nada.
I know they're hiding in there someplace. I know the empty corners of my mind collect those ideas like dust bunnies and save them for later.
How do I coax those little beggars out? I've tried lots of things and made lots of promises to myself.
I promise myself I'll start writing all these ideas down, but I don't.
I promise myself I'll polish the blog post earlier in the week, but I don't.
I promise myself I'll stick to my schedule, but I don't.
Then come Thursday. Come Thursday, I'm scrambling like Fighter Command at DEFCON 1.
Nuclear Attack Imminent.
Batten down the hatches!
GET WORDS OUT OF HEAD!
So, I'm coming to you from DEFCON 1. Battle Stations in my brain.
Well, I know this is not what I planned to write.
The one thing that I've discovered is, to get it out, I've got to write. Those ideas just don't have any life until I write them down.
Good thing I love writing.
I'll keep on keeping on and...
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Angela Moulton has a thing for birds. She paints hundreds of them. I like her other paintings too, but I really love the birds.
I spend some time scrolling through Pinterest looking for interesting techniques, photos, or some inspiration from time to time.
I ran across Angela on Pinterest. Her little bird paintings caught my eye.
I started watching some of her videos to see if I could work out how she does what she does.
She makes bold strokes and leaves them where they go down. There’s no fudging, smudging, or blending involved. Just, pick a color and lay it down. The resulting style is one that is playful and eye-catching.
This style lends itself well to acrylic painting and oil painting as well. I like the freedom and decisiveness need to make this work.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I would recommend checking out her paintings. I hope the bright colors and freedom catch you as it did mine.
You can find her in several places on the Internet, so have at it.
As I leave the cactus and lizard state today on a big silver bird, I include this fun little cactus and lizard artwork.
I dread the overnight flight from Phoenix to our tiny little island.
First of all, when I get to the airport it will be a ghost town. All of the shops will be shuttered and locked and you'll hear the echo of the lone floor sweeper zipping up and down the empty lanes. I can hear the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly playing in the back of my head.
My flight leaves Phoenix at 11:45 pm Friday and gets to Chicago at some ungodly hour in the morning. I have a three-hour forty-five-minute layover and then on to St. Thomas. Just over eight hours flying time and about five hours of airport time.
I know I'm kicking-up a bit of a fuss about how long it's going to take, but we really are so lucky to be able to travel so far, so fast.
Hell, I can get across the country on a direct flight in less than six hours. If I were flying in an SR-71, I could get across the country in just over an hour.
The 1999 final flight of the SR-71 set a speed record when it flew from Los Angeles to Washington DC in one hour, four minutes and 30 seconds. That's moving. The SR-71 Blackbird Retired By Flying Coast-To-Coast In One Hour.
I was also reading a fun article this week about an SR-71 pilot who clocked their ground speed at about nineteen hundred knots on a training flight. (1900 knots is 2,186 mph) Blackbird Pilot Trolls Arrogant Fighter Pilot with Ground Speed Check.
Speeds like 2,186 mph are mind-boggling.
Here's an example:
It's 816 miles across the breadth of Texas from El Paso to Texarkana. That distance takes almost 12 hours in a car but in an SR-71 it would take about thirty-five minutes or about five percent of the drive time.
My plane will only be going about 500 miles an hour max.
So, as I lumber through the friendly skies in the early hours of Saturday morning at a mere 500 mph, I'll be counting my blessings and thinking of you.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Just check out this dog. Okay, I'm a sucker for a dog painting. Dogs grab my attention.
Life is good, even when it's hard.
It was a hard week.
Dad passed away on Saturday, October 20th.
It's funny how something so difficult can bring folks together.
He was ten days shy of 90 years old. I'm sure not all of them were great years, but overall, I would say, he had a good life.
Dad was always concerned we do things "the right way." He was so encouraging and supportive. Many of us had fathers like that and some, sad to say, did not.
Our parents make us what we are.
My friend Malik has an interesting perspective. He says, "when someone close to you passes away, that person becomes a part of you ... and who you become from that point forward. Think about it; you are a new person, aren't you?"
I like that. It's comforting.
Anything I can say about dad would not do justice to the kind of man he was. He led a simple life that he loved. In the end, I know he had his good friends, his golf, and his loving family. He was a contented soul.
Now the race, for him, is done, and he has laid down to rest.
Rest well dad. I will miss him terribly.
Thanks to all of you who make life good, even when it's not so good.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Joe Cornelius calls himself Mural Joe. He specializes in painting murals. It took me a bit to find his real name when I started looking.
Joe started out as a house painter but got interested in the process of creating large scale paintings. He uses regular old latex house paint to make his art. There's no special this or special that for him. Straight forward Sherwin Williams please (Sherman Williams features Joe on their website). He paints using three primary colors red, blue, yellow and white, and he mixes everything he needs right on the wall.
Because latex house paint dries quickly he has developed a knack for working quickly.
Joe works hard on his technique and easily explains everything in his YouTube Videos.
I always look forward to new videos from him online.
Check out one of his videos.
If you want to look him up, he lives on the internet in these places.
I can't remember when I drew this. I don't think I was 30 years old yet and still in my "Conan The Barbarian" phase.
Conan is one of those action guys. He charges in with muscles bulging, screaming something heroic, waving his sword over his head, off to save the world. He never makes mistakes.
It was fun to find this drawing in a little box a couple of weeks ago, but something about it suggests the impatience of youth and inexperience.
Crap, I'm not perfect!
I've learned a lot since then, or have I?
Okay - Confession time.
I wrote a blog article this week, and it sucked. It was too long and too dense and too disorganized. It was truly yucky.
I don't know why. It just happens. At the beginning of the week, I thought I had a great idea. I did the research. I put in the work.
I started to feel good. I was getting ready to break out the champagne, kill the fatted calf, I was going to hit the publish button.
Then, I read it over last night, and it had somehow turned ugly.
Sometimes, what you do, regardless of the effort you put in, turns out to be swamp muck, pond scum, that horrible smelly stuff stuck to the bottom of your shoe.
It got to the point where I was going to package it all up in a nice little wrapper and hit publish, and I had to scrap it.
It all made sense when I was mulling it over in my mind. It was hilarious. It was a gem. But written down, it was a horrible hot steaming mess. How could I have ever thought it was so good?
Rather than subject you to that long-winded drivel, I put my scimitar back in its scabbard and decided to write this instead. I chose not to draw more blood; even if the blood was my own.
There's no need to worry; self-flagellation is not in my future.
I'm not going to give myself fifty lashes with a wet noodle, park an anvil on my chest, or walk around wearing a hair shirt. I'm not going to join Opus Dai and start wearing a cilice.
I'm going to suck it up and move on.
I'm going to take it as a chance to recognize that, unlike most people, I'm not perfect. Sometimes things don't go to plan, and I'm always learning a lesson.
When I was in the Marines, yes another Marine story - live with it, after every big exercise there was something called an After Action Report, I found a continuous theme in those reports was how successful we were at everything. Nothing was ever a failure.
We didn't fail to "take the hill," but we learned sixty-seven ways we couldn't take the hill. The result was never the cause. The chopper didn't just fail to show; we discovered the command center request was wrong and worked to correct it, or sometimes the helicopters required better maintenance. Maybe, Maverick forgot to feed Goose his Wheaties in the morning. There was always something positive to learn, and, as always, an unauthorized fly-by.
Every cluster-f>@& is a learning opportunity.
Prescription for Friday:
A heaping big helping of relaxation. There will probably be a little bit of whiskey involved, some wound licking, and a pat on the back.
Yay! I failed!
Shhhh. Don't tell anyone! It'll be our secret.
Then, back to the grindstone.
I want you to have to best possible weekend you can.
I'm glad I can be a part of it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
I love dogs. I pretty much like most animals. Unfortunately, I don't get along well with cats. I've got allergies. I've got sniffling, eye itching, skin scratching horrible reactions without medication.
I still find cats entertaining, as long as I can view them from a distance.
With that prologue, I find this weeks artist has a way with cats. I love how she paints them.
Yael Maimon is an Israeli artist who is currently working on a series of cat paintings that I love. Her paintings are loose and free, and she captures the cat's personality.
She says, "Cats are now my first circle of close friends. I love them and they give me daily inspiration. Cats are very intelligent creatures, they are simply fascinating animals"
She surely shows her love for cats in her paintings.
Her internet presence is sparse, but there are a few places you can go to check out the cat paintings.
If you're a cat lover, you'll love Yael Maimon.
Enjoy her work.
I love going to the movies.
It's the way I grew up.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, we'd go to The Fox Theater on Broadway in Redwood City. Pre-drivers license, we'd walk down Woodside Road, through Union Cemetery (it still makes my hair stand on end a bit thinking about it), up El Camino Real, then right on Broadway. Redwood City's changed, but the cemetery and the theater are still there.
I remember seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sun Dance Kid, M*A*S*H, and plenty of other movies the Fox. It was a great place to go on "date." Remember those?
Factoid - President Obama gave a fundraising speech at The Fox in 2012. Our pursuits were less high falutin'. We were escaping parental supervision and getting up to no-good. It wasn't criminal no-good. It wasn't bad-guy no-good, it was more or less useless annoying teenage angsty hi-jinx.
Fast forward to the last six years. On St Thomas, you have to have something to do beyond boats, beaches, snorkeling, tiki bars, and rum. Without appropriate diversions, your liver would run screaming for cover at the closest rehab facility.
I'm glad to report I've avoided cirrhosis and rehab. I credit the Caribbean Movie Theater.
Our island movie theater was near the grocery store, Cost-You-Less, which, if you live there, you know, it costs you more. The theater there had first run movies cheap on Tuesday nights, and because I like cheap, it became an entertainment staple. I loved our little Tuesday night at the movies.
Since Irma ripped the guts out of that plaza, I don't think Cost-You-Less or the theater have reopened. They hadn't when we were last there. I need to put my liver on suicide watch when we go back.
Which brings me up to here and now, Monday we went to the movies.
The big screen! The bright lights! That's entertainment!
We saw "A Star Is Born" with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. I was impressed with both their performances. I thought it might end up being a cheesy knockoff of the 1976 Barbara Streisand / Chris Kristofferson flick, but it wasn't.
I was surprised in Surprise!
I enjoyed it, though I think Bradley Cooper may have been channeling his inner Kristofferson.
Lady Gaga was unrecognizable. I thought Gaga would be a horrible actress. I was pleasantly surprised that she did an excellent job. I liked the look of this movie Gaga much better than her flashy blonde singer Gaga.
At one point in the film, her manager wants her character to go blonde, and she says no, “I am who I am." Then, a few scenes later her hair is unreal bright orange. Well, I guess, at least it's not blonde.
I'm sure there are plenty of critics who will rip the movie apart. Me, I liked it. I could relate. You know the aging, famous, drunk artist. It so hit home. Sniff sniff.
I didn't realize there were three other versions of A Star Is Born. I only knew the 1976 version, and, of course, the one I just saw. There are also one from 1937 with Janet Gaynor and Fredrick March, and one with Judy Garland and James Mason from 1954.
I haven't seen the pre '76 versions. I'll have to look them up.
You might want to skip the saccharin love-fest interviews on YouTube. But if, like me, you can't help yourself, put on your cringe vest and click here. Nine out of ten dentists say sweet videos like this can rot your teeth. Make sure you brush your teeth afterward. Just warning.
I still like the big screen. It's a different experience entirely. So, until I can afford a thirty-foot screen in my living room, or afford a house big enough to house said thirty-foot screen, I'll be seein' ya at the movies ... hopefully good ones.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Bill Inman is an oil painting artist. He grew up in places like California, Montana, and Alaska, but calls Muncie, Indiana home now.
His subjects lean toward nature, mostly plants and landscapes. His paintings are punched up with bright colors in natural surroundings.
Inman is also a teacher with plenty of videos on YouTube. His style starts very loose and as the painting develops the brush strokes become more and more controlled until the picture he's painting comes into focus. It's kind of like looking through a camera, and the lens starts focusing more and more.
His laid-back teaching style suits me. I enjoy watching him develop paintings. You can pick up an awful lot just by watching somebody.
Bill says, "it's not about learning how to draw a line correctly, it's about learning how to see shapes." From that perspective, the seeing is more important than the drawing.
Here's a video that kind of illustrates his style of painting. It's only about four minutes. Some of his videos go in-depth and last much longer. This one is a good overview. You can get a good feeling of his style from it.
You can discover Bill's art many places on the internet, including the following:
Bill also sells his art classes at www.masteroilpainting.com/