Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Immovable (August 27, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: August 27, 2010)

When The Mother Kitty is busy, she is Immovable--no matter how long you call for her.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Atmosphere (August 20, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: August 20, 2010)

Last Saturday, The Kitties and I watched the Baltimore Orioles play the Texas Rangers. The night before, The Orioles beat the opposing team, 4-0. Today, we were ready to cheer for our team again! 

It became immediately clear, however, that the homeplate umpire--You know who you are!--needed glasses or more on-the-job training! The announcers said that his strike zone made a mockery of the game of baseball. He kept calling strikes that were obviously balls and balls that were obviously strikes. I mean, if The Kitties and I can see the difference, it's pretty bad!  

Early in the game, Nick Markakis argued with the umpire on his faulty calls as they got progressively worse from Strike 1 to Strike 2. After Strike 3, Nick wast ejected from the game! 

Nick Markakis is a nice guy; he doesn't get ejected. It's never happened--until today. 

Then, the new Orioles manager, Buck Showalter, caught this umpire holding up the game to lecture catcher Matt Wieters about pitches and strikes. That's when he ejected Buck Showalter too! I don't think this was a vendetta against The Orioles, but none of The Rangers got into as much trouble. The announcers pointed out the baffled looks on their faces as the umpire incorrectly called their own plays, but they took what he said since they were typically in their favor.

Our jovial spirits at the start of this game were deflated, and the atmosphere quickly turned sour. You can see how upset  The Kitties are! Poor Lily, watching one of her first games, left the room in disgust.

The Orioles lost that day, 2-0. But it wasn't their fault, we swear! The Kitties and I are so over it. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Star Gazing

Once again, I'm slightly behind on my Illustration Friday drawings, but with good reason: I've been organizing my computer files, a tedious, tedious task....I see light at the end of the tunnel. Wait, may be I'm hallucinating. 

Whenever I look over the drawings I have done since 2006, "Glamour" sticks out as my Incomplete. I don't remember anything in particular that distracted me for finishing it. Was I rushing to post it by the end-of-the-week deadline? Or, did I actually believe I was done, leaving The Mother Kitty in this unobserved moment on a floating red carpet with massive stars and pastel asterisks (gasp!)  glowing overhead in a white sky? Maybe I had a cold that week. 

Glamour (January 27, 2006)
(Illustration Friday: January 27, 2006)

I originally planned to use this week's topic, Star Gazing, to finish what I started in 2006 filling in all the white space surrounding The Kitties. But, then I reconsidered. I decided to draw a new version. After all, that was 2006; this is 2010. And, you know, The Mother Kitty loves to attend fancy events. 

So, here's a different glamorous night: Of course, The Mother Kitty is the star, and Simon's along for the ride. It must be the Kitty Cannes Film Festival. Where else can she get away with that tiara and a living Siamese fur? 

StarGazing (August 13, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: August 13, 2010)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tom Hargus

Tom Hargus, one of my dad's dearest friends, passed away July 27. He was one of The Kitties' biggest fans.

Tom, in 2004, deciding....
Tom lived in Little Rock, Arkansas, with his wife Cecilia. In 2008, Dad handed me the phone, and Tom asked me if he could buy some of my illustrations. All secured in bound sketchbooks, it hadn't occurred to me to sell any of them. After a few weeks of continuous praise and reminders that I had a buyer-in-waiting, I got back in touch with him through e-mail.

I explained that my drawing hobby began through Illustration Friday, a Web site that offers a single word each week to serve as an artist's inspiration. I suggested that he give me a word or topic, and I could draw something for him.

After a week or so of silence, I received quite a response. In his lengthy e-mail, he described July 20, 1969. For all of us, he said, it was one of those Golden Moments in time that you knew was a Golden Moment as it was happening. A barbecue among Navy buddies--Tom, Dennis (Dad), Joe, Richard, and Ray--it marked a special time in their lives. On this landmark day for space exploration, the end of their military tours was approaching and the excitement of reunions and impending marriages was stirring. This celebration marked new beginnings in world history and among a few friends. Or, in another light, "It was a party on a nice day with really good food and lots of beer."

With that, Tom became the first to commission a piece of art from me, and I got to work. Throughout the process, he and Dad provided me with the details: Richard and his wife, Emily, hosted the party at their home in the Philippines. Tom, his then-girlfriend Cecilia, and his three other friends, Ray, Joe, and Dennis, arrived by afternoon. Dad described the exterior of the house and the rickety fence, the layout of the yard, and the gravely road next to it. Their friend, Ray, who was slightly older and more studious, wore round glasses and was typically reading. Joe spent the evening leaning against the fence, staring dreamingly at the moon, a round pie in the sky sliced in half. San Miquel was the beer of choice.

My final question to Tom, "What cat do you want to be?" He noted that he'd always been partial to Siamese cats, which made Simon very proud.

July 20, 1969

My first client was extremely happy with the result, to my great relief! While Tom got the original, his friends received copies.

Since then, Tom stayed in touch, mainly commenting on various illustrations by e-mail. He sent me a book on yoga and meditation when he found out I practiced. Each Christmas, we wished each other happy holidays over the phone. Most recently, Tom and I became Facebook friends, and it was there that I last heard from him. On July 3, we talked about the all-important schedule for the day on Turner Classic Movies: "A Gene Kelly triple-feature!" I announced. "Capped off by Meet Me in St. Louis and The Wizard of Oz," Tom added. "Not a bad day."

Tom, you are missed and our thoughts are with your family. Hopefully, some of my Kitties are keeping you company.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Caged (August 6, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: August 6, 2010)

Yesterday, Ashes awoke from the strangest dream. "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" is still stuck in her head. Now, it's probably in your head.... 

Despite drawing through most of my weekend, I'm a tiny bit off schedule again. The DC weather has worn me out! (When is Fall going to be here?) I had to get outside this weekend, which relieved us with civilized temperatures, because I was getting too used to talking to Lily all day during our TCM movie marathons. (August is Summer Under the Stars month, you know!) So, it was back to yoga class and out with friends. I could actually sit outside and drink a hot cup of tea without feeling as though I was in the Sahara! That's progress. 

Monday, August 09, 2010

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #3--Slow Burn (1986)

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details!]

Slow Burn is a 1986 made-for-TV crime drama starring Eric Roberts and Beverly D'AngeloI assumed Johnny Depp's role in this film was small, since no one ever mentions it in interviews or retrospectives. I couldn't find it in video stores, and it was never on TV, but I did see the video cassette up for auction years ago listed on eBay. Didn’t I need to—at least—see this Johnny Movie, just for the sake of completeness, and isn’t eBay my only option? I explained the situation to one of my friends: "Don't I need to buy it, just because?"

Don’t do it! she advised. So I didn’t.

Last year, though, I reluctantly convinced myself to do so, “for art's sake!” I put in a bid on eBay for $8. While I waited for the auction to end, it occurred to me to check YouTube for Johnny's Slow Burn scenes—and I found them! After watching them, I hoped that someone would outbid me on eBay, but no one did. 

Johnny as Donnie
Here's the story: Private investigator Jacob Asch (Eric Roberts) is hired by Gerald McMurty (Raymond J. Barry) to find McMurty's ex-wife, Laine Fliescher (Beverly D’Angelo) and her teenage son, Donnie (Johnny), who may or may not be his. Asche ends up discovering a drug-related crime, uncovering lies and deceit, and falling for Laine. The important thing is that Donnie is kidnapped for ransom, and—to my great dismay—he is not rescued in time!

Despite being the center of a kidnapping plot, Johnny’s scenes are sparse and his character minor. The Kitties and I could not decide what to highlight (though we all agreed on his extreme cuteness and awesome hair). We opted to share all three scenes, so that—in a fit of obsessive behavior—you are not tempted to purchase this video on eBay.

Johnny Kitties: The Johnny Depp Project: Film #3: Slow Burn (1984) [October 3, 2009]

In the first scene, Laine meets Donnie at his high school, in order to drive him home. She comes bearing the gift of new bright red high tops. Johnny does a good job seeming really excited about these.

In the next scene, Mr. Asch (as they call him) catches up with Donnie as he's leaving school and asks him about his deceased brother, Brian (the son who Mr. McMurty is seeking). Donnie is angry with him for having caused a domestic dispute the night before. Of all three, I like this scene the best, maybe because he has some substantial lines. (And, yes, Eric Roberts really laughs in that musical way.) 

In Johnny's final scene, Donnie’s bloodied body is discovered at the dump. The shock of this grisly sight causes his stepfather to have a heart attack and fall to the ground. Johnny’s Look of Death is much more convincing than Gordon’s, but Gordon was trying to cheer us up since we were all depressed by this horrific turn of events. Ces't la vie! 

Next month, Johnny goes to war with Oliver Stone in Platoon! 

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Artificial (July 30, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: July 30, 2010)

Comet goes to great lengths to avoid visiting the vet's office. (You may remember his last attempt here.) Today, he's hoping "Artificial Comet" will do the trick. He spent all day tearing up my orange duvet cover and stole some of dad's socks to do it. I think the paper ears may give it away, though. 

Happy August, Everyone!