Wednesday, September 29, 2010

[I'm] Old-Fashioned.

I waited a few days, but I couldn't get the song by Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer--or the dance by Rita Hayworth and Fred Astaire--out of my head.

Rita Hayworth is best known for her femme fatale character in Gilda,  but I knew her first as a fantastic dancer in Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire musicals. When I finally saw Gilda, I preferred her sunny side.

In You Were Never Lovelier (1942), Rita plays the second-eldest daughter of a wealthy Argentine family. Her father (Adolfe Menjou)  wants his four daughters to marry in order, but Rita--having not met anyone interesting yet--is holding up the line. To speed things along, he sends her flowers and gifts from a secret admirer and plans to find her a suitable husband later.

Meanwhile, Fred Astaire shows up looking for work, and Rita--of course--falls for him. Her father does not approve! Oh, the drama!

Most musicals are the same.  You know how things will end and that you'll feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But the joy is in getting there: the cheesy lines, the music, the dancing. It'll all make you smile!

Here is Rita and Fred's wonderful performance of "I'm Old-Fashioned" from You Were Never Lovelier. Fred Astaire once said that Rita was his favorite of all his dancing partners. What do you think? 

© Columbia Pictures

Here, The Mother Kitty and B.J. pay tribute to Fred and Rita's beautiful dance:

Old-Fashioned (September 24, 2010)
[Illustration Friday: September 24, 2010]

B.J.'s a little disappointed that I cut out his lines, which he'd been practicing all day: "Sister, I was raised amongst the grasshoppers. I am strictly from corn!" But I didn't have enough room.

Don't worry, he's over it. Who complains when you get to be Fred Astaire?

Are you smiling? Warm and fuzzy? Now, this song and dance be stuck in your head all week!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Best of 2006

In January 2006, my friend Anastasia was eager to invite more creativity into her life. She found Illustration Friday and thought the site--which provided a word each week to serve as artists' drawing inspiration--offered a good start. 

Knowing that I made birthday cards featuring drawings of my family's pet cats, Anastasia suggested I join her in creating drawings each week. We agreed to support each other in nurturing our creativity through Illustration Friday's weekly challenges, though I assumed that it would only be a few weeks before I lazily gave it up. 

Here I am 4 years later! Who knew?!

Since recently reviewing the 260+ illustrations I've made since the start of my blog, I thought it'd be fun to revisit some of my favorites from that first year:

1. E is for...Environment is my first drawing for Illustration Friday--the start of it all! This drawing was an early birthday card idea. On the front, the kitties hid in a big tree. Inside, they'd jump out and floating down using helium birthday balloons--Surprise!  

2. I always thought it was funny that Cats showed up as a topic just after I started Illustration Friday. Before I started my blog, I decided that all of my drawings would feature my cats. Yet, I had no idea what to draw when this word appeared for inspiration. It turned out to be a fitting introduction for my readers. 

3. Tattoo marks my first Johnny-Depp-inspired drawing. While one of his hands looks a bit monsterish, I still love the simplicity of this drawing and am grateful that Johnny had simple tattoos in just the right places. Aside from that, it sparked the beginning of many Johnny-inspired drawings to come. 

4. Robot was of the first drawings inspired by classic cartoons I watched as a kid. Remember the ones where a Robokitty was purchased to catch the mouse in the house? I loved that the mechanical cat would pause during a chase to clean its foot just like a real one. Maybe this one would do the same.

5. Only one idea came to mind for the topic Rain. Always inspired by classic films, who can resist a little joy from Gene Kelly any day of the week? 

6. The Kitties are always eager to put on a show, as seen in Play

7. The Kitties are devoted fans of the Baltimore Orioles. Here, they participate in a friendly game at Camden Yards in Safe!

8. In some drawings, such as Farm, The Kitties and I can't get enough sun. 

9. Ghost honors all kitties--past and present. 

10. Wind still makes me laugh. The Mother Kitty claims it's a true story. 

Browse all of my illustrations from 2006. Which are your favorites? 

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Before we met Simon, he was a star performer for the original cast of Cirque du Soleil. Some days, if you listen closely, you can hear remnants of his French accent. Here, he is doing one of his most popular tricks on the tightrope.

Acrobat (September 17, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: September 17, 2010)

When Simon first came into our lives, he suffered from a slight limp, which has since healed. He claims that the injury is a result of a freak accident during rehearsal in Oslo. Apparently, he saw an old friend in the crowd and just forgot where he was for a second. Don't worry, he landed on his feet.

These days, you can sometimes find him doing his old tricks in the backyard. Remember this? 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Proverb (September 10, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: September 10, 2010)

"Every life should have nine cats." --Anonymous proverb

A big welcome goes out to Mini, the latest addition to our kitty family. She's a 9-month-old Mini-Me version of Norman, who adores her. She was brought into my sister's vet office over the summer. Inexplicably, no one was able to find a home for her, so my sister brought her home. Could that have been Mini's plan all along? She's not talking. So far, Mini's favorite pastimes include playing and purring and rolling and playing and purring and rolling. 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #4--Platoon (1986)

"I could tell a mile away. I said, 'You're going to be a star. There's just absolutely no question. You've got a great face, you're unbelievably handsome, and you have an original character. You have a quality.'" Oliver Stone on casting Johnny Depp in Platoon

War movies are not my favorite, but Platoon is a good one. Oliver Stone's semi-autobiographical drama set in the jungles of Vietnam won 4 Oscars in 1986. It's not fun to watch, but it made many people see and think differently about the Vietnam War and its veterans. 
[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details!]

Following a soldier who voluntarily enlists, we experience with him the horrors of war and the internal battles he faces to survive. Led by Charlie Sheen, the movie included an all-star ensemble cast on not-yet-famous actors: Forest WhitakerWillem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, and Johnny Depp.

Johnny as Lerner
Johnny scored the small role of an interpreter named Lerner. Like everyone else in the cast, he committed to the rehearsal period in Luzon, Philippines, prior to shooting. Johnny's first trip out of the United States landed him in the middle of the Philippine Revolution. Nice timing.

As the actors arrived, they were immediately treated as their characters--rank and all--and their "rehearsal period" was actually 2 weeks of bootcamp under the supervision of Marine Seargant Dale Dye. "They were new guys coming into a unit in Vietnam. Nothing else existed," Dye said. "We wanted them to understand the pain and the agony and the angst and the psychology of being a grunt in Vietnam."

On this compressed schedule, they learned everything they would have learned through basic and advanced infantry. They received military haircuts, had no access to showers, slept in the jungle, and rotated nightwatch duty.  "The rations we were given to eat were the most shocking thing you've ever seen," Johnny said. "It would be things like 'bean component,' 'turkey loaf.' But I'd have eaten my socks by that point, man. We were all starving to death."    

Oliver Stone's got a reputation for his aggressive directing style, and--according to Platoon's behind-the-scene's documentary--everyone hated him during filming because he pushed his actors to the brink. "I didn't know if I was going to make it out of there alive," Charlie Sheen said of the experience. 

Despite its hardships, for Johnny, the experience of making this film was a step in the right direction: "I'm really very proud to have been involved in Platoon. It gave me a hunger. It sort of gave me a drive to go somewhere else, to try to do other things, and learn more."   

As you may imagine, there are no scenes in Platoon that lend themselves to happy kitties. We all watched it with our hands (paws?) poised to shield our eyes from the violence when needed. 

In the end, we chose the most peaceful scene we could find: Two soldiers gazing up at the stars on a quiet night in the jungle, reflecting. The war is almost forgotten for a moment. 

I know, Johnny's not technically in this scene.  Is that cheating on my project rules? Well, The Kitties and I imagine that, given the chance, any soldier would look up at the stars for a moment of  peace in the middle of the Vietnam War--or any war, for that matter. So, we assume that Johnny is doing the same--even if it's off camera.

Johnny Kitties: The Johnny Depp Project: Film #4: Platoon (1986) [October 19, 2009]
Next up, Johnny takes over [my] TV on 21 Jump Street!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


This weekend, I had plenty of desserty eats: a warm, velvety, chocolate truffle cookie, an amazing strawberry and blueberry crepe overflowing with nutella, blueberry frosted miniwheat cereal, a refreshing mango popsicle.... But I had trouble coming up with an idea for "Dessert" this week. 

Instead, my thoughts were on my sister's new 9-month-old kitten, Mini, whom she recently brought home from her office. More amazing than my delicious crepe, Mini has become instant friends with Norman! Watching the two of them--Norman, a large bear of a cat, and Mini, a tiny burst of sweetness, reminded me of one of my favorite Warner Brothers cartoons growing up. 

Directed by the great Chuck Jones (who made all the best Warner Brothers cartoons), "Feed the Kitty," is about a bulldog named Marc Anthony who falls in love with an orphaned kitten. 

Okay, while Norman isn't nearly as sweet as Marc Anthony, Mini is very similar to this kitten. 

But, more on Mini later. In the meantime, Simon decided to bake some cookies while I try to think of a "Dessert" drawing. Here's our homage to Chuck Jones.  Mmm, cookies. 

Dessert (September 3, 2010)
(Illustration Friday: September 3, 2010)