It’s been a tough week for the world. Chaos seems to be on the up. A lot of my creative energy went into railing at the sorry start the new American White House is having.
This is the second of three days off. Yesterday was spent taking care of business, including doing my taxes and helping my brother out some. Tomorrow I’ll be renting a car and driving to Tucson, where a stylist of many years’experience, a high school classmate of mine whom I haven’t seen in more than 40 years, will be cutting my long hair down to size. So today was a good day for relaxing and recharging my batteries. This afternoon I. rented three DVDs at the Redbox, leisurely did some laundry, and languidly doodled. Some days it is vital to ignore the world’s woes and simply mellow out.
The sad news that Mary Tyler Moore has died just hit the Internet. I didn’t know how much I cared about her until now. I did know that she was one of the first women I was “turned on” by, WAY back in the mid-60s; that she was a wonderful comedy actor but also skilled at drama, as with “First, You Cry,” a landmark movie that helped raise breast cancer awareness; that there was a playfulness she either had or inspired that manifested itself in her mogul husband Grant Tinker’s parodying the MGM Lion with the Cat’s Meow of “MTM Productions.” Still, this news hit me hard, and my instant reaction was to do the above image, in such haste that I grabbed an envelope blank on the back and had at it.
Here are the words:
The World you turned on with your smile
Will miss your grace and lack of guile.
From Dick Van Dyke to Lou & Ted
Your Mary-ment dispelled our dread.
Some day ALL wonders have to cease.
Thanks for the Lift, dear-rest in Peace.
The above image was done during my viewing of Barack Obama’s farewell address. The text blocks are all derived from the speech he made.
As always, the President was poised and both plain-spoken and articulate. His speech made a fitting bookend to his inaugural speech eight years ago. In both, he emphasized inclusion and rejected exclusion, stressing positivity and involvement of the citizenry.
I would like to thank him for his service to our country. In particular, I want to express admiration for his unbelievable grace under pressure. He remained collected and thoughtful in the midst of incredible, stressful times. We will never know how another would have fared in his place, but my guess is that history will regard him as exceptional.
Drawing has been more difficult lately, and the results have not been good. (You do NOT want to see the Joni Mitchell attempt, for instance.) It will pass. The attached is the best of a bad bunch done this week.
The umlaut forces ambiguity, as does the word split. The next one will be more unforced.
Yesterday, browsing through the video at Red Box, CAFE SOCIETY, written and directed by Woody Allen, caught my eye. It had Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carell, and Blake Lively in it. It also had Kristen Stewart, who was underwhelming in the only Twilight movie I saw, but she did a good Joan Jett. So, though my feelings about Woody Allen took a nosedive after being convinced that there was some substance to the claims of his pedophilia, I took CAFE SOCIETY home and watched it. It was well done, well written, and had excellent performances. But there were two or more elephants in the room of my head as I watched. A lot of guilt that I would enjoy a probable pedophile’s movie. And then there was the butterscotch schnapps I kept nipping at till it was gone, negatively impacting the drawings I was making while watching the movie, and darkening my thoughts about the movie’s twofold subtext, which I saw as Love Justifies Betrayal/Everyone Does Awful Things. At my tipsiest I reflected on the many horrible, rotten things I have done, a few while under the influence of alcohol or gambling or both, and felt deep shame. I also wondered if this latest Woody confection was his way of at once confessing and justifying his crimes.
Kurt Vonnegut was a reluctant fan of the author Celine, who was a Nazi sympathizer. I don’t know if I’m a Woody Allen fan any more.
Parts 1 and 2 of this series detailed the provenance of the developing image. A work crisis loomed. Employer wanted a certain number of hours from the employee during holiday time. Employee would not receive the Social Security benefit for that month working those hours, as income would exceed maximum allowed.
The crisis is resolved. The employee called in, not sick, but unavailable, two of the days of the month. One of the days was Christmas Eve. This absence on Christmas Eve meant, per the union contract, that the employee would not receive holiday pay for work performed on Christmas Day. That reduced the monthly income by slightly more than 4 hours’ work. There was also continual encouragement of the employer to save payroll money by sending the employee home early if things were slow.
The employee, myself, consequently will receive the Social Security benefit. The employer, SSP America, did not suffer overmuch for my absences. Win-win!
Here is a variant of the final version of the now-framed image, showing relief on two of the faces of the image.
An “X Marks the Spot” map is useless when the treasure lies at Z.
Out Wit The Old
Obtain a twisty turn then Lo
Upon his Life its Name her Soul
The fittest future will unfold
Here are two pieces of paper. One is a map, folded to fit a glove compartment. One is a blank, folded for aerodynamics. Follow the path on the map and you arrive at an expected place. Toss the paper airplane into the air on a windy day and go whither it will and if you are paying attention, you will be looking at Earth and Sky and Traveler instead of crude or nonexistent approximations thereof. No matter what the obstacles along the way, you will learn improvisational skills following the glide path.
There are two puns in this acrostic. One is in the title, a corruption of “Out with the Old.” The other may not be obvious to any but engineers, statisticians, bodybuilders, employers, or doctors. “Fittest” is splittable into “fit test.” Our lives are one Fit Test after another, deciding upon a course of action and then seeing how good a fit it is with Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Some of us ignore the results of the Fit Test and keep on doing the same old dysfunctional thing. Those who grow into physically, ethically, and spiritually fitter beings check their Fit Test results often, and, sometimes painfully, abandon a given dysfunctional path and seek one more suitable. Comfort with dysfunction can be deadly. Dissatisfaction with subpar results is an important step on the lifelong quest to outwit the old.