Giving Thanks

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

It’s hard for me to think of my Uncle Mike without picturing a pool cue in his hand. Sure, he had a lot more going on, but rarely did I see him light up as when he would explain to his nieces and nephews the physics behind his favorite trick shots. He was a billiards nerd the way I’m a…nerd, except for him it was actually lucrative, keeping his young kids fed and in diapers when money was tight.

Everyone gets older, people pass on, and yearly traditions once taken for granted run their natural course. In my mind, Thanksgiving at Uncle Mike and Aunt Anita’s, in the hills above Napa Valley, has coalesced into a single, timeless memory, like a movie I’ve watched again and again.

The sound of gravel being kicked up as we pull into the long driveway. The boisterous hellos and the giddy anticipation as we hover around the busy kitchen. Plates piled high, the popping of corks, and unrestrained laughter. The beckoning dessert table, and the strategies concocted for trying every type of pie without literally exploding.

And then, finally, people falling into their post-feast rhythm. On the main floor, the true adults settle in for stimulating conversation, while those of us craving more of a show head downstairs to watch Uncle Raymond razz Uncle Mike, as Uncle Mike effortlessly runs the table and looks for his next victim.

No takers? Then it’s time to learn from the master, as he shows us how to win money placing pool hall bets using a knowledge of angles and english, and clever uses of spit.

We try to take it all in. For a moment, becoming a pool shark seems like a real possibility, and we try to think of ways to fit it into our schedule.

And then we snap back to reality, realizing that it’s easier just to live vicariously through the tall, lanky, seemingly unflappable hustler turned entrepreneur turned cool friendly uncle.

And finally, the long goodbyes, the yawns, the hugs among a soundtrack of crickets under a starry country sky, and the sound of gravel under rubber once again. We look back and wave, never thinking it’ll be the last time.

Inevitably, one time, it is. But that’s okay–I know it all by heart.

Babies Having Babies

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

Oh wait, my baby cousin is almost 33? Wait a minute, that makes me…(minus 7…carry the one…) elderly.

In that case, congratulations are in order to Emily, Bryce, and my first cousin once removed, Jetty!

Side note: it’s never been more appropriate to point out that I drew this in an iPad drawing app called Procreate!

Rumors of his dirty ratness are greatly exaggerated

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

I’m greatly enjoying the epic podcast The Secret History of Hollywood. Actually, it’s less of a podcast and more of an audiobook. You should check it out. I’m just starting part three of the latest series, “Bullets and Blood.” In parts one and two, Cagney emerges as one of the few people in Hollywood with two feet on the ground and a good heart. Some of the best anecdotes in the podcast are of his tussles with the mercenary head of the Warner Brothers Studio, Jack L. Warner, who was vexed by a rare star who needed the studio less than the studio needed him.

If some crazy dark side of his personality emerges in part three, please don’t spoil it for me!

Oil Can

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

About a year and a half ago my cousin’s multitalented husband was in town as part of the crew for a show at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. I dropped by to say hello, and found myself captivated by the opening act, Julien Baker. As everyone knows, I am a stone cold robot, but on the rare occasions when I want to remind myself what it’s like to love, lose, and have a pulse, I crank up folk rock belted by women half my age, usually starting with this.

10th Old Man

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

I sketched this while watching a terrific documentary on Netflix, Floyd Norman: An Animated Life. Floyd was an animator and writer on basically every cartoon I ever saw as a kid, from Sleeping Beauty, to 101 Dalmations, to Scooby Doo, to the Smurfs, to Toy Story.

Disclaimer: I was not a kid when Toy Story was released. Floyd is now 81, and looks younger than me, and I wish I was joking.

 

La mujer del siglo

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Oh hey, today would have been my Nana’s 100th birthday! Here’s a digital painting of her in her youth, perhaps in her hometown of La Paz, Mexico.

Change I Can’t Believe In

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I’m neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I don’t like to talk about politics, because, frankly, I do not know enough to form any strong arguments. (Note: This does not generally stop people who love to talk about politics.)

All I know is that for the past eight years, having this man at the helm caused me absolutely zero anxiety. The incoming administration? Well I’m sleeping a lot less these days. And drawing politicians. That’s how you know we’ve entered bizarro times.

As an illustration of what we’re losing, have a look at the clip below of Obama addressing the U.S. military last month. It’s a quick historical recap, tied to the sort of patriotic, apolitical message that could have been said by any President, and appreciated by conservatives and liberals alike.

The scary thing is that Obama’s comforting words were prompted by dangerously ignorant statements made by the President-Elect. I’m OK with the usual 8-year presidential pendulum swing between Republicans and Democrats, but this guy is a different beast. The Republican Congress really needs to do some soul-searching and ask, “am I on Team America, or Team Thin-Skinned Reality Show Carny?”

Reddit Gets Gatsbied

Posted by Mark in Mark's Sketchbook

I should really be using resources like Reddit Gets Drawn to practice every single day, but I tend to get picky and wait for photos like this that appear to capture a slice of life; i.e. are not selfies.