Poster and Coloring Page

I’ve also added a coloring sheet for good measure.

Well, there you go.  Alissa and I will get everything printed up and sent to my sister’s house.  Hopefully the girls will like it, and Ashlyn will hold my princess-maze-promise fulfilled.  This blog is starting to look sort of feminine, but the next post should make Mr. Churchill feel more comfortable.

This One’s For the Ladies

The “ladies” in this instance are my nieces.  I have four.  Two are baby twins, the other two are four and six.  They live about 90 minutes away.  A while ago I was drawing mazes, and Ashlyn, the four year old, wanted to know if I could draw her some more mazes and send them to her in the mail.  “What kind of maze do you want?” I asked.  “Princess Mazes,” she said.  I said that it would be no problem, but I forgot shortly thereafter.  Then a few weeks later, Ashlyn chided me over iChat that I had not yet mailed her a princess maze. This weekend I got to work.

I’m not really that experienced at princess-type-strawberry-shortcake-like color schemes, but I gave it the old college try.  Incidentally, my wife heaped more praise on that silly castle than on anything I’ve ever done.  Alissa and I are going to print this out and laminate it, and mail it.  I still have to do the Princess Clementine marker topper, which I’ll probably post later in the week.  I also might make the maze harder so that she enjoys it a little more.

I’m posting a lores 8.5 x 11 version that you should feel free to print out for the little ladies in your life with maze-needs.

I thought I’d end with the lyrics to “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine,” but it’s a super creepy nightmare of a song.

EDIT:

I added a more difficult maze.  Actually, it might be a little too difficult.  Poor Clementine.

Boy to the Rescue!

Some years ago I wrote a treatment for a children’s book that detailed a boy’s imaginary journey while he sat listening to an orchestra in a concert hall.  The lady in the seat directly in front of him starred in his daydreams as a recurring damsel in distress.  Like a lot of what I wrote at Portland, this story got tossed around, excited some interest, and wound up in a folder.  A few weeks ago, I decided to use some of my spare time to illustrate a bit of it.

I know nothing of the imaginary life of girls, but I feel that boyhood fantasies are on the whole ennobling.  There does exist the occasional revenge fantasy, and many daydreams center around popularity and possessions, but I think it is solid fact to assert that boyhood fantasies aspire to virtue more than adult fantasies.  I suffer no delusions about childhood.  I don’t think that humans are born in a state of innocence, and anyone that deals with children knows they are as selfish as any creaky-boned degenerate.  But it is undeniable that the prepubescent boy’s perception of women is so incomplete as to be positively innocent, and so innocent as to provoke grand and gallant desires.  Furthermore, a young boy’s yearning for the heroic is so intense that it consumes him like a holy passion.  I think the prick of these noble feelings is never as keenly felt as when one is a boy.

The obvious stumbling block for any boy wishing to channel the moral exuberance of Galahad is the boy’s lack of resources.  I have a memory of a daydream from third grade in which masked men attacked my elementary school.  For some reason I was alone with a pretty sixth grade girl–a girl I didn’t really know except admiringly from afar. Unfortunately there was no way I could go toe to toe with a masked gunman.  It was too unbelievable even for my imagination.  My grand heroic gesture was to grab her hand and run down the hallway always correctly pointing out the exits.  I soon exhausted the dramatic possibilities of the chase scene, so I added a turning point.  I may have only been in third grade, but what I lacked in fight, I made up for in my ability to take a bullet.  This caused the gunmen to choke with remorse, and the six grade girl wept profoundly as she realized that our three year age gap could not quench the fire of admiration that burned within her chest.

You’ll notice that the boy in the illustration is at war with snowmen.  They are both threatening and easily defeated.  This makes them the perfect daydream nemesis. I have no way to help you tap into your grander more heroic self except to leave you with the anthem of the International Order of the Knights of King Arthur as printed in the 1907 classic, The Boy’s Round Table: A Manual of Boys’ Clubs Explaining The Order of the Knights of King Arthur.  Soak it in, and do great things:

By communion of the banner, Crimson, white and starry banner,

By the baptism of the banner, Children of the Flag are we.

By our bright cross-hilted sword-blades,

By our flashing, heav’n-bathed sword blades,

By our circled, comrade sword-blades,

Warriors of the King we be.

Comrades, hail the Cross that leads us,

Comrades, hail the Grail that beckons,

Comrades, hail the War that waits us.

Knights of holy chivalry.

UPS post

This was a piece I did a few years ago.  It was meant to accompany a post on the Portland Blog, but something came up.  I figured I’d re-post the UPS post because there is snow on the ground.  Also, Alissa and I were going through clothes I never wear and we came across a pair of my jeans from UPS.  She took a picture.  It is below.

I used to work nights at UPS as a package handler.  As my distance from the job has grown, my recollections have developed a nostalgic patina.  How wonderful to have worked such a terrible job.  Every night I left my apartment at 10:15.  At 10:25 I pulled into the parking lot, shut off my car and savored the last few moments of stillness.  UPS machinery is hard on clothing, and the crowds that entered the hub every night exhibited a type of fashion that is generally reserved for the menacing extras in zombie movies.  Patches on patches.  Ripped sleeves.  Pant legs nearly shorn off.  Back pockets peeling off.  Our clothes bore the signs of remarkable violence.

[Strangely, I couldn’t bring myself to throw these jeans away].

Every night we shuffled from our cars to the guardhouse, showed our IDs, and waited for the largish security woman to look up from her book and nod us through.  She had an insatiable appetite for lurid romance novels with titles like Voo Doo It Like That: A Scandalous Tale of Urban Desire and Sensuous Vampiric Adventure.  We continued to the “Hub” amidst grumblings as predictable as an Episcopalian liturgy.

“How you doing?”

“Great, till I came here.”

“I hear that.”

“Two more days.”

“Yeah.  You double today?”

“No, but I hear Twilight got ransacked.”

“That’s what I hear.”

“Two more days.”

“I hear that.”

The inside of the “Hub” was as drab and boring as a bucket of oatmeal.  The memories of my time there have lost their particularity, but for one.

One night I left my apartment the regular way, arrived the regular way, showed my ID in the regular way, and entered the building in the regular way.  But when I turned the corner, what had for nine months been a concrete floor, cinder block wall, and metal chute, was magically transformed.  The forms were still there, but they were now beautifully soft and white.  Someone during the twilight shift knocked a fire extinguisher from its hooks.  It fell, bounced off the bay platform, hit the ground, and exploded.  The blast covered the chute, the bottom of the conveyor belt, and about twenty feet of the floor in what looked like freshly fallen snow.  I must have come very soon after the extinguisher burst, for there were no footprints.  The scene was almost overpowering.  I stood in my tattered clothes holding my water jug and everything old was new again.

Fitzgerald, I think, once mentioned that in life every person searches for reincarnations of a former aesthetic experience.  The writer or painter tries to approximate some moment in their life when they had very real contact with awe.  Isn’t it strange that while those moments are widely incommunicable, sometimes a few particles can make the journey from one person to another?  So far as I can tell the sensation works best when we feel a rapid flicker between the familiar and the unfamiliar.  At any rate, I think that at its best literature, or maybe art in general, can take something quite ordinary, concrete, and dull, and blast it with a spectacular whiteness so that we can see the thing again for the first time.