Category Archives: Uncategorized

A martini for Harriet


3/3/14: I wrote this a few years ago. My clunky writing style back then concealed rather than expressed my feelings. I’m not changing it, though. And no adult beverages today! I’m abstaining from absolutely everything til Easter.

Originally posted on John Manders' Blog:

I’m going to deviate from my standard practice of avoiding adult topics in this blog—usually I keep it kid-friendly.  Today, however, I mention the name of an adult beverage.

That’s because today is different.  The proprieties must be observed.  Today seven years ago my beautiful, clever, witty, passionate, fun, inspiring agent—Harriet Kasak—lost her battle with cancer.

She was the iconic urbane sophisticate, living and working in Manhattan, the capital of Western Civilization.  It was our practice whenever we met, once the business aspect of the meeting was finished, to have a martini.  I like mine with gin, extremely dry (only enough vermouth to coat the glass) and 3 olives–served cold enough to freeze your lips.  And so I’m enjoying one now as I write this post.

In the mid 1990’s, early in my illustration career, Harriet took my edgy, trying-too-hard-to-be-post-modern style and showed me how to make it accessible.  She…

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Lagoon in the Afternoon on ebay

I’m auctioning my thrift-store-painting-with-a-monster, Lagoon in the Afternoon, over at ebay. . Happy bidding!

Lagoon in the Afternoon

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Hey, Gang—if you are among those unhappy people who haven’t read Vince Dorse’ Untold Tales of Bigfoot, you can change that right away! Vince is up to page 66 already, but you can find the entire story in the archives.

Happy reading!

Stupid riddle…

giraffe.1This is one of those silly FaceBook fads at the moment. One of my friends had this message posted:

I lost the great giraffe challenge. I dare you to try it. The deal is I give you a riddle; you get it right, you keep your profile pic. You get it wrong, you change your profile pic to a giraffe for the next three days! Message me only the answers! Don’t give out the answer! Here is the riddle: 3am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open? Remember …MESSAGE ME only. If you get it right, I will post your name here, otherwise you change your picture. GIRAFFE IT UP!!!

So I answered, but incorrectly.  Here is the answer. Now my FaceBook profile is adorned for the next 3 days with this adorable little giraffe.

By the way, he could be yours—

UPDATE—I’ve taken the giraffe off my Etsy listings and submitted him for our National Transit Building fundraising auction this Saturday November 9th.

Substitute preacher

I had the honor of preaching at my church this morning—Second Presbyterian Church of Oil City. Our beloved pastor left to explore his new path in ministry, so now we’re looking for a new one. In the meantime, we elders are taking turns at the pulpit.

My sermon was about Luke 8:26 – 39—Jesus healing the Gerasene demoniac. As you might have guessed, there were lots of visuals.


Beth McKinney’s blog


2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Thanks to everyone who stopped by or commented. I apologize for the sporadic posting—I promise to do better in 2013. Best wishes for a happy new year!

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 59,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Alphabet Trail & Tales called off

Too much rain today! Maybe we can try again next year.


I saw Brave on Friday. As usual with Pixar, the animation was fantastic. I had a problem with the story.

Here’s the big rule of storytelling: your audience must care about the characters. I didn’t have any particular reason to like Merida. She’s pretty but self-involved. The story has a subtext of ‘girl-power’: Merida is a free spirit, she’s being forced to marry according to the rules of a male-oriented system.

The big archery contest we’ve been seeing in the trailers is a reprise of the episode in Robin Hood, but drained of all suspense. We know Merida is a good archer, so it’s no surprise when she beats the spectacularly incompetent boys. Consider that when Robin Hood was tempted to enter Prince John’s archery contest it was a death-trap. Robin was obliged to disguise himself—even knowing his skill would ultimately give away his true identity. Of course he enters in spite of that certain outcome, because his character is rash, impudent, risk-taking, proud and—well—brave. Merida faces no such risk of capture and hanging as Robin Hood did, only her parents’ displeasure (her mom’s, at least).  We’re supposed to believe her actions caused a small war among the rival clans, but c’mon, they were all there for a dust-up anyway.

Another flat character is the witch—eccentric, neither likeable nor unlikeable enough to make her interesting. She’s there merely to push the plot along. The male characters are silly, blustering and ineffectual when they’re not actually causing harm.

For me, the only character with depth was Merida’s mom, who was once surely just like Merida but bowed to convention for the benefit of her people. The friction between Merida and her mom is well-done because the mom has dimension. Merida never thinks of anyone but herself (okay, she swipes some pastries for her little brothers) until she’s forced to. But even then, it’s a case of having gotten hersef into a horrible situation she has to get herself out again. I wasn’t convinced that it was a character-changing event for her. After she makes everything right with her mother, she goes back to riding her horse and shooting arrows at things. Instead her parents change, so that Merida doesn’t have to do something she didn’t want to in the first place.

I would have liked Merida better if her Fate, which was so important to her, required a vision beyond herself and her desire not to be bent by convention. Merida’s mom was interesting because long ago she’d grown up. By the end of the movie there was no reason to believe Merida would ever grow up. What’s so brave about that?