The Home of the Creative Mind

Welcome to PooBahSpiel, the online voice and home of the creative mind of Mark Monlux, Illustrator Extraordinaire. Prepare yourself for an endless regaling of art directly from the hand of this stellar artist. And brace yourself against his mighty wind of pontification. Updates are kinda weekly and show daily sketches, current projects, and other really nifty stuff.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Weekly Dose of Mark


Friday, June 30th 2023


It has been a crazy week. On Thursday, I was prepping my bins for Washington State Summer Con, which most of my friends just call Summercon. I went online to see where my table assignment was located. I was contemplating setting up that evening. But I couldn’t find myself listed on the website. I thought that was odd and looked for my application and receipt. I couldn’t find any. I was kicking myself because this is one of my most lucrative shows. I sent Steve, the organizer, a message. Hopefully, he’d find it in the dozens of others he was probably getting already on the first setup day. I then moaned to a few of my friends. Oddly enough, Travis Bundy was in the same boat. Thankfully, Steve found a space for both of us. We just wouldn’t be on the directories, which were already put to bed. I was relieved just to get in, and I wasn’t worried about where he’d put me. I always do good at this show. The show is large, taking up two buildings, a large one and a smaller one with two floors. Still, It wasn’t until late in the day on Thursday that Steve got back to me, so I was going to set up on Friday.


I got there with plenty of time to set up. I was able to drive my car onto the fairgrounds and unload at the door. I then drove my car to the Vendor’s parking lot. As it was still early enough, I got a spot closer to the gate than farther away. Unlike Lilac City Comicon a couple of weeks ago, the footprint and tables were big, with eight-foot square space and long tables. I was able to spread out my display. I also had time to roam through the exhibits with Matt Youngmark. Matt and I have traveled and tabled together at so many shows we’ve lost count. Also at the convention was Jay and Karen Palmer, Eli Wolfe, Chad Scheres, Katie Crown, Timothy W. Long, Elizabeth Guizzetti, and, of course, Travis Bundy. Several of my other friends were there as well, tabling, volunteering for organizations, and working as staff. This was one of the few times that I was actually able to at least look at all the tables and booths before the event started. And for me, it started with a bang. During the first how two guys came to my table, and between the two of them dropped $100. It was a good way to start the show. The one person who didn’t make the show was Mark Brill. He caught Covid on Monday and didn’t sound that good when I talked to him on Thursday.


A funny thing happened to me on Friday. The fellow tabling across from me had the name Warren Montgomery. While setting up his table, another person approached and said that was their spot. Warren said something like, “No, as you can clearly read, the sign says Warren Montgomery.” The man said, “Yes, it does say that, and my name is Warren Montgomery.” What are the odds that there would be two Warren Montgomerys tabling at the same comic convention? A check with the staff cleared up their locations. That’s an honest mistake to make. The only thing now is I can’t remember which Warren was set up in the correct spot at the start of this story. Either I didn’t learn that detail, or I forgot it. I have a wonderful photo of the two Warrens pointing at each other that is identical to the famous meme posting of the three Spidermen pointing at each other. If you aren’t into comics, you probably won’t get the reference. But, for a nerd like me, it’s hilarious.


Allen Gladfelter picked me up Saturday morning. He agreed to help me man my table on what was going to be the busiest day of the event. Allen has helped me several times before and is very good at running the orders and doing the Spcheal if I have my hands full. He also has a good stock of posters, books, and a sticker. We sell them on the table along with my stuff. We ate that morning at Little Jerry’s, where Allen introduced me to his friend Rick. Rick is a little bit of a Luddite in that he doesn’t have a social media account. He only reads books in their paper form. And books are his favorite subject. Thankfully he and I have similar tastes in science fiction, which I think is his favorite genre. I was able to give him some fantasy recommendations of books that have come out in recent years. Allen was at first worried about how long we were taking, but I told him that I wanted to enjoy a good long slow breakfast with his and Rick. After saying goodbye to Rick, we quickly arrived at the fairgrounds. And Allen had about an hour to enjoy looking around before the show kicked into full speed at ten. I could handle the early bird at 9:30. I was very thankful Allen was there with me. We made a lot of transactions. I ran out of some prints and shirt sizes. Thankfully I had more prints at home to restock. That evening Allen and I ate at a new restaurant he wanted to try, The Flying Tomato. It was an Italian-ish restaurant. Allen and I agreed to split our meals and the check. We ate a Cajon Fettachine and Lasagna. Both were delicious, and we both decided that the Fettacine was the winner. We were stuffed; one meal would have fed the both of us. Now we are interested in trying some of their pizza. This restaurant was in the location of a restaurant my neighbor Ralph and I would occasionally visit when we didn’t go to, The Peanut Sauce. It was an American dinner then, and made excellent breakfasts. I don’t know if Covid closed it down or not. Allen reported that renovations were underway since he moved into the area at the start of the school year. The Flying Tomato has only been open for three weeks. It has a booming business.


Both my neighbor Pat Smith and my friend John Draper turned me down when I asked them to assist on Sunday. However, Corey Macourek said, “Yes.” He was even kind enough to come to my house on Saturday night to pick up the Vendor’s pass so I wouldn’t have to leave my table and meet him at the gate while the event was underway. Corey showed up earlier than I expected, and he, too, had several prints to sell. He didn’t do quite as well as Allen on his sales, but it was Sunday, and he also logged fewer hours. I was grateful for his help and now owe him a favor. Corey left before the event was over. He still had a movie poster to work on.


I genuinely need to be better about writing down all the funny things that happen at these conventions. I do take photos, but even then, I don’t get pictures of everyone. Travis Bundy closed down his booth on Saturday. Travis didn’t get any sleep the night before and looked a little rough around the edges. I’m glad he made the decision to of health over profit. A quick tally after the event indicated that this was my best Summercon and also my most profitable show this year. That’s going to be hard to beat as all the remaining shows are only two or one-day shows.


Genevieve Schlemmer, who moved to Brooklyn three years ago, has moved back to this state and is living just down the interstate in Olympia. Her husband Trevor cashed in on his old job, and they decided there were lots of reasons for them to move back to Washington. They want to build their own computer games together. Genevieve has been working on a game that is rather meditative; it’s based on tending houseplants. Everyone was happy to see her walk in at Freelance Fandango. I showed her a ProCreate feature that she loved. I’m looking forward to her giving me a tutorial on making patterns next week. Also in attendance were Richard, Allen, Stan, and Nori. The Kit Kat flavor this week was Wasabi. Genevieve says it’s her favorite flavor so far.


But my Monday didn’t end there. The Asian Pacific Cultural Center relocated to a new location. Their old building is being torn down to build a permanent place for them. They are hoping it will be done in one or two years. Their first art show at the temporary location features three artists, one of which is Yichao Zhang. I met Yichao when she first immigrated to the united states. A mutual friend brought her to Freelance Fandango. Her last show at the center featured illustration; this show features her painting. She’s so talented. The other artists are Marialina Wallace and her tattoo artist Kamu of Kardey’s Polynesian Tattoo. Yichao was happy to see me. Also, there were some of my friends June Sekiguchi, the mutual friend who introduced me to Yichao. Patsy Surh O’Connell stopped to give me some words of encouragement with all the events I organize for artists. She is a powerhouse in the Tacoma Art scene and served as the backbone of the Asian Pacific Cultural Center until she stepped down from her role, which was only recently. I was extremely flattered by her words and had to confess to feeling a little pride.


Speaking of hosting events, this Wednesday was the monthly live drawing session, The Grand Drawing Room, at the Grand Cinema. Our model this month was Devin Blair, who was dressed as the character Jynx in a scene in the television show Arcane. The character initially originated from the League of Legends video game. The turnout has grown each month. This time there were fifteen artists drawing the model. What made a real difference was the platform they brought to her to stand and sit on. The elevation really helped.


I drove downtown today to drop off the Weird Cabal binders at Corey’s apartment. His print for the Silver Screen showing of “Spirited Away” will be ready. The movie is showing on Saturday and Sunday, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I’ll be buying a print from him on Monday when he comes to the next Freelance Fandango.


What the “Parental Unit” is up to.


For a couple of years now, my father has been wanting to go on a fishing trip to a resort in Canada. And by a couple of years, I mean several decades. He and my Uncle George headed that way back half a century ago but got sidetracked to another resort. I remember spending a summer when the whole family went there and rented a cabin. I caught a trout that broke the lake record for that summer. It hangs on a wall in my living room. Anyway, Dad was bound and determined to go on a trip there while he still could. He convinces my Cousin Vic to go with him. Dad often goes fishing with Cousin Vic. At least, I think it’s my cousin Vic. I’m not kidding when I say I have a lot of cousins. If you count wives, there were over fifty of them at one time. That’s first cousins, mind you. Anyway, back to the topic of the fishing trip. Uncle Bill, my father’s twin, recently moved back to the Northwest after living in Taos, New Mexico, for several years. Dad asked Uncle Bill to go with them. My sibling owes cousin Vic big time as he’s taking care of two 92-year-old men on an excursion up into Canada to catch fish. My brother Stan made sure that they had travel insurance, just in case. I hope the three of them are having a good time.


Aunt Audra, my Mom’s sister, decided she would take the opportunity to visit Mom. Audra lives in Oregon and drove up. The trip took her 11 hours. And what does she get as a reward? A black eye. She described it as a collaboration between a bed leg, her luggage, a chair, new wooden floors, and gravity. We’re glad you made it home in one piece, Aunt Audra. I hope the swelling goes down soon.


I called this Mom this evening. There was quite a loud gathering going on, as it sounded like Kat, Nick, Andrew, Jasmine, Randy, and Evi were all over for dinner. They were chanting, “Mark! Mark! Mark! Mark!” as I tried to say goodbye. So with a chuckle, I hung up. A minute later, I got a call from Mom. When I pick up the phone, wondering what it could be, I hear, “Mark! Mark! Mark! Mark!” and before I can respond, they hang up. I look over at my loving wife, who just cackles. My family is a bunch of loving kooks.


Here are some of last week’s dreams:


June 22

#IDreamt four high school students found an abandoned station wagon on the beach. It could fly, but only two feet above the water, and only if one of them was in love.


June 23

#IDreamt Due to roads closing, I had to stay overnight at a friend’s house after a party. I’m not sure that they meant to invite me in the first place. Then they forgot I was still there.


June 24

#IDreamt I was a financial advisor in a first-time meeting with a teenager who had just inherited an estate worth millions. His reaction to my first suggestion for philanthropy was a dismissive “No way!”


June 26

#IDreamt, my parent’s HOA president, was asking for donations, so my father was going to pledge money he didn’t have. I suggested that a crowdsourcing fundraiser be done first. The homeowners could then contribute after.


June 27

#IDreamt the wife sent me out for eggs, and I picked up a dozen in a carton. “These are deep-fried!” She cried out with frustration. I was incredulous, but sure enough, in the shell deep fried.


June 28

#IDreamt I met a shiny android at the library. They owned a BBQ restaurant but had initially been programmed as a “therapist.” They said the career shift wasn’t that big.


June 29

#IDreamt I was using ProCreate and iMovie to make a video to show some creative uses of whiteout. I did this while living with a South American tribe that worshipped and lived with giant bats.


June 30

#IDreamt I was on a ski trip with my brothers when I got separated and then trapped within a zoo where all the animals had been released and were running amok. I couldn’t tell if a lion was affectionate or playing with me like a mouse.


I watched a movie this week:


61. June 27

The Last Stand (2013) Rating: 6

This action movie has Arnold Schwarzenegger acting as the weathered-old cop on the nose. Everyone is trying to bring the movie up with the script they were given. They didn’t capture lightning in a bottle this time, but they did try. It’s a fun movie that I watched on Netflix.


More next week,


Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Weekly Dose of Mark


Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

Last Thursday, I gave an online presentation on the basics of contracts, invoices, and saving money for taxes. The last one is so simple most people don’t give it any credit. But it has proven itself a winner for me. I save 25¢ of every dollar I own. I then either pay taxes, or buy deductible business equipment, or put it in my retirement account. This and other pearls of wisdom fell from my lips into the ears of students and Shoreline Community College. I hope they enjoyed the presentation; I already deposited the check. How did I already deposit the check when I just did the presentation? Because they suggested I invoice them early, which I did.

Krista and I left for Alturas, California, right afterward. This was a very late start for us. Why Alturas? Because that is where Aunt Christine lives, and a visit was long overdue. It’s a long drive, 8-10 hours, depending on breaks, meals, and traffic. We had bad traffic all the way through Olympia, and then as we approached Oregon. It was slow going, and we didn’t arrive in Alturas until 2am on Friday.

We didn’t do much on Friday. We mainly sat on the couch and caught up with Christine. We also went out to dinner at a new-to-us Thai/Japanese place. We really liked the Pad Prik King with Chicken and the Pad Thai with Shrimp. Christine stayed home because she didn’t have much of an appetite. We took her some leftovers.

I can’t remember if it was Friday or Saturday. We had fun gathering up leaves in the back yard. This last winter had been very windy, and a lot of leaves and branches got caught up in the outdoor furniture, pots, and decorations. Between the three of us, it didn’t take long to bag it up.

Krista brought gnocchi and squash sauce. Since Krista normally cooks chicken breast to go with the squash sauce, I was surprised when she brought home hamburger instead. On Saturday, she made a new dish I’d never tried before. Even though it was squash sauce, the richness of the hamburger gave it an Italian flavor that reminded me more of tomato sauce. I had to resist from overindulging.

Aunt Christine has a small black dog named Tucker. He’s half pug and half chiwhawa. His body is very pug-like, as are his ears. The rest of him is a fun mix of both. His underbite has his lower teeth poking out like a bulldog. I think Christine was surprised to see how quickly Tucker took to Krista and me. He spent most of our visit on one of our laps. And he loves playing tug.

Alturas is a small town with only one red blinking traffic light. It has a wildlife refuge. We beat ourselves up for forgetting to bring our binoculars. Thankfully Christine had her handy. Deer in the street and yard is a daily occurrence. There are a lot of birds as well. I added sand cranes and cinnamon teal ducks, and ringneck ducks to my life watch list. There were lots of other ducks and birds, but they were already on my list. The wildlife refuge has had several improvements made to it since our last visit. I’m a little ashamed to think that it might be over ten years since our last visit. It’s a nice town.

Sunday, Krista cooked some salmon. There were snowpeas and pilaf on hand at the house. I loved it as it was just how I liked it. Krista says it was easy to prepare because it was so thick, and she didn’t have to worry about it drying out. It was moist and delicious.

All fun vacations end. Krista and I hugged Christine goodbye Monday morning. We had breakfast at the Black Bear Restaurant in Klamath Falls. Eggs, sausage links, hashbrowns, and biscuit. We timed our arrival perfectly as a table opened up. There was a line forming after us that was just as long when we left. This time we go home at a reasonable time. It wasn’t even dark yet. We grabbed a couple of Shrimp Geisha Bowls at Zen Ramen Sushi Burrito for dinner before we unpacked the car. And boy, did we have a lot to unpack. Christine was very generous with her gifts. A full-size realistic statue of a bulldog now keeps our fake Doberman “Fluffy” company in the living room. Both looking at the front door to startle the Bejezus out of the delivery people. We are still trying to find the right place to put the giant glass pig with a cork nose. The obsidian rocks are hanging out next to the Azalia in the backyard until my friend makes good on his promise to teach me how you flint knap. The bales of hay will come in handy in the backyard. We’re going to be giving Christine reports on what we do with all the other stuff.

Tuesday, I ended up canceling Epic Sketch Time. Bill and I were the only ones in the room for the first twenty minutes, and we set the rule that we wouldn’t record or stay open if it was just the Mark and Bill Show. I then got an email after we closed the room that someone who arrived 25 minutes late was waiting to get in. I sent them an email that we closed due to lack of participants. I think this was the same person who tried to get in last week when I had to cancel due to technical difficulties. Things like this happen. But the event is free, and in its seven-year history, there has only been a handful of cancellations.

There were a lot of birthdays this week. And while I did call him up to wish him a Happy Birthday, I forgot to mention my oldest brother Randy’s birthday last week. Happy Birthday, Randy. There was also Olga’s birthday. And, Jeeze, my niece Melina’s birthday was last week too. I really need to get better at reporting the calendar. Happy Birthday, Everybody!

Alley News

Don was lying on a car repair cart under the back of his car. He didn’t get up when he called me over. I went to the front of the car and picked up an electrical diagram off the hood of the car, and took it over to him. Don’s weak point on cars has always been the electrical. He was cursing the car manufacturer. Apparently, most brands of cars follow the same color guide system for their cars. White for this, red for that, green for this, black for that. But this brand of car uses brown wires with different type of thin little white lines on it. You know, the hardest thing for an elderly man with failing eyes, laying on his back, with poor lighting under the back end of a car, to see. Don is trying to get the wires working that will operate the signal and brake lights of his trailer. The right light works fine, but the left light is not operating properly. It certainly gives him a reason to curse.

The replacement for the lawnmower battery I ordered and then returned finally arrived. The battery was giving me mixed signals. At first, there was no light, then I finally got a light. Then it said it was failing to charge. I put the battery into the charger for a third time before going on vacation. When we got home, I saw a solid green light. A flashing green light would have been bad. The button on the front of the battery then lit up all the lights that indicate the amount of charge. I guess it’s good to put in the mower and see if I can finally get that puppy started up.

I listened to some books:

“Paladin’s Grace” by T. Kingfisher, Rating: 7

A quirky fantasy in which humor and attraction can have the reader rolling their eyes as hard as the hero and heroine's friends. Wonderful fluff that is meant to be enjoyed for its simple escapism.

“An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good” by Helene Tursten, Rating: 7

This series of stories is about an elderly lady who brooks no fools messing with her life. She puts on the facade of being feeble and a bit senile, but her mind is sharp, her body healthy, and she's actually quite formidable– deadly even. My wife and I listened to these stories during a several hours-long drive at night, and we were kept awake and very alert as we followed Maude's interesting life.

I had some dreams:

June 14

#IDreamt Hugh Laurie and I were in a department store. He commented that hide-a-beds were designed to tell your guests to leave after a few days. And if you really didn’t want guests, you should invest in a futon.

June 17

#IDreamt I was one of five people hired to dismantle an office trailer on an oilfield in China that was closing down. Then one of the rigs struck oil, and we were fired.

June 20

#IDreamt I took my luggage to a parking lot photo shoot. But it was filled with Chris Pond’s clothes. James Stowe thought it would be hilarious if I wore them for a photo. #walkamileintheirshoes

June 21

#IDreamt I was doing time at a working ranch. There was a plot to release the prisoners early before anyone could figure out the owner was missing. The prisoners were torn between early freedom and the possibility of bearing testimony. #vampires

I watched a movie this week:

Feast (2005) Rating: 6

I love a fun creature feature. This is just what I was hoping for, with over-the-top splatter, and comedy was a perk. So I gave it to points for that. But I'm taking away one point for all of the scenes in the dark. Still, there was a fun creature reveal after putting it mainly off shot. I had fun watching the CD extras with the edited and deleted scenes. I watched this film on a Netflix DVD.

More next week,


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Weekly Dose of Mark


Wednesday, June 14, 2023 • 06/14/23

Freelance Fandango – June 5th

It was a small crown at Freelance Fandango with Stan Brown, Haley Waddington, and myself in attendance. Several of our regulars had picked up projects with looming deadlines. We spent several minutes laughing over Google’s translation of the Japanese kanji on the Peach-flavored Kit Kats I brought. Stan laughed so hard that it was well over a minute before he could stutter, “Smells like tight thighs.” I remember Stan showing me some of the caricatures he finished, but the rest of the conversation was dissolved in my memory by the communal laughing fit we had over the faulty translation. Nori, who was not there this week, texted me, “Noooo-!” and promised an accurate translation next week. As we exited, the delicious aroma of sugar cones lured us into an ice cream store. Stan took home a pint, Haley had a float, and I was strong and didn’t order anything. I’m trying to keep myself to one dessert daily, and I wanted to have one with Krista at dinner. Also, Krista and I binged on Strawberry Shortcake that she made with some two pounds of delicious strawberries we picked up.

Freelance Fandango – June 11th

John Draper dropped by just long enough to pick up the scale Krista bought at Costco; more about John later in this post. It was just Stan Brown for the first fifty minutes, and then Anique Zimmer, Nori Kimura, and Corey Macourek arrived. Anique brought in “My Neighbor Totoro” print for the Weird Cabal archive and binders. Corey showed us a concept sketch for “Spirited Away.” We spoke a little about travel. Corey just returned from doing a private installation at a residence; his pictures were pretty impressive. My mind boggled at the wealth that went into such a production. Nori will be traveling back to Japan to attend a memorial for his father, who passed last month. Stan empathized with him as he, too, recently traveled home to attend his father’s memorial. I confirmed that I saw a post from Jennevieve Schimmer that she has indeed moved back to Washington State. She and Trevor are now living in Olympia. She is looking forward to attending Freelance Fandango in the near future.

Now I’m going to talk about my friend. John has been walking between 1.7 and 2.3 miles nearly every day since the weather turned nice. He did the same last year but dropped the habit when the weather turned cold and wet. So his doctor prescribed a miracle weight loss medication. Unfortunately, the side effects hit him very hard. He’d be good for five days and then be incapacitated for five days. He’s resolved to give diet and exercise another go. I personally found weighing myself once a day to be a great motivator. This is why he asked me to pick him up a scale at Costco. The price was $13. He also picked up some Metamusil. I found that it curbs my appetite as well as adding additional fiber to my diet.

Lilac City Comic Con

Last Friday, I drove to Spokane to participate in the Lilac City Comicon. I’ve been doing this convention for years. It really took off once they changed their venue from the community college on the edge of town to the convention center in the middle of town. This year I decided to do an artist alley table. After doing so many larger footprinted shows, I found this smaller space slightly challenging. I went on Friday so that I would not have to rush about setting up on Saturday. I’m very glad I did. I’ve retired the retractable banner, and I’m now using a photographer’s backdrop from which I hang my prints. It went up ten feet and was one of the tallest presentations at the show. I also have a very good location that was on an internal corner, which meant that I could display items off the side. Once I finished setting up, I went out to dinner with my friends Jay and Karen. I’ve known Jay for some forty years. We met in the ’80s through the SCA, the Society of Creative Anachronists. Jay writes a lot of fantasy books, and he was set up in a booth in the vendor’s section. We met up at the Onion for dinner. Jay recently reconnected with Llwelleyn, a friend we have in common through the SCA and who I had lunch with last weekend. He would have loved to have known to join us. After a fun dinner at The Onion, I had a Salmon BLT with a pea salad, they shared a lobster fettucini, and I drove up to Michael McMurphey’s house on Spokane Mountain.



Michael and Trish invited me to stay at their house last year when I came for the convention. They said the invite was standing, and I asked if I could impose it upon them again. The top floor of the house is complete, but the bottom floor, which besides housing a second guest room, will be a combination of bar, game area, library, and house Michaels studios space. They’ve made tremendous progress since last year. They are going for an Old English Pub feel, and even though it’s still in progress, the first thought I had when I stepped into the space was how much it felt like the old-world charm of Pythian Temple here in Tacoma. It was nearly ten when I arrived, we all went to bed quickly as we were attending the convention the next day, and Michael still had to set up his table.

Saturday, we ate a massive breakfast at Frank’s Diner, which was on the way. I ordered two eggs, two chicken sausages, hashbrowns, and gravy with sourdough toast. I didn’t expect the sausage to be the size of hotdogs. I couldn’t eat it all and ended up taking a link and a piece of toast with me. I ate it later for lunch like a hot dog. It was spicy, delicious, and easy enough to nibble on when the traffic slowed at the table. Not that it slowed very much; Saturday was a hectic day. There were a lot of cosplayers there for the costume contest. Some of the outfits were extraordinary, others hilarious. I took pictures when I could, but most of the time, I was busy making sales. Michael and Trish had plans, an online campaign they’ve been conducting for over a decade. So I went with Eli Wolfe to Sushi dot com for dinner. My wife and several others at the convention recommended it. Eli and I ate at the bar, and we ordered a variety of nigiri. We had Mackrel, Saltwater eel, Tamago, Medium-Fatty Tuna, and Sweet Shrimp. It was all delicious. We had a lot of fun talking about all of the shows we’ve done so far this year. Eli has been very busy trying out a lot of little shows. He thinks he’s found the ones that will bring in a solid profit and have made a list of ones that don’t yield results. I wished him good night and headed up the mountain to Mcmurphy’s. They showed up about thirty minutes after I got there. Their house currently doesn’t have internet access or much in the way of cell phone reception, so I was working on a drawing when they arrived home. Their campaign ended surprisingly early, so we chatted briefly before heading off to bed.

Trish made breakfast Sunday morning; we’re talking pancakes, eggs, and bacon. I was fortified for another day at the convention. While this day wasn’t as busy as Saturday, the pace was still pretty good, with sales consistent throughout the day. Roger Crownover, a friend I met online, showed up the day before and returned on Sunday. I was grateful to have him sit with me at my table. After a quick tutorial on how to run credit cards, I was able to have a brief look around the convention floor. I barely have a chance to see anything at these events. When I returned to the table, I learned he’d sold one of the shirts in a credit card transaction. The man is a quick study. The day was brisk enough that I didn’t have lunch but ate snacks I’d packed. Roger left before I had a chance to offer him anything. I took my time packing up; usually, I raced to break things down. This time I didn’t want to get myself in a lather. Turns out there was a long line for the elevator anyway. By the time I was loaded up, most of the convention was already gone. I got gas and hit the road. The McMurphey’s supplied me with a couple of slices of pizza from their dinner the night before to have for lunch. I ate those on the drive home, stopping a couple of times at rest stops to stretch my legs. I made an excellent time, and Krista was surprised to see me home by ten o’clock.

I did well at the show, netting just over $800. While that might not be a lot per hour profit, it’s very gratifying to have people buy the stuff you made and take it home where it will bring them pleasure. Plus, I get a chance to spend time with my friend. Thank you, Michael and Trish, for hosting me. Thank you, Jay, Karen, and Eli, for dining with me. Thank you, Roger, for the table assist, and thanks to all of my other friends who were at the show. It was a lot of fun. I hope to attend again next year. I got some ideas on how to improve my table presentation. I also ordered more print because I ran out of some during the event.

Alley News

About a month ago, my neighbor Don McLoed fell off a ladder in his garage. Thankfully he didn’t break anything. He did crack his head hard on the cement and said that it was a bigger crack to the head than all the times he crashed racing. Well, he was wearing a helmet during those crashes. The bump on his head was literally the size of a goose egg. He also landed on a trailer when he fell, and his ribs took a hell of a blow. They didn’t break, but he had a hard time drawing breath for a few days. I trip to the hospital took made sure that there weren’t any breaks or brain injuries. A week after this, his wife Terri when in thinking she was passing a stone. But it turns out one of her vertebrae is collapsing, and that’s what was causing her symptoms. So, she was recovering from that examination, and the two of them were hobbling around the house when she got a call from her son. He said he felt bad enough that he was going to the hospital. This meant that his father, Terri’s ex-husband, who is ninety years old, was going to be on his own. Her son has been living in her ex-husband’s house as a live-in caregiver. So, Don and Terri drove over to the Exe’s house, picked him up, and took him home with them. That’s when the fun really began. The old fella has a bit of dementia. Don would find him in the middle of the night, getting ready to head out the front door in his underwear. Another time they found him on the floor. It took them quite a while to get him upright. In short, between the incontinence, spells, and their own aches and pains, it was a hell of a week. Don complained that he used a tank of gas that week just driving everyone around to appointments and houses. The exes house is a good forty-minute drive away. After reinstalling the exe back in his house, Terri put out the word to her children that she and Don are no longer capable of being care providers. If another emergency arrives, the adult children will have to step up.

I messed up in the garden. I raked up some grass trimmings and added them to the composter. The issue is that I forgot that there were some Bishop’s Weed trimmings in with the grass trimmings, and even the heat of the compost does not seem to be enough to kill it off. Bishops’ weed spreads like wildfire, and it’s been incredibly hard to keep out of our raised beds. So I will need to dumb this batch out of the composter, perhaps in the yard where the Bishop’s Weed has already spread. It’s not a huge batch, so I’m all for just tossing the lot into the city compost. Their compost piles are huge and produce way more heat than ours. They manage to cook blackberry vines, and those things are near indestructible. Before Krista starts a new batch, I will have to do a thorough job of cleaning out the composter. We have a composter composed of two rolling barrels. So, it’s not that we lack compost. But still, I’m in the dog house on this one.

I had some dreams:

June 5

#IDreamt I got a job with the CIA. But, as the job went on, I found I was doing less graphic facilitation and more spy craft.

June 6

#IDreamt I went to a city-sized skyscraper that was on its own island in the Caribbean to attend a friend’s party. But when I got there, I was told he’d died, and it would now be a memorial.

June 7

#IDreamt about the outdated devices in the Pythian Temple. They would stamp members’ addresses onto plates. The plates would then go into a hopper of a hand-cranked envelope printer.

June 8

#IDreamt, it was dark, and I made a misstep. Instead of a sidewalk, I was on a freeway on-ramp. I was backtracking when two motorcycle cops stopped and threw on their lights.

June 9

#IDreamt I was at a summer resort, sometime in the not-so-distant future, watching actors and robots perform a skit based on a popular animation. One of the actors was botching his performance.

June 11

#IDreamt I was hand painting the Cinnibun logo for a sign.

June 12

I want to thank my hosts and meal partners for a wonderful time a Lilac City Comicon. Thank you, Michael McMurphyPatricia McMurphyJay PalmerEli Wolff, and Nathan OBrien; you’re the best!

June 13

#IDreamt thru a comedy of errors, Nicholas Cage replaced a Nicholas Cage impersonator on the set of an independent film where he was criticized for not being enough like Nicholas Cage.

June 14

#IDreamt Hugh Laurie and I were in a department store. He commented that hide-a-beds were designed to tell your guests to leave after a few days. And if you really didn’t want guests, you should invest in a futon.

I’ve not seen a lot of movies this week as I am catching up on the series “Rick & Morty.” I started to watch “The Rogues Tavern” (1937) but then realized I’d viewed it just a few months ago.

June 12

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Rating: 6

I suggest you watch the original anime version first. Then get a nice side-by-side comparison of the live-action version. On its own, I give it a point for robots, another point for dogs with names, and then minus a point because I would have liked to have seen more of a Japanese cast. There were some odd compromises made. And if you are not at all aware of the franchise, it can be visually stunning.

More next week,


Sunday, June 4, 2023

Weekly Dose of Mark


Sunday, June 4th 2023 • 06/04/23

Aunt Audra is planning a trip to visit Mom and Dad. She tried to hit me up for directions that would keep her off of I5. This led to a conversation about how bad traffic and accidents were around Portland. And, being a person full of suggestions, I thought I’d tell her about a game Krista and I play to pass the time while we’re driving.

The Counting Game

Each of the following is worth one point. If you are a type A personality, you will want to keep a list of each of them.

1. Police Cars

2. Stalled Cars - without assistance. A stalled car with police could easily be a car pulled over by the police, so it only counts as a Police point.

3. Hawks

4. Christmas Trees on Cars

5. Christmas Tree Trucks. Don’t even try to debate what the difference is between a Christmas tree on a Car vs. A truck hauling a load of Christmas trees.

6. Road Kill. Now this is where things get tricky. If the carcass is intact and the species recognizable, that’s easy. But then you get the critters that have two halves separated by a mile or so, and you consider using the decimal system, and things get tricky. Even trickier are splats, the pulpy pink thing with indistinguishable fur that you try to convince yourself was a possum because nobody likes possums. So, we often skip those. Also, a dead hawk does not count as a hawk, only as Road Kill.

7. Accidents. Defined as one or more cars crumpled or damaged on the side of the road. This is where having someone with you in the car comes in handy. They can rubberneck while you slow traffic with a slow pass-by. The presence of a police car also counts as a point in #1. And in this situation, the rule that applies to #2 is overlooked because a crashed car might be stalled, but a stalled car is not crashed.

8. Christmas Trees on the side of the road. 

9. Fires. These are typically car fires but can also be hillside fires, house fires, or discarded Christmas Trees. Fires larger than that, and you might want to focus on other things other than the counting game.

So, just keep these simple rules in mind, and the Counting Game will help those miles and minor roadside annoyances pass by faster. Or, you can always listen to an audiobook; we do that too.

The counting game came up as a topic during my and Krista’s daily walk. Krista reminded me that this was less Christmas Tree season and more Onion Truck season. And we always counted Onion Trucks. So we elaborated on the theme and realized we count Hay Trucks and Logging Trucks. These trucks should fall into the category of Christmas Tree trucks. We debated the merits of counting livestock trucks but decided against counting those. Including livestock would mean counting horse trailers, and that way leads to madness.

I had a special treat today as I got to have lunch with my old friend Llywelyn Graeme. I first met Llywelyn back in 1982 when I went to my first SCA event. SCA stands for the Society of Creative Anachronists; it’s a group that researches and practices medieval arts and sciences. Part of this is picking a time period, then building a persona that reflects that time period. I picked the time of 1000 AD and the personal name of Trenor. I was always fascinated by the medieval ages. I sewed together my own outfit and did such a good job with it that I won a prize. I told Llwelyn’s wife Athena and his daughter Elizabeth how their father was partly responsible for my nickname. The SCA would organize tournaments deep in parks and on private campsites. Hundreds of people would arrive, set up tents, and suddenly a private medieval village up sprouted up with people cooking food of the time period, singing songs of the time period, and holding mock battles and tournaments. Llywelyn was one of the first people at met. Somehow, shortly after arriving and meeting everyone, I forgot where my campsite was located. I mislaid my food. I was so excited to be meeting so many people who shared the same interest that my lack of direction didn’t seem to be a big deal. As I met more people, my friends started to introduce me with the phrase, “This is Trenor; he is lost.” Or, this is Trenor; he lost his food.” By the end of the weekend, nearly everyone knew me by a nickname that I then took for my SCA name Trenor the Lost.

Forty years is a long time to know each other. Llywelyn and I lost track of each other, then reconnected. This morning he told me about the loss of someone we both knew from back in the day. This led to a rather sad update of our various friends who weren’t with us anymore. But, it also led to us promising to help to renew ties with the folks we both knew back in the day. Llywelyn asked me if I had any photos of some of our friends or even him. I was always taking photographs back then. I will have to dig through my photo albums and the boxes of photos I kept when I realized that keeping them in photo albums was going to take up too much space. You have to keep in mind this was long before digital photography. This was in the dark ages of the ’80s.

I met Krista at an SCA event. We dated for about a year, with a lot of that time being at SCA outings. After Krista and I moved in together, she and I stopped attending SCA events. We lost touch with many of our friends. Most of them we only knew from their personal names. It’s odd how people enter your life, then you don’t see them for years, and then they show back up again. A couple decades go by, and I’m selling my books in Donna Barr’s front yard on Clallam Bay. I’m one of three attendees of a mini-comic con you convinced me to participate in. Krista and I looked at it as a way to go out to the peninsula for a weekend. Clallam Bay is way, way, way out on the edge of Washington, where very few people go. Anyway, Krista and I take a break from selling books and go for a walk on the beach. When we return, I’m surprised to see that there is a line in front of my table. And one of those people was Llewelyn. Donna was a mutual friend, and he’d recently bought some land in the area with a mind to build a house on it. Those plans have since changed. They plan on living in Forks now. Forks is still pretty far on the edge of Washington, but it’s got a lot more health facilities than Clallam Bay. That’s something to consider when you are reaching retirement age. I’m so glad Llewyln and I reconnected on Donna Barr’s front lawn. Our fun trip became one of ‘those’ stories you share with your friends.

The Graemes have traveled the world as diplomats. They spend months or years at a time living in various countries. They do have a house in Forks. A person they know lives there when they are out of the country. And when they retire in a few years, they will live there permanently. They have just returned from Japan. We exchanged gifts. They gave me some citrus seasoning, which I know Krista will love. They also gave me some special flavored KitKat, which I will be sharing at Freelance Fandango in the near future. Thank you, Llewyln and Athena, for these wonderful gifts. I gave Elizabeth some of my stickers and, for her folks, a copy of my book “The Comic Critic Presents Blockbusters.” I drew a character of Llweyln on the flyleaf. The movie he picked was “Akira.” I was a little surprised to see the family driving a U-Haul truck, but it makes sense when you think about it. They are shifting locations, and this way, they can pick up provisions along the way. It also makes sense why we met at a Red Robin Restaurant, which was nearly adjacent to the hotel. I was treated to a Royal Red Robin Burger; Llewlyn’s favorite burger is the TeriYaki, and Athena ordered a salad with some yummy chicken in it. Elizabieth had a pepperoni pizza. It wasn’t after we said our goodbyes and they left in the truck that I realized I’d forgotten to take a photo of all of us together. I’d brought my selfie stick and everything. Well, it’s only a matter of time before I visit them in Forks. I go there nearly every year to go fishing with my brothers. If the town sounds familiar to you, it might be because it was featured as the setting for the Twilight Saga franchise.

I had some dreams this week:

May 29

#IDreamt I was a young Aztec slave helping construct the ornamental facade of a pyramid.

May 30

#IDreamt I was remembering a trip I took with my father and brothers, and sister-in-law. Something peculiar must have occurred as none of us remember the trip.

May 31

#IDreamt, a war between vampires was going to start. According to the accords, all vampires gathered to put their real names in a ledger along with their weapon preference for a duel. I was given the “honor” of being the scribe.

June 2

#IDreamt I was at a repair shop getting the family’s old Honda CT70 starter replaced. The roads were not safe because the local Kaiju, a 100-foot giant round plushy rooster, was roaming the streets. I don’t know which part of the dream was more implausible.

June 3

#IDreamt I was on site for a targeted brainstorming session. I participated in a mock test created to help residents improve their performance. But it was in the ER, and people kept treating me like a real doctor.

June 4

#IDreamt I got a job as a short-order cook during the graveyard shift. What would normally be a slow night became hectic when the restaurant across the street closed to sand and varnish their floors.

Songs I woke up with in my head:

“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

Books I listened to this week:

“Lizzie and Jane” by Katherine Reay, Rating: 6

Two sisters are dealing with past differences caused by the pain of losing each other at the same time as losing their mother to cancer. The author does a nice job of connecting food to person likes, specifically literature. There’s a lot of angry lashing out caused by fear of cancer and death, both metaphorically and literally. This isn’t a woman-wailing book, nor is it a Pollyanna book. It’s a what I think of as a Wading Book, where you have to move with caution because you can’t see under the surface. Yeah, there should be footing down there somewhere, but you’re likely to slip and skid a little while you make your way.

“What Moves the Dead” by T. Kingfisher, Rating: 6

This is a clever retelling of the Fall of the House of Usher. You should read the original Fall of the House of Usher to get the most out of it. That way, you can make enough of this variation when you read how the writer redrafts preconceptions. I’d love to see this made into a horror movie; it’s fully structured to appeal to today’s audience. And our main character is a fun person to understand.

Movies I’ve seen this week:

56. May 24

Seven Were Saved (1943) Rating: 5

I think we get to see every model of air-sea rescue plane the armed services used when this was shot. We also get to see a lot of Actors and Actresses who came this close to mainstream stardom. I was going to give this movie a four, but it’s because I was familiar with so many of the actors, some of who would appear in hundreds of films, that I notched it back up to a five. I try to watch at least one war-themed movie on Memorial Day. I watched a bad public-domain version of this film on YouTube.

57. June 2

They Got Me Covered (1943) Rating: 4

This is the third worst Bob Hope movie I’ve seen. I was going to give it three points. But then I decided to give it an extra point for it being Doris Day’s last film. Not the famous Doris Day, but the other one. Good luck Googleing her without running afoul of the famous Doris Day. Her appearance was less than a minute, but her stunning beauty and carefully arranged sheet made for one of the best, now politically incorrect, wolf whistles. It also has a few minutes with one of my favorite character actors, Donal Meeks. As I search for Bob Hope films I haven’t seen, I’m bound to run over a couple of his less-than-stellar movies.

58. June 2

The Devil Below (2021) Rating: 3

I wanted to watch a creature feature, and this movie looked promising. But, about the most you will get to see of the creature on the movie poster; the rest is blur-o-rama. Even a bigfoot film from the ’70s will allow for a little bit of focus. Minus one point for that disappointment. And while I was expecting there to be plenty of dark scenes, what with it being underground and all, I still found the usage of flashlights to be excessive. So, minus one point for that.

More next week,