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.

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,