Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prone, supine and...?

Jeannine and I were having a little discussion a few days ago about the difference between the meanings -- relative to body position -- of two words: prone and supine.

Simply stated, you are prone when you are lying on your front, and supine when lying on your back.

But this raised a question -- is there a term similar to prone and supine for when you are lying on your SIDE?

I don't know, though I suspect that there MUST be. Anyone out there know what it might be? --PL

Monday, November 29, 2010

Flight, part2b

As I ease myself back into the habit of flying in airplanes, I am starting to remember many of the details of this activity that I had forgotten over the twenty-one years during which I had eschewed flights. One of most prominent of these is that -- once you get beyond any fears of crashing or exploding or whatever, and let your mind drift away from the mind-boggling fact that you are traveling through the air, thousands of feet above terra firma, in a conveyance which weighs more than approximately ten large elephants, is that flying is pretty boring, for the most part.

That's why you see people listening to music on their iPods, watching movies on iPads, reading, etc. And I remember from those flights of long ago that I would, like my other Mirage buddies, spend a lot of my time in the air drawing in my sketchbook. (I recall that on one flight with Kevin back from visiting Playmates in California in the early days of TMNT licensing, I came up with the concept for "Commandosaurs" and did a bunch of drawings for it before landing in Connecticut.)

On our recent trip to San Diego and beyond, I remembered this activity, but I was really more inspired by observing Jeannine. She has a great work ethic, and makes excellent use of these kinds of blocks of time by working on her writing -- pulling out her sheaf of printed pages to proof or edit with a pen, or hauling out her laptop, once the aircrew tells everyone it's okay to use their computers. (Actually, given that she uses a MacBook Air, it's not so much "hauling" as "slipping gracefully" from her laptop case.)

So I got out my sketchbook and did some drawing. I worked on finishing some inking on some pieces that I'd started back home, but also did some new drawings in pencil and inked them to various stages of completion.

This one I started on the second leg of our journey out to California, on the flight from Atlanta to San Diego. (That's not Ben Grimm's sculptor girlfriend Alicia Masters from the "Fantastic Four" comics, in case you're interested.) This drawing was inspired by the book that Jeannine is currently working on, which is a non-fiction piece about a real female sculptor. For some reason, I imagined her chipping away at a monumental statue of my favorite FF character, the Thing. (Given when this woman actually lived, it's a bit of a wacky anachronism, but what the heck.) I almost finished inking this one on the flight back home.

This other one is something I started while waiting for our flight back home in Los Angeles International Airport. We make it a point to try to leave for the airport a couple of hours ahead of our flight time, so as to be prepared for any unexpected delays -- which is great in one sense, because it prevents (so far, at least) missing our flights, but not so great in another sense because then we have hours to kill waiting in the airport departure loges. In this case, I think we had about three hours.

I'm not sure where the idea came from for this one, though it's possible the huge castings of various Mayan stone artifacts we saw at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park in San Diego could have had something to do with it. But I kind of like the slightly Kirbyesque feel of the giant, vegetation-covered figure -- is it just a sculpture? Or an abandoned war robot? Or a giant humanoid in armor, mysteriously frozen in mid-stride ages ago?

I don't know.

I penciled this at LAX, started inking it there, and did a little more inking on the plane. Hopefully I will get around to finishing it soon. -- PL

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"The turkey's in the oven… now let's hope it cooks!"

So sayeth my wife a half hour ago, expressing a small amount of anxiety about the traditional Thanksgiving meal, which she has always successfully prepared. We're having a smallish Thanksgiving crew this year -- seven, I believe. Emily has other Thanksgiving plans, so while we might get a text or a call, we will not be sharing her delightful company.

Jeannine made the stuffing and the cranberry sauce, and has loaves of bread ready to go into the oven, while I made juice (apple, strawberry, cranberry and raspberry) yesterday and will be making the salad and a fruit dessert today. So I think we have things covered.

I tried to find a Thanksgiving-related drawing in my digital archive of old artwork, but could only come up with the drawing above, which is one that I did for "Hampshire Life" years ago. I'm not sure if it was done around Thanksgiving time, but it certainly could have been. You know, I could have sworn that I had some others, but then again, I haven't completely finished that archiving project -- there are still a bunch of drawings that haven't been digitized, so who knows? I should probably get back to that sometime soon.

But it won't be today. Today is for eating and drinking (juice, for me) and giving thanks for stuff. And I'll give thanks right now, before the turkey is even out of the oven, before we can even smell its tantalizing aroma, for (and to) the wonderful woman who is my wife, sharing our twenty-ninth Thanskgiving together. Thanks, Jeannine -- I love you! -- Pete

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Flight, part 2

I'm back home after my SECOND cross-country airplane trip of the year (this could get to be a habit!). Jeannine and I were planning to attend a memorial service for one of her relatives in California, and decided that it might make sense, given that we were traveling all that way, to extend our stay a few days and see some sights.

So we flew off to San Diego, a place I'd not been to for nineteen years, I think. It certainly has changed -- I barely recognized the downtown area, though Seaport VIllage still looks about the same. And the San Diego Zoo is still a cool place to visit -- literally, the day we were there, it was in the low 60's, I think, and the animals were pretty active. Like most of the tourists there, I took a bunch of photos -- here's one of a peccary…

... a koala...

… and a monkey (sorry, don't know the type) on a rope…

… and two beautiful ladies posing with a chrome polar bear.

Emily was going to attend the memorial service as well, so she met us in San Diego, and we had some extra time with her, which is rare these days. (We actually didn't stay in San Diego -- we had a nice room at the Hotel Del Coronado, a place I'd wanted to get a closer look at since my last trip out there.) Here's a shot I took of Jeannine (wearing her "Organically Grown" cap) posing with some dramatic cloud lighting on one of our walks on the beach.

A few days later, following the memorial service, we continued on to Los Angeles, where we spent some more time with Em (including going out to dinner with her employers, whom we'd not met until then -- very nice folks). Em also took us to Griffith Park, a place I'd wanted to see on our visit in July. I was amazed at the number of people there -- I'd thought we would drive to the top and see maybe a handful of sightseers, but we were lucky to find a parking space about a half mile down from the observatory. But what a view! We got there just as the sun was setting, so we had some dramatic views of LA all lit up as the sky darkened.

I spent a good part of the time on the flights out and back peering out the window (Jeannine let me take the window seat)…

…and snapping shots of landscapes with my pocket camera.

They're not as cool as the photos from Stan Sakai's trip to Croatia, but I like them. A lot of the images from our flight over the desert and the mountains out west reminded me of the landscape-building stuff I used to do with the 3D program "Bryce"… maybe I should dig that program out and play around with it some more.

I did try to do some drawing during the trip… and this last photo, taken as the sun was setting on our last leg of the return trip back to Connecticut, shows my sketchbook reflected in the window of the airplane. -- PL

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blast from the Past #329: "Dangers of Tennis" drawing from Hampshire Life

This is another drawing from "Hampshire Life", likely from the late 1970's or early 1980's. I can't recall exactly the piece it was drawn to go with, but I suspect it was a humorous look at the sundry vicissitudes of being a tennis buff.


Looking at this drawing, I have to say that I appreciate the latitude my editor, Nancy Frazier, often gave me when coming up with ideas for the illustrations I did for "Hampshire Life". This one is pretty macabre, when you think about it. -- PL

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Petrified Sea Gardens

Jeannine and I just came back on Sunday from a few days traveling to the Saratoga Springs, NY area to visit with my nephew Ben, his wife Kelly, and their new little guy Ian, who is almost a year old. That was fun -- Kelly and Ben made us a great lunch and Ian is a real cutie-pie.

While we were there, I asked Kelly (who has lived for many of her years in that area) if she'd ever been to the "Petrified Sea Gardens". This was something I'd run across while doing some web searches on things to do in and around Saratoga Springs, and it caught my eye, as most things having to do with the prehistoric past will do. The stuff I'd read online, though, led me to believe that the "garden" was a privately-run tourist attraction that was no longer in operation, though some intrepid souls had managed to find the faded remnants of it.

Kelly told me that although she was aware of the existence of the "gardens", she'd never been to see them. (That's not so unusual -- for example, there is a unique rock formation in North Adams, my hometown, called "the Natural Bridge"… and it took me until I was in my forties to finally go there to see it.) Though there wasn't an exact address listed online, I did have some street names, including the eponymous "Petrified Sea Gardens Road", to start us on our search.

As it turned out, we found it -- or something like it -- pretty quickly once we'd gotten onto "Petrified Sea Gardens Road". Jeannine spotted what looked at first to me like a small parking lot on the side of the road, but it turned out to be an area of what I assume the "Petrified Sea Gardens" I'd read about probably looked like.

There were some signs explaining the nature of what we were looking at, which were basically petrified stromatolites, which Wikipedia defines as "layered accretionary structures formed in shallow water by the trapping, binding and cementation of sedimentary grains by biofilms of microorganisms, especially cyanobacteria (commonly known as blue-green algae) ".

We spent some time examining the site, then got back in the truck and tried to see if we could spot the location of the "gardens" I'd read about online. I think we did find it, but there were a lot of "No Trespassing!" signs around the remnants of a stone gate which looked like it could have once been part of a roadside attraction.

In any event, even if we didn't get to see the "Petrified Sea Gardens" of local legend, we were able to check out some cool evidence of prehistory. -- PL

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Nature, red in tooth and claw"

I was reminded of this phrase -- it's from "In Memoriam A.H.H.", a poem by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson -- yesterday when I returned to the Mirage offices after a cold, blustery bicycle ride. I was just about to open the door to bring my bicycle back inside and warm up (I really need to find my warmer riding gloves now), when I noticed two large birds, raptors of some type, flying close by. They appeared to be squabbling over the pigeon one of them had killed, which was held in one of the birds' talons.

It was a great opportunity to take some photos. I had my camera on a strap around my neck, and immediately turned it on... and was immediately disheartened to see the message "Batteries Low" appear on the screen. Fortunately, I had extra batteries in my pocket, and I replaced the dead ones in about a minute.
Unfortunately, by the time I was done with that, the birds has ceased their dramatic flapping of wings and posturing, and were just sitting in the tree at the corner of Mirage's parking lot. Still, I managed to get a few decent shots.


I'm not sure what kind of birds they were, exactly, but they were pretty cool to watch. -- PL

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blast from the Past #328: Pumpkins under the bed

We're a little past prime pumpkin season here, but I ran across this drawing today and liked it enough to use it for a "Blast" post. This is another one of my drawings for "Hampshire Life" from back in the late 1970's or early 1980's. Like some of the drawings I did for that paper way back then, I look at this one and wonder "Why?"

 "Why is this person putting pumpkins under his bed?" Sometimes I wish I had saved all the text from the columns I illustrated, instead of just the illustrations, so that I could remember this stuff. -- PL

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another rainbow

It's a cold, wet, somewhat dreary day here, and I thought to cheer myself up I would post the following two photos that I took a couple of weeks ago. Jeannine and I were out on short walk with the dogs, and, coming around the north end of the barn, we were greeted with this beautiful sight.

It was unexpected, and I guess that's probably the best way to see rainbows. It was definitely an "Oooh!" moment.

Or maybe an "Aaah!"

Whatever the case, it certainly was lovely... and another reminder (as if I needed one) that it's a good idea to have my camera with me at all times. -- PL