Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rick Eastman, creator/inventor of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

When I got up today and checked my email, I found a "Google alert" about a TMNT-related story, and clicked on the link. It was mostly about Kevin Eastman and his history with the Turtles -- not a bad article, a little slapdash and loose with some of the facts, but containing a few charming details from Kevin about his childhood.

But the silliest -- okay, let's be honest -- the STUPIDEST thing about the piece could be found in the headline for it, as you can see by this screen grab I made.

I've had enough experiences with journalists and editors to know that a lot of them are either (a) rushing to make deadlines and thus prone to making dopey errors, and/or (b) just freakin' lazy. 

But this…! 

I mean, really, how do you justify a headline identifying the subject of the piece as "RICK Eastman" when the FIRST TWO WORDS OF THE PIECE correctly identify him as "KEVIN Eastman"?

Incredible. -- PL

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Christmas!

Yes, it's finally here, and there is actually a little bit of snow coming down, so it's a "white Christmas", as well. Family and friends are due to arrive in about an hour and a half, and Jeannine and I are relaxing at the kitchen table with cups of tea, fruit salad and muffins made with butternut squash and cranberries.

So I thought this might be a good time to share this year's Christmas card -- our second collaboration. I came up with the idea for the design (probably inspired by the various "trees with faces" drawings I've done recently), and Jeannine wrote the poem.

Here's the front of the card...

... and Jeannine's poem inside.

Happy holidays, everybody! -- PL

Monday, December 24, 2012

An unusual sunset light effect

I'm not sure if it is due to global climate change or what -- we've had snowless Christmases before -- but pretty much every bit of snow which has fallen to date this season (and it has been pretty meager) has disappeared within a day or less.

So it was that yesterday, the day before the day before Christmas, I found myself taking a cold but pleasant bicycle ride on one of my favorite routes. A significant part of it follows a river path that ends at Paradise Pond, a lovely feature of the Smith College campus.

Stopping at the overlook above the pond to catch a view of the sunset, I observed something I am pretty sure I have never seen before. The setting sun was somehow casting a vertical shaft of red, poking up from the horizon like a flaming sword. I took several photos of it, though they don't completely capture the nature of this phenomenon.

Here's a zoomed-in view of the strange light…

… and here's a panoramic view showing the setting.

I wonder what trick of physics created this intriguing light effect? -- PL

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in Connecticut

Jeannine and I, along with Gary, Jim, Mike and Rob, went to see "The Hobbit" today, and I was planning to write about that for this blog entry. I probably will write something about "The Hobbit", maybe tomorrow… in the meantime, here's a short review: I enjoyed it.

But I feel compelled by enormous sadness and disgust to write about something else, and that is the shooting at the school in Connecticut today. I saw the initial report online before going to the movie, but at that point they didn't have news of whether there were fatalities.

About half an hour ago, I was driving down to the supermarket to pick up a few things for supper, with the radio on, and heard the updated news: Twenty-six people dead in that shooting… and twenty of them were kids. 


Little kids.

Shot and killed, along with some of their teachers, in their grammar school.

What is it going to take to get some serious -- REALLY serious -- gun control in this country? Yes, I know it is very likely impossible to completely keep these kinds of things from happening… some number of those desperate/crazy/depressed/mean/stupid people who kill other people in this manner will find a way to get their hands on the kind of weapons -- in almost all such cases, guns -- which let these mass killings happen. Maybe serious gun control of the type I am thinking about would only keep guns out of the hands of a fraction of the total number of people who go off the deep end and commit crimes like this… but damn it, wouldn't THAT be worth it? To maybe save SOME significant number of innocent lives who might otherwise perish at the hands (or more accurately, trigger fingers) of these wretched souls?

Maybe this will be the tipping point. Maybe people will finally say "Enough!"

My cynical side says "Not likely." But my hopeful side sees the possibility.

I'm not a religious person, so it would be wrong of me to say I am praying for the victims of this horrific crime and their surviving family members and friends. But it is completely accurate to say that they have my most sincere and deep sympathy. -- PL

Friday, December 7, 2012

Untruth in advertising

I generally don't pay much attention to "Hello Kitty" merchandise, but this dual-point marker caught my eye as I was looking for other stuff at the local craft store. 

I was intrigued by the shape of the smaller point -- from the package illustration, it looked like a long, thin chisel point, something I'd not seen in a marker before. So I bought it…

… and was very disappointed when I got it home, opened the package and saw the actual point.

As you can see here (even in these slightly blurry photos) the small point doesn't look ANYTHING like the illustration on the package.

Bummer. -- PL

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Counting down to Thanksgiving dinner... only have a little more than twenty-four hours left to go. And I was going to find one of my recent wild turkey photos to post here, but decided to go a little weirder and put up this drawing that I did last year.

It was inspired by a walk I took with Jeannine in 2011. We were strolling down the road, passing a neighbor's small pasture, when from the far woods we heard a very odd noise. It was loud, and sounded eerily like the "gobbling" of a gigantic turkey. I mentioned to Jeannine that it might be the rarely-seen, highly reclusive "turkey yeti"... two words which I decided later to combine into one.

Yeah, that's how I think. -- PL

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bruce Laird show at Noho Gallery

I'm kicking myself that I didn't do this earlier, because it ends on November 24. But better late than never....? 

My brother Bruce Laird has a show of his paintings, photographs, collage and mixed media pieces at the Noho Gallery in New York CIty. Here's the entry on his blog about the show. The painting pictured here is actually a portrait of me... the me of long ago. 

If you get a chance, please check out Bruce's show! -- PL

(Noho Gallery is at 530 W 25th St, 4th Floor in New York City. Their hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11 to 6 PM.)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cognitive dissonance

I was reading an issue (November, Volume 13 Number 11) of the BBC's "History" magazine a few days ago, and in their "Milestones" feature (I believe it's a regular thing in which they highlight events which happened in that particular month throughout history) I ran across a small entry that caught my eye. It was a vintage black and white portrait photo of an elderly woman in old-fashioned garb, with white type over her black dress reading "Short-lived senator Rebecca Felton, c1922".

Intrigued -- because I had not realized there were any women serving as Senators that early in our country's history -- I looked online for more information about her. It turns out that she was an advocate for women's suffrage… and a racist. Here's the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on Felton:

"Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton (June 10, 1835 – January 24, 1930) was an American writer, lecturer, reformer, and politician who became the first woman to serve in the United States Senate. She was the most prominent woman in Georgia in the Progressive Era, and was honored by appointment to the Senate; she was sworn in on November 21, 1922, and served one day, the shortest serving Senator in U.S. history. At 87 years old, 9 months and 22 days, she was also the oldest freshman senator to enter the Senate. As of 2012, she is also the only woman to have served as a Senator from Georgia. She was a prominent society woman; an advocate of prison reform, women's suffrage and educational modernization; and one of the few prominent women who spoke in favor of lynching."

I don't think this term existed in her time, but immediately upon reading this, the phrase "cognitive dissonance" (defined, again on Wikipedia, as "the state of people when holding two or more conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment") leapt into my mind. Of course, given the descriptions of Rebecca Felton I found online, it seem unlikely -- though not impossible -- that she ever experienced the effects of cognitive dissonance. It is quite bizarre that someone who could easily recognize the injustice done to women in, for example, their not being allowed to vote, could also be totally blind to the injustices inherent in her own racist beliefs.

Humans are -- or, perhaps more fairly, can be -- truly strange creatures. -- PL

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A little treat from the Turtle Documentary guys

When I got up this morning and checked my email, I found one containing the following link:

It leads to a short clip which may or may not make its way into the TMNT documentary. Isaac and his crew taped it in my office at Mirage Studios in Northampton, and it's basically me talking about Graphix Duo-Shade (the special paper Kevin Eastman and I used when we drew the first bunch of issues of the original TMNT comic books), and -- in penciling, inking and then toning a drawing of Donatello -- giving a demonstration of how it works. That was a fun afternoon, hanging out with a nice group of people.

If you have ever wondered how the Duo-Shade paper makes its magic, you might want to check this out. -- PL

Doodle Day is tomorrow!

I believe we start doodling at 3PM. -- PL

(poster designed by Tony DiTerlizzi)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

It's morning in America...

I was considering using an image of "Big Bird" from "Sesame Street" with a thought balloon reading "Whew!" for today's blog, but out of respect for the owners of that character and their desire to separate Big Bird from politics, I will refrain. So I borrowed a line from an old Ronald Reagan campaign ad for my headline instead.

I have to admit I feel good this morning. It's cold outside -- around 30 degrees, by the thermometer outside our kitchen window, the sky has the look of imminent snow, and I dread that I must soon perform the yearly ritual of the putting away of the motorcycles -- but there is a suffusing inner warmth as I consider the fact that the majority of my fellow Americans have, for the second time in four years, soundly rejected bone-deep Republican stupidity and fear-mongering. I speak, of course, not of the vast majority of Republican voters, who are decent people and as truly American as any Democrat, but of the Republican leadership, the upper echelon of the party which still seems to believe that you can get into power through lies and manipulation. 

Well… maybe that is still possible… but let's all give thanks that their fervent efforts to take our great country back fifty years (or more) didn't succeed this time.

And I would be remiss if I didn't give a tiny tip o' the hat to two men who -- in their small and apparently completely clueless, unintentional ways -- helped to give us this victory:  Todd "legitimate rape" Akins and Richard "pregnancies from rape are a gift from God" Mourdock. These two fools (who both went down in flaming defeat yesterday in their Senate races) pretty conclusively proved -- to my way of thinking, anyway -- that (a) displaying gross ignorance of science and medical realities and making it a part of your political platform, and (b) trying to legitimize hateful stupidity by slapping "God" onto it are not really great strategies these days. Thanks, guys!

Time to get back to my breakfast. Congratulations, President Obama -- I look forward to seeing what you can accomplish in your second term. -- PL

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Doodle Day, November 11, 2012

I will be participating in "Doodles for Dollars" (aka "Doodle Day") at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA on November 11, 2012. It's a part of the Museum's tenth anniversary "Book Signing Bash", and will feature the man himself, Eric Carle, acclaimed illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and me doing quick sketches -- doodles -- to help raise money for the museum. I intend to do as many black and white TMNT head sketches as I can in the time allotted (I think it will go on for about an hour or so). Here's what it says on the Museum's website:

"10th Anniversary Book Signing Bash
November 11, 2012
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Free with Museum Admission

The 10th Anniversary celebration continues with book signings from Iconic Images artists, special concert by the South Hadley Children’s Chorus, and “Doodles for Dollars” featuring Eric Carle, Tony DiTerlizzi, and Peter Laird ($10 per doodle.) Check back for more information about the specific schedule."

Should be fun! -- PL

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Yet another entry in the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Dept.

It just never seems to stop, does it?

Today we are graced with a quote from one Richard Mourdock, candidate for the US Senate from Indiana. It should come as no great surprise to most people that this fool is (a) a Republican, (b) supported by Mitt Romney and his campaign, and (c) backed by the Tea Party. Here is his wisdom:

"I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

So in one fell swoop, Mourdock not only reveals his own loathsomeness, but manages to drag the God in which he professes to believe down into the same fetid swamp of stinking ignorance. I mean, think about it: What kind of God would want -- would INTEND, in fact, which pretty much means that that God is MAKING it happen, given the alleged omnipotent and omniscient powers of that God -- that a woman who undergoes the pain and indignity and trauma of rape must not only suffer all of that, but become pregnant from the heinous crime, to boot?

I'm not a "believer", but if I were, that would NOT be a God I would want to pledge myself to.

After revealing himself as a sufferer from "foot in mouth disease", Mourdock tried to defend himself with the following statement:

"For those who want to kind of twist the comments and use them for partisan, political gain, I think that's what's wrong with Washington these days. I spoke from my heart; I spoke with my principle; I spoke from my faith. And if others want to somehow turn those words and use them against me, again, that's what's wrong with Washington today."

We get it, Mr. Mourdock, even if you don't -- we can see exactly what your "faith" and "heart" and "principles", such as they are, have led you to believe. And your attempt to deflect attention from your abysmal stupidity with a pathetic whine about  "what's wrong with Washington today" won't fool anyone with half a brain. -- PL

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The last debate

I watched the last "debate" last night. Jeannine tried to, but only made it through about fifteen minutes before -- I think -- just getting completely bored.

Part of that may have been because, like the other "debates", this wasn't so much a debate as a recitation of campaign "talking points"... but it might also have been down to this curious phenomenon -- it seemed that almost every time President Obama spoke, Romney would follow up by essentially repeating (with slight, inconsequential changes) what Obama had said. It was actually pretty weird.

There were a few times when I thought I could see by Obama's facial expressions that HE thought it was quite odd, too. It wasn't exactly a meltdown for Romney, but I think it showed that if he REALLY had any "new ideas", he must have left them in his other suit.

Anyway, like many people in this great land of ours, I am happy to see this particular circus drawing to a close.

Remember -- get out and vote on November 6! (Or earlier, if you can, legally.) -- PL

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How the mighty have fallen...

My wife and I have been drinking various Celestial Seasonings® teas for a long time, and have always found them to be excellent, flavorful blends. There is also a sense that the company's philosophy -- natural ingredients, healthy teas, sustainability, etc. -- gives consumers confidence that  consuming Celestial Seasonings® products will always be a satisfying and wholesome experience.

That's how we felt… until today.

A few days ago, I bought a new type of Celestial Seasonings® tea -- "Sweet Harvest Pumpkin" -- which I'd seen on display at the local Big Y supermarket. Knowing my wife has a liking for things pumpkin, I bought some. (I don't drink caffeinated tea anymore, so I wasn't going to try it.)

Today my wife told me about the odd taste left in her mouth after she'd had a cup of the tea -- she said her mouth felt "puckery" after drinking it, and there was an unpleasant aftertaste which lingered even after she brushed her teeth. This experience prompted her to look at the list of ingredients on the box of tea… and to her surprise and dismay, she saw that one of the ingredients was "stevia extract".

Stevia is a so-called "natural sweetener" derived from the Stevia plant. Here's what Wikipedia had to say about that plant:

"The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations."

I've tried a couple of drinks sweetened with Stevia… and I think they're vile. Worse than stuff sweetened with Saccharin or Aspartame, in my opinion... and they're pretty bad. That Celestial Seasonings® could think it was a good idea to put this wretched crap into their tea… well, it just boggles the mind. Not only that, they don't warn you that this junk is in the tea -- you have to read the fine print, and that's something I never expected to have to do with the products of this once-excellent company.

As someone who gave up adding sweetener of any kind to his tea many years ago, I find it extremely offensive that Celestial Seasonings® has taken it upon themselves to sweeten their teas for us, especially with something as loathsome as Stevia. Really… do we need this? I don't think so. -- PL

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pledge! Pledge! Pledge!

I just finished watching the second Presidential "debate", and -- admitting up front that I am somewhat biased (I voted for Obama in 2008 and I will be voting for him again next month) -- I think Romney got his butt kicked. His lack of specifics and tedious repetition of his "talking points" made him appear as ill-suited for the Oval Office as I truly believe he is and always has been.

Obama wasn't perfect -- there were a few times when he either dodged a question entirely, or just barely answered it and instead used it as a springboard to talk about something else -- but Romney did that at least as often.

However, there was one question I wish someone in the audience had asked -- maybe somebody had such a question ready, but didn't get chosen to ask it -- having to do with a common (to the point of tedium) theme in Romney's criticisms of Obama. Romney repeated a number of times that Obama had made promises leading up to his election and taking office that he would do x, y, or z during his first year… and had then failed to do so.

Now, anyone with half a brain -- and you would hope that someone hoping to be PotUS would have at least half a brain -- MUST understand that, as the old saying goes, "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip"… that things are quite different when you are running for office versus when you actually get elected and into that office. It's a rude awakening in a number of ways, I would imagine, to find yourself suddenly plunged into a daily routine of dealing with more issues and problems than you can shake the proverbial stick at… and you also have to deal with people who will oppose and obstruct whatever you are trying to accomplish, not because those things are necessarily BAD things, but because YOU want them to happen and you're not of the right party. And things can change rapidly in this world of ours, so that solutions which seemed practical and workable one year might suddenly prove to not be so the following year.

Given that, I hoped someone would ask Romney if -- God help us -- he gets elected, and he doesn't accomplish things that he now promises to do in his first year, second year, or whatever, he will right now pledge and promise to the American people that he will not seek re-election four years from now. I mean, if Romney REALLY believes that these failures to deliver on campaign promises are indicative that a President has proven himself unworthy of holding that office, then it seems to stand to reason that if he is elected and he fails in those ways, he should acknowledge himself as a failure and not seek re-election. 

Come on, Willard -- make the pledge! -- PL

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paint and Pixel Festival #2!

It's only five more days until the second annual "Paint and Pixel Festival" in Northampton, and this year I will be there as an invited guest (thanks, Peggy and Sean!). It's happening this Saturday, October 20,  from 11AM to 6PM, in Northampton, MA on the third floor of the Northampton Center for the Arts at 17 New South Street (across from the Academy of Music).

I probably won't be bringing any TMNT stuff with me, though I will be happy to autograph TMNT things, and may do some Turtle head sketches as well. I will be selling a portfolio of five 11 by 17 black and white prints, titled "Treefaces: Five Prints of Drawings of Trees With Faces". Here's a detail from one of them:

Check out the "Paint and Pixel Festival" website to learn more about this cool event! -- PL

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another entry in the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Dept.

From the Huffington Post Science page:
Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said last week that evolution and the big bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of Hell."
"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell," said Broun, who is an MD. "It's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
And this idiot is "a high-ranking member of the House Science Committee". Brrrr... -- PL
See the whole story here:

Saturday, September 29, 2012


     I've always loved blackberries. Sometimes, when I was younger, I would have the good fortune of finding some wild blackberry bushes in season, and I'd pick and eat the sun-warmed berries, reveling in their tart juice and delightful soft/crunchy texture. When Jeannine and I moved to our current location some twenty-odd years ago, I discovered -- while out riding my dirt bike on the local trails -- a large patch of said bushes, and it was a site I returned to several times.

      But it's a lot easier buying them in supermarkets than picking them out in the wild while struggling to avoid being lacerated by the blackberry bushes' very sharp and multitudinous thorns, and over the last few years I have found that -- due to the wonders of world commerce and different growing seasons -- they can be found in our local grocery stores pretty much all the time.

     And some of them are huge, significantly larger than the wild ones I have picked... like this one I got at the local Whole Foods last week.

     I had to put the quarter in the photo to show exactly how big this thing was. Unfortunately, the image doesn't really give a true indication of how juicy and tasty this berry and most of its fellows in the plastic package were.

      Yum. -- PL

Thursday, September 20, 2012

And so it begins...

        … cooler days and earlier nights…

… and the gradual shift to a different color palette…

… heralded by a sense that there is more yellow everywhere, even in the green…

… and the occasional single tree, impatient to be the first to burst out into party dress.

Goodbye, summer.

Hello, fall. -- PL

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's the king's birthday!

Just a few minutes ago I was reminded that today is Jack Kirby's birthday… and I know I've used this already in a blog post, but I think it deserves being posted again.

Happy birthday to the king of comics! -- PL

Thursday, August 23, 2012

... and the hits just keep on coming...


"(CNN) -- An elected county judge in Texas is warning that the nation could descend into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and is calling for a trained, well-equipped force to battle the United Nations troops he says Obama would bring in.

The comments by Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who oversees emergency planning efforts, were broadcast by CNN affiliate KJTV. He made similar remarks on radio station FOX Talk 950.

Saying that as the county's emergency management coordinator he has to "think about the very worst thing that can happen and prepare for that and hope and pray for the best," Head told radio host Jeff Klotzman that he believes "in this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid."

For the rest of this mind-boggling stupidity, go here:

You can't make this stuff up. -- PL

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Just when you think you've heard the height of stupidity… UPDATE 08-22-12

… something like this falls in your lap.

Just un-freakin'-believable. People this ignorant get ELECTED???!!! Multiple times???!!

Is anyone surprised that this Todd Akin guy is a Tea Party member? -- PL

UPDATE 08-22-12:

After thinking about this some more, and hearing much commentary about it on the news, it becomes sickeningly clear that the staggering idiocy of Akin's comments is all in the service of an anti-abortion talking point: To wit, if you get pregnant from what you claim was a rape, then you can't really have been raped, because women bodies can somehow prevent pregnancy in the event of a rape... and thus you can't get an abortion if the law allows for that option in the event of an unwanted pregnancy from a rape... because if you got pregnant, you couldn't have been raped... and so on... and so on...

What a waste of skin this jerk is. -- PL

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shellback Artworks group signing August 11, 2012

I had fun with the Mirage Studios crew -- Dan Berger, Mike Dooney, Jim Lawson, Eric Talbot, and Steve Lavigne -- this past weekend. We all travelled up from Massachusetts to do a signing at Steve's store "Shellback Artworks" in Wells, ME.

Here's a sampling of photographs from the event. (Of course, I followed my usual bad habit of not getting the names of most of the people I took photos of. Sorry!)

There was one gentleman who drove a LONG way to come to the signing -- I can't remember which midwest state he was from, but I think he easily took the prize for "most miles driven to get to Shellback Artworks". He brought with him a nifty vintage VW van toy, which we all took turns signing. Mike even did some "Turtleizing" of it, adding some shell texture to certain areas.

I think this next person's name is David, and after talking with us for a while and getting some things signed, we posed for a photo with him. Then he went to the local Wal-Mart and got it printed in a large format, brought it back, and we all signed it. 

Cool idea! I had no clue that you could get prints done like that at Wal-Mart.

Here's Eric signing the photo.

Chris Parlon and his girlfriend Katie, who were also at the grand opening signing, showed up for this one as well.

We signed this dude's yellow shoulder bag…

… and the back of this pizza box (which had previously held some of our lunch).

I have to draw particular attention to the thing Jim Lawson sketched on this box -- something that, in all the years of the TMNT, with all the references to pizza and surfing, has NEVER been done before (as far as I know): a Turtle surfing on a piece of pizza. 

Genius! Jim, you're too much.

Here's Jim in the act of creation -- I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to him at the signing, and thus caught this moment for posterity.

Mike took it upon himself to, um, enhance the image of infant April on the cover of this fan's copy of TMNT Volume 4 #22.

Here's Steve posing with one of his store t-shirts which we all signed. I don't know where the shirt ended up.

It was great to have Eric with us -- I hadn't seen him in months. He brought with him some blank stickers with the die-cut shape of a skull and crossbones (the result of a printing error) and invited us all to draw something on them. Here's a photo of Eric working on one…

… and here are five COMPLETELY different approaches to using that space. Can you guess who did which?

All in all, a fun time! -- PL