Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Honestly I've not done much more than paint and pack and send rats to lots of people. As Neil posted the "Rat Sale" on his journal, we received many, many more orders than we'd expected and are very happy to have each and every one! We have money for materials, I'm enjoying the great satisfaction of sending some support to the CBLDF, and more people have rats in their houses. Yay! Everybody wins. I've also met some really nice, very cool people. One such is Amity Brown, who took her Neil Rat to a signing last week in Texas and was nice enough to write to tell me that Neil was delighted to see the little fellow, and to send photos.

She's posted more here:

Anyway, I hope to have all the ratties done by the end of the weekend so that I'll be starting the "scary something' as October begins. Hopefully, this will help bring the Halloween spirit to us here in the desert. I'll certainly keep you posted as we experience October, our favorite time of the year.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

You Are Here

The photo (below) is a small portion of a work in progress called, well, "You Are Here". It is actually going to be a desk with a glass top suspended over approximately 650 puppet figures looking upward and the one lone one looking at the graffiti on the ground. I'll give you the full story when I post photos of the finished piece. I still have the legs to finish, after doing my duty to the rats...

This house has been struck with a bug that brings fever and headache, mostly, then after about 24 hours leaves one feeling spongy and disoriented. It's like time traveling, without the time travel. Yay.
I think the worst thing about being sick is that I don't feel like doing much else, so I end up watching lots of news, which is enough to make me sick, even when I'm well.

Ben and I have just finished the most complex mold we've ever made. It is of the hanging jester from "Luck Be Nimble, Love Be Quick" , which belongs to Neil, who will be glad to know the original is perfectly fine. There are lots of pictures of the original in the journal if you care to search for them.

Off to sleep now, or at least rest. So to be back later, with more stuff.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

You Are Here... Posted by Picasa

Strange Geometries, Ray Bradbury and Evolution

I’ve been waking before dawn, for reasons unknown, to lie there in the darkness and think about all sorts of things. Often, if I forget to check myself, I begin to worry about things I have no control over. This morning seemed no different. The sheets were cool, the ceiling fan was running at helicopter speed, the room was mostly shadows and outlines. I lay there and decided I was going to stop being an artist.
It was an unexpected decision, and a surprisingly unemotional one. I decided I was tired of it. I’d finish up my commitments and start something new. Get a grant, go back to school. I felt calm, almost numb.
Then I woke up. The sheets were cool, the ceiling fan was running at helicopter speed, the room was mostly shadows and outlines.
And, this was the second time in two weeks I’d had this dream.

It doesn’t make sense to me, this particular dream, because in my waking hours I believe I’m just beginning to understand what kinds of images I want to create, just now perfecting the skills I need to make them, and have no intentions of quitting art. I’ve had intense, vividly detailed dreams since I can remember. Some so frightening I wake gasping, some so heartbreaking, I wake sobbing, and some so lucid I can affect them from within, or wake myself, or cry out to be awakened.

There have been a number of recurring themes in my dreaming life, but the one at the top of my long-term list is that of strange geometries. I have explored impossible spaces, entered all manner of structures that were larger inside than out, held tiny cubes between my fingers that I could climb into and turn inside out, walked on ceilings, cared for creatures that were one minute protected in my palm and the next surrounding me. Often I wake with tatters of understanding, a nagging illusion that some answer is lurking in my periphery, winking out of sight as my room comes into focus.

Like many others, I believe the next step in humanity’s evolution could well be one of perception. This is what fuels my constant expedition. The hard part is the documentation. One, upon exploring the mind, can collect strange artifacts. It’s hard to know what is valuable and what is not. The best approach is to keep good notes, without conjecture and hope that something might be gleaned eventually.

I really haven’t wanted to talk about evolution, because there is so much to say and so many who can say it better, but DAMN. It is massively disturbing that there are many people who can’t make the short leap from acknowledging heredity to acknowledging the evolutionary process. I met someone who rejects the concept of evolution yet owns a pure-bred Persian cat. As in a cat with artificially selected genetic traits. There are so few dots to connect, but she can’t let herself draw the picture.
There are so many things wrong with these scenarios. But one that stands out urgently is that we must protect the freedom of our teachers to teach this subject. And, we have to take responsibility for our educations, and that of our children.

That said, I hope you saw The Daily Show’s Evolution Schmevolution week. If not, find someone who taped or T-Vo’d it. It’s “like orange juice”. It’s ”good for you”.

Ray Bradbury is much on my mind today. Would you consider yourself to have done a good deed if you introduced Fahrenheit 451 to someone unfamiliar with the work? Have you thought about freedom of speech today? Remember those bumper stickers “Have you Hugged your Kid Today?” How about we come up with a new one? “Have you Defended Your Kid’s Education Today?”
Lots of you guys are writers. What have you got?

Strange geometries, Ray Bradbury and the Theory of Evolution. Now there’s some dreaming matter. I’m thinking, if I wake at five in the morning, I’ll get out of bed and take a brisk walk.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The guys: Poe, Ellison, Lovecraft, Gaiman--for some reason Blogger would not let me post photos within the journal text, so, photos here, text below (hopefully) Posted by Picasa

Rat portrait in clay Posted by Picasa

Oreo gone Posted by Picasa

Rats, mostly.

There have been times when I thought working on small pieces--like rats --kept me from doing more challenging and exciting work Possibly they did. Now I use the time to think, much the way I do while driving a familiar route. This can be a very good thing. Sometimes it allows me to solve problems, especially engineering or creative questions. Possibly this more relaxed approach allows me to slip in under the edge of a problem, before learned patterns obscure more innovative solutions. I believe this is true at least some of the time.

I did give in to the urge to paint some rats differently. I’ve considered having some of the rats cast in bronze, and wanted to see how they might look, so gave one each of the four authors a bronzed finish. They’re kind of fun actually. I can see them hanging round some leather-bound volumes-- and a humidor. Artist’s agents are often driven insane (I’m told by my agent) by many artist’s inability to repeat themselves consistently. I would tend to agree. I can’t help but change things up a little, now and again. So, sue me.

I did some work on Tiny Stories. We don’t have all the stories in yet, but it’s not too early for me to start thinking about images and design. I absolutely cannot make an illustration though, until I finish the last two paintings I must finish for another project for an author who threatens to loathe me and send bad karma directly into my brain forever should I mention a damned thing about it. To say the least, I am motivated to finish the project.

I have nearly finished a story about the wish-granting harlequin cat I wrote for “First Incident Concerning the Influence of Neil, Nearly. I forget the title, always, and must spell it out FICTION, Nearly to recall it Anyway, it’s a sort of scary/sweet thing about that cat and a girl and possibly I’ll get it polished and the sculpted part sculpted in time for Halloween. That would be fun. Early on I used to write short pieces with sculptures I made. I’d fold them up very small and put them somewhere in the sculpture, in a little niche or something. I wouldn’t mind doing that again.

I’m getting started a rat portrait for Ravyn, of her mother and three nieces. I’m working with a type of plastilina, and enjoying it, but I find the clay works better when I keep it in the refrigerator between.

Jane Frank is going to be celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Worlds of Wonder with a collector’s catalog which will likely be more like an art book with some of the best work of the gallery’s artists. It should be really nice. I’ll keep you informed. If you love the kinds of art you’ve seen there these years, you’ll likely want to get a copy. Not sure how many she’s going to have printed.

Finally, Orion and I are going to see a pediatric dental specialist tomorrow morning so I must turn off Boomerang and get him settled in. He seems quite unaffected by the whole tooth thing, though I’m afraid he’s eventually going to look like a little pirate. I gave him an Oreo earlier tonight, knowing it might not be the best idea I’ve had all day, but here we are. Sometimes you just want another rubber rat, even if you don’t need one. But, rubber rat or no, you still have to brush your teeth. ---ooookay , then.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Small Things

It's almost impossible to feel awful when eating a popsicle. You can feel bad again as soon as it's gone and you're back to where you started, only now with a stick. But usually I think you feel just a little better. I was thinking it might be hard to be angry while eating a popsicle too. I mean, think of your last tense encounter---what if everyone involved had been eating popsicles? What if each time we argued with our spouses, popsicles magically appeared in each of our hands? I suppose we could poke and gouge each other with them, but I doubt we would, especially if the popsicle is banana, my personal favorite. They could be handed out at budget meetings. Imagine a dozen middle-aged corporate types around a conference table, each with a mandatory popsicle. Or not. There's comedy in here somewhere, but I'm not inclined to pursue it this morning...only coffee.

Last week Orion fell at daycare. His teacher called and we went and checked him out and he was fine but I discovered yesterday one of his teeth looks dark, so today we're going for xrays. Apparently, teeth can bruise. We're hoping this will be the news, rather than that the root is damaged. The permanent tooth should be okay, but he may, unless it is a bruse, have a dark tooth for several years. Poor kid, he is getting a vaccination this week too, ouch, and a haircut.
We try to protect our kids, it seems, from every little thing. All those things that we remember hurting and being scary. I wonder though, sometimes, if we haven't become too protective? I don't mean about safety, or nutrition, but things like life's little discomforts and disappointments? It seems to me the these awful (at the time) little things we endured as kids made us strong enough to deal with larger issues as adults. Are we creating a generation of weaklings?
I need a popsicle.

I wonder if anyone makes coffee popsicles...

Thanks so much for all your rat orders!!! I spent yesterday painting rats and thinking and planning the new work for fall. We are still getting some Tiny Stories in, thanks for helping spread the word on that. Soon, Bob will start selecting some and I'll start thinking on illustrations.


Friday, September 09, 2005


Yes, it's true. I'm having a sale. It's time.

I want to make something scary. You want me to make something scary

I need materials. You need rats.

Here's your chance to get the Neil Gaiman Rat at a really good price.
Here's your chance to get the H. P. Lovecraft Rat at a really good price.
Here's your chance to get the E. A. Poe Rat at a really good price.
Here's your chance to get the Harlan Ellison Rat at a really good price.

Here's your chance to get any of the other rats you need to fill in (or start) your collection at a really shameful price.

So, for two weeks, before I regain my sanity or tire of painting rats, whichever comes first, you may get any of the limited edition author rats for $25.00 each and any of the open edition rats for $15 each.

Ben is going to shoot me.

Pick your rats from here:
RATBAG Pay via Paypal to or send a check to me at SlaughterHouse Studios 4741 E. Palm Canyon Drive, PMB C-115 Palm Springs CA 92264

Shameless, yes. But I explained my situation to Harlan and he said it is perfectly okay to be shameless.

Oh---and even at this price the CBLDF will benefit a little too

and shipping is $5.00 for up to five rats. $7.00 Canada $11.00 overseas

All this until September 23rd. Then it goes away until next year.

Did I mention that Ratbag Rats make really cool presents?

Ok. That's about as shameless as I can get. Harlan will be pleased. Jane will be pleased.

Ben will shoot me.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Little Sip from a Dark Glass

Louis Eilshemius was a painter in New York in the twenties. He isn’t terribly well known, but fairly respected, though not in his time. I was struck with one of his paintings, reproduced in an art history textbook when I was in college, that I wasn’t able to find an image of even after researching and corresponding with two curators. The title of the work was/ is “Fear”. It’s monochromatic, and at first glance appears to be a moonlit landscape, yet upon closer examination the viewer discovers he can’t identify a single object in the painting. I thought it was brilliant back then and still do, though I’d very much like to see it again all these years later.
I believe that Louis Eilshemius understood fear at its most basic level.

I can creep myself out with the best of them. Sometimes I do it on purpose, other times I do it to spite myself. The studio, late at night when the house is sleeping or Pete is away is ripe with raw materials for just such imaginings. So are the endless, silent hallways and staircases of the home of Howard and Jane Frank, filled with all manner of creepy art---some of it my own. Oh how we scares ourselves.

Tonight was interesting in a different way. Fear was far from my mind. I’m officially sick, by the way. After several days of just feeling lousy I finally succumbed to a fever, sore throat and body aches. Not much sculpting was done today, just writing and some painting. But the show must go on as they say, and tonight I set off for the neighborhood grocery store to get a toothbrush for Aubrey. I was sitting at the stop sign, waiting for an opening in traffic and deciding that my folding laundry on the puppet table in progress proves just how low I’ve sunk this summer and starting to get in the mood to breathe on somebody. Better yet, I could blow up a bunch of balloons with my germs and set them free. Then--if I were a super villain, I’d launch an airborne virus that smelled exactly like fresh-baked cookies… and so on. My mind wanders this way at intersections. The flu meds were starting to take effect. I was a little hypnotized by the passing headlights, one car at a time, when the pair I was following winked out. Before I had time to blink, the next set did the same. They just vanished. I leaned into the window to try to get a better look when perspective kicked in. He was just there, two feet from my window, looking directly at me. The headlights were disappearing behind his silhouette. He was gone before I took a breath, sprinting around the front of the car, then continuing on his way down the sidewalk, just a man, dressed in black. But, that lightning pulse along my spine, the cold in the small of my back, the nearly painful needle-tingling in my feet. Fight or flight baby. This was a taste of the stuff, pure and uncut. The stuff found in the shadow you realize couldn’t be a shadow, the lump under your bed that, ohmygod, did, ever so slightly, twitch.

So let this be a lesson to us all. Going to buy a toothbrush can be anything but mundane.
There is hope.
Now the flu tablets have really kicked in. Pete is away working. Kids are sleeping. Time for the Lisa to do the same, possibly with the closet light on. Where the hell is Gurtie?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I'm not saying that "Jack" is scary, though some say he is and the Neil's story about him is a little scary. I've never imagined Jack appearing (oh, hello---as I type this a spider lowers herself in front of the screen) I think of being in a dark place and becoming aware of him gradually. You know, the pricking of the hairs on your neck, just making out the whites of his eyes in the darkness, telling yourself it's an illusion you see, light off some old vase in the corner. Rubbing your eyes or squinting won't turn the eyes into some innocent reflection. No, they're definitely there, even though they can't be, and they're looking at you. It's then that you stop breathing. At that very moment you must finally admit to yourself that something is unright in your world. I wrote an essay for Dark Dreamers (Cemetary Dance) about this very thing, horror that begins subtley and grows into an undeniable reality. As I painted this sculpture of "Don't Ask Jack" a few days ago, the desire to make him scary struck me, so I kept the finish dark and subtle but kept the eyes bright. It works really, really well in night's half light. Jack becomes just the things dreams are made of, and the reason night lights are purchased. (Sweet Dreams, Roland and Robert!)
That said, now I've got the bug to make something scary. About time too. It's been awhile. I've enjoyed doing the fine art pieces (i.e. the more esoteric puppet pieces and the food pieces). I intend to keep doing them until I've said what I want to say. But Jack is different. This kind of figurative work isn't considered by some galleries to be fine art, no matter how well executed or what materials are employed. Gorecki's Third Symphony describes a story so effectively that each time I hear it I am moved to tears. And there are other stories that could only have ever been sung by John Prine.
If I'm going to do scary, I can do one of two things; I can paint it, or I can create a character like Jack. Screw the galleries.
I want to do scary. When I'm flying, which I don't particularly enjoy, I like reading something scary. This can be a tall order as I don't scare all that easily. Maybe I want the illusion that my reality is cozy compared to the one I'm visiting. Makes sense.
Yes, it's been a mean summer and I want to do scary. Besides, October will be here sooner than later.
Today was Pete's birthday and we've all been so busy and in such a funk over all the bad stuff going on that everybody---yes, including me, forgot. I could have at least got him a pack of Magic cards. sheesh We need to take a slow deep breath and regroup, maybe have an un-birthday thingy for the big smart guy. After all, he's ours and we like him.

Monday, September 05, 2005

On the Brink

RRNN comments with his question as to whether we're on the edge of some new darkness. I wonder too.
Every generation of adults says these kinds of things, don't they? The world is going to Hell. People are getting dumber every day. You can't trust anybody. It's become a dangerous place out there...

Perhaps we are just this generation's adults, old enough to get our heads out of our own asses and begin to see what's going on around us, young enough to still believe we might have the power to change something.

Sometimes the bigger picture, as far as I can see which, probably, isn't all that far---sometimes it immobilizes me. I look at the news and read and talk to people and feel we are on the brink of disaster. I look at my children and don't want to be on the brink of disaster.
I feel the panic rising. I can do one of a couple of things:

I can take a step back, way, way back. No further. Carl Sagan back. Big, big picture. So. Humans are evolving. It's not a straight line. We have to have our ups and downs, our discoveries and our failures. Things might have to get very very bad so they can get better.

I could do that. Or, I can step inward and focus on my own world. I can do the best work possible, I can be kind to the people I have contact with, I can teach my children to think for themselves. I can continue to try to do my little part with SlaughterHouse, to support freedom of thought and expression.

Or I can continue doing what I've been doing for the last couple of years. Live between the two views, with moments of paralyzing uselessness and moments of hopeful inspiration.

Mostly, I try to keep doing what I'm doing regardless of how useless it feels. I keep thinking that the work will help me figure something out and truly, I can't think of anything better to do.

As I said, it's been a mean summer. It was a mean summer before Katrina. Bad things are going on all around us.

I can't help it. I see us as sheep. Some of our herd get washed away in the river or eaten by wolves and we look up for a bit, then go right back to grazing the cable chanels.
I don't know what will change this. I'm horrified to think what it might take to make Americans inconvenience themselves just a little to make a difference. I believe it will take more/worse than I can imagine and I can imagine a lot. I keep telling myself that encouraging people to question the information thrown at them, to think for themselves and to speak out is worthwhile regardless of what's going on.

Sometimes you feel like saying 'fuck it' and doing nothing. Sometimes the car won't start. Sometimes it rains too hard. Sometimes the door gets closed in your face. Sometimes you wake up and realize your cat hates you, your eyebrows are getting gray and coffee doesn'taste good anymore. Sometimes you look in the mirror and see a stranger, or worse, your mother. Sometimes you look into an expectant little face and decide it's not about you anymore, so you grow up and get your head out of your ass and look around...


If the pool is above 80 degrees, we're swimming. If not, we're walking. I need to get out and breathe. When I get up tomorrow I hope I want to make some good art because that is what I can do, until someone comes up with a better plan.

Thanks for reading, thanks for thinking, thanks for speaking up.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

something, something

Ok. Really, who deserves to die? Me? For saying I needed chocolate? Or Pete, for walking past me and discreetly leaving an OPEN back of Mr. Goodbar Bites and a very cold glass of milk on the counter beside my laptop?

One thing I've learned in my previous careers is that blood is alive, and that dead blood feels different from living blood, and that red paint feels like neither.

Today I painted some puppet hats. I made Orion some cheese eggs, but other than that, I worked on my diving. Orion and I are browner, with slightly greener hair, but finally, I am pointing my toes...

I think a lot about those affected by Katrina. This is so not over. This has been a mean summer for so many. I feel profoundly affected, and a little pissed-off, too tell you the truth.

We do what we can.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Little Fortuna

You ask her a question and spin the star on top. Where she lands is your answer: Yes, No, Maybe, Likely or Not Likely.

She is a very nice toy, I think, and she has two faces and two puppets---one facing up for 'yes' and the other down for 'no'. The star has the answers engraved on its edges.

Little Fortuna is 14 inches tall, with the star knob. I'm going to put her on the website and try to find her a home. She is starting to get a little dusty.

We spent a lot of the day working on the Dark Caravan fortune teller. I'm taking photos along the way. And, if you'll remind me I'll tell you a small story about "Don't Ask Jack".

I am taking a mental break. Going with Pete to see "40 year old Virgin" or something like that with Steve Corell, who I think is generally very funny.

Funny would be a good thing.

What's with the Cowboy Rat?

OK I've gotta find out about this one. I nearly always take a look at the blog's stats at the first of the month.

Every month since March, I've got a surprising number of visitors to the page with a drawing I did. Cowboy Rat in Question Most of the visitors came from searches for images of a 'Cowboy Rat' and nearly all come from outside of the US.

What gives? If you got this page because you were searching for images of "Cowboy Rat", please fill me in.

Hmm. I suppose I should add an image to this page so it will come up as well... A Not-A-Cowboy-Rat image. And, oddly, the actual sketch was of a CowGIRL, namely, Ravyn.