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Last month I attended my first Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School session of 2018. There have been other Dr. Sketchy’s events in Baltimore and Washington since the New Year but, for a variety of reasons, I wasn’t able to make one until last month.

Even though it was April and the cherry blossom trees in the entire metropolitan area were starting to bloom, winter was still holding on. I remember it was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit so I wore my winter coat while going to downtown DC. When I arrived at the Greenbelt Metro station I saw a group of cosplayers in winter coats who were obviously going to the Tidal Basin (where many of the cherry blossom trees are located and it gets a huge share of the tourists this time of the year).

One of them had this clear backpack that had all kinds of Donald Duck charms, buttons, and pins.

I arrived at Dupont Circle where I noticed that the fountain had been turned on with the water coming in at at a trickle.

A pair of ducks were swimming in the fountain despite the winter-like cold weather.

I saw a group of people near the fountain who took off their coats and started swing dancing in public. I have no idea if they were a flash mob or if they were heavy swing dance enthusiasts. I shot a short video of these people in action.

I shot a few more photos of Dupont Circle.

Like I wrote earlier, many of the cherry blossom trees are further downtown at the Tidal Basin. However, I saw a couple of blooming cherry blossoms planted outside of a building at the intersection of Dupont Circle and New Hampshire Ave., NW so I was able to take a few cherry blossom pictures.

I went to Kramerbooks & Afterwords where I browsed through a few books while noticing all of the Donald Trump-related books that are now available for sale, many of which are less-than-flattering towards The Donald.

As I was walking down P Street, NW, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before on previous trips. There is a restaurant called Tiki Taco, which serves a fusion of Mexican and Polynesian food. (Seriously!) If I wasn’t financially struggling I might have tried eating there. (I had just started a new day job and, at that point, I was only working around 15 hours per week.)

I made a brief stop at Fantom Comics where I took pictures of the various posters and wall murals.

I noticed this Batgirl costume on display, which reminded me of the costume that Batgirl wore in this graphic novel that I checked out of the library last year called Batgirl of Burnside (which I enjoyed, by the way). One of the employees told me that the Batgirl costume was on display because one of the writers of Batgirl of Burnside had stopped by the store the day before signing autographs. There were plenty of signed graphic novels that the person had written that were still available for sale that not only included Batgirl of Burnside but also other books he wrote, such as Black Canary and Gotham Academy. (I also checked out one of the Gotham Academy books out of the public library recently. I hadn’t read Black Canary mainly because it has yet to arrive at the library.) They were all laid out on the table. I felt tempted but if I had purchased one of those signed books, I would not have been able to afford to go to Dr. Sketchy’s, which was the main reason why I even commuted to Dupont Circle on a cold April Sunday afternoon. So I had to just content myself with taking a picture of the Batgirl costume.

I finally arrived at The Bier Baron, where I took a couple of colorful beer signs on display.

Here’s a shot of the stage where the model posed.

The model for this event was Sally Cinch, who is a sideshow performer and dancer. Since she’s not a burlesque performer, all of the drawings in this post are definitely safe to view unless you are someone who gets offended at seeing a bare midriff.

Sally Cinch’s big talent is the ability to squeeze herself into tight spaces. She did a brief performance where she squeezed herself into a couple of hangers, which inspired this contest: Incorporate Joan Crawford into that drawing. I remember when I read that notorious book Mommie Dearest as a teenager and I even saw the movie featuring Fay Dunaway as Joan Crawford.

As it turned out, I was one of only two people who actually took part in the contest. I think it was because the majority of the people who were there were either not born or were too young to remember Mommy Dearest. The two of us were declared the winners and our prize was a drink of our choice from the bar. (I chose a hard cider that I really liked. I’m sorry I didn’t write down the name of what I drank.)

I did another sketch of Sally showing why her last name is Cinch using a belt that was pulled very tight around her waist.

I drew one last sketch of Sally before the event ended.

The event was cut relatively short compared to previous Dr. Sketchy’s events because of some kind of a scheduling snafu with a comedy show that was following Dr. Sketchy’s. I managed to talk briefly with Sally Cinch and the emcee, Reverend Valentine. I found out that Sally Cinch has performed in my neck of the woods. Not only did she once performed at The New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland but she’s also friends with two friends of mine, which was ironic and it goes to show that it’s a small world after all.

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Many adults of a certain age will recall seeing a particular print ad in a magazine or comic book or even on the inside cover of a matchbook. It tends to depict the head of a cartoon turtle wearing a cap and a turtle-neck sweater (LOL!) with the ad line: “Draw Me!” Here’s a typical vintage print ad where Tippy was one of three characters one could draw (along with Tiny the Mouse and a pirate who’s simply known as Pirate).

Many of those ads were dressed up as contests where people could win money but they also served as a way of enticing people to take correspondence art courses through the mail from the Minneapolis-based Art Instruction Schools. This school was founded in 1914 as a way of training illustrators for the growing print industry. The most famous alumni was Charles M. Schultz, who managed to finish his studies during the Great Depression even though his parents had to literally struggle in order to afford the classes. Schultz would later become an instructor at the Art Instruction Schools, where he used his fellow instructors Charlie Brown, Linus Maurer, and Frida Rich as inspirations for characters in a new comic strip that he was working on called Peanuts and the rest is history.

For some reason I never tried my hand at drawing Tippy the Turtle or any of his other cohorts (like Tiny the Mouse, Spunky the Donkey, and Cubby the Bear). I think the main reason why I never tried was because I feared rejection (it was around the same time that I endured years of kids calling me “mentally retarded”). But I knew a girl who I’ll call “Rita” (not her real name) who actually tried drawing Tippy the Turtle and she sent her submission in. Rita was a girl who attended my high school but I knew her more from the local chapter of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) that we were both members of because we didn’t share too many high school classes together. Rita was someone who was into drugs and I still remember the time when the CYO went on a trip to Kings Dominion and she mentioned that she dropped acid before we boarded the bus for Virginia. I saw her during our time at that theme park and she looked totally stoned complete with glassy eyes. I never quite understood why she felt the need to drop acid because Kings Dominion provided tons of visual and mental stimulation between the thrill rides and the numerous music and dancing shows that were performed throughout the day.

Rita used to tell me that her big ambition was to become either a writer or an artist. One day Rita told me that she drew Tippy the Turtle and mailed her submission in. A couple of weeks later a salesman arrived at her family’s house and he proceeded to show a slideshow to Rita and her parents about the Art Instruction Schools and why Rita would be a natural for that school. He told them that Rita could schedule her correspondence art lessons around her high school classes. Her parents gave their permission and the Art Instruction Schools sent its first correspondence lessons. Rita told me that she enjoyed the classes but she never spoke any further about her lessons.

I lost contact with Rita when she dropped out of high school and stopped attending the CYO meetings. I don’t know if Rita ever finished her Art Instruction Schools classes.

I wanted to study art in college but I was persuaded not to do so. I ended up getting my Bachelor’s in Journalism with a minor in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland and I had long regretted not studying art. I made an attempt to take part-time classes at a now-defunct art school that didn’t work too well for me for reasons that I went into when I wrote a blog post about a sculpture I did during my time at that school. (I have two other surviving art pieces that I also did during my time there—You’re Fired! and Thanksgiving Revenge.) A few years later I considered taking classes with the Art Institute when it was opening its campus in Arlington until I checked out its open house and there was something about that school that didn’t sit right with me so I decided against going. (It turned out to be the right decision on my part.) I ended up taking a few classes at a local community college that I initially enjoyed until I began to burn out from constantly taking three-hour classes twice a week. The last straw was when I took a Commercial Illustration class with an instructor who really glommed on to me and my work in a way that really made me feel uncomfortable and which I described in full detail in this post (which also includes an illustration that’s NSFW).

In the years since my last stab at art school I took a couple of arts and crafts-related short classes and workshops but they were more for fun rather than working towards getting an art degree. I began to remember those “Draw Tippy the Turtle” ads from my youth and I began to think that maybe doing a correspondence art school would be the thing for me. After doing a few Google searches I found that the Art Instructor Schools had a website but I also learned that doing the entire curriculum would cost me around $3,000. Granted it’s cheaper than what the Art Institute was charging but it was still more than what I could afford. I’ve always felt that one day I would give Art Instructor Schools a try once I straighten out my precarious finances.

Today I decided to do some web surfing and, once again, I did a Google search on the Art Instructor Schools. I looked on the Wikipedia page and found this sad fact:

In 2016, the school announced it would not be enrolling new students.

Oh no! I went to the school’s website and it still looked like it was in business. I clicked on the Program link and was taken to this page, which said:

While Art Instruction Schools has helped many students develop their artistic talents, the School has determined that it is no longer feasible to continue offering the Fundamentals of Art program and serving its student population after December 31, 2018. Art Instruction Schools remains committed to enabling students who are currently enrolled to complete the program. Effective immediately the School will no longer accept new enrollments.

Currently, enrolled students who desire to complete the Fundamentals of Art program prior to December 31, 2018 are encouraged to call Art Instruction Schools to speak with a representative about your progress in the program. While Art Instruction Schools is prepared to provide students with academic guidance, it is the students’ responsibility to complete all program requirements by December 31, 2018.

Going to the FAQ page is pretty interesting. Here are a few choice excerpts:

Is Art Instruction Schools closing?

Art Instruction Schools will remain open. We are no longer offering the Fundamentals of Art program for new enrollment.

Do you have any other programs or courses available?

At this time we do not.

What will you be offering after the Fundamentals of Art program has ended?

We are only focusing on teaching-out current students at this time.

It looks like the Art Instruction Schools is only open to focus on getting the current students to finish their lessons by the end of the year and that’s it. After 104 years in business, the Art Instruction Schools will no longer offer classes to anyone who draws Tippy the Turtle and mails it to them. That’s too bad. It figures this had to happen just as when I was about seriously considering sending in my own Tippy the Turtle drawing so I could try my hand at their correspondence art classes.

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Every now and then I include some blog posts about some artwork I did when I was a child. Recently I did some more heavy decluttering around my townhouse where I found a couple of more art pieces that I did as a child. I found a bag that I hadn’t even taken the time to go through even though it was among the stuff that my then-husband and I rescued from my old childhood home around the time that my mother decided to put the house up for sale.

First up is this crayon masterpiece I did. The top of the page has “Nov. 1968” that looks like it was written in my mother’s handwriting. The figure on the left looks like a cross between a clown and a stick figure. I can’t make out the figure on the right. It looks like a stick figure with a gun head. Based on what my mother wrote at the top of the page, it looks like I was six years old when I did this drawing.

What I wrote on the back is an even bigger mystery. It says “TO KIM FROM SMOKEY THE BEAR.” Obviously I must have written this but I don’t even remember why I would pretend that I was Smokey the Bear giving this drawing to myself.

I also found this other drawing I did. It’s an ink drawing where I did a red elephant being surrounded by a bunch of stick figures. I wrote at the top “TO MOM FROM KIM.” I don’t remember when I did this drawing or how old I was when I did it. I remember when I was a child some teacher in either my regular elementary school or my Sunday morning CCD class read the famous Indian fable about the blind men and an elephant. Seeing the stick figures feeling the elephant from different angles, I have a feeling that I was inspired by this particular story. Unfortunately I no longer remember the day I did this drawing.

While I was doing some recent decluttering of my home, I came across my old high school art project. I remember this one so well. The objective was that we had to do something that was op-art. The Winter Olympics in Lake Placid were going on at the same time as I got the assignment so I decided to do an Olympics poster.

Here is a close-up of the Olympic rings.

Here is a close-up of the head of the mascot for these games, Roni the Raccoon.

Here is my attempt at replicating the official logo of the Lake Placid Olympics in op-art.

Here is my stenciled lettering that spells “Lake Placid.”

Here is my signature on the back along with “Period 1,” which indicated that I took the art class in question during the first school period.

The last photo shows the “A” that I got from my teacher for that project.

I still remember those Olympics like they happened last week. I remember when the men’s Olympic hockey team was the team that won the first gold medal for the U.S. in hockey. I remember Robin Cousins’ excellent figure skating and Eric Heiden’s winning five gold medals in speed skating.

This year I didn’t even watch the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. It’s the second Olympics I haven’t watched since I gave up cable TV. (I also passed on watching the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.) I could’ve purchased rabbit ears for my TV so I could watch broadcast TV but I didn’t bother. There was a time when I would’ve been eager to watch the Olympics but now I no longer give a damn.

I have to blame NBC’s constantly shitty coverage of every Olympics since they first started to broadcast those games. Based on what I’ve read online, I’m not missing much by not tuning into NBC’s pathetic coverage of the Olympics. Thanks, NBC, for killing my love of watching the Olympics to the point where I no longer give a damn about watching them. And I’m not the only one with that attitude either since this year’s games have gotten low ratings.

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Presidents' Day
I’ve been meaning to write this about my first year of living under President Donald Trump but I got diverted by the Women’s March on Washington and other things in my life. But I still wanted to write about my impressions about Donald Trump after living under his regime for a full year. Besides it’s pretty appropriate for me to upload this post today since it’s Presidents’ Day.

Deport Trump Mural

(Photo originally uploaded on March 16, 2017.)

I’ve also included some photos and drawings I’ve done over the past year in this entry, some of which are definitely NSFW.

picture11

(Drawing originally posted on January 24, 2017)

I had very low expectations of that man mainly because he had never held public office before and the only jobs he had ever held were in his family-owned business. (In fact I uploaded this post on Inauguration Day where I predicted that Trump will not last past his first term in office. I still maintain that there will not be a second term for Donald Trump and it’s possible that he might get removed from office before then.) He never had to deal with such things as being accountable to someone else or trying to work with a difficult person. He never had to worry about being fired or laid off. He was immune from all this for much of his life and he’s now having to deal with a very steep learning curve that most other adults his age have long since encountered and mastered.

photo35

(Photo originally posted on February 8, 2017.)

Let’s just say that President Trump hasn’t done anything that exceeded my low expectations so I’m not really disappointed in how he behaved in his first year in office.

(Drawing originally uploaded on July 31, 2017.)

When he was elected I did a bunch of Google searches on what Nazi Germany was like in the early days. That’s because I knew that the concentration camps didn’t start on the first day of Adolf Hitler’s reign. Those started much later. I found that Nazi Germany started off subtly with the passing of anti-semitic laws and increased censorship but, otherwise, things seemed normal for most people (except for the Jews). As time went on, the Nazis escalated things until the entire regime turned into a total nightmare for most people. The slow progression of the Nazi regime from being relatively benign to a total horror show was like putting a frog in a pot full of lukewarm water and gradually turning up the heat until the frog boiled to death.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

(Photo originally posted on January 31, 2017.)

So far I haven’t seen anything happening in my area that would convince me to gather whatever I can carry on my back and make the long trek north to Canada. In fact, I’ve seen signs, stickers, and even protests that have proved to me that the people in the Baltimore-Washington DC area haven’t given up in their opposition to Donald Trump.

Werk for Peace Dance Protest, Washington, DC, February 3, 2017

(Photo originally posted on February 9, 2017.)

Not too long ago the local movie house in my area had a free screening of the 1940 film The Mortal Storm, which starred Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan (who had appeared on film the previous year as the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz), and Robert Young (who would later star in the TV shows Father Knows Best and Marcus Welby, MD). The movie showed how the rise of the Nazis eventually tore apart a family who lived in a small town in the German Alps. I found the film to be very engrossing yet its depressing ending had me compare that film with what is currently going on in real life.

(Drawing originally uploaded on August 30, 2017.)

So far I haven’t seen any book burnings like the one that was depicted in The Mortal Storm but I still remember when the neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville last year, which resulted in Heather Heyer being mowed down by a car that was driven by a neo-Nazi. Donald Trump not only refused to denounce what had happened but he seemed to side with the neo-Nazis. On top of it, it seems like Trump’s siding with neo-Nazis have seemed to encouraged others who would never consider joining a far-right hate group like the KKK or the neo-Nazis yet still consider people of color to be inferior to those with white skin to start openly use racial slurs, such as this recent example.

(Photo originally posted on June 21, 2017.)

There was a scene in The Mortal Storm when Professor Roth’s defense of science in his classroom was the last straw for the local Nazis and he was arrested and taken away to a concentration camp. (They were already suspicious of him because of his Jewish background.) The Trump Administration have gone out of its way to deny science, especially with climate change. After all, President Trump had appointed a climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

(Drawing originally posted on September 28, 2017.)

The Nazis in The Mortal Storm considered Professor Roth and his family to be non-Aryan based on their last name and the Nazis in real life cracked down on Jews, gypsies, and other people deemed to be non-Aryan. I’ve heard about the Trump Administration’s ICE agents rounding up and deporting immigrants—many of them have been in this country for years (with some having been brought to this country as very young children) with the majority of them having brown or black skin. There was the notable exception of a white foreign-born man who was brought to this country at the age of five and who is now being targeted for deportation. People on social media were shocked that the Trump Administration was going after a white person but I wrote this blog post about why I’m not really surprised that Trump would target someone who was born in Poland.

Juggalo March, Washington, DC, September 16, 2017

(Photo originally posted on October 2, 2017.)

I live in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area and, from my own vantage point, I haven’t personally seen any pro-Trump neo-Nazis march in my area. I haven’t seen any ICE agents in real life. However a woman in my congregation said back in January that she had seen ICE agents go after her immigrant next-door neighbors, which had horrified her because she had always gotten along with that family. (I have to add here that, to be fair, the Obama Administration had also deported a record number of immigrants.)

(Drawing originally posted on October 1, 2017.)

I have seen a few of my federal employee friends who have worked in the government for years take advantage of early retirement offers because their workplaces have dramatically gone downhill since Trump took office—especially in the Environmental Protection Agency.

Three Little Birds Sewing Company Door, Hyattsville, Maryland

(Photo originally posted on March 28, 2017.)

The main reason why Trump was elected was that he reached out to the working classes during his 2016 campaign where he pretended that he understood their pain. For a group of people who have become increasingly marginalized since Ronald Reagan’s days in the White House, it’s understandable why they turned to Trump when Bernie Sanders was unable to get the Democratic nomination for reasons that would take a separate blog post to explain. Trump basically echoed Bernie Sanders’ message about how the working classes had been left behind and the working classes felt that—at long last—someone had finally understood them.

(Drawing originally posted on October 2, 2017.)

The only reason why I didn’t fall for Trump’s dog and pony show was that I’ve been well aware of that guy since he published his first book (The Art of the Deal) back in the 1980s. I’ve visited Trump Tower a few times with its indoor waterfall cascading down a wall of pink marble and I’ve seen the other buildings with the Trump name throughout Manhattan. I find it laughable that he pretended to be a working class hero when he had been born into wealth and had spent much of his career cultivating a public persona as the stereotypical rich man who lives in a penthouse in Trump Tower that looks as if King Midas had been hired as the interior decorator. At least the late John Lennon actually grew up among the working folks in Liverpool when he wrote and recorded Working Class Hero and never had to pretend otherwise.

(Photo originally posted on December 31, 2017.)

Trump only used the working class to get their votes only to abandon them once he was elected. The fact that the government had come up with this radical new tax program that blatantly favors huge tax breaks for the very wealthy while condemning the non-rich to pay higher taxes says it all about how much esteem Trump really had for his working class base once he was elected. At least the Nazis actually reached out to its supporters after it had seized power in the early years before the start of World War II by coming out with social programs that benefitted the masses. Among the programs was one called Strength Through Joy, which provided free or low-cost leisure activities for the masses, such as concerts, plays, libraries, day trips, and holidays.

(Drawing originally posted on October 10, 2017.)

Can you imagine the Trump Administration coming up with something similar to Strength Through Joy for the enjoyment of the American people? Me neither, especially considering the fact that Donald Trump had long built his hotels, condos, and golf clubs with the very wealthy in mind while charging fees so high that they are out of reach for most Americans who aren’t rich. This Caitlin Johnstone essay says it all about the Trump Administration: Trump Isn’t Another Hitler. He’s Another Obama. Here’s a choice quote from that essay.

I still sometimes get Democrats telling me that Trump is about to flip into Hitler 2.0 any minute now and start throwing non-whites into extermination camps. Whenever I point out that they were wrong about their “your choices are Hillary or Hitler” alarmism I get a bunch of them telling me “give him time”. Well he’s had time. They were wrong. They didn’t get a Nazi, they got another shitty neocon. And since the Dems have been paced into alignment with the neocons there’s no one left to oppose their agendas, which is why we’re seeing so little pushback on Trump’s Iran saber rattling.

I get Trump supporters telling me that he’s fighting the deep state, but the only way you can believe that at this point is to redefine “deep state” to mean “Democrats and their supporters”, which would actually just be more partisan bickering, which is all we’re actually seeing at this point. The only people you see pushing the collusion narrative and working for impeachment at this point are Democrats and Never-Trumpers; now that Trump has proven himself a good, compliant little boy the intelligence community has been putting its energy into the anti-detente propaganda effort to manufacture support for its new cold war escalations instead.

As a personal note to anyone reading this who are Trump supporters who have since grown disillusioned with how he’s running things as president so far, I understand where you’re coming from. I feel your pain. I really do. I once had similar hopes when I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 only to feel let down when I saw him cater more to Wall Street and less to the average folks who turned out in record numbers to vote for him. I was mad when I saw him go to great lengths to reach out to Republicans by agreeing to a pay freeze for federal employees like my ex-husband and many of my friends who work for the federal government. (Yes, I was still married when that pay freeze went into effect.) But the sooner you realize that you fell for a con artist like Donald Trump who only used you for his own purposes, the better you can turn your attention to the upcoming mid-term elections where you can vote for any candidates running for Congress who have indicated that they will stand up to The Donald.

(Photo originally posted on December 16, 2017.)

There are times when I find Donald Trump to be totally draining to deal with, especially when he spends most evenings and weekends tweeting out the most batshit crazy stuff on Twitter. This guy seems to be incapable of keeping a low profile for even 12 hours. Trump’s total love affair with Twitter has made me even less enthusiastic about that platform than ever before. The only reason why I still continue to tweet is because I want to show potential employers that I know how to use Twitter. Believe me, if I ever get to the point where I can abandon Twitter without having to prove to others that, yes, I know how to use it, I will not deal with it anymore. As it is, I basically use it to upload recent photos and there are whole days when I don’t even visit Twitter at all.

(Drawing originally posted on October 12, 2017.)

Mother Jones has an article titled Does Donald Trump Want to Be Dictator of the United States?, which provides a list of instances where Donald Trump is slowly becoming more and more authoritarian. I don’t deny that Trump probably have secret fantasies of being a dictator and he’s testing the waters to see what he can increasingly get away with. Unless a strong opposition rises up in Congress to oppose him, it’s possible that the U.S. will eventually become a banana republic dictatorship where the majority of people are condemned to live in poverty while Trump and his people impose brutal methods to crack down on opposition. So far the Republican majority in Congress seems to be unwilling to put country before party, which is unlike what the Congressional Republicans did in an earlier era when the Watergate scandal broke and there was evidence that it started with Richard Nixon. (They basically stood up to Nixon and he eventually resigned.)

The Women's March on Washington 2018

(Photo originally posted on January 29, 2018.)

This is why it’s important for everyone of voting age to vote in the mid-terms for any congressional candidate who has indicated that he/she will stand up to Trump and his agenda so any ambition that Trump has to become an absolute dictator gets thwarted.

(Drawing originally uploaded on November 28, 2017.)

Basically the first year of the Trump Administration is a mixed bag, especially for the average American. The neo-Nazis and the KKK have gotten more brazen with making public appearances in other parts of the country yet they frequently get targeted by counter-protesters that, in some cases, have even succeeded in shutting those marches and rallies down because these racist fascists were outnumbered. I haven’t felt discouraged from airing my opinions in this blog or on social media and I’m currently not afraid of being arrested by the government or being killed under mysterious circumstances (like what has happened to so many critics of Donald Trump’s close ally Vladimir Putin).

(Photo originally posted on November 9, 2017.)

I’ll also admit that, as a white woman who’s getting less young each year, I have some privileges in that I don’t have to face frequent suspicion from the police or other authority figures because my skin color isn’t brown or black. But I am facing sexism and ageism in the workplace as I struggle to find a new day job that will enable me to pay all of my bills and my debts ranging from the dark times when my husband abruptly left me with zero advanced notice. (He pretended that he was a loving and devoted husband until the night he left. He left me while I was still recovering from hip surgery three months earlier.)

(Drawing originally posted on December 25, 2017.)

Yet I’m seeing a society where the rich is getting even richer while the poor and middle class people are getting more and more financially screwed. Unless this gets addressed soon, I predict that there will be increasing unrest on the streets and it could result in people getting killed.

(Photo originally posted on February 15, 2018.)

The only hope that Donald Trump’s reign won’t last beyond 2020 is this recent development where Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has charged 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 elections that helped Donald Trump win the White House. I think that the claims that “Russia hacked the 2016 elections” are a bit exaggerated because that would imply that Russia had somehow launched some kind of a cyber-attack on the electronic voting booths in each district and added votes for Donald Trump. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians did put out propaganda disguised as news that convinced some Americans to vote for a person they would have never voted for otherwise had they not been exposed to that Russian-written propaganda. America has long intervened in the elections of other countries so it would be logical for Russia (or any other country for that matter) to intervene in the U.S. elections in order to get its preferred candidate (Donald Trump) elected.

(Photo originally posted on August 3, 2017.)

I’ve long maintained that I wouldn’t be shocked if the reports were true that Donald Trump had gotten financing from either Vladimir Putin or from a member of Russia’s oligarchy or both. This is a man who has a history of doing whatever it takes—both legal and illegal—to not only remain as rich as possible but to also flaunt his wealth by building expensive properties and buying other expensive luxury items (such as his short-lived Trump Princess ship) in order to impress the average person who isn’t rich. This is a guy who has gone through not just one bankruptcy but multiple bankruptcies. This guy has never even considered adopting a more modest lifestyle similar to the millionaires who were profiled in Thomas J. Stanley’s 1996 book The Millionaire Next Door because he thrives on attention that he can only get when he flaunts his wealth by buying then showing off expensive toys that the average person will never be able to afford.

(Photo originally posted on March 22, 2017.)

I’m just hoping that Donald Trump becomes his own worst enemy that Robert Mueller can exploit by bringing down both the Trump Administration and the Trump Organization once and for all. In the meantime I’ve been enjoying this book that I checked out of the library recently that was co-written by Alec Baldwin (who has been doing those wickedly funny impersonations of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live) and Kurt Andersen titled You Can’t Spell America Without Me. That book is hilarious to read and the accompanying photos are just as hilarious. I highly recommend it.

(Photo originally posted on January 23, 2018.)

I’ve started to make some drawings in my small sketchbook a few times a week again. Here is what spurred on this recent bout of creativity. Recently someone had left a bunch of arts and crafts books in the Little Free Library that’s located outside of the Greenbelt Makerspace. I found this book titled Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces. The only thing I know about it is that it carries a 1975 copyright date and it looks like it may have once been a public library book. It has the old fashioned pouch in the front where a card indicating the book’s due date would go. It also had two stamps on the inside. One said “Concord Free Public Library” and the other said “Concord Free Public Library Withdrawn.” (I suspect that it was one of those books that get periodically purged from the library shelves in order to make room for newer books. Many of those books end up in used book stores and thrift shops.) I looked up this book online recently and found that it is still in print.

It’s obvious that this book is aimed at beginners and it was probably written primarily for children. It provides step-by-step directions in how to draw various cartoon faces. As someone who has taken college-level art classes, this book is way more elementary for me but I don’t mind because there are times when I just want to do something simple without worrying about creating a complicated art masterpiece. The good thing about this book is that it has gotten me into drawing in my small sketchbook a few times a week and I’m usually able to complete each drawing in about 15 minutes or less, which I really love.

Here are my first few drawings I made using that book as a guideline.

Some of the highest paying jobs of 2017 were in STEM fields.

America’s poverty crisis is worse than you think but there are solutions as to how to solve this.

A look at the first female film director Alice Guy-Blaché.

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Santa Claus Baby New Year

These days I usually tend to go to the Baltimore Dr. Sketchy’s events only on the months when there isn’t a DC Dr. Sketchy’s event. That’s because both events are usually scheduled on two consecutive nights with the DC event being on a Sunday and the Baltimore event being held on the following day. I usually find it a bit taxing to try to make two Dr. Sketchy’s events two nights in a row.

This time I decided to go to the Baltimore event the night after the DC event because they had a burlesque performer in a wheelchair, which I thought was pretty intriguing. I was born with a dislocated hip and had the doctors not put me in a body cast at an early age, I would’ve ended up in a wheelchair. (In fact, I ended up having hip replacement surgery in 2008 when the same hip that was dislocated at birth started to lose cartilage and I couldn’t walk without a cane.) My father ended up spending the last 12 years of his life in a wheelchair due to a spine injury. My mother is currently in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis. So, yeah, I’ve had people in wheelchairs in my life so I was curious as to how a person is able to have a burlesque career despite being in a wheelchair.

Like I wrote in a previous post, I made an attempt to do some combined trips on December 11, 2017 by going to Valley View Farms first. When I used to have a pet hedgehog, I frequently had to travel a great distance to the pet store where I got Spike so I could purchase hedgehog food. There were times when I tried to time my trips to the pet store on the same nights as the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s. The pet store was located about 3-5 miles away from Valley View Farms so all I had to do was to go in, buy the hedgehog food, then take a short 20-minute trip down I-83 into the city then get off at the North Avenue exit. (When I later discovered that a pet store in Columbia also sold hedgehog food, I started going there instead because it was only a 30-minute commute versus an hour-long commute for the other pet store. The pet store where I got Spike has since gone out of business.) I figured that I would do the same with going to Valley View Farms first.

Things really went awry that day. I gave myself plenty of time to get to Valley View Farms in a reasonable amount of time only to encounter this horrendous traffic jam on the Baltimore Beltway. What is usually an hour-long commute took nearly two hours to get there thanks to the traffic. So I had less time to spend at Valley View Farms than I wanted since I wanted to make the Dr. Sketchy’s event.

As I drove on I-83 I got pulled over by a cop for having a broken taillight. (I’ve been wanting to get it fixed for a while. The problem is that the electrical system is also busted so changing the bulb isn’t enough. One garage I went to wanted $600 in order to repair it entirely, which is hard to swing when I’m still looking for a new day job and money is tight.) I got a warning but I was late in getting to Dr. Sketchy’s. Here’s a photo of a promo poster I took during one of the breaks.

Here’s a photo of a Christmas tree in the corner of The Windup Space with no lights or decorations. (I shot that photo on December 11 so it’s very likely that the tree was decorated afterwards.)

A burlesque performer named Jacqueline Boxx was the model for this event and she’s the one who’s able to do her performances while in a wheelchair. Some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

I took part in two of the contests that were held that evening. The first was where we had to somehow incorporate The Price is Right because that day was Bob Barker’s birthday. I used to watch that game show with my grandmother when I was a kid. I’ve always remembered the big prize wheel so I did a prize wheel where Jacqueline Boxx was one of the prizes. My drawing was among the finalists and it came in second place.

There were two prizes that were offered for that contest. I won a pad of tracing paper.

The other contest I participated in was where we had to somehow incorporate The Muppet Christmas Carol. This one was a challenge because, I have to confess, I’ve seen numerous other versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but the one with the Muppets was the one version I had never seen. So I decided to enter a contest about a movie I hadn’t seen. I don’t know what I was thinking that night other than I was already frazzled due to the crazy traffic jams and that encounter with the cop. I began remembering the fact that I had seen Mickey’s Christmas Carol where Mickey Mouse played the Bob Cratchit role. I know that Kermit the Frog is the most beloved Muppet (just as Mickey is the most beloved Disney character) so I assumed that he would be in the same role in that movie. So I came up with this drawing.

That drawing didn’t make it among the finals. I later looked up The Muppet Christmas Carol on the Wikipedia and I found that I was right in my hunch about Kermit the Frog being cast in the Bob Cratchit role. Maybe I’ll get around to somehow seeing that movie one of these days. (LOL!)

I did one more drawing of Jacqueline Boxx before the event ended for the evening.

That pad of tracing paper wasn’t the only freebie art supply I got that night. Apparently the event’s sponsor, Blick Art Supplies, had sent over some sample art supplies (including colored pencils) and the event organizers offered them for anyone to take for free. I took three tubes of acrylic paint.

As I was driving out of Baltimore, I was stopped at a traffic light when I saw that the M&T Bank Stadium (where the Baltimore Ravens football team play their home games) were lit in red and green lights just in time for Christmas. I took advantage of the red traffic light to take a couple of quick photos, although I have to admit that the red and green lights looked far more impressive in real life than what these photos show.

Santa Claus Baby New Year

I went to Dupont Circle the day after a snowstorm hit the area. While there was some leftover snow in the suburbs, all of the snow was melted in the city. In any case, commuting to the city was no trouble at all. When I arrived at the Greenbelt Metro station I saw this panda bear advertising the Zoolights event that is held at the National Zoo each year.

I arrived at Dupont Circle, which had Christmas decorations displayed all over the area.

The next fountain shows the Dupont Circle fountain. You would never know that a major snowstorm that dumped around two inches of snow came through the area the day before. Although it was incredibly cold that day. (The temperature was in the low 30’s.)

The next photo shows the window of Second Story Books, which specializes in selling vintage used and rare books. Many of the books in that window were the various sequels to The Wizard of Oz that L. Frank Baum wrote. Note the prices of these books.

For those who prefer to celebrate Hanukkah instead, this sign announced the lighting of the National Menorah on the Ellipse.

 

I eventually made my way to The Bier Baron, where this month’s DC chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was being held. Here’s a photo of the stage I took before the event began.

The bar was very festive with strings of Christmas lights along the railing.

 

The event’s emcee, Reverend Valentine, was up in the booth spinning the tunes. The weirdest song she played was this song called Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey. I had never heard of it before although it supposed to be a very popular Christmas song among Italian Americans. (My mother’s side of the family is German/Irish/Czech while my father’s side is English/Scottish/Scotch-Irish/Welsh so that probably explains how I missed that one when I was growing up.)

Here are a couple more shots of the bar.

A burlesque performer named Delilah Dentata was the model for this event so some of the drawings in this post are definitely NSFW.

The event ended right at 6 p.m. and most people left immediately afterwards because they didn’t want to linger too much with the weather being that cold. (The temperature eventually dipped from a high of the low 30’s to the low 20’s.) I walked past The Fireplace where I briefly warmed my hands by pressing them against the glass where the outdoor fire was flaming.

I took some random shots of the Dupont Circle area.

 

I shot this next photo of a sticker that was on a trashcan. You can get an idea as to how popular President Donald Trump really is in Washington, DC. (LOL!)

I decided to make a stop at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café where I took these photos.

I stopped by Krispy Kreme where I purchased one of the Christmas donuts for sale.

I decided to take the Red Line Metro to Union Station because I wanted to check out the decorations this year. What I never realized before is that the stores and eateries tend to close very early on Sundays. The lower level of Union Station looked very spooky with the majority of stores and fast food places closed. (The one silver lining is that I knew not to go to Union Station on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve since both days fall on a Sunday this year.)

I got a chance to see this year’s Christmas tree, which is usually put up as a joint project with the Norwegian embassy.

Here’s a closeup shot showing the U.S. and Norwegian flags that were strewn throughout the Christmas tree.

There is usually a Norwegian themed toy train layout. The toy trains had stopped running when I was there but I was still able to marvel at the realistic miniature replicas of a small Norwegian village.

I took a few more photos of Union Station before I left. With nearly all of the stores and restaurants closed, it wasn’t worth hanging around Union Station too long.

Santa Claus

I tried my best to observe this winter holiday season without focusing too much on Donald Trump and politics but it seems like every day he does or says something that is so over the top and out of line for a sitting president that I feel total despair. I’ll admit that I hope there is something to those allegations of Donald Trump being too chummy with Vladimir Putin to the detriment of this country so he could be booted from the White House before he could get the chance to run for a second term as president.

In total despair I took out my tiny sketchbook and did this quick drawing (using ink and colored pencils) of the Christmas demon Krampus taking Donald Trump away from the White House just like he would do to a very naughty child.

By the way I finally saw the latest Disney/Pixar film Coco this morning. The local theater was only showing it at 10 a.m. (it has been out for a while) so I made an effort to get out of the house early in the morning so I can get there on time. I really loved that film. I know there’s something strange about seeing a film about the Day of the Dead Mexican holiday on Christmas day but I was able to ignore that timing enough to really enjoy the story and animation.

After the movie ended I walked around the mall a bit. I was expecting every single store to be closed but I was surprised to see that a number of smaller stores were opened today. I noticed that the people staffing those stores were either Indian or Middle Eastern, which makes sense in a way because many of them are either Hindus or Muslims and those faiths do not observe Christmas.

I treated myself to a rare lunch at a local Chinese restaurant where I ordered the Orange Chicken meal. I was doing what many American Jews have been doing on Christmas day for generations. I got this nice fortune cookie message: “You are heading for a land of sunshine.”

I hope that it’s one fortune cookie message that actually comes true for me soon.

Well, anyway, I hope you’re enjoying your holiday today. 🙂

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