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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.

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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.

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. 🙂

American Flag

Today’s the day where many of us will eat turkey and pumpkin pie until we are totally stuffed. For this occasion I made this new ink drawing. It’s the first new ink drawing I made in my small sketchbook since Inktober ended on Halloween.

This drawing was based on my photograph of two turkeys that were on display last year at the Greenbelt Farmers Market. The drawing was relatively easy to do because both turkeys had white feathers. (They were domestic turkeys whose owners had raised as free range birds—meaning they were actually allowed to roam around outside instead of spending their entire lives being cooped up in small cages located on top of each other.)

What am I thankful for this year? My family and friends who continue to stick by me long after I endured that awful drama regarding my divorce and my ex-husband’s antics (such as sending me a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to an email that was sent on Christmas Eve). I’m also grateful to new people whom I continue to meet on a regular basis, many of whom are basically decent people. There are so many people in my life whom I’m grateful for that I literally can’t name them all because I know that there would be a few names whom I would inadvertently leave off my list. I just want to say that I love you all.

I’ve been watching with dismay over how the Hollywood sexual predator scandal has been unfolding over the past few weeks. Initially it was just Harvey Weinstein, whom I decided to lampoon in an ink drawing since that scandal originally broke during Inktober.

But then some of Weinstein’s accusers collaborated on this Google Doc (I have to insert a trigger warning here since it provides the gory details about Weinstein’s alleged sexual predatory behavior ranging from sexual harassment to rape) and his reputation is pretty much toast at this point. On top of it, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and a whole bunch of other Hollywood people have been accused of similar disgusting actions.

I saw this post on the Uncustomary blog titled Fuck You, Louis C.K. where she expresses disgust and disappointment to someone whom she had long admired and had even attended a few of his shows. I can understand her feelings, especially since I recently had to take a hard look at a different famous person whom I had long admired. In a way I wasn’t too surprised about Louis C.K. since I had long heard rumors that he had a nasty, misogynous streak. However, the person I’m writing about is different because he had been a part of my life since childhood and he seemed to be the opposite of Louis C.K. in terms of temperament and personality. His name is George Takei.

I spent a large portion of my childhood watching reruns of the original 1960’s Star Trek series, which included George Takei playing the role of Sulu alongside a multi-racial and multi-ethnic cast. As an adult I watched an older George Takei reprise his role as Sulu in a few of the Star Trek feature films. I’ll admit that I mainly saw his acting work in Star Trek. (The only non-Star Trek movie I ever saw George Takei in was The Green Berets, which starred John Wayne. I saw part of that film on TV once and I have to say that it didn’t impress me all that much, which was why I either changed the channel or turned the TV off so I didn’t see the whole thing.) Like many of the other Star Trek actors, George Takei had a difficult time finding work after the series ended because he not only had to deal with typecasting as being capable of doing only science fiction space epics but he also had to deal with being an Asian American actor in a field that tends to heavily favor white men.

I began to see George Takei in a different, more positive light when he started to speak out about his past. He was born to a Japanese American family that was sent to an interment camp soon after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He talked about what it was like being forced to grow up in a place like that and how it affected his family. It wasn’t too long ago that there was a Broadway show called Allegiance, which was loosely based on Takei’s childhood in that internment camp.

But then he came out as gay a few years ago. I never held it against him that he waited until he became a senior citizen before he came out because I knew that had he come out in the 1960s or 1970s, there was a strong chance that his acting career would’ve been ended prematurely. (Despite the start of the gay rights movement in the late 1960s, homophobia was still very rampant in those days. In some ways homophobia is still strong in this country but that’s another story altogether.) He began to use his celebrity to fight for marriage equality and he publicly married his longtime partner, Brad, back when it was uncertain as to whether same-sex marriage would even be legally recognized in the long-run. I began to really admire him for doing that.

In a way his coming out had renewed his career in the public eye. I began to follow him on social media and I enjoyed his posts. I purchased this ebook, Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I even shot this picture of a faded poster featuring George Takei, which was hung in the window of the local Social Security office back in 2013 when I was there filling out forms notifying them of my recent name change (which came about as a result of my divorce).

George Takei Poster

When George Takei and his husband, Brad, did a short-lived YouTube series called It Takeis Two, I watched it and enjoyed it. I thought it was totally hilarious yet it was every endearing, especially in the scenes that focused on just George and Brad. (Due to recent circumstances, I refuse to link to this series so you’ll have to do your own Google search if you’re curious.)

It all came crashing down just a few days ago when a onetime male model gave an interview where he claimed that George Takei sexually assaulted him while he was drunk back in 1981. (I have to insert a trigger warning here since it contains a graphic description of that assault.) I felt dismay at first. I found myself wishing that this alleged victim was just a crazy fan who was unusually obsessed with Takei and he was taking that obsession way too far. I know that celebrities have to frequently deal with such crazy fans. I’m old enough to remember when John Lennon was murdered by an obsessed fan outside his own home and Selena was murdered by the president of her own fan club.

But then I had to take another look at this story when this interview George Takei did on Howard Stern’s show last month surfaced and, to be blunt, it didn’t make him look good at all. I heard that interview and I found it to be too reminiscent of Donald Trump’s infamous “grab them by the pussy” Access Hollywood bus recording in that Takei sounded more like a sexually predatory creep.

He dug an even deeper hole for himself when he then claimed on Twitter that Russian bots are behind the sexual assault allegations. He deleted that tweet but not before so many people had made screenshots and they simply re-uploaded that screenshot online.

Now he’s saying that he was just playing the role of the “naughty gay grandpa” on Howard Stern’s show and he really didn’t mean what he said on that show. Had Howard Stern’s show been a TV network situation comedy that is scripted by writers, this explanation would’ve been very plausible. However, Howard Stern’s show is basically a talk show (albeit one that’s emceed by a shock jock who will say anything outrageous on the air just for pure shock value). People who appear on talk shows tend to tell true-life stories about themselves—including the ones who only make such appearances in order to promote their latest book/movie/TV show/website/etc. Howard Stern’s show is no different. Stern may be more raunchy than a typical media interviewer but he is still basically a talk show host.

Given what has happened over the past few days, I wouldn’t be surprised if Takei’s response to the sexual assault allegation will one day be discussed in a college-level public relations class as a case study on how NOT to respond to a potential career-ending scandal.

But seriously I’m pissed off at him. I used to think he was basically a good guy who was willing to use his celebrity for a good cause (marriage equality). Now I know better. George Takei is no better than the other Hollywood public figures who have been named in this scandal.

The only silver lining is that a couple of years ago I had a chance to actually see George Takei in person when he and fellow Star Trek alum William Shatner made an appearance at Awesome Con in Washington, DC. I knew I would never be able to afford the extra fees required (in addition to the basic admission fee to enter the convention itself) so I could get an autograph and have my picture taken with him. I had hoped to be able to see him from afar and maybe check out any panel that he was participating in. It turned out that I didn’t go to Awesome Con at all that year because my finances were too tight to even afford the basic admission. I used to regret missing out on the chance to see George Takei in person. Now I’m no longer regretting it. I’m just glad I wasn’t among the throng of people who paid extra money for that autograph and photo because I can only imagine trying to decide what to do with these expensive items in light of that scandal.

The good thing about this scandal is that it is separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of how it is bringing out both the best and the worst in people. I was heartened when Gal Gadot announced that she would not do any more Wonder Woman films unless an accused sexual harasser was permanently removed from that project. While I enjoyed Gadot’s role in Wonder Woman, I really respect her stance. It would be a disgusting irony if a film franchise featuring a strong woman superhero that champions female empowerment would continue to employ an accused sexual harasser. One of that accused sexual harasser’s victims, Ellen Page, wrote an eloquent yet harrowing Facebook post about how he tried to force her out of the closet before she was ready to do so. (While Page eventually came out as a lesbian, at least she did it of her own volition when she did this. I have LGBTQ friends who told me that coming out is such a long process that requires a lot of mental and emotional preparation. Forcing someone out of the closet before he/she is fully ready to come out have led to major trauma and sometimes that person will attempt suicide as a result.)

Last weekend I pulled out my DVD copy of Clerks, which is the only Miramax movie I currently own, and watched it. I still enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed it the previous times. I only flinched when I saw the closing credits where the director, Kevin Smith, thanked Harvey Weinstein for introducing him to the best potato skins he had ever eaten. Recently Kevin Smith announced that he will donate all future royalties from the movies he made for both Miramax and The Weinstein Company—including Clerks—to the non-profit organization Women in Film.

While Gal Gadot and Kevin Smith are trying to do what they can to rectify the ongoing Hollywood sexual pervert scandal, unfortunately there are still people like George Takei who will eventually end up on the wrong side of history. As for me, I’m done with George Takei. I plan on unfollowing him on all social media and I will never again purchase any more ebooks with his byline. I will follow suit with any other famous person whom I had previously admire because sexual harassment/sexual assault/rape against any woman, man, or child has no place in this society. It is not cool or awesome and I don’t want my money to support something like this.

FUCK YOU, GEORGE TAKEI (AND EVERY OTHER HOLLYWOOD SEXUAL PREDATOR)!

UPDATE (November 17, 2017): In the midst of writing and uploading this rant late at night, I forgot to include something. If you’re a man or a woman who has survived sexual assault and/or rape and you’re having a hard time dealing with it, there is help for you. Contact RAINN either through its hotline (which is open 24 hours a day) at 1-800-656-4673 or online at rainn.org.

By the way, check out my sequel to this post: Fuck You Too, Al Franken!

UPDATE (November 24, 2017): The one fringe benefit of unfollowing George Takei on social media is that I’m no longer exposed to his links to news stories that he shared not because he found them interesting but because some website or news outlet paid him to do so. The Guardian has a story about how George Takei and other celebrities are frequently paid to share certain links on social media without disclosing those links as paid advertising. Takei lost some of his deals with these sites when his sexual abuse allegations surfaced but other celebrities are still going strong with those deals as they share links they are paid to share.

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Dancing Skeleton

Today is the day after Halloween and the first day of the two-day Mexican holiday known as El Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). In addition, Inktober officially ended right on Halloween yesterday. I succeeded in drawing and uploading 31 ink drawings in 31 days from October 1-31. I finished Inktober at the same time as I ended up getting sick with this stomach flu where I constantly felt nauseous and I alternated between going through dry heaves and diarrhea. The fact that it also happened on the same day as Halloween totally sucks. I barely managed to get myself together enough to give out treats to the trick or treaters. Instead of going to a Halloween night party at a friend’s house, I had to make an emergency run to Giant after the official trick or treat time ended just so I could pick up some medication and toilet paper.

Today I feel better in that the dry heaves and diarrhea has subsided and I feel mostly tired. I took a nap today and I’ll probably go to bed early tonight so I can rest some more.

As I go over the drawings I did during the month, I realized that I could easily put them into certain categories (with many of those drawings falling under more than one category).

Animals: Penguin, panda bear, black cat, dinosaur, swan, pig, two former ride cars from the now-defunct Enchanted Forest amusement park shaped like a duckling and a swan, Willie the Whale, goat, and Zombie Dog.

Based on Dolls I Currently Own: Volks Dollfie Dream, Batgirl and Wonder Woman (with Donald Trump and by themselves).

Building: Crooked House.

Clark’s Elioak Farm: Two former ride cars from the now-defunct Enchanted Forest shaped like a duckling and a swan, the Crooked House, Willie the Whale, goat.

Death Penalty: Guillotine.

Friday the 13th: Black cat.

Halloween/Day of the Dead: The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, Goat Man, Zombie Dog, Day of the Dead skeleton, Frankenstein, Jack O’Lantern.

Hollywood Scandal: Harvey Weinstein.

My Own 100% Original Character: Zombie Dog.

Native American (For Indigenous Peoples Day a.k.a. Columbus Day): Wolf kachina.

Real People: Donald Trump with Jesus Christ, Donald Trump again (with Wonder Woman and Batgirl), Donald Trump yet again, Donald Trump one more time, Tom Petty, burlesque performer Reverend Valentine, Harvey Weinstein, my father-in-law, my mother (which also includes Elvis Presley), Madonna Girl Dale.

Religious-Related Drawings: Jesus Christ (with Donald Trump), Unitarian Universalist flaming chalice, wolf kachina.

People Who Celebrated a Birthday During Inktober: My mother.

People Who Died During Inktober: Tom Petty and my father-in-law.

Politics: Donald Trump with Jesus Christ, Donald Trump again (with Wonder Woman and Batgirl), Donald Trump yet again, Donald Trump one more time.

Relatives: My father-in-law and mother.

Superheroes: Batgirl and Wonder Woman together with Donald Trump and by themselves.

Supernatural Book/Movie Characters: The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and Frankenstein.

Virtual Models from Figurosity.com: Woman running with a gun, woman dressed in psychedelic tye-dye outfit holding a gun.

The biggest challenge for me is that working on a new drawing a day then uploading it online to this blog and various social media sites took a portion of my time that I could’ve spent doing other things (such as doing house cleaning, putting up Halloween decorations, sending out a few more resumes). That was the main reason why I had quit a previous effort to do one new drawing per day starting on January 1, 2016 (which was a New Year’s resolution). I think the reason why I was more successful at Inktober than my previous daily drawing effort last year was because I knew it was only for 31 days that I had to worry about doing a new drawing each day. After that I could draw as much or as little as I wanted.

Even though there was an official Inktober prompt list of one word for each different day, I was more interested in doing my own thing since this is the first year I participated in this. (Inktober has been going on since 2009.) I only used the official prompt list if I was stumped for inspiration. Now that I got my desire to draw whatever I wanted for Inktober out of my system, I’m thinking that if I was to do this again next year, I would discipline myself by sticking strictly with the prompt list. It would be a way to challenge myself, especially since I’m sure that there will be a word or two that will have me totally stumped at first.

The biggest benefit I got from Inktober is that I was able to learn which social media sites gave me the best exposure in terms of publicizing myself and my work. I uploaded my drawings to the current popular social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) as well as other social media sites I haven’t posted anything in a while. These sites used to be relatively popular until they were overshadowed by Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. I decided to upload to them because I wanted to see if I should still bother with them. I found that the absolute worst were Flickr and Google+ because I only got one “Like” on both platforms and that was it. Tumblr was hit or miss in that I got maybe one or two Notes (which is Tumblr’s version of “Like”) for some of my drawings but there were others that got zero Notes. (The one drawing that got the most attention was the one I did of Tom Petty and that one only got four Notes.) Minds, the open source alternative social media site, was just as hit or miss as Tumblr in that I got maybe one or two “Likes” on some drawings but others were totally ignored.

By far the best response I got was on this blog and Instagram. In fact I got new followers on both platforms because of Inktober. Twitter came in at a close second in that I also got new followers as well as retweets. Facebook was surprisingly more of a mixed-bag. While I got a better response than Flickr, Google+, Tumblr, and Minds combined, the response rate was lower than this blog, Instagram, and Twitter.

The one major social media site that I didn’t use was LinkedIn because that one is more of a professional social media site and some of my drawings were either too political (such as the ones featuring Donald Trump) or the subject matter was one where I just didn’t feel comfortable in posting there (such as the one about the Harvey Weinstein action figure). I’ve seen people get chewed out on LinkedIn for posting anything that was even remotely controversial (especially one that’s political) and I’d rather avoid it since it’s common knowledge that would-be employers tend to look you up on LinkedIn to see if you’re someone they would even want to hire. I don’t want to lose out on any potential opportunity because of some post I made there.

It was time consuming to upload the same drawing on so many different social media sites per day but at least I gained knowledge on which ones are worth investing my time in promoting myself in the future so it was worth it in the end.

I also learned that there is certain value in practicing drawing only for yourself because you’ll never know when one of those drawings you’ve done have struck inspiration to do a regular art project based on what you’ve drawn. I’m thinking about doing a watercolor version of that swan I drew during Inktober because I really liked the results.

Another positive result of Inktober is that I discovered Figurosity.com and that site was valuable in providing virtual models for me to practice my drawing with. I plan to use that site for my drawing more often.

I also looked at other people’s Inktober drawings on social media and I was amazed by the amount of creativity I saw there. There were a few people who did some really ambitious things for Inktober. I saw some people do two or more drawings per day, which I personally admired since I found it a challenge to do even one new drawing in a small sketchbook every single day. I saw one guy who was working on a graphic novel and he decided to use Inktober to draw and ink one new page per day. There was another person who decided to use Inktober do a large complex drawing where the person inked just one section of that drawing each day with the goal being that the large complex drawing would be completed on October 31.

The biggest challenge with Inktober is to maintain my enthusiasm for continuing with drawing one new drawing per day then uploading it online. The first few days I was very eager and enthusiastic. But then I came down with this nasty cold but I continued to work through that cold even though my body wanted to get more sleep so it can knock off those cold germs. After I got rid of that cold I began to gradually view the daily Inktober sketches more and more as some time-consuming daily chore instead of something that I was excited and enthusiastic about. Even though I tried to keep the designs relatively simple and I used a small sketchpad, I still found myself burning out towards the end. This was especially true when I wanted to put up Halloween decorations or go to some Halloween-related local event only to remind myself that I needed to make time for my daily Inktober drawings.

By the last week I went to Clark’s Elioak Farm because I wanted to draw enough pencil sketches so I could just ink over them on the allotted day for the next few days. Then I spent one additional evening filling up my sketchbook with enough Halloween-themed pencil sketches to last me until the very end of the month.

But then I began to just burn out on even doing the ink over the pencil outlines, especially during that last weekend before Halloween. I started to partially-ink over more than one pencil sketch a day or two before the allotted date while leaving each one intentionally unfinished until the allotted date, when I would finish it so I could technically say that I did work on one new drawing per day each day during Inktober. One evening, about two nights before the end of Inktober, I used my free time to do the bulk of the inking on my scheduled drawings of the last two days while leaving just a small area of each drawing unfinished so I could spend less than 15 minutes completing each drawing on the allotted day.

I did it this way because I grew tired of spending anywhere from a half-an-hour to a full hour working on each new drawing then spending additional time photographing my drawing then uploading it on my various social media accounts. You may think that I was cheating but I don’t care. If I hadn’t done something like this, I would’ve grown so tired of spending a chunk of time on my Inktober sketch that I would’ve quit just days before October 31.

Right now I’m typing this in the early days of NaNoWriMo, which is something similar to Inktober where you spend every day in November writing your novel. I’ve read about people who are doing NaNoWriMo but I’m definitely not taking part in this. Spending time each day doing Inktober was enough for me without having to go from doing daily Inktober drawings in October to writing daily NaNoWriMo prose in November.

Now that Inktober is over, I’m going to take some time off from drawing on a daily basis because I have other things in my life that I need to focus on (such as the upcoming winter holidays in December). Ultimately I’m going to try doing a new drawing in my sketchbook at least once a month. I would do this by just working on that drawing in blocks of 15 minutes on a given day (and that would be only if I had extra time available for me to do such a drawing). I would keep on working on the same drawing, 15 minutes at a time and one day at a time, until I’m finished. Basically I want to practice my drawing but on a more leisurely schedule where I can balance that with other activities that require my attention at the same time.

Of course only time will tell whether I actually achieve this. (LOL!) But I’m willing to at least give it a try.

Here are a few things I would advise a person who’s thinking about doing either Inktober next year or simply wants to devote a different month to doing one drawing per day (such as December or March or June):

1. Don’t obsess too much about drawing supplies. I know the official Inktober site has a list of recommended supplies but some of these supplies (such as Micron pens) can be pretty expensive to those on a tight budget. If you can’t afford the recommended Inktober supplies, don’t fret. Just go with cheaper supplies instead. I did my Inktober drawings using a cheap pack of multicolored Paper Mate InkJoy pens that I purchased at Target for only $10. And I wasn’t the only one who didn’t use the best supplies either. I saw quite a few Inktober drawings that were done only with the cheap disposable blue ink Bic ballpoint pens and I found them to be just as interesting and well-done as the ones that were used with the more expensive pens. As for drawing paper, I would recommend shopping around because sometimes you can find the best bargains. Here’s one example: I’ve seen 9” x 12” (23 cm x 30 cm) sketchbook drawing pads on sale at my local Five Below store for only $5.

2. Use a small sketchbook that’s no bigger than 9” x 12” (23 cm x 30 cm). Not only will you fill up the page faster than with a larger sketchbook but a smaller sketchbook is more portable. I did my Inktober drawings using a 4” x 6” (10 cm x 15 cm) sketchbook. When I decided to travel to Clark’s Elioak Farm to do some more Inktober drawings, all I had to do was to put my sketchbook (along with my pens and pencils) in my purse and I was good to go. Heck, I saw some Inktober sketches online that were drawn on Post-It Notes.

3. If you can, try setting aside a certain time each day to work on your Inktober sketch. It could be when you wake up the first thing in the morning or after dinner or whenever. If you can’t commit to the same time every day, then just take advantage of whatever free time suddenly materializes to do your drawings. I’ve seen people admit that they did their Inktober sketches while riding public transportation on the way to or from their day jobs. I’ve even seen people admit that they did their drawings on the sly while being forced to sit in on a boring lecture at school or they took advantage of some downtime at work. Just do whatever works for you.

4. The one thing about Inktober I learned is that you can do some advance drawings in pencil as long as you wait until the designated day to do the final inking. In fact, I learned that this year’s official Inktober prompt list was put online two weeks before the month began so one could have the luxury to decide what he/she wanted to draw on the designated day and even do a rough sketch in pencil. I took advantage of this policy towards the end of the month when I began to burn out on doing a new drawing every day and I was in danger of quitting before the month was over. What I did was to go to Clark’s Elioak Farm, where I finished one new drawing in ink but I did other unfinished drawings in pencil that I could finish in ink over the next few days. By the time I finished that series, it was close to Halloween so I spent one evening just doing a pencil drawing of Madonna Girl Dale (who usually wears a costume in public all year round) followed by pencil drawings of traditional Halloween and Day of the Dead figures until the 31st drawing of the month. So I spent the last week of Inktober just coloring in one previously made pencil drawing in ink per day until I reached the last drawing on Halloween.

5. If you hit a rough patch where you really can’t focus on doing any complicated detailed drawings or you don’t have a lot of time to do anything too complex, just do a simple drawing that you can easily finish in 30 minutes or less. I experienced this challenge earlier this month when I came down with this horrible cold that literally left me feeling very weak and tired all the time. For those days I decided to do simple drawings of a penguin and a panda bear because those animals were relatively easy for me to draw quickly before I felt tired enough to take another nap. As an added bonus, those two drawings were basically black and white drawings so I didn’t have to do much thinking while I drew them. I also didn’t bother with drawing backgrounds because that would’ve been more time-consuming and I didn’t feel wide awake enough to draw something that would’ve been more complex.

6. Don’t be a perfectionist about your drawing. The whole purpose of Inktober is to practice your drawing, not focusing on being the next Rembrandt or Keith Haring. The idea is to do a quick drawing that can be done in a small part of your day.

7. Don’t be afraid of posting your drawings online, even if you personally feel less than enthusiastic about your latest drawing. I found that people tended to be really nice towards those who posted their Inktober drawings and many of them gave positive feedback. I personally didn’t encounter any cyberbullying in the month that I posted my Inktober drawings online. Just post your drawing online even if you personally don’t like it because there will be people who will like it better than you do.

Well, that’s it for Inktober 2017. I’ll end this post with a couple of embedded things in case you’ve missed some or all of the Inktober drawings I’ve been uploading over the past month. One is a YouTube video that includes some catchy background music.

If you prefer to view the pictures at your own pace without background music, you can view my Flickr album instead.

Inktober 2017

Dancing Skeleton

Here is my 31st and final drawing I did today for Inktober 2017.

I basically did a simple drawing of a jack o’lantern since today is Halloween after all. And, on that note…I DID IT!!!!!!! I worked on and uploaded one new drawing online every single day this month. I MASTERED INKTOBER!!! It wasn’t always easy. I had to deal with a horrible cold earlier this month and then I had to discipline myself to schedule in some ink drawing time between the various Halloween-related activities I participated in, especially when it got closer to Halloween itself. There were times when I would feel myself burning out on Inktober and I felt tempted to quit this daily ritual of producing one new ink drawing then sharing it online. I would quash that temptation by telling myself that I’m only doing this for 31 days and it’s only one month out of the year that I’m doing this.

But I did it and it’s a total accomplishment for me. Now I’m going to log off this blog and enjoy Halloween today.

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