Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Covid Fever Image vs Unintentional Zane & Kudoclasm

 December 31, 2023

   Oh, look what a Covid fever has begat.

Daily Revised Whip Out:

"Lucy Mulhall In The Sky With Diamonds"

The Funny Thing About Comedy

"It's the heart of comedy to hold two opposing truths, one the piety of fictitious benevolence, the other the troubling doubts that trail along."

—Adam Flippin' Gopnik, in the New Yorker

   Meanwhile, "unintentional zane" can be hilarious when taken out of context.

Actual Fruit Label from the 1930s


(from the ancient Greek, kudos

plus cataclysm, to break down)

A cascading crisis of self-doubt

"A warning to Icarus, as he stretched out his wings for the first time: 'Don't fly too near the sun, nor the sea. One will melt the wax, and the other weigh down the feathers. Keep to the middle course.' . . Sometimes you have no idea what to think about yourself, feeling somehow better than everybody but not good enough for anybody. Which is actually when you're at your most precarious, feeling overdue for a correction. . . Something throws you off-balance, and you slip into a spiraling self-doubt—picking apart your wings, trying to figure out if your feathers are still attached.. . .you may love your job but begin to question if it's worth all the time it has cost. you, knowing how easily your role could be refilled, your legacy tossed in a box. . .You begin to wonder if you've spent your entire life buoyed by airy delusions, coasting along on unearned confidence.. . .maybe your self-mythology is no different than any other mythology. It's a story that changes in the telling, evolving over time. whatever resonates will stay, and what doesn't will fall away. To pick away at the literal truth is to miss the point of it, miss the joy of it. So go ahead and build your myth. Try to tell a good story about yourself that captures something true, whether or not the facts agree. Keep to the middle course. Steal bits of wax and feathers discarded by others, better fliers. Let the sun rise and fall. Let the waves pound themselves to mist, again and again. Your task is not to be flawless. Your task is to fly."
—John Koenig, "The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows"

   Personally I feel pretty good about the year, but I don't feel so hot about where our country seems to be going.

"At the end of 2023, the country bounces along like Custer on the way to the Little Big Horn: So far, so good. The regimental band plays 'Garryowen.'"
—Lance Morrow in the Wall Street Journal

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Guiltwrights vs. D.H. Lawrence's Creed & The Return of El Pendejo

 December 30, 2023

   Day five of isolation. I think I've turned the corner on Covid. But the good news is I got to spend some more quality time in my studio.

Daily Whip Out: "The Hidden Muse"

   Some artists have an inner critic, I have a hidden muse. Or, as Kathy Sue suspects, he merely wants to be fed, again.

   T. Charles gifted me a birthday present, "The Dictionary Of Obscure Sorrows" by John Koenig. So much wisdom and insight on every page, like this one:

This is what I believe:
   "That I am I."
   "That my soul is a dark forest."
   "That my known self will never be more than a little clearing in the forest."
   "That gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest into the clearing of my known self, and then go back."
   "That I must have the courage to let them come and go."
   "That I will never let mankind put anything over me, but that I will try always to recognized and submit to the gods on me and the gods in other men and women."
There is my creed.
—D. H. Lawrence

   Some are a little funnier.

The Guiltwrights

   n. the imaginary committee of elders that keeps a running log of all your mistakes, steadily building their case that you're secretly a fraud, a coward, a doofus and douche—who would've revoked your good fortune years ago had they not been hampered by their own bitter squabblings over proper grammar and spelling.

   Meanwhile, I was filing some vaquero pieces this morning and came across two images that needed a little more work.

Daily Revised Whip Out: 
"The Return of El Pendejo"

Daily Revised Whip Out:
"Dust Storm Rider About to Experience
Zero Visibility"

Alternate title, Welcome to Kingman.

"Most of the fiction in this world comes from people who are repeating true stories."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, December 29, 2023

A Belated Christmas Present From David Brooks

 December 29, 2023

    Here is a wonderful Christmas present delivered four days late, but I'll take it!

"If you want to help people, there are many fine causes you can donate to. If you want to change the world, support small magazines."
—David Brooks, in the New York Times today

My Favorite Quote of The Year
   He goes on to say, "Small magazines cohere a community of thinkers. They develop a body of ideas. They plant flags and inspire social movements. They create a persona that serves as an aspirational ideal for people, a way to live their lives, Small magazines can alter history in a way big media outlets just can't."

Paul Hutton took this photo yesterday at
Barnes & Noble, Albuquerque

Thursday, December 28, 2023

The American Tournament of Achievement

 December 28, 2023

   Third day of isolation. Cancelled a massage and slept in this morning. Seems rather ludicrous that I went to so much trouble to avoid getting Covid by getting all the vaccines, but I take some comfort in the notion that it could have been much worse. I have a neighbor who is on his third bout with Covid and he is visited by Mayo doctors multiple times a day. Yes, a day!

"High Desert Spectrum" By Ed Mell

   Speaking of achieving accolades in art. . .

The American Tournament of Achievement

   I read with much interest, a review of Adam Gopnik's new book, The Real Work, in The Atlantic which examines what Gopnik calls “mastery,” and that is "the effort needed to achieve such proficiency (to completely learn the gestures, the vocabularies, until they become nearly second nature) and that learning this skill is generally undervalued. What is championed instead is the lesser goal he distinguishes as 'achievement,' the evanescent act of meeting some external measurement of success in order to move ahead: the SAT score, the grade-point average, the performance review that unlocks the promotion to a higher salary. Gopnik, a longtime New Yorker critic, isn’t the first author to emerge victorious from the American tournament of achievement only to discern its spiritual emptiness. But his contribution to an antidote feels original, and mercifully within reach. We need to refamiliarize ourselves, he thinks, with the profound and enlarging experience of truly mastering things, or at least attempting to do so."

   And, to put a fine point on it, not to get so hung up on the achievement aspect, as in, "I'll be happy when I win the Pultizer Prize for my scratchboards."

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Vaquero Headed Home"

   Or, to pathetically chase after an achievement prize by name dropping.

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:

"Vaquero de Pulitzer"

   I know. So high school. But if you think I am immune to that critical voice in my head, you would be mistaken.

"You Are So Pathetic, It's Not Even Funny."

   This is a typical statement my inner voice is fond of saying to me. So, what is the best thing you can say to your inner voice that is so negative all the time? Try this on:

"I forgive you this time."


   Ha. This Seneca line always makes me laugh and in the end, lightens my negatrons up a tad. Also, if you are hung up on achievement like some of us are, check this out.

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they dreamed of so that they can see that it’s not the answer.”

—Jim Carrey

   Or, this is even better.

"The funny thing about having all this so-called success is that behind it is a certain horrible emptiness."
—Sam Shepard

   In short, enjoy the process, try to master it, let the chips fall where they may. Have fun. The ancients are on our side.

Ducky Davis:
"Pulitzer? I'd Rather Have A Wurlitzer!"

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Roll Over Beethoven And Tell Chuck Berry's Sister The News

 December 27, 2023

   Back from Issaquah. Great food, thoughtful gifts, terrific grandkids, a view of the cosmos and a dose of Covid, to go.

Sky Quandrant 

   This is the view above the Christmas tree in Deena's living room. I was struck by the dynamic geometry and the blue cosmos against the star of the Christmas tree.

   Those Bortscheller kids are amazing. Franny McGoo painted a picture of Uno for Grandma Goose and when we got home Kathy put it on her wall next to the bed.

Kathy Sue Art Wall

   That's Franny's picture of Uno under the Day of the Dead skull and those are van Gogh crows on the right, with an Adelita at the bottom, by Franny's grandfather.

  Tested positive for Covid yesterday morning. So far, it's been a mild case and it probably didn't hurt that I had three vaccine shots at Walgreens last week. One for pneumonia, one for the flu and one for Covid. If I had to guess I probably got it from the following event.

   On Christmas Even we went to the theater to see a famous ballet.

Nutcracker Bound!

   "The Nutcracker" was first performed in 1892 and it was not successful. The composer of the ballet had a troubled life, starting with perhaps an almost unpronounceable name: Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky. Despite the original scathing reviews, the Nutcracker has become the most frequently performed of all ballets and has served as an introduction to classical music for many kids, like ours!

   As for the ridiculously convoluted name of the composer, Chuck Berry made him immortal as far as I am concerned, when he wrote a ditty dedicated to his older sister Lucy, who hogged the piano in their household to play classical tunes:

"Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news."

—Chuck Berry, creatively telling his sister the jig is up on classical music and rock 'n' roll is here to stay 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve In Issaquah

 December 24, 2023

   Long trip to the Northwest yesterday. Got up at three in the morning to get to the airport for a two-and-a-half hour flight to Seattle. Everything went smoothly until our pilot tried to land at Sea-Tac in thick flog, he aborted the landing, swung round twice and attempted three landings, but finally pulled up and headed to Bellingham, Washington to get gas. Sat on the tarmac for more than an hour. Finally, we landed back at Sea Tac at one in the afternoon. A long day of travel, but we finally made it to our daughter's home to see the real stars of the journey.

   Here's the view from Issaquah this morning.

Weston and Deena

   Sunrise over the Tiger Mountains on Christmas Eve. The Nutcracker this afternoon and present overload to follow.

"You better not pout, you better not cry, you better not complain about Southwest, I'm telling you why."

—Old Litigant Saying

Friday, December 22, 2023

Uno On The Rocks!

 December 22, 2023

   Raining again this morning, might even get snow on Christmas. Big memorial to go to this morning in Phoenix. 

   Meanwhile. . .

Uno Rocks!

Uno On The Rocks

Uno On The Rocks II

   He does blend in, doesn't he? You might say he's a rock hound.

   Or, not.

Notes on writing a novel in 30 days

   One of the B-Day presents Kathy Sue got me is a little gem called "No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing A Novel In 30 Days" by Chris Baty. Not only is Chris hilarious, his advice is golden. "The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy."

  Yes, we need to get past the crappy and I'll share his methods for doing that as I get into it.

"The biggest thing separating people from their artistic ambitions is not a lack of talent. It's a lack of a deadline."

—Chris Baty

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The Strange Pull of Things I Love

 December 21, 2023

   I usually end with a quote, but today let's begin with a good one.

"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you love. It will not lead you astray."


   Which begs the question, okay, what do I love? Let me try and count the things.

Hellraising Western Women

Big Ol' Sugarloaf Sombreros

Big Ol' Dust Storms

"There is something oddly intoxicating about the hideous and terrifying doom of a large dust storm."

—Samuel Kilborn Dolan

Cheap Models

(Kathy Sue, Dan The Man & Darlene posing for

an ASU parody that ran in New Times Weekly)

And here's the resulting parody, circa 1982.

Daily Whip Out:

"The Wildest Party School On Earth!"

Grandkids Who Drag Sticks On Dirt Roads

Spouses who look like you-know-who

(and still pose for free!)

Dead Daltons Checking Their Phones

(AI used appropriately and with good humor)

Dan the Man Pot Roast

When The Media Gets It Wrong
But My Mother Doesn't Care

Daily Scratchboard Whip Out:
"Hogtown Hussies"

"What can I say, I love whores, at least on paper."

Dogs Who Laugh at Funny T-Shirts

And last, but not least.

Whole Lotta Lotta

   Okay, not a totally comprehensive list, but it does hit all the big loves. I wonder what old Seneca has to say about this?

"Do not stumble on something behind you."


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Five Star Tacos And Barn Burner Issues

 December 20, 2023

   Rained on and off last night. Great sleeping weather.

A Stormy Day In Cactusland

   Of course we slept well because someone was on the wall protecting us from all invaders, big and small.

The Vigilant Wall Guard

   I had a very nice and quiet birthday yesterday. My honey picked up takeout from Five Star Mexican Taco Grill down on Carefree Highway and we had us a feast with homemade margaritas (with top shelf Patron Tequila), sat on the back porch and solved some life and we both came to the same conclusion:

   We are damn lucky people.

Five Star Feast

   I sometimes get snippy letters about what we cover in True West and here is a good example:

   "I enjoy your magazine, but often think you dwell too much on Billy the Kid and the Earps.  I am an Earp fan, but enough is enough. I have reached out to you previously asking why you don't cover Charles Goodnight?  I have spent 8 years restoring his beautiful 1870 stone barn in Pueblo, CO.  It needs to be recognized by your publication. The West wasn't just New Mexico or Arizona."

   End of well-meaning comments. One of our contributing editors, thought this should be my reply:

   "We run a popular magazine here, a magazine whose readers want well-written stories with Old West action and excitement: shootings, hangings, manhunts, and the like. While I don't doubt that your building is an architectural wonder, the fact remains that it's, well, a barn. However, if you find in your research that the Goodnight barn ever shot anyone, please get back to us. Thanks again for your interest in True West."
—Mark Lee Gardner

   Mark also predicted the Goodnight Barn Issue would be a real "barn burner." See what I have to contend with day in and day out? I tell you, it's a lonely job, but some old man has to do it.

"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe."


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Who's Laughing Now?

 December 19, 2023

   My family asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told them I wanted to laugh, so they chipped in and got me this T-Shirt:

Uno has been laughing all morning.

   Yes, it's an Onion headline production. Kathy also got me this shirt as well.

   Maybe not quite as funny, but, as you can clearly see, Uno has that look of, "Where's the doggie treat, dude?"

   Well, they're not doggie treats, but I also got a birthday treat of three sample caps from Precision Graphics in Tempe and they totally rock!

Three Styles of The 66 Kids Caps

   I dig them all. This is promo merch for the co-authored book I am writing with Marshall Trimble coming out next year.

   I would say it's all been an education, but you know what a certain dick has to say about that:

"The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life and when you are finished what you know is that you would have benefited more by going into banking."

—Philip K Dick

Monday, December 18, 2023

Not Fade Away Reversed

 December 18, 2023

   In my experience, the past fades away pretty quickly and then, sometimes, morphs into folklore and myth. Then that is often replaced by other, sometimes diametrically opposed ideas. For example, the Boston Tea Party, historically, is now being dismantled and dismissed as slave trade shenanigans.

   Well, here is a good example of the metamorphosis of the reverse fade.

Daily Whip Out: "Not Fade Away #1"

Daily Whip Out: "Not Fade Away #2"

Daily Whip Out: "Not Fade Away #3"

   And, here for your viewing pleasure is the model for my fader, the oldest photograph of a revolutionary guy who lived into the 1850s. He was in the boat with Washington crossing the Delaware!     Nice huh?

Conrad Heyer

Born in 1749, photographed in 1852,

at age 103

He served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, crossed the Delaware with Washington in December 1776, and fought in several major battles. The Maine Historical Society says this makes him the earliest-born human being ever to be photographed.

"My love is bigger than a Cadillac
I try to show it and you're driving me back
Your love for me has got to be real
For you to know just how I feel
Love is real and not fade away. . ."
—The Rolling Stones, 1964, "Not Fade Away"

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Endgame Roadsigns & Fun Run Flashbacks

 December 17, 2023

    There's not much that makes me happier than a photograph sent to me by my daughter, of her daughter.

Frannie McGoo Painting On The Beach

Not to mention this photo I found while cleaning in the studio yesterday.

Two, young Humor Masters In Training

   Meanwhile, caught this while driving home last night from El Encanto.

Backseat Driver

The Endgame

   I'm approaching a milestone on this long and winding road: my father passed at 75 and I'm about to turn 77 tomorrow. Meanwhile, the drummer for AC/DC just passed. He was 77. Yikes!

   Speaking of road signs. . .

Pit Stop Insights

   For the better part of two decades, my father and I drove the Route 66 Fun Run from Seligman to Kingman, to Topock, and one year, I had jackets made, "Bell On Wheels" for him and his pit crew.

Hell On Wheels Pit Crew and Al's '49 Ford

   Left to right: BBB, Al Bell, Milton Cece (my father's Norwegian cousin from Iowa) and Ray Hader (pit boss). This was taken in Seligman across the street from the Sno Cap Drive-In as the cars for the Fun Run lined up. This guy had painted this huge postcard backdrop and for $20 you could have a professional photo taken. I thought this was a very cool idea and wished I would have thought of it. Later, when my father was ordering more photos for his friends the guy admitted that we were the only ones who bought a photo (there were over 500 cars on the run!). After I found this out, and in subsequent Fun Runs (as I said, we drove in it every year for the better part of two decades) I would quiz the vendors (set up at tables with really cool books on Route 66, classic gas stations, etc.) and they would invariably tell me that they weren't doing jack for sales. I always asked why they thought this was the case and one astute vendor said, "All their money is in their cars."
   Ha. I think that nails it.

"Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary."

—Old Easy Rider Saying

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Classic Maynard Dixon Christmas Cover

 December 16, 2023

   Some simple things always make me very happy.

Pre-Colonial Crucification

   In these days of strife and anguish—and I am referring to the history biz—it gives me great joy to see the following classic representation of the Old West presented without, rancor, or blame. It may be a total fantasy, but I don't care. Thank you Maynard!

Classic Maynard Dixon Christmas Cover

   Meanwhile, back to the present day malaise, and take it as you find it views.

Sky Deer Running

And, a nice Saturday working on stuff I love.

Daily Flashback Whip Out:
"Mickey Free On The Jump"

"Catching a yellow jacket in your shirt at 75 mph can double your vocabulary."
—Old Biker Saying

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Navajo Peacekeeper Has Arrived

 December 15, 2023

   Me and the Boys worked most of today to prep six of The 66 Kids one-shot promotional pages for the book of the same name. These will run in publications throughout the West. This is my favorite one, so far:

   This is low res, but if you want to check it out, including the other five, go here and scroll down.

Six of The 66 Kids

"Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life."