Winter Chicks

Over half of them died on the way here. They froze to death. The eleven remaining have been living in a wooden box with not one, but two heat lamps on them. I think they are a month old, now. The poor dears. I decided to move them to a new coop today, and hope they make it. I was afraid they would start hitting their heads on the heat lamps and catch fire.

They're my exotic chicken mix.

I know. You're thinking, Why did you order baby chicks in winter? Well, it's never been this cold before. And I personally have never felt a winter this cold. And I ordered them in fall, actually, for "next available" and the next available just happened to be in the dead cold and dead middle of the coldest winter in two decades. So there you have it.

Here are the exotic hens who did not freeze to death, the survivors, so to speak:

The one on the far left has so many feathers on its feet, it looks like it's sitting on another chicken when it sits down.

The one on the far right always looks to me like someone was trying to draw a bird, but they didn't really know what birds looked like. Here's another picture of the poorly drawn bird:

So goofy. I love weird chickens.

Follow Up Reports

* Since I did my post on the art of Mary Wright, other people have taken notice. The Ravenous Monster Horror site did an interview with her recently. Mary Wright told me privately that she does not believe her art belongs in this genre, but I have to disagree! I think she belongs there, and I think that's wonderful. Best quote from the interview [about Barbie]: "Barbie, the quintessential American icon of beauty and the unobtainable role model for almost every little girl in the country, myself included, is the perfect spring board for these glorified Day of the Dead-inspired skulls. The hours I spent staring at her as a child, dreaming of being like her someday. She did give me hours of happiness as a girl, along with a life-long subconscious feeling of inadequacy."
"One Day" by Mary Wright

* Remember that painting I did for the book cover? Well, the book came out today! It's called Mother of Darkness and it's by Christina McMullen. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I will be reviewing it here, once I have. She changed the colors in the painting to match the other two books in the series:

She gave me free copy of the book. Thank you! She also paid me for the work, but let me keep the original. She only wanted a digital copy. So now I can have my cake and eat it, too. The painting is hanging in my bathroom.

* And then there was that underwater portrait session. Remember that? I did actually show up. I dieted for the entire two weeks and lost all of two pounds! But my weight didn't matter. The problem was just that I can barely open my eyes underwater, much less smile. I tried to smile and unintentionally discovered my evil grimace. I was like Inspector Clouseau trying to say "Hamburger".
How could something so easy be so difficult? Here is the best one they could get of me, after trying ten or twelve times:

Trying to drown my daughter, apparently. We ended up buying a picture of Little Z swimming alone. Which looks beautiful, actually.

* And what about Exhaust(ed), the great book that wasn't a book but was a good story and appeared here as a serial? I'm writing an epilogue. The epilogue will get tagged onto the end of the book and I'm going to offer it for sale, probably in ebook form on Amazon. I will most likely also delete Exhaust(ed) from the blog- so if you haven't read it, you might want to do it now. I've gotten some insanely wonderful comments from people about it. Honestly. I'm humbled. I think I will donate some of the proceeds to The Sun magazine, for teaching me how to write. Here's a sneak peak of the cover art:

* And then what about the Dinosaur on the Moon song? Wheatbread Johnson and friends have actually formed a band called "Dinosaurs On The Moon"! They are working on their first album. How cool is that? This is the album cover:

Look familiar?

I highly recommend "Liking" them on Facebook- if you do that sort of thing. Right now, if you follow this link, you can hear a little sample of their music. They may take the sample down as they complete more songs.

I'm so happy. Not only did a band name themselves after my painting, but a good band named their band after my painting.

* What else... ? Oh, yes, we are all dead, because it is so terribly cold. Except for the sheep. The sheep are fine. As always.

Top Ten Reasons The Daily Show is Not Downloading

10. The subterranean trolls are clogging the internet tubes with their singing again.

9. The Seventh Seal has been broken.

8. Because Wil Wheaton is 41 years old.

7. The electricity slows down a lot when the weather is bad.

6. Odin ended the world a few days ago, and now he's angry that nobody noticed.

5. I can't really go into details, because this place might be bugged.

4. The internet tubes fear my great beauty and wither with jealousy.

3. Two words: Goddess Intervention.

2. Bodkay is watching.

1. Because winter is here and it's never going away and spring will never come and the last winter lasted five years (that was on Game of Thrones which won't play, either [and you think that is a lot of naked ladies and gay sex, but you should read the books!]) and you ask what this has to do with internet and The Daily Show but you try and-- wait what? My fingers are too cold to think any more.

He's 41.

Portrait of my Niece

This isn't Wonder Niece- this is another one. She's probably a wonder, as well, but she has never visited. My sister donated to Little Z's Jump for the Heart campaign, and I had put it out there that day that if you donated, I would give you art, and if you donated over $25, it would be a portrait. So, she donated a tidy sum, and here's the portrait I'll be mailing her!

Cthulhu Goes to Disneyland

"Cthulhu Goes to Disneyland"
8" x 10" Painted portrait of Micky and Mini and their pal Cthulu, in front of the magical castle. Acrylic on recycled wood. $60 First email gets it!

Stuck Truck

"Hey, Honey!"
"Well, I tried to get it out, you see, and when I tried, it slid, and when it slid, I tried some more, and so well..."
"Well, yeah, there was so much feed to haul that I thought I'd..."
"It'll come out soon. Like, think in geological time. The snow will melt in, what, three nanoseconds?"
"Yeah, I realize we're not mountains, I was just-"
"Well, you don't have to get all personal..."
"No, I didn't say fairies did it. Did I say that? I did not say that! Although I'm not saying that fairies couldn't have done it.."
"What, drugs? No, just that prescription from the doctor, I-"
"No, I don't think you're an idiot! I-"
"Boy, this nacho cheese sauce is good! Isn't it?"
"Change the subject? No, no. I was just mentioning the-"
"Just two more geological nanoseconds, and we'll have it out of there!"

"I'm feeling a bit horse today."

It's odd that I did this, because I am more than a little afraid of horses. 
8.5" x 12" acrylic painting on repurposed wood. $35. First email claims it at 

However vast the darkness...

there is always some light.
$20 and it's yours at cellar27door@ Sold already! Thank you so much!

Portrait if the Artist as a Weirdo

Or a wino (fan of Wasted Wine) in my imaginary Buck Dollars hat. :)

(Frozen) On Wisconsin!

It's winter in Wisconsin and the gentle breezes blow,
70 miles per hour at 52 below!
Oh, how I love Wisconsin
When the snow's up to your butt;
You take a breath of winter air
And your nose is frozen shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful,
You may think I'm a fool.
I could never leave Wisconsin,
Cause I'm frozen to the stool.

But seriously, what a winter.

Lordy, Lordy, Gina's Forty!

And still goofy.

Somehow, I made her look French. Unintentionally. She's got that je ne sais quoi.

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Parnell

What is Art?

Robin and Rothko

A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore a risky and unfeeling act to send it out into the world. How often it must be permanently impaired by the eyes of the vulgar and the cruelty of the impotent who would extend the affliction universally! ” — Mark Rothko

I don’t “think” about Art all that often. In fact, days will go by without me thinking of Art at all. I am much more likely to think about what I am going to do with my pets in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse. I am more likely to ponder the beauty of an ice cold beer than to reflect on the merits of Dadaism. I, in other words, am like most people, except for the fact that I trained as an Art Historian. Yes, I am actually knowledgeable which surprises even me. It’s like my dirty little secret. I love Art. Life just got in the way. So when I do get the opportunity to think about, see, or discuss Art, it is a real treat. Those opportunities are few and far between, but I do get them occasionally, like when I spend the day with my friend Robin.

Robin is a “work” friend which is really the only new kind of friends I make now a days, considering that I am an introverted hermit (not that it’s a bad thing). Robin is a writer but like most artists she works a day job. She is in her 40s, independent, hysterical, well read, and probably a little crazy. Robin loves to go to museums. She is a member at all the San Francisco museums and whenever there is a new show she thinks to call me. It is great because she gets me in for free, and she likes to drink and gossip. Always a pretty good time except when we see anything that is considered Abstract.

Robin is not a fan of non- representational Art. She is one of those people that look at a Jackson Pollock and go “I could do that!” No Robin, you couldn’t. Trust me. I put up with it because I get it: Abstract Art is not for everyone. It wasn’t my field. I studied the Pre-Raphaelites and Bay Area Muralists in the 1930s. But I love all art (except Dale Chihuly) and I try to defend Abstraction when I am with Robin. Most of the time it ends in a drunken shouting match where I call her a philistine and she calls me an Ivory Tower elitist. I tell her I can see the Ivory tower from the ghetto (Literally I can. I live across the street from Stanford.) We then usually go have a drink and talk about Harper Beckham.

Our greatest arguments are always about one of my favorite artists, Mark Rothko.

Sexy Beast Mark Rothko

Here is a quick Art History recap- Mark Rothko was an abstract artist of the post-war generation. He is most well-known for his large scale “color block” paintings (also known as multi-form paintings.) He was born in Latvia in 1903, came to America as a child, went to and dropped out of Yale, and became one of the most famous of the Abstract Expressionists. He wrote about Art frequently, and was a great thinker as well as a great painter. He committed suicide in 1970 by overdosing on anti-depressants. He also slit his wrists for good measure. In other words, he was a serious dude. Here is some of his Art:

These pictures don’t do his work justice, but you get the idea. I loved Rothko from the moment I was exposed to him. His abstraction was accessible, emotional. Warm and relatable. The first time I went to New York I saw a Rothko exhibition at the Whitney. The girl I was with had to leave, it was so overwhelming to her. Being in that room, surrounded by these massive paintings of pure color—it was as close to a spiritual experience as I will ever get. When I tried to explain this to Robin she said “it’s just color!” I then accused her of being dead inside and we didn’t talk for a week. After we made up and went to a museum again, we had the same argument! I tried to explain to her why Rothko matters; she tried to tell me a child could paint this. I bought her a book called “Modern Art for Dummies” and she bought me a Chihuly catalogue. This has gone on for years. It is our great Art fight and I love it. I feel like I am fighting the good fight, which I don’t often get to do. Robin asks “Why is this Art?” I explain theory and form and composition. I explain the history and what lead Rothko to this style. I explain the emotional impact it has on me. I try to explain being in a large room, filled with color and silence. “Use your imagination Robin! You are a goddamn writer!” She looks at me like I am crazy. And damn, maybe I am. But Rothko’s work IS what Art is all about- changing the way you see things, giving you an emotional experience, educating you… Maybe you have to be in room full of Rothko’s to understand. I can only hope a Rothko exhibition comes our way. I think it would be a very disturbing/enlightening experience for Robin. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe the only thing Robin and I will ever agree on when it comes to Modern Art is that Dale Chihuly is a total asshole.

When she isn't arguing about Rothko, Jen generally writes hilarious monologues about her other love.

Mind Blowing Science

She came home with a paper saying she had to do a science project for school, a family science project, where her parents helped. She had ideas. Big ideas, like,

"How about a real live volcano that blows up???!!!!"

My idea was,

"How about you just bring one of those lemon trees over there and show everyone how you grew it from a seed."

"Oh, well, okay."

The feeling was that we wouldn't put too much effort into it, and it probably wouldn't be terribly exciting, but it would fulfil the requirements for the project- which were pretty steep for a first grader, in my opinion.

We talked over what we would do a few times, purchased some lemons, and the day came for the presentation. This was the write up:

Problem: Will a lemon tree grow in Wisconsin?
Hypothesis: Yes, a lemon tree will grow inside the house.
1. Lemon seeds from lemons
2. A pot
3. Dirt
4. Water
1. Cut the lemon in half.
2. Take a seed out of the lemon.
3. Put dirt in the pot.
4. Put the seed in the dirt.
5. Water it every day.
6. Keep it by a sunny window.
Results: The lemon trees grew in my room.
Conclusion: You can grow lemon trees in Wisconsin!

Not especially ground breaking, but good enough. She's six.

I brought the materials listed. I spent "indoor recess" with Little Z, who was nervous and started crying. She told a few other kids that her science experiment was not going to be exciting. We ate lunch, came back, and set up at a table in front of the room. The kids sat on a carpet in front of us. The teacher, this rock star teacher who sings the kids their lessons and is somewhat superhuman, took lots of pictures of me and Little Z, as Little Z read aloud the procedure and did the procedure. I cut the lemon. We dug out some seeds. Little Z started filling a pot with dirt, and it was like (you won't believe this) we were walking on the moon or something. I mean, the kids were completely fascinated! We could hear them murmuring,

"What's she going to do next?"

"What's that?"


They were astounded.

Little Z was planting a lemon seed in a pot. She watered it. And then we unveiled the lemon tree that was a few months old, grown by this "procedure" of planting a seed in a pot:


How could this be?

Everyone wanted to touch it and feel it and smell it. It smelled pleasantly of lemons. (Honestly, that was fascinating. It smelled like lemons even before it had any lemons!)

Little Z walked around the room with the plant and let them touch it. They had many questions. The first one was from a little girl in the front row,

"How did you even know how to do this? Where did you get the idea? I mean, did you see it on Pinterest or something? Where?"

Little Z revealed that she had not known what would happen, but she just wanted to prove her mother wrong, because I had not believed that you could grow a lemon tree in Wisconsin. True story.

There were many more questions.

It was finally agreed that they would keep the new pot with the newly planted seed on the windowsill, water it every day, and see if it, too, would grow a lemon tree. A boy (who is actually completely infatuated with my daughter, incidentally) said,

"Maybe we'll even have lemons! We can eat them for snack time!"

And the teacher, Mrs. R, laughed and said,

"Well, I think you would have to spend many more years in the first grade with me, if you want to eat lemons off of that tree."

Then all of the children started chanting,

"YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!" in unison. It got quite loud. It was almost a mob mentality. I was impressed. Apparently, every last kid there wanted to spend years and years with Mrs. R in the first grade.

The whole scene was like a younger, much cleaner version of this movie I recently saw, The Wolf of Wall Street, where the Wolf gives a speech to all of his brokers, and they spontaneously start screaming at him,

"I fucking love you! I fucking love you!" With great vigour. Foaming at the mouth (that could be all the drugs they're on). That movie is great, by the way, except it's disgusting and has too many naked ladies and not enough naked men.

But that's the kind of popularity Mrs. R enjoys with her students, only with no drugs and no money. They just love her. It's impressive.

And the science presentation was a smashing success.

When Little Z got off the bus this evening, she remarked,

"They thought it was really exciting. I didn't really think it was that exciting."

"Me, neither."

The wonders of nature.

Book Cover Art for Christina McMullen

I've been working on the cover art for Christina McMullen's new book, "Mother of Darkness". Part of the plot is a mystery surrounding some paintings, so McMullen commissioned me to do one of the paintings, as described in the book, for her book cover. I'm not sure when the book comes out. Soon, I hope! I'm totally hooked on her Eyes of the Sun series. What an honor to do the painting for her! Seriously.

I suppose the title will go over the windows or so. She wanted to do that part herself. The general effect is supposed to be slightly creepy.

I do all sorts of commissions. Email me at, for commissions or just to say hi.