Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Infinite Toys for Tots!

Well, the Holiday season is upon us, and Christmas is less than a month away. I love the Christmas season, mostly because I enjoy the feelings of goodwill and kindness towards others that the season generates. Most importantly, I love all the gifts I get!

Sadly, though, there are a lot of people out there who, for whatever reason,  won't  be getting any gifts this year. It would be hard for a grown man like me (derisive comments are expected,  speculating as to how mentally "grown" I am) to not receive the toys I crave at this time of year, but imagine how hard it is for kids to have nothing to look forward to?

Fortunately, there are people out there who want to make the Holidays happy for kids, and are out there doing something about it. The USMC has been running their "Toys for Tots" campaign for years, and have certainly brightened many a child's Holiday. Now the folks at my favorite Pop Culture site, "Infinite Hollywood", are upping the ante: For every toy donation you make to TFT, they will match it with a donation of their own. It's like giving TWO toys for the price of one! Saint Nick himself would be proud.

To participate, check out all the details here, and make a donation. Newton Gimmick, the overlord of "Infinite Hollywood", hopes for at least 30 donations by Christmas, but I'm sure we can do better than that. If you have a website of your own, why not post a link to this campaign on your site, too? Also, please give some quality toy, something you yourself would have liked to receive as a child. 

Yes,  that means NO Megablocks™!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks for the Balls!

Thursday is Thanksgiving, so Happy Thanksgiving Day, all! Well, at least to those of you in the United States. You Canadian readers can bookmark this page and read it next week.  You folks in other countries? Well, I'm sure you must have some comparable Holiday. If you don't, come to the United States! Thanksgiving is awesome, and blue jeans are really affordable!

Thanksgiving, of course, is supposed to be all about giving thanks for all the blessings you are blessed with. This is a great idea. A lot of us waste a bunch of time bitching about the things we don't have, when we should be grateful for all the things we do.

Unfortunately, more attention this time of year is focused on the feast we devour, rather than the spirit of the day. Actually, there is nothing wrong with that. After all, "Good Eats" are something we should all be grateful for!

Most Thanksgiving Day feasts center around the turkey, of course. Indeed, here at Casa del Blanco, we will be enjoying a delicious bird expertly prepared by  yours truly. We hope. 

But there has to be more than turkey for a gut-busting meal to remember! You need side dishes and a dessert, of course, but what about some tasty appetizers? Here at our house, our go-to Holiday app has always been Pigs in Blankets. Tiny wieners wrapped in puff pastry just say,  "Holiday", to me. I always have to be careful to limit my intake of these tasty tidbits, however,  lest I have no room left for the meal proper.

Lately though, another pre-meal temptress has stolen my heart: The classic Cocktail Meatballs served on toothpicks. They are such a tasty treat, I almost have discarded Pigs in Blankets as a Holiday tradition. I have always favored the "classic" recipe, which you can see here. This tantalizing mixture of savory and sweet is difficult to resist. I have, though, found an even BETTER recipe for this cocktail party staple! To create it yourself, just follow the recipe I linked to above, but instead of Cranberry Sauce, substitute a jar of Grape Jelly. Sounds gross, I know. I was skeptical too, but THIS is now my go-to recipe for cocktail meatballs. Try it and see. It is just... Wow. If you REALLY wanna go crazy, throw some smoked sausages into the mix. Oh, oh, so good!

Enough talk of Cocktail Meatballs! As I said, today is supposed to be about giving thanks. Although I am most grateful for this delicious recipe, I am more thankful for many other things. In particular, those of you who read this blog and post your comments. You make it all worthwhile.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

I Now Pronounce You...

As you may recall, in my last post, I wondered about the romantic life of every body's favorite fast-food clown, Ronald McDonald™. Since I had no knowledge of Ronald's sexual preferences or private life, I had to use my imagination to come up with the perfect "life partner" for him.

I presented you, the readers of this blog, with two choices: One was the foxy Donna McDonald™, a saucy clown lady who loved a good time  and provided you with a "fry with that shake", and Bertha, an unpleasant battle axe who was pretty much the 1950's stereotype of a horrible wife.

You have spoken, and although some of you wanted Ronald to experience emotional pain in equal measure to the digestive pain his employer's food has caused you, romance won out. From now on, and until I  receive a legal injunction from the McDonald's Corporation,  Donna McDonald™ is the new Mrs. McDonald™. It's nice to think Ronald has someone to come home to after a long day of dealing with  daily life in McDonaldland™. Things like the Fry Guys™ shenanigans, Grimace's personality disorder, and corruption in the McDonaldland™ police department (Question for Big Mac™: Why doesn't Birdie the Early Bird™ ever get a parking ticket?), must really wear a clown out!

I'm for one glad to think Donna is waiting at home waiting, with a McMartini™ in hand, to make  all his troubles melt away...

In preparing this post,  I realized this is the FORTH time I  have referenced Ronald McDonald™ on this  blog! I have no  explanation or excuse for this. I am not a fan of clowns, and McDonald's™, though as safe a place as any to get a fast food meal, isn't my favorite. I have no explanation for this. Let's just hope this is my last McDonald's-centric™ post.

And rest assured,  I will post no musings on, "Who is the Burger Queen™"!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mrs. McDonald?

As a lifetime customer and aficionado of the McDonald's™ fast food chain, I have often wondered about the private life of  their mascot, Ronald McDonald™. In television commercials we see him  skipping around with children, before luring them to the premises of his corporate overlords. What though, does he do when the cameras aren't rolling? Does Ronald have a private life? 

We all know that Ronald  has friends like Grimace™ and the Hamburgler™, but are there any chicks in McDonaldland™? What does Ronald do when he has "urges" that a Happy Meal just won't satisfy? Is there a "Mrs. McDonald"?

I'd like to think that there is. A beautiful, comely clown-woman who shares Ronald's love of questionable dietary choices and hanging around with children you are not related to. Let's call her "Donna McDonald".  Donna loves to share in all of Ronald's interests. She likes long walks on the beach, eating McNuggets™ in an evocative way and doesn't mind when Mayor McCheese™ calls in the middle of the night in a Shamrock Shake™-induced seizure.

It would be pretty to think that Ronald had such a supportive woman at his side, but in reality I'm afraid he would be stuck with the other image I have posted here: Bertha McDonald. This overweight battle axe would question every decision Ronald made ("You're bringing back  the McRib™, again?!") and blame Ronald for the onset  of  her Type II Diabetes.

I might be wrong though. What do YOU, the faithful readers of  this blog, think? Vote for your choice of Ronald  McDonald's™ ideal  mate in the comments section. Once I have tallied up the thousands of votes I receive (please note ironic sarcasm), I'll forward  the results to McDonald's™ headquarters, and we can give  this corporate shill the bride he deserves!

Unless they serve me with a cease and desist order...

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Sneak Peek!

Been busy as a Bee lately, and may hap the blog has suffered for it. I've spent the past several posts discussing other cartoonists and various assorted nonsense. The result is that I have lost focus on the point of this blog: Me, and my exciting life  as a cartoonist! The next few posts will rectify that.

As a sample, here is a sneak peek at a doodle connected to my upcoming not-so-secret project. No explanations, just enjoy.

This  would be a good time to ask you all out there if there are any topics you would like me to cover on this blog. The sky's the limit! Ask me what you will in the comments section, and if  I have anything to say about the subject, and/or  any images to show, you'll see it!

This would also be a good time to remind those of you that aren't "In the Know", that I have another blog filled with cartoony goodness. Just click here for a gander.

Till next time...

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

RIP: Bil Keane

Sad times in Cartoonland. Bil Keane, the creator of the long-running comic panel, "The Family Circus", has died at the age of 89. In light of this, I will jump on the bandwagon like all the other bloggers out there, and say a few words about him.

Although I never really cared for the feature, and certainly never laughed at it, you had to admire Bil Keane. The strip was well drawn and it certainly entertained its intended audience. I'm sure almost every body's Mother or Grandmother at one time or another hung one of his strips on the 'fridge just because it reminded them of their own little darlings. 

I did admire his Sunday panels where he would track a character's path through a house or a neighborhood, and I kinda liked when he would turn over the strip to his character, "Billy", and draw the strip in a childish scrawl.

Keane also produced not one, but two cartoonist offspring: His son, Jeff, who continues the strip, and the uber-talented Glen Keane, an incredible animator. Having two kids that are making a living drawing cartoons is a pretty impressive achievement all by itself. I myself am o for 3...

Let's not forget too that Keane was one of the first syndicated cartoonists to stand up to his syndicate and demand ownership of  his strip. After a long legal face off, he finally did get the rights to "The Family Circus", and today, most cartoonists get a better deal. If folks like Keane and some  others hadn't had the guts to stand up, that might not be the case.

One other thing: Even though his strip wasn't funny, he always gave funny interviews, and I hear he was quite the wit in person.

You know what? Now that I've thought it over, maybe I am a Bil Keane fan!

Rest in Peace, Bil, and if Saint Peter asks who spilled ink on Heaven's floor, remember to answer, "Not me!" That should get a laugh.

*Please note: The illustration here is a spoof I did many years ago for  a retail chain I drew for. It makes very little sense out of context, but I didn't feel like drawing a whole new "Family Circus" tribute...

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Mouseinator!

As I have mentioned in previous entries, the newest addition to our family, Riley the Cat, is quite the excellent mouse-catcher. Despite the fact that Riley lacks his front claws (again, "de-clawing as cat is a barbaric practice that I don't approve of, but it was done before we adopted  Riley), he has no trouble hunting down and killing the mice that inhabit our home.

The problem is, in our pre-Riley days, we were ignorant of the fact that we had a mouse problem in our house. Some research on my part has found that ALL houses host mice families (even YOURS!). They are so discreet, though, that most homeowners are unaware that they are hosting extra lodgers.
A veterinarian told me that in my area, every home has mice, and they are the lucky ones- Most homes are infested with mice, squirrels, and who knows what else!

News like this makes me glad we adopted Riley. The thought of vermin creeping beneath our floorboards makes me cringe. I have enough trouble getting a good night's sleep without worrying about unseen critters creeping around, inches away from me. Having Riley managing the vermin populace puts my mind at ease. At least a bit.

I would prefer, though, that he "finish the job" and completely dispose of the mice he catches. Unfortunately, he prefers to leave bits and pieces of his "catches" out and about for us to discover. I presume that this is his way of showing off: "Look what I caught!", he must feel. Our enthusiasm for having one less mouse in the house is tempered, at these times, by our having stepped onto a grisly mouse carcass first thing in the morning. Riley seems disappointed we are not as enthused about his latest catch as he is. The look on his face as you wipe dead mouse remains off your foot, while shrieking like a schoolgirl, speaks volumes.

Still, thank you  Riley for keeping our house vermin-free!

If only it was as fun as it looks in Tom & Jerry cartoons... 

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bill's Book Nook: The Mad Art of Caricature by Tom Richmond

If you are a wanna-be cartoonist, a fan of cartoons and caricature,  a fan of MAD Magazine, or all of the  above, you are no doubt already aware of the career and website of cartoonist and caricaturist extraordinaire Tom Richmond. Tom's blog is full of his wonderful artwork,  as well as his stories and observations on the world of freelance illustration. His drawing tutorials offer tips and pointers to both newbie cartoonists and established pros alike.

His tutorials  are so well done, many wished Tom would one day publish a "how-to" book on the "art" of caricature.

Well, that day has come at last. I just received my copy of Tom's "The Mad Art of Caricature", and believe me, it was worth the wait.

Over the course of  170 beautifully illustrated pages, Tom explains in painstaking detail the ins and outs of how to develop your skills as a caricaturist. This is not one of those simplistic, "Hey! ANYONE can draw caricatures!", books. This book is meant for serious students who really want to learn how to draw funny portraits of people.

I read the book cover-to-cover last night, but I know I will be reading it over and over again to be able to absorb all the instruction and information that this book offers. I have been doing "live" caricatures at parties and functions for the last 20 years of so, and I consider myself a pretty good  caricaturist. This book has shown me that I still have a long way to go. In just the first read,  I had many moments where  "the penny dropped", and I discovered a new way of approaching a caricature.

One of my favorite chapters, right off the bat, is the chapter on doing "live" caricatures. As I said, I've been doing this for many years, but last Summer, I was placed in the position of having to teach a bunch of greenhorns the techniques of  drawing in front of a crowd. I couldn't have been a bigger failure. If I had had Tom's book, my life would have been SO much easier. His explanation of the demands placed on the live artist and his demonstration of his approach, are spot on. When I get my time machine working, I'm grabbing a copy of this book, and traveling back to May of 2011!

In case you can't  tell, I think this book is fantastic, and you should go here and order a copy right now. For no extra charge, Tom will even add a personalized signature for you so you can brag to your pals about what close chums you and Tom Richmond are! 

BTW, while  speaking of books about caricature, there are a couple  of other good ones I should mention. Lenn Redman's "How to Draw Caricatures" was the book I used when I was starting out. It's a bit dated now, but I still use a few of the techniques Redman demonstrated in this book. In fact, Richmond himself refers to Redman in his book.

Another how-to book that I think would be helpful is Keelan Parham's "Let's  Toon Caricatures". Despite its unfortunate title, this  book has a lot of good  advice for the live caricaturist.

If you can only afford one book on caricaturing though,  get Richmond's book. He has written the definitive title on the subject.

Of  course, if you can't afford any of these books, it IS possible to teach yourself the art of caricature. It's  just really painful. My friend, the multi-talented John Forcucci taught himself. That's his  caricature of me you see here. It is the best caricature of me anyone has  ever done, and believe me, I've seen plenty!

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