Saturday, April 6, 2024

Happy Birthday, James Garner!

 As is my annual tradition, here is my latest caricature of Jim Garner, and once again in his role as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files. Though I've drawn him many times as Rockford, it seemed only fitting this year as 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of The Rockford Files way back in 1974.

Not too much to add here, but creating this year's entry was a very frustrating experience for me, as I had to learn how to do the colour work using a new program since I no longer have access to Photoshop. Just over a year ago I had to replace my old antiquated computer with a new one when it finally quit on me, but alas, I can't install my Photoshop disc on here since Adobe doesn't allow anything other than their subscription service which I refuse to subscribe to. I'd tried Apple's own program, Pixelmator, some time ago but found it to be pretty useless and difficult to decipher. So more recently I decided to give Sketchbook Pro a try, as it's fairly inexpensive to purchase and download. It will take some getting used to, but it does seem fairly comparable to Photoshop, albeit with several things that I can't seem to figure out yet.

Anyway, I was able to muddle my way through it enough to add colour to my (still) traditional ink line on illustration board approach. I'm afraid that this old dinosaur will never be able to give up my trusty Winsor & Newton sable brush and bottle of ink in order to create my caricature art. Fact is, I really wouldn't want to.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

RIP Ian House

It is exactly one week ago that I heard the devastating news that a longtime friend of mine through Facebook, Ian House, had passed away. It’s been difficult coming to terms with that or even knowing what to say, but I’m going to try and sum up my thoughts here rather than on Facebook, as Facebook posts are such fleeting things and Ian’s memory deserves better.

I had first encountered Ian House more than ten years ago back when he had started a Facebook group page devoted to Classic Television Shows of the 50s through 70s. Somehow I had stumbled upon that page and joined, as it was well run and covered all of the TV series I had grown up loving in my youth, many of which I have alluded to here on my blog as well. Ian and I hit it off immediately, as he enjoyed my caricatures of these classic TV stars that I’d been posting on my blog and linking to on his group page. One thing I really admired about Ian was how good and decent he seemed to be, as he ran a tight ship on his Classic TV page, allowing no controversy or foul language. His philosophy was that his Classic TV page was like the family living room of the 1950s, and that the sense of innocence and decorum from that era be maintained. I remember Ian’s favourite shows tended to be family friendly sitcoms like “Leave It To Beaver”, “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. I also recall that Ian would often post photos of his longtime TV crush, Elizabeth Montgomery of “Bewitched” fame. Ian had great taste!

I soon became Facebook friends with Ian, as he’d noticed one time that I’d mentioned Sheridan Animation in one of my posts and he’d been curious because he’d taken the animation course there back in the 80s. I explained to him that I was currently an instructor in that program and so we realized we were both from the same Greater Toronto Area, thus adding to our shared cultural backgrounds. On Ian’s personal Facebook page, he also talked about his love for classic Hollywood cartoons, particularly the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and 1960s Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons, most notably “The Flintstones”. From what I’ve gathered from colleagues who also knew Ian in his Sheridan days, he was a bit of a cartoon historian who collected info and made videotapes of everything available at that time.

Though we both yearned for an earlier era, I was more of a mid-20th Century kind of guy while Ian’s tastes went back even further to the Jazz Age of the 1920s/30s. I remember him even musing about wishing he’d lived back during the Edwardian era, as he really did prefer the more mannered society of that time. Like myself, Ian House was a conservative, quite a staunch one, and he loved his life in America, having moved there from Canada to work in California for a time before later relocating to Indiana. He very much appreciated American history and star-spangled patriotism and greatly admired President Calvin Coolidge from that earlier era he so cherished. Still, one thing he held onto from his Canadian roots was his love for hockey, especially his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs, and he posted about them often on his page!

For the last year or two, Ian had formed a little group of fellow Wordle enthusiasts on his page, where we would compare our daily results from doing that day’s puzzle. At some point Ian suggested we all use the same starter word each day, taking turns to provide one for the following day’s Wordle. It had become a fun daily ritual and I and his group of friends, about six of us in all, were quite devoted to it. In fact, just this past February 7th we all scored a Wordle-In-One with the word, AFTER! Everything had been going so well and Ian had become a part of my daily routine, so our little group was thrown for a loop when just one week later on February 14th Ian announced the following:

“Personal Note: Hi folks, this will be my LAST Wordle post for the indefinite future; I hope somebody else on the team will be able to assume my duties. Wordle On!”

We were all a little confused and concerned by Ian’s cryptic message and, as we didn’t hear from Ian for several days after that, a couple of us had reached out to him in Messenger to see what was wrong. Several days more went by and then I got a response from Ian where he confided that he’d been in deteriorating health for some time and that his situation had become quite dire, with an extremely painful leg condition that had become so bad that he could no longer get around freely anymore and was practically housebound. Ian had always been a very private kind of guy and he said he’d let us know whether there was any marked improvement but that he requested we not inquire anymore until then. Though I was worried like heck about him, I agreed to honour his request. Then, just one month later on Thursday March 21st, We heard from Ian’s brother, Woody the shocking news that Ian had passed away.

Since then I’ve been devastated, my mind flooded with memories of all the conversations I’d had with Ian over the last decade, his many interests and personal quirks running through my mind, and it’s been hard to believe that this funny, friendly, and extremely decent man is gone now at the age of 62. Our little Wordle group continues on, but the fact is we’re all reeling from Ian’s death and miss him terribly. Ian’s brother Woody has been in touch with me and we plan to meet soon, as he coincidentally also lives here in Mississauga, about a 20 minute drive from me. This memoriam was difficult to write and a lot of tears flowed while compiling my thoughts. Ian House, I know you’re in a better place now. Godspeed, my dear friend.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Happy Birthday, James Garner!

For this year’s tribute to James Garner, I’ve drawn Jim alongside Jack Lemmon in their roles as two former U.S. presidents in the 1996 comedy, My Fellow Americans. Interestingly, the film had originally been planned as another vehicle to reunite Jack Lemmon with his frequent co-star, Walter Matthau, but Walter had to bow out of the project due to an illness at the time. So Jim was brought in as a replacement and it may have worked out for the better, as the two portrayals seem slyly based on President George Bush Sr. (Jack’s cranky Russell Kramer) and then sitting President Bill Clinton (Jim’s suave Matt Douglas). Though older now, Jim Garner was still a rakishly handsome man, so much of the humour was based on the purported womanizing ways of Clinton, something that Matthau may not have been so successful in pulling off.

My Fellow Americans is a decent comedy, though admittedly was not a hit with the critics. I won’t go into any detail on the plot, suffice to say that both former presidents are thrown together in an attempt to clear their names on a big political frame-up, ending up on the run from sinister Deep State figures that are trying to silence them, but there’s a great comedic onscreen chemistry between these old pros, Garner and Lemmon, and they’re a lot of fun to watch! What I personally appreciate is the evenhandedness in how both the Republican (Lemmon) and Democrat (Garner) are satirized. They are both petty and flawed individuals, having spent decades in the ruthless game of partisan politics, but as the story progresses we are also shown the poignant and human side of both these men. As they are on the run for their lives through the rural landscape, they are aided along the way by good, decent, ordinary Americans, voters of both political stripes, but when hearing their stories the two former presidents also come to realize just how out of touch they both were with average Americans’ needs and concerns, which shames them into realizing just how poorly they’d served them while in office. Frankly, I don’t think this film could be made this fairly today, as the Hollywood film industry has lost whatever political balance and impartiality it used to have, and I suspect would give in to the temptation to make it a hatchet job on the Republican while playing the Democrat as a virtuous hero. As it is, I’m glad that My Fellow Americans is so evenhanded with its satirical comment and allows the humanity of both men to shine through by the end of the film. We could use more of that type of goodwill in our entertainment today.

Here is the trailer for those who might be interested in seeing the film:

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!

 I kept it simple for this year's tribute to my favourite actor, Jim Garner, just drawing one more caricature of him as Jim Rockford from TV's The Rockford Files. However, I thought I'd also give you all some insight as to how I go about creating one of my celebrity caricatures. As I've noted in past articles, I don't rely on just still photos to draw my subjects, preferring instead to study and sketch them from video so as to get more of a sense of their overall design and inner life and personality. But additionally I will go back and pause on a few freeze frames in order to study the structure and surface details in greater depth. Lately I've also been using my digital camera to grab a few reference pics directly from my TV screen. Here are some samples I took to develop this new caricature of Jim.

This first pic gave me the overall pose I wanted of Rockford with his familiar crossed arms looking very casual:

I rather liked this expression, where Rockford is looking a little concerned as to whether they've got a solid case against the guy he suspects is a hired killer who's attempted to kill his client:

I took this shot specifically for the mouth position showing both sets of teeth and tongue as he's speaking. Also the head angle is closer to the one I'm looking to draw:

Another pic that captures some of the overall expression I'm looking to depict in my drawing:

Like I mentioned before, I am also watching the video in action as I first gesture out my sketch, as that's the only way I can get a real feel for the personality and inner life of my subject. You can also see from my rough sketch how I start by gesturing and blocking in very loosely with a light blue pencil, then defining the forms with a soft black pencil while always thinking of it as "sculpting" the form as opposed to just drawing outlines. That illusion of solid structure remains an integral part of the process for me. Sometimes I find I have to do a few sketches, cobbling together elements from several in order to arrive at the final sketch, but this time I was able to get it all done in one shot:

Finally I use a lightbox to lightly trace the image in pencil onto a sheet of Bristol board, then tweak it a bit until I have the refined pencil art that is then ready for the fun part - the inking with my brush!

Once the line art is inked up, I scan that into my computer to colour it up with Photoshop resulting in the final full colour caricature of Jim Garner that heads up this post. Although I did decide to consult other photos through Google Image Search to select the colours of his shirt and blazer, as I've always preferred those 70's earth tones that Rockford wore rather than the grey outfit he's wearing in my reference photos above.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Truckers For Freedom!

 Generally speaking, I had not intended to use this blog for political talk, but I'm finding that it's my only real outlet at the moment because I have been suspended for another 30 day stretch on Facebook, my 5th such 30 day suspension since last February. I think it's wrong for Facebook to silence users for expressing their conservative views, all the while allowing those on the left to have free rein despite many of them being far more incendiary in their speech than I would ever be.

At any rate, I've decided to make a few points about the trucker convoy that has made its way across Canada from BC to its destination earlier today in Canada's capitol city, Ottawa. The primary reason for this convoy is the recent vaccination mandate for all truckers to cross in and out of Canada and the US across our shared border. This is the latest directive from our tinpot dictator, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and there are many of us who support the truckers' decision to fight this inhumane directive that could result in many of them losing their jobs for not complying against their will. But it goes beyond that, as there are many of us, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who see these vaccine mandates as government overreach, especially since these Covid mRNA vaccines have left many unfortunate recipients physically and neurologically injured, to the point of being permanently disabled and no longer able to enjoy a quality life or work at their livelihoods. And yes, some recipients of these vaccines have died as a result, yet no political leaders, medical "experts", or their lackeys in the mainstream media or social media want that important distinction to be heard, instead preferring that only the official mantra of the vaccines being "safe and effective" be allowed to be published and promoted.

Well, these truckers are boldly standing up to make their voices heard, and I and many others want to show our full support for this. So here are some news clips to show what is going on. Lets start with the biased and deliberate misrepresentation of the truckers by the dictatorial Justin Trudeau, who sneeringly denigrates their motives in this speech clip. Personally, I think Trudeau is running scared, as he has now "conveniently" claimed he has been exposed to Covid and therefore must isolate for five days, thereby avoiding having to meet with the protesters. (Update: he's now been taken to a "secure" location, out of some unfounded fear that his safety is at risk from this rally):

Next, lets look at the false claims by Canada's national broadcaster, the CBC, who are trying to make out that there are sinister undertones to this event, suggesting there are extremists in attendance who mean to cause trouble, despite there being no real evidence to support such skewed speculation. See what they're saying in their opening segment from this full broadcast. Please also take note of how CBC does not allow comments on any of their YouTube uploads:


Here's an article featuring more denigrating speculation from the CBC. They really want to cloud this event with their doom and gloom propaganda in order to discredit its participants. Also, here's a screenshot from their Facebook page that links to the above article. Please note how they also do not allow comments on any of their FB posts:

Only a few online news sources can be trusted here in Canada, including True North News and Rebel News. Here is Ezra Levant, head of Rebel News being warmly welcomed by the crowd of a few thousand gathered so far at the event in front of Ottawa's Parliament Hill. This is the reality of the peaceful protest with happy freedom loving attendees that CBC, CTV and other mainstream sources would rather you not see:

And finally, please watch this clip of Global News being chastised by this boldly honest lady named Gina, who was among the throngs of Canadian patriots gathered along the highway route to cheer on the convoy of truckers. She's clearly savvy to the way the mainstream media will try to falsely spin this story, based on their long history of doing so:

I hope that those who truly seek the truth will take a look at what's actually going on at this event, and not blindly go along with what CBC and the rest of the liberal propagandist media would have you all believe.

*ADDENDUM* - All day today, CBC and CTV have been claiming that protesters were "dancing on the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier" or otherwise "desecrating" it. That's a real stretch of what happened, verging on being an outright slanderous lie. Here's an article from CTV News where they're making that claim, yet check out the video within the article that shows what actually transpired. The young woman has stepped onto the monument (where countless tourists have likely also posed for photo-ops over the decades), where she simply stands, raises her arms and yells "FREEDOM!" before stepping back down. No "dancing" and no "desecrating" whatsoever.

Frankly, in no way does this equate to mocking or being disrespectful of the monument. Quite the opposite in fact, as I believe this young woman fully understood that the significance of this monument is that these brave men had fought for the very same freedoms from tyranny that she herself was helping to fight for today in her own small way. I say more power to her, and shame on the lying mainstream media out to falsely vilify and misrepresent her.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Our Dire Situation

I have been periodically re-posting on Facebook this article from Free North News that appeared in October 2020. Since that time, at least a half dozen of the items on the list of this purported Canadian "Game Plan" have now transpired, one of the most odious being this vaccine passport that debuted here in Ontario yesterday, with many other provinces about to introduce one also. We have also been hearing a bit about Universal Basic Income (UBI) being rolled out on a trial basis at some point in the near future. At this point, I don't think this purported leaked memo can be easily dismissed as "conspiracy theory", as a lot of it has become fact.

I know my conservative friends have read this and taken it seriously, while my liberal friends (if they are actual friends) have mostly turned a blind eye to it, likely continuing to ignore what it has to say (and contemptuously adding their "laughing emojis" to any suggestion that this might be what's actually going on). This is why we are in this dire situation now, is because the Covid Cultists out there would rather slavishly believe everything our corrupt leaders tell them without questioning any of it. I really don't know where we go from here.

Also linked to within the article is this open letter to former President Trump from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (also from last October), which warns of the same very specific checklist of what these globalists are planning under what they call "The Great Reset". It is horrifying to see just how far reaching this plot is across the globe, and equally horrifying to see how unresponsive more than half the populace is about it, preferring to just bury their fool heads in the sand and deny what's going on all around them!

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!

As is my annual tradition, I always like to salute my favourite actor, James Garner with a new caricature on the anniversary of his birthday. Many times I have based it on his TV series, The Rockford Files, but I also like to acknowledge some of his film roles from time to time. This year, I decided to draw Jim from his 1966 epic racing film, Grand Prix, a film I've enjoyed numerous times over the years. But the main reason for this choice is because I'd also like to pay tribute to Jim's co-star in that film, the beautiful Jessica Walter, who has sadly just passed away in recent weeks at the age of 80.

Jessica Walter really hit it big on the screen in 1971 when she starred opposite Clint Eastwood in Play Misty For Me, in which she memorably played a psychopathic stalker who is fixated on the radio DJ portrayed by Clint. When she'd had a prominent role in Grand Prix just five years prior, it was really only her second film of note, having appeared in The Group earlier that same year. Up until that time her career had consisted mostly of TV guest star roles.

In Grand Prix, Jim Garner plays Pete Aron, an American race-car driver who's driving for the Jordan-BMR racing team. At the beginning of the film, Aron's car is having gearbox problems, which leads to a horrific accident that sends the car of Aron's British teammate, Scott Stoddard (played by Brian Bedford) crashing into a cliff wall resulting in critical injuries. Jessica Walter plays Pat Stoddard, Scott's wife, who has already long felt neglected by her husband who has obsessively been competing with the memory of his dead brother, also a racer, killed earlier after a highly successful career of major victories. With Scott in hospital painfully recuperating, Pat finds herself smitten by the American driver and the two find themselves in an adulterous affair. Fact is, Pete Aron is still a pretty decent man who does not want to add more torment to his teammate, as he feels at least partly responsible for Scott's accident, so he ends the tryst with Pat before it gets out of hand.

The entire film plays much like a soap opera set against the Formula One racing circuit, with lives touched by pain, obsession, sex and in one case, a deeply felt love. In fact it is that subplot of the tender love that blossoms between the French driver, Jean-Pierre Sarti and an American magazine reporter sent to cover the Grand Prix for a fashion magazine, Louise Frederickson that is really at the heart of the film. As much as I like Jim Garner, I have to admit that the most poignant role in the film is that of the Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Sarti, played by the singer and sometime actor, Yves Montand. I really think he's terrific in it.

As I mentioned before, I've seen the film numerous times and the racing scenes were state-of-the-art for their time and continue to impress today. Grand Prix also has the distinction of being the only film I can think of that stars two actors that I had the pleasure of meeting in real life: James Garner and the British actor, Brian Bedford, who is famous to Disney fans for having voiced the animated title character in 1973's "Robin Hood"!

The caricature of Jim Garner and Jessica Walter is based more on publicity shots I've come across (like the one pictured above), as opposed to a specific scene from the film, mostly because I wanted to depict Jim in his racing uniform and he never appears alongside Jessica Walter dressed like that in the film. Here is a segment from the film that covers most of the characters I've described. At this point, Garner's character, Pete Aron has been removed from the racing team after the horrific accident and is trying to stay in the loop by (temporarily) taking a job as a reporter covering the rest of the racing season:

Monday, December 28, 2020

Meanwhile In Mississauga...

"Our Lady of Perpetual Lockdowns", Mayor Crombie has decided that we cannot have any joy this year.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Happy Birthday, Marty Robbins!

 Remembering the great Marty Robbins on his birthday today. I was fortunate enough to get to meet Marty backstage after his performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa back in 1982. I was there with my Mom, as we were both huge fans of Marty, and he was so gracious in chatting with us for about 15 minutes or so, even giving my Mom a kiss on the cheek! He was quite taken with my caricature of him (I painted up two originals so I could present one to him as a gift), and he even asked us if we'd like to watch his second show from the wings backstage, which we took him up on for several songs before we had to head home. Tragically, I heard the news just later that year in December that Marty had died of a massive heart attack, having had a history of heart problems throughout his life. I was absolutely crushed, as I'd have to rate my meeting with Marty as one of the most cherished of any of my celebrity encounters. He was a very kind and elegant gentleman, and remains one of my favourite country singers to this day. Here's Marty singing his classic, El Paso, one of the greatest western ballads of all time!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Sad State Of Academia And "Cancel Culture"

Mostly on this blog I talk about the things I like, particularly entertainment from the past that I admire. Only occasionally do I get political on here, but this is one of those exceptions as I think it's too important not to address.

Within the last couple of weeks a situation happened to a friend of mine that very closely resembled what I too had experienced in my last year or two of teaching college until my resignation in 2015. (Perhaps I'll finally tell that story in the near future). Cristy Maltese is a veteran of Disney feature animation, having most notably painted backgrounds for The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and several other features through to Home On The Range, for which she was background supervisor. In short, she's got a lot of talent and some pretty impressive credits to her name, so she knows her stuff. Recently, Cristy had also been teaching Visual Development in the Animation program at Laguna College of Art & Design in California. That all came to an end last week after a ridiculous situation that Cristy writes about here. Please read her account first before continuing on to what I have to add to it below.

The following is Cristy's original letter to LCAD that she also copied to her teaching colleagues, including Larissa. These segments are from Larissa's Facebook page, so you can also see the snide comments in response from she and her followers:

Now, here is Larissa's initial response to what Cristy had said:

She then followed that up with this letter of rebuttal that was sent to LCAD:

As well as airing her views about Cristy on Twitter:

As you can see, Larissa went to great pains to paint herself as a “victim” of “racism”, when it was really all much ado about nothing , i.e.  a hashtag that read #AllLivesMatter issued by one of the staff at LCAD. Yet when Cristy tried to show just how benign that statement from this well-meaning staffer was (as he was actually writing in support of BLM), Larissa decided that Cristy must also be publicly outed for not kowtowing as she was supposed to when it came to all things related to the Black Lives Matter movement (a dubious organization hiding behind a title suggesting noble intent). Anyone who has actually read Cristy’s original letter can plainly see how it was only meant to calm things down and is not “racist" in the least, as Larissa falsely claims it to be. Yet Larissa decided to write a spiteful screed in response that deliberately mischaracterized Cristy’s words while also ginning up her followers on both Facebook and Twitter, all of whom added their own vitriolic comments likely without ever having actually read Cristy’s letter in the first place. Just take a read through those comments to see how hateful they are.

The end result was that, after this debacle and the pressure that Larissa and her followers (including other faculty and students) put upon the college through a signed petition, Cristy received a phone call from LCAD letting her know that she would not be called back to teach in the next semester. In short, she was another casualty of today's "Cancel Culture".

The fact is, I know only too well how such radicals operate, having been subjected to much the same vindictive experience a number of years ago myself. As such, I know how to recognize their insidious and dishonest tactics intended to ruin the reputations of others. Teaching can be a very satisfying experience when one has students who are willing to learn, as well as colleagues and administration who are tolerant of different viewpoints. But it can devolve into a nightmare when those who are steeped in “outrage culture” are looking for any opportunity to take phony offence and seek to destroy their target by whatever nefarious means they can. So long as this intolerance of alternative views and practice of “Cancel Culture” continues, our colleges and universities will lose their brightest and their best teachers and professors, and will end up with mediocre people remaining to indoctrinate and cow their students into submission. This does not bode well for the future of higher learning or for society at large.