Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother’s Day


It’s been a challenging day here, I just finished yelling at one kid, and am now torturing another by making him belatedly write a paper due tomorrow. 

There’s not been enough time for me to draw anything...or to feel like an even marginally competent parent.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day: here is a throwback napkin from 5 years ago....from back when seeing them asleep was just such a relief.

I was always annoyed as helpful strangers would approach me when the kids were tiny and offer me the unsolicited advice that I really should enjoy them while they were young because things were going to become more difficult later and I was going to miss the simplicity of dealing with small children and babies.

This sort of comment was usually offered, say, when I was poorly managing the temper tantrum of a hysterical four year old on a crowded rush hour subway platform while wearing a screaming infant with a full diaper strapped to my chest. 

Ah, memories.

It’s doubtful that my parenting has improved much in the intervening years, but our sons have matured despite my failings. 

And I don’t wish that they were still tiny....

(....and totally unwilling to sleep.)

Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Rancor and Godzilla for May The Fourth


Lovable Monsters:


The Rancor has his fans, though perhaps not as many as Godzilla. 


There are certainly other creatures in the Star Wars universe who are closer in size to the ever enlarging Kaiju....and I considered drawing them... 

But maybe I just wanted to draw a Rancor holding claws with Godzilla.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Egg and Boy Chicks


For Easter:
Eggs, Boy-Chicks, Memes,
...& Chick Culling

(You might want to stop reading right now)

As previously mentioned, we’ve been working on a series on internet memes, their importance to our sons, & of course, my basic ignorance. 

Easter seemed like the day to tackle the “World Record Egg,” aka the most liked post ever on Instagram (over 53 million now), & most liked post on any social platform (according to Wikipedia).

And I would have missed it all at the time (January 2019 and onward)  if it weren’t for my sons diligently keeping me up to date.

Apparently the egg’s popularity was not born of pop cultural happenstance, but was initially engineered by select individuals as a challenge to the popularity of Ms Jenner’s picture featuring her daughter. (A mere 18 million likes!)

There were various thoughts and opinions about the egg phenomenon. Was it a triumph of community over celebrity?...populism over consumerism?

Though I don’t think he really had an opinion about any of the above topics, our younger son was definitely an enthusiastic 
egg fan at the time.

Who does not like an egg, after all? Particularly in an iconic, @shutterstock style image?

But let us think further about eggs today on Easter. 

They are pretty ubiquitous. Yes, there’s debate about their nutritional benefits. I had, however, come to the tenuous conclusion that feeding my sons “Pastured, Organic-fed” eggs was better than say Fruit Loops or bagels. Those damn expensive eggs were laid by happy hens, who frolicked on grass, eating delicious bugs, after all....

But like all things diet-, parenting-, environmental-, internet-related: 
Beware.

Even the production of virtuous eggs does not require more than a small handful of male chicks. 

Google “chick culling,” I dare you. Or don’t, & leave with the tidbit that live “maceration” is the destination for male chicks in the U.S.


I am the caretaker of two young male creatures ....for whom I prepare scrambled eggs...

Guiltily.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Clay Head


It’s Never Too Late to Illustrate a Basic Incompetence:
(Definitely not a napkin)

A good deal of my work in sculpture and photography used to feature myself as source material. I was available, free, and not offended if I cut off my head and sat on it.  

Now that I am working my status as a crone, strangely, I find dealing with my own image in sculpture more troubling. (Yes. Vanity! Who knew?)

But last semester, I asked the artists in my class at the New York Academy of Art last semester to work on self portraits, and it made me think that it was time to impose the same assignment on myself.

In class, I argued that self portraits were an interesting topic both in the context of art history (mostly in 2D work of course) and contemporary selfie culture....and of course an interesting formal and practical challenge.  

I’m not sure I would give that assignment again, however. Self-source materials, i.e. photos, are always lousy and frustrating compared to working from a live model, and maybe not an extra challenge that you need in a classroom context. And then there is the potential awkwardness of discussing the sculptor’s face in critiques: “I think your face is more asymmetrical, and is more full here” Well, I didn’t say that to anyone. If anything, all participants were more attractive than their self-portraits. Wish I could say the same for myself.

I have always felt that I had a better opinion of my sculpting ability in the past. Whatever the current piece I am working on always seems to suck the most...but this one is a particularly uninspiring moment. 

I used to say that I was a better sculptor than I was a teacher. But now I am wondering a bit if I was talking a better game than I’m playing.

This head is mostly just a test. I am using an unfriendly clay that I am not used to, and working hollow without an armature, which is something I haven’t done in a very long time.

I can only say that it isn’t done, and I have a nefarious plan to cave the face in as part of another project....so it may not matter exactly how I finish arranging my jowls. 

Does that help?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

I Identify as a Flying Attack Unicorn


Continuing the meme series, for National Unicorn Day:

While my feelings about my sons’ developing gender politics are ambivalent, (“Mom, is the wage gap a REAL thing?”) I do understand that they are growing up in an entirely different landscape than the one I experienced long ago when I was a young cishet person.

If you are asking yourself if the previous sentence has a typo in it, then you might be late to the gender nomenclature party. My son has high school friends who use “they” or “hir” as their pronoun. The school addresses teacher reports in the 2nd person (“You wrote a good essay”) to avoid inadvertently using an inappropriate pronoun.

We’ve come a long way on the topic of gender and self determination...Well, not universally of course... But the conversation is certainly out there for everyone to see and participate in, complain about, or make fun of through memes. 

One such gender-discomfort meme is  “I Identify as an Attack Helicopter.”  According to knowyourmeme.com, this one parodies “absurd gender and sexual identification posts often found on forums and blogging sites, most notably Tumblr.”

While I have some serious misgivings about the appeal of backlash memes, (particularly to my sons)....it is a confusing time for many, and we do have stuff to process....Humor could help...maybe.

At any rate, while I can’t really support the Attack Helicopter Meme, I find the spin-off than my son favored: “I identify as a flying attack unicorn” to be more charming. 

Because. Unicorns. Why not?

In this drawing, unfortunately, I did not do said unicorn justice. I was thinking that maybe it should be helicopter/robot-like, but, giving my poor skill at rendering mechanical objects, this was not a wise choice

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

that moment when ur doge


such doge
much homework
very stress
must scroll

Like most internet memes, I was completely unaware of the Doge meme iceberg, while being slightly annoyed by the tiny bit that my sons kept mentioning.  

A couple of years back, every time we passed a smallish, beige-ish dog, we would have to avidly discuss whether that was a ‘doge’ or not. It was finally made clear to me that a doge was a Shiba Inu...maybe.  But why was this so so compelling and important?

Again, like all things internet meme, I have read the exhaustive history, but am still sort of befuddled on the real why beyond the obvious “dogs are funny” and “it is amusing to imagine that they speak pidgin English.”

To attempt a brief summary of some bullet points from @knowyourmeme:
🐕The use of the term ‘doge’ for dog dates back to a 2005 puppet show video

🐕Pictures of a particular Shiba Inu were posted on a personal blog by @kabosumama (her present handle on instagram) back in 2010. 

🐕The meme spread in various forms and various dogs on Tumblr, Reddit and 4chan from 2010 onwards

🐕In 2013, YouTube inserted a feature that shifted text to brightly colored comic sans font when the search term ‘doge meme’ was used. Many of the doge images feature short words and pidgin phrases superimposed like ‘wow,’ ‘so hip,’ ‘very internet meme,’ ‘such wisdom.’

🐕Reports of the original doge’s death in 2017 were a hoax, but were very popular, and no doubt increased the meme’s popularity.

🐕Also in 2017, Dogecoin was introduced as a satirical cryptocurrency. At its height, one Dogecoin was worth $400.80. At last report, they are worth $0.00322634 each. 

🐕Enough?

For our part, we have a bit of a history with dogs’ heads on children. (Take that face recognition software.)

And the classic side-eye doge expression seemed appropriate for “That Moment When Your Mom Sees You Scrolling When You Should Be Doing Homework.’

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Goose and Toothless


But would Dad be allergic to the Flerkin?

Yes, we saw “How To Train Your Dragon:The Hidden World” and “Captain Marvel”

How could we not?

The HTTYD franchise presents a marvelously compelling fantasy of the ultimate pet: Very intelligent, powerful, rideable, flying and breathing fire. So much better than your average dog, cat or even horse.

The only other things we could look for in the ultimate pet might be hidden tentacles and a pocket dimension. 

Goose the Cat/ Flerkin in “Captain Marvel” certainly did not disappoint. 

If you live with a cat and you haven’t seen the movie yet, I can only advise you to be sure to hang around for the post credit scene. 

Sadly, our house does not have accommodations for dragons or felines, but we could sure use a pocket dimension.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

All Star


Some 
Body Once Told Me
The World Was Going Roll Me
(I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.)

I had a reasonably good opinion of my own intelligence once. There was some outside corroboration- I did quite well in school. My academic success was very much a triumph of drudgery rather than of innate intelligence. But if one drudges long and hard enough, one can mostly outrun the fear of being outed as a secret dummy.

Maybe until you have kids. Or at least until you have my kids.

The fact that I had a 4.0 GPA in college is now at best a surprising and amusing anecdote.  The ability to perform well in school has been a pretty useless skill in my adult life.

You might think that I could at least help my kids excel at school: help them proofread their papers, share tips on how to study for tests, suggest how to budget their time, etc.?

No. No. No. 
Absolutely not. 

I might even have an inverse effect when it comes to fostering academic prowess in my own offspring. 

You no doubt are wondering what this has to do with the napkin. Maybe not much. But to continue:

Like all things meme related, I was slightly confused when I noticed a year or two ago that my that my older son was repeatedly singing the opening lines to Smash Mouth’s 1999 song “All Star.” I was perplexed at the time, as I was pretty sure the song dated from before his birth. I don’t think I even recalled its use in the opening credits of the first Shrek movie- also released before his birth. 

As usual, I though this repeated singing of the song snippet was a sort of special torture he had cooked up for the adults in the house.

...but no, I discovered later, it was everywhere online.

This “All Star” / Shrek meme is a decade long, deep dark rabbit hole...which is actually a rabbit warren of significant proportions. I can’t even begin to explain it here.
(Go to https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/all-star?full=1 if you desire an overview)

But one particular iteration is the “Somebody Once Told Me” photo meme. In the first movie, Shrek throws open the door and bursts out of his outhouse, just as this line plays. 

The related memes feature two images with the text split between “Some/body once told me”  The second image is often something  surprising, upsetting and/or funny that is suddenly revealed from behind a door. Many of them are just variations on how funny it is when things go wrong for other people: falling down, blowing up, spilling something, generally getting clobbered in a demeaning way. 

In summary, the people rolling me have definitely burst out of my own personal outhouse. But I can only say, “get your game on, go play”

Cringe.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Attack of the Shaggy Meme


Stoner vs Kaiju and Saiyan

As I may have mentioned more than once in past posts, the Cerberus at the gates to my personal hell probably has three Scooby Doo heads. While I disliked the entire show during my own childhood, I was particularly unfond of the talking dog and his scraggly chinned, BFF-in-binge eating, Shaggy.

And during the last 15 or so years of parenting, I have felt like there is always a new Scooby Doo movie or TV show sneaking up on me while my back is turned. I wouldn’t say that our kids are major Scooby and Shaggy fans, but their appreciation for the pair has tested my patience on many occasions.

But until recently, I had no idea how Shaggy had been proliferating out of control in the world of online memes. In these memes, the joke is that he is amazingly powerful.

The genesis of online memes can often be random or mysterious, but All Powerful Shaggy has a couple precursors that are easy to spot.

I’ll assume we all know that Shaggy is usually a wimpy, fearful whiner, frequently manipulated into acting as ghoul-bait by promises of food...often dog food. 

But in “Scooby Doo!: Legend of the Phantosaur,” the 16th direct to video movie in the franchise (you read that right: 16th and it was only 2011) Shaggy is hypnotized to become a motorcycle-riding, bar-brawl-winning badass whenever he hears the word “bad.” 

In the earlier 2004 live action “Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed,” there was a memorable scene where Shaggy and Scooby consumed a fridge full of transformative potions, culminating in a ridiculously “buff” super muscly version of Shaggy. (This came immediately after the Shaggy with breasts and a crop top. But the less said about that, the better.)

Perhaps the availability of these source materials made it possible for Shaggy to become the new version of the “Chuck Norris facts” meme.  Chuck Norris facts, as helpfully explained on knowyourmeme.com are, “a series of satirical factoids and hyperbolic claims that characterize the American celebrity martial artist and actor as an extremely tough, virile and alpha-male archetype.” The meme originated in 2005, and lasted a long while. 

For instance: “When Chuck Norris goes to donate blood, he declines the syringe, and instead requests a hand gun and a bucket.”

The Shaggy memes are usually more extreme than even the Chuck Norris facts.

In early 2019, it was popular to declare that Shaggy was actually an all powerful god who could end entire universes using only a small percentage of his powers- i.e. “Shaggy was responsible for the Big Bang while using only 14% of his power.”

Shaggy’s memed all-powerfulness also has anime/ manga inflection to it. He has recently appeared as a modded- in character in the game “Jump Force.” 

Previously some 270,000 people had signed an online petition to have Shaggy added in to the latest version of Mortal Kombat, so clearly the desire to see Shaggy fight is shared by more than just a handful of gamers. 

On this napkin, Shaggy is knocking down Goku, one of the superhuman fighters from Dragon Ball, having already trounced Godzilla. 

I would have liked to include a few more antagonists: Thanos? Darkseid? King Ghidora?
But let’s face it, just Goku and Godzilla were challenge enough.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Yelling


Yelling:
[And More Yelling]:

This one is perhaps not so much a meme, strictly speaking, as an observation. 

My impression is that there is a lot of yelling going on in anime and anime-derived games. 
Related memes often present the characters with their mouths almost comically open wide.

There is also a lot of yelling at my house.

My sons are often yelling happily or excitedly while playing such games. 

When I am doing the yelling, it is very rarely an expression of joy or excitement. 

I might need to work on that.

The second image is a “My Hero Academia” derived meme...I think....and the source of the image format.



Sweet Frosted Sixteen


Sweet Frosted Sixteen:

We have a long history of silly frosted birthday cakes....but perhaps, like the napkins, we are dwindling down to the end times.

The sixteen years-ancient birthday celebrant was flummoxed as to what to select for his cake image this year. 

(His recently turned twelve year old brother was too cool for the whole enterprise. To be clear: not too cool for colored frosting...just too cool for pictures made of colored frosting.)

Somehow at the very last minute, we arrived at the cute-beheld-spectacled cat image for the Sixteenth. 

I can’t explain it’s significance, but I can only observe that it says something to him. 

He’s not much into cats, real or imaginary, so that’s definitely not the answer to the mystery.

At any rate, it was an easier frosting project than, say a particular Dark Souls character wearing a certain kind of armor, sitting in front of a bonfire, or three characters from Skylanders, or the Predator riding on Godzilla, just to name a few.

I have included the original image for reference. I did change the glasses from black to acid green because, while looking cool, black frosting can be a bummer to eat and to clean off the couch after the 14 teenagers have left.

I apologize that the original cat image is uncredited. We don’t know where it came from, and Google has been unforthcoming. If you know, please do share.

Someone once contacted me to ask if they could reproduce our napkin of Princess Leia riding a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the frosting of a birthday cake for their four year old daughter...to which of course I said: absolutely! 

So certainly we like to give credit where credit is due... though of course I don’t feel the need to be credited for the birthday cakes of small children. But it was amusing to be asked for permission. Sorry, again, I do not have an image of the cake handy.






Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sentimental Monster Selfie


Valentine’s Day is arriving far behind schedule here at Daily Napkins. 

Sadly, my staying up late to finish a drawing privileges have been revoked, probably permanently. Once I miss the deadline of the actual holiday, I look at the thing and say something like, “why can’t I even manage to indicate clearly which monster is in front of the other monster?” Then the motivation to display my awkward drawing declines further. Clearly, I was fooling myself about how fun it was going to be to draw all those heads with horns jutting out of them.

But my kids are looking forward to the next Godzilla movie. (Featuring King Ghidora, the three headed gold dragon creature, just in case that needs to be said)

And I am always happy to attempt a peaceful-resolution-between-kaiju sort of image as we could use more of that sort of friendliness between our resident monsters.

(You can see some of our long napkin history of Godzilla posing with other large monsters at the Godzilla section.)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Math Problems




That’s right bitches. 
I ate 60 cupcakes/ recreational nukes:

I initially thought that generating a series of napkins based on memes (and my misunderstanding of them) would not be much of a challenge. We are constantly awash in memes after all.

But my triple criteria: a topic somewhat recognizable to many people (totally subjective and impossible to define, I know), a meme specifically relevant to us and our family, and finally, something that I want to draw.... well, this is presenting more of a challenge than I had hoped. 

Nevertheless:

Memes are best when they have multiple layers and references.

The first iteration of the “My Name in a Math Problem” with the image of Newt from “The Maze Runner,” is amusing. Particularly if you find any use of the word “bitches” to be a knee slapper. 

I like it better with the addition of the idiotic “Recreational Nukes”

But to segue back to the “Bitches” topic: I apologize sincerely if my use of the word here is offending or irritating.  I am more or less among the irritated and offended....if only my resistance hadn’t been ground down to an accepting nub. The draining away of the offensiveness of the word makes me uneasily contemplate what sorts of other appalling things I might come to accept in the future? 

At any rate, if you are not a current parent of a lower or middle schooler, the questionable use of kids’ names in school math problems is definitely a thing, and the quantified item is often food and somehow ridiculous.

In our case, the item of food that was recently consumed in ridiculous quantities was cupcakes. I made an obscene quantity of mini cupcakes for one kid to take to school for birthday acknowledgement....and an almost obscene amount came back home in the box to join the significant amount still at home in the fridge. Though not for long.

And cupcakes and recreational nukes have so much in common. I’m going to assume I don’t have to expand on that observation.

As for this napkin: often a drawing reaches a point where one has to make a choice: do I leave it suggestively unresolved and semi-finished? Or do I push it farther, risking ruining it completely in the process? In my pretentious professorial capacity, I would tell an art student that often you have to take the risk, push it farther and turn it into a total piece of crap,  if only for the learning experience.

I can only hope that this drawing was in fact a successful learning experience.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Imaginary Skull Cake


This might be the first child birthday in a long time that I haven’t been called upon to produce a large frosted sheet cake. 

(Last week I did make over one hundred mini cupcakes with blue frosting...just in case you are worried that I am slacking...)

Very early on, before the kids knew better, we substituted healthier foods than cake with butter frosting and artificial dyes to accompany birthday celebrations. This was before I found my calling as a spreader of colored frosting. 

The kids often wanted some dark image in their frosting: Batman, Dark Souls characters, and lots of black frosting was always something I regretted later. 

But now perhaps the younger child is too cool for a mother-decorated cake.

So as long as I was imagining a fantasy birthday cake, I though it should be hypothetically cool-enough, complete with death, fire and  black frosting.

Though, now I have a supply of activated charcoal, so perhaps I could make a slightly less toxic and staining version of black icing if someone wanted such a thing. 

The glasses he is wearing in the image say “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY” above the lenses. 

Also, totally not cool enough even for napkins.

You can see some of the previous frosting efforts at: