Sunday, October 13, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 13

When Choosing a Sleep Position, Consider Your Internal Organs.
Or, Perhaps, Don’t.

Inktober 2019 Day 13
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe

While opinions are mixed, many “health experts” agree with traditional Ayurvedic  advice that it is best for the internal organs (liver, digestive system, and lymphatic drainage) to sleep on the left side. 

I won’t unpack the specifics here (though I could, really, I could) but I do consider this sort of question when arranging myself before sleep. 

But while I like to imagine that I can cultivate a positive relationship with my internal organs (as opposed to, say, “damn you intestines, why are you producing so much gas?”) it might be best for me not to explicitly think about my organs in a graphic, anatomical way.

It’s probably most restful for me not to focus on my liver or large intestine.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 12

Participate in Relaxing Activities Before Bed:

Inktober 2019 Day 12
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

We are always keen to get the kids off their screens before bed so they can do something low tech. So relaxing for the whole family.

(That’s a rubber knife, in case you are wondering. But still, not exactly calming for the observer or the participants.)

I’m posting this close to midnight, so you can see that I am no example of sleep virtue today. There were some very extenuating circumstances...and I am wearing my red glasses....

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 10

Who Let The Monkeys Out?

Inktober 2019 Day 10
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

I do have some “Monkey Mind” problems during daylight hours, but I am much more concerned with a having brain full of hyperactive simians at 4 am.

Thankfully, this happens less often than it did in years past. (Could that be due to all of my attention to sleep? I don’t dare hope) I used to listen to boring podcasts in the middle of the night to block out my own obsessive internal monologue. 

I still occasionally snap awake in the small hours determined to compulsively worry about whether the liability insurance has been renewed on time, but it happens more rarely. 

I decided to draw Colombian Night Monkeys since they are nocturnal.  I was originally planning to draw sleeping monkeys - the accompanying sleep advice being to not wake up the monkey mind in the middle of the night. 
But I’m afraid my mental monkeys are always hanging around waiting for me to wake up enough for them to go to work. And I’m not sure I have any specific technique to avoid this situation....except boring podcasts.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 9

Oxytocin Supplementation:

Inktober 2019 Day 9
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

Apparently sleep can be enhanced by boosting one’s endogenous hormone production...particularly of oxytocin, the cuddling hormone.  Oxytocin opposes the stress hormone cortisol. Elevated cortisol in the evening, say after yelling at your kids about not getting ready for bed, definitely messes up sleep. 
While my sons are usually not too concerned about my spiking cortisol levels, (Mom!!! Don’t turn off the WiFi!!!) they can also help me relax by hugging me....though often it  appears that there might be an alternative agenda at work.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 8

Low EMF, Warm, and Crinkly:

Inktober 2019 Day 8
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

No, I don’t actually sleep with my head wrapped in foil, but I do joke about the wearing of tinfoil hats frequently enough to annoy my friends and relatives.

I find myself the perpetual electronic killjoy in our household: turning off the WIFI, endlessly picking on my poor children for carrying their non-airplane-mode cellphones in their pockets or for reclining next to the router.  

And yes, I am particularly concerned about electric, radio and magnetic fields in regard to sleep. 

But maybe it’s mostly my concern that is keeping me awake. 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 7

Aspirational Smiling

Inktober 2019 Day 7
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

Have you heard that gratitude and smiling (even if you don’t actually want to be grateful or smile)can make you sleep better and be more healthy overall? 
While I don’t dispute the potential of these interventions, imposed attitude adjustment is definitely more challenging for me than, say taking melatonin, or drinking valerian tea. I’m not having much success with the advice to “smile a genuine smile” first thing upon waking and just before going to sleep. 
I would definitely like to be that person...but the person I am now is a little dubious about the smiling version of me.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 6

The Sleep of Reason Does Not Produce Lucid Dreams:

Inktober 2019 Day 6
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe.

In my ongoing attempts to sleep better, I have tried some reverse psychology: Instead of being annoyed that I always wake up multiple times a night, perhaps I should instead be grateful for the opportunity to work on lucid dreaming.

Most lucid dreaming (trying to become conscious within a dream to control, question or analyze the dream and/or the right hemisphere of the brain) techniques suggest waking oneself up to try and move in and out of the dreaming state repeatedly. 

I’ve not had much success with the lucid dreaming...or with the reverse psychology. 

I have been keeping a dream journal, trying to send my subconscious mind the message that I am paying attention. So I am remembering many more of my dreams for the first time in years.

But so far all of my dreams are remarkably banal. They feature things lifted from whatever tv program I have viewed most recently...or dead pets whose litter boxes I have forgotten to clean...for so long that I can’t even remember the last time...and crying babies, lost dogs, lost homework...and unfortunately, many, many large, burrowing rodents. 

I had one random lucid dream that involved a lot of vomiting of black dental floss and some bad sculpture. 

It was sort of exciting, but not exactly a success. And definitely not a boon to my sleep.

(This drawing is not finished...but perhaps that is for the best)

Inktober 2019 Day 5


Inktober 2019 Day 5
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe

I do believe that mindfulness and other forms of meditation could help me sleep better and generally be a less annoyed and annoying person...but it’s the consistent application that really matters.

And this evening I should have been meditating rather than making this drawing.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 4

Imaginary Soothing Companions:

Inktober 2019 Day 4
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe

In the quest for at least minimally acceptable amounts of sleep, I have tried various forms of meditation, mindfulness, and breath work.  There is sadly more to come on this topic, but since I was tired of drawing my own increasingly jowly face, I thought I would move on to my problems with visualization and the generation of positive mind states.

Several meditation or self-regulation techniques invite you to imagine a positive or soothing situation- say that you are with someone you love.  I have tried the perhaps most idiotically concrete implementation of this concept: imagining holding one of my sons as a sleeping infant or napping with my long-departed dead cat. 

But of course, both kids were epically terrible sleepers as infants who preferred to nap almost exclusively while being carried by a walking adult...and would then go off like car alarms the moment they were transferred to a non mobile surface...or a mobile surface that was not their mother, for that matter. 

My cat was rarely a snuggly lap pet and was also a rather opinionated individual who did not exactly prioritize my needs for emotional support....or for sleep. He was more interested, for instance, in catching a mouse in the middle of the night and then carefully pushing it up against my neck so he could play with it in my bed.

I really need to focus and visualize that rarest of infant or feline naps, carefully refraining from letting my mind wander to the other 99.9% of our interactions involving sleep.

Perhaps this is an extra mindfulness challenge that will pay off someday.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Inktober 2019 Day 3

And It Makes It Harder To Yell At Your Kids. (Though you might be surprised)

Inktober 2019 Day 3
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead. Maybe

Continuing onward on my Inktober theme of hapless attempts to improve my sleep: we arrive at a more troubling intervention: mouth taping.

If you are horrified at the idea of taping your mouth shut at night, and consider me a crazy zealot, google it. I may well be trafficking in zealous craziness, but you will discover that I have a lot of company and that there is an annoying army of wellness experts and bloggers happy to describe the benefits in exhaustive detail. 
There is no doubt it is weird, inconvenient, and more than a bit demeaning: look at me, I can’t even keep my own mouth shut. And I have ripped the skin off my lips more than once.

The taping practice hasn’t fixed my sleep or my health in general, but it has definitely kept things from getting worse in several departments. It does have all those benefits. I don’t like to sleep without my tape. Ever. Really.

But when your mouth is taped close, it is challenging to yell at the teenager who has just opened your bedroom door to tell you something you did not need to know while you were sleeping, and then has left the door ajar, revealing that he has also left all the lights in the apartment on. 
But as suggested above, I have learned ventriloquist-like skills, (another benefit!) though there is reason that the tape in the drawing is puckered and crumpled. (Of course, there is the possibility that not yelling at all might be more beneficial for sleep...but more on that question later.) 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Inktober Day 2

How Not to Follow Your Own Advice:

Inktober 2019 Day 2
(Sleep Tips from a Person Who Sleeps Very Poorly)

Common sense would suggest that refraining from excessive drinking of water before bed would be wise if one does not enjoy visiting the bathroom at 1 am, and at 3 am, and so on.  

And practically every health and wellness expert now extols the virtues of drinking a big glass of water upon waking. (You become dehydrated in your sleep, really. Particularly after all the trips to the bathroom.)

But here’s the thing: I am really thirsty before bed. A large glass of water looks pretty compelling to me late in the evening. But conversely, downing any liquid first thing in the morning beyond a small cup of tea is a repellent chore.

So I might not be following the water intake advice quite as rigorously as I should. 

Maybe once every few months, I make it through a night without getting out of bed to deal with the excess liquid. Remarkably, last night was one of those rare ones when I got to stay in bed (in anticipation of this post perhaps) 

But I had a long annoying dream early this morning about endlessly searching for, and then waiting in an equally endless line for, a restroom.

So perhaps it was not really a sleep success. 

#inktober2019 #dailynapkinsbutnotanapkin #watercolor #ink #sleephacks #healthandwellness #sleep #unflatteringselfportraits 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Inktober 2019

It’s Time for That Disapproving Face:
(#inktober returns to try our followers’ patience)

I like to try to keep up with the drawing-a-day mandate of Inktober because the time pressure eventually pushes me into drawing something more least that is the hope...

Meanwhile, I know it is not what the napkins followers are here to see, so once again, I apologize for the upcoming month of pretentious, attempts at drawings that will portray far fewer superheroes on absorbent paper products that we might like.

I usually try to pick a theme for Inktober, and I regret to report that it looks like this year’s series will be about my problems with sleep.

To recap quite briefly: I had a run-in with bad health back in 2016, and while I successfully stomped the symptoms down, since then “health and wellness” has remained a hobby...or maybe if you ask my family, more of a fixation.

When I got sick, it occurred rather belatedly to me that sleeping 4 or 5 hours a night for over a decade might not have been a good idea. I had always been of the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” school of thought, but the advent of children in my life exponentially increased my opportunity for sleep deprivation. During those years where I was only in bed from 1 am to 6 am, I was a brilliant and efficient sleeper. 
Now that sleep seems increasingly essential to my ongoing health and ability to remember my childrens’ names and the day of the week, I am a remarkably terrible sleeper.

I have tried an appalling number of interventions and tactics to remedy this situation...some common sense, some ludicrous. 
For the first day of inktober, we have blue-blocking glasses. Because blue light tells your superchiasmatic nucleus that it is daylight and you should not make melatonin and go to sleep. And all of our electronic rectangles are full of blue light.

And because oversized red glasses (mine are large enough to fit over my regular glasses) are super attractive.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Aliens Naruto Run Out of Area 51 on Monday

(They were just waiting for all the Area 51 raiders to go home)

This one is a little late, (or is it?) as the main event to ”Storm Area 51” was of course scheduled for Friday September 20th. 

“What event?” My ever-tolerant mom is asking as she reads this....(though there was a good bit of coverage in the New York Times.... So, perhaps I can’t use Grandma as a foil here.) 

At any rate, there was a fair amount of attention paid by our kids to the supposed raid on Area 51 last Friday. The huge online phenomenon manifested a good bit smaller in the real world. And sadly, we were not among the 400 or so people who actually went to the site...or the environs. 
But we were among the millions who were impressed by the guy who managed to get his Naruto run in the background behind a reporter from “Action 13 News”...and became a worldwide meme.

Naruto running: perhaps no more implausible or uncomfortable in the real world than the extraterrestrials in Nevada.

My son tells me that he can recognize all of the aliens on this napkin, so at least there’s that.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Back to School Napkin Portraits

Back to School Portrait:

It’s been a difficult end of summer around here. 
The summer itself was mostly filled with probably age-appropriate, incessant rejection of parental authority. This independence from authority primarily manifested as a refusal to attend to basic personal hygiene, and balking at the idea of going outside or engaging in any physical activity beside walking from the couch to the bedroom. ...And also rejecting any well-meant suggestions (ok, this is sometimes described as nagging by the recipients of the well-meant suggestions) that it might perhaps be wise to complete some of the enormous summer homework assignment a bit in advance of the weekend immediately before school. 
But this evening, I am focusing on the recently popular topic of gratitude, and reminding myself how nice it is to have the kids around now, and how much I will miss them in the future when I can’t nag them in such close proximity...and can’t spectate on the failure of my nagging quite so easily.

The following images are of the napkins without the kids, and an example of what happens after a stressful 2 minutes of posing for mom.

One can see many more instances of napkin portraits on the blog from many years past, but this is our first solidly profile view, so that is marginally notable. 

(See the all the napkin portraits over the years here:)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Pug Nefarious

Pug Nefarious:

We’ve always been big fans of “Gladstone’s School for World Conquerers” by Armand Villavert and Mark Andrew Smith.

 “Kid Nefarious” One Shot is in its final hours on kickstarter now. 

Please consider funding, we did, and are fervently hoping that it reaches its goal and gets published!

You can also see the rest of our canine cosplay series from 2012-13:
Including the Skull Brothers as dogs, (also from Gladstone’s) Raven the Weimaraner, Starfire the Dachshund, Nightwing the Hound, Kid Flash the Italian Greyhound, and a disturbing number of many more. One can assess whether my Nefarious or Pug napkin drawing skills have improved over the last six years.

Or there’s always the Animal Cosplay series, if you are really looking to waste some time (Nintendo cosplay for cats!)

Monday, August 5, 2019

Aftermath of Area 51 Raid

What One Does to Relax After the Area 51 Raid:

I rely on my sons to keep me up to date on upcoming important cultural events like the “plan” to storm Area 51.... to liberate the aliens the government is hiding therein. 

I don’t think we will be attending, back to school and all, and so hear all the flights and hotels are already booked solid....but it was entertaining to think about what aliens we might be interested in bringing home:

Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, an Ewok, and the later day Ewok- a Porg, Gizmo from Gremlins, and one of the childlike but deadly aliens from Galaxy Quest....and a red panda, just because my son would really like to have one as a pet.

And what would you do once you brought all those cool aliens (and panda) home? 

Watch youtube on your iPad on the couch while wearing your skeleton onesie, of course. 

Our son was quite concerned that the Daily Napkins followers would not be familiar with Galaxy Quest or Gremlins, released in 1999, and 1984 respectively (ouch)
But he had seen both long ago, so I am going to assume some of the rest of our audience might have also.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Fat Raccoon

Every Gamer’s Ideal Companion:
The Joy of a Fat Raccoon.

Our younger son has been fantasizing about how cool it would be to have a pet raccoon...a FAT pet raccoon.  Fatness in a pet trash panda might in fact be inevitable, I suppose?

I gather there are some raccoon videos going around recently. Something about one trying to grab food off a kitchen counter and instead spilling a bowl of water on its own head. And fat animals appear to be endlessly compelling. I don’t think we will try to unpack the reasons for this here.

What I might have failed to mention previously here, is that a few years back we did have a very sizable raccoon in our urban Brooklyn yard. Actually it presented itself perched rather assertively on the top of our roll down gate, very unconcerned with humans, even if they were hoping up and down and pointing at it. That raccoon was clearly not pet material, and in fact its potential ongoing presence in our woodpile made the boys quite leery of going out in the yard to fetch firewood....ever. 

But if you had a pet raccoon that would sit on your desk between the PlayStation and pc.... 
You would definitely feed it leftover pizza, wouldn’t you? 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Selfie with Kids

Unexplained, Yet Pathetically Obvious:

I cannot really offer a reasonable justification for this drawing. It’s source was mostly a formal game, but once I fit the pieces together, I felt immediately apologetic.

But whatever the quality of the drawing, it might say too much about how my summer is going so far.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Red, White and Blue Day

Happy Red, White and Blue Day!

July 4th would have been a good day to see “Spider-man: Far From Home”
But we had already seen it on the third.

I felt like there needed to be a Spidey popsicle to go with the Bomb Pop.  My younger son helpfully points out that Spider-man, in all of his iterations, never has blue around his eyes like the popsicle. But I did not design the popsicle, just copied it off google images. 

As to why Uncle Sam is giving Peter that weird look...I leave that to your imagination. 

As to why I am seem unable to draw fingers today...can’t explain that either.

Following images are Fourth of July napkins from days past, 2017-2014. I left out the bomb pops, since we just revisited those. Don’t know if any sharks or dinosaurs competed in the Nathan’s hot dog eating contest this year...or if the fireworks will be launched from a Kaiju tonite...but here’s hoping.

Happy Fourth of July!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Happy Bomb Pop Day/ Throwback Thursday

Happy Last Thursday in June
(It’s National Bomb Pop Day,
Did you know?)

Unfortunately there is no fresh napkin for this year’s observance of this important holiday, so we are revisiting some from days past.

Deadpool was sucking food coloring through his mask back in 2017.
The Minions were offering a treat to Thanos the same year.
....And then to a Tyrannosaurus in 2015.
The Velociraptors date from last summer, but they are out of chronological order because I forgot about them.
And the Predator and Alien were celebrating the Fourth of July with Uncle Sam way back in 2013.

Our kids aren’t much interested in Bomb Pops these days. 

It’s hard to eat one in front of the PlayStation. 



Friday, June 21, 2019

Selfie Day Napkin

Happy National Selfie Day:

There hadn’t been a napkin selfie for a while. 

Today I felt like maybe my eyebrows were the most relevant part of my real face.

Following is the napkin solo, photographed in more flattering light. today

(Somehow forgot that lumpy napkins don’t look good when lit from above... perhaps the same is true for me)

You can see the previous selfies at:

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Kaiju Baby Shark Challenge

God-zil-la, doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo

Ok, so I did have to ask my kids to explain the “Baby Shark Challenge” phenomena to me. I had somehow missed out on the international, egregious ear-worm that is the Baby Shark song.

You are now either shocked by my amazing ignorance, or don’t know what the hell I am talking about (hi Grandma!).

I suspect most who are still reading (besides my aforementioned, endlessly indulgent mother) can’t stand to slog through my explanation of the Baby Shark juggernaut. 

But the bare facts according to Wikipedia:
(Everyone else just skip past the bullet points if you haven’t already stopped reading)

* The point of origin was maybe a campfire song with no particular author, but the song usually had colorful verses including dismemberment by shark, attempted CPR, death and the meeting of Jesus.

* Pink Fong released a child friendly version on @YouTube kids on November 25, 2015 and, “as of May 2019 this version has garnered over 2.8 billion views on YouTube, while all videos related to Pinkfong's song approach 5 billion views, making it the most-viewed educational video phenomenon of all time” (“educational”?)

* "Baby Shark" broke into the Billboard Top 100 at #32 during the week of January 7, 2019

* “Due to its popularity, this version of the song has spurred an online dance craze (sometimes referred to as Baby Shark Challenge) cited as ‘the next big thing after the domination of Gangnam Style’”

When debating which characters to draw making the Baby Shark Challenge dance moves, it seemed inevitable to me that it had to be giant monsters.  The most popular giant monsters of the moment are of course those in the recent Godzilla: King of the Monsters movie.

My son, Kaiju fan that he is, told me this drawing was ok... but that if I revealed the Baby Shark theme, we would immediately lose a lot of followers.
But I am afraid, that almost 10,000 departed Instagram followers later, (yes, we were once at 29,000 plus on that platform) it’s too late for me to start strategizing about social media popularity now.

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: 

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...


Happy Easter!