Inside The Lines

Harold takes his purple crayon and draws himself a balloon so he doesn't tumble to his death.

I’m not doing it, but I know people who are. They say it’s relaxing. They find it a creative outlet. Some find it mindful. Some are obsessed, as people are when they embrace a new activity.

Adult coloring.

When I first heard the term, I thought it had to do with a type of sex play. I didn’t read those shades of gray “books,” but the popularity of adult coloring and safe S&M porn for the bookclub set were overlapping if not simultaneous.

If it wasn’t sex play, maybe it was adult themed coloring. You know, NSFW stuff. Don’t look at me that way. It’s a reasonable thought. I mean why else would they modify the action of coloring with “adult?”

I was wrong. There really isn’t much difference between adult coloring and just coloring. You get a piece of paper with a line drawing and you take your crayons or special pencils or even paints, I guess, and you color.

Remember all of those affirmations about it being cool to color outside of the lines? That we won’t be constrained by the rules imposed by our mean first grade teachers? That we will push beyond prescribed limits and put our pens wherever the hell we want to? No more. It’s all about playing within the lines. Au revoir, adios and adieu freedom.

It’s about the constraints. The comfort of knowing where you are supposed to be. The certainty of limits. Success via conforming. A new coloring order.

Folks can go online and download coloring sheets to print out and color. For ten bucks, you can go to Target and buy a Crayola™ branded book of “folk art” for your coloring pleasure. “Folk art” is a euphemism for cartoons that are easy for people to color. Big blocks of spaces to fill in with your favorite colors. Here’s how they sell it:

Lose yourself in a complex-but-relaxing coloring art activity with these captivating, bold, and colorful images. Includes 80 detailed art patterns on high-quality paper. Perforated for easy tear out and framing.

My favorite part? “Perforated for easy tear out AND FRAMING.” Emphasis, of course, mine. I would love to see that person’s bill from Michaels. Eighty from one book. All framed! Their hallways are covered in framed coloring pages of primitive cartoon chickens.  Or even worse, imagine being on their Christmas list.

Here’s the thank you card:

Thanks, Friend, for the thoughtful, framed coloring page of that rooster and the pig in the farmyard! You really are making me think about roosters differently. And is that Crayola™ crayon shade Barn Red? Thanks again, but next year, please don’t go through all that trouble for me. Love, Doc

Seriously, I love that people are enjoying simple, mindful or even mindless activity. I bet that people who are coloring see their breathing and heartbeat slow down, their brain waves relax and tension levels drop exponentially.

It’s cool that you color. I mean I write this stupid blog. Go on now. You do you.

I’m a Punk

huge and very impressive escalator in Copenhagen.

I went to the Freer Gallery to see the Sōtatsu exhibit today.

Here’s my compressed 411 for you: Some 400 years ago in Japan, this guy, Sōtatsu, was an amazing artist and craftsman. He decorated papers and fans and told stories with ink and paint and foils. He did prints for poetry scrolls and made beautiful panels. He used the medium like nobody else and influenced eastern art. All the credit went to his collaborators and students. He disappeared for centuries.

My point isn’t about his struggles. He did okay for himself. My point is that he was a master. He was able to accomplish masterpieces because he worked on his craft. He was great and memorable for hundreds of years because he worked to learn. He experimented, refined and improved his art.

So here I am tonight, slogging and slurring through post number 30.  I’m writing because I am faux-working at my craft. Really, though, I’m just a punk. I’m writing without the care and effort and path to improvement of Sōtatsu and his disciples. I’m just putting a notch in the gun.  X’ing today on the calendar. Did it. Done!

I still believe that forcing myself to write every day makes me a better writer. At least it makes me faster. But to really be better, I need to focus on making my actual work better. I’ve been publishing and moving on, when I would learn more by going back, editing refining and reflecting, and maybe throwing some away.

This is a raw idea and I promise (myself) that I will return to this tomorrow. I need to get on an escalator to improvement rather than the moving walkway that drives me across the same level.

Thank you Sōtatsu for tweaking this punk.



Post 26-2016: Harry Potter Is Dead

Daniel Radcliffe playing ping pong and answering 73 questions

Okay, Harry Potter is not dead, especially in that is a fictional character. The actor that was Harry Potter, though, is a corpse in a new movie at Sundance.

There was some noise made about people walking out because of the noise made by the corpse, whom Daniel Radcliffe (nee Harry Potter) played, made.

So making a long story short (and I did not see the film but the Spouse did), the actor who many of us know as Harry Potter played a slightly animated dead man who performed as a jet ski propelled by his dead man farts and steered by his erection.

Yes. Just what I said.

I am so delighted that Mr. Radcliffe, formerly of Harry Potter fame, stretches his fans (and likely turns away fans) by playing difficult to understand roles. Frankly, he could just pull in the residuals from his childhood fame. He could do a reality TV show. He could go to Harry Potter conventions. But he does not.

Instead he is working on his craft. He is an actor. And he has said he has done poor work  And he challenged himself and audiences working totally exposed on stage.

Now, it seems, he is doing what he wants to do to be a better actor. I think all of us can learn from him–to not sit on your best early work but to challenge ourselves and make fools of ourselves and do good work and not such good work.

I like this reincarnated Harry Potter.