Your Bully Mirror is Broken

I don’t have much personal experience with bullying. When I was somewhere around three years old, my mom and I were living in a duplex in a tiny Missouri town, having just moved there from a still small, but less tiny, town in Illinois. I would go out into the front yard to ride my tricycle, and the little boy who sometimes stayed with his adult brother next door would come out, slap me, and take my tricycle away.

My mom got tired of it.

One day, when I came in crying to her about the neighbor boy taking my tricycle, she told me that the next time he did that, if I didn’t “whoop”1 him, she would “whoop” me.

Sure enough, it happened again.

But this time, when he hit me, I hit him back.

He never hit me again. He never again took my tricycle away from me. Because my fear of my mother’s disapproval was stronger than my fear of being hit by the boy next door, my mom had successfully taught me to stand up for myself, and to stand up to bullies.

I’m a believer in teaching kids—and, sometimes, adults—both of those things.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, no matter how you interpret Amendment II of the United States Constitution2, no matter how much the right to bear arms—or restrictions on that right—matters to you personally, and no matter what you see as a solution for stopping school shootings in the United States, surely you can appreciate that the kids from Parkland, Florida3, speaking up about gun control, are just kids standing up to bullies.

Those bullies are formed of metals and codification, tradition and liberty, compulsory education and lethal force. But they’re bullies, nonetheless.

And it’s a complex problem.

What’s less complex, however, is the way some adults have chosen to treat these kids.

If you’re an adult who feels compelled to disagree with what any of the Parkland kids have to say regarding gun control (or anything else, for that matter), you should do just that. Formulate your arguments. Explain your rationale.

Tell them why they’re wrong.

But if you’re an adult, and your reaction to these kids expressing ideas that you disagree with is to publicly mock them, call them “snowflakes”, post doctored images of them, and spread lies about them, then—whether you choose to recognize it or not—you’re a bully.

You’re as much a bully as that kid4 slapping me in my own front yard, but on a much larger and more important scale.

You need to clean your inner mirror.

And, as an adult, you should be ashamed.



  1. Urban Dictionary: WHOOPIN. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  2. The Bill of Rights: A Transcription | National Archives. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  3. “Stoneman Douglas High School shooting”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 29, 2018.
  4. Who probably grew up to be a decent adult human being. No hard feelings, (name redacted), if you happen to stumble across this.

Disc Collector’s English Rondeau

We take our stand on vinyl discs,
Where synapse fire, like sound, persists;
Where sawteeth wave in analog,
With cracks and higher -fi than Ogg.
We’re flattened by precision’s kiss.

But right alignment still insists
We spine our grooves and rest our fists
Stock still, unless the needle jog.
We take our stand on vinyl discs.

RPMs slow, ‘though we resist,
Our columns may indeed consist
Of polyurethane and fog,
Titanium, no master’s dog.
Bone has gone the way of mist.
We take our stand on vinyl discs.

Light that Monsoon Up!

Taosbound iMessage Sticker Pack, Part One: Good Morning Mountain, Prairie Rattler Love, and Prickly Heat

For the past few days, I’ve been working in Procreate1 on my iPad Pro2, getting the hang of drawing with an Apple Pencil3. I’m very late to the game. I’m sure I’ve even missed the seventh-inning stretch. I’m arriving as people are leaving their seats, heading to their cars to avoid the inevitable rush and jam once the game is actually over.

And yet—having missed out on the national anthem, six and a half innings of disputed calls, plays at the plate, and waiting for the pitcher to throw the damned ball somewhere other than at first base—I am instantly engaged. This is the best, easiest, loosest and most natural drawing experience I’ve enjoyed since liquid ink rolling ball pens4 on printer paper or a Rapidosketch5 on index cards.

I’m working on a series of images, with simple lines and simple color (far less purple than this prose), based on my experience of the high dessert—the American Southwest—from a Greyhound6 trip I made to Taos, New Mexico7, in 2007. That was a long time ago, and Taos is the sleepiest place I’ve ever visited, having drawn a dark veil over my mind, eyes, and heart for the duration of my time there. But there are still pieces of it stuck, like worn-down shards in my head, pressing against a compulsive neuron, firing up synapses which have had eleven years to recover from being drenched by their first monsoon8.

When the medium is good, or good enough, inspiration flows, and ideas crash in like those quick, clean rains, washing away roads built wrong and lighting up sand-strewn corners obscured in darkness and in dust.

Which is my purplest way of saying “Southwestern symbolism is great for drawing cheesy cartoons. Yes, even the one drawn in the bathroom. Yes, even the single-stroker drawn with the previously-broken, dysfunctional pinky finger that never quite healed correctly. Inspiration hits when it wants to.”

That leaves me with the problem of what to actually do with the series once it’s drawn. I’ve had a solid ten years to learn to hate creating designs for print-on-demand. Desktop icons—a contender for my all-time favorite art form—aren’t really a thing, anymore. Web icons tend toward the uniform, the generic, the instantly-recognizable-yet-unobtrusive, and the no-damned-fun-at-all.

So… sticker packs. Stickers for iMessage9. I really only use the ones that came with my favorite notes app, Bear10, in part out of fondness for the app, but also because they’re adorable. Most of the time, I just type what I want to say. But my lovely wife likes iMessage stickers, and getting to spend my time cartooning while simultaneously working toward something that makes my spouse happy?

I see that as pretty awesome.

Because I’m smart like that.

I hope I’m smart enough to turn these simple, fun-to-draw, cartoons—and the ones I’ll draw to complete the set—into something useful to someone, so that I can justify my time spent drawing them.

I also hope that, by the time late September rolls around, and the 2018 season is rolling up its grass, this new little hobby, Albert Pujols11 and Shohei Ohtani12 will all have exceeded my expectations, even if all three wind up only playing DH.


  1. Procreate for iPad. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  2. iPad Pro – Apple. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  3. Apple Pencil – Apple. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  4. Precise V5/V7: Pilot Pen. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  5. Rapidosketch. Welcome to Koh-I-Noor USA! Accessed March 21, 2018.
  6. Greyhound. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  7. “Taos, New Mexico”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018.,_New_Mexico
  8. “Monsoon”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  9. Creating Stickers for iMessage – Apple Developer. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  10. Bear – Notes for iPad, iPhone and Mac. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  11. “Albert Pujols”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018.
  12. “Shohei Ohtani”. Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2018.


Crawling Toward Home

Crawling Toward Home – Sketchbook Illustration – 17 March 2018

I don’t know if you would remember that we were homeless. I suspect that you didn’t—wouldn’t—and I am grateful for that. But if you did, I would want you to know that I’m not homeless now. I may have too many homes, which sounds like a stupid thing to perceive as a problem.

It is, for me, to some degree, because no matter which home I’m in, I’m homesick. Southern California is home to me now, and that’s especially true of the physical space I share with what has become my family. But the places I lived with you are still home, too, and so is the place where you’re buried.

I have a new home, now, as well, that I haven’t ever been to, with the family I lost before you found me.

(I didn’t tell you when I found them, even though you were still here, because I thought it might make you more afraid, scared that you would somehow become less than; a thing which could never happen.)

It saddens me that you have never—will never—see this place, or the other, and that I can only see you in pictures and in memories; in good dreams and in nightmares.

(I dream about you all the time; of being unable to find you, or reach you; of you being on your own and being in those years when you couldn’t be, and me being unable to help you.)

(I dream that you are angry with me, and I hope that isn’t the case.)

When I’m awake I dream of going back, or at least going close enough to visit; taking my little family with me; reuniting with the old family; meeting the older, new one; and being able to feel you in nearby spaces, even if it’s only my own hauntedness which makes that feeling real.

Someday, I’ll cross the desert again; leave sunshine and drought for storms and seasons. I’ll say hello, but never goodbye, and I’ll hold the flowers in my hand before I place them on your grave.