Thursday, May 24, 2012


My wife was out of town for twelve whole days while she helped her mother after minor sinus surgery. Mum is fine now, but after twelves days I had a new appreciation for my wife when she got home. That was when it occurred to me that I've never drawn a cartoon of her before. 


I lovingly refer to her as "the green queen". 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Little boys in the grown-up world

Earlier, my brother (whose blog you should all read, if you don't already) made two blog posts (here and here, if you'd like to read them, which I would recommend) about the state of being a man. Like many young men transitioning into the thirties, we just don't know where we fit in the "grown up" world.

He was sort of hard on himself, and so I'd like to make a short rebuttal to him.

On Masculinity- a rebuttal
17 May 2012

As a nearly-30 living in the modern digital age, I feel uniquely equipped to comment on the matter of masculinity in the context of your blog post, not least of all because you and I share many, many commonalities when it comes to preference in media and entertainment.

Also, you’re my brother. I can’t stand to see you be quite this hard on yourself.

I think the major flaw in your argument on adulthood (specifically on manhood, the state of being simultaneously masculine and adult) is that the measuring stick you’re using is so subjective.

Consider the qualities that you provide as evidence to your manhood. You run, you enjoy sports, you like meat. But if someone were unable to run, or not a sports fan, or a vegetarian, would that make him less of a man? Similarly, consider the qualities about yourself that you list as un-manly. You like cartoons, hate reality television, don’t care much for the evening news, have a high-ish pitched voice sometimes.

It looks like most of the things listed are simply preferential. What is it about these qualities that make one more or less masculine than another? An even better question to ask would be, ‘why do I consider any of these qualities innately masculine or feminine?’

Make no mistake about it; your impression of what it is to be a “man” has been fabricated for you by years of media development and advertising. The people who are telling you “in order to be a man, you need to drive a truck” are trying to sell you a truck. Likewise, all the companies that dangle their image of masculinity in front of your face are doing so because they want to convince you, ‘this is what you need to be masculine. Buy it from us.’

 You’re not unmanly because of the things you like or don’t like, eat or don’t eat, what you watch on television or how high your voice is. If that was the case, then all it would take to be called a man would be to check off all the things on the masculine list and forget all the rest. But we both know better than that.

In my opinion, being a man is about being able to handle responsibility. A man is someone who, when trusted with responsibility, takes care of what needs taken care of. It’s about being able to care for yourself if you are able, determining when you’re unable and being able to ask for help, and being able to offer help if someone asks it of you. It’s about putting others before yourself, acknowledging when you’re wrong and taking steps to correct yourself when you make a mistake.

All the sports watching, bench pressing and meat eating in the world doesn’t mean squat, in the long run.
But you know this already, right? I just had to remind you that you knew it. 

Monday, May 14, 2012


This isn't based on a true story. Though, when I was in 7th grade, I wish it had been. 

Aaron Matthew Smith- 13 May 2012

“Caleb!” Ryan said, tapping me frantically on the shoulder. I looked up from the notebook on my desk where I’d been writing “Caleb and Black Window 4 ever”. I snatched it off of the desk and crammed it into my backpack.
“What?” I snapped, covering the embarrassment with irritation.
“How much time do we have?”
I glanced at my phone. “Six minutes til lunch.”
“Yesssss,” Ryan grinned.
I rolled my eyes. “What’s the big deal? It’s rectangle pizza day.”
“Tater tot day, Caleb! The best day of the week!”
“Ryan, we never get any tater tots,” I said slowly, worried that Ryan had missed out on his favorite fried potatoes one too many times and had a mental breakdown. “You see the cafeteria, way over there?” I pointed out the window of the third-story classroom. Across the street, barely visible through the leaves of the mature trees on the school campus, a grey brick building was barely visible. “We’re in the farthest classroom away from the lunch room. Do we need to go over this again?”
“Today’s going to be different, Caleb.” Ryan pushed his glasses up on his nose.
“Let’s do the roleplaying again, okay? I’ll be the lunch lady. Now, tell me how you feel about never getting any tater tots.”
Ryan lowered his eyelids. “Look, that helped last week, all right? But I’m past that now. I’ve moved on to finding a way to make tots happen.
“You bought a fry-daddy and have started making your own?”
“No! I figured out a way to get to the lunch room first!” Ryan announced. “Although I guess that would’ve worked too.”
The teacher said something to us about quieting down, then went back to looking through a series of vacation brochures.
“Ryan, we already tried sneaking out early, and Mister Miller caught us. I think we just need a better distraction. I could probably fake a kidney stone.”
“We don’t have to pretend to have kidney stones anymore!” Ryan said. He scooted his desk a little closer to mine and swung his backpack onto my desktop. He unzipped it and showed me the inside. Within its nylon depths was a dark grey box with a handful of switches, lights and wires on it. It was emitting a light hum, like a vibrating cell phone.
“Ryan, is that a bomb!?” I hissed, and zipped the bag up hastily. “Holding the school hostage for more tater tots isn’t going to work!”
“A bomb? Don’t be stupid, Caleb. Do you have any idea how hard those are to build?”
I felt my heart beginning to slow back down. “Oh, good. What the heck is it then?”
“A worm hole device.”
“Ah, okay… wait, a what?”
“A worm hole device. You know, space-time?” Ryan shrugged his shoulders. “Look, imagine space is this piece of paper. If we’re on one end, and the cafeteria is on the other, we could cross the paper, or we could fold the paper and…”
“I watch Doctor Who, Ryan. I know what a worm hole is. But that can’t make one. It’s impossible, unless we had like a super-collider, or a TARDIS or something.”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Caleb, don’t be one of those people. Don’t be one of those people that says something is impossible before you even try. You’re like that guy who said they couldn’t shoot a torpedo into the exhaust chute on the Death Star. Well, this problem wasn’t much bigger than a wamp rat either.”
I rolled my eyes. Ryan either didn’t see or didn’t care.
“How much time do we have?”
I looked at my phone again, where my stopwatch was counting down. “Two minutes and counting.”
“Oh crap!” Ryan unzipped the backpack and started flipping levers and rotating dials. “It takes forty five seconds to warm up!”
“How’s it supposed to work?” I asked as the vibrating sound increased. A cute girl three seats away gave us a sideways glance.
“It took forever to calibrate,” Ryan said. “Seriously, I spent like a Saturday and a half on it. It works on a plane coordinates system that I have to adjust with these dials. I wanted a digital pad, but I couldn’t get the microwave apart. The longer the distance, the longer it takes to charge.”
“Charge? What’s it use for power?”
Ryan looked at me like I’d just asked him which Star Wars film was the best. “Uh, it uses worm hole energy. Duh.”
“Thirty seconds,” I said.
“All right, stand back,” Ryan said. “When that bell rings, we’re going to see some serious shit.”
The bell started jangling. Thirty chairs scooted back from their desks as everyone else in the room stood up. Ryan flicked a switch.
The vibrating noise suddenly intensified to a low roar, like a bass speaker turned up to eleven. A high pitched whine sprang from the machine, and suddenly a dark spot appeared in the air in front of us.
I blinked at the elongated oval shape that flickered in the air. It was dark black, the darkest black I’d ever seen in the middle, fading to a purplish color at the edges. The edges flickered like the heat rolling off a grill in the summertime, but it wasn’t warm. Or cold, really. It felt still and dead, and sort of like… nothing, really.  I turned around- all the other students and the teacher had left for lunch already.
“Why can’t we see the lunchroom through it?” I asked.
“Well, the spots aren’t really connected unless something is passing through it. It’s a whole… matter, quantum, wibbly-wobbly thing.”
“Thanks, Doctor. Come on, let’s go get some tots.”
Ryan scooped up his backpack and stepped through the worm hole. I followed.
The first thing that occurred to me was wow, the lunch room is a lot hotter than it was yesterday. The second thing that occurred to me was why is everyone screaming?
Something hot and damp hit me in the face. I took the wet towel and glanced at Ryan just as a girl in a bathrobe clobbered him with a large gym bag. Girls in track shorts and towels were screaming and running out of the room and throwing things. I cried out as a hairbrush hit me on the nose.
In a moment Ryan and I were alone in a bright, hot, tiled room. Girls abandoned tennis shoes and gym clothes littered the floor around us. There was shampoo on my shirt from where a bottle had hit me. Someone was shouting outside.
“…I think you might’ve miscalculated the… wibblies,” I said.
Ryan slapped his forehead. “The coordinates to the lunch room were based on the location of my desk. We used the device at your desk. Crap.”
“Can you recalibrate it for the principal’s office?” I asked. “It would save the walk.”