Selected (Eeeeeeeek!) Rat Tales

 

 

FIRST, I’m only saying ‘Rat Tales’ because it has a certain sound to it. ‘Mouse Tales’ doesn’t have the same impact. Varmints, rodents; It is interesting that many of us consider Squirrels cute, despite the damage they can do, but recoil at even the mention of mice; the cringe-factor going up as the varmints increase in size.

Before I wrote this piece, adapted from and originally written for a monthly newsletter put out by Quilcene’s Community Center, I did mention that I intended to attack (yes, attack) the subject with Bob Rosen, the Director. “Nobody wants to hear about, er, that.”

Then I told him how mice got into the dashboard of my surf rig, and, short-story-slightly-shorter, they chewed through just the right wire that (luckily enough, because I’d been out where the cellphones don’t work) allowed my car to crank but not start; parked in front of the NXNW Surf Shop in Port Angeles.

Frank Crippen, the shop owner, not fully pleased to have me hanging out for several hours, agreed to allow me to put my board in his shed.  The car was towed up the hill to a local garage. After a cursory check (smell, mostly) of the dashboard, they were not stoked.  Trish, shopping in Silverdale, had to come pick me up. It cost me seven hundred dollars to get it running, three hundred more like an out-and-out bribe. Worth it.

“Oh,” Bob said, “Let me tell you how to keep mice out of your car.”

“Yes,” I said; “See, everyone has a story.”

Last winter was long and cold and a particularly bad one for rodents (only, to be fair, looking for some warmth) moving into places we don’t want them, cars, garages, houses. I do hope this winter, for many reasons, isn’t as cold.

Another failed “New Yorker” submission, this one dealing with Church Mice waiting for the “Hallelujah-ing” to start.

Still, here are a couple of anecdotes:

Evidently, I got exactly the wrong counter person at the Port Townsend auto parts store when I asked if they have any special thing (I was thinking electronics) to keep rodents out of vehicles. “Do you live near farms? In the city? The country? Have neighbors? Feed birds?” Before I could answer any of these questions, he threw out his hands in surrender. “There’s nothing we sell, nothing we can do. Nothing. Anything else?” “No, nothing.”

“My dog,” the woman said (and I can’t remember where this was or how the subject came up), “and we didn’t train him to do this, but he smells rats.” In her story, a friend came over for a barbeque, the dog took a great interest in the guy’s car. “You have a rat,” she told her guest. Her husband pulled out a compressor, blew air into the engine, the rodent jumped out, the dog killed it; or, as she put it, “took care of it.” And then, she added, “We all had some barbeque.”

I arrived at a house in an upscale neighborhood to give a painting bid. The homeowner had installed rat-sized, snapping-style, old fashioned traps, about ten feet off the ground, on the corner boards. A bit surprised, I asked, wondering if exposed rat traps (or rats, for that matter) were allowed within the area’s covenants.  “Does it work?” I was imagining long-dead rodents hanging as, perhaps, a warning to others. “So far,” he said, “and it’s kind of, um, decorative.”

It did seem to be humorously ironic, more to me than the woman at checkout, that there was one of those packets (and there are several brands available) with a smell meant to deter rodents (rumored to be a combination of mint and coyote urine), on a shelf between the bags of bird food.

Rather than throw out my hands absolute surrender, I have taken advice and steps. “Drier sheets,” I’ve been told. “New ones.” Oh. “Mint.” Yeah-okay. “Supersonic.” Maybe. “Poison.” Scary. “Flashing lights.” Got ‘em, think it’s like disco for mice. “Younger cats.” Not right now. “Electronic zapper.” Oh, yeah.

Meanwhile, as I work on my mint-moat, a rat-smelling dog and a compressor seem like good ideas. Oh, and, for some reason, barbeque.

 

 

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Swamis, Trancendental Meditation, and Passing Wind

This piece insn’t necessarily surf-centric. I wrote it for my blog, “Stuff That Goes On,” at the ptleader.com. I’ve been featuring some of my cartoons, after they’ve been rejected by “The New Yorker.” Here’s the one that goes with, kind of, the story:

Image (39)

One of my favorite surfing spots is Swamis, Encinitas, California. It is so named because of the gold tulips adorning the high white walls around the adjacent compound. Founded by followers of Swami… sorry, I really don’t want to get into more of the history than that which impacted me. Again, sorry. The compound was a sort of mysterious place for surfers, and what was known back in the middle 60s, when I started (board) surfing [at least three stairways ago, when the parking lot was smaller, the bathroom was of the pit variety], was that people inside spent a lot of time on their gardens. And meditating.

Trancendental meditation. Groovy. Maybe it played into the rapidly changing surfer self image as the end of the 60s brought more of a drug culture; bearing in mind drug use was ‘mind expanding’ and ‘experimental’ at the same time. Not that I participated. I didn’t. Some surfers also, by the end of the 60s, switched gears into the Jesus ‘Freak’ mode. That was more my speed, though they had a zealousness that my (short, to be sure, I turned 18 in 1969) lifetime of attending church didn’t seem to give me.

In 1975 Trish and I had moved to a house we bought in Encinitas. Swamis was still my favorite spot, and in the time we had lived in San Diego, the secluded beach around the point and directly below a meditation garden inside the compound had become a nude beach. I discovered this, not by word of mouth, but by… hey, I was just trying to go surfing.

The nudity caused a problem with the people inside the compound. It’s evidently difficult to fully get trancendental-ized when naked people are cavorting (didn’t look it up- sure it’s accurate) below you. It eventually made the paper, it made the TV news. Meetings were called. Dennis Weaver, Chester on “Gunsmoke,” was at one, livid, leaning into the cameras to make sure the point was made that this distraction was not acceptable.

I don’t think his appearance helped, but, before Chester and the spreading of the news throughout the San Diego County area, and about a week after I discovered the nudity, I actually went to work for local (Cardiff) painting contractor “Two Coat” Charlie Barnett, on a project to paint the exterior stucco surfaces at the enclave. We had to be quiet, I was told. Okay, but first break time, two of the helpers on the crew said we should all go up to the meditation garden and ‘watch the nudies.’ “What, you know about this?” “Hey, man; everyone knows.”

One thing that struck me was that, during what was evidently a women’s retreat, meals were taken in silence. That’s fine. I mean, there was the sound, no doubt, of chewing, maybe some loud swallowing. After the meal, partially-filled and enlightened participants went back to their stucco cabins for private meditation.

Now, everything around the compound, the gardens, the paths, the concrete, was supposed to be spotless. All the attendees were dressed in white. Although Charlie had hired the aforementioned helpers to insure cleanliness, he was having trouble getting his final payment until all spots of paint were cleaned up. So, Charlie and I were crawling around the sidewalks with wire brushes and lacquer thinner, cleaning. Oh, Charlie and I were also dressed in white, as is traditional, but with spots of colors, more so on my clothes than Charlie’s.

I was just trying to get the job done, but couldn’t help but hear, around pretty much every guest cabin, the unmistakable sound of someone passing gas.

Amazing. No doubt related to trancendentalizing. On a related note, Trish claims her father, always the ideal image of propriety, would often pass gas while under the headphones, listening to phonograph records. And then there’s the almost absolute need, possibly because of the altitude, while riding in a plane… hey, this isn’t a secret. As far as whether there’s still a nude beach at Swamis; haven’t a clue.

Here’s another rejected cartoon: Image (34)It’s Nietzche. I explained it in another blog post at ptleader.com  Go to “Blog” at the top of the home page, click on “Stuff That Goes On.”

As far as my fear of meditation… another time.

Keep on Truckin’ 46 Years Later…

…with permission. I was going to put this in my last post, but, really, it deserves more. In thinking of cartoons to submit (submit being a perfect word for this- writers and artists are always begging someone to read or look at our stuff) to “The New Yorker,” and, with those who do look at my drawing style, unaware of the connection to Rick Griffin’s drawings in 60s era “Surfer,” comparing it to that of R. Crumb; it seems an easy step to my re-imagining Mr. Crumb’s iconic (not a word I overuse) “Keep on Truckin'” illustration.

image-121

BUT, BEFORE I submitted the drawing, I felt I had to seek permission from the reclusive Mr. Robert Crumb. SO, I GOOGLED him (fascinating), found a connection, emailed the guy who, it turns out, is in charge of marketing. No response. I tried again. It is no exaggeration to say that getting a reply from R. Crumb is one of the most thrilling things in my long but… (I’m doing some calculating here. With the top artists being so far above everyone else, and some people never even showing their works… hmmm… so I’ll say… somewhat… no…) somewhat satisfying art history.

image-141I was, undoubtedly, so excited to get the email that I  didn’t even realize the tone of his email was sort of negative.  And, I wrote that I’d put my drawing on my wall, and I didn’t even have a wall. Maybe I did, but hadn’t taken advantage of it. I do have a twitter dealeo. I think it’s BigERwin; rarely look at it.  And, I still don’t know how to do stuff on Facebook. Trish, who has her own stuff on Facebook, occasionally  helps out. I think I’m at Erwin Dence Jr. but I’m afraid to ask people to be my Friend, for fear of rejection.

Submission, rejection; sometimes we get something positive. AND I have to thank my sister, Melissa Lynch, for pimping my site on the Facebook. Thanks to you for checking out my stuff. Keep on truckin’.

Why’s This Funny?

FIRST, let me say I’ve been doing drawings of what amuses me for a long time. Somewhere in the early eighties, bored with my Civil Service job as a painter at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton (having transferred her from the Public Works Center at 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego as soon as I could after they moved/promoted me from a temporary to a Career-conditional employee), I, along with working on a novel (during breaks/lunch- mostly reading new stuff to other bored workers), put together a little collection of cartoons under the loose title of “Absurd Delusions.”

None of my co-workers thought any of the cartoons were funny.

The caption is, "No, I said I drew them 'for' the "New Yorker," not that they were "in" the "New Yorker."[optional] I also have some that weren't 'in' "Playboy." " A reasonable explanation for my new drawings as I solicited feedback.

The caption is, “Okay then; drawn ‘for’ the “New Yorker,” not “in” the “New Yorker.”[optional] I also have some that weren’t ‘in’ “Playboy.” ” A reasonable explanation for my new drawings as I solicited feedback.

SO, HERE’S THE DEAL: A couple of months ago, while working on my Realsurfers Coloring Book, and possibly because I’d heard that several cartoonists for the “New Yorker” had died recently, but mostly, probably, because I (along with thousands of others, no doubt) got an e-mail from Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor, inviting me to get more involved with the magazine (I had entered the caption contest a few times; never really came up with a killer line for anyone else’s work- gave it up).

WELL, sure. I had a few ideas, found out the submissions are all handled online nowadays, e-submitted, maximum of 10 original cartoons per month, nothing that had been previously published, even in a blog/website like this one.

I just submitted my second batch of brilliant cartoons on the 14th, so, though I never received confirmation that they hate/dislike/don’t get/ don’t want any out of the first set, I’ll have to assume it’s safe for me to display some of them here.

Big fan of "New Yorker" staff writer William Finnegan's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Barbarian Days;" a surf-centric biography by a Real writer who lived/lives a real surfers life. Yeah, some jealousy possible.

Big fan of “New Yorker” staff writer William Finnegan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Barbarian Days;” a surf-centric biography by a Real writer who lived/lives a real surfers life. I was kind of hoping someone in the cartoon department might just… you know, pass it on. If not, expect to see the “I was different” line again. And, yeah, there’s some kissing-up obvious, some jealousy quite possible. Port Townsend librarian Keith Darrock, and I, having already solicited legendary surf writer Drew Kampion for help, are hoping to persuade Billy Finn, Finn-o, to participate, even if it’s by Skype (my backup plan idea) for the Third Occasional Surf Culture on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Event.

ACTUALLY, one of the first drawings I did was an update on the classic R. Crumb “Keep On Truckin'” drawing, imagining the character 48 years later. I thought of this, possibly, because my drawing style, cross-hatch-based (though I claim to have made some kinetic line changes), and which anyone old enough and real surfer enough to remember it, is directly linked to the “Surfer” magazine drawings by Rick Griffin. Still, my style is often compared to that of Mr. Robert Crumb, a contemporary of Mr. Griffin’s in the “Zap Comics” and ‘underground’ era of the late 60s.

SO, I wasn’t planning on doing this right now, maybe still hoping the “New Yorker” will come to their senses, but, since I’ve gone this far… No; I’ll give them a few days. I did write to Mr. Crumb, seeking his permission to use his image. When I got this response I was… I was so thrilled. So thrilled.

HMMMMM; I have to re-scan Mr. Crumb’s email and my response. That means setting up the scanner and… I’ll take that as a sign. Not really, but I’ll update this in the morning. No, really.