29 December 2008

Because no good retrospective is good without some black and white photos.

I'm particularly fond of the last one, as I have a very clear memory of my fervent dedication to that number bowl. Note the gaggle of dedicated childhood friends I was imminently surrounded with. (Hobby horse notwithstanding.)

Moving into adult life...

I did manage, though, at last, to find like-minded souls much the calibre of my hobby horse.
(These ones are for Jody...)


Something was niggling at me, and I thought and I thought, and then I realized that yesterday was my four year anniversary of blogging. That's right. I began Meanderings Through a World-Weary Synapse, the first of four of these things, on 28 December, 2004. 
In the last four years I have posted 1,460 tidbits of useless information, for the incalculable benefit of three? maybe four? readers. Perhaps five, including myself. That's an average of 1 posting for every two days from 04-08. That's 292 posts per reader. Now that's generosity.
I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half on this thing at any one time, so there is some sort of commitment to the act of writing (if not the quality of it). Well, more accurately it is a firm commitment to navel gazing, but a writerly commitment to it.
But seeing as my commitment threshold for most things seems to wane/Completely Explode after three years, this is quite gratifying. The only things I have been doing longer than blogging are drawing and reading. And sleeping. And eating. And riding my bike.
It seems a bit of a "year in summation" is in order. This is not for the benefit of any other readers, so much as it is for my own benefit. I like to think that when I'm 80 and floating through the solar system in a hermetically sealed suit of some sort, I'll be able to tap into my newly installed intra-corporal internet-wired hard-drive and read what my life was like back in simpler times, so some retrospective is in order. Let's see...

update: yes, well, I never did get to said retrospective, and here we are, well into January. Perhaps next year.

Do you ever have one of those mornings

Where your tea-ball just Does Not Want to be found?
Well, this morning was one of those days-neatly averted. (proverbial pat on my shoulder)

28 December 2008

Preparing for pending blogdom; late 70s

leaves on a chalkboard.

One of my friends (I can't remember which one) just cannot figure out my sense of repulsion when confronted with an accidentally stepped-upon potato chip. I HATE it. It's like nails on a chalkboard. I hear the sound of it in my head for hours. Even thinking about it threatens to bring about the same lingering thought.
WELL. It is for that person, whoever s/he may be, that I post this update: same applies to dried out leaves of the conical variety, on a hardwood floor. I have just discovered. Sigh.

27 December 2008

Lovely PL.

I'm doing my end-of-the-year reading, in an attempt to finish up all unfinished or aspire-to-read books before 2009 begins, and on that list were rereads of the first couple of Mary Poppins books, Mary Poppins, and Mary Poppins comes Back. I ADORE these books of course, though a short venture through google brought this article, and I now officially adore PL Travers as well: Weeping at the back of the cinema after the 1964 premiere of Mary Poppins...trying to adopt her teenage maid at the age of 39, arranging to build the girl a bedroom off her study...then adopting one of a pair of twins from Ireland, (who had been told his father was killed in a horrible accident in the tropics, raised by PL on her own, and met his doppelganger at the age of 17 in a pub)...and wearing trousers, of course, bless her.
Not to mention the look of her (above). Indeed!


I'm not as much of a news junkie as it may seem, but I am determined to keep a record of how often POSITIVE headlines actually make the front page of any given newspaper.
This is a good one.

25 December 2008

Harold Pinter.

Has passed away on Christmas Eve, I just discovered.
Reading the news is not a happy venture.
What a dark cloud on an otherwise lovely day.
What an Unbelievable Loss.

24 December 2008


Shannon Gerard, personage extraordinaire and the truest fan of the bountiful moustache.

Merrrryyy CHhhhrrriistttmmmassss!!


And below is one of my next portraits... of my friend Christina. Usually after about 48 hours the self-criticism takes hold, but I love it still. This may be one of my favourite undertakings so far, this tiny series, partly 'coz I'm NOT, for a change, drawing myself. It is invaluable in this undertaking, of course, to have the most lovely friends. Merrryy Chrriisttttmass, dear reader(s)! (still more pending...)

23 December 2008

Some remarkable fe(a)t.

Despite much worry in their production, I'm actually quite pleased with my homemade Christmas gifts this year. This is one of the drawings I did, for my friend JP, a portrait of yogic extremities.
Did other drawings, but have received the go-ahead to post this one so far. More pending...

Weighing the options.

(otherwise known as profound photographic artwork composed after completing two 3.30am shifts in a row at the big red building that shall not be named.)

"The Mayfield" Conversation Guides

give only those words and phrases which are essential to enable the British Tourist to make himself understood, and are quite free from the bewildering superfluous matter which most guide books contain.
(such as...)

I want to retain a seat in the stage-coach.
Ich will einen Platz nach A- nehmen.

Has the washerwoman returned my things?
Hat die Waschfrau meine Wäsche gebracht?

I wish to hire a horse for - hours.
Ich wünsche ein Pferd für - Stunden.

Will you give me a piece of soap?
Wollen Sie mire ein Stück Seife geben?

Ich will mich waschen.
I wish to wash myself.

Will you give me a candle?
Bitte geben Sie mir eine Kerze.

Those things are for my personal use.
Sie sind für meinen eigenen Gebrauch.

And of course some critical vocabulary for any tourist:

to Deceive



Morocco leather

silk handkerchief
seidenes Taschentuch


The sorts that don't die. Can't kill 'em. Nope. An absolute miracle.
 (wrought by Shannon Gerard, of course...)

21 December 2008


THIS is what I want to read about in the news.

The PEC's battle against "pointless and meaningless waffle"

A link to this article about Obama's environmental policies (bless him) brought me to the Independent this morning. One might wonder why an anglophile such as myself has been perusing the New York Times when the Independent lurks but a URL away. I too, wondered at this phenomenon when I found this headline on my visit to the latter: 

Call to end 'Gobbledegook' language on food

It seems that the Plain English Campaign (PEC) (THE PLAIN ENGLISH CAMPAIGN. GLEE! ) says that  too much food is dressed up with "pointless and meaningless waffle".

(and I quote:)
"We've found 'all butter mince pies', chickens which lived in 'small mobile arks' or 'spacious barns with windows to allow ample daylight and straw bales to perch on'," said the spokeswoman "What does any of it mean and how does it help people make decisions about which food to buy for Christmas? What on earth is a 'small mobile ark' and how can a mince pie be 'all butter'?"

Other snippits found on packaging in the UK include:

:: Fresh British Whole Duck: "Ducks have access to water in order to preen themselves."
:: Organic Fresh British Chicken: "(Farmer Albert) cares about his chickens" and "(Farmer Tom) is particularly welfare conscious".

Personally, I would be very happy to read on my food labels that what I was about to eat had had an opportunity for a good preening before it's fate was sealed by Christmas packaging. Would that tofu had the same lease on life.

20 December 2008

Of Winter and jackets and boots, oh my!

Winter. Winter. WINTER!!

I have, today, purchased, with the help of an expert (my mum, who has finally figured out the trick to getting me to go shopping with her, (she navigates me through the darkest of consumerist vortices in under 2 minutes per shop, and pulls me out into the outside world for tea the minute I start getting aggro, which is like, every 15 minutes) )
...where was I....a NEW winter jacket. Like, new from a New store, a store that sells New Things, untested by time, tempests, and smelly people. No second-hand this time, tigers, it's a NEW winter jacket.
AND new winter boots. NO.JOKE. 
This is my first NEW winter clothing in must be 10 years. (Winter specific, that is, I have of course bought new boots as the need arose, one must never be without a good pair of docs.)

The aforementioned fact is so tragic and lame and makes the most pathetic statement about my priorities in life, I know, but now it's all SO EXCITING, all at the same time.

And Blessed Blessed SNOOOOWWWWWW!!

19 December 2008

Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day.

So I'm a huge fan of analog clocks. The reason for this is that they are cyclical in nature, instead of the relentless forward motion of their digital siblings. This idea that you will always and forever return to twelve, but it will never quite be the same twelve, not really, not outside the clock, is one of the most comforting thoughts I have. Things will always change, but they will always also be the same. You can choose at any given moment to recognize which is the more relevant circumstance.

There used to be an exemplary antique shop below me, and for almost two years I covetted one of a row of old mantel clocks they had in their window. When the proprietor was mercilessly ousted by our fascist new landlord and had to sell off all his wares fast, I finally made my approach. 

The decision was between two clocks, both of which, I found out, were broken. I was discouraged, and almost walked. He picked one of them up and wound it to see what would happen, and ends up he wound the alarm by accident, and i kid you not, the most astounding sound of bells came out of that thing that I have ever heard in my life. It sounded like tiny church bells, but softer, almost. I was completely seduced. I decided that even if the clock didn't work, with an alarm like that, it couldn't possibly be anything but a welcome addition to my chattels.

For the past year now it has sat by my drafting table, and whenever I look at it, (fortuitously stopped at 8 minutes to twelve), I think about my "ever returning to twelve" theory, and since the hands aren't moving, how immensely important that present 8 minutes to twelve moment must be. My hands move for it, I guess. And though I think I broke the alarm (I'm awesome) after borrowing a book on clockmaking from the library to try to fix the bloody thing, I will one day get it repaired properly, and hear these exemplary bells that live inside this beautiful beautiful clock. 

another cozy evening at home, lounging amidst the paperwork and listening to Weinachtsgeschicten.

(never you mind that severed hip joint)

Madame Ovary

by artist Richard Russell. Sent to me by a discerning sort.

the Best thing about snow-mageddon

Besides this Magical magical view from my cozy little apartment (see below | as ever, click on image for full size), is the fact that all my meetings got cancelled and I made the most AMAZING korma curry, from scratch, EVER. GLEE!!

14 December 2008

10 points (or two shoes) for freedom of expression.

And this in the news tonight...
(woof woof)


to Shan. Come back to town, let me take you for drinks!

13 December 2008

Since tonight seems to be about childhood wrath...

Before the onset of Girl Guide wrath (there was alot of it actually...not just the life-size cookie incident) there was the matter of other kids' birthday parties. 
Birthday parties were highlights of my year, as I went out very little otherwise, when I was a kid. So upon being invited by said children, invariably better off than I, my mum would take great pains to buy fantastic presents for me to bring to the party so I wouldn't feel left out for the duration of the festivities. Said presents, however, were almost always unwrapped and then tossed into the corner by the ungrateful brats (cough cough), and they were almost ALWAYS the illustrated books that I wanted for myself and didn't get.
But there it was. 
So. The night before each party, I would sit at the dining room table with a pencil and a huge stack of paper and the book in front of me, and endeavour to copy out all the pictures and poems before we had to wrap it up and give it away the next day.
And there would invariably be sweat and tears as paper after paper would get scratched up with mistakes, and then crumpled and tossed away, 'coz for some reason I felt like without a perfect replica of each page of every book, there was just no further reason to live.


It's lovely to see that I haven't changed one whit in my thirty-five years. Of course, now, instead of copying childrens' picture books, I copy photographs manufactured from my life. 

Funnily enough though, something has gone either very right or dreadfully wrong; I once could never get close to the perfection of the subject, and now I actually often prefer the drawings I make to my real life.

Which brings me to a gratuitous posting about cookies.

Before my life as a fruite creme addict (which has in fact passed, until this evening when I saw Shan's crocheted ones at City of Craft, was my life as a Girl Guide. And a discussion of Girl Guide cookies at City of Craft today brought up what discussions of Girl Guide cookies always bring up, my memory of dressing up like a giant Girl Guide cookie for a rally at what was once Maple Leaf Gardens, when I was, like, 10. 
There were a couple of hundred of us, and there was some sort of performance where we all had to run out from the different entrances onto the hockey rink or whatever it was, and circle around one special bit of work who got to be the dreaming Girl Guide in a gigantic bed.

I was pretty jealous of that girl who got to be the dreamer in the giant bed in the spotlight in the middle of the Maple Leaf Gardens hockey rink when I was ten. 
In fact, I think if i think hard enough, I still harbour resentment, despite the fact that I got to be a giant chocolate Girl Guide cookie.

Love Love Love

and tea and cookie.
Courtesy of Shannon Gerard.


So. The New York Times.

Yesterday there was a headline about kids of rich parents actually going out to get jobs 'coz their allowances had been cut. (insert failed attempt not to fill this posting with petty bitter grumblings here)

Today, I read that cash-short consumers are eating out less and buying at supermarket, and buying STORE-brand stuff, which means the smaller stuff is finally topping the main name brands.

These headlines THRILL me. The world, which looks like it is completely collapsing, might well be in better shape then it's ever been. In my books anyhow.

Also, this. Just 'coz.

Kramers Ergot 7

is LOVELY. Alas, I'm still saving for volume two of Little Nemo in Wonderland, and KE7 is the same size and full colour, so I'm curious to know who is actually able to collect these books, but bless them, and bless Buenaventura and Sunday Press for publishing them.
At the launch for KE7 the other night though, I couldn't help but notice the ratio of contributors that sat on the stage for a presentation/q&a. Six men, one woman. All amazing artists of course, but genderedly-inbalanced (sic) nonetheless.
There was a point in the evening where someone in the audience asked the editor if he had made any enemies during the selection process for the final book. He said yes, and followed it with "I'm not responsible for being the wife, the babysitter, the mother-in-law...." at which point Shari Boyle (the aforementioned female contributor, up on stage) piped up and said "yes, you aren't responsible for being the woman of this book." 
At that moment she officially became my Hero(ine). 

In a further discussion about a seeming rift between fine art and comics, she also brought up something which I had never been able to put a finger upon, but which I believe might very lucidly explicate my fondness for comics in the first place. It is the love of drawing. It was pointed out, that evening, that there is slim to nil room for drawing in the contemporary art world, at least in Toronto. And this is true. I have NO affection for contemporary art in this city, and for ages I have felt like some sort of traitor to cartooning as well, as I do feel some sort of legacy from the fine art department...so it's been an odd sort of placement.

I love drawing, hands down, and there is practically none of it to be found in the "fine art" world. Comics are about drawing. Well. Drawing, writing, books. GLEE!

06 December 2008

It's almost too great.

These simple logical plans Obama has to create jobs etc. It makes me really really wish I had been reading Bush's intentions when he was President-elect. And it makes me nervous. Har. It's almost too positive for me to handle!

05 December 2008

for the love of strangers

Last week sometime I got into a conversation where it suddenly occured to me just how often complete strangers have shown me love that at times even exceeds that of friends and family. 

I have a friend/art teacher with whom I used to go life drawing years ago who to this day stands out as a person that understands me in ways my "family" does not. I haven't seen him for years, in terms of our lives we have practically nothing in common, but if I had to think of people who share a sympathy with my most fundamental of interests, he would be one of the first people to come to mind. Probably for the rest of my life.
In January I stayed with a complete stranger in Paris who let me into her home when one of my closest friends decided he was unable to do the same, and the situation in general was, well, dire.  We spent almost a week discussing every manner of things in a strange hybrid fren-glish, and she is another like-minded spirit the likes of which is totally embedded in my psyche.
In June of this year I had a couchsurfer stay with me who somehow divined from my meagre profile my love for graffitti art and brought me a Banksy book as a token of thanks. I'll probably never see this person again, and also share little to nothing in common with him, but the unprecedented generosity of this person taking a thoughtful moment to look, and then to actually reciprocate the favour of staying at my house was so so lovely to me.
And, years gone by now, I can't even begin to catalogue the Amazing Amazing experiences I had hitchhiking by myself though Europe. 

It was Stunning. 
The Kindness was Stunning.

To digress for a moment, a friend I've had for over 10 years now has taken a divergent path from mine for the last while. Despite living close to each other, we've seen each other less and less. I had always assumed this was just circumstance, and not thought too much about it (surprisingly). 
However for the past year, it's become almost a game to see if she will even say "how are you" when we meet, or whether or not she will launch into complaints about any and every aspect of her life from the get-go, until the very moment we part ways.
Finally I managed to broach this subject (in person), and said it felt very hurtful, that I was happy to talk about all of her concerns, but even a "how are you" would make me feel like less of a tool in the matter. She explained that she didn't want to talk  with me about my problems anymore (sic), and changed the subject because she didn't want to be a "bad friend". Given my ability to rant, I figured this was a valid complaint and left it at that.

Anyhow, the "how are(n't) you" game continued. Oddly enough, I also realized it wasn't even problems in my life that were the "problem", as things going well in my life also had a life span of about half a sentence before the subject got changed. 
A few more times subsequent, and I broached the subject again, saying the equilibrium was off in such a way that I felt discouraged from even making small talk, given the distinct feeling of distain I felt whenever the subject veered away from her. I got no response, so decided that was response enough.

And then it started, the finding out all the "big life events" via Facebook.  Which is fucking weird, can I tell you?
And then, tonight, I had my very first experience of being "unfacebooked". I found out inadvertently. It's kind of amazing; one hears about these things and kind of chuckles. I mean, it's Facebook, for fuck's sakes.

But I'm actually really hurt and astounded.

This very posting is of course in some sense a huge cache of passive agression in and of itself. Despite having attempted on prior occasions to address this all in person.

But my intention is actually (believe it or not) unrelated to the matter directly; it is cited to contrast the following point, which is much more optimistic:

The point is this: I have, over the years, suffered from only child syndrome a great deal, feeling huge amounts of anxiety going to social gatherings where I feel like I'll know no one, I'll make an arse of myself, etc etc. Tedious but true. It's improved a great deal over the last three years, mostly 'coz the people I know are Undeniably Awesome, and so tolerant, and there's just no way to maintain that kind of angst around them.

But still and also, when I am out with strangers, more and more, I realize how innately Good people are. How kind, and giving, and genuinely open, when given any indication that such interaction or communication is welcomed.  People are encouraging, forgiving, and often as open as the people they are speaking with, given half the chance. I realize I'm just a big bloody hippy, citing all this stuff, but So Be It. Tonight I was out with complete strangers, and I had SUCH.A.GOOD.TIME, for all of the above reasons. English, german, there was a bit of everything, all of it far from perfect, all of it interactions between strangers, and it was so wicked.

My point (long winded as it is) is that it's a sad and weird mystery to me how we are so often so much crueler to the people we love, when we can manage such beautiful and honest interactions with strangers, at any given time, in almost any situation.

and while my hangover still, um, hangs on...

My latest book is winging its way to a fan in Amsterdam.
Thank you etsy. You are TOO awesome.

02 December 2008


I am about as ignorant of politics as it can get, and yet, since the last election, followed by the US election, I have been newly obsessed with it. This intrigues me. Why the sudden interest, I wonder, when my newsless bubble has seemed so adequate for so long. 
But as opposed to previous times, when the news seemed to just report more and more stupidity and atrocity, the daily NYT Obama updates are some of the scariest and yet most positive news I've encountered in the world of news. The problems are real (real, Real) but FINALLY someone is in office who seems reasonable, intelligent, and ready to work with others to solve them. 
Let's face it, it's the biggest bloody mess in known history, but imagine watching Bush were he to be confronted with these issues before even taking office. CHRIST. Reading the news has actually become interesting, instead of cause for further nausea and disgust with american ideology and politics in general.
However. More importantly right now, THIS.
Coalition government. Holy fuck is it possible everyone is following suit and smartening up at a federal level?
Here also is the link for the petition, should you wish to forgo the relevant facts in the link above. Sign this. Really.

Anyhow. Enough political soapbox. Weird. What is this posting, anyhow. WEIRD.

I remember that website way back when...

So I was updating my website this evening, particularly the illustration page, when something made me think of a website I was told about some time back, a kind of internet time machine that archives old websites. I was feeling procrastinatory and so googled away, found it, and with wouldn't ya know it, some internet-robot somewhere has decided to archive steflenk.com, from 2002 until 2007. 

I should explain that I taught myself (rather rudimentarily) to build websites, back in 2002, with HTML coding for Dummies or some such animal. I clearly remember calling my then-roommate up out of bed at some unmentionable hour into my room to look at my first successful web page, a red background with the word hello on it, which, when clicked on, linked to another red page that said "how are you" or something profound like that. And BOY i was proud. That bloody working link took me at least 8 hours to succeed at.

This page from 2002 is exceedingly embarrassing, but was one of my very first gos at building a website. And while the design is abominable, it was rather amusing to find this little cache of long-ago-almost-forgotten mail art, that I somehow thought so important at the time.