Tag Archives: giraffes

Van Jones Pretty Awful Giraffe

Environmental Activist and New York Times Best-selling author Van Jones

Mr. Van jones

Van Jones is a Communist Czar, civil rights activist, and and advocate for what he calls The Green Collar Economy, which reached #12 on the New York Times Best Seller List. He is the co-founder and President of the think tank Rebuild the Dream, which is dedicated to “fighting for an economy that works for everyone – and in which everyone can work.”

Now, while I usually try to supplement each of these posts with a wild and zany story about how said giraffe I was obtained – I have no recollection of this story. This morning I just happened to come across it while cleaning out my unread inbox from *cough* two years ago. So, what I’ve decided to do instead is contact Mr. Jones for a public comment or see if he has any memory of this.

When it comes, I will post his response here. Until then, enjoy this picture of a tree … and a thing.

US Congressman Keith Ellison's Pretty Awful Giraffe

US Congressman Keith Ellison

US Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-D)

 Keith Ellison (twitter) is a U.S. congressman whose district centers on Minneapolis, MN, and happens to be the first liberal politician I have ever seen in person (way back in the 2008 summer of my youth). He is the first Muslim elected to Congress, a co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus and thus a national voice on progressive issues. I try my best to keep my politics out of this blog, but I’ll admit that he’s a personal hero of mine. (I’ll also refrain from commenting on whether or not he is a better artist than Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan).

(But let’s be serious – it’s not partisanship to say that Ellison’s giraffe is clearly better. It’s artistic elitism.)

There is not much of a story behind this piece. In February 2011 I was speaking at a University of Minnesota rally at the state capitol (at which Ellison was also making an appearance) and approached the congressman shortly after he left the stage. While everyone else was approaching him to shake his hand, take a picture, and so on, I pulled him aside behind the stage and made The Ask.

And without missing a beat, asking “why?” or offering any resistance at all, he took the notebook I put in front him and began to draw. As you can tell, this was not something he just dismissed; he took it seriously and tried to make something he could be proud of.

Well, as proud as one can really be of this.

US Congressman Paul Ryans Awful Giraffe 4 11

US Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin)

As much as it pains me to admit I did not get this giraffe myself. I wish I would have been there so that I could have had the opportunity to point out that whether one calls themselves a Democrat or Republican, they still suck at drawing. Frankly, it may be the one thing that can unite us as a country.

US Congressman Paul Ryan (WI-R)

Or something like that.

Anyway, the following has been relayed to me by a friend of mine named Joe Hartmann (Facebook) who, coincidentally, ran into the congressman in a DC airport. For those who may not be familiar with U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan, he is the chairman of the House Budget Committee who has been in the news lately because of his proposed federal budget and its ensuing controversy. I’ll try to keep my opinions to myself.

Packed up and at the airport ready to return to the state after spending a weekend in the capitol city for an environmental conference, I can only presume Joe was not aware that he was on the cusp of history. Note even knowing the name of the congressman until the deed was done, turning to another bystander and asking “Who was that?” I can only presume that Joe had any clue that he would be interacting with one of the most powerful men in Washington.

As Joe is waiting for his plane to arrive a great commotion breaks out in the distance. Suddenly lights begins to flash and the chattering of the crowd fills the terminal – Joe doesn’t recognize the person but surely someone must. As Ryan signs autographs and takes pictures with fans, the only clear fact is that he’s a celebrity. So what is one to do?

Approaching the congressman, my friend is blunt: “Can you draw me a giraffe?”

Ryan is equally so: “No.”

Though Ryan continues to excite the crowd, Joe continues, “My friend has a blog where he collects giraffes drawn by people who should not be drawing giraffes. It’s gaining some steam and he already has some drawings from other politicians ….” Even though I can only extrapolate and piece together the exchange through my conversations with Joe, the fact that it worked implies that it must have been divinely inspired. There really is no other rational explanation for it.

Pulling out a piece of paper,  Ryan practices his art. Unsatisfied with his first attempt he tears the sheet out of the notebook, crumples it up and puts it into his back pocket. Trying again he creates what can only be described as a masterpiece that may or may not be better than Congressman Tim Walz’s giraffe.

A Pretty Awful Paul Ryan Giraffe

Though I’m not sure why it has black, soulless eyes ….

Writer and Director Matthew Chapmans Awful Giraffe April 2011

Writer and Director Matthew Chapman

Matthew Chapman (personal website) is a journalist, screenwriter and director who is also the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. More importantly, and this is something that was stressed, he’s a damn good journalist, screenwriter and director. He is the author of two nonfiction books, Trials of the Monkey – an Accidental Memoir (2002) and 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania (2007), the latter of which arose from his work with Harper’s magazine reporting on the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area  School Districtcase.

Matthew Chapman

For those who may not be familiar with Kitzmiller (or as some call it the “Dover Panda Trial”), it was effectively a continuation of the Scopes Monkey Trial and

was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts against a public school district that changed its biology teaching curriculum to require that intelligent design was to be presented as an alternative to evolution theory, with Of Pandas and People to be used as a reference book.[1] The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The judge’s decision sparked considerable response from both supporters and critics. [From Wikipedia]

I had the pleasure of meeting Chapman at the American Atheists Convention in Des Moines where he spoke briefly about and then premiered his 2011 Sundance-selected film The Ledge. Following the Q-and-A where every atheist in the room suddenly assumed themselves to be Roger Ebert, embarrassing not only themselves but everyone in the room, a few friends and I approached him to discuss the possibility of screening his film on our campus. Being open to the idea, he then asked us if we had any ideas on how he could distribute his film to college campuses – and we did – but as the conversation began to trail, I made the pitch:

In the most adorable English accent imaginable, Chapman replied: “You want me to draw a giraffe?”

“Well, yes.”

“I don’t even think I can recall what a giraffe looks like.”

“Long neck.”

This line tends to resolves all qualms.

“OK.”

And thus was born what is now is one of my new personal favorite drawings and proof that art skills are not an inheritable trait (have you seen Darwin’s sketches?).

What the fu- is that a penis?!

Brian Melendez 1 11

Fmr. DFL Chairman Brian Melendez

Being out of town for the last several days I have not had the opportunity to write the articles I’ve been meaning to, but I assure you that the Gary Snyder and maybe even the Lawrence Krauss story will go up this week. Until then, enjoy the very first giraffe ever drawn from February ’11.

Brian Melendez is the former Chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (2005-2011), lawyer, contributer to Black’s Law Dictionary and most impressively: the guy with one of the highest ranked reviews of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (9th Edition) on Amazon.com. A graduate of Harvard, Melendez is perhaps one of the smartest guys you could ever hope to meet.

Also, he draws really terrible giraffes as I discovered when I approached him at a DFL event celebrating his years of service. Now that I have called in my one favor for the years of volunteer work, I am not sure how to feel. After all, all I got was the following and weird look – was it worth it?

Oh yeah.

Minnesota Orchestra Trumpeter Manny Laureano's Pretty Awful Giraffe

Minnesota Orchestra Trumpeter Manny Laureano (No Osmo Vänskä)

Today’s post comes from another friend of mine, Sean Jacobson, who is a student at St. John’s University. Having known him for several years now, I can say that he is serious when he writes that “there is very little in this world that I enjoy more than classical music.” In fact, I would even add that such enjoyment rests on a fine precipice that, with one stumble, could send him careening into obsession and thus a life spent locked away with as many cats as there would likely be pianos. But I’ve digressed.

Sean had the great fortune of seeing the Minnesota Orchestra perform at his campus a few weeks ago and (as you will learn) thought it would be a good idea to solicit a drawing from famed conductor and notorious sourpuss OsmoVänskä. Unfortunately that cold April evening only saw Mr. Vänskä carve his name into the Wall of Shame as the orchestra’s Principal Trumpet Manny Laureano made history [Clarification Needed].

Without further introduction, I now present to you what will likely be the best-written post you find on this website for a while:

A (Somewhat Artfully Embellished) Tale of Classical Giraffes

As those who know me will tell you, there is very little in this world that I enjoy more than classical music. One of those things, though, one of those rare interests that can contend with Mahler, Beethoven, or Shostakovich for my love and adoration is the noble giraffe. As a child, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would proudly answer “a giraffe!” no doubt hoping to capitalize on my then-disproportionately long neck. Naturally, then, a giraffe drawn by a professional classical musician…well that would just be the bee’s knees.

Manny Laureano

Such were the thoughts going through my head recently when the Minnesota Orchestra performed on campus. As I sat entranced watching the concert from the second balcony the thought, nay, the revelation, nay, the divine mission struck me: I had to get a giraffe drawn by the conductor, Osmo Vänskä. As the first half of the concert closed with a brilliant tuba feature, I set off to seek out the maestro. As I wound my way around the back of the hall and into the rear lobby I noticed a group of musicians huddled in a circle intent upon something in the middle. My mission temporarily on hold due to curiosity, I decided to examine the situation more closely.

It was then that I noticed that one of the three musicians was none other than Manny Laureano, principal trumpet of the orchestra. Let me put this in perspective for a moment: I’m a music major. The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the world’s best ensembles and one which I have idolized since I first saw them live in ninth grade. I play trumpet. Manny is an artist of the highest caliber. Put it all together and you have me hyperventilating like a pre-teen girl meeting a varsity quarterback. I cautiously approached Manny and the other two no-doubt virtuosic players (who, I am embarrassed to admit, I have completely forgotten the names of). One of them was playing a game of chess against Manny who promptly put her in check. I couldn’t help but think that either he was a pretty awful chess player or was making an extremely bold gambit. Certainly, he had put his opponent in check, but in doing so he left his queen wide open to attack. As I meekly intruded, introducing myself as a trumpeter and giving the pitch asking for a giraffe from any of the three, I watched Manny’s gamble pay off as his opponent, no doubt focusing on her king, missed the opportunity and blocked attack rather than going on the offensive. Manny made his next move and proceeded to begin drawing a giraffe while the other bystander and I made small-talk about giraffe fight videos on YouTube. I was impressed by Mr. Laureano’s ability to multi-task as he sketched the giraffe while still continuing to dominate the chess board.

Clearly impressed as well, the bystanding musician commented “Oh yeah, that’s pretty.”

“Mmhm. She’s gonna have some eyelashes too,” was the trumpeter’s response.

Breaking for a moment from the game as he began to draw the horns, Manny asked “They have some kind of unit on their head too, don’t they? Like big-ass goats, right?” Mr. Laureano proceeded to finish the drawing, promptly declare checkmate, and play a Rachmaninoff symphony. Cause that’s just how he rolls.

Now, a giraffe from the principal trumpet is a beautiful victory in itself, but it still left the big fish to be fried. As I watched Osmo conduct the second half I was almost certain I saw his baton trace the outline of a giraffe in mid-air. Determined to acquire a giraffe from the director, a squad of friends and I surrounded the backstage area and loading dock to intercept him. Musicians and instruments flooded out the doors one after another, but the maestro was nowhere to be seen. Figuring that he had already snuck out the door, the team and I gave up the chase and headed for home.

Just as hope was dwindling, though, I caught sight of the back of a particular curly white-haired head as I passed the backstage doors one last time. I reversed direction and walked in. Sure enough, it was Osmo Vänskä himself. I waited for a lull in the conversation he was having with another musician and interjected.

“Er…excuse me, Mr. Vänskä, I was wondering if I could make a somewhat strange request.” He slowly turned around and gave me a look unlike any I’ve encountered before. It was a look of mixed surprise, unease, and impatience, a look I can only describe as one most people might give if they were ordering a meal at Taco John’s only to find they were out of Potato Olés. Every eye in a twenty foot radius turned and stared at us. After a break of silence that seemed to last an eternity he spoke:

“Well, that depends.”

I gave the pitch and watched as the spectators’ faces broke into smiles and laughs, as if to say “Why what a brilliant idea! Please, Osmo, give this eager, doe-eyed young lad a giraffe!” The look stayed on the conductor’s face with a coldness as harsh as the desolate Finnish wasteland from whence he came. “I’m very busy.”

I was stunned. The possibility of a rejection hadn’t even crossed my radar. “Sir, it’ll only take 30 seconds of your time, you can do it right now.”

Osmo was unmoved. “I’m going to be out of the country next week, I’m very busy.”

“30 seconds, sir. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. In fact it’s best if it’s not.”

Cold. So cold.

After a while of trying to convince the maestro (a while, I should mention, that almost certainly would have been long enough for him to draw a freaking giraffe) I gave up, and walked away empty-handed.

I bet Vänskä’s giraffe wouldn’t have had such pretty eyelashes anyway.

Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku's Awful Giraffe (4 7 11)

Author and Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku

Photo Credit: Zachary Maxwell Stertz

For those who do not know, Michio Kaku (website; twitter) is a theoretical physicist at City University of New York and co-founder of string field theory. Just as importantly – and this is the context in which I first discovered him – he is a popularizer of science in the stead of the late Carl Sagan. Essentially he is one of only a handful of scientists taking the initiative to condense great scientific ideas into an easily digestible form. In a world that unfortunately casts a paranoid eye to the sciences, this is a virtue; through his books Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011) Kaku reminds us all that science is, frankly, cool.[1]

So it was under this pretense that I made my way to the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus to attend a lecture and book signing by him. Having read his short biography on Albert Einstein last summer, Einstein’s Cosmos (2004), along with some work by Hawking, Feynman, Sagan and so on, I was obsessed with the guy. Naturally, this all led to long hours on YouTube watching interviews and clips of old Nova programs. [2] So the moment I learned that Kaku would be making a stop in Minnesota for his Physics of the Future (2011) book tour, every calendar I owned was marked marked marked and any scheduling conflict would have to be skipped skipped skipped.

(My apologies, Seungho, for missing International Law)

Arriving at the UMN book store at 6:20pm, I had more than enough to pick up his book I reserved online along with the two tickets for the reserved seating that came with it. Worried that I may not be able to get a good spot – a sizeable crowd was already forming – I was actually quite surprised to see that most of the reserved seating (the first three rows of about twenty) was essentially empty. For those unfamiliar with Minnesotan culture: even when we have reserved seating to see someone that we admire, we want to be close but not that close. Sitting near the very front, I’ve included a picture to show how uncomfortably close I was to the signing table, the point at where I could probably reach out and touch him as he spoke at the podium.

Josh Preston sitting uncomfortably close to Michio Kaku's signing table

Pictured: the reason why I am not a photographer

After forcing small talk for a while with one of the physics kids next to me, one of the booksellers addresses the crowd: “The event is not starting yet, but I just have to inform everyone that while Professor Kaku was in Switzerland last week he caught a cold and has laryngitis …”

My heart jumps a beat – That motherfuckin’ bitch stood me up.

“… And because he wants to be able to answer everyone’s questions …”

I’m sorry, baby. You know I was just a little upset.

“… He has asked us to find someone willing to give his PowerPoint presentation. We do have a script so it wouldn’t be too hard.”

Impulsively, my hand goes up and she thanks me and hands me the script. It’s only when I realize that I’m now holding the script that I understand the full implications of what I have just done. My hands begin to shake. I’m becoming nauseous. Dear God, what the hell have I done?

But I take a deep breath.

And another.

Again.

I’ve given speeches to large crowds before and I have more than enough time to go over the script and the notes for the 51 slide PowerPoint. On the plus side, I can technically put “Lecturer of Theoretical Physics and Futurism” on my resume. Also, at least he can’t turn me down for a giraffe without being a total jerk.

Some time passes and I’m becoming more and more confident in my abilities by the time Kaku takes to the podium shortly after 7:00pm. He introduces himself, talks briefly about the 300 interviews he conducted with some of the best scientists and thinkers around for his book and then apologizes for not being able to give his presentation himself: “When Einstein went to Sweden he left with an equation; when I went I left with a cold.” At this point one of booksellers asks me to stand. I’m given no further direction and now I look like a complete asshole.

I approach the nearest microphone, which is a little distant from the podium but not enough to really cause me any problems. When I ask one of the tech people if the microphone works I’m reminded that the entire event is being recorded and that I should just go to the podium.

I take a deep breath.

And another.

Why Me?

Kaku thanks me for the help and when I look out to the crowd I feel a little claustrophobic (later one of the booksellers will tell me that she estimated a turnout of over 500). I forget to introduce myself even though I consider the shamelessly plugging this website (I don’t) and begin moving into the presentation. For anyone that has ever done public speaking, the first few paragraphs are often the hardest to spit out, but the moment they are done confidence balloons and one even becomes a little cocky as you incorporate inflection, intonation and ad lib and unnecessary facial gestures all while mentally revising Cicero’s epitaph to read: “Yeah, he was OK, if you’re into that.”

Or something like that.

Before I know it the presentation is over, I shake his hand and then take my seat high as hell.[3] There’s a brief video followed by questions and answers, which goes by smoothly, and now he’s finally ready to begin signing books. Already at the front of the line I decide to try to cash in the chips I earned through the evening and make the pitch …

“I can’t draw a giraffe,” says Kaku, which is perfect since I implied that fact during the pitch. Also, I’m already well aware that he’s a little sketchy when it comes to biology.

A point made all that much clearer by the fact that this uni-giraffe is apparently evolving bipedalism.


[1] I purposely use his latest books (of the 8+ in his repertoire) as demonstrative of the “coolness” in science specifically because I imagine his textbooks and 170+ journal articles have the exact opposite effect.

[2] I was going through a serious physics/astronomy phase that, thank God, I have now fallen out of and substituted with heavy drinking.

[3] If anyone is curious about his handshake: it’s disappointingly weak.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Writer and Blogger Eboo Patel

[The following story comes from fellow Editorial Board Member Lucas Felts.]

Eboo Patel has been a member of Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Relationships since 2009. He is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit dedicated to the promotion of interfaith cooperation.

Eboo Patel is a truly inspiring man of whom I met one beautiful weekend in Decorah, IA at Luther College for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.  It was Friday night where Eboo was guiding a discussion from former Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.  I, with a twinkle in my eye, looked on as I saw two miraculous things unfolding before me.  First I saw a message being delivered with power and conviction from Shirin Ebadi promoting social justice guided by the calm collected presence of Eboo Patel.  But I also saw something else that fateful day upon that stage.  As I sat there furiously scribing away in my metahipster journal I saw giraffes on that stage.  Not living, breathing, 14-foot tall giraffes, don’t be silly how would Luther College get those in an auditorium? No, I saw the potential for some poorly drawn giraffes on that stage.

Eboo Patel is a Rhodes Scholar and one of today’s foremost experts on religion and interfaith relations.  In my humble opinion I would have to conclude that this man has no business whatsoever drawing a giraffe.  So, when the conversation had come to an end I, like any sane and fully competent person on a mission, decided to disregard the barriers preventing me from going on stage (it is a well known fact that if you act like you know what you are doing people perceive you to know what you are doing and thus don’t question you) and I approached Eboo with all the desirous emotions of a childhood boy on the verge of fulfilling his dream.  He looked me in the eyes, the aura of an important man ever looming about him, and said, “What’s up?”  More noble words may have never been spoken because in that instant I was frozen, the only thing standing between me and immortality by virtue of Giraffes was my own fear.

Nonetheless I was able to muster out, “Eboo, I have a strange request for you.  Would you draw me a giraffe?”  With a confused look on his face he grabbed the notebook from my hand and began to sketch.  He then stopped and looked at me half serious half confused and said, “I don’t know if I should be doing this,” as though there was some moral dilemma in drawing a giraffe.  Or maybe his reservations came from the terror stories floating about the internet of how US Congressman Tim Walz’s inability to draw a giraffe resulted in what may be one of the year’s biggest controversies.  Nonetheless once I assured him there was nothing to fear in contributing to the biggest revolution since the civil rights movement he then resumed, commenting briefly on how his son would love that he is doing this(it’s true, your children will love you much more if you draw a giraffe for us).  After some time spent working on his creation, he realized his giraffe looked more like a camel without humps than it did a giraffe.  Not to be discouraged, however, the final product was finished and handed back to me with a signature and the look of a man who had truly accomplished something. He also wrote giraffe at the top so the viewers of this website dedicated to drawings of giraffes would fully understand that this was, in fact, actually what he was trying to draw.

The following night Eboo gave an incredibly moving speech on interfaith relations, recurring through his speech were examples of important historical figures who promoted the idea that we are better together.  I think I can say with full confidence that when the blank page of my journal said we were better apart, Eboo Patel and his giraffe/camel said we are better together.  You can find Eboo on twitter(@EbooPatel) or you can read his blog at the Washington Post.

But there is only one place you can find his poorly drawn giraffe.  And that is right here my friends.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Our Apologies for Missing Friday’s Post

Normally we like to try our best to post a new giraffe every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but unfortunately we dropped the ball yesterday. Instead of scheduling a new giraffe I found myself bumming around the Twin Cities visiting friends, writing, walking DinkyTown and giving Michio Kaku‘s powerpoint presentation to a crowd of 500+ at the University of Minnesota Bookstore as he calmly stood beside me with laryngitis (podcast and giraffe to come).

Needless to say: I was busy.

Also, I made my way over to see the always funny Sam Lipsyte at Magers and Quinn booksellers. Lipsyte is a satirist/black humorist/terrible artist whose latest book The Ask (2010) is a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Slate did a nice review here).

Though your Friday was likely an empty one filled simply with decisions of whether or not you should kick it in the front seat or sit in the back seat, I will make it up to you by making this Monday (4/11/11) extra awful with a double post – I just have to decide which giraffes to use.

In other news:

  • Many thanks to Dillon McBrady for not only obtaining a giraffe from U.S. Senator Al Franken, which will make its way online in the near future. Also, thank you Dillon for bringing to light U.S. Congressman Collin Peterson‘s refusal to help his constituents in their entrepreneurial undertakings.
  • PrettyAwfulGiraffes.com would like to publicly apologize to U.S. Congressman Tim Walz for causing a recent controversy that has the potential to overshadow Nixon’s Watergate. Our bad, dude.
  • A friend of a friend was able to get a giraffe drawn by Philip Glass, who according to Wikipedia is “considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public.” Pretty sweet, huh?
  • It’s very likely that we’ll have buttons and stickers ready in the next two weeks. Be sure to join the Street Team and tell all of your friends to do the same.
  • I’m not sure what to do with the giraffes that have been finding their way to my inbox lately. Should I just throw them up online and let the people decide? Help!
RT Rybak - 2 11

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

R.T. Rybak is the current mayor of Minneapolis, MN, (serving since 2002) and a former writer for the Minneapolis Tribune who has also contributed to MPR. More importantly, he’s been known to crowd surf at First Avenue concerts. Yeah, that’s Minnesota for you.

So I will start by saying that I have nothing less than the utmost respect for Mayor R.T. Rybak. The guy is kind, smart, passionate and is often the best speaker in the room regardless of the venue. With that said, it is with a heavy heart that I must report the following: when I invited the mayor to participate in GDBWSNBDG at a recent local foods banquet in Montevideo, MN, the first reply I got was “What does a giraffe look like?”

Needless to say I was speechless. Though I do not know the mayor on a personal level, I have spoken to him at enough political functions to know that this question must have been in jest. Or, at the very least, a question of metaphysics.  After all, I as an armchair philosopher I can sympathize: what does anything truly look like?

At least for both his sake and mine this is the story I’m sticking to.

“Well, they have long necks,” I said.

“Right!”

He then took the notebook from my hand and began to draw, clarifying that he would need to draw a rough draft. (One could say that he was drawing a rough gir-aft, but one should probably not say that because it would make them look like an asshole).

Figure 1: Mayor Rybak’s Rough Gir-aft.

Commenting on his work (“Hm, not bad!”) he then tore the draft from the notebook. Becoming serious, he took to his art like a bird to flight …

… If said bird was filled with helium, therefore making it a fowl-ish Hindenberg.

Normally the story would end here, but the moment he finished (taking the time to “touch up” the work with neck-arms and a pigtail) he then took the sketch and ran off. Not knowing what was going on (and hoping to get my notebook back), I followed only to see that he had sought out his wife with cries of “Honey, honey, look what I drew!”

The reply? “That’s very nice, Raymond.”

Yes, very nice indeed.