Grieving Takahashi…

If you are a Yu-Gi-Oh! fan, or just a fan of anime in general, then you’ve probably heard the horrible news concerning the manga/anime artist, Kazuki Takahashi. He was found dead earlier this week, near the coast of Nago, Okinawa. Investigators are still looking into how it happened, but it appears that he was snorkeling in the ocean, as his body was seen in snorkeling gear when he was found.

While I may have hinted at this in some of my previous posts, I’m a huge Yu-Gi-Oh! fan and have been since it first aired here in the States on September 29th, 2001. It was a huge blow to me when I first learned of Takahashi’s death earlier this week. Although I’ve never met him, he has had a huge influence in my life over the last 20 years. His characters have been a part of me and in some weird way, has helped shape me into who I am today. And no character has done this more than Yugi Muto/Yami Yugi/Atem. Similar to Yugi, I too was a very shy and quiet kid in school, like him, and scared of nearly everything, especially social interactions with others. But over time, I feel like I have grown out of that and have matured into a more bolder and confident individual, similar to Yami Yugi/Atem. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I’m like this because of these characters, as I have had many positive influences in my life from real people to help shape who I am now. But like Yugi, I too have grown and matured. Those of you who know the first show and have seen it through to the end know that Yugi becomes very similar to his friend, Yami Yugi/Atem, who is very bold and assertive. I think a lot of people can relate to this concept as there is always room for every person to grow, no matter who they are. Some of you are probably wondering how I can feel grief for someone that I have never met. Well, I’ll give an example. For all of you Star Wars fans out there, think of how you would feel if something similar happened to George Lucas. You may have never had met him, but if you’re a fan of the Star Wars films, wouldn’t you feel a bit sad also?

Well that’s me right now with Takahashi. I want to share part of a quote that he said at the end of his original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga series, as it will bring home of what I’m about to say next.

“As we go about our lives, we touch people, we see people, and interact with them. And in doing so, we feel and think many things. Sometimes we make others happy, sometimes we hurt them, we sympathize and we disagree. In the midst of this, we learn that people’s thoughts and feelings are not a one-way street.”

I absolutely love what he said here because it’s so true. We encounter all sorts of people over the course of our lives. Some we like. Some we don’t like. Some become friends. Some are just friendly people that we pass by or briefly interact with and never encounter again. But no matter the case, we are who we are; people; human beings; trying to make it through the day to day vicissitudes of life. And many people have hurt me over time. I have hurt them. Last year, I hurt a dear friend of mine. My friend hurt me in turn. I was grieved over it for a long time. We have thankfully worked out our misunderstanding and are on good terms again. I have another friend who I care about deeply, but I disagree with her on a good amount of subjects. We come from two different backgrounds. But we are still friends at the end of the day. And Takahashi exemplified what I’ve gone through, and what many others have gone through, with his writing and art. Many will look at Yu-Gi-Oh! and see only a bunch of teenagers dramatically slapping trading cards down on tables and fighting monsters. And they are right, as that is what it is, on the surface. But underneath all that, it’s about relationships, particularly friendship. It’s a story about coming of age, growing up, facing the world, and doing things that you don’t want to do, or are too afraid to do. But you do them anyway and face them anyway because you must. One of the hardest things that I had to face was losing my dad, back in February of this year. I was not ready to face such a hardship. Death of a loved one is probably one of the most difficult things a person can face in life. No one or nothing can prepare you for such a thing. But you must face it eventually. We all do. Takahashi was only 2 years younger than my dad when he died. They both died young (by today’s standards). Death does not discriminate. It can come to you whether you are 8 years old, or 80 years old. We are all subject to it and we must all face it one day…

This is starting to sound rather morbid, so I’ll end with this. Be nice to someone today. Whether it’s towards a stranger, holding a door for them or picking something up that they dropped and handing it to them, or a friend. Support him or her. Be kind to them. Answer that e-mail they send to you. Support their blog or website and leave a kind comment. Call them up or text them. Send a card. Meet them for dinner or coffee or tea. Do something. If you wait too long, if you keep putting it off, one day, you may be too late…

Rest in peace, Mr. Takahashi. You may be gone, but your work lives on. And your fans will keep your spirit alive always.

SIA Post: “The Mystery of Water”

The title of this SIA challenge (and this post for that matter) is called “The Mystery of Water”. The “mystery of snow” would be more appropriate here because, well, we’re getting actual snow now and it’s like the freakin’ end of April. My thoughts and feelings on snow have, shall we say, waned over the past few months, for one very particular reason, which I’ll talk about one day soon, maybe…

Anyway, moving on, it’s Terri’s turn to host SIA this time around, and she chose Christi Belcourt’s The Mystery of Water, which you can see here (

I automatically knew what I wanted to do for this one, as I had the perfect shirt to match the main color of the painting. Can’t beat aqua marine, right? Simple, but to the point. You’re probably wondering why I opted to take this photo outside in the middle of our “spring blizzard” instead of the nice warm interior. Simple answer. Lighting. My house was simply too dark this morning (when I took the photo) to get any good shots, and artificial lighting looked too weird for this, so I chose to freeze for two minutes to get in a nice, natural lighting image. I’m actually more fascinated by that and by the fact that I have an action shot of blowing snow in my photo over the look of my outfit, which is rather banal by comparison. But hey, I do what I gotta do.

Be sure to check out Terri’s blog tomorrow (Wednesday, April 20th) to see everyone else’s interpretation!

SIA Post: Austin Cooper’s Ad Posters

I’m back for another SIA round, and this time, Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey ( is hosting and picked quite an interesting subject. Austin Cooper’s advertisement posters for London’s rapid transit system back in the 1920s. Need I say more? These two posters that say, “It Is Cooler Down Below” and “It Is Warmer Down Below” not only display an awesome design and layout, but also depict two opposite concepts that many of us are familiar with today.

Cooper’s posters (see the link above to see the images of them) would certainly grab people’s attention, even by today’s “screen driven” society standards. According to Cooper, “The functions of a poster are dual: to arrest the attention and then, having caught the eye of the passer-by, to deliver a message swiftly, convincingly, effectively.” (

I totally agree with that. Posters back in those days basically did what social media and our phones do now (minus the trolls and annoying virus inducing pop-ups); grabbing your attention with color and design and informing you as you view it. Sounds very much like what I see nearly everyday with people practically glued to their devices, not even caring that they’re walking into traffic or some other dangerous situation. Their attention is, as Cooper puts it, “arrested” by the images that they see.

Seeing these posters reminds me of French artist, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who was also well known for his poster making, particularly his Moulin Rouge: La Goulue. That image haunted me for years, as I had to study it in high school graphic design class, as I still remember it to this day. In short, posters are powerful.

Anyway, onto my outfit. This is what I came up with.

While I was aiming for the “cooler” side, with my reasoning being that I prefer cooler weather over warmer, I decided to incorporate a bit of the “warmer” side as well. But if you view each poster, each one incorporates a little of the color that’s opposite of its theme. You see a bit of orange and yellow in the cooler poster, which are often thought of as warm colors, and you see a bit of blue in the warmer poster, which is thought of as a cool color. So I guess I have both of these covered either way. I really like the dichotomy of these two images as I fall a bit along that mindset (especially lately) of being extremely one way or another. I’m not crazy. I just have a very “black and white” way of thinking. I’ve always had. And through many years of counseling that I’m slowly merging into that “middle gray” way of thinking. It’s a work-in-progress. 😉

Anway, that’s all I have for this one. Be sure to check out Salazar’s blog on Wednesday to see how everyone else interpreted these colorful pieces.

Postcard Post: “Morning Frost”

Yep, I know that I’m going against the grain in even posting this after the “Antarctic Annihilation” that most of us have experienced here in the west in terms of weather, but I have a lot of backlogged material to use, thanks to some free time that I had back in February. I have quite a few postcards now and it would be a darn shame if I didn’t use them for the blog.

A typical winter scene, which pretty much sums up the kind of weather that we’ve had here for over two months. If it looks a little grainy and dusty, that’s actually glitter that I used to make the snow and ice appear “sparkly”. And while this looks great when seen in person, it doesn’t turn out so well in photos.

Postcard Post: “The Ocean of Storms”

It’s been quite a while since I actually posted any postcards on the blog (I really should change the name, shouldn’t I?), so I figured I’d begin again with a bang.

This is one of my better ones, as I took inspiration from my favorite modern artist, Bob Ross (yeah, this is a little beyond my ability to paint on my own). You can see his tutorial here ( There is a lot of energy and movement here. And with all of the recent spring storms that we’ve been getting here in the US, this seems to fit in quite appropriately.

P.S. For all of you astronomy nerds out there (like me), the title should strike a chord with you. Early Astronomers believed the darker parts of the moon to be oceans and seas. Also known as “Oceanus Procellarum”, it is the largest of the moon’s “seas”, covering over 10% of its surface, over 1600 miles (2500 kilometers) across. Of course we now know that these dark spots aren’t seas at all, but large craters, formed by volcanic activity back in antiquity. But in some weird way, I still like to imagine that they really are seas of “dark water” up there. It sounds much more interesting, don’t you think?

SIA Post: “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”

Hey, yo, it’s been quite a long time since I posted anything. Besides of a lot of miniature vicissitudes over the past few months, a major emotional shattering event happened to me back in February; something which I’ll talk about in another post. I want to keep focused on the latest SIA subject.

To begin with, Daenel, one of our SIA participants and hosts, has stepped down from her role as SIA host, and in her place, Shelbee ( has assumed the role. I thank Daenel ( for her excellent work as SIA host and wish to thank her for allowing me to be a part of her community on her blog. I truly appreciate the warm welcome each and every time I submitted a comment there and am thankful for all the times that you have allowed me to be a part of your blog during SIA round-ups. Best of luck, Daenel!

As I just stated, Shelbee is SIA’s newest host and I wanted to welcome her to her new position by participating in this challenge. And for her second SIA assignment (I missed out on her first one, sort of…), she has chosen Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. You can see an image of his work on Shelbee’s blog (

While Picasso isn’t one of my favorite artists of all time (I struggled studying him when I was in school), I do acknowledge him as one of greats in art history; well known for his various artistic “periods”, such as “Blue”, “Rose” and “African”, etc., for which the art piece that we’re focusing on is in the African Period.

Whatever else I say regarding this work won’t do it justice compared to Shelbee’s excellent art history lesson, so go read that if you want to know more about this piece (

Getting to my chosen outfit, I once again tried to focus on color. And as there are very muted and monochromatic colors in the painting, I tried to go for a very “muted” look as well.

I basically see five colors in the painting. And by sheer serendipitous splendor, that’s how many colors that I have in my sweater(s) that I wore for this. That wasn’t intentional, but what is are the stripes in one of my sweaters, which match the straight lines that are seen throughout the piece, not to mention the designs on my other sweater that resemble straight lines.

I’m actually really proud of this one. I usually do a fairly average job on these because my clothes are pretty plain. But this one turned out better than I initially thought and I’m really happy about it. Not bad for my reentrance into the blogging world after a long hiatus.

And that’s all I have. Be sure to check out Shelbee’s blog this Wednesday, March 23rd, to see how everyone else interpreted Picasso’s art piece.

I lied. There was one more thing. My submission for Shelbee’s previous, and very first SIA hosting challenge! (

SIA Post: “Solar System Quilt”

Salazar, over on 14 Shades of Grey( is the curator for this latest SIA project, and she chose a really great one; a Solar System Quilt by Ellen Harding Baker. You can see an image of it by clicking on the link to Salazar’s blog above.

I went on a totally different route for this challenge, as you may have noticed.

Give up? Well, I didn’t go for the usual “color matching” this time, with one of the reasons being that it doesn’t represent me, as I’m usually in all black. And while I’m clearly not in my most comfortable attire in these photos, I thought that my striped sweater was perfect for this one. Why? Because the stripes represent the cloud bands of my favorite planet in the Solar System; Jupiter!

I’m a huge astronomy nerd and have been since I was little. I loved reading and learning about the Solar System and Jupiter always fascinated me the most, with its enormous size and the cloud bands that gave it its “striped look”. All of the gas/ice giants were fascinating to me, but Jupiter just stood out from the rest.

Anyway, to keep this post short (I’m up really late writing this out), let me briefly explain why I chose to go this route for this SIA. As I stated earlier, I wanted to break away from the usual color matching that I usually go with. My outfits are really simple and there’s really not much to them, so I usually go that route. But this SIA allowed for so much freedom and imagination and I decided to take full advantage of that. I mean, I could have gone a number of different ways to interprete this piece, like wearing a shirt that’s similar to the planets Uranus and Neptune, or Venus, Mars or Saturn, all of which I have. And all of these would have still fit in well with my whole “thinking outside the box” thing, as the quilt itself is pretty much black and white, with tiny traces of color on it. If I wanted to do my usual color matching, I most likely would have donned my all black attire, a great look for me, but one that I always use. So I decided to take it a step further and style a look for the piece in a more subjective way, rather than an objective way. Make sense? As Jupiter is part of the Solar System, and the Solar System is represented on the quilt, it makes total sense to do it this way.

I’m quite proud of this one for that very reason and I had fun coming up with the idea on how to work it. And that’s what SIA is really all about; not about “getting something right”, as I’m so used to doing with most everything that I do, but having fun and being creative. It took my friends in SIA to help me realize and learn that.

So anyway, that’s my take on this challenge. Be sure to check out Salazar’s blog on Wednesday to see how creative and fun everyone else’s interpretations were. I’m sure that everyone was just as creative and more as I was!

SIA Post: “Jazz Stories”

I’m a little late to participate in this week’s SIA challenge, hosted by Daenel over on Living Outside The Stacks (, but I since I was able to squeeze these photos in (barely) and because I really liked what she chose for the challenge, I decided to throw on a quick post with what I chose for her selection of Faith Ringgold’s Jazz Stories. Check them out below.

Like a few of the other participants in the round-up, I went with two “outfits” as well, both coming close to, but not spot on, the colors seen in the piece. I always say that I never look good in color, preferring my darker colors over these, but I will admit that these came out pretty good.

Just looking at Faith’s art piece makes me think of jazz music, particularly smooth jazz, which has been a part of my childhood experience as my mom would always have it playing in the background, either while in the car, or in the house on the radio while she’s working. And while I vastly prefer classical over jazz, I still really enjoy the mood that it put me in while it’s playing. And I have quite a few smooth jazz tracks on my mp3 player, when I want to give Vivaldi and Bach a break.

So there’s my take on Daenel’s SIA choice, Jazz Stories by Faith Ringgold. Be sure to check out the round-up on Daenel’s blog (linked above), to see how ever other partcipant interpreted this work. Everyone did terrific!

4 SIAs, 1 Post

I’m making up for my absence in the last few SIA challenges by posting the outfits I would have worn for them, had I been able to participate. I know that I’m “breaking the rules” again (wait, there are rules?…) of how an SIA post is supposed to go, but I figure that with the little extra time that I had last week, I would include the last few, along with the current one to make one nice “package” to show my support. That’s not so wrong, is it?

Anyway, let’s start with the current one, presented by Salazar over on 14 Shades of Grey ( She chose the piece by John Singer Sargent, known as “Lady Macbeth”, portrayed by actress Ellen Terry. You can view the image of the painting on her blog by clicking the link above, or you can “Google” it.

I went with the turquoise/teal that I saw in the painting. Years ago, turquoise was one of my favorite colors, which was why I gravitated towards it when deciding on which shirt I would wear for this one. I hope to be able to go back to that color one day…

I even threw in the stance that Ellen was making in the painting to give it more “pizzazz”. Not too shabby, eh?

That’s it for this SIA. Be sure to check out Salazar’s blog on Wednesday, August 25th for the full round-up to see everyone else’s interpretation of this awesome SIA painting.

Okay, let’s run through these other three SIAs real quick as it’s real late for me at the moment, and I’m writing this post with just 2-3 hours of sleep to my name. Bedtime as soon as I’m done.

This is from Terri’s SIA choice, Dining Room In The Country by Pierre Bonnard, on her blog, Meadowtree Style ( Lots of vermillion (red-orange) in the painting, which you can see by clicking on the link, leading to Terri’s blog with the image of the painting. I of course had to match my backdrop with that of the one in the painting, as well as mimic the woman’s pose. My shirt’s more red than vermillion, but my light blue “shirt jacket” more than makes up for this slight inaccuracy, as I see bits of light blue in the painting as well.

Next up is the SIA chosen by Daenel, over on Living Outside The Stacks ( and she chose a piece by Robert Henri called Girl in Rose and Gray. Miss Carmel White. Very neutral colors here with lots of tans, browns and blacks. More my style than the last two challenges as I’m all about muted neutral colors. So of course, I had to break out my light brown sweater (even though the weather was scorching hot!!!) with the dark brown buttons being a great visual to go with this cool painting. Nice!

And finally, I’m back to Salazar’s previous SIA hosting (, a cravat jumper by fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli. I included this one because, well c’mon, it gives me a chance to wear my “all black” attire, which is my favorite! I can never pass up an opportunity like that. 😉 Be sure to check out her round-up post ( as it’s pretty awesome. Everyone incorporated black in their outfits, which I’m all for (great job everybody by the way!)!

Well, that just about does it. I’ve pretty much come full circle and covered a whole “SIA cycle”, including a recent SIA challenge from each of our wonderful hosts. I’ll be back on my super busy schedule starting this week, so I may not be posting for a while, or participating in any SIAs for a while. But not too bad, right? I mean, last week, I managed to get some postcards painted and posted. Today, I covered about a month’s worth of SIAs; what’s next? Maybe I’ll manage to get some book reviews posted, as I’m working on getting some read as I speak. I think I’m actually able to stick with the ones I’m reading so who knows? I may get a decent amount of books read by the end of the year after all. 😉

It’s been fun, you all. Until next post!

Postcard Post: “Cliffside Falls”

Here’s another painting that I did using acrylic paint and mixing the three primary colors. Again, pretty basic scene with nothing too special going on here. The background is a little weak as it doesn’t really take you back into “deep space” (I should have mixed the green a little better), but I was pretty happy with the waterfall and cliff.