Lincoln Peirce is a cartoonist/writer and the creator of the comic strip Big Nate. It appears in more than two hundred U.S. newspapers and online daily at comics.com.

Lincoln Peirce lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Maine.

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Krazy Kat

You've probably already figured this out, but sometimes I have trouble coming up with ideas to blog about. When I first starting writing this blog, I wrote almost exclusively about Big Nate -- the chapter books AND the comic strip -- and focused on things that young readers just discovering Nate might find interesting: what he looked like when I first started the strip; how and why I invented certain characters; the steps in the process of writing or drawing; and so on. But nowadays, having written entries twice a week for almost four years, I find it more challenging to provide fresh content about Big Nate. And I certainly don't want to repeat myself if I can avoid it. That's why I end up writing about TV cartoons, or sports...or, as I touched on in my last entry, dogs.  
 
And sometimes, of course, I can't think of anything to write about at all. That's what happened earlier this evening. My mind was a blank. I couldn't write about how I spent my day -- because I spent my day working on Big Nate Lives It Up, a book that won't be published for over a year. It's far too early to give you any hints about that story. And I didn't want to write about the weather, because I've mentioned our early-winter snowstorms more than once in recent weeks. So I looked around my office in the hopes of seeing something on my wall or tucked away on a bookshelf that would spark an idea. And this picture, which occupies a small corner of my bulletin board, is what I noticed.
 
It's a cat playing a banjo. Now, if you've read my "author bio" in the back of the last couple Big Nate books, you know that, like Nate, I don't like egg salad, figure skating, or...cats. (I don't have ailurophobia like Nate does, but cats definitely aren't my cup of tea.) So you might be wondering: if you don't like cats, why do you have a picture of one on your bulletin board? Well, this isn't just any cat. This is the title character of George Herriman's Krazy Kat, one of the greatest comic strips ever. It started about a century ago, and it appeared in newspapers for about 30 years.  Krazy isn't anything like a real-life cat. For one thing, Herriman was never entirely clear about Krazy's gender. Sometimes he's a he, and sometimes she's a she. He/she is also in love with a mouse. And the mouse, whose name is Ignatz, is continually trying to hit Krazy in the head with a brick. So right away you know you're dealing with an unusual comic strip. I think -- as do most cartoonists I know -- that Krazy Kat was a masterpiece of comic art. And that's why this picture is on my bulletin board.
 
But there are thousands and thousands of images of Krazy I could have chosen to display. Why this one? Well, I like the fact that Krazy is playing the banjo, because I happen to have an affection for banjo music. I also like the lyrics Krazy is singing: There IS a heppy lend, furfur a-waaaaaay. (The characters in Krazy Kat had unique accents, vocabularies, and pronunciations.) Those lyrics, which are hopeful and big-hearted, somehow remind me of the words to a song by The Carter Family called "Hello, Stranger."
 
Hello, stranger. Put your lovin' hand in mine.
Hello, stranger. Put your lovin' hand in mine.
You are a stranger, and you're a pal of mine.
 
I sometimes play that song on my radio show on WMPG here in Portland, Maine. So I couldn't resist adding a tiny detail to the drawing: I put a piece of white correcting tape on the microphone Krazy is singing into, and wrote WMPG on it. Happy trails, everyone!
Fri, 01/10/2014

Memorable Mutts

How can you not love a face like that? This is our dog, Scout, enjoying a quiet moment the other night. In about a month, she'll be turning eight years old, which puts her squarely in the "middle aged" category. You wouldn't know it by looking at her, though. She still has the energy of a puppy.
 
My recent blog entry about TV cartoons got me thinking about cartoon dogs -- both on television AND in print. In no particular order, here are some memorable mutts, past and present, from the cartoon world:
 
SNOOPY really has to be considered the king of the cartoon canines. He evolved from a non-verbal supporting character in a modest comic strip ("Peanuts" started out in only seven newspapers) to an international media superstar. But other comic strip dogs had to blaze the trail in the decades before "Peanuts" debuted in 1950. There was TIGE, the pit bull buddy of the title character in the comic strip "Buster Brown." In "Blondie," a strip that's been appearing in newspapers since 1930, Dagwood's loyal pooch is named DAISY. And what about SANDY, Annie's constant companion in the serial comic strip "Little Orphan Annie"? I'm also a fan of SNOWY, the little white terrier who's always ready for adventure in the "Tintin" stories. But in my opinion, the only comic strip dog who can compare to Snoopy is the canine constable of Coconino County, the great OFFISSA PUPP from the comic strip "Krazy Kat."
 
Other comic strip dogs who deserve a mention: ;RUFF from "Dennis The Menace," OTTO from "Beetle Bailey," MARMADUKE, ODIE from "Garfield," DOGBERT from "Dilbert," and SATCHEL from "Get Fuzzy." (And let's not forget SPITSY from "Big Nate"!)
 
On the TV cartoon end of things, there are just as many famous dogs. I mentioned UNDERDOG in the blog the other day, along with ASTRO from "The Jetsons" and BANDIT from "Johnny Quest." But I didn't mentioned SCOOBY DOO, one of television's most enduring and endearing mutts, who travels around with a group of teens in a van called the "Mystery Machine," solving strange and frightening cases which always seem to involve Scooby and Shaggy cowering in fear underneath a sofa. MISTER PEABODY, a brainy beagle with a time machine, was a favorite, as was the not-so-brainy DEPUTY DAWG. There was HONG KONG PHOOEY, a martial arts mutt voiced by the great Scatman Crothers, not to mention a whole slew of Hanna Barbera dogs like HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, AUGGIE DOGGIE, and MUMBLY. In more recent years, we've had REN from "Ren & Stimpy," SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER from "The Simpsons," and the late, great BRIAN GRIFFINfrom "Family Guy."
 
Sorry if I left out your favorite cartoon dog. These are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head!
Tue, 01/07/2014

Snowy, Wintry Weather

Hi everyone, Happy New Year!  Here in Maine (and I guess in most of the Northeast), the weather forecast is for another major snowstorm on Thursday. We've already had a couple of big storms this year (by "big," I mean 10 inches of snow or more), and it's only officially been winter for 11 days! Our daughter's school is scheduled to re-open on Thursday after the Christmas break, but there seems to be a decent chance that there'll be a snow day.

I've always enjoyed making snow a part of Big Nate -- first, because I like making drawings of snowy scenes, and second, because Nate lives in a part of the country where winter lasts a long time. (Although I've never specified in the strip or the books exactly where Nate lives, I've said in this blog before that he lives somewhere in my own home state of Maine.) The changing of the seasons helps spark ideas -- not only because of the holiday themes I wrote about in my last entry, but because weather is such a significant part of people's everyday lives. That's certainly true in Nate's case. Fall is not only the season of Nate's birthday (he's a Scorpio), but an opportunity for him to earn money by raking leaves. Winter means sledding (with his Supa-Sno-Tube), shoveling, and pond hockey. Spring is "mud season"; up here, because the melting snow keeps things pretty sloppy for most of March and April -- but it's also baseball season, and of course baseball is a frequent storyline topic in the comic strip. And Summer is vacation time. I've always enjoyed doing Sunday strips about Nate and his pals visiting the beach, and I've also done some stories over the years about Nate attending various summer camps.

(Weather's also important to Nate for another reason: he's obsessed with a local TV weatherman named Wink Summers. I've written several story lines in which Nate blames Wink for certain weather events. 2013 was a good year for Wink; he was reinstated as Channel 12's chief meteorologist after having been relegated to weekend duty a year earlier.)

My hero, Charles (Sparky) Schulz of "Peanuts" fame, grew up in Minnesota, so winter was obviously a big part of his life, too. But after he'd been doing the strip for several years, he moved to California. Winter continued to be part of "Peanuts" for the rest of his career, but it seemed to me it wasn't featured nearly as prominently after Sparky relocated to the West coast. I have no plans to leave Maine for a warmer climate -- but even if I did, I would definitely continue to make snowy, wintry weather a huge part of Big Nate!
Thu, 01/02/2014

Holiday and Seasonal Comics

Hi, everyone. I hope you had a good holiday and are looking forward to ringing in the New Year. Holidays are tricky subjects to deal with in a typical Big Nate book, because if I write a storyline that is specifically about Christmas or Halloween, it might make people less apt to buy the book at other times of the year. (Who wants to buy a Halloween book in March?) So I usually don't get too specific in the chapter books about what time of year it is when the story is taking place. The only exception was Big Nate Goes For Broke, which is a winter story. Even there, though, I stayed away from holidays.
 
But the comic strip is different, because it appears every day of the year. Like the calendar, it's constantly changing. So holidays are great opportunities for storytelling. I can do a one-week story in October about Nate's dad handing out embarrassingly inappropriate snacks on Halloween. Or a two-week Valentine's Day story about Nate sending a "message cookie" to a new girl named Tina, only to have it mistakenly delivered to Gina. And at Christmas time, I have often written about Nate's fruitless attempts to convince his father that a dog would make the perfect gift. It hasn't happened yet, which means that Nate must continue to settle for dog-sitting Spitsy, the dysfunctional mutt next door. (See picture for a typical Nate and Spitsy moment.)
 
This year, though, I didn't return to that theme. I've written so many jokes over the years about Nate's dog fantasy that I might be a little burned out on the whole idea. Sometimes certain themes just run their course, and trying to resurrect them for the sake of tradition starts to seem forced. I feel the same way about other "regular" themes in the comic strip: the New Year's Eve "Monopoly" game, the "Prank Day" hijinks on the last day of school, and so on. If I feel that I have good jokes to tell, I go ahead and tell them. If not, I'll take some time off from a certain theme. Sometimes I return to it, and sometimes I leave it behind. So no dog storyline this Christmas season. But there WILL be some New Year's Eve "Monopoly" next week!
Mon, 12/30/2013

Merry Christmas!

Just a very short entry today, for a couple of reasons. First, our family is in New York City and there are all sorts of family gatherings going on. And second, I'm composing this on my phone, which takes a long time (for me, anyway). Enjoy the pictures here of our two kids, both of whom have received early visits from Santa Claus. Dana is wearing her new Christmas outfit, and Elias is playing his new guitar. Christmas came early, since we'll be heading back to Maine on Tuesday morning. Returning to Portland means getting back to work on BIG NATE LIVES IT UP. I'll give you a progress report next time. Happy holidays, everyone!

Tue, 12/24/2013

Favorite TV Cartoons

Hi, everyone. I apologize for skipping my last blog entry. A number of things combined to keep me away from the computer for a couple of days: a nasty flu bug, a couple of major snowstorms, and the return of our son from his semester abroad in Sri Lanka. I'm afraid I wasn't able to find the time to post on Monday night as usual.  
 
At any rate, at the end of my last entry, I mentioned that TV cartoons are a subject well worth discussing. As you might expect, I've had many favorites over the years, and -- just to narrow down the list -- I'm eliminating a couple of categories. First, I'm not writing about present-day cartoons like The Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, etc. Those shows are undeniably great in their own way, but the cartoons I remember most fondly are ones from my youth, when I watched far more television than I do now. Second, I'm not including shows like Looney Tunes or Popeye the Sailor, because those cartoons weren't created specifically for TV. They were movie shorts that were shown in theaters prior to the feature presentation. My excluding these cartoons certainly doesn't mean I don't like them. The old black-and-white Popeye cartoons are among my very favorites, and Looney Tunes, featuring the likes of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc., are classics.
 
So, with those ground rules having been established, here are four of my very favorite TV cartoons:
 
Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends - This show actually had a couple different names. It was called Rocky & His Friends, Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, or simply The Bullwinkle Show. The duo, a peppy flying squirrel and a dull-witted but extremely lovable moose, hailed from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, and the show featured their serialized adventures. Their main adversaries were a pair of bumbling Soviet spies, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. The program was a variety show, more or less; in addition to Rocky's and Bullwinkle's story lines, there were other memorable segments like Dudley Doright, Fractured Fairy Tales, and Peabody & Sherman. The show had several different openings over its 5-year run.  Click here to see one of them:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejgfnRvAOno
 
Johnny Quest - Talk about a kid living the dream. Johnny Quest was a boy, probably aged 10 or 11, with a taste for adventure. And it just so happened he lived the kind of life where there was adventure around every corner. You never know when you're going to run into a crazed Japanese soldier who doesn't realize that World War 2 is over. Anyway, Johnny jetted around the globe with a glamorous and exotic supporting cast: his father, the scientist/genius Dr. Benton Quest (note the lab coat); his turban-wearing Indian companion Hadji; the "muscle" of the operation, the white-haired and macho-named Race Bannon; and, of course (for comic relief purposes), his dog, Bandit. There was an attempt some years ago to "update" Johnny Quest, but the newer, shinier JQ couldn't hold a candle to the original. Here's some vintage Johnny Quest action for you:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIhEpjnaNlo
 
The Jetsons - Most people would probably say that if you have to pick one cartoon show about a funny family from another time, you'd go with The Flintsones. I don't disagree, but as a kid I gave my heart to the Jetsons.  For one thing, seeing main character George Jetson, a hapless everyman, whiz around space in a sporty little flying saucer was cool. Plus, the Jetsons had one of the all-time great TV pets, a dog with somewhat limited powers of speech named Astro. (Other characters were George's wife Jane, their children Judy and Elroy, and a robotic maid named Rosie.) And the show secured its spot in my own personal pantheon with the guest appearance of space rocker Jet Screamer.  Click here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suafkk2vWNI
 
Underdog - A classic superhero cartoon but with a comic twist. Our hero, Humble Shoeshine Boy, transformed himself into crusading crime fighter Underdog whenever his love interest, Sweet Polly Purebred, was being threatened by the likes of villains like Riff Raff or Simon Bar Sinister. Underdog's efforts were sometimes blundering, and he often created a lot of damage while trying to save the day. He also spoke almost entirely in rhyme. "When Polly's in trouble, I am not slow. It's hip hip hip, and away I go!" The animation quality wasn't great, but the show had one of the all-time best theme songs.  Click here to see the opening:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcjOi_3H7gw
 
There are plenty of other shows I could write about, and perhaps I will another time.  But that's all for now!
Wed, 12/18/2013

Working Methods

A couple of years ago, I responded to a survey for The Cartoonist, the bi-monthly bulletin of the National Cartoonists Society. The survey was sent to a lot of cartoonists, and the ten questions we were asked were all about our working methods: What are the indispensable tools you can't live without when you're drawing?  Describe the studio or office where you work. Stuff like that. I don't have the survey in front of me, but I remember one question was: Do you listen to or watch anything while you work? At the time, I responded by saying that, while I was writing or brainstorming, I preferred silence. But at all other times, I listened to some combination of satellite radio, regular FM radio, and selections from my fairly large collection of CDs.  But things change. If I were answering the same question today, I'd respond differently -- because two years ago I didn't subscribe to Spotify or Netflix, and today I do.
 
I'd never heard of Spotify until my good friend from Kansas City, John Glynn, told me about it. It's a music streaming service. Without going into the boring technical details (most of which I don't understand anyway), it enables you to build an enormous audio library. I prefer it to regular radio because a.) there are no commercials, and b.) when I'm listening to music, I listen to songs I've already selected. The fact that they're in my music library means I've already decided they're worth listening to. Today, for example, I had my playback set to "shuffle" for several hours while I was drawing. Here are a few of the songs I enjoyed:
 
Along Came Jones by The Coasters, I Don't Want To Spoil The Party by The Beatles, Did She Mention My Name by Gordon Lightfoot, Holocene by Bon Iver, Bugle Call Rag by Benny Goodman, Hang On Sally by Johnny Paycheck, Radio Radio by Elvis Costello, Come All Ye by Fairport Convention, Desperados Under The Eaves by Warren Zevon, and There's A Big Wheel by Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper. And that only took up about  a half hour!
 
Sometimes, though, as an alternative to listening to music, I like to "watch" something on Netflix (on my laptop) while I'm working. I'm putting "watch" in quotes because I'm not giving whatever's on the screen anything like my full attention. So selecting a movie or TV show that is filled with all sorts of details, or a foreign film with subtitles, is out of the question. The trick is to find something to "watch" that I really don't have to watch at all in order to follow the plot. So I'll choose something like an old Twilight Zone episode, or a movie like Shane with a fairly simple storyline. If I select something I'm super interested in, there's the chance I'll get sucked into the story and end up squandering precious work time -- which is exactly what I did tonight without intending to!
 
I watched a movie called October Sky, and I really DID watch it once I realized how much I was enjoying it. Jake Gylenhall plays Homer Hickam, a teenage boy in West Virginia in the late 1950's. The Soviet Union's launch of the orbiting satellite "Sputnik" inspires him to build a rocket, and he enlists the help of three friends. The call themselves the Rocket Boys (which is an anagram of October Sky). There's a kind-hearted but ultimately doomed-to-die-young teacher (Laura Dern) who provides encouragement, a no-nonsense coal mining father who's against the whole project, and a national science fair that serves as the film's climax. Throw in an autographed picture of Werner von Braun, a great soundtrack of 1950's rock 'n roll, and you've got a movie worth watching!
 
Speaking of movies, has there ever been a good movie or TV show about cartoonists? Absolutely. The documentary Crumb is a fascinating portrait of the great "underground" cartoonist R. Crumb. American Splendor chronicles the strange life of underground cartoonist/writer Harvey Pekar. Ghost World, while not really about a cartoonist, is a very good movie based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes. And the new documentary Dear Mr. Watterson is receiving very good reviews. TV has fared less well, with shows like Too Close For Comfort, Bob, and the absolutely putrid Caroline In The City purporting to be shows about working cartoonists. Not so much.
 
Now, cartoon TV shows: THAT'S a good topic for a blog entry. There have been plenty of good and even great animated TV shows, and I'll try to write about a few of them soon!
Thu, 12/12/2013

Wildcats

About a month ago, I devoted a good chunk of my blog entry to the subject of college fight songs. As you might remember, I chose the fight song of the USC Trojans as my personal favorite...but that doesn't mean it's the one closest to my heart. That spot is reserved for the fight song of my beloved UNH Wildcats. It's called ON TO VICTORY, and you can listen to it here:
 
 
For those who don't know, the letters UNH stand for University of New Hampshire (although, as kids, we joked that they stood for U Need Help). The school is located in Durham, New Hampshire, and that's the town where I grew up.  I didn't attend UNH, but my older brother did. And my dad taught there for thirty years. So despite the fact that I've not lived in Durham since I was 17 years old, the town still exerts a hold on me. And even though I can't claim UNH as my alma mater, I still think of it as my school. My loyalty to UNH runs much deeper than my allegiance to the college I actually attended, Colby. But why? Well, I think sports is a big part of the answer, as is the UNH mascot.
 
I've written before about my devotion to the UNH men's hockey team, which has come oh-so-close to winning the college hockey national championship on a couple of occasions, but has always fallen short. My family had season tickets to the hockey games while I was growing up, and those Friday or Saturday night tilts at Snively Arena, a quonset hut-style barn that was one of the first college rinks in the Northeast to have a roof, were always memorable. The football games were also fun, although I don't remember them nearly as well. But I remember the fight song. And I remember the Wildcat mascot. A few years ago, the university decided to "re-boot" the Wildcat, and the image on the bottom right is what they came up with. It's a slick, rather generic logo that looks like exactly what it is: a design project that closely resembles the logos of countless other colleges and universities. Now look at the Wildcat on the upper right. THAT'S the wildcat I grew up with. Sure, it's probably a little lopsided; it's not as bold as the newer logo, and is probably harder to see on t-shirts and sweatshirts. But it's perfect. It has a classic, vintage look that I really like.
 
And that's why I paid tribute to this mascot on the cover of one of my books. Have you looked recently at the front of BIG NATE GOES FOR BROKE?
 
Nate's waving a pennant, and on that pennant is a little drawing of the UNH Wildcat. Of course, in Nate's world, the wildcat has become a bobcat, the mascot of Nate's school, P.S. 38. (The Bobcat was also the mascot of the Oyster River schools I attended as a boy.) I couldn't draw it in full detail -- there just wasn't room -- but I'd like to think that one or two people who read the book might have looked at that Bobcat and thought he looked kind of familiar!
 
On the subject of book covers, here's one last thing. Today I finished the cover drawing for book #7 -- BIG NATE LIVES IT UP -- even though it won't be published for another 15 months! Now that's planning ahead!
Tue, 12/10/2013

Friday Mixed Bag

 I think that among my final thoughts in my last blog entry was one that went something like this: I'll be writing you my next blog entry from Texas. Well, not exactly.  I'm still in Maine. My talk at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature was postponed because of a looming snowstorm in and around Abilene. It's not too often that there's snow in Texas and not in Maine. But at any rate, the exhibition is still on display and will remain so through February; but my appearance will now take place in mid-February instead of today. (Now I just have to hope that there won't be a similar "weather event" in February which, although it's the shortest month, usually sees more snow than any other month!)
 
Today's blog is a bit of a mixed bag; here are a couple other items I'd like to share with you.
 
In Thursday's strip, Gina is shown clobbering Nate with a textbook. A reader on gocomics remarked that, although Nate rather routinely gets hit by girls, he would never respond in kind. And I agree: Nate would never hit a girl (except perhaps with a snowball). A different reader then said how unfortunate it is that this sort of casual violence is featured so often in comic strips. I understand the comment, but I also think it's important to maintain the distinction between real-life action and comic strip action. There's nothing funny about actual violence, of course, but in comic strips (and in many other forms of entertainment), there IS something funny about bonks on the head, slips on the ice, and assorted other pratfalls. As I've said many times, what fun is a comic strip where everything goes right? Falls, stumbles, accidents, fights -- they're all examples of things going WRONG. And things going wrong are funnier than things going right. Some of the great characters in comedy -- like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden, Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown -- are routinely knocked down, humiliated, and beaten. But they always get back up. That's why we end up caring about them.
 
And speaking of caring, a friend of mine could use your thoughts and prayers. The cartoonist Richard Thompson, creator of the great comic strip Cul de Sac, has been living with Parkinson's Disease for a number of years. He had a fall on Sunday and broke his hip; the tenuous state of his overall health led his doctors to conclude that the best solution would be a full hip replacement. His surgery was today. Please keep Richard in your thoughts! And read Cul de Sac! http://www.gocomics.com/culdesac#.UqEKFxaTOrc
Fri, 12/06/2013

Big Nate Rocks Out

Hi, everyone. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and, if you celebrated it, a happy Chanukah. My friend David assures me that Thanksgiving and Chanukah will not occur on the same day, as they did this year, for something like 70,000 years. So 2013 has been a year worth celebrating in more ways than one!
 
BIG NATE: THE MUSICAL, which had its world premiere last Spring at Adventure Theater MTC, may very well be coming soon to a theater near you! The show recently played its second venue, this time at the Rose Performing Arts Center in Omaha, Nebraska, where it ran for three successive weekends. This picture shows Teddy, Nate, and Francis rockin' out as Enslave The Mollusk. I didn't travel to Omaha to see the show, but judging by this photo, the actors brought plenty of energy to their performances. And I like their hairstyles! Anyway, there's been some discussion recently of putting together a touring edition of the show. That simply means that a group of actors and stage crew folks travel around, performing the show in several different cities. If there's a place near you that frequently stages children's theater productions, ask them if they're planning to bring Big Nate to your town!
 
Seeing Nate pounding away on the drums reminds me of a little piece of Big Nate trivia. Do you know what instrument Nate played in the comic strip BEFORE he took up the drums? The answer is right on the cover of one of the activity books, BIG NATE FUN BLASTER -- he's playing a trombone. Years ago, when I decided to write some jokes about Nate playing music, I didn't have to stray far from my own family history for inspiration. My big brother Nate played the trombone for a number of years during elementary and middle school. I don't think he'll mind if I tell you that he wasn't very good. He didn't like the songs his teacher made him play. I can still hear him playing "On Top Of Old Smokey" over and over. And over. Plus, he hated the way his lip would get swollen and sore after he practiced. Eventually, he gave it up, had a brief dalliance with the bass guitar as a teenager, and then decided that music was not his passion.
 
I've made a little bit more of an effort over the years to play music, but ultimately I haven't been any more successful than my brother was. In third or fourth grade, I started saxophone lessons. That lasted about four years, but I really wasn't diligent about practicing. I also had a teacher who used to get quite angry with me when he could tell I wasn't devoting much time to my sax, so that, needless to say, didn't do much to motivate me. I gave it up in eighth grade, and then went about ten years before I tried something else -- the guitar. I had three different guitar instructors at various times while I was in my 20's and 30's, and I also learned some claw-hammer banjo about 12 years ago. But I didn't have the discipline to stick with it. Maybe in my retirement I'll really get serious about trying to master an instrument, but for the moment I'm too busy to set aside the time. (I can, however, play a pretty good version of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" on the harmonica!)
 
And speaking of Texas, that's where I'll be when you read my next blog entry! I leave Thursday morning for Abilene and my appearance at the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature. More about that next time!
Tue, 12/03/2013