Dec 17 2011

#231 “I get by…”

From a stranger in reddit-land

A squirrel riding a bearded wolf… Is this the result of an overactive imagination dreaming up whimsical thoughts for the mere fun of it? Or is there something more going on here? Only the artist knows for sure, but what can easily be seen by every viewer is that there is an intimate relationship between the two characters in this picture. There’s a friendship, a codependency of sorts, that helps to show that we are not alone, that we all need companionship, and that no man is an island. And speaking of this concept, I believe it would be very fitting to pair this illustration with one of my favorite pieces from the well-loved Renaissance writer, John Donne. If you’re feeling intellectually malnourished or simply in need of emotional sustenance, or if you’re feeling up to diving into the deep end of a pool of classic literature, you should look up Donne’s “Meditation 17.” I’m sure you’ll find it very fitting.

But then again, if you’re not so much into classic literature, you might find the words of some contemporary poets a bit more fitting. Maybe John, Paul, George and Ringo said it best when they sang these simple words: “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Thanks for the picture, stranger. Even though we’ve never met, we’re intimately connected, and strange as it sounds… I consider you my friend.

Nov 22 2011

#206 “Spinning a Fantasy”

From Hannah in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I’m not sure what the inspiration behind this piece was, but whenever I look at this curious illustration, I can’t help but to be reminded of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous poem “The Lady of Shalott.” In case you’re wondering, there aren’t any wolves in the poem, but it’s not the anthropomorphic lobo in the illustration that calls to mind the Victorian work; it’s the unusually romantic web of colors that the wolf is spinning.

You see, in “The Lady of Shalott” the lady is a mystical maiden who is cursed to reside in a castle tower on an island in the middle of a river that leads down to Camelot. The exact origins of her curse are unknown, but the malediction placed upon her stipulates that she must never look upon the world beyond the tower, lest she die. However, in an unusual twist, the lady possesses an enchanted mirror that shows her a twistedly beautiful version of all the wonderful sights and sounds of the world outside which the lady then weaves into a magical web. This, in essence, is how she lives her life. Then one day a troop of knights passes by on the banks of the river, heading down to Camelot, and there among them is Lancelot, the most charming and handsome knight to have ever lived. After taking one glance at the magnificent knight in her magical mirror, the lady is so enticed by his handsomeness that she simply must lay eyes upon the genuine article. She passes across the room, peers out of the window, and sees the striking knight with her own eyes. With this, the curse is called down upon her, and the lady knows that she is to die. In preparation for her death, she takes a boat and writes her name upon it; using the boat as her coffin, she floats down to Camelot where all the knights approach her with fear and trepidation. All that is but one: Lancelot, the knight of honor and valor approaches the body of lifeless lady and comments on her beauty. And that is where the tale ends.

Once again, I can’t say for certain that this illustration is a conscious allusion to the story, but there are certain elements that seem to fit: the lady, the web of colors, etc. But in the end, I’m left wondering if this illustration is a comment about wolves and their misunderstood nature and the curse of persecution upon them, or if this picture is more of an introspective piece. Perhaps the artist views herself as an outcast like the lady of Shalott because of her love for the lobo. I guess the world may never know the answers to these questions, but that’s ok. Not knowing the answers allows us to weave our own web of fantasy and conjecture, a web of imagination of creativity. And in the end, I suppose that is the most important thing.

Jul 28 2011

#89 “Game Night!”

From Suzanne in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I had so much fun creating the catchphrase quiz for yesterday’s post that I have decided to follow it with another trivia-oriented post for today. However, my penchant for creating fun little quizzes is not the sole reason for this particular type of entry. You see, this illustration was included in a large packet of pictures, along with a note from Suzanne that said that she had become so enamored with the WBS project that she regulary encouraged guests at her house to participate. Furthermore, she indicated that this usually takes place at a “game night” which she regularly hosts.

So in honor of Suzanne’s triumphant wolf picture and her spectacularly fun game nights, here is a trivia quiz I designed specifically for Suzanne and her friends. But, of course, you may participate as well. Good luck to everyone! Also, the answers to the questions are located below, but no cheating!

8 categories. 40 total questions.


1. The cover of the 1967 album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” is famous for featuring a picture of a large yellow banana. Who is the equally famous artist that designed this legendary album cover?

2. This famous drummer in a 1960s/1970s hard rock group accidentally ran over his own bodyguard and chauffer with his Bentley while trying to escape from hostile patrons at a Hertfordshire, England pub. It was rumored that this accident occured partly because the musician became a star at such a young age that he had never learned how to operate a vehicle.

3. This fictitious alter ego invented by Garth Brooks released an album in 1999 featuring the Top 5 pop hit “Lost in You.”

4. Often noted as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, this 1973 progressive rock album is said to sync mysteriously with scenes from the 1939 film version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

5. This 1980s guitar god played the fantastic guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Beat it.”


1. Name one of the two most famous painters associated with cubism in the early 20th century.

2. Not long ago, a $4 million museum opened in Massachusetts to honor the paintings of a certain American artist who lived from 1894 to 1978, a person whose works are famous even to people who have never stepped foot in a museum. Who is this artist?

3. Sketches from which 15th century artist anticipated such modern inventions as the airplane and the tank?

4. Who painted the famous piece “The Persistence of Memory”?

5. Which Dutch painter cut of part of his ear after a quarrel?


Pop Culture:
1. Who famously said, “Let’s not forget this was all started by a mouse”?

2. This man was the owner of McDonalds from 1961 until his death in 1984.

3. Which of the following never appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series “The Office”?
(a) Ray Romano  (b) Amy Adams  (c) Will Arnett  (d) Ken Jeong
(e) Tim Meadows (f) Norm Macdonald

4. Supporters of Conan O’Brien during his turbulent year in 2010 pledged their love for the star by sporting t-shirts with his cartoonish image and a slogan that declared ”I’m with ________.”

5. After being silent for more than 100 years, Mr. Peanut has recently been given a voice. Which Oscar nominee performs this iconic character’s voiceovers?
(a) James Earl Jones  (b) Jonny Depp (c) Michael Douglass
(d) Robert Downey Jr. (e) Tim Allen  (f) David Duchovny


1. In this historic year, Alaska became the 50th star on the flag.

2. This man was first republican candidate to become president of the U.S.

3. The assassination of this archduke of Austria in Sarajevo in June of 1914 is largely viewed as the catalyst for World War I.

4. The first American state to abolish slavery in 1777 was ______________________.

5. The Battle of Hastings in the year 1066 which resulted in William the Conqueror being crowned King of England was fought on this day.


1. This middle-class born poet was the author of The Canterbury Tales and the first commoner to be buried at Westminster Abbey.

2. Stephen King sets most of his novels in this state.

3. This is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased associate from “A Christmas Carol.”

4. The title of this famous novel by John Steinbeck was taken from a line of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.

5. This acclaimed poet was known for his lack of punctuation and unusual syntax in poems such as “buffalo bill’s,” “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and “my father moved through dooms of love”


1. When Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls for the first time in 1994, he signed a minor-league contract with what major league baseball team?

2. Which of these things found in the Olympics moves the fastest: Ice hockey puck, bobsled, luge, or speed skier?

3. If an NBA player wins the Maurice Poldolof Trophy, what title has he achieved?

4. What sport used the term “home run” long before baseball?

5. What NFL team hired the league’s first professional cheerleading squad in 1972?


1. This is the only country whose name begins with an “A” but does not end with one.

2. The “most crowded” state (the one with the most people living per square mile) is _______________.

3. Which city is the capital of Australia?
(a) Perth (b) Canberra (c) Sydney (d) Melbourne

4. This lake is the largest fresh water lake in the world.

5. In which ocean are the Canary Islands located?


1. In the Catholic religion, what is the title of the church official ranking just below the pope?

2. This woman, noted for her beauty, was the daughter of Leda and Zeus and was abducted by Paris.

3. Which two had the starring roles in the film, Thelma and Louise ?

4. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream makers once tried to produce and market an ice cream product with what vegetable flavoring?

5. A gold ring that is 50% solid gold and 50% other metals will be rated how many carats?



Music: (1) Andy Warhol (2) Keith Moon (3) Chris Gaines (4) Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (5) Eddie Van Halen

Art: (1) Picasso or Braque (2) Norman Rockwell (3) Leonardo DaVinci (4) Salvador Dali (5) Vincent Van Gogh

Pop Culture: (1) Walt Disney (2) Ray Kroc (3) Norm Macdonald (4) Coco (5) Robert Downey Jr.

History: (1) 1959 (2) Abraham Lincoln (3) Franz Ferdinand (4) Vermont (5) December 25th, Christmas Day

Literature: (1) Geoffrey Chaucer (2) Maine (3) Jacob Marley (4) “The Grapes of Wrath” (5) e e cummings

Sports: (1) Chicago White Sox (2) Speed skier: 140 mph (3) Most Valuable Player (4) Cricket (5) The Dallas Cowboys

Geography: (1) Afghanistan (2) New Jersey (3) Canberra (4) Lake Superior (5) Atlantic

Potpourri: (1) Cardinal (2) Helen of Troy (3) Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (4) Ketchup/Tomato (5)the term carats indicates the proportion of solid gold out of 24 parts

Jul 12 2011

“73 “A Midsummer Night’s Wolf”

From Emily in Chattanooga.

It’s often a wondrous experience to sit back and examine the path that the stream of one’s life has taken and to speculate what further twists and turns lie just beyond the next bend. Who can predict the track that a stream takes on its journey to the sea? Each of us must sail the river of his own existence; the eddies that pull us back and the rapids that tumultuously present life’s problems are unique and individual. Even so, at times our separate waters may overlap and become one; and thus we may become a part of waterways vast and deep and then a short while later branch off into tributaries both narrow and shallow and drift back into our own individual existences once again.

Just recently my path crossed serendipitously with a young woman in my own community known as Emily who just happens to be the illustrator of today’s post. In an accompanying letter, Emily described how she found an orange Easter egg that I had hidden in downtown Chattanooga and opened it to discover a miniature WBS flier inside. She said that she had made immediate plans to draw a wolf and send it in, but for whatever reason her intentions never came to fruition until she happened to be walking along on one of Chattanooga’s many bridges and came upon one of my fliers. It was then that she knew that fate was calling her to produce this masterpiece of “A Midsummer Night’s Wolf” and contribute it to the Wolves by Strangers project.

How stranger and funny life can be sometimes. In a community in which some people have not ever heard of this project, this young lady just happened to come into contact with my pleas in two different ways and at two different times, months apart. And then, when she did comply with the request, she did so in a way that could not be better suited to my personal interests. How could she have known that I am an ardent fan of classic literature and have studied the work of Shakespeare quite extensively? And on top of this, how could she have known of my love for unusual modern poetry when she included the poem below?

I’m not sure. I guess life is just funny sometimes.

“There are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves”
by James Kavanaugh

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.