Still not sorry

“Thrift Shop” by Macklemore feat. Elsa

As you can see, my Frozen obsession continues apace. Also, this is the third (yes, the third) time I’ve done a mashup of “Thrift Shop” with a fictional universe. It’s possible I have a problem.

But I’m happy with how the drawing turned out. Art has never been my strong suit, but I like making it occasionally. Lately I’ve been practicing how to draw Disney style — specifically, how to draw the Disney princess head in profile. I’ve filled several sheets with sideways-looking heads, gradually getting less bad as I go. My main teacher was this tutorial, which was very useful.

If Elsa still looks a bit odd, that may be partly because the Frozen characters’ facial proportions are a bit different than “standard” Disney (Belle, for example). Even in the movie, her profile seems a little strange.

On the right is my attempt at breaking down the head into its constituent shapes and lines, using the tutorial as a guide. Having a framework like that makes the whole thing much easier. Not like that’s a shocking revelation (HEADLINE: Artists construct complex drawings from simpler structures; details at eleven) but using a formal-ish approach like this is new for me, and I’m liking it so far.

Hm … I said I was going to talk more about Evan, didn’t I? Welp. It’s clear where my priorities lie. Kids’ movies: more interesting than kids?? Details at eleven.


I made this and I’m not even sorry

A guided tour of John

Let’s talk about John.

The English philosopher John Stuart Mill (pictured above) shares his name with John Milton, John Denver, John Oliver, John Nash, John Adams, John Lennon, John Sheridan, John Henry, and nearly a bajillion other Johns. All derive their name ultimately from the Bible; John is the English form of Iohannes, which is the Latin form of the Greek Ioannes, itself derived from the Hebrew name Yochanan, meaning “YAHWEH is gracious.”

Snooze, yawn. I know. What fascinates me, though, is just how many different variations on John are floating around out there. You’d be surprised at the sheer number of people — both real and fictional — who are named John in sneaky, surprising ways.

We’ll start with the most obvious variations and work our way down.

Johnny (as in Johnny Cash) is about as obvious as it gets. Same no-frills name, just a little less formal.

Johnson (as in Dwayne Johnson) is a common surname, derived exactly the way you’d expect (John’s son). There are almost — but not quite — a bajillion different last names derived from John in one way or another, so I’ll move on and stick to first names for the most part.

Jack (as in Jack London, author of White Fang) is a common nickname for John, although it has evolved a distinct identity and can be a name in its own right.

Jean (as in Jean-Luc Picard) is simply the French form of John. (Of course, what I really mean is that Jean and John are parallel forms of the original Hebrew name, but you get what I’m saying.)

Juan (as in Juan Ponce de León, the explorer) is the Spanish form of John.

Johann (as in Johann Sebastian Bach) is the German form of John.

Johannes (as in Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press) is the Latin form of John — a variant of the Iohannes I mentioned above.

Hans (as in Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, Frozen) is a German/Scandinavian shortening of Johannes.

Hansel (as in Hansel and Gretel) is a variation similar to Hans.

Han Solo also derives his first name in a similar way … maybe. Okay, I made that up. But why not? After all, Luke and Ben are derived from biblical names as well.

Ivan (as in Ivan Drago, Rocky IV) is the Russian form of John.

Ivanova (as in Susan Ivanova, Babylon 5) is basically the Russian version of Johnson, except in its female form — so Johndaughter, I guess. If you include first, middle (patronymic), and last names, then Ivanova, Ivanov, Ivanovich, Ivana, and Ivanka — among others — all derive ultimately from John.

Evan (as in Evan Buckley) is the Welsh form of John.

Ian (as in Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park) is the Scottish form of John.

Shaun (as in Shaun of the Dead) is a variation on Sean, the Irish form of John. Other variants include Shawn and Shane.

Giovanni (as in Don Giovanni) is the Italian form of John. Don Giovanni, by the way, is the same character as Don Juan, just rendered differently.

Yanni (as in, well, Yanni) is a variation on Gianni, which in turn is short for Giovanni. The musician’s actual name is Yiannis Chryssomallis (with Yiannis being yet another variation on the theme).

Joan (as in Joan of Arc) used to be the standard female version of John. The French version is Jeanne — compare to Jean, above. In English, Joanna is one of Joan’s more common variants.

Jane (as in Jane Porter, Tarzan) at some point overtook Joan as the standard female version of John.

Janet (as in Janet Weiss, Rocky Horror Picture Show — remember “Dammit, Janet”?) is a variant of Jane.

Janice (as in Janice Hosenstein, Friends) is another variation on Jane.

Jo (as in Jo Rowling, better known as J. K. Rowling) can be short for any of several different names. In the case of Ms. Rowling, Jo is short for Joanne, which is yet another variant of Joan, which of course is a variant of John.

There are almost a gazillion others, but I’ll stop there, for my sanity and yours.

What do you think? Did you discover that you’re a John in disguise? (Wait, that didn’t come out right.) Got a little John in you? (Okay that was worse.) You know what I mean. It turns out that my son, my wife, her sister, and her daughter all have a version of John somewhere in their names. As for me, nope! I am etymologically distinct. So there.

By the way, you may have noticed a name that didn’t appear above: Jon (as in Jon Stewart, or Jon Arbuckle). That’s because, incredibly, it’s not really related to John. Jon is short for Jonathan, from the Hebrew name Yehonatan, contracted to Yonatan, meaning “YAHWEH has given.” (In the Old Testament, Jonathan is the eldest son of Saul.) So you could say that John and Jon are distant cousins — they’re both from Hebrew, and have somewhat similar meanings — but neither is derived from the other. And whereas Jon is a shortening of Jonathan, John isn’t short for anything. Wild.

Also, in case you were wondering (you weren’t), James is not derived from John either. Actually, James is a variant of Jacob, strangely enough — and so is Jacques.

I said I was going to stop, didn’t I? Yeesh. I get going on etymology, and it’s hard to find the brakes. But here we go. I’m stopping. I’ve stopped.

Have a great weekend!


I’m not wrong

Venn diagram with Pikachu, Popeye, and Yahweh

The big, weird world between yes and no

One odd aspect of being a parent is that you’re constantly forced to decide whether things are allowed or not. Sometimes explicitly, more often implicitly, every second that you’re with your kid there’s a little program running in the back of your brain: Is this okay? Can I allow this? Do I need to say no?

Most of these decisions are easy, silent, and fun. The default is acceptance: Yes, you can go down the slide. Yes, you can color with your crayons. Yes, you can run circles around me while I lie on the floor.

A lot of the “no” decisions are easy too. No, you can’t play with the knives. No, you can’t go down the basement stairs by yourself (at 19 months old). No, you can’t have my coffee.

But then there’s this giant gray area.

Sometimes it’s a matter of degree. Watching one YouTube video is fine; watching 20 in a row, not so much. Somewhere in between is a “no,” but exactly where it is depends mostly on how you’re feeling at the moment.

Sometimes it’s a matter of time or energy. Yes, you can go outside, but not right now. Daddy’s taking a break.

Sometimes you’d prefer to say no, except there are only so many things you can forbid a toddler from doing before you feel like you’re being mean. Kids are curious, they want to explore, so you don’t want to be constantly saying “Keep out of there” and “Don’t touch that.” Thus, Evan is allowed to unroll the toilet paper and take pieces in other rooms and put them in piles (within reason). And he looks at me like, Didn’t I do great? I mean … sort of! Yes, you did. A little bit? Yes.

And then there’s this vast array of things kids do that aren’t right or wrong exactly, they’re just weird. Like I’m gonna smear my face on this for the next five minutes. Or I’m gonna move all the dirt in this flower pot onto the sidewalk one handful at a time. Or I’m gonna shove this toy halfway into my mouth and leave it there for the foreseeable future.

This last category is all stuff that you’d never do as an adult, that no other adult would ever do, and that you maybe don’t even have a strong opinion about one way or the other. It’s not great, but it’s not horrible, so, y’know, *shrug.*

Except that, when you’re a parent, *shrug* isn’t really an option — or rather, it is, but it’s converted to a yes by default. And since you want to be consistent and clear about what’s allowed, you have to pick an answer and get behind it, firmly if necessary. So you find yourself saying things like “No, we do NOT put this toy in our mouth” like it’s the Eleventh Commandment, even though you might have decided it was 100% fine, had a butterfly in Singapore flapped its wings differently.

I never realized this as a kid. Parents and teachers would say these things very seriously, so I generally figured they were serious things. And sometimes they are, of course. But a lot of times it’s more like sending the army to guard a border that was drawn on a map by somebody blindfolded and drunk.

Life is weird. Kids are great. Happy Friday!

The wisdom of Walden

Driving to daycare today, I got stuck behind someone poking along at 25 mph in a 35 zone. We came to the light, and of course they turned the same direction I was going.


Soon we came to a 20 mph school zone … and they sped up to 30.


Afterward, as I pondered deeply on possible motives (clueless? or just angry at third-graders?), I was reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau in Walden.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

Except, like, don’t be a dumbass.

Wisdom, perhaps, for us all.

PSA to my fellow Ohioans

Primary elections are tomorrow, so don’t forget to vote!