Category Archives: mad scribblings

The Doodleslice Doodle Manifesto

Stultorum Calami Carbones 2014-01-22

I wrote this about a month ago originally thinking that it might be about four or five items in length. It’s now up to 37 and counting.

The Doodleslice Doodle Art Manifesto

1) Lines are movements, let them dance.
2) Accidents are beautiful.
3) Overworked is the enemy.
4) Over-thought is the enemy.
5) Smiles and laughter are not just important, they are noble, elevating, aesthetic experiences.
6) Respect the integrity of your chosen media, embrace the quirks of your chosen media.
7) Experiment!
8) Practice acceptance.
9) Respond!
10) Improvise!
11) Let people see what you make especially the pieces that make you nervous.
12) Art is Love for everybody.
13) We make art on Earth. We are Earthlings one and all and only one planet is open for business.
14) Choose Mudita over Schadenfreude.
15) Glory in color.
16) Strive to bring the feeling of color even when using only a black pen on white paper.
17) Even a single line can be beautiful.
18) Even a single line can be profound.
19) Your hand knows its business – don’t be too swift to judge it when it surprises you.
20) Doodling is openness to the essential.
21) When in doubt, draw a bird.
22) When in doubt, draw a bunny.
23) When in doubt, write a word in the middle of the page. Love is a great word to choose.
24) Believe in every line you draw.
25) When in doubt, be simple and spare.
26) When in doubt, be complex and turbulent.
27) When in doubt about starting, make a single random mark on the canvas or page.
28) When in doubt about finishing, stop and walk away. If you’re not finished you’ll know it when you come back.
29) Poems love doodles and doodles love poems.
30) Grownups deserve art that is joyful without being jaded, mawkish, ironic or saccharine. They need it at least as much as kids do.
31) Give yourself permission to put your whole heart into what you do.
32) Give yourself permission to love the silly, the whimsical, the absurd.
33) Hug unreservedly.
34) When in doubt, draw!
35) When certain, draw!
36) Draw! Draw! Draw!
37) And don’t forget to post.

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Doodler’s tip #3 – Splurge on the good paper #doodle

doodler's tip #3 Splurge on the good paper - doodle no. 1678 by David Doodleslice Cohen

2013-03-07 #1678

Doodler’s tip #3
Splurge on the good paper once in a while.

Like this drawing – it is made on a 5×7 inch piece of heavy hot-press watercolor paper. Yummy.

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Icarus in Green

I guess I’ve had Icarus on the brain lately. Last night I attended a wonderful event, an Icarus Session, which was the brainchild of Seth Godin and hosted locally here in Atlanta by Judi Knight at her Urban Oasis. It was a fabulous night – I think just about everyone was a fan of Seth Godin’s work, but more important than that, most of the people there got up in front of the room and talked about the passion behind what they do. This was a night of discussing and sharing the art you do, whether you happen to be an artist or not. There were singers, coaches, yoga instructors, non-profit leaders, web designers, painters, landscapers, soldiers, etc. and all revealed a glimpse of their journey and vulnerability. It was enriching and refreshing.

But that’s not the only Icarus thing I’ve been preoccupied with – I’ve been working on this poem for a while now, and I thought I might share it here today as well:

Icarus in Green
by David Cohen 2013-01-02

every verse weaves
another feather into the armature of wax and green branches.

I grow bolder as the plumage thickens turning my arms into wings
Light and strong enough to dare the sky
now aloft,
Am I not Icarus reborn?

I stretch, I soar, arms burning, giddy
hungry for her unquenchable fire
the Sun
my radiant unreachable marble

composing line after rhyme I grasp for the living, life-giving inferno
a verbal photosynthesis
my wings of grass beat beat beat
greening for altitude

I sweat, not with the effort
but the broil

a feather falls as wax softens
but I compose green new feathers to keep me aloft
Thrust abundant in the wax
beat after feet
line after rhyme

Climb! Son of Daedalus, climb!
Climb! Above the gray clouds!
Bask now in the heat of eternity’s fire!
Pound your emerald wings!
Pound your pink thumbs on this tiny keyboard.
Pound until the last feather falls

A green blizzard is coming
a sudden final molting as the warm wax liquifies and runs

Oh treacherous wax!
Oh melty melty wax!

I, Icarus 2.0, fall again.
And even falling I belch green feathers of rhyme
Slapping them to the barren contraption,
They find no purchase
The sticky residue no longer sticky enough

And still I fall
And hit save

But my lines linger
Wafting slowly down
their fate no less certain,
all shall fall as I, to the oblivion of the sea
But no feather falls as fast as I

And perhaps yet a fine feathered line will tickle the fancy of a passing breeze
and ride upon her whim,
floating onward by some smiling zephyr’s grace,

Float on, my green wafting child
Float on

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Tempo and Trust

I sat down to expand on an idea that came up in conversation on my podcast today: the relationship of time and trust. And I got stuck. Stuck on a silent obstacle, a quiet logjam of thoughts – great raw material, but no flow. I rolled up my sleeves took a big sip of chai and got prepared for the fight.

I thought I was going to sit down and write a post about the relationship of time and trust, but I’m sitting here in this coffee shop doing the wi-fi nomad thing and I’m completely distracted by the music. I’m trying to unstuck this mental logjam and all I’ve got in my head is this music, this insistent energy keeping my logic all a-jumble.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m diggin’ the music, not hating on it. I don’t know who is picking the tracks, but they’ve got a serious acid jazz groove going on this afternoon with some deep Hammond B3 organ action and it’s got me in great place, but it’s the totally wrong groove for a heady round of intellectualizing and theorizing and such.

I’m in a mood to just be.

I can’t fight the draw to listen, much as I’m trying to spin the threads of a cogent argument together, and now I’m realizing, that I don’t want to fight this. Why should I? That sax is tasty, those guitar licks are nibbling at my psyche over a mellow feel and a full-as-a-fountain sound is coming from that organ. A sound somewhere between the wet metal plunk of a xylophone and the warm hum of electric clippers. Two wrongs making a right-on. Why should I fight it? Why can’t I just be? Spend a little be-me time listening and letting the rhythm drive the typing, letting the words wash up on me like the chords washing over my spine.

I can do this. I can write and I don’t have to fight for the words. I can feel and let the feel find it’s own damn path through me and cuddle up here as words on a screen.

The screen is cold, but the thought is warm and there is a pocket of flow that I know won’t last, already I can feel the slip, the self-conscious, but if I can breath and relax I might just get down one more note, I mean word, a phrase. No coda, just a rest.

And return.

It’s good to be.

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The wrong post – I made myself write

I came, I saw, I doodled
Ok, I admit it, this one is a force. A bit of sheer will applied to the keyboard. It’s been almost a month since my last post and that’s just not how long I want to go between posts so I’m giving myself a guilt trip.

Or maybe it’s an ego trip.

You see I have this thing. I like to feel clever – it feels good to write a post where you feel you shared a great idea or pointed out some cool observation. I try not to be smarmy about it… or falsely modest either: I believe that on my good days I’ve got something worthwhile to say, don’t we all? But that’s the trap isn’t it? That sneaky bit of self-indulgence wrapped up in the word worthwhile, that’s what gives me these frustrated moments sitting and staring at the screen, trying to come up with something that’s blog-worthy. Yeah, really, “blog-worthy” – like that’s even a thing. Yecch.

Usually this is where the browser opens up and I let the web distract me away into oblivion – excusing myself for not writing with a shrugging “at least I tried.” But really, I gave up – I let the words get too hard, put too much pressure on them, got caught up in importance and meaning. I lost touch with the idea that these words can be playthings. Oh just give me a limerick! A bit of badinage, a freeform stream-of-conscious romp through alleys of artful, alliteration. Give me a stumper – any old excuse to run to the dictionary. Give me a crossword, an acrostic, challenge me to Scrabble! Those are words having fun!

So why do all the cool, fun, tongue-in-cheeky bits of language evaporate into thin air when it’s time to write the blog? Are they sucked into the cooling fan of the computer? Are they secretly meeting behind my desk plotting to dangle a participle? These words that could be here doing their job, are they experimenting with some exotic punctuation? “…but Dad all the cool vowels are getting umlauts this year…” Are they in the closet trying on fonts to see which ones make their ligatures look fat? Why do the words abandon me just when I need them most?

Because they’re hanging out with all my ideas.

Seriously, it’s past curfew – time for at least one idea to come home and shout “I’m here!” and then eagerly pop out on the screen and say “I’m sorry I kept you waiting, let’s get to work now.” It doesn’t even need to be a good idea. Rejoice! The prodigal idea returneth!

But I guess it’s just going to be one of those nights where the ideas stay out until dawn drinking with their no-good buddies, the concepts. No doubt, tomorrow I’ll think of a bunch of great posts. Posts ideas that are really worth your time, filled with sage advice and clever quotable passages. Inspired concepts for life changing posts that could solve the energy crisis and bring species back from the brink of extinction. But I’ll probably forget to jot those down.

So for tonight all I’ve got to say is that I stepped up to bat and took a swing. I saw it through. I checked in. I did the writing. 583 words to say I was here. I think tonight that will just have to be enough.

Veni, Vidi, Scripsi.
(I came, I saw, I wrote)

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When the wiring goes wrong – a cat’s tale.

She’s intense, willful, dangerously stealthy, surprisingly clumsy, endearing, ponderous, and difficult to ignore. She’s Ally the cat – one of two that share our home. Ally is sweet and cuddly and a contender for most annoying cat of the year. But it is only because she’s nuts. Something’s wrong in her wiring. Some primordial instinct in that little feline brain gets mixed up causing her to attack her own tail. It’s probably some play-as-hunting-practice algorithm that’s gotten a bug in it. She sits, gets bored, starts swishing, then thumping her tail and then it’s swat, thump, swat, thump, swat, growl, swat, swat, bite! And then she squeals gets up and runs away from her attacker. The whole thing would be comical if it wasn’t so darn frequent – or frequently happening so darn close to my bare feet. My bare feet have this funny allergy you see to needle-sharp teeth and all manner of slashing, swiping claws. As an aside I hope that the thought of me, bare-of-foot doesn’t put you off this blog post, frankly I do some of my best writing without shoes, but my hobbit-like writing practices are not the point here. The point here isn’t even that my cat is nuts, which she is. The point is she’s stuck in a bad pattern that may have been good, useful or productive once, but isn’t anymore. Ally is saddled with these weird, stress-inducing behaviors that certainly were important survival skills for her innumerable cat ancestors. But the thing is she doesn’t know that, she’s not intending to make me scream when she misses her tail and tags my big toe instead – she’s just doing what she’s wired to do.

I don’t think cats are the only ones who do this. A company will sometimes try to operate with patterns and processes that may have been successful in the past, but haven’t adapted to changing market conditions or new technologies. “Yell and Sell” marketing tactics end up doing more to turn off buyers when once they stood as the pillars of brand awareness. A person who hasn’t job hunted in 15 years is laid-off and suddenly thrust into a world that has been forever changed by Monster, Career Builder and LinkedIn. Over-dependence on old habits of looking in the paper for listings and sending unsolicited resumes to large companies have distracted that job seeker from building new skills and a vibrant network through social media just when they need every advantage. These people and companies aren’t intending to flounder, but they may have gotten stuck in old patterns that used to be the right answers. It’s a tough trap because they feel like they are doing the right things, but they are no longer getting the old results and they often find it hard to see the problem themselves.

A cat’s gotta eat, but lightning fast reflexes and hair-trigger aggression don’t make a bit of difference when your prey is a tin of Sophist-a-Cat Supreme. The felines of the Cohen kitchen, our domestic savannah, have to rely on a whole new set of emotional and psychological skills (primarily based on cuteness) to get the big human with the fancy thumbs to open their cans for them. Believe me, if cats could work the pop-tops we’d live in a very different society. So here’s the question: Are you trying to hunt for your supper when you could be going to a supermarket? What habits are you hanging onto that are no longer getting you results? What processes and approaches should you change to acknowledge today’s market realities?

Or the question I ask Ally: Have you got a tiger by the tail or has the tiger gotten you?

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