Great Falls, Virginia

Last weekend I took a walk through Great Falls Park in Virginia. Great Falls is on the Potomac River, just above Washington. DC. (I went there hunting the elusive morel. No luck.) Below Great Falls the river becomes tidal. I thought you might be interested in what it looks like.

Here’s a stream in the forest near the falls:IMG_5372This is the Aqueduct Dam above the falls. I believe that it was built to make the river navigable above it:IMG_5378Two signs along the treacherous part of the river. And they’re not kidding. Once you’re in, you’re sucked under, and very few people escape:IMG_5385IMG_5388George Washington formed the Patowmack Company in 1785. It built this canal skirting the falls:IMG_5386Here’s some info about the canal:

IMG_5387The canal operated in the early 1800s for 26 years. The brochure says that flatboats which were about 75 feet long were poled down the river and through the canals. Afterwards the boatmen would dismantle the boats, sell them for lumber and then walk home.

This kid was having fun:IMG_5389The Falls:IMG_5391The total drop of the falls and the rapids is 76 feet. The people on the opposite shore are viewing the falls from Maryland:

IMG_5392And finally, here is a short film that I took.

Have you downloaded my dailies from 2005? It’s in PDF format and it’s FREE!

I am told that Hairstyle Appreciation Day is this week. Back in 2001 Sid opened a beauty parlor…Ernie 11-09-26Ernie 11-09-27Ernie 11-09-28pErnie 11-09-29Ernie 11-09-30pErnie 11-10-01


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All Good Things Must Come to an End

I’ve been a volunteer at a the Birmingham Green nursing home for quite a long time. But that came to an end last Wednesday. As I said, the Frau and I will be leaving the area next month. My mother was a resident there for two years until she passed away in 2004. I never stopped my visits. Very few of the current residents were there when I first began. never stopped going. I take  music out there, and with a few singers, we entertain the residents. Buddy Valentine sang his last song, and meant every word.

This Wednesday is Earth Day and Friday is Arbor Day. If you don’t know it by now, Ernie is a big tree hugger. He’s just like me. It’s awful. I’m so bad, I feel sorry for the vegetables that I eat. Two weeks ago I drew a story about Ernie turning vegetarian. Next time I go in for a tune-up I think I’ll have the shrink see if he can do something about it. But I love trees. In honor of Arbor Day, here is Ernie back in 2001 doing some high level tree hugging.

ernie 01-08-06 ernie 01-08-07ernie 01-08-08ernie 01-08-09ernie 01-08-10ernie 01-08-11

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My Most Treasured Possessions

As I said, Frau Grace and I are moving to our shack on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. I’ve already cleaned off my shelf. Here’s the kind of stuff that I treasure:

IMG_5297A turtle shell that I found 40 years ago on the shore of Lake Iamonia near Tallahasse, Florida. I was fishing with my old friend Jimmy Johnson. That guy knew how to catch fish. I couldn’t shoot a carp in a barrell. Look how beg. Back in the south we call them “sliders”.IMG_5298This little stuffed doll I swiped from the bingo prize bin at the nursing home. That was eleven years ago when my mother passed away. It reminds me of her. I’ve been volunteering there for the past 13 years. Next week will be my last time since we are moving away.

IMG_5299I like these votive candles even if I’m not Catholic.

IMG_5300This Scandinavian hunter’s horn was given to me by Lennart Gardt from Varmland. He made the gift after our trip to Poland in 199… I forget the year. It was just after the Iron Curtain came down. I was supposed to sign books, and I scoured the City of Krakow searching for a pen. I finally found a shop near the University that sold two and only two items: pens and rat poison.

IMG_5301I made this puppet about 40 years ago.

IMG_5303My 57 Cadillac plastic car radio.

IMG_5304My stylish moustaches.

IMG_5302My statue of a fat man picking his nose. I’ve had this at least 45 years.

IMG_5316Years ago a fan sent me counterfeit money. There is a message that says you can use it to tip the strippers.

In 2008 Spencer wanted still another pet. (Remember the warthog?)

Ernie 08-10-20 Ernie 08-10-21 Ernie 08-10-22 Ernie 08-10-23 Ernie 08-10-24 Ernie 08-10-25 Ernie 08-10-27 Ernie 08-10-28 Ernie 08-10-29 Ernie 08-10-30 Ernie 08-10-31 Ernie 08-11-01


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Ernie and Friends – The First Twenty Years

Here’s that drawing I have on my wall that I mentioned last week. I drew it in 2008. Every character in the drawing appeared in the strip during that time. How many can old time readers recognize?Ernie and friendsOh, and here’s an old self portrait I came across while I was looking for that drawing.

Self portrait oldA while back I realized that I was missing a good deal of my early Sunday strips from 1996 in my archives. King Features (Why do you think they call it a) Syndicate Sent me their files. In 1996 I bought my first computer and started coloring the Sundays here at my palatial studio. Actually Frau Grace does the coloring. I have here three Sunday strips from January and February 1996. The coloring is bad, but it wasn’t my fault. A company in Buffalo, New York made the color plates at that time. Here’s how they looked. Ernie-96-01-07-Color Ernie-96-01-21-Color Ernie-96-02-18-Color

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Where I Work

Frau Grace and I are going to be leaving Virginia in a couple months. We have our place on the Chesapeake Bay where we’ll be living for a while. Before we do, I thought you might like to see the room where I’ve been drawing for the past two years. We rented a townhouse in Reston Virginia after we sold our house in Oakton Virginia two years ago.

This is how my drawing table looks in the morning. It’s pretty typical. The photograph on the board at the bottom left is my mother and my sister and Pete Fountain taken about 15 years ago. The big guy at the top left and elsewhere is my friend and editor of the Swedish Ernie Magazine, Lars.

DSCN0063I do a lot of work on my computer. I edit the drawings and prepare them for publication and send them to the syndicate. I also do this blog, except right now I’m doing it at our Bay place and  I’m using my Macbook Air. My big computer is a 27 inch IMac that I’ve had for about 5 years. I’ve bought many many Macs over the years. That’s my HP scanner on the left. I did that drawing above the computer about ten or twelve years ago. It’s like a Where’s Waldo. It has characters that I’ve used over the years. There must be a hundred of them. I always thought that it would make a good jigsaw puzzle if I colored it. Perhaps I’ll post it on my blog in the near future if I remember to.

DSCN0064Here’s a board where I keep my work schedule and stuff like doctor’s appointments. That’s an old single panel cartoon on top of my audio mixer. I’ve been scanning the old gags into my computer. That’s from about 30 years ago. Tempus Fugit.

DSCN0066My bookcase. I used to have lots more cartoon books, but I had to get rid of them to make room for my junk. Maybe next time I’ll show you some of my treasures. That blue thing hanging on the side is my ukelele.


DSCN0061These guys watch over me while I draw. I love those talking birds. There’s also a rubber chicken and Ren and Stimpy. Frau Grace thinks it’s creepy. Like Norman Bates.

I don’t know if I recently posted this story from 1997. If I did, sorry. But I kind of like it. Ernie takes a room at the Motel Cucaracha…

Ernie 97-01-20 Ernie 97-01-21 Ernie 97-01-22 Ernie 97-01-23 Ernie 97-01-24 Ernie 97-01-25 Ernie 97-01-27 Ernie 97-01-28 Ernie 97-01-29 Ernie 97-01-30 Ernie 97-01-31 Ernie 97-02-01 p

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Did I ever show you this?

Peter Steiner and I have been friends for over 30 years. Way back when we were both members of the Cartoonist Association, which was comprised mainly of free lance magazine cartoonists. Virtually all of us of that ilk were members, at least those who lived on the East Coast. Peter was principally a New Yorker cartoonist, and when the Washington Times newspaper was started up they hired him for a daily cartoon. He retired from both positions about ten years ago. Now he lives up in the hills of rural Connecticut, way out in the boonies. He spends his time writing novels and painting. He also has a house in the Loire Valley that he visits every year.  You’ll find information about his cartoons, his portraits, and his mystery novels which, by the way, are all set in France. Peter is a bit of a Francophile. As matter of fact, about 20 years ago he and I together went to the Angouleme International Cartoonists Festival and then on to Paris for a week or so. What I want to show you is the portrait he did of me back in 2005. If you’re interested, here is his web site.

IMG_3684What did I do for St. Patrick’s Day? What do you think? I went to a bar and got loaded. Terruy Lee provided the music. And it just so happens that his mom’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day. Here she is all the way from California.Want to hear Buddy Valentine sing an Irish song? Hold yer ears…

Back in 2009 Arnoldine was screaming for a pony:

Ernie 09-09-21 Ernie 09-09-22 Ernie 09-09-23 Ernie 09-09-24 Ernie 09-09-25 Ernie 09-09-26 Ernie 09-09-28 Ernie 09-09-29 Ernie 09-09-30 Ernie 09-10-01 Ernie 09-10-02 Ernie 09-10-03

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My pitiful childhood

Actually that isn’t quite true. But when I was a little kid I was at the bottom of the class. I just came across two report cards, the first from third grade in Pennsylvania and the second from sixth grade at Anna Maria Elementary in Florida. There was a common theme…IMG_5282I always practiced good health habits. That was my best subject.

IMG_5280But I improved…IMG_5281That was my last report in elementary school.

This is what I drew on Friday. Here it is half pencilled:IMG_5277Here is one of the finished panels.IMG_5278Did you download my daily comic strips from 2005 in pdf format? It’s free. Find the link on my Buy Stuff page. By the way, you can get an Adobe Acrobat app for your IPad or IPhone and use it to open the strips.

Here’s a real old one. From Ernie’s first year in 1988. Dr. Pork, cosmetic surgery.

Ernie 88-09-22 Ernie 88-09-23 Ernie 88-09-24 Ernie 88-09-26 Ernie 88-09-27 Ernie 88-09-28 Ernie 88-09-29 Ernie 88-09-30 Ernie 88-10-01 Ernie 88-10-03 Ernie 88-10-04 Ernie 88-10-05 Ernie 88-10-06 Ernie 88-10-07 Ernie 88-10-08

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Enough Already!

This is the last of it, I hope.IMG_5251

This was two days ago. Spring came today. Hallelujah.

All I did all week with the snow storm was sit home and draw silly cartoons. So just to fill space, here’s Buddy Valentine singing a very romantic song. Ladies, please send your proposals of marriage via email.

Two weeks ago Roscoe emailed me and asked if I could run some of the old Piranha of the Year strips. Happy to do so, Roscoe. He wrote:

I’ve been a big fan of your strip since it was called Ernie.  I’ve also enjoyed the recent “behind the scenes” strips with Arnold nicknamed T-bone and being the sophisticated guy ordering a Tequila.  Could you please run a series of the old Piranha of the Year strips on your blog where Sid would do anything to win when facing overwhelming odds?  Thanks so much.

I hope Roscoe doesn’t mind my printing that. As Roscoe said, The Piranha Club was initially titled Ernie, but my editor wanted to change the title. In most of the papers where it appears outside the U.S. it’s still known by its original title. I emailed Roscoe back with a little fact about my old man that you might find interesting. During the silent picture days, my father went to California several times. He found work on the movie lots working for Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle, and later both Fatty and Buster Keaton. When Buster became such a big star, the studio decided that Buster should make his own movies apart from Fatty, so they split the crews. My father figured that Fatty was the bigger established star and stayed with that production crew. It wasn’t long after that that the Virginia Rapp tragedy occurred, and Fatty’s career was ruined. My old man had to come back to Chester, Pennsylvania, his home. Perhaps if that hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be here today.

I drew several Piranha of the Year stories. Here are two, 1991 and 1992.Ernie 91-09-23 Ernie 91-09-24Ernie 91-09-25 Ernie 91-09-26 Ernie 91-09-27 Ernie 91-09-28Ernie 91-09-30 Ernie 91-10-01 Ernie 91-10-02 Ernie 91-10-03 Ernie 91-10-04 Ernie 91-10-05


Ernie 92-10-19p Ernie 92-10-20p Ernie 92-10-21p Ernie 92-10-22p Ernie 92-10-23p Ernie 92-10-24p Ernie 92-10-26p Ernie 92-10-27p Ernie 92-10-28p Ernie 92-10-29p2 Ernie 92-10-30p Ernie 92-10-31p Ernie 92-11-02p Ernie 92-11-03p

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Za Zdorovje

What do I do for fun on the weekends? Frau Grace drags me to a Russian vodka tasting party. Complete with a Russian balalaika band.

Balalaika Band

This is a contrabass balalaika. The guy told me that made it himself 20 years ago. Big sucker.IMG_5245Steve tasted his share…IMG_5227And guess who was the big winner? Susan! She won about 18 bottles of vodka. I’ll be hanging out at her house for the next week or so.IMG_5238IMG_5242IMG_5243IMG_5249OK, enough of my drinking habits. Fred and Deb asked me about a beautiful baby contest. I haven’t been able to find the particular strip they were interested in (I’ll keep looking) but here are a couple Sundays that I found. I’m sorry the first one isn’t in color. It’s B.C. (Before Computers)Ernie 90-03-04Ernie-12-01-22-ColorWhile I was looking for beautiful baby contests, I came across this ugly dog contest from 2009.

Ernie 09-06-15 Ernie 09-06-16 Ernie 09-06-17 Ernie 09-06-18 Ernie 09-06-19 Ernie 09-06-20 Ernie 09-06-22 Ernie 09-06-23Ernie 09-06-24 Ernie 09-06-25 Ernie 09-06-26 Ernie 09-06-27

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Boy, this brings back memories…

Of course when I was a little kid, we didn’t have snow plows to make the forts. We also made igloos. It snowed all day yesterday. We got about a foot. The kid in black throws like a girl. Check this out…

Snowball fight

Like I said last week, I drew a Stinky Stinkbug story. Here’s my drawing table with a bunch of half drawn Stinky strips and a Hunchback of Notre Dame story that I finished on Friday. Blow it up and you can see the details. Click on it then zoom in.

IMG_5212Brian emailed me last week and reminded me how computer savvy I am. Kind of. Back in 1965 the Florida State computer took up the entire basement of the Keen Building. (My office was on the sixth floor.) Now my IPhone can do more than that behemoth, and faster. It ran Fortran. We had to punch cards, like the old Univac computers back in the early fifties. I wrote one program that had to be a couple thousand cards long. The mathematics was very clever, if I do say so myself. It was a reiteration scheme to determine solutions to two dependent equations for which an empirical solution was not possible. But Brian reminded me of a strip from 1980. He writes:

Dear Bud,
Back in the ‘Ernie’ days, there was a great strip where the boys had successfully entered a password to get a cup of coffee, only to be asked to recite the Gettysburg Address – an early form of what is now known as ‘two-factor authentication’.  Pretty relevant nowadays, and rather prescient on your part!  Any chance we could see this one again? Published on 7-6, don’t know the year.
Many thanks, Brian

Here is the two week story.

Ernie 89-06-26 Ernie 89-06-27 Ernie 89-06-28 Ernie 89-06-29 Ernie 89-06-30 Ernie 89-07-01 Ernie 89-07-03 Ernie 89-07-04 Ernie 89-07-05 Ernie 89-07-06 Ernie 89-07-07 Ernie 89-07-08

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