Damn Good Coffee 2

Today’s coffee tastes like unsweetened baking chocolate dissolved into hot water, with just a touch of sourdough bread flavor, especially toward the bottom of the mug. With press pot coffee (today’s coffee was brewed with a press pot, sometimes called a French press), there are often grounds and concentrated coffee oils at the bottom, giving a slightly grittier and silty feel at the bottom of the cup. The siltiness (new word) coats your teeth.

This coffee is a press pot–brewed Roadhouse Joe blend from Zingerman’s Coffee Co. and Zingerman’s Roadhouse.

And look at that! Two down on this row for press pot. There are going to be many entries about Zingerman’s coffee as I complete the Big Brew Bingo board.


Keep bouncing,

Master of My Domain, Part 2

You’re now reading Port Manteau at http://arthurhovinc.com. I dropped the “.wordpress” from the URL. It’s still hosted on WordPress, because I’m taking the path of least resistance to getting my writing out there. But now it is that much easier to get to my website—just type my name and append with “.com”!

Why the change, Art? you might ask. Well, I’m feeling rambunctious. I’m feeling like a lot of writing is going to pop up in the near future, and I want to give it the best platform it can have.

Join me, won’t you?


Behold The Cheese In Retrospect, Part 5

Let’s have a look at five more old Behold The Cheese cartoons.

We’ll begin with this classy cartoon. Remember: Behold The Cheese was mostly toilet humor. What do you think this character is feeling in this picture? Embarrassed? Relieved?


The next cartoon was drawn because I love the game Shadow of the Colossus. In that game, the colossi moan and howl when your playable character stabs their weak spots. Colossi are often covered in dirt and grass-like fur, making them seem very connected with the earth. I thought it would be neat to show a solid rock with sisu tell an earth-covered colossus to suck it up.


This next cartoon is a disappointing physics lesson. Sound does travel faster in solids than liquids or gases, but that doesn’t mean you’ll hear a whole lot just listening to a wall. They say that talking to a wall isn’t fruitful, but maybe we need to spend more time listening.


This next cartoon never actually appeared on the Behold The Cheese website, but I definitely drew it in the same time period. I think I thought it would be too weird. It’s a demon head and a sad blob floating while a laughing man leans back in his chair. Henrietta is probably involved somehow. I think it was my first “mixed media” cartoon in using something besides a permanent marker. I wanted extra detail on the demon’s face.


The last cartoon is a nod to my first classes in electrical engineering. In the lab portion of one class, we used an oscilloscope to measure electrical signals. There was a mode on the oscilloscope called High-Z Mode. Basically, it’s a mode to read voltages in the least disturbing way possible. Here’s a more technical explanation for those curious, but I’m a poet on this blog, not an engineer. Sometimes when I try to explain science and electronics to others, they cover their ears and say, “La la la la la la.” So this smiling egg in a field of squiggly lines is just as good an explanation of what High-Z Mode is as any technical one I would try to give.


Make sure you look outwardly at vistas and inwardly at yourself,

Master of My Domain, Part 1

I’m upset that neither portmanteau.com nor port-manteau.com is available as a domain for my blog. If you didn’t have the courage to click the links, portmanteau.com times out, and port-manteau.com sells earrings. Earrings?! What has that got to do with the word “portmanteau”? At least my use of it plays on the word “port” as if “Port Manteau” were some magical island cove, and the splitting of “port” and “manteau” is exactly the opposite of what a portmanteau is. Can you think of any other domain name delimiters that I could use to separate the words “port” and “manteau”?

I hope these sites appreciate whatever extra traffic I’m giving them by linking!


Behold The Cheese In Retrospect, Part 4

Today we are going to consider five more classic Behold The Cheese cartoons that I drew. The five that follow are classic because they are all drawn in permanent marker, before I started using fancier pens.

Here we see an aspiring acorn looking out at some naked and jolly trees. These trees are playing volleyball, singing together, and playing on the swings. These trees also have faces, and the acorn does not. I’d aspire to have a face.


Here is a business manager who proves his loyalty to his company everyday, by not bathing. This guy knows he can get to work earlier if he just skips the shower! I can’t take credit for this joke. You can thank Patrick Star.


Next is the first cartoon to ever be used for Behold The Cheese, before it was even called Behold the Cheese. My earliest permanent marker cartoons were really quick drawings I used for my Facebook profile picture instead of my actual face. That means this cartoon was the first time I had the idea to substitute my mug with some scribbles.
The idea of this cartoon is inspired by an arcade game, whose title I can’t remember. I used to work in a bowling alley, and one of my duties was cleaning the arcade games. One game had tethered boxing gloves with motion sensors in them, and the player would hold up these gloves and flail, possibly knocking out the computer opponent. I never had the quarters I needed to play the game, so the demo video would just play on repeat. The demo video ends with the boxer character’s point of view experience of being knocked out, everything going white, sounds all reverbed, the trainer yelling, “Work it out! Work it out! C’mon! C’mon!”


Next we see a smiling bucket. Is he Mr. Bucket? Why is he smiling? Did he hear a really funny joke? Did he just finish eating his favorite meal? Lots of questions here.


Next we see an alligator who is giving a lecture on Maryland and its diverse supply of buttons. There’s even a Button City, but you’d probably drive right by it and not notice. I like that the alligator is wearing a tie, he’s a very professional lecturer.
The alt text for this cartoon on the old Behold The Cheese site apologized for using Massachusetts’s initials for Maryland. Besides, I’d rather have a Doctor of Medicine than a Master of Arts.


That is all I care to share for now.

“…Writing is not a performance but a generosity.”
Art (but the quote is from Brenda Ueland)

Insomnia Log 4

Hey, just because it’s fun to lie down and look at trees outside my window doesn’t mean I should keep doing it. In fact, last night the sun hadn’t even fully set when I looked out my window and then stopped remembering things, and then I woke up when it rose again. Now I can’t fall asleep. I wish my circadian rhythm knew what a day was.

Do you know that feeling of enjoying communication with someone, and all of a sudden it stops? Where for seemingly no reason you can’t get a hold of a person anymore? Where you even start to doubt yourself for something you said or did? It’s a rotten feeling, like a feeling that something may actually be rotting in you, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. If you ever get like this, here’s my advice: drop it, forget you ever knew that person, and be around your friends. Breathe. Drink some water. You’ll be OK. Not everyone likes peaches.

I’m in my car. Sometimes I hang out in here while it’s parked. It’s really quiet in here. It’s even quieter than in my place, because my fridge is loud and always running (so don’t call me for pranks, OK? (The end of land lines has brought the end of prank calling, alas. I used to prank call, and I miss it. There were so many Buttses in my phone book.)), and there’s that loud dripping outside my bedroom window. There is no noise in here. It’s dark. I still can’t fall asleep. I have been able to sleep in my car before. Rest areas are very cheap motels.

Someone expressed surprise to me tonight when I said I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. “At your age?!” I want to be interesting enough that even at age 40 I still don’t know what I want to do. I was starting to express what I would ideally be, but then I got cut off, so I dropped it.

I think this song counts as a love song. What do you think? I could picture it played by a chamber orchestra for a wedding. I was really sad to hear about a friend who became separated recently, when the wedding had a cool nature and blue/green (my favorite colors) scheme, and there was a chamber orchestra. What a nice wedding. Damn shame when the wedding’s so nice and the marriage just isn’t. Then I saw a person in my friend B’s family get wedded by the state (straightforward), but apparently their marriage will be great. Can asexual people get married to themselves for tax benefits? I’m not asexual, but it would be so much easier to be that way. It would also be cool to reproduce by budding.

Hey, did anyone else celebrate Beltane? I gave a quiet “woohoo” at 2014-05-05T13:56-0:00. Between Beltane and Lughnasadh is going to be really nice. I’ll explain more after Lughnasadh.

Sleepless, soon in Seattle,

Insomnia Log 3

Polaris wrote the soundtrack to the ’90s Nickelodeon TV show The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Right now the song “She Is Staggering” from that soundtrack is playing in my head on repeat, especially the lines, “I couldn’t get to sleep/ And then I couldn’t eat/”

My shoulder keeps popping, and I’m not even a street performer.

I want to cook something awesome again, but I’ve been eating leftovers from restaurants and family meals for weeks now.

I wish there were a book titled How to Fall Asleep. I’ve got a few other How to books, and most of them are about drawing, which won’t help right now.

The place I really work (I actually have to work for “The Man” and show up somewhere every weekday morning) has new faces around me all the time. (There are also new bodies attached to these new faces, but a masquerade would be fun every once in a while.) A considerable fraction of faces I only see for a few months. It feels a bit like a claw machine that keeps filling up with new plush toys and leaving some old ones at the bottom, you know, like the bears that have one eye upside down that no one wants. I had a friend in college who could win at the claw machine maybe 50% of the time, which is really good, and he gave away his bounty of plush animals. I took away a few of the crooked-eyed rejects. They needed a good home.

I keep hearing a big drip around my bedroom window. It’s been like that since November. I don’t see water damage anywhere, so I think it’s OK. That drip sound is not regular, so it makes it even harder to sleep on a night like this.

I want some milk, but I think my tummy would get mad at me.

I want a guitar effects pedal that makes airy distortion like the kind I hear in songs by Polaris, The Pretenders, and Throwing Muses, but that’s the only way I can describe it. That’s my favorite guitar sound. I don’t hear it anywhere anymore.

I don’t know if I told you, but I tutor children younger than thirteen in math and other subjects. It’s a “drop-in” tutoring program, so any number of students and subjects could appear. Yesterday the program coordinator and I were the only tutors for about eight students, all needing one-on-one attention. I was disappointed I didn’t figure out how to clone myself in my experiments when I was nine. At one point the coordinator left for the library, asking if I could hold down the fort. I said, “Sure,” but thought, Oh no, I know one of them is going to faint or cry or maybe they’ll get in a fight while he’s gone and I have no training in resolving conflicts between children, oh man what am I going to do?

I love the movie MirrorMask. The main character Helena finds a book called A Really Useful Book in her adventure in the movie. I want such a book right now to give some advice about sleeping, or maybe just help me think about life in general. None of my current books have “useful” in the title. What was I thinking in buying them?!

Yours awake,

Behold The Cheese In Retrospect, Part 3

Today we are going to look at five more Behold The Cheese cartoons that I drew.

This was another cartoon that I used as my Facebook profile picture because it was personable. I don’t think Hanna-Barbera will think it’s so charming a drawing, especially without proper licensure.


This next cartoon is about being a rebel. Those “ABSOLUTELY NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY” signs and warnings are pretty common, but what happens when you break the rules? In my animated world, you go straight to the hoosegow.


This next cartoon is another “classic” in permanent marker. What does “J.U.D.R.” stand for? That’s up to you. Feel free to comment on what you think it stands for.
I used to use a sieve when I first met people, asking, “Do you like waffles?” I didn’t care whether they liked waffles or not, but I was curious how they would react and reply to the question. Some of the early Behold The Cheese cartoons were similar, where I drew whatever made my neurons tingle to laughter, and if others also thought the cartoon was funny, then plainly their brains must be wired the same way. I later moved toward humor where there was something to “get”, a humor formula that was more dependable. I still hold dear to me these early cartoons where there really is nothing to “get”. “I don’t get it” makes me smile.


This next one also has nothing to “get”. It’s a hedgehog yelling out “WAIT!!” to a man who’s apparently naked.
I minored in art history, and my classes spent a lot of time looking at images that didn’t represent something accurately, or that didn’t represent anything at all. Photo-realistic paintings may have actually required more grit than great artistic skill, according to the conclusions reached by Tim’s Vermeer (which I officially endorse here). It’s the weird, the abstract, the stuff that doesn’t actually look like the real world that can sometimes stir our emotions, because emotions don’t have any real form. I’m not saying this drawing is THE statement about waiting, but I am saying that art doesn’t have to be photo-realistic to be art, and that cartoons don’t have to be about anything to be cartoons.


This fifth cartoon is one of the early cartoons that again isn’t about anything. I think it was supposed to be Harold Hutchins from the Captain Underpants series, but I drew it very quickly and didn’t care to make it more accurate. He’s on a hoverboard. Hoverboards are cool.


That’s it for now.

What does April 28 mean to you?


“It is done.”

Author’s note: some readers may find it silly that I use Magic: The Gathering to help me define my own philosophy of life. It’s the most convenient mythos for me to appropriate, having played the game for a number of years, and being a bigger fan of the art and flavor of the game than actually playing it. In this post and future posts I will make reference to Magic characters, stories, colors, and philosophies, introducing them where appropriate, and explaining how they help me understand intangible concepts like “wildness” and “abandon”, today’s subjects.

Art by Jason Chan, ©2014 Wizards of the Coast, used without permission
Art by Jason Chan, ™ & © 2014 Wizards of the Coast, used without permission

Elspeth Tirel, a knight of Bant, chosen by the sun god Heliod of Theros, killed a god. As you can see in the art above, she sliced off the hand of Xenagos, God of Revels, and stabbed him in the heart, bringing him to death.

For Elspeth to kill a god, she had to build the strength to kill something no longer mortal. She faced many challenges and and came near death several times. Elspeth’s story is fascinating, and I won’t do it justice by summary here.

I’m looking to the Elspeth as inspiration for facing some of my monumental fears. Her defeat of Xenagos ties well with my facing a fear of abandon, of losing control and not accounting for consequences. Xenagos can represent my fear of abandon, because his colors represent the concepts of wildness and abandon. He is a god of red and green magic, where red is the color of passion, and green is the color of ferocity. Combine red and green, and the result is wildness in the positive aspect, and abandon in the negative aspect.

After her defeat of Xenagos, Elspeth said, “It is done.” I can say the same thing about completing the 100 Write-Off haiku. I raised the money I needed to fundraiser by writing 49 haiku, and when the fundraiser ended, I didn’t see a reason to keep writing, even though I pledged to write 100 haiku. I made a promise, and I didn’t want to hold to a promise just for the sake of holding a promise. I didn’t hold to my commitment. Instead, I ignored the haiku project, and I pursued whatever I was passionate about at the time. I was full of abandon, the red and green monster, the dark side of wildness. Commitment is a characterstic of white magic in M:TG, and Elspeth specializes in white magic. Her hard work and dedication allowed her to defeat a god. My commitment, my use of “white magic”, allowed me to defeat the red and green beast within me and complete what I said I would do.

I should note that other activities will help me cultivate the good side of red and green, being free and wild and passionate. I will write about those another time. For now, white had to beat out red and green to complete the Write-Off Haiku project.

Below is the Magic card with the art of Elspeth defeating Xenagos, called Deicide. Appropriately, a white Magic card represents white magic.


Killing monsters,