the electric pencil

A moment of mourning: my electric pencil sharpener, which has done such yeoman work for lo these 25 years (and kept sharpening pencils super-sharp to the very end), broke tonight.  It won’t go.  And I can’t seem to fix it.

(I would complain about it breaking at an inopportune moment, but let’s be real: since it only gets used when I’m in the middle of a drawing session, it was pretty much always going to break at a time when I didn’t want it to.)

I’m gonna have to work on something that doesn’t involve drawing for the rest of the night (NOT my original plan), and hope I can get a good new one tomorrow.  UGH.

Ford would understand my pain, I feel sure.  

My Stage Management Kit

Alright, so some of my regular followers might have noticed that I have a silly tag system (or they’ve just noticed random tags that don’t seem to make sense).  For general theatre posts, often tech, I tag “techrider.”  For resources and references, I tag “pencilcup.”  And for most of my own posts, I tag “smkit.”  You know, to be cute.  But this time, I’m actually posting about my SM kit, and I’m pretty stoked, so I might just tag all three ‘cause what the hell, it’s my blog and I can screw with the system all I want.

Meet Samson:

Samson is a product of Artbin, made of a durable cloth material with (I discovered) luan siding.  Notice the sweet rolling luggage-style handle and the nice big snaps keeping the two pieces together.  The top has its own carrying strap, and the bottom (wheels attached) has two comfortable handles for hauling this beast in and out of my trunk when moving spaces.  Hopefully won’t have to move him much this summer, he’s not light.

Let’s open him up!

First glance does not do it justice–it is quite deep.  But let’s check out that neato zipper-pocket on the top flap:

That pocket is basically the size of the entire flap, but for now I’m just storing my headband and desk/clip/LED light.  ($10, Barnes & Noble, super sturdy bright light, I highly recommend it!)

Alright, and as for the rest of the top bin…

Bubba Zips, my stage management buddy, is coming along for the ride.  He loves the upgrade.

Time to unpack!

Here’s everything that fits comfortably in the top:

1.  Huge 4″ D-ring trapper keeper (regular binders are typical in stage management, but keep in mind that we’ll be in the elements this summer).
2.  Ruler, protractor, scale rule.
3.  Hole-punch.
4.  Spare water bottle.
5.  Bubba Zips.
6.  Umbrella.
7.  Clean rags.
8.  Main tape supply (spike, gaff, drafting, glow).
9.  Spike stick with scissors attached (thank you, Techblr!).
10.  Tape measure.
11.  Electric pencil sharpener.
12.  Gerber tool.
13.  Stun-gun (told you, public park).
14.  Personal medical kit.
15.  Outdoorsy things (bagged).
16.  Craft/sewing kit (bagged).
17.  Extended medical kit (bagged, large).
18.  Shakespeare reference book.

Moving on to the bottom, because we have a long way to go…

Electronics/etc. (shoe)box, office supplies box, office supplies bag, hardware box, toolkit, hygiene box, feminine hygiene bag, three packs of gum.

The pink-tab boxes (Artbin or something similar, I shopped around quite a bit) are fantastic.  Deep, sturdy, very strong.  The bags are nice as well, waterproof, clear-ish, and they smell awesome.

Basic toolkit:

…with more hardware-type things.  I’ve got rubber bands, glues, flashlights, lighter, spare screwdrivers, clips, a boxcutter, and one of those cool marker/cutter combo things.  Also a pen light, because you can never have enough little lights at the park.

This here is my electronics/et cetera box.  It includes (pictured above) another damn flashlight, spare scissors, fishing line, “other” tape, a table-clock, an AUX cable, and an iPhone cable (I don’t even have an iPhone…).  Pictured below, we have a box of batteries (AA, AAA, D), a speaker (compatible with the AUX cable), a Master Lock & keys, headphones, a USB-power adapter, and a flashdrive.

Next, we have a plethora of office supplies.  Post-its, tacks, sticky-tack, staples, clear and double-sided tape, eraser-heads, more rubber bands, tabs, paperclips, binder clips, page protectors, pens/pencils/highlighter, pencil sharpener, erasers, and a stapler.

Let’s see if I forgot anything…

Oh yeah, that quick-flick finger-moistener and the gluestick and white-out.

Next, the bag:  It contains less-used office supplies, like Elmer’s glue and a spare stopwatch, plus lots of stickers/labels.  Also a pack of notecards, and a pack of thank you cards, because you never know when you will owe someone a proper thanks!

Next up, hygiene…extra important when you’re working in nature!

Basic feminine hygiene is in an easy-go bag.  Here, we have Carmex, Wet Ones, Gold Bond, lotion, powder-scented antiperspirant, Colgate wisps, make-up wipes, facial tissue, a pack of bobby pins with hair-ties and barrettes wrapped around it, a scrunchie, a pack of Q-tips, Tide to-go sticks, and a brush/mirror combo.  Now let’s look under some of these things:

There’s also hand-sanitizer, baby powder, Listerine tabs, toothpaste, floss, a pencil-sharpener for makeup, a nail-clipper, tweezers, a lint-roller, and some cotton balls.

That’s all, folks!  Thanks for taking the tour.  Oh, and you know that tiny box of brads I forgot to pack yesterday?  Well, I packed away all the stuff again after these pictures, and realized I forgot that stupid little box again…so here it is, all alone.  Bubba is so disappointed in me.


In 1970, a teenager found a hand-made album in a pile of trash in Springfield, Mo. Inside, there were 283 drawings of trains, cars, animals and portraits of people with haunting, circular eyes that stared dead ahead. The album had no name or signature, and each picture was drawn on stationary that belonged to State Hospital No. 3, an old mental institution in Missouri.

The album eventually made its way to an art dealer who discovered the artist’s identity and has now published the works in a book called The Electric Pencil: Drawings from Inside State Hospital No. 3. The book explains that the artist, James Edward Deeds Jr., spent most of his adult life as a patient at State Hospital No. 3, and the story of how he got there goes back to his childhood.

With Just Pencil And Paper, A Patient Found Escape Inside State Hospital No. 3


Characters: Richard Speight Jr x Reader

Word Count: 237 

Summary: You like to color except your pencil sharpener won’t work properly 

Tagging: @moonfighter1985 I made this for her when we were on the phone and had a small meltdown due to her pencil breaking. 

               Slamming the pencil onto the table you let out a scream of frustration as the lead in the pencil broke once again, right after you finished sharpening it.

               “Did it break again?” Richard Speight Jr. asked clearly entertained at the tantrum you had just thrown.

               “Yes,” you whined letting your head hit the desk with a thud.

               Coloring was a stress reliever for you except when the pencils and sharpener were not cooperating.

               Richard had gotten used to your outbursts when you were coloring but he always seemed amused by them. “Here let me try,” Richard grabbed the pencil and sharpener and began the process of twisting the pencil around and around. “You know if you would just let me get you an electric sharpener then this wouldn’t happen.”

               “I know but I like the small ones that fit in my hand,” you told him stubbornly. He had been trying to get you an electric sharpener since the two of you began dating but you always said the ones he picked out were too expensive. He’d always tell you money wasn’t an issue but you couldn’t really justify spending fifty bucks on an electric pencil sharpener.

               “Alright,” he smiled handing the plastic sharpener and your newly sharpened pencil back to you. He leaned down and kissed the top of your head.

               “Thank you,” you beamed up at him.

               “My girlfriend is crazy,” he smiled and walked away.


The Electric Pencil – A man draws for 37 years from the State Lunatic Asylum No. 3

The Electric Pencil: Drawings from Inside State Hospital No. 3
by James Edward Deeds Jr. (author) and Harris Diamant (foreword)
Princeton Architectural Press
2016, 272 pages, 7.5 x 9.5 x 0.8 inches (softcover)
$22 Buy a copy on Amazon

Back in the 1970s, a 14-year-old boy walking down a residential street in Springfield, Missouri found a cool-looking handmade, hand-bound book in a pile of trash. He opened the book to find 283 drawings, each on a ledger sheet with either “State Hospital No. 3” or “State Lunatic Asylum No. 3” printed at the top. The drawings depicted people in 19th-century clothing, Civil War soldiers, steamboats, antique cars, animals, and brick institutions. The boy held on to the book for 36 years.

In 2006, the boy (now obviously a man) decided to unload the art portfolio. He also wished to remain anonymous and, after contacting a retired professor of Missouri State University about the book, he vanished from this story without a trace. After a couple of bounces, the book ended up in the hands of art dealer and artist (fabulous sculptor!) Harris Diamant, who researched and traced the mysterious art book back to its original owner.

The creator of the book was James Edward Deeds Jr., born in 1908 and raised on a farm in southwestern Missouri. He resisted working on the farm, butt heads with his authoritarian father, and by the time he was 28 he was labeled as “insane.” He was admitted to the State Hospital No. 3 and stayed there for 37 years.

The Electric Pencil, the name of this book as well as the name given to Deeds before his identity was discovered, is a complete collection of Deeds’ artwork. He numbered each piece at the top with a pencil. His pencil and crayon drawings - perhaps journal entries of sorts – never expressed violence, but instead were mostly wide-eyed portraits, still lifes and domestic, often calming pastoral images. As Diamant says in the foreword of the book, which was just released today, “Edward’s story speaks to the human need to communicate – and the artist’s need to make work in spite of horrendous circumstances.” – Carla Sinclair

March 29, 2016

Taocheng Wang
Tied up Bed-Partition-Curtain and Made sure that Our Clients and Our Employee Could Both Enjoy Cool Wind Blowing from This Electrical Fan, 2015
watercolour, pencil, acrylic on rice paper
93 x 87 cm