The Dress and Blushing Woman – A Short Short Story


Liz didn’t grow up in the church but she had been attending for many years.


woman at lectern 2014


Chapter One

She got the dress from a new online shopping service.  She loved it and was excited to wear it to church where she was going to get up on the alter and report about the youth choir.

Chapter Two

As they got out of the car in the church parking lot her husband said, “I just noticed that two of those little donut circle things on your dress look like your nipples. They’re right where they would be.”

Liz gave him the death stare.  “WHY ON EARTH would you say that to me right now, even if it is true?”  She said.  “You know I am going to be completely self-conscious about that now!  You can be such an unthinking idiot sometimes.”  

Chapter Three

By the time the pastor called her up onto the alter she had already suffered through 20 minutes of panic.  As she walked up she saw her four choir friends sitting on the side, waiting to go on and do their quartet devotional.  She looked at them looking at her and she knew they saw the same thing as her husband.  She turned to face the congregation blushing a deep crimson. There was nothing she could do about it.

Chapter Four

She forgot to tell the congregation what time the youth choir concert was going to be and forgot to explain about the fundraising needed to send the kids to choir camp next summer.  She tripped on her way back down the stairs but caught herself before she fell.  She sat down next to her husband, who whispered that she did a great job and no worries about the dress, it wasn’t obvious at all. She wanted to kick him in the balls.

Chapter Five

Afterwards, everyone said she did a great job. Many of the women complemented her dress and asked where she got it.  Two guys from her husband’s mens group also complemented the dress.  She wanted to kick them in the balls too.  She dragged her husband out of the Fellowship Hall the second the niceties were over.

Chapter Six

Her husband was in the dog house for the whole week. As a result he missed out on their weekly night for having sex.  She told him that he deserved far worse so he better not complain.


In later years Liz said that it was that moment, as odd as it sounds, that changed the direction of her life. She ended up leaving her husband and her church a year later. She moved to Florida with their kids, taking a job as a music teacher at an inner city high school.  She started caring much less about what people might be thinking of her and her clothes and as a result was very happy.  She ended up having polka dots and circles in almost everything she wore.



Drawing and story by Marty Coleman


Elliot Erwitt – Photographic Sunday – Artists I Love


Serious Photography

People tend to put professional photography into a very serious box.  It’s used to show the worst of humanity and nature, a very serious thing.  It is also used to show the highlights of both, which ironically is usually just as serious.  It is true that in recent years, with the advent of the cell phone camera and the internet, everyday snapshots of very funny events and juxtapositions have proliferated.  But in professional photography, seriousness still is given the top shelf on which to reside. It’s not that different than in cinema. Funny movies and comedic actors just don’t get the same level of respect and reward as do those that are serious.

But, in spite of that, we still have great comedic movies and actors.  We also have some very funny photographers.  Foremost among them in my mind is Elliot Erwitt.  He is one of my all time favorite photographers.  He spent 50+ years as one of the preeminent photographers photographing the world.  He was a founding member of Magnum, the elite photography agency started by Robert Capa mid-twentieth century.  He eventually became its president.  He took some of the most iconic and important political and social photographs of that century.  He was a VERY serious photographer. At the same time he was the least serious photographer you will ever find.

The perspective of Erwitt is not to be purposely funny. It’s to record a world that has interesting juxtapositions that can sometimes be very funny.  They can also be poignant and stark in their irony and pathos as they reveal the human condition.


Dogs and other animals

No one has ever been better at capturing the humanity of the Dog and other animals.


New York City, 2000 © Elliot Erwitt

New York City, 2000 © Elliot Erwitt



© Elliot Erwitt


Birmingham, England  © Elliot Erwitt

Birmingham, England © Elliot Erwitt




Florida Keys, 1968 © Elliot Erwitt


brasilia, 1961

Brasilia, 1961 © Elliot Erwitt

Nudes or Close

I have been drawing and photographing the nude figure since I was 17 years old in High School.  As I matured, one of my goals in doing the nude has been to juxtapose the inherent sensuality of the nude with something that offsets it. It can be humor, a unique visual perspective or something disturbing. I want there to be an element that draws people away from the sensuality just enough to make them stop and think about it.  I was inspired in that direction in no small part due to Erwitt and other photographers ability to do that so successfully. 


Nude Students, Clothed Model, East Hampton, New York, 1983 © Elliot Erwitt



Nude Judging Contest, Bakersfield, California, 1983, © Elliot Erwitt



Managua, Nicaragua, 1957 © Elliot Erwitt



Priest and Sculpture

Priest and Sculpture © Elliot Erwitt


Nudists, Kent, England, 1968 © Elliot Erwitt

Nudists, Kent, England, 1968 © Elliot Erwitt



Elliott Erwitt82820

Naked Woman and Cat, 1952, © Elliot Erwitt


1977 © Elliot Erwitt

1977 © Elliot Erwitt


1977 © Elliot Erwitt




Sometimes Erwitt is just able to capture the perfect moment of absurdity, contradiction or surprise that makes you smile and laugh.


© Elliot Erwitt



Versaille, France, 1975 © Elliot Erwitt



© Elliot Erwitt


pasadena california-1963

Pasadena, California, 1963 © Elliot Erwitt


Family Portrait, 1962, © Elliot Erwitt

Family Portrait, 1962, © Elliot Erwitt


I have focused only on what I think are his humorous pieces. He took photos of some of the worlds most important leaders and entertainers as well as some of the iconic national moments in America.  If you like what you see here, do an information or image search of Elliot Erwitt.  There are fantastic collections of his work out there as well as revealing articles and histories of his place in 20th century photography. He’s well worth exploring further.




If you want to see more of my ‘Photographic Sunday’ series, you can see it here.


You can see others in my ‘Artists I Love’ series here:

Summer/Fall 2014



Winter 2012/2013



Winter 2011/2012


Showing up, or How I Got in the ‘Don’t Hate the 918′ Photoshoot


How did The Napkin Dad end up being such a sexy hunk modeling a ‘Don’t Hate the 918′ t-shirt?



This is a photo of me taken by Steve Cluck, a Tulsa artist and entrepreneur. One element of his business is producing and selling the famous ‘Don’t Hat the 918′ t-shirts (for those of you out of the state or the country, 918 is Tulsa’s telephone area code).  He is doing a photography project that consists of 918 people from the Tulsa area wearing his ‘Don’t Hate the 918′ shirt.


A few months ago a friend of mine, Beth Hawkins of Beth Hawkins Video and Photography, posted a request on Facebook looking for some people to be in a promotional video she was shooting downtown. It was on a day I had to be in Tulsa to coach so it would be easy to just go a few hours early and take part, which I did.  



Beth Hawkins



One of the other people acting in the video was Steve Cluck, who I had never met.  We had to wait while shots were set up and got to talking about his t-shirt business and my Napkin Dad endeavors.  He told me about his project to photograph 918 people from Tulsa in his ‘Don’t Hate the 918′ t-shirt.  When I explained who I was he recognized my moniker and invited me to participate.

That was enough for me and a few months later Linda and I went over to his studio and took the shots.  



Steve Cluck

Showing Up

Have you ever heard the old saying “90% of success is just showing up.”?  Well, it’s true.  I answered Beth’s call because I like her and want to support her in her work. I also thought it would be fun. She also promised free pizza so there’s that too.  Showing up is not just about showing up for things you are obligated to show up for, that should be a given. It’s also about being proactive and grabbing hold of things to show up for. Using your own initiative to go do something, to help, to participate, to explore your world.  The results are usually unexpected and positive, as in meeting and networking with people who are good for your business, your social life, and your friendships. 



Can Money Help Unhappiness? – Wealth #9


The Wealth series continues with a question.




Yes and No

What do you think? Does it?  I am torn, not sure if I believe it does or not. I can see it can help with some forms of unhappiness but then again plenty of very wealthy people still suffer from being severely unhappy and the money does nothing to help so I don’t know.


I know my family had probably it’s worst continuous years of unhappiness when we were the wealthiest.  In particular my mother’s suffering seemed to get much worse when we had more money, not better.  But I don’t really know what it would have been like during those years if we had had less money so it’s hard to pin it on the wealth.

Your thoughts?


Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote/question is adapted from a quote by Roberto Gervaso, 1937 – not dead yet, Italian political commentator and journalist


California Road Trip, Part 4


Hello Napkin Kin! Here is the end of the road trip posts.

Day 7

Today I leave Berkeley and head back home to Oklahoma.  I am sad to leave so soon, having only spent less than 4 full days with Chelsea and her new family.  But with a total of 6 days on the road, it makes for a long time away from home.


I woke up to a beautiful and cool Berkeley morning. Another person was staying at the Airbnb that night and we had met the evening before. She was a runner so we had a great conversation about it, including a bit of coaching from me about injury recovery. She mentioned she was going to go on a run the next morning, up the the same park I had done my trail run the day before.  I didn’t ask if she wanted a running partner because I didn’t think we knew each other well enough to get in the car together and go traipsing off into the woods. However, when she got back from her run she said she had decided to just skip the trip to the park and run right from the house. Then I wish I had gone on the run with her!  Instead I toasted another runner who happened by as I was packing.

Here is the Airbnb link to Edrie and JoAnn’s spot. If you are going to Berkeley, I highly recommend them. 




I said adios to Mr. Otis, telling him to take good care of his mama and daddy.




Then I took a selfie with Chelsea in the bright morning sun of Berkeley and said my goodbyes as I drove off into the sunrise!




On the Road Again



Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Denise (homeowner)


It took me most of the day to drive to Arizona.  I rolled in to the Airbnb in Lake Havasu City and I had time to go see the famous London Bridge that they bought from London and transported piece by piece to Lake Havasu and reconstructed.  I had dinner overlooking it. The home was a nice place on a golf course but they had large dogs that barked into the night, right outside my room, that made sleeping not so easy for a while.  Luckily they either fell asleep or the owner brought them into his room and I eventually got a good night’s sleep.



Day 8



I was out the door and ready to get rolling as the sun rose over the desert.  I had a long way to go to get to my destination in Ruidoso, New Mexico.


Trinity and American Pie

I went a secondary route through much of Arizona and New Mexico, south of the usual Route 40 headed east. I was listening to a audio book and not paying much attention when I passed a sign that barely caught my eye. I stopped and did a u-turn to see if it was what I thought it was.



And it was. It was Trinity. The spot of the very first explosion of an atomic bomb. That is one of the most momentous moments in world history, as well as US war history. I just stood there and thought about how that moment changed the world in so many ways. It’s humbling to be in a spot like that, especially one that is so profoundly peaceful, quiet and serene, and realize the violence and unforeseen consequences that came from that moment.

I continued down the 2 lane highway for hours, seeing almost no traffic at all. But then, I turned a long sweeping arch and found myself smack dab in the middle of a party. Hundreds of cars and people parked on the side of the road in ‘Pie Town, New Mexico. I think the actual town consists of just this store, the ‘Pie-o-neer’.



It turns out there was a pie festival with contests and awards, pie making demos and more. I didn’t see much of that but I did walk among the booths and found a couple good things to bring home for Linda.



This lady, Cindy Yarmal, was selling veggies on the front porch of the pie shop while tourists mingled and a good ol’ boy band played some tunes on the other end of the porch. I asked her if I could take her photo and she obliged me.  After I sat and enjoyed a slice of Blackberry pie as the world swirled around me.







Snowcap Adobe

I arrived at ‘The Snowcap Adobe’ just as the sun had set.  I had contacted the owner, Susan, earlier in the day to let her know my time of arrival and she told me she had her best friend over and chili on the stove, asking if I would want some for dinner instead of having to find food before I arrived. That was a welcomed idea and I took her up on it!



Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)



Her home was amazing. It was built by her family many decades ago and she had updated it in recent years to make it a welcoming spot for travelers. It felt homey and warm.  The three of us sat at her kitchen counter and she told me the story of her family and her home.  Susan was a great story teller, especially about her grandfather, a well known artist in the mid-twentieth century regionalist tradition.  She had even done her Ph.D. thesis on his use of symbolism in his art.



Photo courtesy of Airbnb and Susan (homeowner)


This was my bedroom for the night, comfortable and genuine New Mexico.


Day 9 – Headed Home


Finally I was on my last day.  I once again left early, before Susan had awoke.  This is an early morning view of her solarium that her mother tended while she was still alive. It is still filled with plants but Susan says she forgets to water them.  There are a lot of plants, I probably would too.




I drove northeast through rural New Mexico and Texas until I reached Amarillo.  During that stretch I found one last interesting place.  Alanbeen, Texas was a gas station and a motel. That was it as far as I could tell. The station said it was the post office too so I think that pretty much says it all.



The gas station consisted of one pump. Surprisingly it did take credit cards.  But I couldn’t pass up the chance to go into the convenience store so I let it run and went inside.



And good thing I did, because otherwise I would have missed this sexy Texas miss smiling at me! The place was a hoot, covered top to bottom with stuff, most old Texas memorabilia and trinkets.


And then was a beeline home. I arrived in time to have dinner and relax, hear about Linda’s bachelorette week and show her some photos of Mr. Otis!




And that’s the end of this road trip!  Next stop will be the opposite coast to visit my OTHER grandchild, Vivian. Not sure when that will be but I will let you know.


California Road Trip

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4