Tag Archives: 2011

Writer and Director Matthew Chapmans Awful Giraffe April 2011

Writer and Director Matthew Chapman

Matthew Chapman (personal website) is a journalist, screenwriter and director who is also the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin. More importantly, and this is something that was stressed, he’s a damn good journalist, screenwriter and director. He is the author of two nonfiction books, Trials of the Monkey – an Accidental Memoir (2002) and 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania (2007), the latter of which arose from his work with Harper’s magazine reporting on the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area  School Districtcase.

Matthew Chapman

For those who may not be familiar with Kitzmiller (or as some call it the “Dover Panda Trial”), it was effectively a continuation of the Scopes Monkey Trial and

was the first direct challenge brought in the United States federal courts against a public school district that changed its biology teaching curriculum to require that intelligent design was to be presented as an alternative to evolution theory, with Of Pandas and People to be used as a reference book.[1] The plaintiffs successfully argued that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and that the school board policy violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The judge’s decision sparked considerable response from both supporters and critics. [From Wikipedia]

I had the pleasure of meeting Chapman at the American Atheists Convention in Des Moines where he spoke briefly about and then premiered his 2011 Sundance-selected film The Ledge. Following the Q-and-A where every atheist in the room suddenly assumed themselves to be Roger Ebert, embarrassing not only themselves but everyone in the room, a few friends and I approached him to discuss the possibility of screening his film on our campus. Being open to the idea, he then asked us if we had any ideas on how he could distribute his film to college campuses – and we did – but as the conversation began to trail, I made the pitch:

In the most adorable English accent imaginable, Chapman replied: “You want me to draw a giraffe?”

“Well, yes.”

“I don’t even think I can recall what a giraffe looks like.”

“Long neck.”

This line tends to resolves all qualms.

“OK.”

And thus was born what is now is one of my new personal favorite drawings and proof that art skills are not an inheritable trait (have you seen Darwin’s sketches?).

What the fu- is that a penis?!

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Writer and Blogger Eboo Patel Can’t Draw a Giraffe

[The following story comes from fellow Editorial Board Member Lucas Felts.]

Eboo Patel has been a member of Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Relationships since 2009. He is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit dedicated to the promotion of interfaith cooperation.

Eboo Patel is a truly inspiring man of whom I met one beautiful weekend in Decorah, IA at Luther College for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.  It was Friday night where Eboo was guiding a discussion from former Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.  I, with a twinkle in my eye, looked on as I saw two miraculous things unfolding before me.  First I saw a message being delivered with power and conviction from Shirin Ebadi promoting social justice guided by the calm collected presence of Eboo Patel.  But I also saw something else that fateful day upon that stage.  As I sat there furiously scribing away in my metahipster journal I saw giraffes on that stage.  Not living, breathing, 14-foot tall giraffes, don’t be silly how would Luther College get those in an auditorium? No, I saw the potential for some poorly drawn giraffes on that stage.

Eboo Patel is a Rhodes Scholar and one of today’s foremost experts on religion and interfaith relations.  In my humble opinion I would have to conclude that this man has no business whatsoever drawing a giraffe.  So, when the conversation had come to an end I, like any sane and fully competent person on a mission, decided to disregard the barriers preventing me from going on stage (it is a well known fact that if you act like you know what you are doing people perceive you to know what you are doing and thus don’t question you) and I approached Eboo with all the desirous emotions of a childhood boy on the verge of fulfilling his dream.  He looked me in the eyes, the aura of an important man ever looming about him, and said, “What’s up?”  More noble words may have never been spoken because in that instant I was frozen, the only thing standing between me and immortality by virtue of Giraffes was my own fear.

Nonetheless I was able to muster out, “Eboo, I have a strange request for you.  Would you draw me a giraffe?”  With a confused look on his face he grabbed the notebook from my hand and began to sketch.  He then stopped and looked at me half serious half confused and said, “I don’t know if I should be doing this,” as though there was some moral dilemma in drawing a giraffe.  Or maybe his reservations came from the terror stories floating about the internet of how US Congressman Tim Walz’s inability to draw a giraffe resulted in what may be one of the year’s biggest controversies.  Nonetheless once I assured him there was nothing to fear in contributing to the biggest revolution since the civil rights movement he then resumed, commenting briefly on how his son would love that he is doing this(it’s true, your children will love you much more if you draw a giraffe for us).  After some time spent working on his creation, he realized his giraffe looked more like a camel without humps than it did a giraffe.  Not to be discouraged, however, the final product was finished and handed back to me with a signature and the look of a man who had truly accomplished something. He also wrote giraffe at the top so the viewers of this website dedicated to drawings of giraffes would fully understand that this was, in fact, actually what he was trying to draw.

The following night Eboo gave an incredibly moving speech on interfaith relations, recurring through his speech were examples of important historical figures who promoted the idea that we are better together.  I think I can say with full confidence that when the blank page of my journal said we were better apart, Eboo Patel and his giraffe/camel said we are better together.  You can find Eboo on twitter(@EbooPatel) or you can read his blog at the Washington Post.

But there is only one place you can find his poorly drawn giraffe.  And that is right here my friends.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

U.S. Congressman Tim Walz's giraffe

U.S. Congressman Tim Walz (Minnesota)

I made my way to the 2011 DFL Business Conference in Cokato, MN, in February because I am the the associate chair of the Chippewa County DFL, and for those not familiar with the workings of a political party this is where activists from across the state elect the chairman, secretary, affirmative action officer, and so on, who will be leading the party for the next two years. While there, as I was doing some campaign work for newly-elected Secretary Vanessa Blomgren, I ran into U.S. Congressman Tim Walz (office page). Pulling him close, I watched his arms fold up to listen to the hardball question he was likely expecting me to throw his way, but instead I made the typical pitch:

Congressman Tim Walz of Minnesota

MPR Photo/Derek Montgomery

“Hello Tim, I know you’re really busy, but there’s something I would like to ask you. I’m working on a website called (blah blah blah) and while I think you are an amazing gentleman, you seem like someone who should not be drawing giraffes. Could you do me the honor of drawing a giraffe?”

The congressman then burst into laughter, saying he would give it a try and that the idea was overall “pretty damn funny.” While I expected him to simply scribble a drawing out so he could move onto other business, he seemed legitimately interested in contributing it, being invested enough to say “I have no idea what the hell that is” when he made the awkward neck-bubble (goitre?) on the giraffe.

Of everyone the editorial board has talked to so far, Tim has been the most receptive and for that we thank him.U.S. Congressman Tim Walz's giraffe