July 2020 Newsletter

Happy July!

June is over (whew that went fast!), and we’re solidly into summer heat now. We’re still getting the occasional thunder storm, which Dane swears happen just often enough to keep the grass alive and growing, but not often enough to keep the squash, potatoes, and peppers we’ve planted watered. Mowing is *not* our favorite activity, but we persevere.

But enough about yard work! We’re still here, taking every day as it comes, and trying to find little bits of pleasure and joy in each one. We hope this newsletter finds you all doing the same. 



Our next Astronaut of the Month is Gus Grissom. A WWII and Korean War vet, he loved flying and fought hard to be included in the original Mercury 7. In fact, he was one of only two astronauts who would participate in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, going successfully to space twice before his final Apollo mission. Tragically, it was as commander of the Apollo 1 mission that he, along with his team, would die of an accidental fire during training. This horrific tragedy would lead to massive changes in the way NASA conducted missions and dealt with safety issues in the future. 

But there’s a lot more to know about Gus Grissom than just how he died. Read Ashlie’s quick article about the American astronaut here, and then maybe go deeper online or at your local library. 

Want to get hold of the Grissom 4x4 print or wooden pin? Astronaut of the Month art and pins can be found on our website, or join the Astronaut of the Month Club on Patreon. (it comes with a membership card!)

Got an opinion about who should be featured as our next AOTM? Let us know on FB, Twitter, Patreon, or Instagram!

New Art is GREAT! (We hope...)

Dane loves dinos, so it was pretty easy to convince him to draw another dinosaur piece. (Though it still wasn’t the Brontosaurus that Ashlie keeps asking for.) Instead, we get the Mansourasaurus and Afrotapejara, which were found in Africa in 2018 and 2020. 

We’re printing these on high quality cold press watercolor paper. 10x10 inches, these are limited to an edition of 100, and each one will be hand-signed and numbered.

Another addition to our Beyond series of space machines, this piece shows off the Gemini capsule used to test two astronaut’s abilities to go to space and carry out space travel tasks, longer trips, and the docking procedures that would be needed for the Apollo missions. This looks great displayed next to our Apollo capsule from the same series.

Every print in the Beyond series is 10x10 inches and is printed using Epson brand archival inks on hot press watercolor paper. With an edition size of 100, each print is hand-numbered and signed by Dane.

By now we all know that Dane loves his birds. He’s proving it by providing three more cute-as-can-be birds for the Borbs flock. Small enough to fit in any space that needs a little color, these 4x4 inch prints are printed on fine art watercolor paper with archival Epson inks. Extremely limited in number to editions of 30 each, they are hand numbered and signed by Mr. Bird Crazy himself.

Plains Zebras - Because Zebras Taught Ashlie Some Science

The plains zebra is the most common of all zebra types and can be found throughout southern and eastern Africa. It’s a midsized zebra that tends to be found in small herds of a single stallion, around seven breeding females, and nursing or teenaged young. These mammals can be found all over the map, but they tend to avoid deserts and wetlands. 

The story of how this particular zebra has been categorized over time sheds an interesting light on the way new technologies and genetic testing has given scientists a better understanding of our natural world and the animals within it, as well as raising new questions. 

After a study in 2004, several groups of zebras with visually distinct coats formerly considered different species were reclassified as subspecies of the plains zebra. In 2005, genetic testing proved that the quagga, an extinct zebra with very distinct markings from southern Africa, was also a plains zebra. 

But in 2018, things got even more interesting. Genetic testing led scientists to conclude that these different groups were not subspecies at all. Instead, they were clines, or groups of animals belonging to the same species that have a single variable feature based on geographic differences. Put simply? The further north a plains zebra is found, the more stripes it is likely to have. Scientists now believe that the plains zebra originated in southern Africa and as herds moved north, they gained more stripes. 

Science is cool, y'all.

New Postcard Sets!

Done for fun and entertainment during our live streams, Dane’s put up some of his sketches online (with videos!) on Facebook and Instagram. But we’ve had enough requests for printed versions that Dane was convinced to put together a couple of postcard sets on our shop

Sized at 5x7 and printed locally on sturdy 16 point C1S stock, these sets include 5 cards for $20. (Including shipping in the US.) You can keep them all for the art, save the one you like best, or mail a few quick notes to a friend, loved one, or politician. Basically, anyone who needs to know you’re thinking of them. :)

Follow Monkey Minion on Twitch!

You can subscribe to the Monkey Minion channel here, or tune in to our weekly streams, which are usually on Wednesday and Sunday evenings from 8-10pm central standard time. Stop in and ask a question, suggest some new art, or just say hello! 

Wednesdays are Suggest-a-Sketch days, so come prepared to make suggestions to keep Dane busy! Sundays we hang out while we work, so you can get an early peek at what Dane’s working on. 

We’ve started playing video games on Mondays. (With a few random days tossed in for good measure - follow our channel to get notifications.) Check out our split screen game and sketch streams where Dane sketches while Ashlie plays on Monday from 6-8 central standard time, then catch us both playing co-op later that evening from 10-midnight (or later). Games vary, so let us know what you’d like to see!

How Do You Quarantine?

Another month of staying home means more recommendations! 

Since catching up on most of her others, Ashlie’s been listening to the podcast: The History of China. We didn’t learn much more than Marco Polo and the existence of the Silk Road concerning Asian history in school, but this podcast is set up to give a wide range of helpful historical, language, and cultural information, including an entire episode explaining Chinese New Year, the naming conventions for emperors and how that affected what other things were called and why, lots of hints about what was happening in other parts of the world at the same time and general location information based on a current map. Whew. It’s a lot of stuff presented in a friendly, informative, (and slightly nerdy) way. 

A friend recommended a new YouTube channel called Defunct Land and we’ve watched a lot of it. If you’re a fan of Disney, the Muppets, or amusement parks, you owe it to yourself to check out this channel. Ashlie really enjoyed the deep dive episode about the Oriental Express, a roller coaster she grew up riding at her local amusement park, Worlds of Fun. Dane will probably re-watch the entire season about the Muppets. 

Is anyone still making bread? Dane likes keeping a sourdough starter, but sometimes you want bread a little easier and faster. When he doesn’t want to spend the time, (or forgot and killed his starter), Dane uses this bread recipe

Meet Dane and Ashlie in Person (Someday)

Want to meet Dane and Ashlie in person? We’re practicing social distancing right now, but we continue to look forward to the future when we can all get out and party guilt free.

Our current schedule still has a single (possible) show in October, but convention dates are changing and cancelling nearly too fast to keep track of. We remain grateful to all the show runners doing their absolute best to deal with a difficult and often thankless situation. As we know of changes and new dates, we’ll pass the information on to you.

You can keep updated on the rest of our 2020 schedule here. Don’t see your local show on the list? Let them know you’d like to see us!