May 2006 Archives

everybody do the gurgle!

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The Washington Post has a bunch of comics reviews I wrote in this Sunday's book review section--yes I know I need to update the link bar & page one of these days. But at the moment, I've got a light spring dose of Portland Plague: raining outside, listless and coughing inside. 52 Pickup continues, too, but I'm not gonna provide any more weekly links to it here unless there's something unusual happening.

I have an idea for a fairly twisted Burning Man project that fulfills my personal "equipment must be small enough to carry around in a utility belt" criterion, although I'll have to get a bit of customized printing done for it. I also have an idea for a much bigger one that would require some hammer-and-nails work, and would need to be staffed. The first one's looking a lot likelier.

fastest mood-lifter I've seen in yonks

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Oh, my God.

At Book Expo America, virtually every booth had something having to do with The Da Vinci Code or Sudoku or both. (And yet nobody has so far figured out how to combine them.) Best galley I picked up (of the few I've read so far): Kevin Huizenga's Curses.

Bus, light rail, airplane, airplane, light rail, cab, train, bus, bus, cab, cab, bus, cab, train, cab, cab, train, cab, cab, airplane, airplane, cab.

by and about

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The second installment of 52 Pickup is up; I'm very grateful for all the kind words & kind links people have given me this week. And Chris Tamarri has posted an interview with me at his new comics blog Graphic Language; I think this is probably the first time somebody's interviewed me since Spiffy about 12 years ago. Odd to be in the seat opposite the one I usually occupy. Whatever happened to Katherine Spiffy, anyway?

sour grapes make sour wine

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Back from that top secret mission, which was less interesting than it probably sounded. It was spending a week in New York consolidating our two storage spaces into one and shipping a mountain of CDs to the West Coast, then getting rid of the not-so-hot IKEA-type furniture we'd had taking up space for ages. The "getting rid of" was the curious part. When I advertised it on Craigslist for rock-bottom prices, I got a handful of calls and emails from people who wanted to buy a piece or two, and every one of them flaked on me--I'd be at the storage space and get a call from the person who was supposed to pay a token sum for an air conditioner or chair, "oh, dude, sorry, I twisted my ankle or something," etc.

So I announced on Craigslist that I was giving it all away, divvying it up between everyone who was present at 10:30 Saturday morning, gave the address, said "you can call me from 10:30 to 12:30 that morning to ask if something has been claimed yet, NOT BEFORE OR AFTER, and I will not reserve anything for anyone." Naturally, I got something like 20 phone calls on Friday and early Saturday morning, and another 25 or so emails: what's the address? please reserve the chair for me! etc.

Fortunately, there wasn't quite a riot, although I think there was a little bit of acrimony over a $5 wastebasket that two people wanted. Everything was gone by 10:32. And then I got phone calls all day from people who wanted to know if the thing they wanted was still there...

Otherwise... really, there was no otherwise. The trip was top secret because I knew if I told my friends I was coming to town I'd just see my friends & not get the storage-space work done--there was just an awful lot of box-packing and -repacking and -labeling and -moving and -shipping that had to happen (and a bit of writing afterhours). Next time, my dear ones.

I returned to find my 15th-college-reunion report waiting for me, and spent the entire afternoon today reading it. My classmates are mostly running small countries now; those who aren't are running cutting-edge nonprofit charities, or are famous creators of one kind or another, or if they have really recognizable names didn't submit anything other than their current address. Money comes to them like arrows to St. Sebastian. Note to self: comparing self to cohort only brings a mild sinking sensation. Everyone is really into their kids, by the way; good to know I'm in good company there.

But another thing I returned to made my heart glad: Free to Be... You and Me has been reissued. Daphne asked me recently where I got some of my ideas about gender & how to perform it: this, friends, is where an entire generation of kids with progressive-type parents received the message. The three friends who came over to visit today all grew up on it too, and demanded to hear it. Lisa had heard of it, but hadn't heard it before; Sterling, I suspect, is going to be hearing it a lot. Oh, that Marlo Thomas/Mel Brooks "baby" skit.

introducing 52 Pickup

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As promised, or threatened: a new limited blog, 52 Pickup, dedicated to weekly reviews of the weekly 52 series. Split off from this one partly as an exercise to keep me doing it, and partly to keep from driving the uninterested completely bats.

And me? I'm still on my top secret mission. Details when I get back. Not to be mysterious or anything; it's not actually that interesting.

nibbling on seashells in the sand

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And where have you been keeping yourself, you may well ask? I'll just widen my eyes as wide as they can go, shape my intonation into an innocent S-curve, and say "around."

Location #1 was the EMP conference, about which other people have already said more and better than I can. (Highlights of the actual conference for me: Sara Marcus on growing apart from Ani DiFranco, Michaelangelo Matos on "Love Child" and his family history, Mike McGonigal on the underacknowledged glories of ELO. Other highlights: karaoke with a drop-a-bomb joke's worth of music critics at a clip joint I will not dignify by naming it--Maria Tessa Sciarrino's "Blue Monday" and Maura Johnston's "You Could Be Mine," oh my x 2; Alex Ross's aerial view of 20th-century compositional music; Indian food with another drop-a-bomb joke's worth; Daphne Carr's "Aura Is So 1936" badges--as she noted, it's funnier if you wear two of them.)

Location #2 was flat on my back with a familial flu. We all pulled through it, although with a few lost days of productivity. (Actually Sterling managed to produce at least 65% of his usual quota of cuteness: the little trouper!) While thoroughly spaced out and immobile, I fell in love with the Mr. T Experience's "Up and Down." It was Lisa who pointed out that it was a Sesame Street cover. The only thing I could eat when my appetite started to come back was the "Tibetan dessert" an East Village restaurant introduced me to: basmati rice, yogurt, raisins, a touch of honey.

Location #3 is undisclosed. Mini-hit parade of my journey here: Mission of Burma's "Donna Sumeria"; Thee Headcoatees' "Santa Claus"; the Abyssinians' "Satta Massa Ganna"; the whole "Call-Me-Kenneth" business in the first volume of Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files, the first time the series feels like it's finding what will become its tone.

This month's Salon comics piece is up; this time it's about Civil War, Infinite Crisis, 52 and Free Comic Book Day. And speaking of undisclosed locations: I have foolishly resolved to start an additional blog to rattle on about 52, yoo-arr-ell tee-kay. In the meantime, the official site seems more fun than it really needed to be.

A dream last night: a '60s Candid Camera-like TV show in which a man politely asks passersby for a large, umbrella-covered compass. Sometimes, someone has one and gives it to him.