Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mangaka America

My article on Mangaka America appeared in the most recent edition PW Comics Week. I really enjoyed working on this piece, as everyone is so excited about the book. It is beautiful, and a great intoduction to "global manga." I didn't include this in the article, but a lot of the artists include information about their pets, for those (like me) who are interested. Plus it's pretty cool that the duo behind it are married. On October 30, one of the creators--Tania del Rio--will be appearing on a panel on Women in Comics, sponsosored by Friends of Lulu, at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.

First Flight

This past Sunday I took a break from studying and went flying with my new boyfriend Jerry. He recently got his pilot liscense and loves to fly. Jerry comes from a long line of pilots and it has always been his dream to fly. I was his first passenger and it was really an honor to fly with him.

We flew in a Cessna 152, which is a very small plane. I was so nervous at takeoff but after we were in the air it was really amazing. We flew around the hill country for a little over an hour. I called my parents after we landed and my Dad was thrilled that I hadn't told him earlier that I was flying. He is a worrier but I think he trusts Jerry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ronnybrook Yogurt Drink

Jody and I are both addicted to Ronnybrook Yogurt Drink, which is available at farmers markets and some upscale grocery stores around the city. This product would probably fall under the category of "healthy but not dietetic" food stuffs--the ingredients include whole milk, buttermilk and (organic) sugar and each bottle weights in at almost 300 calories. But when you drink one, you can feel the protein and calcium pulsing through your veins, along with all those critical probiotics. My favorite is the blackberry, but the strawberry, peach and mango are also tasty. If you get to the booth in Union Square late on a Saturday, the nice staff will sometimes throw in a free bottle or two. When I was leaving with my supply this week, I noticed a sign advertising their butter, including garlic butter. Next time, that is on my shopping list.

Speaking of farmers' market, I found this perfect-looking apple really charming.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Happy Birthday GrandMary (a day late)

Yesterday was GrandMary's birthday. I spoke to her on the phone, but forgot to post a Red Peonies notice. It sounded like a fun day--a movie and dinner at Belhurst.

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, began September 23 and runs through September 30. Although the name is a little confusing, the week is to encourage people to read banned books--not encourage the banning of books. According to the website:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2006, marks BBW's 25th anniversary (September 23-30).

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

I think it is great that librarians have a week commerating something so controversial. Take that Tipper Gore and Joe Liberman! I wonder what Laura Bush has to say about this. You can find more information--and buy a cool "I Read Banned Books" bracelet--at the site.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In Praise of Julia Sweeney

I have been singing Julia Sweeny's praises for a while now. People often ask in disbelief, "You mean that person who played the character Pat on Saturday Night Live?" Well, yes, but don't judge her for that, because she is so much more. Several years ago, my friend Greg and I saw her perform "God Said Ha," her touching but funny show about her brother's death from cancer and her own fight with ovarian cancer. (Yes, it doesn't sound that funny, but it was. You can see for yourself in the movie version.) After that we dreamed about writing a road movie to star Sweeney and Janeane Garofalo, with a sound track by Jonathan Richman. (Because Jonathan Richman wrote a song for Sweeney, with the lyrics, "Just because I'm Irish doesn't mean that I know the name of every bar in Manhattan.") The moment for that has probably passed, but Sweeney keeps turning out the goods. Almost four years ago, I saw her perform "In the Family Way," her account of adopting a little girl from China--also wonderful. And now Sweeney has been getting a lot of attention for her show "Letting Go of God," concerning her "conversion" from Catholicism to atheism. I missed it when she performed it for the first time in New York a few years ago, because the tickets were sold out. She received a huge response to it when she appeared on "This American Life," and now she is releasing a CD of the entire show. She is also coming back to NYC with it and this time I hope to get tickets.

Greg recently sent me this information:

She's so awesome.

Speaking of which, the NPR show This American Life recently re-broadcast a 10-year-old episode featuring recordings of Julia Sweeney at comedy clubs as she was developing the material that eventually became "God Said Ha."

Ultimately, GSH is a more accomplished piece of art than these bits (of course), but there's an immediacy and urgency to the original monologues. You can hear the hysteria lurking just below the surface as Sweeney serves up hilarious one-liners about the extremely scary and sad things that were happening right then -- sometimes the same day she's talking about them. This is as raw as it gets.

If you're interested, you can listen to it online here:

So if I have sold you on Sweeney, can read her blog or visit her website to learn more.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Elvis Takes a Bath, Then a Nap/ Cat Manga

For a chubby, arthritic cat, Elvis can get himself into some pretty amazing poses when bathing (his only exercise, besides walking to the food bowl). But he always follows up this exertion with a long, long nap.

Speaking of cats, I don't think I ever posted link to my Q&A session with Bettina Kurkoski in PW Comics Week, who is writing a 3-part manga series entitled My Cat Loki for TOKYOPOP. In the first book, an artist who has loved and lost his cat finds a new feline love. She talks about creating manga under a deadline and, of course, her love of the kitties.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dog Team Tavern

The Dog Team Tavern was a small but critical part of my college experience, the site of many enormous meals. It was famous for the plate-sized sticky buns that served as appetizers for ever larger meat-centric mail courses. I was upset to read that it had burned down, and, even worse, the fire was ruled suspicious and caused a death that might be tied to a sexual assault case.

New School Year

I had thought I might write something about the beginning of the school year and how my classes are going, but then I realized that my students might Google me and find this. So first let me say to them: Hi! Do your reading! Don't plagiarize! Actually things are going well, although I will say it was a little disturbing that all the students in one of my sections could identify the porn star Jenna Jameson and none could identify Gloria Steinem. (I don't hold them accountable for this. Shouldn't someone teach you about Gloria Steinem sometime before you get out of high school?)

Some other people out there are writing some pretty funny, pretty accurate descriptions of the frustrations of teaching. Leslie Madson Brooks on Blogher has compiled has a nice round up. Also check out Sex Ed in Higher Ed.

Starbucks Quiz

I love weird personality tests, so I couldn't resist taking this What Starbucks are You quiz, even though I don't drink coffee and go to great lengths to avoid Starbucks. I kind of liked the results.

Take the quiz:
Which Starbucks Drink Are You? (Great Pictures)

Starbucks Tazo Tea
Starbucks Tazo Tea(www.myspace.com/andrew2)

Quizzes by myYearbook.com -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!

McClouds and Rudy's

Fall is always exciting and busy in New York. One recent cultural highlight was the visit of the McCloud family to New York to promote Scott McCloud's new book "Making Comics".

The McCloud visit to New York, part of the 50 state tour, had a number of public events, and yes, we went to all of them. Scott gave a talk at SVA (followed by a pizza party which I was able to attend after teaching), a signing at Midtown Comics, and a party at Rocketship. Needless to say, all of these events were a lot of fun.

Calvin and I had dinner with the McClouds in San Diego during Comic-Con, kind of a highlight since I have admired him since reading "Understanding Comics" when I was a student at ITP. It was great to meet Scott's wife Ivy, who is charming. Scott and Ivy have 2 fabulous daughters, Sky and Winter. The McCloud family presentation, where all participated, was another Comic-Con highlight.

"Making Comics" is a great book and a wonderful resource. If you have the slightest interest in comix, drawing, narrative or visual information- run right out and buy Scott's books!

On a completely different note, Kate wrote about our recent trip to Oswego- I would only like to add this photo.

Bonnet & Mantle + Chair

I have been lax about posting lately, crazy busy (as is everyone else). Rather than show you the boring handouts I've been preparing to explain the box model in CSS (that's Cascading Style Sheets, in case it is your good fortune not to know), I thought I'd show a few (slightly blurry) pictures of some art projects I just finished.

"Bonnet and Mantle" is a piece I created for "Cultural Redress" a show at the Queens Library Gallery. Here are a few details of the piece. It's based on watercolor drawings of 19th century American clothing that were made during the WPA. I made a bonnet, with plenty of tulle, gussets, and broken glass, and a short cape (over a gauzy slip) that has 6 (decorated) motors spinning at various times.

detail: motor on cape


Marianne Petit asked me to participate in a benefit for the Adaptive Design Association. This organization "works to ensure that children with disabilities get the customized equipment they need to participate fully in home, school, and community life". They emphasize working with cheap and readily available materials, particularly cardboard. Cardboard is the material of the gods, in my opinion. For their open house, there will be a silent auction of the cardboard chairs artists have decorated. Here's a picture of mine.

Friday, September 15, 2006


As most of you know, I am still having trouble adjusting to Spokane and to this part of the country in general. Perhaps my entire lack of desire to adjust has something to do with this problem, but even so Matt and I are trying to make what time we have to spend here more enjoyable than an expensive and painful dental procedure. To that end we took a little road trip down to Walla Walla , which we had heard was a cute little college town with many a winery to sample should the town itself prove uncharming. It was a one-night trip so we felt our chances of being entertained were quite good.

We were right. After a navigational error that took us 30 miles or so closer to Seattle than we were supposed to go, we had a pleasant drive down, although for the life of me I couldn't imagine whatever possessed people to want to live on some of the dry desolate stretches we passed through. At my heart I am simply not a farmer and Matt claims I harbor a secret dislike of the people who choose that profession. I do not want to delve into that at the moment. We'll leave that for another time when I have more leisure with which to explore and root out such unjustified prejudice.

We hit some wineries on the way into town and had a good time. They did get more fun as we went along and we are still unsure whether that had to do with the wine or the wineries and their clientele in general. The first winery's tasting room was very nicely situated in an old schoolhouse but the people working for the winery were impressively unhelpful and the room itself was filled with obnoxious yuppie types. Yes, yes, I know, we were in a winery so what did we expect? But, lets face it, we were in a winery in Walla Walla Washington, not in the south of France or Napa or even Oregon or Yakima, WA, so really. How snobby did they need to be? We had a more pleasant time at the 2nd winery with a much more helpful staff and, amazingly enough, a list of their wines that actually included descriptions. This was not available at the 1st winery where we were expected to know what we wanted ahead of time. The 2nd winery was much more traditional in its approach to tasting, having a select menu that they poured through from their lightest whites to heaviest reds.

But the real fun came at the 3rd winery where the staff was very friendly, but not in an overly obnoxious way, and we ran into a very pleasant woman having a great time on her day off with her partner who played the straight man to her hilarity. She turned out to be a prison guard and said she was determined to have as much fun as possible on her mini-vacation. I don't blame her. We also discovered our favorite wine at the Three Rivers Winery , who are very proud of their female winemaker, Holly Turner. I have to admit, she is good. We tried a wine, Grenache, here that tasted like Canales in a bottle. By the way, did you know you can order Canales sauce and salad dressing on the internet? I may treat myself to some bottles and enjoy it with the 2 bottles of Grenache we bought.

Walla Walla itself proved a cute college town and we enjoyed appetizers and wine in a hipster-owned cafe, Grapefields. The next day we drove slowly back to Spokane, stopping to enjoy the sights of the Palouse Falls. Massive fires were burning somewhere south of us on the way back, though as the air was smoky and hazy all the way home. Some of it was blowing into Spokane and inhaling too much of it on a run caused burning lungs later in the week. But the short trip was fun and has inspired us to take them frequently during our last year here. We figure we won't be rushing back to the region anytime soon after we escape so we might as well enjoy what sights it has while we are here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Hi*Ball Energy Drink

I stopped drinking Diet Coke about a month ago. As anyone who knows me can attest, this is a pretty radical change in my beverage consumption. I'm not going to make any promises about this being permanent, as those commercials where people drink Diet Coke and bubbles start swirling around their heads and their lives suddenly fall into place pretty accurately describe how that drink makes me feel. The reasons for this change aren't totally clear to me, just that it seemed time and it was a little disturbing how much I needed a Diet Coke around 3 in the afternoon. I'm not sure if I went through aspartame withdrawal, as the first weeks I went without D.C. coincided with hot, humid weather that produces in me the same symptoms--headache, grumpiness, exhaustion. An array of anti-aspartame websites promise radical physical changes once you can get the substance out of your system--blood sugar stabilizes and headaches and stomach aches and muscle and joint aches magically disappear--but I haven't noticed that I feel any different. (Of course a lot of people describing those changes where drinking 8-10 sodas a day, which I (almost) never did.) Anyway, the whole thing has been made much easier by my discovery of something called Hi Ball Energy, which is basically sparkling water with caffeine, ginseng, and a variety of B vitamins. I had often said I would stop drinking Diet Coke if I could just find caffeinated seltzer water, and that is pretty much what Hi*Ball offers. (I need the bubbles in the morning.) It actually has a lot more caffeine than a Diet Coke, which has taken some getting used to, and is a little expensive. But it has a cute bottle, which counts for a lot in my book.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

PW Comics Week

My article on Terry Moore's decision to end his long-running series Strangers in Paradise appeared in this week's edition of PW Comics Week.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tinge of blue

New Yorkers sometimes like to demonize the "red states" as full of rubes who have been tricked into being conservative. Those of us New Yorkers with liberal relatives and friends living in states like Texas and Colorado and Virginia, however, know that the red state/blue state dichotomy is much more complicated that those colored coded maps would lead us to believe. The New York Times has an interesting article about Arvada, Colorado, that shows just how complex the politics in those big blocks of red can be.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Martha update

I've written in the past about Martha Stewart's bulldog hour. On her website, she is now advertising a black cat themed Halloween show, asking people with black cats to bring them into the studio. While Martha may have trained her cats into submission, a roomful of cats who have never met before does not sound like a well-thought out idea, as anyone with a cat can attest. I would love to take Mao, but my guess is that he would have no part of this.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Marianne Petit on IFC!

Both Kate and I have posted about Marianne Petit's animations, graphic novel and we projects. She is on IFC this month, on MediaLab. There is an interview, and sections of a number of animations- it is really great. Go Marianne!

Here's the schedule.
Saturday, September 16th @11:30 am
Friday, September 22nd @ 2:00 pm
Saturday, September 30th @ 7:00 am

One of Marianne's claymations on the MediaLab site

Everybody Dance Now

Kathy Goncharov, who curated the Fauns and Shackles show, has another show opening Friday, called Everybody Dance Now. The press release promises, "This exhibition . . . showcases work by an international cast of contemporary artists as well as excerpts from popular culture venues such as public access television, You Tube, and Google Video. The show celebrates the universal human urge to move to the beat (although dogs, frogs, bears, ponies, ghosts, and alligators sometimes act as surrogates for people)." It is at the EFA Gallery in the EFA Studio Center, at 323 West 39th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. The blog has some very funny videos of people and other creatures getting down.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Audio Books

I discovered a serious taste for audiobooks several years ago when I was driving down to Texas from New York and needed something other than music and Weese's singing to keep me awake and sane. I have since discovered how wonderful they can be when I am out on long runs by myself and want something to keep my mind off the fact that I am spending hours running along and seemingly getting nowhere. Music keeps me motivated when I need to just keep going or to pick up speed, but nothing whiles away the time like a book if I am not particularly interested in how fast, or slow, I am going. They also pass the time during my morning data entry job. I don't think I could have lasted there without them. But audiobooks are quite the pricey little item and as I tend to listen to mysteries I wouldn't normally read unless I was in an airport or on the beach, I don't really want to pay much for the pleasure. I am a student after all. Libraries have come in very handy on this front and I thank them for it, but I have recently discovered a new source for pleasure, namely Libravox. This is a web-based volunteer organization that puts out audiocasts of books that are in the public domain. And it is all free. The books are read by volunteers and then they are put on the web for downloadable fun. I have already listened to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, a personal favorite, and am enjoying Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery at the moment. These are truly fun and as they are not read by actors but by volunteers you really get that reminiscent feeling of being read to as a child. It is keeping me sane at work. I actually have a reason to not dread going in since my free time is taken up with school work, my data entry job is the only time I have to indulge. I still dread it, but not as much as I might.

You can find some fun of your own at http://librivox.org/

Monday, September 04, 2006

Birthday Cake

As you know, my birthday was last week. I spent it isolated in Spokane, but many calls from friends and family helped me get through it without feeling too lonely. It was also a nice excuse to get dressed up and pamper a bit and that is always fun. I opened up a bottle of Proseco and we had delicious Bellinis in honor of Jody. I do love that drink.

Matt also took me out for a sushi dinner and that helped too. We had actually planned on trying another restaurant, but since my birthday fell on a Monday, decent restaurants were harder to come by than usual, even for Spokane. The only down side to the sushi bar was the lack of a dessert menu, but we didn't let that stop us from searching for cake. We figured cake could be had almost anywhere else along with a tasty beverage. We were wrong. After stopping by a total of 8, yes 8 different restaurants of varying tacky v. trendy, we were unsuccesful in our search for cake. Fancy desserts of varying tastiness were to be had as were desserts as large as my head and probably about as tasty as chocolate flavored cardboard, but sadly, no cake. I was very disappointed, I must say, and after walking all over downtown Spokane, even as small as it is, my feet were hurting in my dress up shoes so we called it a night and went home for more Bellinis.

This lack of cake has only confirmed Matt and my dislike of this so-called city and we are counting down the days until we can make our escape back to a cake-filled land far far from here, hopefully in a Easternly direction. I did bake myself a big gooey chocolate cake the next day, but even as delicious as it was, I still would have enjoyed some cake on my birthday.

It is a good thing I like to bake, or it truly would have been a sad birthday. It does look yummy though, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

CruelNails Radio

I am a podcast illiterate, but recently on Pamie.com I learned about CruelNails Radio, Dave's podcast. He has two available right now, as far as I, in my illiterate state, can tell. One is entitled Women Who Rock, "a mix of rock, soul, blues, and jazz tracks by mankind's better half," and the second is "Requiem - Proper Mass for the Souls of the Dead, a mix in honor of New Orleans." They are both great.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Cheap and Tasty: Unique Pasty

I have discovered a new cheap and tasty wonder in my neighborhood: Unique Pastry, just east of 6th Avenue. The restaurant specializes in food from the Fujian province of China. The highlight is Bing, sesame encrusted pockets of bread stuffed with anything from red beans to spicy meats. Now, I am a fan of just about all foods in which dough is wrapped around another food--ravioli, dumplings, pirogi, samosas, empanadas--and bing is an excellent addition to this category. The sesame seeds lend a crisp crunch to the bread, while the fillings are hearty and satisifying. The price can not be beat--each bing is under $2.00 and 2 is more than enough for a meal (for me at least). To sweeten the deal, the manager gave us 3 bing for free. I think this was because closing time was nearing, and she figured it was better to give them away than throw them out. Neilson and I enjoyed all of the varieties we tried--spicy pork, spicy beef, cabbage, and pork and chives--and I am sure the rest are just as good.

According the New York Times, the owner plans to spread Unique Pastry across the city. I wish her well.