Friday, November 30, 2007

Guess what?

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA is having an exhibition on graphic novels until May 2008. Who's up for a roadtrip? Not that I can drive, but I can be quite amusing on the road.

A little trip might be just the thing for curing the winter time blahs.

From the museum's site:
"This comprehensive exhibition explores the history and diverse artistry of the graphic novel, featuring personal commentary and artworks by celebrated historic and contemporary practitioners. Original book pages and studies, sketchbooks, and video interviews provide insights into an evolving and exciting art form. Artworks by Jessica Abel, Sue Coe, R. Crumb, Howard Cruse, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, Brian Fies, Gerhard, Milt Gross, Marc Hempel, Niko Henrichon, Mark Kalesniko, Peter Kuper, Harvey Kurtzman, Matt Madden, Frans Masereel, Frank Miller, Terry Moore, Dave Sim, Art Spiegelman, Lynd Ward, Lauren Weinstein, Mark Wheatley, Barron Storey and others will be on view."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heredity by Jenny Davidson

Yeah, well, it turns out that I read this at some point in the hazy past. Somewhere in the third chapter (7 pages in) I felt the little tug in my brain that means, “oh crap, I know what is going to happen. How exactly do we get there?”

Anyway, this is the story of Elizabeth Mann, a twenty-something gal with the usual death wish—she treats sex and drinking like an abusive spouse and doesn’t seem to want to change. The first paragraph of the book sets all this up:
“I hang up the phone one afternoon in early June and consider my options. I can kill myself. I can kill my father. Or I can simply disappear and move someplace nobody will even think of looking. If I flee the East Coast, I can by in Austin or Albuquerque in some low-profile line of work (bike messenger, grill cook, egg donor). Eggs could mean big money, but who would want them minus the Ivy League credentials?”

This line also mentions the other theme of the book- fertility. Elizabeth’s lover is a test-tube baby maker, so is her dad. While doing basic research for a guidebook on the UK (the escape she eventually chooses) she ends up in the Hunterian Museum and sees the skeleton of Jonathan Wild, the famous thief taker and criminal. She becomes enamored with him. This was an idea that I loved. I have had a few historical crushes myself and I think that they can inspire great creativity and new, exciting obsessions. In Heredity, her crush makes Elizabeth feel like making babies.

All in all, a great premise. The execution was marred by the occasionally terrible dialogue, especially when the not-very-likeable Elizabeth fights with her boyfriend and the jarring coincidences that spur the plot along, including an auction where a bawdy manuscript is won that just so happens to tie into the story. The bawdiness was kind of fun if you like your sex scenes 1700s-style.

The final plot twist that fails to be all that surprising and the overall feeling of the book was dashed off, weird since at the same time, a good amount of research obviously went into it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

10 things about food poisoning/stomach flu:

1) You will learn new and exciting things about your body’s capacity to store partially digested food.

2) You may see a half-finished New York Times Sunday crossword in the trashcan, that, as you vomit on it, magically yields new answers so much more easily than when you worked on it three weeks ago.

3) Everyone you tell about your predicament will tell you to stay hydrated and you will want to punch them in the face.

4) All the time off of work will be useless, you will barely be able to focus, much less finish that book.

5) You will cry at least once, possibly in the shower, while vomiting.

6) When questioned about your profanities, you may have to tell the person you have sex with, “I didn’t make it.”

7) In between eruptions, you will barely be able to move and your restless sleep will be plagued with nightmares.

8) The second day seems much better, but only until hunger sets in.

9) You will want to die, but, sadly, you won’t.

10) You will never see Thanksgiving leftovers the same way again.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

This is the last non-comics book I have finished since SPX. Since then I have been swimming in comics, Internet comics, podcasts and internet hoo ha. Friday night of SPX, ensconced in the guest room of Holy Prepuce!, I devoured The Driver’s Seat in about an hour.

I got this tiny New Directions edition of the 1970 novella at the Brooklyn Book Fest. It seemed to be an afterthought on a table of leftovers; no surprise, as I think this is an older printing of the book.

We are introduced to Lise, the main character, with this:
“‘And the material doesn’t stain,’ the salesgirl says.
‘Doesn’t stain?’
‘It’s the new fabric,” the salesgirl says. ‘Specially treated. Won’t mark. If you spill like a bit of ice cream or a drop of coffee, like, down the front of this dress it won’t hold the stain.’
The customer, a young woman, is suddenly tearing at the fastener at the neck, pulling at the zip of the dress. She is saying, ‘ Get this thing off me. Off me at once.’”

The young woman goes on the rest of her peculiar shopping trip, then to work, then on a holiday to Italy, acting very special the whole way. She meets another Brit, an old woman, on her journey and talks of meeting “the one,” a man who will fulfill her fantasies like no one else can. During the hunt, she says things like this:
“‘One should always be kind,’ Lise says, ‘in case it might be the last chance. One might be killed crossing the street, or even on the pavement, any time, you never know. So we should always be kind.’”

So true!

Oh, she’s a special gal. In fact, Lise was my least favorite thing about the story. She seemed floppy and bland, even at her most possessed. She only aroused curiosity with her strange, bitchy behavior and the fact that we know, in a certain way, how her story ends. Perhaps I just reacted poorly to her neuroticism. Even so, it was satisfying to know she gets her man in the end, restraints and all.

Italy stands out as its own character, which I quite enjoyed and the minor characters really delighted, including Lise’s seat partner on the airplane, a macrobiotic wannabe guru who spilled brown rice all over his attempts to get with Lise, which captures the late sixties perfectly. When it comes down to it though, Lise bugged me and it kept me from totally enjoying the book.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Supported and Well-read

A few days ago I decided to bike for the first time in too too long and go on a bra hunt. After a bit of disappointment I found one out of the many choices for smaller boobed gals and dropped a sack of plastic money. Feeling uplifted, I zipped my purchase into my sweatshirt, moved on to a fancy store across the street and then to Forbidden Planet. When I ignored Austin English’s sweet offer of help and picked my books I felt very much at peace. I was about to have nice Korean dinner, a bunch of new stuff to read and the company of my butt buddy. While whipping out my much abused credit card at the counter I realized my bra was gone. GONE! My face fell so far that I think I scared the guy bagging my stuff.

Retracing your steps on the streets of NYUork is a drag any day, but when you are braless and starving it is killer. A series of locked doors and weird looks later, I had retrieved my tissue paper wrapped parcel and settled in to read my comics. Happy endings are real!

Raisin Pie #4 by Rick Algerott and Ariel Bordeaux—Well kids, I already had this. Still, a nice refresher. Who burned down the library? WHO?

Living Statues by Emily Blair—Holy crap! This 2006 Xeric award winner is beautiful. The cover grabbed me. It portrays deep, self-defeating disappointment that solidified into a musty bitterness in the main character John. At the same time it captures the magic of Florence; if you can put aside the touristy bullshit and just enjoy the people and the history there are few places more seductive and John’s foil Mary follows that path. I really enjoyed the stuttering, doomed back-and-forth between John and Alice. Blair really captured the complexity of adults set adrift.

Stupid and Unkind: Complete Version by Robin Enrico— The heavy silkscreened cover is what drew me to this comic. Enrico’s little (but thick) book gives a picture into a world of college that I never experienced—dating, partying and talking obsessions. The dialogue is a little stiff at times, especially when the two leads are ruminating about their love lives but Enrico is at his best when he drops the words and shows the meaning of silences. My favorite panel is when the erstwhile male lead character is cruising for some booty and meets a drunky gal. The two start talking and there is a point where they might go off together to hit it or just pass like horny ships in the night. The pause is the turning point and it feels very real. Enrico is one to watch.

Boobage by Monica Gallagher— I heard about this comic from ISR #96. Gallagher spent some time with the hosts talking comics, boobs and superpowers. Boobage is a pretty little three-color mini that tackles the artist’s feelings about her small breasts. No surprise, her feelings are negative, which to someone with secret big boobs and a hard time finding shirts that look right is a big damn shame, and the stories she tells are not super-surprising (modeling, envy, dumb boyfriends). Even so, it is worth a read for the art.

Middle School by Monica Gallagher—I loved this. Gallagher really captures the giant UGH of middle school here. She manages to portray the way days stretch, relationships pitch and heave and boys seem interesting but somehow really far behind when you are 11 years old. She has a real grasp of the accessories of the day (schrunchies, caboodles, pegged jeans) but she doesn’t rely on the whole “remember MC Hammer?!?” thing to make you feel for the characters.

Sorry for the lack of links. Bad blogger! Bad!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

This week is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

I don't usually go in for Eat a Carrot month or whatever, but now is as good of a time as any to remind everyone that you are not invincible. Don't take it personally, it is just a fact. As awesome as I am, I wasn't able to deflect the pain and change inflicted upon me when my brother died, crushed under the weight of the car at whose wheel he fell asleep. I wasn't able to stop crying when I "needed" to, at work, during times that should have been romantic. Even with my shriveled black heart to protect me, I wasn't able to stop the implosion of my life at the reality of my brother's 19-year-old vulnerablility, his soft flesh and simply human bones. His ability to just vanish from my life.

So here's the deal:
I don't care if your fucking parents will kill you if you get home late, if your wife will be mad you missed the rodeo, if your cousin will smoke all the weed if you don't show up before Dancing with the Stars.


It doesn't get simpler than that.
A simple meme from Doppelganger:
Total number of books I own
Wow. I juast tried to think about his and my brain stopped. I'd say two hundred or so if you count the books I have stashed in my friend's attic (hi N!) and my parents' house. There will always be books to buy and books to get rid of. In fact I feel the need to do a purge soon.

Last book I read
Um, The Driver's Seat? That's what the sidebar says anyway. I have a draft of a review for that tasty novella bubbling on my desktop and I expect to have it for you in a few days.

Last book I bought
Do comics count? If so then it is a tie between The Fart Party anthology by Julia Wertz and French Milk by Lucy Knisley. I haven't been buying books recently because of the many unread ones I have and the all-of-a-sudden crushing amount of work-type reading I have had to do.

Five meaningful books
Meaningful in what way? geez, I am stumped. I guess I am going to go the way not blogged by The Big D in her list and do a list of books meaningful to me. So there, all you jaded something somethings!
1) Well, you know what this one is going to be. Come on, try a little harder... Alright, Neuromancer by William Gibson. It made me feel crazy, in a good way and kind of blew my thirteen year-old mind. The fashion, the cities, the decay, all of this has informed my taste in books, movies, clothes-- whatever. It also turned me onto SF, which before I read Neuromancer, I thought was for old fogies and creeps, which is not entirely untrue of course. SF is for everyone!
2) 100 Demons by Lynda Barry saved my life with humor, color and an example of why surviving can be worth it.
3)Scoop by Evelyn Waugh because it was sharp, British and eerily correct about the writing life. Also it reminds me of being 17 and going steady with my reading time. In fact, the guy I was going steady with was a big, big reader and turned me on to lots of books which was one of the few things to recommend him.
4) Who knew I loved the giant, sprawling novel of mult-generations? Without Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie I wouldn't have.
5)Stiff by Mary Roach. Guess what? I love science!

Of course there are many more meaningful books that I wasn't able to mention for fear of actually writing an interesting post.

Yes, I am down about my blog and my writing in general. Perhaps the winter, with its countless hours of stuffy indoor time will inspire me. It doesn't sound very likely does it?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Big D is really big now, because she is pregnant!

Pinky hates when the man messes with her future!

Bug girl explains the lazy flies of today!

Moonlight Ambulette has cured her reading woes!

And I still have no updates for you! But I did go through a pile of comics last night while huddled under a blanket, avoiding the DRAFT! in our apartment. Hide as stealthily as I might, the DRAFT! still finds me. I can't stop listening to Indie Spinner Rack either. So, basically, I am turning into a comics nerd of the burrowing variety.