Thursday, January 29, 2009

Surprisingly hot: Roxborough plumbers
Surprisingly cold: my parents' house


I didn't bring my camera to Philly, which is too bad for many reasons:
1) I can't show you the giant amaryllis that my dad grew from an old bulb.
2) I can't show you the hole in the yard.
3) And those comics I'm reviewing, can't get a pic for those either.

Truly, what is the point of being up before nine if you can't take advantage of the light? Besides basking in it, that is.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A fun con man story is sometimes all a gal needs. While this is not the most original of premises, the last third includes a believable elderly narrator and makes "Honest Man" by Naomi Kritzer worth listening to.


Inkstud Robin Mc Connell wants to know what you think about a "Women in Comics" month of podcasting. Drop him a comment.


Too bad this displaying requires freaking the bird out:
3 owls in one

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm just a snot machine...

It's back! The cold from christmas time has resurfaced!

So, I'm going to spend my day not-sickening my coworkers and trying to catch up on review writing.

If I put actual pictures of myself on here, the photo for today would be a bedraggled me, with greasy heavy metal hair, hidden in two inches of filled tissues, hunched over a computer.

Artistic renderings of the above image will not be ignored.


Speaking of ignoring, the contest deadline is only a few weeks away. Where are your creative tellings of reading goals for 2009? The rules are here.

The Goddess of War: Volume One by Lauren R. Weinstein

Poor, poor Goddess of War. The open battlefields of wars of yore call to her, but Valerie is stuck answering messages from lone bombers, her best friend Nebulon: Universe Eater is sick of her whining calls and her car won’t start. She is low down and sorry for herself in a way that only a discarded god can be. After getting drunk on virgin blood, Valerie realizes that all that she wants is to be back with “the Apache,” Cochise.

The bulk of this oversized volume is the story of Valerie and Cochise’s torrid love affair. What happens when a good man hooks up with a bad-girl goddess is perhaps what you’d expect, and the aftermath is terrible. Chapter One ends with a cliffhanger, but you get enough story to feel only anticipation for the next chapter.

I love that Valerie is, even with a bombshell body, the wretched gal in a dark corner of every woman’s heart. Even her massive power, she is still trying to get it right and going about that in a spectacularly ill-conceived way. No superheroes here, but even that aspect of the story doesn’t feel like a lame, indie skewering of the Superman ideal. Lauren Weinstein is too smart and too funny for that. (Come on guys, please stop doing those stories. They are really boring!)

The art is in her loose-lined style and black and white with an olive-y green. At first I wasn’t sure about this wild story being told with such a dull pallet, but in the end, it does a job, forcing the reader to imagine exactly what colors virgin-blood hallucination present. Weinstein breaks up the large pages with varied panel structure and makes the large format work for her.

Overall, Goddess of War is a swirling, grinding mess of awesome. Picturebox Inc. did a great job with the book and I look forward to seeing more of their books.
One reason living in Seattle would be fun:

Monday, January 19, 2009

A nice comic about writing letters, which in of itself is a letter.


I have a bunch of mail to send out this week. I'd like to take a post office day during which I could write letters, decorate packages and send them off, while somehow managing to avoid the actual post office.

I wrote two letters to friends last week. Since I speak to one of them semi-often, it is nice to sit down and focus on one topic for a letter. This time it was winter projects. The other I don't really communicate with except through letters and I had to let him know I'd be in his city in a month or so. I hope he writes back soon.


Here's to a full mailbox on Tuesday!

Friday, January 16, 2009


2009's first bookswap happened last night. The words are stuck together because it's not really a swap; the rules are that you dump your books on the floor when you roll in and paw through the pile as the night goes on. First come, my friends.

I ended up with Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell and cronopios and fama by Julio Cortazar, which will perhaps help me decide if I actually dig him beyond "A Letter to A Young Lady in Paris."

I burnt the chili a bit, but people ate it anyway. For dessert, SEC brought a delicious pie. Too bad it has sour cream in it, limiting me to one slice for fear of GI repercussions.

Along with chili topping, MM brought me a gift:

It is filled with great advice for the modern home haircutter, such as:
"With layers, the assumption that short hair has limited styling options is false."
"Children make wonderful models for the home haircutter."
"For the teen who wants a braided 'tail,' take a fine parting in the back an leave it much longer than you plan to cut the next parting." Then slap em!

Since I cut my and B's hair, I am hoping to furnish us both with the Children's Unisex cut ASAP. I think it will give us the confidence we need:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Important thing #1

A plane crashed in the Hudson river a few minutes ago, quite close to where I live. It looks like everyone has been rescued which is amazing and wonderful.

This sort of thing is why I never pass up an opportunity to tell those that are close to me how much I love them. You never know when something terrible might happen. That sounds oppressive, but I find it quite freeing because understanding that and being at peace with that means that I can never allow day-today bullshit to get in the way of the important things in my life. Important thing #1 is the people that I have chosen (and not. hi mom and dad!) to fill out my life.

So, my suggestion for inner peace? Write your aunty a letter telling her that you think of her every time you drink a margarita, send your best friend a xerox copy of a note you passed in middle school, thank your brother for being your brother next time you talk, even if you don't do that sort of thing usually.

Deep breaths, kids.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Berlin! Jason Lutes gives a great interview over at bookslut. This is the first interview I've ever read with him and he seems like a pleasant and thoughtful guy.

Get lost easily? If it is as bad as this, these scientists want to talk to you:
"Despite a normal cognitive development, this person has never been able to orient in her environment. From about the age of 6 years onwards she recalls panicking at the grocery store each time her mother disappeared from sight. Her sisters or parents accompanied her to school and she never left home by herself because she got lost each time she tried. As a teenager, she relied on friends to accompany her when she left her parents’ house. Neither she nor her parents know of similar navigational difficulties in their family members. She follows strict stereotyped directions to get to the office where she has worked for five years. She knows which bus to take downtown, recognizes a large distinctive square at which she must exit the bus, and then follows a straight route of about 30 meters to locate the tall building where her office is situated. She follows the same path in reverse fashion to get home, although sometimes she gets lost in her neighbourhood and needs to phone her father to ask him to come and get her."

YA author and science fiction scholar Justine Larbalestier will be answering questions about her writing process all of January! Leave your query here.

Aaaand, I'm finally not sick and in the thick of application time! It's tedious and nerve-wracking at once.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Though I am home sick again, I have writing I really, really should do. In order to do slam something out on ye olde keyboard, here is everyone's favorite, a meme:

You have to answer each question with one word, and one only.
1. Where is your cell phone? shrug
2. Where is your significant other? work
3. Your hair color? brown
4. Your mother? love
5. Your father? love
6. Your favorite thing? safe
7. Your dream last night? trains
8. Your dream/goal? happy
9. The room you’re in? one
10. Your hobby? sleeping
11. Your fear? sick
12. Where do you want to be in six years? love
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you’re not? bored
15. One of your wish list items? socks
16. Where you grew up? imagination
17. The last thing you did? coughed
18. What are you wearing? sweat
19. Your T.V.? annoying
20. Your pet? future
21. Your computer? germy
22. Your mood? tense
23. Missing someone? always
24. Your car? ha!
25. Something you’re not wearing? make up
26. Favorite store? book
27. Your Summer? short
28. Love someone? absolutely
29. Your favorite color? greens
30. When is the last time you laughed? toilet
31. Last time you cried? toilet

Well, I can't say that I am more inspired now. Boo.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

for your ears

I spent the day feeling bad, shitting something with the smell and consistency of bong water and having daymares about my brother in between.

The only upside to this was that I spent much of the day listening to podcasts. Here are a few that swept me away from this inexplicable sick day:

The Something-Dreaming Game by Elizabeth Bear from EscapePod
Elites by Kristine Kathryn Rusch from EscapePod
Little Girl Lost from The Horror!
Indie Spinner Rack #146
Sperm from RadioLab
No Pussyfooting from 11/17/08
Inkstuds with Robert Goodin

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I have a new mini-comics review over at inkstuds: badger. by Howard Hardiman

Monday, January 05, 2009

She said "Harder?" and I said "Yes."

Today I went to the post office to check my box. My local P.O. is jollier than most, even with perma-line and close proximity to Port Authority. All this is a good thing because upon returning home I realized that I will have to go back tomorrow.


So, I am feeling a bit better, snot-wise. The painful coughing episodes have dissolved into ticklely kaffs and the snot, well, it has lessened.

To celebrate this great biological achievement, and the turning of the year, I am announcing the first contest of 2009:

The task: tell me about your reading goals for 2009. tell me good!

The form: anything that can be blogged, like a short essay, a song, a comic, images, etc.

The transmittal: leave writing comments or email me. email me everything else.

The prize: a copy of one story issue #113 (Ben Greenman's letter writing story "Tremulant"), books of the exciting variety and other wonders from around tryharderland.

The deadline: February 5

Will it come in one of these boxes that are where open space should be? Maybe!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Famous Fathers and Other Stories by Pia Z. Ehrhardt

The first time, I read this collection in one feverish night and woke up in the morning with a sense of Ehrhardt’s writin' powers, but overwhelmed by the stories’ subject matter. The review for this book was originally going to be a single word: DIVORCE!

Luckily, in the snotty haze of the last week, through the mysterious loss of the novel I was in the middle of, I reread my reader’s copy of Famous Fathers and Other Stories. Wow. The second time around, each story flaunted its own merits; there is very little flab hanging off this small volume and the reread really underlined that. And, despite my first impression these stories, though they involve divorce, are really about women and their relationships, both familial and romantic. The best stories are the first and the last: “Running the Room” and “Driveway,” both meditations on marriage and mothers in love.

From “Running the Room:” “On the Causeway my mother fidgets in her seat. We’re in my Miata and her perfume is overpowering. The first semester she actually went to the classes with me, pre-Eddie, and driving across the lake the talk was all restaurant. She came up with the name Bijou and I like it, although I know a poodle with that name.”
The daughters in these stories watch their mothers for reflections of their own desires, for justification for the things about them that other people might find distasteful. This seemed very real to me, and yet like a really fresh point of view.

From “Driveway”:
“I don’t talk to my husband, Hugh, about Trista, because he’ll think something’s wrong with us. He’ll think I envy her freedom, that I could run off on him and Eric and leave them a note by the phone on the counter:I don’t want this. He’s already told me what she’s done is abandonment. He thinks there’s a thick black line between a woman who stays and a woman who leaves.”
The characters in Ehrhardt’s stories know of course that some days there is barely a whisper of gray separating the two and that truth is what drives the women and baffles the men in the stories. Yeah, the desire to be loved (lots) lurks in all the ladies in all the stories in this book, but Ehrhardt makes the reader .

One story that departs from the marriage and mothers (and the middle-aged woman viewpoint) is about daughters. The title story “Famous Fathers” is told in a passionate voice, that of a high school senior named Katie with severe Daddy issues. Despite her almost repulsive need to be loved by her small-time politician dad, there is something compelling about the character and how she places herself in her town and family’s hierarchy. Her younger sister who, in Katie’s mind, “tried to drown herself for [her] father’s attention,” has a popular blog that reinterprets the family’s every move, a neat move by Ehrhardt that reinforces the smallness of Katie’s world. I like the choice of a main character with such narrow desires, it made me consider how open one’s world is at 17.

Lastly, I want to mention the other character that appears in most of these stories—New Orleans. Or rather, I want to mention how it doesn’t really appear. The words are there, the places are mentioned, but nothing sticks out or seems special about it. I don’t know if it matters to the enjoyment of the stories, the way that the setting just sits there feels a bit weird post-Katrina.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Have a happy and (healthy) New Year.

Thanks to everyone for reading.

Guess who's back?
5 books you wish you'd never read?
Heartbreak. Never plain. Never simple.
My 2008 roundup will have to wait until I can take a full breath without some sort of surprising eruption. I will say that all in all, it was a great reading year.