Sunday, March 30, 2008

Talk of the Town

Or at least the Town Library: I'm part of a panel on the World of Tolkien at the Colonie Town Library. Here's the skinny:

6:30 PM: The World of Tolkien- A panel discussion on the works of Tolkien and the films made (and to be made) from them. There will be insight into the roots of Tolkien's mythology and the languages both real and imaginary associated with Tolkien and his works. We expect the audience will bring additional insights into the works of JRR Tolkien. The panel will consist of K. A. Laity, The College of Saint Rose; Kelly O'Connor-Salomon, Sage College; and jan howard finder, long-time fan.

We have since dragged Pam Clements of Siena College along for the ride. Jan put the panel together; I think it will be a lot of fun. A lot of you know I'm not that fond of Tolkien's fiction (he's a good scholar though), but I love the same texts that he drew inspiration from and can speak about the Old Norse, Old English and Finnish tales that inspired him. There are the films, too, so I suspect we'll have a lively discussion with a lot of audience input.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


What are YOU doing to support women artists now?

SF/PCA Recap Redux

Things appear out of order, as memory dictates. Let me backtrack to lunch with the Comics Area folks before I jump back to Saturday. The lunch is always equal parts fun and irritation, as all events involving large groups are. The Hatfields -- after many trials -- arrived in time for lunch, but ended up sat at the far end of a very long table, so we caught up later. We ate in the hotel which proved convenient if expensive. I got to argue about politics with Stanford, in between his showing off pictures of his little girl Kira and his little iPhone (Vivian, wish you were there!). We chatted with grad student Jacque Nodell, who was presenting on monsters in comics and was a delight to meet. We were surprised to find out in the course of conversation that she was the grand-daughter of Martin Nodell (co-creator of Green Lantern) and had just had dinner a few days before with pal Pete Coogan. What a small world comics are.

Saturday allowed some of us to sleep in -- I had to be up for the 7am Area Chair's meeting. At least they have a nice breakfast spread. I looted a couple of baked goods to take back to the slumbering pals. Gene was getting ready to head off to the Schulz museum with the Hatfields and José, while Wendy and I headed over to the Asian Art Museum. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! Every time I'm in San Francisco, it seems to be gorgeous. My roommate at USC always got irritated with me, swearing that it was always foggy and cold, but so far my luck has held.

The featured exhibition was "Drama and Desire: Japanese Paintings from the Floating World 1690-1850" which oozed languorous beauty. I felt relaxed seeing all these people indulging in various pleasurable pursuits across the four seasons on scrolls and screens. The Kabuki theatre always fascinates me and it was really cool to see ephemera like lanterns and posters for plays. So fragile! So fascinating -- I loved the courtesan in the spider web, all the actors in costumes. We also visited the Zhan Wang sculpture exhibit, which included a depiction of San Francisco constructed of steel rocks, silverware and stainless steel posts and pans. We had a delicious lunch in the museum cafe (mmm! Thai coconut milk soup), then wandered through the Indian exhibit on the third floor, making an offering to Ganesha at the entryway. We gazed in awe until we were seeing double, then took a leisurely walk back to the hotel.

We were sipping drinks at the rooftop bar when Gene returned from his trip (it was the first time I finally thought about earthquakes -- eek). After hearing his adventures, we made plans for dinner. Jill had recommended a sushi restaurant across town, but after the crazy busyness of the conference, we decided to find one we could walk to in order to enjoy the great weather (considering the snow this week, I'm glad we did). On the advice of the concierge, we settled on Sakana (the kanji above, originally meant a meal to go with alcohol, like tapas, but has come to be the pronunciation for the "fish" kanji as well). Delicious! and not as expensive as some of the other sushi restaurants we saw. There was an older Japanese couple next to us, who finally gave in to the curiosity to ask if we really did like Japanese food (you bet!) and complimented us on our chopstick use. Afterward, Wendy was in the mood to walk down to Chinatown, but I had to admit I was just too tired to do so. We went back to the room and chatted for a good while and watched movies.

Up early the next morning to head home by way of Chicago -- long day, another early morning and scrambling to catch up (still trying to catch up, sigh).

Friday, March 28, 2008

SF/PCA Recap

Yeah, yeah -- late again: story of my life. What do you expect? We left on a 6am flight. I've already mentioned the irritations of that first day of travel, so I'll leave it at that. My paper on Alan Moore, as I mentioned, went well. Now to decide whether to submit it for the Inge award (named after the wonderful Tom Inge who was there, yay). Two friends are judges this year, so I'm sure they'll bend over backward to be fair, which means they'll want to be sure not to show favoritism to friends. Wednesday night we had dinner near the hotel, so nothing exciting there, but we were so tired, we couldn't find it in ourselves to go find something.

Thursday we had the visit to the Cartoon Art Museum which had a couple of good exhibits in addition to its usual holdings, including one on Mary Blair and "Sex and Sensibility: Ten Women Examine the Lunacy of Modern Love." Thursday night, coincidentally, David Hajdu was speaking there, so Gene (who's reviewing the book) and Amy (who's cited in the book) went to go see him. They managed to restrain themselves to polite questions. We managed to catch the end of Wendy's paper, which was great, of course. Dinner: Vietnamese!

Friday was a long day, with panels all day. A quick lunch (Korean BBQ! yum) was curtailed (by me anyway) to return to the medieval film panel which was a terrific and lively panel with pals Connie and Laurel and a whole lot of discussion generated (we finally had to leave because the next panel came in). I ran off to the Korvac panel afterward -- a hoot for sure. Wendy was note perfect as the self-indulgent scholar who looks at the world with scorn. Amy made the fanboys wince when she pretended to have torn random pages from her husband's comics collection. Nicole mined the humorous potential of Powerpoint's juxtaposition of the unexpected. Bobby Kuechenmeister won the Korvie (which comes with the unenviable duty of carrying the award home in your luggage -- BTW, thanks for the plug, Bobby!). We economized on dinner by going to the gourmet market and got some fantastic food, saving to splurge on sushi Saturday.

We sold all the copies of Jane Quiet that we brought with us! Thanks, folks -- let us know what you think.

All right, gotta run -- pizza to be made. More later about our visit to the Asian Art Museum (source of the above image).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Still no Recap

No time yet for a trip recap -- maybe tonight. Our departmental symposium is today and despite the name, it will be a chance to hear students read their work, which is a good thing, although it's been a headache for the planning committee (well, the part of the committee that was available for planning). Somehow it will all work out, right?

I got my tickets for the swift visit to London and Oxford next month. Not much time to do a lot, but I can see the Brookses and maybe sneak a little time to wander around Oxford during the conference.

Apropos of nothing, I post the neato poster Gene found of a sanctioned Hello Kitty event. Looks like a lark, eh?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Time flies

I thought I'd have more time to catch up on things, but I'm still catching up. We're off to Robert's tonight for a belated celebration of the season (although I bet he won't have an egg this big). I did manage to frighten my department chair today. I went across the street to the main building of our department and found my key didn't work. In fact, it got stuck in the lock, so I was wiggling it back and forth, convinced I would have to call security, as I stood between the two sets of doors. I saw someone coming up the steps and opened the door to share my situation. However, she wasn't expecting anyone to be on campus today, let alone for the door to suddenly open right in front of her. Surprise! I don't think it counts as an actual heart attack...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Heading Home

..via O'Hare, where we have a layover of a couple of hours. Much to tell when we return!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Publication: Bell (now available!)

My very short play "Bell" is now up on line at Mused, the BellaOnline literary magazine. It's very short -- in fact, one might even call it a comedy sketch rather than a play, but I'm not particular what you call my writing as long as it gets published and in front of readers. Editor Jill Florio says,

In the interest of new beginnings, we also expanded our menu of Musings. Plays is the newest Department, accepting both theatrical debuts and brilliant screenplays. We kick off the Plays Department with the brilliant Bell, a whimsical exchange between a "Dictator on holiday" and a bemused passerby. It's a fun work. And we like fun here.

Kind words indeed. Check out the rest of the work in this issue, including Jill's gorgeous photo "Shades of Rock."

PCA continues at it usual breakneck pace. We had dinner out last night with Miss Wendy, Jill (Wendy's old room-mate), "GerManga" Paul and Laurel from Houston (I've run into a couple of other Houston folks here, too, which was great). There's a slight break now and then it's back to work. Panels have gone very well; with luck they will continue to do so. Miss Wendy needs the computer now, so away I go.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hello from SF

We're here with Miss Wendy, my paper has already been given and seemed to go okay (John Lent asked me to submit it to IJOCA). Gene's presenting tomorrow at 8 (when I am chairing a panel, sigh) and Miss Wendy is presenting this afternoon (when the planned trip to the Cartoon Art Museum takes place). Argh -- always too much going on at PCA.

We've run into lots of folks since the minute we walked into the hotel, which came a bit later than we thought it would because yesterday was all about the delays. What a line for security! We finally got through, thinking we were doing fine because our tickets said boarding was at 5.40 and it was only 5.41. So we were a bit surprised to hear the final boarding called. Good thing Albany's a small airport. Of course after that we had to sit on the plane waiting in line for take off, getting us to Dulles late, where we found our connecting flight to be in another terminal, so it was a rush getting there, but we did.

The flight had the usual assortment of the know-it-all who always talks in a loud voice so you can benefit from his opinions and the useless parent who yells continually at her kids ("this is the third time I'm telling you..." No, it's the fourth and the kid knows you're not really going to do anything but threaten him). Have to invest in those noise-canceling headphones.

Then it was onto BART and around the corner to our hotel -- ah, public transportation! We had a late supper with Miss Wendy and then collapsed in bed to start it all again today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Loose Ends

As usual, we're trying to tie up loose ends before jumping on a couple of planes to head to San Francisco and PCA. We're looking forward to seeing lots of friends and the city by the bay (and some of its great restaurants). Of course, there's the last minute issues of packing, cat care and figuring out just how late we can afford to sleep when we have a 6 am flight.

I realise that I never got a round to the recap of Saturday's various events. It was a busy but fun day. I got up early and headed out the to the Women's Studies Conference and Saint Rose which was terrific. Although I was down to two panelists, both had fascinating topics: one on Martha Rosler and the other on Chinese beauty pageants and cultural identity.

After that I headed over to Russell Sage College with the HVPN folks, where I taught a class on hand drumming. While I'm hardly Layne Redmond or Glen Velez (although I've been lucky enough to take a class with them), I did have a great time and seemed to generate a lot of enthusiasm for drumming. I miss my drumming group in Houston, Women with Cake!

We actually had a little bit of time before we headed off to the Pump Station to meet Crispinus and his long suffering uxor, Krista, who had just returned from a conference in San Diego. My my -- the Pump Station has tasty burgers and great beer. Better yet, we could walk over to Capital Rep where we were going to see The Taming of the Shrew. They had chosen to give a Dolce Vita vibe to the production, which was fun (it even included a scooter). It's a problematic play, but it's always fun to see some Shakespeare. We got home late and started to moan that for once we were going to be caught on the wrong side of a train (living a couple blocks from a crossing, it's amazing it doesn't happen more often). However, it was perhaps the shortest train on record and we were home in no time.

Ciao! More from SF!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Literature made Manifest

A man in Abergavenny gets literary (and all for a good cause):

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth 1804.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Somehow it will all work out, right? I'm trying to juggle too many things again, as I said I was not going to do anymore. Either I just have to accept that I try to do too much, or I need to change. I am trying to change. I have sworn before witnesses not to do the London trip next year. I'm learning to say "no" to more opportunities that might be nice, but aren't essential.

Only writing is essential -- and not every kind of writing.

In the mean time, I have a paper to finish, another to revise, papers to grade, two conferences tomorrow as well as dinner and theater with friends. At the first conference I'm only chairing a panel, but at the second I'm teaching a class on hand drumming basics. Monday is all day teaching and meetings. Tuesday is advisement day, so I'll be meeting with students all day (at least this time I remembered to schedule a lunch break). Wednesday morning we have a 6am flight to San Francisco for PCA.

After I give my paper Wednesday afternoon, I think I might have a few minutes to relax.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Publication: Fluorescence

I just got word that my short story "Fluorescence" will be appearing in the July issue of The Harrow. No, I didn't submit to them just because they have one of the most elegant looking logos for their site or because of the simple gracefulness of their design sensibilities -- but it helped.

The story started from wondering what would be the most unlikely place to find a lurking horror. I decided that the humming fluorescent lights of the average megaoffice building might be a challenging setting to try. Of course, a chance to slip in a gratuitous mention of McSorley's was just gravy. This story has been kicking around a while; there were a few swift rejects as well as a few editors who kept it for a while before ultimately rejecting it.

As Octavia Butler said, persist.

Random Meme

My blog is worth $6,774.48.
How much is your blog worth?

Tip o' the hat to Paul Di Filippo at the inferior 4.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another Plug!

Christopher over at What is Witchcraft?, a terrific blog on current as well as historical charges of witchcraft (like this one on a "demon headmaster"), has a nice post up on Jane Quiet with the cover. Thanks a bunch!

He also mentioned the big sale at Spilled Candy Books, publisher of my novel Pelzmantel, which is now going out of print. How does it work? It's all luck:

For $5.00 for shipping and handling expenses, you get a book from the local warehouse we're closing (explained below). Which book? That'll be a surprise.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Out of the Blue

Why do I wake up at four in the morning with barely remembered songs or those not heard in ages running through my head. You'd think I'd have something that I just watched on the brain, like this:

...but no (and not "Police and Thieves" either from the Xmas episode of Ideal).

Thanks, Mike!

Pal Mike Rhode (he of the cool museum where this picture was taken) has given a nice plug for Jane Quiet at his blog, ComicsDC. Thanks!

Check out Mike's blog for all things cartooning in the greater DC area. He's got everything there, including some great snaps of Adrian Tomine at his recent talk and signing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jane Quiet is here!

They're here, they're gorgeous! The Paypal link will be up shortly is up and the local comics shops will have them soon. Whoo hoo! Cheers to my co-creator -- Elena rocks!

UPDATE: Wow -- check out the amazing plaudits we've racked up. I am grateful to these generous folks! Big thanks go out to Donna Barr, Steve Bissette and the fabulous Phil Nutman.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Doctor will be In

Thanks to Crispinus, I just found out that Jonathan Miller is going to be at Skidmore next month. Whoo hoo! He's like a rock star of British comedy, theatre and performance. I remember being riveted to the tv every time he was on Dick Cavett back in the 70s and 80s. Of course, the fact that he was one of the stars of Beyond the Fringe has no effect on me whatsoever (gaah, goggle, drool!).

Maybe they'll get Alan Bennett next year (well, a gal can dream). Here's the schedule (the first event might not be open to the public, but I'll be in SF anyway):

Date: Thursday, March 20th
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight
Location: Emerson Auditorium, Palamountain Hall
Film Titles: (viewed in this order)
Jonathan Miller Interview w/ Dick Cavett on directing Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew); Jonathan Miller Interview w/ Charlie Rose on directing Shakespeare (King Lear); Jonathan Miller Lecture at Museum of Fine Art Boston (topic - Vision in Relationship to Art); and Jonathan Miller staring in the comedy Beyond the Fringe.

There are three public events scheduled during the Residency. Each is noted below.

Date: Thursday, April 3rd
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall
Event: Jonathan Miller Lecture - Laughing Matters: Humor & Comedy

Date: Monday, April 7th
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall
Event: Panel Discussion - Film & The Imagination

Date: Tuesday, April 8th
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Payne Room, Tang Museum
Event: A Conversation with Jonathan Miller

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Out of the Blue

Wow -- out of the blue, Elena got a terrific email from Donna Barr, creator of Desert Peach, Stinz and various other drawing and writing projects. We're not sure who sent her a copy of Jane Quiet, but we're really happy to have such nice compliments from an iconoclast like Barr. She suggests we make patches and t-shirts with Elena's kick-ass monster -- what a great idea!

UPDATE: Barr has given us a pull quote to use on the next issue -- Yay!

Our paper copies should be arriving this coming week. Elena will be getting copies to Diamond, but we can get them into local comics shops sooner, I hope. I'm going to add a Paypal link to the website, so people can buy copies directly until it comes out in Diamond. We're already working on the next issue (amongst our various other projects, of course).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Alex Cox Bonanza

In interviews for the new sequel to Repo Man which will come out in comics form, Cox mentions having almost all his screenplays on line, including the never-filmed Keith Moon story and his Doctor Strange film with Stan Lee. Lots of scripts contain bonus information, like the script for Straight to Hell (one of my all time favorite films, a reminder perhaps that "favorite" is a often bit different from "best"):

Dick Rude and I wrote this at the Kensington Hotel, Santa Monica, CA, in four days. It was based on a Spaghetti Western we both admired, DJANGO KILL (SE SEI VIVO, SPARA), directed by Giulio Questi in 1967. All the characters were written for specific actors or musicians; the film had no casting director.


66pp, followed by long letter from Joe Strummer (written on one continuous piece of paper), detailing his doubts about the film and his proposal for re-shooting and restructuring it; the lyrics for his song "Dogtown," penned by Joe, and six snapshots of the film's protagonists - Joe, Courtney, Jennifer, Elvis, Cait, Sara. Happy days!