Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Froggy Goodness!

Here on yon free Blogspot they don't allow image posting or hosting or possibly even boasting, but Madeleine Begun Kane (link at left bar and one day she and I will meet; sorry we couldn't hook up for the Al Franken thing last week, MadKane, but my husband was on his last deadline!) and Skippy (link also at left bar) have begun bantering about labels, which of course I love. I type labels, I've spent the last hour labelling outgoing envelopes, hey baby labels are me!! Anyway, as many folks know Skippy coined the term Blogtopia (although I still kinda lean towards Tom Tomorrow's "blogosphere" 'cause it sounds more gosh-wow space-agey and "topia" always seems more associated for me with depressing sf novels that become even more depressing Ridley Scottish movies, or with James Gurney, but I digress), and Mad took it the next step and thought progressive-minded bloggers may as well refer to ourselves as ProgBlogtopia. Then I suggested in response to Skippy that we all have a mascot, the ProgBlogFrog. Which Mad seems to like, thanks for the mention Mad! Anyway, I nominate either August Pollak or Ampersand (or both! links at left bar) to draw the ProgBlogFrog and post it on their sites, since Tom's on hiatus (link at left bar even so) and he has a penguin anyway. I'd also have suggested my husband, but he's not as progressive as me politically (although I dare say he's probably to the left of Tony Blair, being old Labour rather than New Labour) and besides he's doubtless "frogged out" after this. I also think the ProgBlogFrog would look great on the left side of StandDown! (link at =yes!= left bar) to balance nicely with the right side's "Don't Tread on Me" snake. It's perfect for the blog ecosystem, after all; while larger snakes eat frogs (and of course other snakes sometimes), larger frogs also eat snakes. Yum, reptilian feasts abound!

Yes, darn it, I'm being silly and proud of it. It's better than being angry. Silly takes creativity, anger's just draining. Unfortunately, that's my PMS Surprise Symptom this month. Just about every month it's something else, usually weird body aches in peculiar spots like the fourth toe or left kneecap, or acne in inconvenient places (like the subway, ba dum bump), and occasionally the hystereotypical stuff. This PMS it's been bad depression and anger. And as I get older and more curmudgeonly I find I have less patience for strangers who make me angry in person, and have found myself physically shoving them! Me, like a total pacifist! A couple months ago I shoved this weirdo who was harrassing Silver Age great Ramona Fradon as she and I walked to a Lulu group dinner, starting the downward spiral. Now, the odds of this in NYC are lesser than one might imagine, considering commuting routes and all, but both yesterday afternoon and this morning I've shoved into the same guy both times, a total nimrod who decided he was going to stand perfectly still on a stairwell during rush hour reading a newspaper. So I gave him a push both times - which started his feet moving again, like a weird little wind-up doll - and called him an idiot and didn't look back to see whether he was actually mouthing the words in the paper. Just my luck, he'll be friendly with someone who reads this blog and then I'm totally effed. But I don't care, because grrrr, I'm angry! I'm livid about stupid things like Al Roker blogging about deciding to go public about his gastric bypass surgery like it was a sudden decision based on him being tired of all the tabloid speculation, when it turns out he's had a camera crew around recording everything from the beginning so he could talk about it on Today and Dateline and presumably be compensated. I have nasty little paper cuts from this envelope stuffing so it really hurts when I slap my hands with, well, with my hands, to prevent myself from typing nasty posts on the Newsarama and Pulse message boards because grrrr, every news item on there is pissing me off, usually for no reason at all! I'm so bloody furious I can't stand myself! GRRRR, I says!! (Sympathetic e-mails to Robin are much appreciated.) So yeah, all in all it's probably better to be silly than angry. Test me out on Firesign chat tonight at 9 EST. Seriously, trust me, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Clear as Mud

My bullshit detector (BD) went off pretty early this morning, during the Today Show's interview with Steve Emerson regarding the latest supposed Osama bin Laden tape. The program, which is practically a paeon now to Richard Effin' Butler (Matt Lauer even invoked his name five minutes later), has earned more and more of my healthy skepticism as their drumbeats for war grow ever louder. And here were Emerson and Katie Couric talking about how bin Laden was threatening retaliation if we attack Iraq! Huh?, I said. Aren't Hussein and bin Laden like mortal enemies? So of course I had to do a Google search on Emerson's name instead of, you know, getting dressed for work or something. And as I suspected, the batteries in my BD still don't need changing! Here's what FAIR has on him. Yeah, I always go to FAIR first because they tend to document faux journalists and expose "experts" best. But this idiot goes back further than 9-11; back on 11/5/00, Doug Henwood wrote this about him. Basically, the guy's a virulent anti-Arab, and my memory was refreshed as to where I'd initially heard his name - he was the first one to point fingers at Arabs after the Oklahoma City bombing in '95. Oh, and for those of you wondering, like me, why the Official US Government Translation says the tape mentions "our sons in Iraq" (or "our children in Baghdad" according to this translation) if there's no love lost between bin Laden and Hussein, the speaker is probably referring to this. Anyway, what Robin found most telling about this interview was how many times Emerson said "obviously" and "clearly" - if it's all so clear and obvious, why does one need an analyst in the first place? So that set us off on a Wallace-Shawn-in-Princess-Bride riff - "So you see, I can clearly not choose the war in front of me!"

Monday, November 11, 2002

National Expo - Day Two

The National was much quieter yesterday than it was on Saturday, but still a mess of fun. I generally don't care for Mike Carbonaro's "church cons" due to the close quarters, but this annual Metro Pavilion one, thanks in large measure to the participation of Allan Rosenberg (who used to run those fine and much-missed conventions at Ramapo High School in Spring Valley, where I first met more Silver Age greats than I could possibly remember), was quite comfortable in that the artists and roped-off panel "room" were on a separate floor from the dealers and media stars and Playboy models, and there was plenty of aisle room for those wanting to bypass the long queues for such luminaries as Sal Buscema. Allan was nice enough to give Rob table space for both days, the first day near a giggly and somewhat hypoglycemic Rod Ramos and fellow Bronxite Alex Simmons (whose students came to visit!) and opposite Jamal Igle and Jan Duursema (both Rod and Jan did lovely sketches for my sketchbook) and the second day right by the entrance where Sergio Aragonés had been on Saturday, so we were in between the also-relocated Jamal and Scott Roberts, and opposite Ken & Mercy and the Lulu table. Leah Adezio, probably my closest female friend (and creator of Ari of Lemuria, which I co-write and letter but which is still so far the best comic never to have come out except for a 4-pager here), came into the city on Saturday for probably the last time before her imminent move to the wilds of PA, so it was neat having Monster Sushi with her that evening. I also got a terrific sketch from Dave Cockrum, about 5 years after his wife Paty had also done an amazing sketch in the same book. Billy Tucci stopped by to give me the URLs for the pictures of Deborah and William Alexander so I could edit them into yesterday's blog entry, and I had a lovely conversation with the distinguished Stan Goldberg, mostly about Barbara Slate. In addition to taking part in the "Art of 9-11" panel run by David Gabriel of the NYC Comic Book Museum (who took this neat picture of us and this one of Robin and the other panelists), Robin spoke with the son and ultra-adorable grandson of Joe Giella (who's now drawing Mary Worth), did a few sketches, and got lots of nice and well-deserved compliments on his work but no sales or definite job offers yet. So y'know, since Famous Pencillers like Billy read this blog, please check out Robin's inking portfolio and pass the word around. Baby needs a new pair of unagi! Okay, and to pay the rent, that'd be cool too.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

National Expo - Day One

Had a great time at the National today (Saturday), but I have to say my favorite moment happened in the ladies' room. Understand, until very, very recently there were no queues for the women's bathrooms at any given comic convention, even San Diego. That's how small the percentage of women at these events was. Well, today when Naomi Basner and I visited, we not only admired Jasi Lanier's way-cool platform shoes but Mercy Van Vlack and Deborah Tucci (wife of Billy and new mom of adorable William Alexander, whom she was cradling at the time) started talking about Mercy's lovely shirt, which she had designed in the style of Raoul De Keyser. It was surreal and amazing and wonderful listening to these erudite and fascinating women expound on Belgian art in a ladies' room at a comic con, and a great reminder of how far we've come in this business in just a few short years! Oh, and Christine Norrie won the Golden Panel Award for Breakout Artist of 2002; congrats, Christine! Day Two starts in about 10 hours, with two cool panel discussions in the afternoon sponsored by the New York City Comic Book Museum (which gave out the awards). At 1 PM Christine and Mercy's SO Ken Gale take part in a panel about "Comics in the Classroom," then at 3 PM Christine's husband, Andrew Lis, joins my husband what's-his-name and a few others to talk about "The Art of 9-11."

Saturday, November 09, 2002

WDC Notes

Off to the National Expo in a few minutes, but did a quick check of blogs and such before taking off to see what's up in the world of women and comics, since I'll be at the Friends of Lulu booth for awhile today. Some sad news first, as Mark Evanier's blog (see link at left bar) mentions today that writer Hilary Bader passed away last night after losing her battle with ovarian cancer. I never had the pleasure of meeting her but always enjoyed her comics writing. And Dirk Deppey's blog (see link at left bar) profiles Palestinian cartoonist Omayya Joha (whom I'll now be adding to my Women Doing Comics list, thanks Dirk!) as well as exerpting from the Pulse interview with Ramona Fradon. Dirk also has a brief calendar of comics events this weekend but I guess nobody told him about National. Me, I'm hoping August Pollak (see link at left bar) shows up, I really want to meet him! By the way, I keep a running tab on online articles about women doing comics in this thread on my Penciljack Forum, so if there's something I miss, please let me know and I'll publicize it. I continue to believe that visibility is the name of the game here; the more women doing comics are talked about, the fewer people will say "I didn't know women did comics!" And yes, there are still a lot of folks out there who have that reaction.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Sheep in Wolves' Clothing

I can't say it better than August Pollak (link at left bar), whose two blog entries today cover pretty much everything I've been thinking about last night's election. Which basically boils down to, the Repubs didn't win as much as the Dems lost, and the outcome might have been very different had they stopped trying to out-Repub the Repubs, y'know? If people have a "choice" between a real Repub and a Dem moving the bar rightward to the territory Repubs have already staked out (and most people do believe that's their only choice, our one-party-masquerading-as-two is pretty entrenched in the American public's hivemind), they're going to go with the real thing every time, duh. I can only hope to live so long to see an actual opposition party again in this country.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Personal Appearance Alert

Yeah, like I'm famous or something. Blogs are the ultimate fulfillment of Andy Warhol's prophecy in microcosm, aren't they? (Hang on, did I use that word right? "I do not think it means what you think it means." Heh, yeah, we watched The Princess Bride again last night.) At least until the next big-small thing. In any case, this coming weekend Robin and I will be attending the National Comic Book, Art, Toy and Sci-Fi Expo in the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street. The website has the hours and other info. I'm slated to work the Friends of Lulu-NY booth from 12-2 PM on Saturday and 2-3 PM on Sunday, whilst Robin will be on the NYC Comic Book Museum's panel on "The Art of 9-11" at 3 PM on Sunday, in addition to hanging with the NYCCBM crowd the evening before at the first annual "Golden Panel Awards." Come on out and say hi, Robin colored my hair and everything! Sarah Dyer, who unlike me actually does interesting things besides her journal (see link at left), is also scheduled to be at this convention. And Alan Davis fans can get an extra treat, as Robin will have copies of finished pages with him from the two jobs he's just inked over Alan. Maybe we'll all hit Monster Sushi afterwards...
Standing Up For Standing Down

Thanks to Max Sawicky (MaxSpeak link at left bar) for adding me to the left-hand-side list of the new NoWar blog called Stand Down (link also at left bar). And just in time for election day! As soon as I read through the 3-page participation instructions (would I kid you? I'm near petrified now :) ) I'll probably go back over all my anti-stupid-Iraq-war-plans posts and put the links up there. Especially this one, 'cause like, duuuuude!

A bit of sad news: one of my favorite over-actors, Jonathan Harris, has passed away (see Mark Evanier's blog, link at left bar). Does that fulfill the Law of Threes re: celebrity deaths? (By the way, I highly recommend a Google search on "celebrity deaths threes," this is apparently a very well-travelled belief and it yields some fascinating results, but so far I haven't been able to find an origin for the superstition.)
Voting for Bonfires

In remembrance of Guy Fawkes Day, this site for Robin so he doesn't get too homesick. We can't burn "Guys" in our part of the Bronx today, lest someone think we're supporting Guy Velella effigies.

I'll probably vote Green today for statewide stuff - at least they have a female candidate for Lt. Governor, and I've actually heard of the gubernatorial candidate and like his positions. Given the way my head is spinning between the stepped-up propaganda PSAs of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America versus both the NY City Council and Tom "I'm a CEO running for governor using my own corporation's money rather than a politician using other corporations' money, but let's pretend I'm free of corporate influence and only wish to serve the public!" Golisano coming out in favor of reforming the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, I was considering voting for the Marijuana Reform Party, but their website doesn't even profile their candidates. Not that it necessarily needs to, gubernatorial candidate Tom Leighton is the party's chairman and (apparently) founder, and he's been running for different offices since '97. Besides, it's not like any of these reformers deal with the real issues, like how in the world middle-aged women looking to relieve their PMS symptoms can actually procure the stuff when their only contact with the usual stoner crowd is via the Internet.

Meanwhile, this article from AlterNet notes pretty much the same thing I did here about unopposed candidates. The last line reads, "The voters of Iraq only had one candidate on the ballot because they live in a dictatorship. So what's our excuse?" Something to think about when elections not only fail to excite the voters but don't even inspire potential candidates.

Lastly, I hope everyone who gets Comedy Central is gearing up for Jon Stewart's live "Indecision 2002" coverage on tonight's Daily Show as much as we are. If you haven't seen their very funny spot-on parody of the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon shorts entitled "The Daily Show Rocks" talking about these midterm elections, you can grab it from their website while supplies, I suppose, last.

Friday, November 01, 2002

“So That’s Where He Got the Crown of Thorns!”

Now that Hallowe’en is past (and sadly, not a single trick-or-treater came to our door, another reason to step up our search for a house in a nice normal suburban neighborhood) and the leaves around us are finally turning and falling, I’m slipping once again into seasonal nostalgia mode. When I was a kid, we didn’t do Christmas of course, but even then it was becoming a de facto secular holiday thanks in large part to special holiday programming on TV. In those days before VCRs and the Cartoon Network you pretty much had to wait all year to see this kind of cool stuff, and it was even more interesting to me because it celebrated the most important day in a culture that was both alien to me and right next door.

[I could probably write at least one essay on growing up Jewish in a pretty fundamentally Catholic neighborhood, and maybe I will someday, but I’ll just digress into one anecdote. When the movie 1776 premiered at Radio City Music Hall, I was in 9th grade in an all-girl religious high school, and we went to see it as a class trip. But we weren’t allowed take our seats before the movie started because – as astute readers may have already guessed – the preceding stage show featured a Nativity scene. Naturally, this made us all the more curious, as we took turns pressing our noses to the small windows in the theatre doors and being shooed away by the rabbis who God forbid couldn’t be bothered to explain that there were other religions in the world. But then, I was the smart kid who was put in the dumb class because her parents weren’t Orthodox and her best friend was a shiksa, who eventually escaped to a secular high school despite everyone telling me I’d never last, I’d be back, and one rabbi even making a nasty response to my rote answer of a rote essay question that I recall read something like “How do we encourage our children to partake in Jewish culture?” Right next to the part of my response where I wrote “build more schools” he’d written in angry red pen, “AND MAKE SURE STUDENTS GO TO THEM, RIGHT MISS WECHSLER?” It was the first time I ever confronted a teacher over a major philosophical difference, and it felt great because I knew I was right and he was totally out of line sticking his little sarky opinion into his grading; it also sealed my decision to leave both the school and the organized religion and never look back. And aside from the occasional Yom Kippur fast or other personal cultural marker, I never have. Oh dear, that’s two anecdotes, isn’t it?]

My first viewing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – and this had to be ’64 or so when it was initially broadcast, sponsored by the Norelco company which featured Santa (and at least a couple elves, the hefty one and the one with the glasses as I recall, although nobody else on a brief web search seems to share that memory) sledding down snow-covered hills on their razors – is not only fondly remembered to this day (yes, a sob still occasionally escapes at hearing “There’s Always Tomorrow” and “Island of Misfit Toys”) but opened my eyes a bit to, erm, as it says on their website, “the enchanted world” of Rankin/Bass. What’s always fascinated me most this world is the writer of apparently most of it, Romeo Muller.

Fool that I am, I’ve always considered myths and folktales to be basically immutable things. Certainly, plot points and themes undergo variations and metamorphoses as they’re handed down through the generations and are translated and reinterpreted, but that’s to be expected, it’s in the nature of storytelling. However, modern media being such a cannibalistic beast, well, I don’t have to tell you about all the discussion that ensues on websites and message boards every time Disney “updates” a “timeless fairy tale.” Many folks go with the flow, others consider the studio’s inevitable softening to be close to blasphemy. For whatever reason, Disney never really bothered me in this respect but Rankin/Bass did. I think it’s partly because a number of their TV specials contradict each other, and kids naturally expect every story that has the “house look” of a particular company will take place in the same world and therefore have the same internal rules. But it’s also because of the smarmy, condescending way in which R/B specials twisted and presented the “facts.” The best example of this involved the conceit that made me grit my teeth, the old story-within-a-story device, where the storyteller (I think he may have been an “Animagic” version of Fred Astaire, voiced by him, as happened with a few of the other R/B specials, most notably the Easter ones) takes turns spinning the myth and fielding comments from the treacly kids surrounding him, who nod their heads at his gospel and make matter-of-fact remarks like “So that’s why he comes down the chimneys!” and “So that’s why he gives out toys!” One of my favorite jokes goes, if R/B ever tackled the life story of Jesus (they did the Nativity with Nestor the Christmas Donkey, I kid you not), doubtless there would be kids gathered ‘round an Animagical Fred pronouncing revelations like “So that’s where He got the Crown of Thorns!”

Yeah, I got issues with R/B. As I recall (and bear in mind, I don’t have any of these specials on tape any more, my ex-husband inherited them along with all the various versions of A Christmas Carol that we’d taped so I’m working from a somewhat faulty memory) the Santa in The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (based on the Baum book) and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and Year Without A Santa Claus and even Rudolph had the same look but wildly divergent origin stories. I felt somehow cheated that Rankin/Bass couldn’t keep their stories straight with pretty much the same writing team for everything – and that, moreover, their version (whichever they chose at the moment) of holiday stories was the one that came to be remembered as The Real Version, supplanting all other myths that had been handed down through the generations.

And yet, it’s a love/hate kinda deal, part of me still can’t get enough of the stop-motion and the silly songs and the guest voices by celebs (for whom R/B created look-alikes) long before it was in vogue to do it for The Simpsons or South Park and even the asinine sequels. Rankin/Bass specials are as fondly remembered from my childhood as are the shows of Sid & Marty Krofft (hey, I first learned about Cockney rhyming slang from watching The Bugaloos!) and hand-clapping games. So I expect when Rudolph comes around again this year I’ll be right there again, missing the Norelco Santa and rooting for Clarice. Because, you know, there’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true; tomorrow is not far away…
Falling Boulders

In his journal entry today, Neil Gaiman (link at left bar) mentions, "Some months ago I sat and signed a lot of letters from the CBLDF to various people, mostly people in comics, asking for help -- donations of money or time or artwork. The first person to respond suggested we auction off the panties of hot female cartoonists."

Now I admit, when I read this sentence the first thing I thought of was the very funny story that Colleen Doran related at her "Women and Comics" discussion about washing her delicates with a purple shirt by mistake prior to a trip to Puerto Rico, and finding said undies mysteriously vanished from her luggage upon return, because we all found it amusing. But it's one thing to relate a wacky personal anecdote, and a far different thing to submit a leering and immature fundraising suggestion to a board member of an organization already dogged by occasional accusations of sexism (i.e., that an overwhelming majority of their court cases seem to involve the rights of creators and publishers and retailers to make and sell materials that some perceive as pornographic and/or degrading to women) - moreover, a board member who obviously doesn't share this fellow "professional's" sense of "humor," as Neil has always shown the highest respect to his many female friends and fans, and is one of the few Lifetime Members of Friends of Lulu.

You know, I have a whole thread in my Forum on the Penciljack message boards dedicated to coverage of female writers and artists in the online comics media. I maintain two, soon to be three, lists of the women involved in doing comics on FoL's website. I consider myself a first-hand witness to the wonderful strides women are making in a heretofore heavily-male-dominated industry. But when I read stuff like this it feels like Sisyphus almost getting to the top of that mountain, only to have the boulder come crashing down again. This prevalent attitude among creators who really ought to know better is why the industry still needs advocacy organizations like FoL, every bit as much as the prevalent attitude among non-comics cognoscenti that "all comics are just for kids and should never deal with adult themes" is why organizations like the CBLDF are so vital.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Pointing out the Pachys

I believe I've identified one of my elephants (see previous entry). It's not a smoking gun so much as a jumping one. I have an annoying tendency (one among many, collect the set!) to speak too soon. Together with a leaning towards verbosity, it can be a lethal combination. For instance, it's stood me in no good stead at work, which I've made far more uncomfortable for myself this week than I've needed to. It's less unforgivable in the rest of my life, and certainly in this blog, as it transforms what would ordinarily be damage control into another chance to plug something. Therefore, I hereby blogroll Dirk Deppey and direct folks to Journalista's coverage of Marvel Comics this fine morning.

Today's elephant in someone else's living room is the media's shock, do you hear me shock, that the memorial service for the unabashedly liberal politician Senator Paul Wellstone turned =gasp= political! Oh my, whatever are we to do when people with partisan beliefs act all - partisan! (That's one of my Words of the Day after hearing it analyzed on last night's West Wing, a show I've just started watching but which has hooked me immediately because, darn it, it's way smarter than me and I like that sometimes. That kind of intelligence is not, by the way, to be confused with the intelligence displayed by the title character in another fine show, John Doe, which as my husband astutely pointed out is more the TV equivalent of a Google search.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Elephants, Yeah!

[Edited to update the header to something more appropriate and give Joel Veitch another plug - and Robin loves his Viking Kittens mugs! Have you seen where they've gone all Northern England scruffy now? Although to be fair the Kittens have stayed true to their punk roots. Wonder when Joel's bringing out Café Press Chicken mugs...]

One of my favorite current expressions, thanks to Tom Tomorrow (link at left bar), is "the elephant in the living room." You know, something that's real obvious to some observers but which never seems to be talked about by any of the players involved. Any media analyst worth her salt knows one needs to pay attention not only to how something is reported but to what's not being said as well. One recent example is the sad news about a couple in Queens who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. This morning the local NBC station had a report on things one can do to prevent CO poisoning, but nowhere did it mention what I always learned as a kid, about not operating unvented fuel-burning appliances in any room with closed doors or windows or where people are sleeping. Even the Consumer Product Safety Commission has it almost last on their list, after talking about getting a CO detector and using equipment properly. Maybe I see that particular elephant because I can't conceive of people not ventilating their homes by opening windows regularly, even in cold months. Although I do keep passing those open windows...

Another possible pachyderm goes by the name of either Harjit or Harjeet or even Harjee Singh - sources seem to disagree on the spelling of his first name (even by the same paper in different articles). He's this fellow from Bellingham, WA who apparently met accused sniper John Muhammed at a local YMCA , told the FBI that "Muhammed had talked about wanting to get a silencer for his rifle and use it to kill police officers" and was said to have provided additional information later on, but this article mentions that his story kept changing, which of course he denies. His most famous quote, which I caught a video of him saying, was "From the language they were using, it was clear they were anti-American." As far as I can tell, he's the only acquaintance to even say anything of this nature, which doubtless has provided fuel for anyone desperately hoping to manufacture a sniper-Al Qaeda connection. But Singh didn't elaborate on Muhammed's supposed anti-Americanism, at least not on camera. So I wonder what we aren't being told about the cred of this person who hung out at Muhammed's Y.

I like what I've seen so far of Dirk Deppey's new blog, and recommend it as indispensible reading particularly for people curious about internationally-based comic book creators and cartoonists (and he's already mentioned at least one female cartoonist I'd never heard of whose name will now go on my WDC list, and sweetie that he is he's even blogrolled me), but the pachy in his particular parlor, at least so far, seems to be mainstream, corporate-owned American comic books. Obviously none of us is obligated to blog about anything that doesn't hold our interest, but the publication hosting Dirk's blog, The Comics Journal, has also tended to ignore the output at Marvel and DC, and that bugs me personally not only because that's (with any luck) half my household income but because a lot of my friends are involved in making those comics, just like a lot of my friends are involved in making small press and alternative comics, and I find them all wonderfully creative. I happen to like good comics from all ends of the spectrum, and think that to talk about comics without covering what most people in our culture think of as comics perpetuates an implied "us versus them" viewpoint, and is counterproductive to a storytelling form and an industry that's become so marginalized in our culture to begin with.

So what I can't quite figure out yet is, where are the elephants in my living room?

Monday, October 28, 2002

Whistling Down the WAV

This year Robin and I have decided to treat ourselves for our 4 December anniversary, and will be going to see the Broadway musical Dance of the Vampires, primarily because Jim Steinman wrote the music and lyrics for all the songs. (And of course when one says "wrote" in the case of Steinman one inevitably means "auto-cannibalized," so at least I'll be able to hum along to all the tunes even if the lyrics have been slightly altered.) Peter and Kath David have already seen it in previews, so if you want an early review you can check out Peter's impressions. In any case, Rob's been on his latest Steinman kick for at least the last couple of weeks, it's terrific music to listen to if you're drawing (or writing or reviewing) comics, and I'm almost but not quite getting to the point where I'm Steinman'ed out. I mean, you can't get too Steinman'ed out when his website has all these wacky, grainy video clips, particularly "Love And Death And An American Guitar" which still cracks me up every time I hear it. So Robin's been duping and listening to CDs of Steinman-written stuff, including the songs from "Whistle Down The Wind," and amid the Boy George and Tom Jones numbers it occurred to me that, as nice as Donny Osmond's rendition of "When Children Rule The World" is (oh, hush and get over it, he's got a great theatrical singing voice), my favorite is still the Japanese version performed at the Nagano Olympics. So Robin did a quick web search for a WAV file of the song in its entirety, and came up with only two snippets, one 35 seconds long and the other 58 seconds, both kinda crappy sound. Anyone out there have this song as a WAV or mp3? I'd be much obliged, thanks!

Friday, October 25, 2002

And now Richard Harris has passed away as well. Oh dear.
Just found out from MadKane's site (link at left) that Sen. Paul Wellstone has been killed in a plane crash. I'm still reeling from the shock. For as long as I'd heard of him I'd always thought he was one of the goodguys, even though I wished his office would stop writing to me for money so often. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.
Of Little Chromium Switches

I've mentioned before about the incredibly cool people I've been blessed to know throughout my time involved in various fandoms. (Well, at least they're cool to me. But most of my friends are cool to me. Aren't yours?) Among the most amazing have been the "4 or 5 crazy guys" (their term, long story) in The Firesign Theatre. I suppose I can't really say that much more about Phil Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman and Phil Proctor than I said in 10+ years of publishing, under my not-so-secret former name, their fan newsletter Four-Alarm FIRESIGNal (link may not work, perhaps it's been "hacx0red"), but I wanted to make special mention of them here again because last night I checked out, as I try to every Thursday night at 9 PM Eastern time, the Firesign Theatre Chat and lo and behold both David and Phil A were there, which was very neat indeed. It's been awhile since I've been in direct contact with either gentleman, but they greeted me warmly like an old friend and that felt really ooky and special and I promised them that whenever they actually start contributing regularly to the Fireblog I'd blogroll it, as well as Phil Austin's own blog, but both ventures are fairly new and they're so busy with things like their show on XM radio - which may or may not be doing well, depending on which reports you believe, but then Firesign has always been a bit daring and experimental in choosing new formats (remember the CD+G format? yep, Firesign had the first CD+G disc published in the US) - and Weirdly Cool and just, you know, their lives that it shouldn't be surprising if blogging is way down on their list of Things To Do. Nonetheless, David promised some old unpublished George Tirebiter stuff if he can work out the tech aspects of posting to the collective blog. So we can all look forward to looking backward again, or something like that. Forward Into the Past! Wait a minute, didn't they say that on the other side of the record? They'd better check...

Well, someone's gotten to Blogger. I can't view my website from my editing page any more. I click "view web page" and it comes up with "http://www.blogger.com/hacx0redbyme". This wacky spelling of words like "hacx0red" (which I presume is a "kewl" variation of "hacked") is yet another symptom of what I talked about here, and of course it drives me nuts because it reminds me again of how "old and busted" I am. In any case, I hope the "hacx0r" sets things right but I'm not holding my breath because if he (these things are rarely the province of "she"s) gave a hoot about people's minor inconvenience (which in my case just means opening up a new browser window, lazy cow that I am) I suppose he wouldn't have "hacx0red" in the first place, and it does no good to remind him that Blogger isn't nearly as inconvenienced by this as are its users (who would probably applaud his ingenuity in other circumstances were it put to actual productive use).

Thursday, October 24, 2002

It's Just Play Money

Courtesy of a thread on Comicon, this link to Forbes' "Fictional Fifteen," their determination of the 15 richest fictional characters. The accompanying slide show's a hoot! Presumably this doesn't include EverQuest characters. (Yes, yes, link courtesy of Fark as well.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Too Much Fantasy

I'm like a gushy little fangirl all over again, Neil Gaiman actually posted and answered my response to his blog entry from earlier today in his latest missive (link at left bar). He didn't mention me by name, which of course has me pouty and utterly unable to prove it was me who wrote him, much less that I've actually corresponded with and spoken to him on a few occasions, but he's Big Ol' Famous Neil now (albeit still Incredibly Nice Neil) and I'm just a gushy little fangirl, so let it lie. In any case, he recommends I (and others) read Diana Wynne Jones' Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which either makes fun of or embraces fantasy clichés, I'm not sure which now but I'll have to put it on my to-read list because Neil Said So and whither he goeth, y'know. But before that, it occurs to me I need to catch up majorly on my fantasy reading. I'm reading through this thread on the Pulse message board and wonderful storytellers like Charles Vess and Colleen Doran and Carla Speed McNeill and Bob Morales are listing and discussing their favorite fantasy novels and it occurs to me that I haven't read or even heard of most of them. I stopped buying fantasy paperbacks when I started buying comics, I think, so I missed out on a lot of stuff after the mid-80s. But someone in the thread assures me I also missed out on a lot of stuff before that; a lot of the books they're discussing are apparently classics and I had no idea. I'm sort of depressed and elated at the same time. What I want to do is print out this thread and find a really good library near wherever Robin and I move, and just start going through the recommendations one by one. It's hopelessly daunting, but I love a challenge. Meanwhile Robin's sending me off to work daily with novels from his collection; I'm currently working my way through David Eddings' first 5-book series. Which, apparently, is filled with the fantasy clichés mentioned in Diana Wynne Jones' book. Which, um, I'll get to sooner or later. Did I mention I'm down to just one box of so-far-unread comics?
Another Compadre

Tom Tomorrow's blog, link at left bar, led me to August Pollak's blog, link now at left bar as well because wow, I really like this guy. He's erudite and fun to read and makes good common sense and is a fellow NY-er and appears to like and focus on a lot of the same things I do (today's entry, for instance, featured a link to a FAIR roundup of all that UN inspectors "they left, no they were kicked out, okay we lied they left but we're still not admitting they were spying" stuff the major media has been promulgating, which readers of this blog know has been one of my little side projects ever since my first post about Richard Butler giving me the skeevie-jeebies). His lettering on his cartoons could use a bit of work, but I hand-letter crappy too (which is why I prefer to letter using Freehand and one of Robin's home-made Fontographer fonts) and the 'toons themselves are worth reading and I think this guy can only get better as he goes along. I even like the look of his blog, except he doesn't have any sidebars or links (other than the ones which appear in his entries), which bums me out (good grief I'm old, I'm sure nobody even uses "bums me out" any more) because I'd love to see who's on his daily must-read list! My own must-read list is, alas, unavailable to me except in my template page, because I can't get to my own blog site at the moment. Guess Blogspot must be overloaded what with Garry Trudeau focusing on Our Wacky Blogosphere this week. Although my husband reports 'net stuff seems sluggish all over...

Monday, October 21, 2002

It's All So Eeeevil...

Proof that Elayne Riggs is evil. Keep refreshing the page for a new mathematical proof. Got the link from Fark, of course.
Moore Moore Moore, How Do You Like It?

Dueling reviews time! Haven't seen Bowling for Columbine yet, probably just as well since according to Michael Moore's e-mail dispatches it's gosh-darn hard to get into the theaters, at least it was on opening weekend. But here's Michelle Chihara's review from AlterNet, and (courtesy of a link from Franklin Harris) here's Brian Doherty's review from Reason Online. Like I said, I'm on MM's mailing list so I'm inclined to like the guy, but my husband listened to me read the missive about how he needed everyone to come see his movie opening weekend because "If it does poorly, I will have a difficult time finding the funding for the movie I want to make next" and said something like, "Hey, wait a second, if the guy's on the NY Times best-seller list 31 weeks running, and the book's in its 32nd printing, can't he afford to fund it himself?" So y'know, since I tend not to be a cinemaphile any more anyway, I'm probably going to wait for the DVD.
Viva Las Evanier!

Mark Evanier (see link at left bar) has just added a weblog links page to his site, and I'm on it! Thanks, Mark! Yikes, though, "perceptive critic of the comic book scene"... maybe I should write more about comic books in this weblog. :) But it's so hard to concentrate on that when you have Tim Russert explaining to Katie Couric that the reason we're not preparing to inva-- erm, pre-emptively attack North Korea the way we are with Iraq is because, um well basically, North Korea can actually fight back, and Katie not following up with the obvious "well, if Iraq couldn't fight back why are we bothering, doesn't that give credence to critics who claim they aren't a threat?" (kudos to Franklin Harris for mentioning that in his blog)... Anyway, Mark's own "News From Me" blog section is always fascinating, he seems to know (and actually think) more about showbiz behind-the-scenes stuff than anyone else of my acquaintance, and his musings today about "the real Bob Crane" are worth the price of admission alone (do click the PayPal button if you like his stuff). Because his interests are so wide-ranging, I find his site constantly entertaining and enlightening, and am hard pressed to think of such varied subjects as Laugh-In, cartoons, California politics and even Las Vegas without Mark coming to mind. (Although come on, Mark, I don't know anyone who'd assume having a computer w/ Internet capability in a hotel room meant the access was free, not when most telephone usage costs a buck a call!) And he makes everyone around him feel special, even when he doesn't link to their blogs, because let's face it, if you know Mark you've just reduced your Degrees of Separation to most famous people by about two or three.
It was only a matter of time before Doonesbury discovered blogs. Robin's comment, of course, was "I found it interesting he was using an I-Mac." :)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Sherman's March

Thanks to Bill Sherman (link newly added at left) for his nice e-mail and this contribution in response to my Friday ramblings about "us vs. them" politics. Anyone who quotes Phil Ochs in his entry header gets an automatic smile from me every time.