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February 26, 2007

Type IS everywhere!

Our homework assignment for this week's letterpress class was to look around at different kinds of type. Because, you see, type really is everywhere. So, I brought my camera along and took some photos while I was out with the dog.

This is from the scoreboard of the practice field at WC - notice Iggy sprinting to get in the picture at the lower right hand corner. There's nothing she likes more than being the star. Too little, too late, sucka.

The practice fields are right next to the cemetery. What better place to look at type than on gravestones? They're all about type, really. The interesting thing that I discovered was that the old tombstones had all the fun - interesting fonts, italics, decorative angels, heraldry and scrolls (though, I did see one modern one with a preening little kitten carved on it). In the twenties, sans serifs seemed to be all the rage, carved in as well as bowled out, but things got serious in the 30s and from then on it was strictly your standard serifs, without much imagination. Very serious stuff. I guess we're talking about death and all, so maybe fun fonts are sort of out of the question.

I'm going to get CURLZ on my gravestone, just to piss everyone off (especially the stonecarver).

These markers weren't for people but for the different sections of the cemetery. I'm not really sure what the designations necessarily mean (it doesn't seem alphabetical, anyway) but I liked how they were so different but nestled right up next to each other. Likely from different eras, but why?

And this is just a sign we saw in New York, right after complaining loudly about how ineffective horns are at convincing traffic to move forward. We're not horn-blowers, really. We're sit-and-cursers. It's much more satisfying, with like results.

Posted by ribbu at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)

February 17, 2007

Type is All Around

Well, I guess I haven't said it here, but it's been said here instead: Matthew and I have signed up for a letterpress workshop at W.C. I'm very excited about all the big mechanical equipment we will be using - things that whump and thunk in a way that my computer never will (I suppose that's actually a blessing)... as our teacher Michael says, it's a working museum. Most places, you wouldn't even get to touch this stuff, let alone print off of it. The workshop is a part of the Lit House at W.C. - an amazing resource for writers and artists alike, and I can't believe that people aren't just lining up to take advantage of it. I guess I forget what it was like to be in college. I suppose learning an antiquated reproduction process (not the rhythm method) isn't probably at the top of most students' to do lists. Anyway, we are going to learn to set type, do print runs, and maybe I'll get to carve a linoleum plate or two. Matthew and I are dreaming of doing a small/short/few pages long Idiots'Book that we can print out, zoop zoop zoop like a letterpress does, then send it to our subscribers, before we have too many of them (the hubris!).

Like I said, tres excited!

Anyway. We got to actually get our hands in the type last week:

And then wash them, of course.

I walked home, and on the way home I did some more photos at night (that's when I took the pix of the parking meter, too). I especially like this one, of the flower shop née movie theater.

I love old theater marquis, and that blocky lettering. This particular theater used to be where I could catch the 25 cent matinées on the weekends. I would go almost every weekend, usually by myself. It was right around the corner, so I didn't even have to remember to go until like 2 minutes before showtime. The floor was sticky, bats flew in and out across the screen, and the movies were year-old-crowd-pleasers, but that was fine by me. It was at that movie theater that I first recognized that my time might be more valuable than my money - I walked out of Ziggy Stardust after 10 minutes thinking "who in the world would want to see that?!". Of course, I had been under the impression that it was about Ziggy, the big-headed pasty blob of Sunday comics fame (described in wikipedia as a "small, bald, pantless, almost featureless character (save for his large nose) who seems to have no job, hobbies, or romantic partner" - and apparently, that seemed more interesting to me than Bowie). Anyway - prices went up (it was still pretty cheap), but I guess not enough to keep the place in business. It closed down for a long while, then was an art gallery, then a sometime theater venue, now a flower shop. It's been a nice transformation, but I sure do miss getting my bad movie fix. I guess that's why I've got TBS.

Posted by ribbu at 10:46 PM | Comments (3)

February 16, 2007

Watching the World Go By

Sometimes, the life of a parking meter seems kind of nice...

Posted by ribbu at 11:01 AM

February 12, 2007

The Problem

One of the biggest problems with the jobless life, as I have mentioned before, is scheduling. More specifically, it's scheduling time to eat and sleep.

For instance:
Last night I went to bed at 3AM.
This morning I woke up at 8:30AM.

I wanted to go back to bed at 8:45AM. But I got distracted by the day, and suddenly now it's 10:37 and I still haven't gone back to bed yet.

I know, I know. For those of you who have real jobs, this is a really irritating complaint. However, I'd like to point out that I retired, and this was supposed to be a newfound life of leisure. What slacker only gets five and a half hours of sleep? I'm a slacker at slacking. That's pathetic.

The other problem is this (also compounded by the fact that we don't really have a kitchen):
Today I ate:
two squares of bittersweet chocolate (thanks Josh and Amity!)
some spoonfuls of yogurt out of the big container (out of waffles to put it on)
a piece of popcorn I found on my chair (ate a bag of it for dinner last night, ugh)
an old banana (I heard that hanging a peel on your plants will kill all the aphids on it, and I found some aphids on one of my plants today)
two pieces of hard candy and a hershey's kiss (they were sitting out on the counter at Book Plate when we went by to wheel and deal) (they were in a dish with lots of others, being offered to customers, not just like sitting out on the counter belonging to someone else or something gross like that)
a 6" subway sandwich (matthew and I were both suddenly on such a tremendous sugar low we couldn't even think straight to figure out what we could make at home)

So, when you think of me living it up, remember that I'm scrounging for food between the pillows on the couch where I'm not taking a nap.

Posted by ribbu at 10:35 PM

February 11, 2007

The In-Laws

Matthew's mom and her husband Dean are in town to catch the last days of The Next Generation show. Today we take it down, say good-bye to Man Joe, and wash the walls. Matthew and Carla seem to have gotten quite attached to the mural. And, it looks like we're already pencilled in for a retrospective/prespective for January 2009 (mark your calendars!). Carla's going to try to revisit this same group of artists or some derivative thereof over the years and see where we end up. I really love the idea of that - and it gives us even more of an incentive to keep at this game (not that we needed any more incentive than the current 149 subscribers!!!!).

While the mom and Dean were in town, we looked at some real estate with the dream that they would retire down the street. We looked at the cutest coziest loveliest house at the end of Queen Street on the park -
317 South Queen Street - click the link to seee some photos. It's a dreamy house, right on the park, with water views, so if anyone is interested in dropping 800 grand on an awesome house, go take a look. We'll be happy to housesit until you're ready to move in. Actually, the folks who own it are friends of ours, and they will be moving in to the house next door, so I can vouch for the neighbors as well. Anyway, no go on the house, I think. Retirement is still a few years away, I guess - darn it.

Instead of buying a nice house, we bought a nice breakfast at the Hotel Imperial, which is right across the street from the gallery, and, therefore, a half-block away from our barn.

My parents used to own it when it was kind of a slum apartment building, and mom had her studio in the cellar there. I remember having to come over after getting home from school to check in, and it was dark and musty and there was a gigantic hole in the floor that you had to walk across a rickety plank to get across. It was all lit by those clip-on workman's lights. Very safe, very OSHA-approved.

Too bad they sold it before it got to be worth anything, before Chestertown became the cultural mecca that it did, because it's a nice building, on a nice street. It would have made a great book factory.

Elisabeth (matthew's mom) was kind enough to purchase some work from us from the show... she bought my favorite monoprint (well done!) - Joan and Alexander, after Miro and Calder. When I was in Barcelona ages ago, I saw an exhibition at the Fundacion Joan Miro which was really cool (the best was the mercury fountain) (and, looking at Miro's blobs and lines can get a little tedious after a while, though I still love them) - the blue blobs reminded me of both Miro's minimalist paintings and Calder's big mobiles (not a euphemism). And the squiggle feels like it's rotating, like a mobile. She says it looks like a dancer, so maybe now it's "Dancer" instead of "Joan and Alexander". Whatever. I'm just glad it's in the family, so I can go visit with it when I want.

I also did some experimental photography with my new fish-eye camera from Davey. I wanted to get some shots of the wall installation before it gets painted over. The camera actually uses film (!!) which I've totally forgotten how to use, but it will be developed soon. I'll share the results. I did notice that my assimilation into the digital age made me much more reckless with the old analog, and I used up a whole roll in about 20 minutes. Oh well. Hopefully something comes of it. In the meantime, check out all the cool pictures that other people have taken with their fish-eye cameras...

And, to tide you over until I get the film developed, here's a shot of Matthew taking a picture using the new fish-eye camera from the floor.

And, to tide you over some more, here's a picture of my ridiculous dog. Wegman's real genius was not in getting his dogs to dress up and behave, it was getting them to not look totally stupid, like mine.
(And, yeah, he did some nice stuff with his camera, too.)

But, for all the shots that I have of her with her ears sticking out in weird directions and her tongue hanging out, I have a couple where she is kind of cute. I got this one as she was jumping up on me thinking the camera might be something delicious to eat, like bread. She does love her bread.

And, to tide you over some more, here's how Iggy and Oscar interact, when I try to pay Oscar some attention:

Me: "Hi guys!"
Oscar: "Who, me?"
Iggy: "What, is that bread?"

Iggy: "Hey! Look at me! Look at me!"
Oscar: "please, god, don't let her turn around and breathe on me, please, god, don't let her turn around and breathe on me..."

Iggy: "Oh wait, does he have the bread?"
Oscar: "Ohh, shit..."

Oscar: "I'm outta here."
Iggy: "Dude! Where's my bread?"

Posted by ribbu at 09:48 AM

February 08, 2007


So, for those of you who don't already know, I'm teaching a printmaking class this semester. There are some minor snags having to do with the fact that there is no ventilation in the print studio, but we're going over the bumpy road as best we can. However, I seem to have terrible luck when it comes to doing demos (no surprise there) - during my first demo I broke (and repaired) a copy machine, managed to not get the result I was meant to get and had gotten just the night before, and exploded a tube of ink with my bare hand. What can I say, I did a fantastic job. Then, apropos of the fact that I had to recant something I had spoken about in my demo, one of my students asked, "So where did you go to school?" as in "who the hell thought you were qualified to teach this class?" Actually, they're all very sweet. Some of them might even be reading this (email me to find out what I really think). (just kidding). (don't email me, I hate email). (er, just kidding again. I love email. In fact, all of these parentheticals are just a way for me to get people to email me. What I really think? Yeah, my students are sweet. Well-behaved. I'm not even tortured a little bit. It's all very dull and doesn't make for good blogging, except for the bits where I make myself look like a tool by exploding ink all over the place).

So, anyway. Now I have to go through my demos two or three times before class just to make sure they work more than once. So, we're doing relief printing right now (3-color linocuts) so I made a small and manageable print. The tests went okay tonight, so keep your fingers crossed for demo day tomorrow.

In other news, it snowed last night. It was a great surprise, because apparently I'm completely out of touch. Other people were abuzz with anticipation all day yesterday, and I had no idea. I feel as if I've missed out, somehow. Anyway - in spite of her being terrified of the water and disliking the cold, Iggy is a big fan of snow. So as a special treat, I invited her boyfriend Tanker over, and we went up to the college fields for a little run-around.

Meet Tanker:

Isn't he a handsome chap? And aptly named. He makes Iggy look positively anorectic.

So, he and the Iggs did some wild and crazy running around. In the process I took about a million pictures, but I'm kind enough not to make you suffer through all of them here. Because, mostly what I discovered in taking all those pictures, is that I have an extraordinarily un-photogenic dog. It might be the ears:

or it might be the nose:

(Tanker seems to find her nose distasteful)

or it might be the glazed, faraway look, even when someone's trying to make out with her:

or it might be the tongue and crossed eyes:

Either way, I don't know why (maybe for lack of options), but Tanker still seems to like her, and they seemed to have a great time.

When we arrived, the snow was pretty much untouched. When we left, it looked like the entire cast of West Side Story had snapped, leaped and danced their way through 12 knife fights out there. Tanker took a dump but by the time I got to the other side of the field to find it, it had been completely obscured by dog mayhem, so I apologize to whomever steps in it.

Entirely my fault.

Posted by ribbu at 12:18 AM

February 06, 2007

Not Wonky Enough

So I'm working on Volume 5 these days - we kind of have to get it done quickly and move on to Volume 6 because we'll be busy for about two and a half weeks getting ready for and selling mom's pottery at the Flower Show in March. So this batch of illos is a little messier (can you believe it?) but I'm getting to do some finger painting, which is way fun. I don't want to give away any of the story/themes/general mayhem for any of our subscribers, but here's a mistake that I made:

Yeah, I didn't like how that scribble at the bottom to the left of the house was looking. (Click to make larger to see what I'm talking about).

Just kidding.

When I said messy, I meant that I don't have to worry about shit like that. The problem is actually that the house is supposed to look small and oppressed by the sky, where here it looks like a spastic jack-in-the-box, if ever a house looked like a spastic jack-in-the-box. So, axed it is. I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Now that I look at it again, I don't like how cartoony it is feeling either. It was supposed to feel messy and wonky but instead it feels a little stiff and cartoony. Like Dilbert. Except he's funny, and a dog. Or, is Dilbert the guy? Whoops. He's the guy. Dogbert would be the dog. Dur.

Posted by ribbu at 12:13 AM

February 04, 2007

Eternal Optimist

I'm someone who loves to make lists. Mostly lists of things to do. I try to organize my life by listing it out. If I could actually do everything that I list on my lists, I would be the most productive and balanced person in the universe. But, I seem to forget all about my lists about three days after I complete them - I spend lots of time setting up templates and deciding how I want them to work, printing them out, cutting them up, etc etc etc, and then I totally drop the ball once it comes to actually having to follow it and check things off. What is truly astonishing, though, is how I repeatedly am so optimistic and have such faith in myself, that I continue to spend lots of time making lists and then forgetting about them.

My latest is this:

I set up a little flip book that I hang by the door (so I see it all the time) with the basic housekeeping-type tasks that I always forget to do and then am frantically trying to catch up on - I've set it up by day, and I can check things off as I do them, then flip the page the next day and have a whole new list of things to do. So, today I was supposed to 1. clean the bathroom (nope) 2. blog (oh, look! I can check that off now!) 3. sketch (sort of - I'm working on Vol. 5 of Idiots'Books, so I think that counts) 4. read (um, I prematurely checked that one off, hoping that I'll read a little before bed - when I wrote this out, I was thinking that I would be sitting on the sofa with the early morning light glancing off my recently washed, dried and brushed locks, sipping a cup of hot tea reading Plutarch for at least an hour, while the dog lay quietly at my feet, occasionally stretching, looking up at me adoringly, then flopping back down in obedient servitude) and 5. really, who was I kidding, Pilates.

The kicker is that I just started with this particular list Feb. 1 (though I finished making up the list and cutting it down and setting it up and everything on Jan. 25, I thought I'd give myself an extra six days to ramp up without having the pressure of checking things off, so that was my practice run, in which I excused forgetting to do all these things by saying, "Well, the list hasn't really started yet") which was Thursday, and here it is Saturday and I've already bagged out on a few items. (Did I mention I didn't do "squash" on Friday's list? Again... who was I kidding??)

Matthew considers me a pessimist, but I've got solid proof right here. I am rampantly and recklessly optimistic, with no care for or fear of my imminent downfall.

Posted by ribbu at 12:33 AM | Comments (1)