September 20, 2007
I Know Someone Who Is So F*ING COOL
but he's F*ING COOL because he did this at one of his readings. Listen to the mp3s and read along at home. The guy is a mad fricking genius, in that totally frustrating way that he's good at EVERYTHING he does. Even singing (yes, singing - it's not a typo) his book. You can't make that sound cool unless you're a genius.
Buy the book. Buy it, and read it, and weep. Weep for the genius that you are not.
Sigh. I wish people would compare ME to Pynchon.
I mean, in ways other than our overbites.
Posted by ribbu at 01:33 PM
September 19, 2007
(Don't) Stop the Press!
So, a couple days ago I got two phone calls from "the press". They had received the press release about St. Michaels, the Town that (Somehow) Fooled the British and were just chomping at the bit to fact-check. Chesapeake Life Magazine just wanted to make sure that they had all the info right (after last time we were briefly mentioned and they referred to Idiots'Books as children's books - which made us really worry that some poor parent would buy Richard Nixon as an educational history text only to find page after page of a couple lying in bed together, and the big (or not so big) finale of the guy's full frontal at the end). I thought the synopsis was quite good (maybe they just cribbed it from matthew's press release), though I had to correct them from referring to Matthew as "children's book writer Matthew Swanson". Instead, I suggested "accident-prone gimp Matthew Swanson". You'll just have to buy the magazine to see if it made the cut.
A writer at the Kent County News also called and wanted to interview us. Unfortunately Matthew is over on the western shore this week helping us support our book habit with some writing/consulting work, so I was stuck doing the interview by myself. I invited him over to see the studio/digs, and, as usual, babbled incoherently about this and that. So, look forward to that great article in this week's local paper. Actually, Matthew called the guy later and did a little phone interview, so I'm hoping he goes for matthew's quotables instead of mine ("don't trip over those things on your way out" being the thing I probably said most clearly).
Well. Excitement is in the air (at least where I'm sitting). We have a reading and signing down in St. Michaels this Friday and I hope to god that someone, anyone, shows up. It would be awesomest if Dick Cheney, or Donald Rumsfeld, or Frederick Douglass showed up. They're locals, you know.
September 18, 2007
The Camera is Dead
If you think I'm speaking abstractly, like, "Art is dead" or "Music is dead", think again. Our camera actually died this past weekend. Apparently, now once the lens opens up, you have to manually return it to the closed position if you want to turn it off. Ever since it flew off the roof of the car onto the side of the highway in Massachusetts, it has really suffered. And it looks like this is the end. This saddens me greatly, because it took some damn fine pictures (if I do say so myself).
Including these favorites:
However, I have to confess to coveting another camera (and Matthew suggests that this has led to the early demise of our current camera - he thinks I've been removing the screws one by one in hopes of making it just useless enough to warrant a new camera purchase). Yes - the new exciting camera is one that seems to already be no longer readily available - I've coveted it so long that it's already obsolete. It is the Kodak EasyShare with Dual Lens (notice the "Availability: Discontinued" note in the info panel). The thing that excites me about this camera is the "Dual Lens" bit - meaning it has one regular zoom lens, and another (gasp!) WIDE ANGLE lens. !!! And you can switch between the two in one point-and-shoot camera!!! This is VERY exciting to me. Unfortunately, since I just got my mega-kickass computer, it might be a little while before we replace the old camera. You'll just have to satisfy yourselves with old, non-wide-angle photos of matthew jumping and the like. I know everyone over at theBarnstorming is going to be very unhappy not to have documentation of every single exciting minute of our lives.
Sorry about that. Luckily, things are extremely dull right now, so you're not missing much.
Posted by ribbu at 12:16 AM
September 13, 2007
That's Good Stuff
Matthew's mom gave us a gift subscription a little while ago to GOOD magazine. I think we started getting it in March or something. Well, like all of our magazine subscriptions, it sat untouched in a pile until it was relocated to the bathroom, at which point it was instantly discovered and retrieved for more intense scrutiny in the comfort of the bedroom. I guess the thing that inspired her to purchase a subscription for us is that the entirety of your subscription dollars is donated to one of a number of charities that they support. So, by becoming a subscriber, you are ostensibly doing GOOD for the world. Now, this is the kind of charity I like - charity that is not charity at all, but that, in fact, gives you something back. Something on delicious heavy paper stock with matte finish and lots of cool information graphics. I am only charitable if it serves my own selfish impulses.
Now, GOOD magazine is so full of goodness and social consciousness that it makes me feel a little dirty. A lot dirty, in fact. I don't grow my own vegetables in a rooftop garden, I don't wear organic cotton slacks, I don't rally for sustainability in schools, and I certainly am not giving up fried chicken. They describe their subscribership (that's supposed to be me) by summing us up as all having "the sensibility of giving a damn." Yes, well, I'm afraid I actually don't give a damn. We're all going to hell in a handbasket, and whatever comes our way because we've been F*ing things up ever since we started walking on two legs is really just exactly what we deserve. We are a plague upon our own houses. So, though activism is admirable, I'm just a jaded Gen-Xer who prefers to sit at home playing video games and snorting coke.
But, in the abstract, I like the idea of being that good. But people who are actually that good tend to irritate me. So, though I love the design of the magazine, I often feel patronized. But they really totally make up for it with all the really cool information graphics. So, if you have $20 that you're willing to give to some schmaltzy do-gooder organization in return for a little bit of social consciousness and a lot of good design, subscribe here. Just don't tell them I sent you. They might try to make me a vegan.
Boy. This sure makes me sound like a dick. At least I recycle. And vote (some good that's done). But, I did buy my dog from a farm, instead of getting it from the pound. I don't think I'll ever hear the end of that one. She needs love, too. Even if her love is more expensive, and more prone to hip dysplasia.
Posted by ribbu at 08:25 PM
September 11, 2007
Again, One They Didn't Use
So, I just got finished another job for the Williams Review (the Alumni mag for the old alma mater) - just a small illo that runs at the top of a column reviewing the different places that professors pop up in the news (and thus the title of the column, "In the News"). Nothing big but it will reprint quarterly for the next year, which is nice (multiple payments on a single piece of work = good). Anyway, I did some brainstorming and came up with this sketch:
cuz, you know, like, it's Williams, and it's IN the news. Okay, well, evidently, that's as lame as it sounds (even though I like it graphically). It got soundly rejected, and they asked that I just sort of redraw the current header, but in my own style. The current header is kind of a collage-y side view of a big-headed person sitting at a desk reading a magazine or paper. It's very textural and painterly, so mostly the directive was "Draw someone reading the paper". So I came up with this:
Which I liked. Still a little loose, and still looks like a kind of googly Robbi Behr original. But, they decided that the last ambiguous outline of a person was a guy, and this time they wanted a woman. And you know the trouble I have with drawing women. They all have banana boobs and gorilla hands and baggy eyes, which somehow men can get away with (well, maybe not the banana boobs) but which nobody want to be representing them, really, in the concrete (it seems to be fine if it's just part of some bigger idea). So, I had to try to reign myself in and be kinder toward my sex. I ended up with a cute girl with a flippy hairdo that really doesn't look like I drew it, but they seem to be satisfied. I'll post once it goes public (which might be a long time from now, so don't hold your breath).
All told, I like my guy with the big nose and hairy knuckles. He just reeks "I'm way into the paper, man."
Don't you think?
Posted by ribbu at 10:17 PM
September 08, 2007
Preparing for Liftoff!!!
Thursday was a big BIG day. I was on pins and needles all morning - ALL MORNING - waiting for, waiting for, waiting for the FedEx delivery guy. Yes, he was coming to me with all my dreams and desires in that big boxy delivery truck with FedEx Ground written on it in green. I had been relentlessly tracking his progress since last Thursday (LAST THURSDAY!) from Anaheim, CA, home of the Anaheim Something-or-Others, some kind of sports team that I'm supposed to know the name of (Angels? Ducks? WTF??) on to Lewisberry, PA, home to probably nothing important other than the East Coast holding warehouse for FedEx treasures, and then on to Seaford, DE, which is pathetically the closest distribution center to here, central bumfunk, and then it was ON FEDEX VEHICLE FOR DELIVERY - OMG!!!!
Well, after waiting on pins and needles, I knew I had to leave to teach at 4pm. The nearer it got for me to leave, the more anxious I got. What if he arrived while I was gone, and took my precious dream away for another day?
Well, I needn't have worried. It arrived with enough time for me to swoon over it before I had to leave for class (2 hours).
The best part about getting my new big ass fast and beautiful computer is also THIS:
I was gifted the first big monitor in one of the most extreme cases of generosity I have ever experienced, (it still makes me cry when I think of it), and the second, from the same donor, only more recently, because he got a newer one. I am rich rich rich in computer riches and I hardly deserve it but it will not stop me from gloating.
Of course, once I unboxed everything, I found that the monitors won't plug in to the new computer, so I have to spend an ungodly amount of money for an adaptor that can only be found at the Annapolis mall. So, my computer sits, and my montiors wait. But shortly, shortly, it will be time.
TIME TO FRICKIN' EXPLODE WITH JOY!!!!!
Posted by ribbu at 09:40 AM
September 05, 2007
Matthew gets his due
Well, I might have mentioned before that the next Idiots'Book is going to be a little bit more experimental than usual (in fact, I might have mentioned it just in the last post). I am doing the illustrations first, and then matthew is going to try to write a story around them. Well, finally, it seems that he's starting to see why it is I am so full of angst when it comes my turn to illustrate one of his near-incomprehensible stories. It's no easy task. And I have not set him up for an easy task either. Beware, subscribers: disaster ahead.
Here is a piece of a panel that Matthew must author to:
Just a sneak peek, though. There's more to it than that.
So, while Matthew struggles and rants and sweats and pants, I have been reliving my glory days of Pokemon Puzzle League, which is a highly addictive, tetris-like game of scooting little tiles around to frantic music. Why I find this so absorbing, I have no idea. But there are times when my heart rate is really whizzing and I can't put the damn controller down. In theory, I recognize how pathetic this is, but in practice, I am GOING TO BEAT THAT DAMN POKEMON MASTER, I AM!!!!
And this game is on the old Nintendo 64, so it's doubly pathetic. I mean, sure, it's color graphics, but it's no Wii (which, in case you're wondering, we STILL can't find anywhere).
Which also brings me to this: my good friend ming sent me a link today to THIS, apparently the smallest pong game known to man. Though I was delighted and suckered into playing for (ahem) too long, I have to say that pong is about 10x as frustrating when you can't actually see the ball. Try your hand. It's not as heart-poundingly gripping as, say, Pokemon Puzzle League, but its entertainment value is quite elegant in its simplicity.
In other, triply exciting news, my new computer will arrive tomorrow. It is grand, it is beautiful, and it will blow me right out of my chair with its mightiness. I have already received CS3, which just makes me want to pee with excitement all day long (I got a wicked education discount for ordering it and my computer at the same time - which more than makes up for my paltry income from adjunct professoring at WAC). So, if you call me anytime in the next few days and I don't answer, it's because I'm too in love with my new computer and software to give you the time of day.
September 02, 2007
What am I up to?
Well, things have been busy around here. Busy busy busy, and yet somehow I find myself accomplishing very little. I hate when that happens. The next Idiots'Books volume is going to be of the experimental sort (even more experimental than the last 9 volumes) - I am doing the illustrations first, and then matthew is going to patch together some sort of story around it. I have a nagging feeling that it's going to be a disaster. I started out thinking that I would just draw - and whatever came out would come out. Well, it was a struggle. It continues to be a struggle. Things aren't just splendidly subconsciously coming out like they used to. And somehow I've managed to include such unrelated subjects as a tent, a bear, a king, and venetian water taxis. Subscribers: please don't fault Matthew if he can't make any sense of all this. I have no idea what I'm doing.
In other news, I made a very exciting discovery on my drive home from Baltimore last week. And the discovery is THIS:
Now, I don't know where the hell I've been, but after a quick search on the web, it seems that some of the earliest fanatical reviews were happening in 2003. So, typically, I'm four years behind the cue ball (eight ball? whatever). At any rate, can you believe this? Munchies is basically a delectable and highly addictive combination of doritos, pretzels, sun chips and cheetos. ALL IN ONE BAG.
I will never buy a different snack product again. It has everything I would ever want or need in it. It is as if someone said to me "here. take this bag of crack, heroin and beck, and all that will happen is you'll get fat." Bring it on!
Oh, in other news, St. Michael's: The Town the (Somehow) Fooled the British is now officially on sale over at Idiots'Books. It's also on sale at Artiste Locale, if you happen to be in St. Michael's proper, and don't feel like ordering online.
Oh, and, in all this time that I'm busy but not accomplishing much, I read an article in the NYTimes Magazine about some guy who won the British version of American Idol (oop, I almost just wrote American Idiot, which would be, perhaps, more appropriate) - well, actually the article was about Rick Rubin (who was not, as his picture suggested, that crazy japanese guy who did the sarin gas attack on the subways in japan and said he could levitate) going to work for Columbia records, but he mentions this guy in the interview. When we were in England on the last day we watched a bunch of bad Idol-like shows, and flipping through I had seen some of this, but not this particular guy. This is also old news, but, whatever. It's this guy who works as a phone salesman but wanted to be an opera singer. I don't know why, but I just love it when funny-looking guys rock the house. See: Matthew.
Rock on, opera guy.