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October 28, 2007

Why New York is Okay In Spite of Itself

So, this weekend we went to New York. We went for a number of reasons, including business for Matthew, which meant that we got to take the train instead of driving. The reason I mention this is because the #1 reason I dislike New York so much is the part where I have to drive there and often sit in traffic for like 8 hours to get through the @%$#! Lincoln Tunnel, and then I have to pay an arm and a leg to park once I'm there.

Yes. I am one of those philistines who just doesn't like New York. I understand the allure, I get how it could be an exciting place, but for someone who would rather eat mac & cheese and play scrabble in a comfortable and inexpensive domicile than go out for fine cuisine before going to a museum/gallery/event of some sort, then going out for drinks only to return to my tiny cramped apartment surrounded on all sides by concrete, well, you see, New York just isn't the place for me. I like to visit, but generally speaking after two days I'm totally overstimulated and have to sit in a dark room by myself for a few hours to recover.

That being said, I totally enjoyed my trip this time. Part of it involved going to a portfolio review for the Portfolio Center in Atlanta (graduating students come up to show their portfolios in NY in hopes of landing a job) - looking for designers for NCSDO. Matthew and I put on a pretty good show together - we do a lot of back and forth and remember to fill in things that the other forgot etc. There was a lot of great stuff there (I thought, anyway) so we picked up some leads. We'll see...

The other part involved going to meet some folks who will be working on an animated project that I'm doing the illustration for. These guys rocked. Check out their demo reel here. Anyway - while Matthew was talking shop, I got a quick tutorial on how animation and 3D animation works. It is AWESOME. If I could magically become smarter and more patient and go back to school for another 3 years, I would totally want to do this stuff. It's fascinating. And, I guess, tedious. But the end result is really cool.

One of the guys worked on this Sheryl Crow video - have a look, the animation is really awesome (the image quality here really doesn't do it justice, though - there are lots of beautiful washes that don't come through in the low-res) - maybe you've already seen it because it came out a couple years ago and I'm totally lame and never watch TV, but whatever. I love how they retained the illustrative quality in spite of it all being digital. Really really nice stuff. Anyway. After I become an Adobe Certified Master Guru of Adobe, I will then set my sights on 3D animation.

Actually, the trick really isn't just knowing how to make things look 3D and move, you need to know a lot about cinematography and music and timing and all that. All that stuff I'm no good at.

YET.

And, a third part was that I got to see my friend Davey in a play on Broadway, which, incidentally, was all about muscular men running around in skimpy towels.

Anyway. All that was cool. Though, it wasn't what makes New York okay in spite of itself.

What makes New York okay in spite of itself is that while we were on the subway, there were three kids sitting across from us. Probably high school age, kind of hoodlums. Certainly not fancy manhattan high school kids. Anyway, one of them is rooting through her purse looking for lipstick, and pulls out a book and waves it in front of the other two. "You ever read this?" It's "Night" by Elie Wiesel. The other two kids shrug and disaffectedly say "no". The girl shakes her head emphatically back and forth, and says, "I did NOT know Hitler tore apart kids," the other two shrug, and she puts it back in her purse, pulls out her lipstick, and applies generously.

What I love about this is that I would never hear that conversation here on the eastern shore of Maryland. I just wouldn't. But what I love even more is that for all the demonizing we do of Hitler (and justly so), it apparently isn't enough. We actually need to tell kids that not only did he try to wipe out an entire people, he ALSO tried to wipe out their kids at the same time. By TEARING THEM APART. I mean, there's not a single historical figure we hate more than Hitler and yet she was shocked that he was EVEN WORSE than she had imagined. And then, when all that's said and done, you really just want your lips to look plump and radiant, dammit.

I'm back now. And back to work. In my nearly silent, very slow-moving home town. Ah, yes. I do like it here.

Posted by ribbu at 12:02 PM

October 24, 2007

Pretty Pictures

Since nothing is happening in my life right now that doesn't require extensive pages-long blogging, I'm going to be cheap and post some recent favorite pics of mine, all from the trip up to Williamstown and Lake George.

First, see me and my aunt Mimi (short for "Meredith" not "Miriam" as Matthew once noted on some sort of official document) down at Silver Bay on the Lake. Isn't it BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL???? The whole time we were up there I kept looking over at Matthew and going "this isn't the sort of place where we Behrs vacation. This is like a real no-nonsense stunningly beautiful place! How the hell did we get to come here?" It just feels like the sort of place that I would really only see in postcards.

Okay. On second thought, in this picture it just looks like your everyday average lake. You must be thinking I'm loony for getting all excited about a reasonable-sized body of water. What you don't see in this photo is how crystal clear it is, how it's surrounded by all these beautiful mountains, and how it makes me crazy with delight whenever I'm there. I'll try to find another picture that captures THAT.

No luck.

But, there is this picture. Me and Iggy in the rearview mirror, driving the backroads of southern Vermont. Don't we look like we're having fun? Luckily, Matthew stopped here on red so I could take the photo, sans blur.


This is my artsy shot with the new camera. I have no idea what the conditions were under which I took it, but I did have to photoshop out the tip of my finger, which was supporting the stem on the right. It looks like a studio shot, doesn't it (ahem, if I do say so myself). I didn't darken the background or anything. I mean, colorwise, this was straight out of the camera. Whoo.

Okay. So that's the latest on the things that make me happy.
Oh, and then there's this:

My favorite picture from the nuptial events of this past weekend. In case you haven't gotten the full rundown on theBarnstorming already (and in that case, who are you, anyway? Stalking me and matthew is a-ok, but stalking just me is weird) have a look. It's fascinating. So fascinating that theBarnstorming's hits doubled overnight. I guess Christian and Emily have even more people stalking them than we do. Sigh.

Posted by ribbu at 11:22 PM

October 16, 2007

Why I Love My Husband

Okay. Now, I realize the title of this entry sounds like it's going to make you puke. And maybe it will. BUT - the fact remains that Matthew is awesome. And this is why: he not only allows me to make totally frivolous purchases, he encourages me to do it:

a box of 500 number 11 x-acto blades. Isn't it beautiful? Now, my last box of x-acto blades only had 40 blades in it, and it took me three years to use it up. I was being conservative, though, worried that they might eventually run out at a critical moment. Now I can use x-acto blades with total abandon for at least 30 years, probably longer. Now, I suppose that one could call this a frivolous purchase, but Matthew chooses to look on it as an investment into our future.

Actually, he didn't even know that I bought them, but when they arrived, he oohed and ahhhed appropriately. And that's really all I care about.

In other news, Oscar is extremely pleased with his new relocation program, and would like to thank Staples for supplying his new housing.

In even more shocking news, Lily has finally managed to accept that Iggy will be living with us until one of them dies. I don't think Lily has yet accepted that she's probably going first, but she's resigned to coexisting in the meantime. For a cat who would hiss at this poor dog the minute she stepped in the room, this is real progress - though you may notice that neither one of them is actually relaxed. They're both lying there like, "Well, I think I'll lie back just for a second here, but she could go apeshit on me at any moment."

Apeshit indeed.

Posted by ribbu at 07:32 AM

October 15, 2007

A Few Good Excuses

Ok, ok.
I know this blog is turning into an I-can't-tell-you-how-many-reasons-
I-have-for-not-being-a-better-blogger blog, but hey, what can you do? Certainly you can do nothing. I have all the power. And that's just they way it is, brother.

Well, I have one gigantically good excuse for not posting for the last two weeks - I have been preparing Volume 11 which also happens to be a custom project for our friends over at BookPlate, Tom and Sarah. It was a much more highly labor-intensive project than I had previously imagined, so it took way longer than I said it would, and ultimately I was up till all hours trying to get it finished before we left for reason #2 (see below). Generally speaking, my illustration style is quick and dirty and doesn't take that much time (shh, don't tell any clients I told you that). For this project, I ended up deciding to go back to painting, and whoo doggy, I forgot how long that takes me. When I paint, I tend to be all bizarro-Pollackesque - read: hunched over my teensy tinsy "canvas" with teensy tinsy brushes for hours on end. The only part of me that moves is my wrist. When I go to bed at night, I have to ask Matthew to unfold me first so I don't inadvertently hog all the blankets.

Now, I realize I look way too happy in this picture. That's because I'm in a delirium brought on by too much exposure to Cadmium Red Medium. Notice the hellhole that is my office:

I wish I were one of those neat painters, like our friend Michael Mongue, whose studio, I swear, never looks any messier than this. Alas, I am not, so yesterday I spent half the day cleaning off my desk so that I could start my next project, which would be reason #5 or 6, but at this point, who really cares?

So, anyway, reason #1 was completed in the wee hours (6am) of Friday morning. We currently have an ad in the paper for it, because it is of local interest:

The best part about our ad is where it is placed. See the ad just above it? I mean, how often do you get nudie George Washington right next to instructions on how to become tremendously blessed (in just ONE WEEK!)? Whoever put that ad in there is probably sticking pins in our voodoo dolls as we speak.

So, anyway. Like I said, I finished up at 6am on Friday, in order to be awakened at 8 to attend reason #2: the Small Press Expo in Bethesda (MD). I did not take the news very well.

But, we ended up having a great weekend at the Expo and got some decent enthusiasm going about our books, so on the whole it was a big ego-booster, in spite of my lack of sleep. I managed to rally for the adoring masses:

It was great fun, and the bonus was that we also got to spend the weekend with my best friend from since like age 3, Stella (aka Liz). Matthew was much more detailed about it all here, I think in part because he plans to knock me off and marry Stella, who has a way with home cooking that I can only dream of. I mean, he's pretty easy to dazzle (see: me), but she's really got the goods.

And - ok, so reason #3 isn't a great reason, but I had a cute picture so I thought I'd make it a reason. I am now the daytime babysitter of Petey from down the street. He and Iggy spend all afternoon scrabbling around on our wood floors and being general maniacs. I chalk this distraction up as another reason I haven't been posting to this blog.

In this photo, they share a brief moment of stasis:

You can see that Petey is just winding up for another sneak attack.

And finally, reason #4:

No, no, it's not the freshman 15 - and yes, the rumors are true: preggo. I'm due in April, which means yesterday I finally had to break down and buy those crazy stretch maternity pants so that when I teach I look pregnant instead of just sloppy and bunched. Now, it's not really a good reason not to blog (in fact, I know way too many people who blog relentlessly about their "condition") but it's pretty much a good reason for everything else ("I'm so tired right now, I have to take a nap; I'm pregnant" and "I think I have to puke, I'd better lie down; I'm pregnant" and "I can only eat ice cream, I'm pregnant" and "You better take out the recycling now, I'm pregnant" and "I couldn't possibly do my work now, I'm pregnant") - it's really quite handy. So, I'm going to use it as an excuse for not posting more frequently. Sorry folks. Just wait till I pop this baby out - then I'll really have a good excuse.

So those are my many excuses.
As usual, I will promise to be more attentive, and then I'll disappoint you again later on. The great thing about being an artist is that people usually have really low expectations of you.

The best!

Posted by ribbu at 02:47 PM