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January 30, 2008

Marriage does WHAT?!

Ok. Prepare yourselves for a rant.
Have any of you seen this billboard around?

We used to pass this billboard every day on the way in to work (back in the good old Baltimore days) and it used to make me fall into an apoplectic rage every time. First off, I'd like to know who it is that is sponsoring this nonsense. I sure hope it's not my tax dollars. Actually, I just looked it up. I have no idea who supports it, but luckily it's not inadvertently me. It's the same people who are promoting abstinence, which I don't have a problem with (having been a teen who had no luck bagging a man, promoting abstinence just makes me feel like I was principled and unattractive instead of just unattractive). Anyway. What gets my goat is that someone actually thinks that if they write that on a billboard, some kid is going to walk by and be like, "Oh? WELL then. I guess I'll get married, instead of, like, getting out of this fucked up relationship." Marriage only works if the RELATIONSHIP works. And it's a really really REALLY bad idea if the relationship doesn't work (how many women do I know who are like, "If I can just get him to marry me, everything will be great!" - or how many men who are like "Well, maybe if I finally get her the ring, she'll stop being a total bitch" WRONG WRONG WRONG, PEOPLE!!) Oh, boy, my blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. But I guess if you're stupid enough to think, unequivocally, that "marriage works" just because a billboard tells you so, then you deserve to get married and find out the truth. I'm not saying marriage doesn't work, but if you're in doubt, you probably shouldn't be thinking about it, or doing it just because a billboard said so. Oy. Idiots.
But then, on Monday, we were in Baltimore again and I spotted THIS billboard. The top of my head nearly popped off I was so crazy with rage:

So... if you're not going to fall for the "Marriage Works" line, well, shit, DO IT FOR THE MONEY. What the hell kind of message is THAT sending???

HOLY CRAP I almost burned it to the ground right there. I nearly drove off the road. My body temperature went from 98.6 to 175 in like a nanosecond. I looked like one of those cartoons with steam coming out of my ears and my eyes popped out of my head. It was ugly.

Matthew tried his best to calm me down, but since I'm married to him, I just ignored him.

Posted by ribbu at 02:35 PM | Comments (5)

January 25, 2008

My Dog and George Washington

Somebody asked me the other day if we still had a dog. He was wondering because it seems I haven't been blogging enough recently about Iggy. He seemed to think that this would be less an indication that my dog has become dull and boring and unnoteworthy, and more an indication that we had some sort of falling out and exchanged her for something more exciting, like a real live baby. I think this is an obvious case of projection, since he has a crazy prozac-dog that he would gladly exchange for a crazy prozac-baby.

Anyway. I thought I'd check in and see what Iggy was up to all this time that I have been ignoring her, and it turns out she's decided to get a new look. I did a bit of a double take when I finally got around to looking in her direction (poor, neglected dog) - her decision to brighten her smile was not subtle, and I have to say I'm surprised I hadn't noticed the change earlier.

Given her kibbley budget, she had to opt for the most basic chompers - GW-style. I mean check these things out:

If that's not a desperate cry for attention, I don't know what is. Suffice it to say, I will be trying to pay more attention to her in the future (for fear that she might go in for more cosmetic surgery). Maybe I'll feed her every now and then, and sometimes let her go outside. Though, now that she's got her new teeth, it's going to be even harder to beat back the boys. Before, it was her (apparently) remarkably aromatic little butt, now it will be her dazzling smile. Or both, I guess.

Posted by ribbu at 02:28 PM | Comments (1)

January 17, 2008

The Machine Stops

So, I've been approached by Chester River Press to do a few illustrations for a book they're thinking about printing in a small run. This is exciting news, because it's a small press that does BEAUTIFUL letterpress work. You can't really tell quite how beautiful from the images online (even at large size) because part of the beauty of the whole letterpress thing is actually seeing the ink on the paper. Anyway, the last book they did was The Chesapeake Voyages of Captain John Smith (TCVoCJS for short), which our friend and subscriber Marc Castelli illustrated. The book that I might illustrate isn't going to be nearly as richly done as TCVoCJS, but I'm not complaining. They really went all out on that one and it is GORGEOUS. Plus, the idea that I'm considered even sort of in the same league as Marc is ridiculous (and yet strangely pleasing).

Anyway. The name of the book they're thinking of doing next is "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster. It's kind of a futuristic, apocalyptic, matrix-y type story that is creepy in large part because Forster wrote it in 1909. If you have some time, have a read, because it's really quite fascinating, if you like that sort of thing.

It's not a sure thing yet, but I'm glad I was pointed in the direction of the story regardless. I did some sketches but it's all still very much in the planning stages, so who knows if any of this will actually ever go to press (I'm a real under-expecter in life - it keeps me from getting disappointed when things don't pan out).

Matthew actually had trouble telling what this was, which means it's probably not a good illustration. But, it's these airships he talks about, crashing down through the earth. Color would help, but as I learned in grad school, if an image is illegible without color, then it's ultimately unsuccessful. Way to keep a woman down, grad school and Matthew.

So that's the exciting latest.

In other news, I recently hung out with two of my very best friends from college, Sam and Mike (though actually on separate occasions).

Okay. So the crazy thing about these two guys is that in spite of that fact that they look (and often act) like complete idiots (this is a high compliment, coming from an idiot herself) they are, in fact, wicked smart, and they profess at some very fancy institutions. Sam's a professor at Tufts and Mike is not a self-loathing illustrator (see the url), but rather a self-loathing professor at Harvard Business School. I mention this only in this here blog because if anyone who reads this should ever find themselves enrolled at Tufts or HBS, you should take a class from these guys because they're HILARIOUS. And maybe also because they seem to know something about, like, stuff. I also mention it because it kind of makes me look smart by association, which is as close as I'll get. Luckily, nobody in college picks their friends because of smarts, they pick them because they were impressed by the fact that they can fit 15 marshmallows in their mouth at once. Actually, I only met them because of my hot roommate Cathy who beguiled all the guys - I can't actually fit 15 marshmallows in my mouth. Sometimes, you just need to surround yourself with greatness, and then reap the benefits.

Posted by ribbu at 11:15 AM

January 13, 2008

Things to Avoid

So, Matthew and I are currently in the wilds of Massachussettssttstst teaching this class on "Literary Collaboration." I would like to say, here, and to the world, that our students are AWESOME and make other classes I've taught seem like I was doing long division (math + robbi = no fun at all). I know that like you're not supposed to have favorite children, you are probably not supposed to have favorite classes, but I'm breaking all the rules here and saying this class is the best: great ideas, great critiques, lots of enthusiasm and general fantasticness abounds. Now, in defense of everyone else, these students have the benefit of only taking one class at the moment (it's a January term), the class only lasts 3 and a half weeks, and they only get a Pass/Fail, no real grade. And matthew's up there teaching with me, which makes the faculty end of things double the fun. But, in their defense, they have a LOT to accomplish in this short amount of time. Anyway. It's really really gratifying to be teaching this class, and I am so glad that we decided to do it.

One of the pairs of students wrote themselves a list of Things to Avoid in their collaborative process, and I think it really ought to be a treatise on collaboration. Or, at least on the kind of collaboration that matthew and I like to do. It is brilliant, and I wish I had been astute enough to come up with it myself. It is as follows:


1. Regurgitation (especially of stuff you've done outside the collaboration)
2. One dominant voice
3. Overstatement
4. Self-indulgence
5. Hallmark Classics (sentimentality, melodrama)
6. Didacticism
7. Opacity or artsiness
8. Ignoring your instincts

Now, I realize there are all kinds of collaboration where this would be a totally inappropriate list of things to avoid, but it really captures the spirit of our particular brand of collaboration. I should print it out and have it by my bedside to read every night before I go to sleep. Especially the self-indulgence one. It's remarkable that these two students so accurately captured what we've been trying to sell them. Perhaps they are trying to gain extra points for listening to and distilling what we've been saying, and if so, well then double check plus. My ass has been properly kissed.

In other news:


Ok. Just kidding. We just borrowed some. Some very very well-behaved ones. They taught us some very important things, like how grateful we are that when our baby arrives, it will be outnumbered 2 to 1.

Posted by ribbu at 09:16 PM

January 06, 2008

Pleased to meet your reacquaintance

Well hello, everyone. Yes, well, once again it's been SO long since I posted that I feel guilty and ashamed. In case you've forgotten who I am, here is the basic rundown:

1. I am preggo and fat and have recently had to bid my farewells to my belly button.
2. I have been on the road for the past month tending to holiday matters and whatnot. While I haven't been on the road, I have been working manically to get ahead on Idiots'Books.
3. I currently find myself in the Berkshires in Massachusetssssttsstts (which I never spell right) to teach a class with Matthew on collaborative writing and illustration.
4. Yesterday, I napped from 10:00am to noonish, dozed from noonish to 3:30pm, when I ate an ice cream cone (cherry vanilla), slept from 4pm to 8pm, then dozed on and off until midnight, when I officially went to bed and didn't wake till 11 this morning. This isn't as great an achievement as if, say, Matthew had done it, but I salute myself for finding the time and energy to do it.
5. In spite of yesterday's great achievement, I find myself yawning whenever Matthew speaks to me. Coincidence?
6. Though I have said my farewells to my belly button, it sometimes reappears in disturbing outie fashion when I laugh. I ignore it, and cover it with my hand (which, actually, isn't really ignoring it so much at all). Perhaps this is a problem Santa Claus also has. He seems to hold his belly a lot.
7. Matthew and I have been planning a literary/music festival to happen in February. If you haven't heard about it already, check it out HERE. It's going to rock.
8. I have a dog, and sometimes she's bad. But mostly we've been lucky and she behaves herself.
9. I have two cats, and they are usually good, and always fat and really hairy. But given the fact that they are cats, we feel lucky that we even like them at all.
10. The odds of my child being bad are looking increasingly good (or is it bad?). We keep meeting very well-behaved children. We haven't met a naughty bad one yet. I worry for us being the one couple with the real terror.

My guilt is now temporarily assuaged.
Next update promises to be something more interesting. Or, maybe not.

Posted by ribbu at 01:39 PM