« January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

February 24, 2008

Idiots'Fest 2008: Day 1

Okay, it's been over a week now since the big shindigenanigans, and neither of us has yet to post about it. We are very good about posting about little nothings, like our dog and my increasing girth, but when something REALLY important comes along, we're just unable to put it all to paper/pixels. The reason here is that Idiots'Fest was so great and awesome that it totally blows my mind to even think about. So many things went JUST RIGHT and there were so many great moments and there was so much that just flew by because we were both running around like crazies that it's hard to even know where to start.

That being said, I think it makes at least nominal sense to start with Day 1. (btw, I just looked up "nominal" to make sure it meant what I thought it did (it only kind of did, but whatever) and the fourth definition listed was this: 4 informal (chiefly in the context of space travel) functioning normally or acceptably. What the...? I wonder how often THAT definition comes up...) So, Day 1 was the kick-off event at the Rose O'Neill Literary House at WC. Matthew and I did a reading with Drew and Brian underscoring us. We read Unattractive and Inadequate and debuted Volume 14 (can you believe it? It's already written and drawn - even though Vol. 13 has yet to be sent out! Thanks, baby, for making me have to do advance work!). If you're at all intrigued, Volume 14 is called "The Vast Sahara". Brian and Drew rocked it with some crazy middle-eastern influenced jazz or something (can you tell I'm not a musician?) - trust me, it sounded awesome. We actually got a recording of it, so someday once it's mixed down, I'll post it (apparently matthew was yelling into the mic so drew needs to pull him back a little bit on the recording). There was a fair turnout of the college crowd and some community members, and the rest of the performers for Saturday trickled in throughout the evening.

During the break between sets, there was a demo in the press room showing how the broadsides were made. I got to crank one of the suckers through - Emma and Mac had already printed the black plate and most of the yellow plates, but left a few of the yellows for the demo. Check out my mad letterpress skillz:

How cool is that? I love printing. There's something so gratifying about the fact that you can just crank out as many of those things as you want, if you have enough paper and ink. There's something about multiplicity that I'm a real sucker for. I don't care what someone's doing, if they do lots of it, it's just plain impressive. Yeah, okay, it's a lame way to pass judgement, but what can I say, I have no standards. Quantity over quality, every day. Isn't that how the world goes 'round, anyway?

Some other folks got to print their own broadsides too:

Can you tell we're related?

Anyway. They turned out beautifully, and I only wish we had sold lots and lots more of them. We did our best to hype them up:

And then matthew and I tried our best to match talent with brian and drew, but they totally rocked us out:

From the looks of this picture, they're being very casual about their rockittude, but trust me, they were amazing. It was all improvised (they had never even seen or read The Vast Sahara and hadn't really played with each other in years) and they really did a stellar job. I keep thinking to myself how excruciating this whole event could have been if the (self-proclaimed impromptu) musical talent had been mediocre, or even talented but unable to mesh. I wasn't worried, but the greatness that was evidenced really brought into focus the potential for it to have been really really bad. If one cog had been off, it really could have sucked. But it didn't. Thank goodness, because then next year we might have had to call the festival Subscribers That Suck. It just doesn't have the same ring to it.

We finished off the evening by setting things up for the band over at Bookplate. There were still some random things in the back room, which Matthew put to good use.

There were lots of shenanigans, some pizza and some belly shots, and we got to hang out a little with Bren, who is officially our most dedicated subscriber, bringing in some dozens of new subscribers from her home state of Iowa. There have never been so many idiots in the great midwest.

There was also lots of fiddling and faddling with sound equipment that left the ladies glazed and irritable. But I suppose it was all necessary. We parted ways for the night around midnight, abuzz with anticipation for the main event.

And by "abuzz with anticipation" I mean "completely physically and mentally exhausted".

Posted by ribbu at 11:52 AM

February 13, 2008

Barbecue on the Horizon

For those of you who are not already aware of this, Idiots'Fest 2008: Subscribers That Rock is happening this weekend. THIS WEEKEND! Which means that Matthew is getting twitchier by the minute, and I am falling into the stupor of denial (some might blame it on pregnancy).

Now, this weekend's events will include all kinds of awesomeness, most notably Jim Shepard (National Book Award finalist and all-around great guy) and Brian Slattery (first-time novelist and full-time rocker), but I'm going to reveal to you, here on this blog, the secret recipe for the C-town coup:

Alright, now, this isn't the most flattering picture ever, and you might be thinking, "Holy Shit! Is Hall & Oates going to be there?! Are they even still alive?? And did they totally get haircuts???" unless, of course, you're big fans, in which case you know that they are still alive, didn't get haircuts, and will be (gently) rocking Atlantic City come April. For those of you who aren't big fans of Hall & Oates, I guess it wouldn't be such a big draw, then, to imply that they might be coming to C-Town. So - the truth of the matter is, these guys are going to be catering Idiots'Fest. And they aren't small-time caterers who just throw a pig on a stick and turn it while getting themselves equally baked. No no no - Sam (on the right) has catered for the stars, year after year, at Wolf Trap, which is, for those of you who don't know, a huge music venue outside of DC. He is putting together a menu for us that is just unbelievable - including barbecue ribs, brisket, slow-cooked chicken breast, stir-fried veggies, sesame noodles and some kind of tofu dish that includes almonds and mandarin oranges, which automatically makes it an A++ in my book. They came last week and showed us some pix from past events - I had no idea we were dealing with such hotshots. Wild Bill (on the left) is sort of like the honorary crazy uncle to the Behr family - he has come up to Alaska with us many a summer, and works the Philadelphia Flower Show with us every year. So, he's only a hotshot-by-association. I imagine he could probably turn a pig and get baked with the best of them, though. But Sam's the real deal. And to top it all off, they are both just the nicest damn guys you'll ever meet.

All this is to say if you aren't tempted by great literature and music, at least be tempted by a cheap meal ($10, all you can eat!) that promises to be delectable, and prepared by capable and kind hands.

Posted by ribbu at 12:36 PM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2008

A Fistful of Oscars

So, I have this cat. He's fat. He's golden. His name is Oscar. (I also have another cat who is also fat, but who is black and pissy and not named Oscar, and therefore, not what this entry is about). He's a handsome and noble fellow, but willingly gives up the spotlight when needed.

This is Oscar.

But he's not the Oscar who this entry is about. This entry is about Oscar, the other golden one, who is handsome and noble and may not be fat, but is definitely very, very heavy, and willingly shares the spotlight with the stars on Oscar Night. Since the Academy Awards show is on the horizon, I thought I'd write about my run-in with Oscar. I've never been a big follower of the awards shows, but my mom used to be a real devotee - she would watch every year, with the commercials and everything, as the show went longer and longer into the night as the years went by. Until, one year, she accidentally set the barn on fire because of her Oscar devotion. It didn't burn down, but there was a lot of damage. In her rush to get home to watch the Oscars, she had forgotten to turn off her hotplate, thus setting her tea kettle alight, thus catching the numerous pieces of dried flora, dusty towels and other flammable detritus about on fire, thus eventually burning up a bunch of stuff in her studio (or so legend has it). Luckily, a good friend of ours was walking by because he was not at home watching the Oscars, and noticed that there was smoke pouring out of the bottom of the barn. The proper authorities were called, and now mom makes yearly donations to the volunteer fire department and gets all tense on Oscar night.

But this entry really isn't about my mom and Oscar either.

This entry is about me and Oscar. Yes, I have been fortunate enough to have a real life Oscar in my hot little hands. He was heavy but polite, and didn't seem to mind my gripping him firmly by the legs and caressing his buns.

I won this Oscar for my good work being Matthew's dialect coach in A Matter of Justice - yes, look on down the list and you'll see that he starred as "Matt". That's really him. He had to master a true Alabama accent. And, you know how I am with the accents. The Academy was so impressed with his metamorphosis from suburban Kansan to Alabama country boy in four short lines that they gave me the Oscar. It was their one shining moment of really recognizing true talent.

Ok. Actually, that's a lie. That's why you shouldn't believe anything that you read on a blog. I have no one to stop me. This particular Oscar was actually awarded to Sidney Glazier, producer of The Eleanor Roosevelt Story. I just happened to be at his daughter Karen's house, was snooping around, found it, and was wondering why they had a fake Oscar sitting around. "What's the gag?" I thought. No gag. It was real. I was humbled in his presence. So asked if I could have my picture taken with him. Karen was kind enough to let me, but just to add to the authenticity, I asked for another picture with her in it too.

Just in case you don't believe I'm friends with a swank novelist whose father won an Oscar.

FYI, you also shouldn't believe everything you see on a blog. I'm a real whiz with Photoshop.

Posted by ribbu at 12:19 PM

February 06, 2008

Some People Just Shouldn't be Allowed to Have Babies

So, yesterday I had to go in and pre-register at the hospital for delivering this big fat baby of ours. I had a bunch of paperwork I was supposed to fill out beforehand, so I diligently went ahead and started working on it. It was asking for all kinds of information, like your medical history, how often you drink alcohol, "Mother's Maiden Name" "Mother's Married Name" "Mother's Date of Birth". So I'm filling this thing out answering the questions and putting my mom's information in all the places they ask for it. The farther down the form I got, I started to wonder - why the hell do they need to know my mom's level of education? Or her social security number? Why aren't they asking anything about my dad???

Silly me. I'M the mother in question. Not MY mother. I had to scribble everything out like a moron who didn't know her own name.

Fit for parenting? You decide.

Posted by ribbu at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2008

Explorer Experiments

So, we are putting together a pre-Idiots'Fest program that will be happening up at the Lit House at WC on Thursday afternoon (4:30, if anyone's interested in dropping by). It's basically a talk about the kind of collaboration we do (the kind that makes books, not babies) - and so we've been going through old projects and seeing the different paths we've taken to get them to their finished states. Matthew has kept a box full of old papers and whatnot (which we all know I would have thrown away in a heartbeat), that have proven to be of great archaeological interest.

We found some failed initial attempts at the French Explorers, which must have been so bad in my estimation that Matthew claims never to have seen them before (though somebody must have dug them out of the trash). I remember drawing them and falling into a profound funk for a couple of days, because they didn't come out all magically like things sometimes do.

I think the magic of the final explorers lay in the paper - although, ultimately I think it was the combination of the paper and the gouache... the difference between the black and white versions and the color versions is pretty remarkable.

There's just something about adding the color that makes it pop. I learned in school that an illustration that isn't legible in black and white isn't going to be successful in color, but I have to say that the way I draw seems to always be greatly improved (legibility-wise) with color.

Anyway. It all goes to show that sometimes the right tools make a project. And that sometimes, when you're not feeling it, you're just not feeling it. And that you should just go into a funk for a couple of days and try again later.

Posted by ribbu at 01:56 PM