Like I might’ve mentioned, early March was crazy-making. Between five days at a a major SCA event (got home on a Sunday night) and the 5th Annual Tucson Festival of Books, it was nuts (I volunteered for it on the Friday–can you get carpal tunnel syndrome from opening 800 tote bags?–after that Sunday), we were pooped. But it was fun!
I’m not going to say much about the Festival, only it was COLD on Saturday with sporadic rainshowers…not that it kept anyone away (they just dressed appropriately), there was an actual time slot during the two days I attended (heresy! well, I wanted to make sure I got in to see the Stephan Pastis talk in the next time slot), and it was great.
(Not the ‘usual’ March weather for the Festival — but thrown on a hoodie and long pants, maybe carry an umbrella, and yer good ta go!)
UA sponsored “Science City,” so there was even more to see (and a lot of “off-mall” exhibits and demos in Physics, Computer Science, Mirror Lab). I got buttons from and got to talk to a great lady from Heifers International (and picked up a very granola cookie-like cow patty, used for cooking fires in Armenia), etc., etc. If you live anywhere NEAR Tucson and don’t go to the Festival of Books, well, it’s your own damned fault.
And these are the talks I attended:
Savonarola and Segesser: They Changed History, for Heaven’s Sake. Two religious men, one a nut and the other a Jesuit missionary here in Sonora. I still don’t feel any sympathy for Savonarola (he’s the guy who preached against the material world and instigated “Bonfires of the Vanities” in northern Italy…he was eventually hoisted on his own petard, or hanged and burned, or something similar), but Dr. Weinstein, his biographer, has an interest in 15th-16th C. Italian street fighting — how cool is that?!?
(Oh, hey, he lives in our neighborhood, too…Dr. Classen, not Padre Segesser!)
Tombstone Twosome: Josephine & Wyatt Earp. The presenters are the definitive biographers of the Earps, particularly Josephine. She was Jewish…I didn’t know that. Bruce did. How did that happen? (He said he’d watched a program on the Earps on PBS.)
How Italian Food Conquered the World. This was very cool. There’s a pretty good (and RECENT!) timeline for this, starting in WWII, when GIs brought home pizza, when movies about Italy and movies directed by Italians spread the romance of and food interest in the country (yes, even that scene in Lady and the Tramp helped), and when produced-in-Italy foods (like their wines) began to experience world-wide exportation. It is not especially Italian to have a candle sticking out of the neck of a raffia-wrapped wine bottle. In less than a half-century, Italian food may be the most popular “foreign food” world-wide.
Paranormal Romance: Why People Love Vampires. This is probably the meh-iest panel I’ve ever attended at the Festival. The audience was very familiar with the writers, and to an outsider (like me), it seemed very cliquish and in all honesty, not very interesting. Discussion ran out well before the time allotted (this never happens, and usually the Q&A period is tiny), so Q&A (and, “why I like…”) took up most of the time. I went because this was the only “vampire” panel this year. Unfortunately, the “romance” part really trumped it.
Vodka Distilled. No, I wasn’t on the tasting panel, but I now know the rudiments of hosting a vodka tasting, and how vodkas made from different bases (rye, wheat, corn, grapes) have their own distinct characters. Very neat to see four or five vodkas being sampled (and how to properly sample them, even if you have to open your mouth like a grouper) and to see some vodka cocktails being mixed. Neatest thing: in barwear, there is a new, cute-as-hell stemmed glass called the “Nick and Nora.” (I’d start drinking for that alone!)
Vodka: it’s not just for a cheap drunk anymore.
That was Saturday…five panels. And you wonder why I only attended four on Sunday?
Sunday “Cheese” School. Better than Sunday School! Cooking with cheese…lots of it. The author gave all sorts of tips to make swell grilled cheese sandwiches (those even the hoi polloi in the audience (me) got to sample (woohoo! cheese on the inside AND outside), and all kinds of variations on mac’n’cheese (that Bruce, as a designated Taster, got to sample…but he left some for me). He even got to sit with Channel 4’s Kristi Tedesco…yep, another ooh! aah! moment.
The Art in the Art of Storytelling in Picturebooks. Three childen’s illustrators, Jerry Pinkney, Floyd Cooper and Matt Phelan told about their work in the field. Interesting and involving, only we were camped out there to see…
Fear, Intrigue, & Humor: Engaging Kids as Readers. R.L. Stine, local dude Adam Rex and new novelist Stephan Pastis played to a packed auditorium. Stine is the old man of the bunch and just as fun and funny as the new kids. Adam Rex has just worked illustrating a book by Neil Gaiman, and Pastis is goofy: who else writes a book about a kid detective and his polar bear sidekick? This panel was a stitch (it helps when the moderator of the panel says something to the effect of “We’d like to thank Scholastic for bringing us R.L., Simon and Shuster for Stepan, and Schwinn for Adam.” Adam lives in the West University Neighborhood, maybe a half-mile from campus.)
Pearls Freaks Out. Okay, it’s the last set of panels (4 PM Sunday) of a very long weekend, and we damn near didn’t get seats for this! The Arizona Daily Star Pavilion (read, tent) opened up its back and sides to let more people stand and see Pastis himself regale the crowd with a slide show, anecdotes (“Screw you, Pastis!”–Jeff Keane), and lots of laughs. Very, very cool that he was introduced by the Star’s editorial cartoonist Dave Fitsimmons, and that he acknowledged Bob Weber, Jr. (Slylock Fox‘s dad) and one of the dudes who writes Baby Blues, both lurking in the audience.
And then — during the book-signing afterward, he autographed the newsprint copy of my Fourth Place (“loser”) entry in the Washington Post‘s Style Invitational “Mashup Contest” from a few years ago. AND HE DREW A LEEDLE CROC ON EET, TOO! So. Very. Cool. Thank you, Mr. Pastis.
(Imagine a leedle Larry above the strip. Yeah, that’s it.)
YOU ARE INVITED TO THE 6th ANNUAL TUCSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, MARCH 15-16, 2014! Be there!
No, really! We attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in early May. Over 2300 vendors. Like a Home Depot on steroids. Maybe I’ll post more photos (even though photography wasn’t permitted on the trade show floor, you’d think I could’ve found better pictures of this dazzling lass online — geez, hardware guys aren’t as geeky and drooly as computer guys as I’d thought) — you had to see this, though.
Hmmm. I thought I’d written about the 3rd Annual Tucson Festival of Books last year, but I guess not. Well, that one, and this year’s (aka, the 4th Annual Tucson Festival of Books, amazingly enough) was a lot like the first one I went to in 2010. Only bigger (maybe 100,000+ this year? and with more exhibits for sure) and just as much fun and just as exhausting. Only no Stormtroopers (at least I didn’t see any).
The weather was GREAT, considering the winds were gusting to 40+ MPH the Friday of set-up. Yay for the respite. And I can’t really express how much there is to see and do there, with all the authors and panels and entertainment and stuff like that, only it’s better than the street fair. No kidding.
So things that I saw: bark scorpions and making anti-venom from them; the booth on organ/tissue donation (and signing up for that, since evidently the cheap-ass little sticker for doing this had fallen off my driver’s license); too swell goth and steampunk artwork from a company called Steamcrow (the kind of place that has so much you want you end up buying very, very little — like two pins); and smelling Brushfire Barbeque’s stand way too much.
And this is what I heard/learned/laughed at:
Boneheads: My search for T. rex with an Oddball Group of Dinosaur Hunters. Richard Polsky is a fine arts dealer who has a secret five-year-old’s love for dinosaurs and fossils. He went dinosaur hunting with the various parties who found/owned/sued over the most complete T. rex skeleton ever found (“Sue,” who now lives at the Field Museum in Chicago, is a 90% complete skeleton), and chronicles his adventures in the Badlands of South Dakota via a rental Honda Civic. The Sioux whose property Sue (har!) was found on eventually got $8M for the sale of the skeleton: he bought a fancy-schmancy truck for himself and bought farmland for his kids with the rest of the money.
Animal Behavior–Mild to Wild! Sy Montgomery (a writer with an interest in pigs, man-eating tigers, and everything in between), Patricia McConnell (UW-Madison professor of ethology) and Kristen Nelson, DVM, talked about their experiences with pets, wild critters, therapy animals, cool stuff like that. Sometimes they’d get weepy or sad, but it was all good in the end. (Chemistry 111 is still old and creaky after all these years, but I think the the Periodic Table of Elements have been updated at least.)
Three Very Funny Guys — Humor in Books. Jon Scieszka (the first writer I ever listened to at the Festival), Adam Rex and Mac Barnett write and/or illustrate kids’ books. The three of them are friends and often do book tours and festivals together, and it’s apparent. This was hysterical, starting with their name plates being changed (by the moderator, who’s supposed to be the Responsible Adult) from
MAC – ADAM – JON
FUNNY – CUTE – OLD.
Jon changed his to BOLD.
Mac or Adam changed it to BALD.
And then Adam showed off his artistic skills by drawing a monster based on suggestions from the audience, a creature made up of a snake, a sloth and Jon. You kind of get the idea of how out-of-control this panel got — this was one of those face-hurts-at-the-end-of-it-talks.
(Mac is really cute, though…look at his photos on his website. And Jon is really bald. Enclosed are photos for proof.)
The Return of High Fantasy. This was the first panel I’ve attended in three years where I had to stand in line to get a seat (this is becoming common at the Festival). Just so you know, high fantasy never left, you just have to know where to look for it. It was particularly interesting to see Judith Tarr (who has a PhD in History, which helps explain her fine detail in her novels) and Naomi Novik (who has an ongoing series regarding the Napoleanic War era, if the military nations of the time had air forces composed of dragons. If you don’t think that makes sense, bear in mind Peter Jackson has optioned the rights for the first film. If it’s good enough for Jackson and the magic-makers at WETA…). My huge “Aha!” moment was discovering Robin Hobb writes under the name Megan Lindholm. Lindholm wrote a swell book some years ago and then “disappeared” some time after — not such a one-trick pony, after all.
Same Place, Same Time, Different Reality: Alternate Histories in Fiction. Novik and Hobb again, this time with Cherie Priest and Maria Dahvana Headley. More interesting authors and books I have to read, especially when Priest grew up in a household with a fundamentalist mother who didn’t condone reading. She did put up with the “classic” (i.e., dead) author compendiums that Priest’s father would give his kids for the holidays (like Poe and Lovecraft). Huh.
Okay. That was Saturday. On Sunday it was:
Zany and Crazy. This was a panel with Jon Scieszka (again) and Tom Angleberger, talking about their respective series Spaceheadz (three moronic aliens attempt to take over the Earth, based on watching television broadcasts and believing what commercials tell them) and the adventures involving Orgami Yoda and Darth Paper (the weirdest boy in school makes origami Star Wars characters). The most refreshing discovery here (aside from these are two very funny guys — go figure) is that That Powers That Be don’t mind characters with the names of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper, and when Tom broke his leg last year, Lucasfilm sent him get-well cookies!
Of course, we don’t know how he broke his leg…
[It was also neat to see the Arizona Daily Star‘s op/ed cartoonist Dave Fitzsimmons talking to the guys before the panel and sitting in. If Fitz says it’s funny, it’s a 99% guarantee that it’s funny.]
Quick sprint to one book-signing area to have Robin Hobb (cleverly disguised as Megan Lindholm) to sign my copies of her novel (which she said was the hardest she’s ever written and writing in first-person is very difficult and something she’ll never do again*) and another quick sprint to another book-signing area to have Jon S. sign my copy of The Stinky Cheese Man… and a picture of his face on a fan, before
Lessons from the Octopus. Tidal pool biologist Rafe Sagarin spent a year in D.C. with his Califoria Congresswoman to work on an ecology-based agenda. When this coincided with the year after 9/11, he ended up observing how things like Homeland Security and a general ecology of fear work at odds with the workings of the natural world, and how following a pattern of adaptation and observation would make global terrorism, natural disaster response and epidemic outbreaks more successfully contended with.
Chasing Chiles. Local ethnologist Gary Nabhan talked about his most recent work with the evolution and sociology of chiles (which, while New World, really didn’t take off as a cultivated plant until about the same time of the Spanish colonization — how about that?! It was all just gathering those itty-bitty chilitepins, “bird chiles,” before that). He answered questions from the audience, sadly ignoring Bruce’s one on how to make chiles come out less hot than when they go in. Guess he doesn’t know everything…
Taco Table. Yay! Culinary tent! Louis Ellen Frank is a cultural anthropologist (newly-papered PhD) and chef in Santa Fe NM concentrating on the history and use of native Southwestern foodstuffs. She prepared “Indian tacos” for a lucky few taste-testers with mesquite flour tortilla, tepary beans, bison meat and chiles. While we starved through that, Bruce was fortunate to be chosen as a Lucky Lush for…
The PDT Cocktail Book. PDT is a swank NYC cocktail bar, and head bartender Jim Meehan talked about bartending history and philosophy as he prepared three cocktails (yes, boys and girls, booze on the UA Mall! High-end stuff, too!) for the taste-testers. Other than grapefruit juice is way too popular in modern cocktail culture, and Bruce prefers his Scotch unadulterated with other ingredients, this was a very interesting learning experience in learning how to prepare cocktails, and to order a beer if you go to a bar and see the bartender exhibiting a very limp shake. (One of Meehan’s assistants here is a bartender at 47 Scott in downtown Tucson: his name is Ciaran (how Gaelic!), he has the build and red hair of Conan O’Brien, and he wails the tar out of two shakers at once.)
There. All done. One panel per rotation, and there were at least seven panels for each time slot. I’m telling you, you have to come to the Tucson Festival of Books, www.tucsonfestivalofbooks.org. No kidding. You will be dead at the end of it, and happy.
It still would’ve been fun with a couple of Stormtroopers.
*Oh, that someone would’ve gotten hold of Stephanie Meyer a few years ago…
One of the favorite commenters (well, one of MY favorite commenters) from the Comics Curmudgeon, Jeff Gillette, died in his home on Monday. Dingo was only 47 years old (too soon, too soon!) and had a wicked, nasty, unforgiving wit. He could be dirtier than all get out (I’m sure his photo is next to Webster’s definition of “raunchy”), which suited me just fine. I always hoped that one day we might be able to meet in Las Vegas (he designed gaming machines), or that he could coddle me though learning how to put music to my occasional little .gif mashups. Well, heck.
Dingo was one very cool fellow. He even introduced me to Paul Rudd, and if Hollywood ever gets so desperate for a Rex Morgan, M.D. movie (aka, “scraping the bottom of the creativity barrel”), you can be I’ll be front and center with Paul as Dingo and my first and only choice for Rex. Dingo also introduced me to some very questionable online comic sites (read, feelthy), but I sent him interesting stuff in return, so I think we have a draw. (I think I had more naked photos of Paul Rudd, though.)
I’m thinking warm thoughts for him and all his family, whom he absolutely adored — I’m pretty sure that the feeling was mutual. The lucky guy even won a fishing trip “up north” a few years ago, and got to take his dad fishing, too (but without Rusty and Sassy and Kelly Welly!). And here’s a little thing I put together for Jeff during one of his job-searching safaris. He liked it…that’s cool. Until we can really meet again, Dingo,
A local church has gone one better (or weirder) than other churches that actively discourage kids from celebrating that heathen/pagan/Wiccan/Satantic/dentists’ nightmare (or dream come true) known as Halloween. Instead of a “Fall Fair” or a “Harvest Shindig,” it’s having a “Halloween Jesus Festival” (I kid you not). I guess it must be okay, because I’m fairly sure something with both “Halloween” and “Jesus” on the same banner would immediately combust otherwise.
Of course, time’s awasting, and everyone knows Cool Costume = Great Treats! Hey, Jesus, whatcha gonna wear?
Okay, the one for the big day. Just remember…He’ll be back!
I don’t know this counts as a costume, if you’re just riding the bike without wearing a leather jacket or boots or something. Still, pretty stylish for quick getaways… (wearefishermen.com)
Simple and sporty…and it’s the weekend! (wearefishermen.com)
Maybe “group costumes” are a possibility, but you usually have to have someone more willing than an old grump like Saint Peter to play along…
Every little kid’s dream at some point. Ride ’em, Cowboy! (another figure attributed to wearefishermen.com)
Well, it’s not like NASA is using them right now…
Supposedly, these fabulous action figures come from the company We Are Fishermen (wearefishermen.com). Real or not, a board and some baggies, and you have a super Halloween costume…Cowabunga, Big Kahuna!
And sometimes, you can take things a little too literally…
A little more literalism…
Here’s another piece of art that I found on the Intertubes…coool!
Tucson City Elections this year are all mail ballots! I know I’ll need Special Help to remember not to lose the ballot when I get it (they were mailed out yesterday) AND to remember to return the ballot in time.
Dang…evolution has GOT to work!
Next on “Pimp my Savior”…
Simple and to the point. (artist unknown)
I know there’s a movie or a comic book out there that’s something like “Jesus Christ, Vampire Killer,” but I like this much better!
It’s the weekend, and it seems if folks aren’t playing sports, they’re watching sports. I don’t know if we’re currently in hockey season, but any time is good for a pick-up game.
(And the old saw: Jesus saves, but Gretsky scores on the rebound!)
Sometimes you can just get too caught up in trying to make a decision, about anything. There are times when you have to remember everything will work out, relax, and hey — it’s Friday! (photo courtesy of Worth1000.com)
It’s true, you know!
I think more guys should wear tights.
Wanna see something REALLY scary?!?
One costume I never wore…probably because my mom would’ve killed me. Jesus’ mom is probably a little more understanding.
This is the kind of costume you wear to a party (perhaps even a “Halloween Jesus Festival”!), rather than out trick-or-treating. It’s an interesting concept, but it really interferes with the legwork needed to do justice to good Halloween hunting and gathering…
I have no idea who the artist is, only that this is a lovely piece of graphic art!
There’s something to be said for casual — Hawaiian shirts, a bulky cardigan sweater, and White Russians. Again, I don’t know the artist of the original Dude.
Everybody loves pirates, don’t they? Lovable rogues off on high adventure, stealing from the rich and just, honestly, keeping it for themselves. Okay, everybody sing:
“Yo ho, Yo ho,
A Savior’s life for me!”
Another beautiful piece of art by an unknown artist.
R.I.P. Steve Jobs. Brilliant guy, as are so many who don’t quite fit the mold, or who have other things to do than just be fashion plates. I think even He might consider some of your innovations a miracle…
(original artwork (minus glasses and pocket protector) from badmilk.com)
I can haz Savior?
It’s Sunday, and even if we can’t get to a Gospel meetin’, we can at least do a little walkin’ through Graceland…
(and the artist is Cora Lynn Deibler — this is a detail from her “Elvis and Jesus” work).
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!!!!!!!!
(There are a few updates here, including one very fashionable Miss Alice Otterloop — even with her usual panache, I think this fails her.)
…although some of the fashions were more reminiscent of a dog fight. Yes, I’m talking about Princess Beatrice of York’s hat. Bea’s hat:
Bea’s tribute to Theodore Geisel (I’ll wait as you figure that one out):
Bea’s tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien:
I could’ve sworn all members of the Royal Family were Church of England (although this comes pretty close to kicking the Archbishop of Canterbury’s miter in the butt)…
For that interminable time between all the wedding photos being snapped and finally getting to the wedding luncheon buffet (OM NOM NOM NOM!):
Bea telling the world not to forget the ongoing recovery in Japan…sugoi!
If you cruise the intertubes, you’ll find that a few folks have “borrowed” Bea’s chapeau (hey, she’s a Princess…whatever happened to a good, old-fashioned CROWN?!?), including Donald Trump, Osama bin Laden, Nick Nolte and some other famous people (who were not watching the Royal Wedding at the time):
Indy, let the Wookiee win let Belloq have this one…it isn’t worth the risk!
This is my favorite — I think the Big D does it justice:
(but maybe it’s only because his weenus is showing).
I’ll skip the comparisons to Alien‘s facehugger and uterus/Fallopian tubes (at least until I can find appropriate photos). Now let me add a few, relying on that fine British tradition of keeping a stiff upper lip, no matter the adversity:
And the very simple truth of the matter:
But at least the sad tale of “The Lost Little Teletubby” has a very happy ending! Eh Oh!
Alice Otterloop is usually a match for anyone and anything. This could be the first Fail in her young life:
And just so you know, it could’ve been worse: the wedding could’ve take place during the annual rut.
HAPPY FOREVER AFTER, WILLIAM AND KATE!
This is some of my early PhotoShop efforts. It started out when I realized that Clint Eastwood wasn’t the only fellow on the planet that had that steely cold stare — folks might’ve missed it, since Mr. Eastwood also had that hat and cigarillo, too.
So, the High Plains Drifter
became the High Savanna Drifter:
And although I mostly just go AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW at queek’s wonderful cute animals (queek is the source of Cuteness, to say nothing of being the Kawaii Commando), sometimes another icy gaze peers out from all that sweetness and light.
High Plains Weezo:
[Shut up. I know it’s an otter. They’re related, you know. And “Ottertude” just sounded silly.]
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