May 4th, 2011 | Uncategorized

A guy who’s teaching Fun Home did a very interesting post on his blog Parabasis about the panel transitions in Fun Home. He explains the six types of transitions that Scott McCloud outlines in Understanding Comics, and finds that the vast majority of transitions in FH are scene-to-scene, as opposed to the more usual action-to-action.

I’ve been going back and looking at Fun Home to see how I put it together as I struggle with the new memoir I’m working on. I worry all the time that I’m not sticking enough to simple dramatic action, but maybe that’s okay.

108 Responses to “geekout”

  1. cd in Madison says:

    Don’t worry so much, Alison. Your artistic vision is uniquely you. It comes from your brain and your heart and your pen, and while graphs and analysis are interesting, your story and pictures are what we wait for.

  2. Swistle says:

    I was interested in the chart (though all I know about such things is that whatever it is you do is what I like), but all of that was wiped by OMG YOU ARE WORKING ON A NEW MEMOIR. *happy anticipation*

  3. Calico says:

    I’m on page 64 of Fun Home and am loving it.
    Alison, You really put your heart and soul into this book. Looking forward to your next publication.

  4. Kate L says:

    Calico (#3) For a moment, I thought you meant that you appeared on a panel on page 64 of Fun Home!

    Sadly, by a 3-2 vote, the new Smallville city commission voted last night to eliminate the recent addition of the LGBT commununity to the city human rights ordinance. Perhaps, someday, we shall lilve in a time and place where all peoples are free to express who they are without fear, in a place where the LGBT may roam free. I take heart in the fact that, when the original Star Trek appeared on American television in the 1960’s, its portrayal of a future society without racial prejudice served as an inspiration for what the future could become. In this way, perhaps DTWOF will serve the same purpose, now, for the rights of LGBT folk. That’s all for now. And, as I believe Mo always said, “Live long and prosper!”.

  5. judybusy says:

    Well, Kate, that just stinks. But I do believe things will get better, if only because the younger generations have a much more open attitude. Of course, it will also take steady, smart activism as well, but I do hope it will get easier.

    Meanwhile, here is an encouraging story.

    BTW, as someone else mentioned on the last thread, Facebook is a great way to get cool stuff like this. It’s also how I found out about the death of Bin Laden. However, I do understand why some decline–I myself resisted for quite a while.

  6. judybusy says:

    Hmph. Link didn’t work. Here it is again.

  7. Calico says:

    Kate-sorry for my ambiguous semantics! πŸ™‚
    Sorry about the crappy vote results…here’s to hoping you will have success soon Re: the HRO!

  8. j.b.t. says:

    Wow – Judy busy, thanks for the link to that lovely story.

    Have you been following rep. Steve Simon’s fight against the Christian right here in MN? Despite finding parts of his argument… well, I don’t believe in God, so I guess they’d be “irrelevant,” he does a good job in pointing out that the Republican’s interest in banning gay marriage is based in religion, and we shouldn’t do that here in the land of church-and-state-are-separate.

    link:<A HREF=

    How does the link thing work???


  9. rinky says:

    Very interesting stats. It’s also amusing to imagine an academic carefully thumbing through FH and categorising each transition.

  10. Kate L says:

    j.b.t. (#8) The new city commissioners who voted to remove LGBT as a protected class in the local human rights ordinance said that they were doing so because the local religious right said that they have a right to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Members of the U.S. military remain a protected class under the ordinance, btw.

  11. judybusy says:

    j.b.t.–thanks for posting your video! To make links, see the HTML (hypertext markup) how-to below. It’s how I learned to do it, just one of the many things I’ve learned here on the blog. Are you part of the DTWOF Facebook folks? One of my local friends posted who to call as this goes before the legislature.

  12. bleu leaves says:

    Is there is there a way to email mentor with a concern? It’s about the blog, but I don’t want to broadcast it to the world.

    [Check your email. –Mentor]

  13. Kate L says:

    Jeez, out of curiosity, I just checked out my current address in Smallville in Google Maps, and got treated to a front and side view of my house, and an east and west view of the street and block my house is on!! Then, I looked up the address of the apartment house in Arllington, Virginia, that my family lived in back in 1965. I just saw the outside of the window that used to be the bedroom of me and my older sister!!The venetian blinds were drawn, fortunately. I can remember looking out that window at the full moon, wondering if people would ever get there.

  14. Dave* says:

    That’s a really interesting analysis. I’m not surprised. One of the things I love about Fun Home is its groundbreaking format. The story is in the first two chapters. The rest of the book is a collection of essays, each based around an incident and a literary work or works, each exploring an aspect of that story.
    That’s what I think, anyway.
    It’s good to know the book is getting some academic attention.

  15. ready2agitate says:

    Kate, it’s a weird weird weird weird weird weird world…

    So y’all, Massachusetts just confirmed our Governor’s nomination for the Supreme Judicial Court, Barbara Lenk, the Court’s first openly gay/lesbian judge = woot! (this, despite her having, gasp, a “militant political agenda to usurp the government’s authority” or some such).

  16. ready2agitate says:

    Happy Cinco de Mayo, ya’ll! May your Fun Home transitions be nonconfounding!

  17. Kate L says:

    Ready2Agitate #15

    Hey, I just found out how to manouver in Google Earth! And, I just found the corner bodega across the street from our old apartment building, where my mother used to send me on errands! And the flagstone wall leading up to it. It’s all still there, after nearly 50 years!!!

    And, I was able to get an overhead view of the party room on the top floor of our apartment house. I used to sneak up there during the day, just to look around the D.C area. Although, we called it The District, don’t ya’ know πŸ™‚ I always like to spend time alone up there, because the place smelled like bubble gum. Set the WayBack Machine for ’65, Mr. Peabody!!!

  18. Kate L says:

    Btw, I don’t know if this is significant, but this morning as I was going thru my sock drawer, I realized that I’ve been wearing a pair of mustard-yellow socks since I was in high school in 1971*! I’m wondering if this is some sort of temporal miracle!

    * No, hairball, not every day! πŸ™‚

  19. Kate L says:

    Finally, this item is not temporal anomaly – related, but it is the on-line diary of revolution, written by a young Syrian lesbian. I got this link from young Dr. Maddow’s blog this morning.

  20. Andrew B says:

    Alison, I had to take another look at McCloud to remind myself what he’s doing in that section of his book. It seems to me that the really interesting part is not the taxonomy of panel transitions; it’s the concept of closure. This is the active participation that must be supplied by the reader to give comics unity and continuity (my words, not McCloud’s). There’s an obvious reason why it’s rare to see as many scene to scene transitions as you used in Fun Home: in most comics, they would quickly become impossible for the reader to follow. Closure would be impossible, or at least so difficult that nearly all readers would give up.

    The obvious solution to this problem is to give the reader a hand, in the form of written narrative. McCloud’s canned examples of scene to scene all include a little narrative. Fun Home included a lot of narrative.

    The narrative in Fun Home also introduced a lot of ideas, interpretation, and associations. Those are two separate functions. You could use written narrative to tie a complicated series of panels together without introducing much interpretation. You can use a lot of narrative and still “stick to simple dramatic action”.

    Or you could cut back on the amount of narrative. I always admired the way you drew DTWOF with little written narrative and practically no use of thought balloons. You are very good at showing character, mood, and emotion in images. Fun Home was a departure in style. If you wanted to cut back on written narrative per se, you probably would have to use fewer scene to scene transitions in order to keep the work comprehensible.

    FWIW, I liked the short sequence of panels you showed at Wellesley. (Alison showed a sequence of panels of herself driving from VT to PA to tell her mother she was working on Fun Home. During the trip she was nearly run off the road by a truck hauling Sunbeam bread — the same cargo that the truck that killed her father was carrying.) They showed how you were shocked out of your self-absorption by the near accident. Your rage and fear certainly were conveyed graphically and it was clear how they reflected both the near miss and your need to tell the story of your father and yourself. If those panels are representative of finished work, I think your drawing style has changed a little over the last few years, in a way that could work well for the new book.

    Hope this is helpful. The main point I wanted to make is that there are (at least) two different ways that you used narrative in Fun Home and they don’t have to go together.

  21. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Is the new memoir the one about your mother? That is going to be amazingly amazing. I look forward to reading about your relationship with your mother as I think back about my relationship with my mother, who has turned into a sweet little old lady with no memory at all. I knew it was in there, and I knew she was always kind to strangers.

  22. Anja says:

    Hi, I’m a fan of your work. I’m also a theatre dramaturg, a stage critic and a writer – so if any help would be needed regarding the “simple dramatic action”, here I am. In any case: looking forward to the new book, waiting eagerly. Greets.

  23. Kate L says:

    Whenever I see the finished product of a professional cartoonist like A.B., let alone see all the prep work that goes into a story board, it puts my childhood efforts at drawing panels for an original Soupy Sales episode to shame! πŸ™

    Yesterday, in the campus parking lot, I saw a young woman with a buzz haircut, wearing wireframe glasses, jeans and a knit shirt with wide, horizontal stripes. She seemed familiar, somehow. I wanted to tell her not to worry about the recent descision by our new Smallville city commission to delete the LGBT community from our local human rights ordinance. I wanted to tell this young woman that everything would turn out ok. That right always triumps over wrong. However,as Mr. Spock said in one of the original Star Trek episodes, “I have learned that right does not always prevail over wrong, unless right is very, very careful.”. We’ll see.

  24. Kate L says:

    I need your help composing a letter. It takes two readings for the new Smallville city commission to complete the work of demolishing the recent addition of LGBT as a protected class in the local human rights ordinance. I’m composing a letter to the MOO U president, asking him to break his silence on the matter. Here is the draft of my letter. Any suggestions?

    Dear (Moo U President)

    Although you have recently urged the city commission not to repeal the former city commission’s institution of mandatory rental property inspections, you have so far not urged the commission to keep in place the former city commission’s addition of the LGBT community as a protected class in the city human rights ordinance. I would say that both are important for the safety of our students in the local community. If the new city commission goes ahead with repeal in the matter of the human rights ordinance, our LGBT students will be protected on campus by university policy, but they will not be protected once they set foot off campus property. This is definitely sending our LGBT students a mixed message about how welcome they are here! I respectively remind you that when you addressed the general campus community during your interview for the position of university president, I asked you if you supported keeping protections for the LGBT community in place as university policy. I remember that you answered that you are against discrimination against anyone. Also on my mind is the fact that next Saturday, Commencement Day, is when I and many other LGBT students, faculty and our allies will meet before dawn outside Bramblage colliseum to claim the high ground, so that our signs of welcome and congratulations to our graduates and their families will block out the hateful signs of the Fred Phelps family. We must insure that your stated goal of no discrimination against anyone in campus community continues to be made loud and clear in our city community, as well. A statement from you to the new city commission supporting the city human rights ordinance as it has been amended by the previous city commission would be invaluable in this regard, and I urge you to make that statement.

  25. judybusy says:

    Kate L, haven’t checked in too often. Here is my feedback:

    1. Break this into paragraphs for easier reading.

    2. Nearly half way, you state, “I respectively remind you….” This should be “respectfully.”

    3. “Also on my mind is the fact that next Saturday, Commencement Day, is when I and many other LGBT students, faculty and our allies will meet before dawn outside Bramblage colliseum to claim the high ground, so that our signs of welcome and congratulations to our graduates and their families will block out the hateful signs of the Fred Phelps family” Re-write: Next Saturday, Commencement Day, LGBT people and their allies will meet outside Bramblage Colliseum with signs of welcome to counter-act the planned protest by the Fred Phelps family. They are known for their virulent anti-gay protests. [paragraph break here would be good.]

    That’s all I’ve got. I hope the President does the right thing!

  26. Alex K says:

    Kate, good luck.

    Before you use LGBT write it out at least once: “…the former city commission’s addition of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community…”. Transvestite? Transsexual? Your choice for “T”.

    The word “colliseum” strikes me as mis-spelt. Rome’s Colosseum; the adaptation “coliseum” is conventional now for many venues in which grand displays, gatherings, spectacular events occur. I recommend a capital C to mark the proper noun.

    And again, with the President and everything else, good luck.

    I wonder what reasons (s)he might adduce NOT to make that statement!

  27. Alex K says:

    @21 / Thierry & St Jerome: Oh, oh… your post hurts to read.

    “I think back about my relationship with my mother, who has turned into a sweet little old lady with no memory at all. I knew it was in there, and I knew she was always kind to strangers.”

    It could never have been all the time — not even for some of us most of the time — but I so hope that she was kind not only to strangers but also, once in a while, to you —

  28. Andrew B says:

    Therry and St J, Alex K, it happens. Several years ago a female relative of mine died (not my mother, who is still alive). Many of the mourners at her memorial service were heartbroken. It brought home to me that she really had been a lovely person to know, so long as you weren’t too close to her. Unfortunately it wasn’t so lovely if you were.

    It’s tempting to say that she fooled people who didn’t know her well, but I think that would be wrong. It’s just that one couldn’t extrapolate from her behavior toward friends to her behavior toward family in the way one would expect. The older I get, the more I fail at trying to force the world into simplistic categories, the less adequate the schema of “appearance versus reality” becomes.

  29. ready2agitate says:

    Thanks for that, Calico! πŸ™‚

  30. Kate L says:

    Thanks, judybusy, Alex K. ! πŸ™‚

    The Date With Hate summons us at Moo U once again, to stand at Commencement this Saturday moring. In this way, we block the view that graduates, their families and friends, would otherwise have of the Fred Phelps family and their hateful signs. Here are some photos of our activities at a recent Date With Hate, courtesy of the campus Women’s Center. I’m in one of them.

  31. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    @Alex K and @ Andrew B, Andrew, you have Momma down to a T. She ;was an amazing activist and political spitfire. She would go up to RIchmond and the governor’s staff would say, “OMG, here comes Mary Steinhardt! Better give her what she wants!” She advocated for children like there was no tomorrow, especially early childhoos education and CHIP, an insurance program for poor children. My sibs and I used to say that she was extremely fond of children in the abstract, but real children didn’t quite register. She once showed up on my college campus, unannounced, to help me with my senior art show, and my jaw did not leave the floor for the entire visit. She had a difficult marriage, and lived in her head as a survival mechanism.
    Still can’t wait for AB to draw about her relationship with her mother.

  32. Kate L says:

    This Google Earth is really something. I was just viewing the apartment building where I lived 30 years ago on East Brooks in Norman, Oklahoma. And, the Duck Pond is still there across the street, hairball*!

    *We were both at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, in the early 80’s, although we did not know each other, then.

  33. I read Fun Home when it was first published,and was quite taken with it. I have given it as a gift to other people, too.

    I think the power and charm of Fun Home is in your incredible attention to detail, both artistically and in self-examination. In my opinion, simple dramatic action should be saved for simple stories. Your stories have never been simple.

  34. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry and St. Jerome (#34)

    Your observations about your mom’s relationship to children reminded me of an old saw about Woodrow Wilson: “He loves mankind, but hates people.”

    @Kate L (#35)

    Good luck banishing the Phelpses to obscurity.

    Re: Google Earth and Oklahoma… Too bad Google Earth doesn’t have a Wayback Machine so you could compare then to now.

    An awful lot of what was vacant land in Norman in the 1980s (emphasis on awful) is now big box stores, malls, and other signs of Ameri-homogenized retailing masquerading as modern culture.

    There’s even a Starbucks on Main Street, across from Norman High School. Not that I’m pining for the days of tumbleweed blowing down Lindsey Ave in the dog days of summer, but at least it was a cultural change from other places.

    Now all these towns look alike, everyone dresses alike, and the food is all the same corporate glop.

    You can’t tell Norman OK from Texarkana TX without checking the university name on the kids’ sweatshirts and caps. Not unless you head to East Main Street, the revitalized former downtown that died when the Sooner Fashion Mall opened west of town.

    You’ll find passable Thai food, artsy stores, and some friendly bars with music. Of course, you won’t be able to forget you’re still in the reddest of the red states (politics and soil are both GOP red), but you might ignore it for a few hours.

    At least La Baguette is still around. That’s where I get my coffee when I’m wandering around the Home-A-Okra. *

    De-clique-ification for non-Southerners and non-USAnians: Okra is a vegetable popular in the US South and Southwest. It is a green pod containing small seeds and pulp, and it is often stewed (as in gumbo), put in soups, or breaded and fried. Improperly prepared, it turns into a green slimy disgusting mess. Breaded and fried, it’s pretty good. There’s lots of okra eating in Oklahoma.

    (… goes back to staring at a closet filled with Western boots unsuited for her citified life …)

  35. Kate L says:


    Oh, yes, I know (knew) the Sooner Fashion Mall. And their partially-complete Sears neon sign. The view from East Brooks shows The Stadium* a few blocks away, as well as the new Energy Center to the north, which is where I’d be working, now, if I were still with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

    Steve Martin once described okra as “a slimy green vegetable indigenous to the South”.

    * – Football stadium. Boomer, Sooner, and out!

  36. Alex K says:


    Or not.

    So, is Lockheed Martin taking over composting / recycling in Burlington? The NYTIMES today says that there’s quite a flap AND that no one knows what REALLY is planned…

  37. Fester Bestertester says:

    Alex K#39:
    [what alex is talking about]
    “Mayor Bob Kiss”???

  38. Andrew B says:

    So… it all becomes clear. In Holly’s REAL life she flies F-35s, and Dr W is a CIA contractor investigating ways in which “cuteness” can be used to manipulate and control the minds of vulnerable subjects.

    In real real life, Liza Cowan, who is producing the anti-Lockheed posters, has shown Alison’s work in her gallery and has occasionally commented here.

    The thing I like best in that article, though, is this, from a Lockheed spokesman: ‘β€œAs we strategically assess future trends,” he said, β€œwe see scarce resources β€” particularly energy resources β€” as potential sources of conflict.”‘ Someone should tell him that only paranoid leftists believe that. Serious People know that all conflict is based on ideology or culture.

  39. Fester Bestertester says:

    “Andrew B”# 41:

    So long as we’re outing Holly’s and Dr W’s clandestine activities, it’s only fair to ask:

    Who else do we know with the initials AB? Hmmm….

    Coincidence? You decide…

  40. Andrew B says:

    Fester, don’t say things like that. My grasp of reality is tenuous enough as it is. If I get a neat haircut and a decent looking blazer, buy a pair of glasses that have been in fashion within the last five years, and show up in Burlington offering to autograph copies of Fun Home, it’s going to be your fault…

  41. Fester Bestertester says:

    MTA? (Me To Alison transitioning?)

  42. Kate L says:

    I’ve never owned a cellular communicator hand-held device, but I have a question about those QR Codes that you can scan for all sorts of things, these days. If you stare at the QR code pattern long enough, will you see a 3-D pony?

  43. grumpy the alien says:

    re #41 * unless i*m being my usual gullible self * the last part*s a pretty silly thing to say * states in the south and west are already filing billion dollar lawsuits against each other * the water tables all over the planet are dropping like stones * and how many wars have started after draughts and crop failures * most notably * a major reason japan annexed nearby countries before world war two was their lack of oil needed to maintain their economy *

    one could plead that economics is a function of ideology but that would be a bit of a stretch *

    very very silly * no cookie *

  44. sneezy the alien says:

    I’ll let Andrew B speak for himself (he does that quite well), but I read the last part of his note in #41 as, shall we say, “not without irony”

  45. grumpy says:

    irony * hmmmm *

  46. doc the alien says:

    irony * yummmm *

  47. Andrew B says:

    grumpy, 46, it was supposed to be sarcastic. Not that long ago — mid-2000s at the longest — both conservatives and “mainstream” liberals would routinely dismiss arguments like yours as “determinism”. You practically had to produce a signed, sworn affidavit from the relevant politician saying “We did it for the oil” in order to get respectable commentators to take the idea seriously. That’s why I thought it was pretty ironic to see a major defense contractor arguing that competition for resources causes wars. I was trying to point out that irony.

    Maybe this has changed more than I realized, so the target of my sarcasm wasn’t clear. I hope so. I completely agree with you about the importance of water, energy, and other resources. For anybody else who’s interested, Michael Klare has written several books about this.

    Grumpy, sneezy, doc… this is making me nervous. I would make a really hideous Snow White…

  48. Kate L says:

    I keep looking at every QR code that I come across, but still no 3-D pony!

    I was part of the counter-protest at Moo U’s Commencement this morning, where we blocked the Fred Phelps demonstrators with our own signs of greeting for the graduates, their family and friends. As usual, we were there first, and were closest to the walkway people had to take to get into the ceremony. It was freezing! After a while, I was starting to lose feeling in my legs. I think that I was paying back karma at an alarming rate.

    I was so afraid that I’d oversleep and miss the counter-protest, that I stayed up all night watching Law & Order episodes. At one point, half-asleep, I imagined that I was D.A. Jack McCoy. Jack McCoy, the character played by actor Sam Waterston!!! What can this mean? Why didn’t I imagine that I was that blonde assistant D.A. on Law & Order Special Victims Unit???

  49. Feminista says:

    #52: Kate L: You and you companeras get the Feminist Award of the Week for your courage. Represent! Presente!

  50. Kate L says:

    Feminista (#52)
    Thank you, thank you! πŸ™‚

    I celebrated my award by lining up at the Seabirds food truck from Orange County, California. They were here in Smallville as part of the Food Network’s Great American Food Truck Race across the country. Seabirds, for non-southern Californians, has a Vegan menu (although it was described as “beach cuisine” in the Smallville Daily Zeitung Dispatch). The trucks are still in town, and I’m going out this afternoon in search of the Roxie’s food truck from Boston. They specialize in grilled cheese sandwiches. Hey, I was a good little Vegan yesterday! πŸ™‚

  51. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Kate L, did you hear the one about when Osama bin Laden goes to heaven, he’s greeted by 72 Vegans?

  52. Calico says:

    Yeah, congrats Kate! Here is my prize for you:
    (No Janeway, but still a nice pic of Mark Kelly and crew)

    Why were the goon squad at commencement? Christ, they protest everything. Soon they’ll be protesting against the food trucks!
    As I told Josh Fruhlinger the other day on FB, I think food trucks are the new 3-star…seriously. Good eats for the most part.

  53. Kate L says:

    Calico, Therry and St. Jerome

    Thanks! πŸ™‚ The weather warmed up just as the Great Food Truck Race left town! Oh, someone sent a weather ballon up this morning over Florida, complete with a cell phone camera for pictures. They got this view of the space shuttle launch from 100,000 feet.

  54. grumpy says:

    andrew b * thank you *

  55. Acilius says:

    I haven’t said anything lately because I haven’t had anything to say. I still haven’t, but I wanted to say hello, wish everyone well, and let you know I’m still reading the threads.

  56. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Good to hear from Acilius, even with “Nothing to say.” It’ll come to you.

  57. Kate L says:

    The Smallville city commission voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to remove LGBT folk from the city human rights ordinance. Are we not folk, too? Anyway, before, the vote, I was one of the citizens speaking in favor of keeping LGBT in the ordinance. I told the commissioners of how we, as we always do, showed up outside the Moo U Commencement building early last Saturaday morning to sieze the high ground along the sidewalk that this year’s graduates, their families and friends would have to take into the graduation ceremony. We held up signs of congratulations and welcome to block the hateful signs of the Fred Phelps family down the hill, which especially targeted the graduates and their families. I told the commissioners that as we did this, I thought it ironic that this was the week that the commission might remove LGBT as a protected class from the city human rights ordinance. I told the commissioners that they should keep the ordinance as it now was written, and that they should face the future without fear. The mayor, a holdover from the previous commission that added LGBT to the ordinance, seemed moved by what I said. The holdover anti-LGBT commissioner looked downcast and ashamed, if I read his expression correctly. One of the new, anti-LGBT commissioners seemed disinterested, while the other anti-LGBT commissioner looked at me as I spoke with a look of pure venom in his eyes. The remaining new commissioner, a local banker, had an expression that I could not read, but together with the mayor, he provided the two votes to keep LGBT in the city’s human rights amendment. This last commissioner said during this Spring’s city commission election that he had originally planned to vote to remove LGBT folk from the ordinance, but that during his campaign so many LGBT town residents had told him of the discrimination that they face that he changed his mind. Tuesday night, he said that he was going to vote to keep LGBT as part of the ordinance, and he did.

    An anti-LGBT citizen spoke after I did, complaining that I had called him a bigot in my statement to the commission. I did not mean to imply that people against the LGBT part of the amendment were bigots. I meant to imply that people against keeping LGBT folk in the amendment were cowards trying to hide in the past. Big difference.

    Anyway, I did finally get the low-income housing rehab grant that I applied for last October. A contracting crew was at my house yesterday, installing energy-efficient windows to replace the old windows that were installed when the house was built in 1959. Ike was president when those old windows were installed! I am guessing that the new ones are considerably more energy efficient. Next up, they replace my 40% efficient 1959-era furnace with an 80% (or more) efficient modern furnace.

  58. Acilius says:

    Sorry about the setback, Kate. I can only hope that the temporary win will stick with people. Maybe the undecided will reflect that there was a moment when the law protected sexual minorities, that the town wasn’t swept away by a manifestation of divine wrath during that moment, and will start to think that maybe equal rights aren’t so scary after all.

    It’s the sort of thing where a lifetime rooting for a seldom-victorious baseball team (in my case, the Baltimore Orioles) comes in handy. It’s amazing how much emotional force and moral conviction the words “Wait til next year!” can carry.

    Anyway, congratulations on getting your housing situation sorted out. Good luck!

  59. judybusy says:

    Kate, in the long run we will prevail. We just have to wait till all the old conservative guys and gals die out.

    I have total window envy! Mine are original to 1914. In two years, my partner graduates from nursing school, and we will have more money. If we stay in the house, replacing windows, siding and insulation are a priority.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Acilius, judybusy, Thanks! πŸ™‚

    judybusy… be prepared, the light coming through my new windows has a definite green tint, like sunlight in Seattle. And, the energy-efficient glass filters out low frequency sound. It rained two nights ago, and it sounded like someone was using a transporter to beam into the house!

  61. judybusy says:

    Thanks, Kate–we will have to look at the windows carefully. Our house is pretty dark as it is….

  62. Pam I says:

    Blog heist – I’m looking forward to meeting you all at the Post Rapture Looting Party. Not long to go now.

  63. Pam I says:

    Damn – no rapture, so no post rapture looting, so I never got my baby hippo. Maybe next time then.

  64. Dr. Empirical says:

    I was able to get my deposit back on the Lootin’ Truck I rented.

  65. I was really looking forward to the photos of you with your baby hippo, Pam.

  66. Kate L says:

    Joplin, Missouri, a town of about 500,000 on the edge of the Ozarks in southwestern Missouri, has been torn apart by a large tornado. I know the place, as during the late 90’s I worked on a soil heavy metal-remediation project just across the state line in Galena, Kansas. The whole area was contaminated by lead- and zinc-mining in the early 20th century, and when I worked there we would often stay in motels in Joplin. Once, working on the ground in Galena, we saw a rotating wall cloud move overhead and just to the north, heading for Joplin. No tornado developed then, but Joplin was not so lucky this time. This photo of the wall cloud that the Joplin tornado dropped out of looks quite a bit like that earlier wall cloud that I saw.

  67. Kate L says:

    Correction: Joplin is a town of about 50,000 population.

  68. judybusy says:

    Kate, that photo is so beautiful, but also gave me the shivers!

  69. Kate L says:

    judybusy (#73)

    It took my breath away to see that thing rotating and moving towards Joplin nearly as fast as a car on the interstate. Today, our weather forecast states that we have a “chance of a tornado” both today and this evening. Everyone is on edge as a result of Joplin, and also because of a small town in Kansas that was obliterated by a tornado just before Joplin got hit. Currently, it is heavily overcast, and I had thought that it was too cold for a tornado, but it is warming up. Aunt A.B.! Aunt A.B.!

  70. Kat says:

    Pam, you’ll just have to wait till the scientists who managed to extract mammoth DNA from the recently found fossil figure out how to clone and miniaturize the long-lost species. I can’t be the only one who thinks that having a mini-mammoth would be the coolest thing EVAR!

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. –Mentor]

  71. judybusy says:

    Kate, I hope you are safe. We had a tornado rip through north Minneapolis on Saturday with a lot of damage. I live in the south part,no too far away. It is really strange having tornadoes in a bg metro area.

  72. Pam I says:

    @ Kat, now I’m confused what to put top of my list. Can I haz both?

  73. Kat says:

    Thanks Mentor!

    Pam, of COURSE you can has both! Add to it a cloned dodo, like the one in the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next novels!

  74. hairball_of_hope says:

    Off-topic, but remotely related to the earth sciences…

    One of my best friends at work is retiring at the end of this week. Bill is a real geologist (B.S. and M.S.). Like me, he stumbled into our current employment field because he needed a job, and computers/electronics/systems integration was a piece of cake for someone with a science background.

    Over the years, we’ve entertained one another with useless bits of info that pass over the heads of our colleagues, and we’ve wasted lots of time at the water cooler and at the watering hole on business trips speaking in what our colleagues call “Martian” or “Klingon.” Really, we were having conversations that would be right at home on this blog – off-topic, off-beat, but interesting.

    He didn’t want a big retirement send-off, so after we had collected a bunch of money and added up how much a cake and coffee would cost, we were trying to figure out what to buy him as a going away present.

    We ended up buying him a nice geode from Morocco. Not one of those sliced/polished/oh-so-pretty-thin-piece-of-geode things that folks mount on lucite and make into bookends, but a real whole geode that was hacked open with a geologist’s hammer and had lots of interesting quartz crystals inside.

    The sucker was very heavy for its size (maybe 15lb/7kg for a rock the size of a small melon), and he was trying to figure out what was in the box as he unwrapped it. He loved it, although he said he was going to get a hernia carrying it home on the train.

    Of course, then he gave us the geology lecture about how geodes are formed and how the different impurities make the colors… “and if the impurity is titanium, it would be purple, and you’d call it amethyst…” Someone said he was still speaking Martian, when was he going to learn English. We all laughed. Someone else said the geode exterior looked like Bill’s brain, “… and now we know what’s inside, it’s hollow!”

    When he brought it home and showed it to his wife, she said, “Quartz or calcite?” I guess geology is contagious, you can catch it from your spouse.

    Or perhaps from a blog. An awful lot of folks here learned more about geology and earth science that they ever thought possible (or thought they’d enjoy) thanks to our resident plaid-clad rockhounds.

    So thanks for all the earth science lectures. It will probably be my only chance to read Martian now that Bill is retired.

    (… goes back to wondering what rocks are in her head …)

  75. Kate L says:

    judybusy (#76) I’m alright, nobody worry about me. πŸ™‚ Three separate fronts moved through Smallville on Tuesday, all powerful, but no tornado resulted here. It was as black as night at 10:30 am Tuesday morning, though.

  76. Diamond says:

    Off topic again, but do light a candle for Leonora Carrington who has died at the age of 94.

    As well as being a surrealist painter, she wrote an extraordinary novel in the sixties called The Hearing Trumpet, still available I think and still a terrific read. Anyone else remember it?

    (The coming-out ball mentioned in the obituary might not have been as interesting as it sounds btw)

  77. mustardandwine says:


    my favouritest and most gifted writing teacher ever introduced me to The Hearing Trumpet when I was sixteen. It’s a deceptively simple book that took me some time to appreciate but I got there. Nice to see another fan

  78. Mary Kline says:

    Huh. Never heard of Miss Carrington. Thanks for the mention, I started learning more by looking at Wikipedia(of course), and I plan to read The Hearing Trumpet soon.
    Another Bechdel Blog find!

  79. --MC says:

    Emerging from my exile to note that The Bechdel Test is cited in AO Scott’s piece on “Bridesmaids” in the Times today. Paragraph six.

  80. Kate L says:

    Hi, everyone! πŸ™‚ Hope all is well. It’s been a busy week at the Melody Ranch, despite the Memorial Day holiday in the United States. The low-income grant I was recently given has given me a new furnace, new hot water heater, new air conditioner unit, new garbage disposal, and is in the process of getting me new windows, and a new roof. These items replace things that, in many cases, were installed when the house was built in 1959. AND, over the long weekend, my friend Janet came out from Denver, designed and built a new enclosure (a new “dog run”, as Janet calles it) for my 50.5-pound harrier hound, which is actually her daughter’s dog that I agreed to babysit. Several years ago. But Janet did a heck of a job on the replacement dog run! And, we dined in the finest restaurants in Smallville as my small way of thanking her. Is my life working out, or what? πŸ™‚

  81. Mentor says:

    [For those in/near the Boston area:

    from the Boston globe:
    The Brickbottom Gallery exhibit β€œBetween Straight Lines: LGBT creators and themes in comics’’ includes strips by Alison Bechdel, Paige Braddock, Howard Cruse, Gina Kamentsky, and Tim Fish. Thurs.-Sat. from noon-5 p.m. (through June 25; reception June 12 4-6 p.m.). Free. Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg St., Somerville. 617-776-3410
    (For more [Click Here])

    [HERE] is the gallery’s page about the exhibit. –Mentor]

  82. Anonny Mouse says:


    Someone with a Facebook page that’s named “Alison Bechdel” is pretending to be you…and not very well, frankly. Here’s the “about” information:

    “Hi! my name is Alison Bechdel. I grew up in Pennsylvania with my mother, father and brothers and am currently living in New York. I had a bit of a bumpy childhoodand when I was 20 years old my father died. I am a homosexual woman who has had the luxury of the many new programs directed toward the homosexual population and this has really helped me be successful in my life.”

    Someone’s trying to impersonate you and he/she won’t even use the word “lesbian”? That’s just…

    Anyway, if you’re already aware of this and don’t really care, please disregard. Thanks for your time.


  83. khatgrrl says:

    I just found the fake Facebook page. Very interesting. Mentor, please take a peek. Clearly it is someone impersonating Alison. It probably should be reported as such.

    [Thanks, guys. I’ll make sure AB is aware of this. –Mentor]

  84. hi, friends.
    Sorry i’ve been gone so long. been working hard on my book.

    Thanks, Mentor, for pointing out the faux facebook page.

    I can’t imagine who would have started such a thing, or why…but I think the best policy is to ignore it.

    I hope you’re all well! I’m sorry I haven’t been posting! I will soon!


  85. Brooke says:

    If you look on the side of the fake Alison Bechdel page below the list of friends, you can click on “report/block this person.” Choose the option “this profile is pretending to be someone or is fake” then choose “Pretending to be a celebrity” and type in “Alison Bechdel.” With enough complaints Facebook should take down the page.

  86. ready2agitate says:

    I just saw Edward Gorey’s “Elegant Enigmas” exhibit at the Boston Atheneum, which closes tomorrow (Sat 6/4). It was wonderful ($5 donation). I’m glad I learned so much about drawing from Alison & this blog over the years, which enhanced my appreciation for EG’s sketches. What a fun, creepy, whimsical, clever, lovely, mildly discomfiting, laugh-out-loud, silly, brilliant artiste. Cool.

    AB – never apologize for your absence – do your work – it’s what we love about you!

  87. hairball_of_hope says:

    @AB (#89)

    Seconding R2A’s sentiments, no need to apologize nor explain. You’ve got your muse mojo working, stick with it.

    But should you need a break from the inking grind, there’s a spirit made for the occasion. Cabin Fever is an 80-proof maple whisky made from genuine Vermont Grade B maple syrup. To quote the late, great Anna Russell, “I’m not making this up, you know.”

    (… goes back to her Grade B imaginings …)

  88. Ellen Orleans says:

    I’m moving my summer clothes out of storage this weekend and noticed that my Dancing DTWOF T-shirt is now 20 years old. Wow. Lois still has her flat top, Clarice and Toni are still together and looking lustily at each other, and Mo is in the middle, still looking like, well, Mo. I find myself wondering what they are all doing now. Funny. Odd.

  89. j.b.t. says:

    I wonder what the DTWOF gang is up to all the time! I miss them dearly.


  90. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hairball dear, you would know Anna Russell, wouldn’t you! I’m going to be showing my opera class Otto Schenk/Gunther Schneider-Siemssen’s production of the Ring this fall, and instead of walking them through the operas manually, I’m going to show them Anna Russell’s routine, so that at the end of the class, I can cry with Ms. Russell, “You’re exactly where you were twenty hours ago!”

  91. Kate L says:

    A.B., you’re spending your time doing your work? You’ve got a lot to learn about how to mess up your life and responsibilities! πŸ™‚

  92. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry and St. Jerome (#95)

    I’m sure I am not the only person who finally understood the Ring by listening to Russell’s hysterically funny (and dead-accurate) explanation (… he’s IN the Rhine… it’s like being IN the Hudson…).

    I’m also rather fond of Anna Russell’s axplanation of bagpipes (… a most unsanitary instrument…).

    (… goes back to writing her own Gilbert and Sullivan opera …)

  93. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh dear… what an amusing typo. That’s supposed to be “explanation,” but “axplanation” works pretty well on bagpipes!

  94. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    My husband and I are both Ring nuts, and it is amazing the extent to which you can cosst for years on the explanation Russell provides. I truly look forward to sharing her with my class, and with a dear friend who loves the Ring but hasn’t heard her. She used to write her routines from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, word for word. She was a very funny woman.

  95. Dr. Empirical says:

    I saw the Gorey exhibit when it was in Philadelphia, R2A, and loved it! I’d always assumed he made those detailed drawings on much larger pages and then shrunk them down for his books. I was astonished to discover he really drew them that small!

  96. I went looking at YouTube and was rewarded — Anna Russell’s analysis of The Ring Cycle is there, in three parts. Part one can be viewed at

    Thank y’all so much!

  97. Fester Bestertester says:


    (For those who remember when PBS did the entire Ring Cycle.)

  98. Kate L says:

    I had to lock my 50.5-pound harrier hound in the basement while people worked on the outside of the house this afternoon. When I came home and let the dog out, what did I find on the top stair from the basement except a pair of ear muffs of mine, chewed up like harrier hound chow? With a sense of growing dread, I went down into the basement, where I found my geology field camp sleeping bag from 1976, which had been in excellent condition when I left it out to provide comfort to the dog, with the soft lining turned out to provide a dog nest. Except, now, the stuffing had been ripped out of it! My harrier hound told me it was other dogs that did all this.

  99. Minnie says:

    Kate, you must feel harried! Perhaps H. hound is telling the truth. It does sound like the work of an intelligent German Pointer about to give birth to twelve puppies.

  100. Kate L says:

    Minnie (#104),

    Sandy, the 50.5-pound harrier hound in question, seemed to have been looking for things to destroy that had my scent on them. She was sending me a message about my locking her up in the basement while the home renovation people were working outside! Today, the roofers are coming. I’ve got Sandy in my bedroom, with food and water of course. I just shudder, thinking about all the stuff with my scent that she’ll find in there!

    Last night on the television machine, young Dr. Rachel Maddow waxed nostalgic about the early 90’s, stone-washed jeans, and gosh knows what else. Ah, yes. The nineties. To be young in a young time, again! President Bush got defeated by a new president who felt our pain. The Cold War was over, and the US and USSR didn’t even nuke each other! And, last but by no means least, Star Trek: Voyager debuted to appropriately stellar ratings on the fledgling UPN channel! Robert Heinlein (of Stranger in a Strange Land fame) wrote a favorite novel of mine, The Door Into Summer. It was about a cat that in winter would always be looking for the door into summer. Where’s the door into the 90’s? I miss Mo and the gang!

  101. khatgrrl says:

    Hi Kate L,
    You might want to invest in a crate for Sandy. They get used to them very quickly and you don’t have to worry about every item in your home. Our vet convinced us of the value of crate training our new puppy, (golden retriever, now 15 weeks old). The first couple of times were not fun, but she now happily goes into her crate and sleeps while we are away. Just a thought.

  102. Mentor says:

    [From this morning’s mail:

    “The University of Chicago is announcing the creation of the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, a central component of plans to expand the role of the arts on campus. […]”

    “The Gray Center will create a forum for distinctive and often unexpected collaborations. [supporting] pairings of practitioners and theorists[…]”

    “The first group of Mellon fellows at the Center […] will include cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who will join Prof. Hillary Chute to develop a critical language for nonfiction comics; […]”

    Full article is [HERE]. — Mentor]

  103. Kate L says:

    Congrats, A.B.! I was once a fellow with the Marine Geosciences division of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, but I bet your fellowship will be more fun!

    And… I checked on Sandy, my harrier hound, twice since this morning. The roofers were tearing off old shingles at noon, and it sounded like the ’98 hailstorm! Sandy was oblivious… I guess she only thinks in two-dimensional space, like the population of the novel Flatland, or Khan in the Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan*!

    * “He is exhibiting two-dimensional thinking.”
    – Spock to Captain Kirk, upon analysis of Khan’s tactics in pursuing the Enterprise in a nebula.