NY Comic Con decompression digression

February 26th, 2007 | Uncategorized

mothers n daughters panel

Look. I was on a panel with Aline Crumb! That’s her on the left, and Miriam Katin on the right. Miriam wrote a memoir about escaping the Nazis during her childhood in Hungary during World War II. It’s called We Are On Our Own. I haven’t read it yet, but will do so immediately. I really liked her. Aline was talking about her new book, Need More Love, which I also must get. We were on a panel called “Mothers and Daughters,” talking about writing about our families.

Man, the Comic Con was intense. I thought the Angoulême comics festival last month in France was overwhelming. But that was a spa in the desert compared to this shindig. Here. I tried to capture a brief moment for you in film. To get the full effect you should attach your computer to some industrial strength speakers and turn the volume up full blast. I was confused for a while. It wasn’t just comics. Every other person was dressed like an Imperial Storm Trooper, or Princess Leia. There were video games, World Wrestling Federation champions, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. It was a hellish melange of popular culture at its most nerve-shattering.

I know that’s very elitist of me. Or biting the hand that feeds me, or something. But man, I just can’t take all that noise and insanity.

This morning, before I had to go back to the Javits Convention Center for my last panel, I went to the Pierpont Morgan museum to see the Saul Steinberg exhibit. (Thanks to my cartoonist pal Jen Camper for telling me to do this.) Steinberg’s stuff was stunning, of course. But I found myself thinking, as I often do while visiting well-appointed museums founded by rapacious robber barons, about the argument that all these books and artifacts might never have been properly conserved if it weren’t for unfair and probably criminal business practices that exploited poor people. Is that a reasonable exchange?

I saw a show on PBS recently about Andrew Carnegie, which discussed his philanthropy. Carnegie made a vast fortune on steel and railroads in part by exploiting his workers, but then he turned around and gave away much of the profits to all those lovely Carnegie libraries all over the country, as well as to peace organizations and scientific research. Carnegie’s philanthropic principal was that, sure, he could pay his steelworkers more money. But they’d fritter it away on drinking or new clothes or ephemeral things. Instead, he’d build them libraries, which of course were infinitely more beneficial in the long run. It’s condescending and elitist and repugnant…but then I started thinking, well, jeez. Maybe he had something there.

Imagine a world without museums or libraries, where the whims of popular culture reign supreme. We’d all be living in an eternal, infernal Comic Con!

Oh. Uh…maybe we already are.

142 Responses to “NY Comic Con decompression digression”

  1. Ginger Mayerson says:

    Um, Alison, Comic-con San Diego is bigger and more frenetic.

  2. LoisGnosis says:

    “about the argument that all these books and artifacts might never have been properly conserved if it weren’t for unfair and probably criminal business practices that exploited poor people. Is that a reasonable exchange?”

    I think about this too. But then I remember that if we did away with tax deductions and actually just taxed rich people and corporations a real 10% or 20% or 30%, then we could democratically decide where to put the money. It would be called public funding. The way we do it now, we allow rich people to divert public (tax) money into tax deductions and foundations that the rich people get to control. Sure, there would be lots of bureaucracy and arguing and politics, but that’s democracy.

    anyway, I think about that when I’m enjoying endowed treasures.

  3. cybercita says:


    the mac expo, which i attend every few years at the javits, is similarly crazy.

    here is a link for a video about aline crumb. scroll down about three quarters of the way down the page and it’s the second video from the top.


  4. Maggie Jochild says:

    Alison, I understand your question. I love pop culture, but it almost never represents the world I actually inhabit (or want to inhabit). Here’s what I remind myself: Pop culture is now under the control of consumerism and does not represent the will of the masses any more than Bush does (or ever did). And, people are poorly educated because the corporate interest who control our government want a workforce who’d rather watch American Idol than, say, a documentary about Andrew Carnegie. So, there’s nothing inevitable about having a stupid pop culture.

    And — as a fan of pop culture, I just watch the Oscars with my godson (he got to stay up til the bitter end), having endless discussions about “what did THAT mean?” Anyhow, the camera showed Ellen’s mother and girlfriend TWICE, it showed full on the kiss Melissa Etheridge planted on Tammy when she won for best song, but there also many, many shots of Queen Latifah, Jodie Foster, etc. Was it lesbian night at the Oscars or was it just me? (And my godson, he’s as tuned in to dykedom as I am, so we’re equally biased.)

  5. clara_lemlich says:

    LoisGnosis– yes… you’re exactly right.

    also– in re Carnegie — along with funding libraries, he also threw lots of cash at the early eugenics movement.

    and it’s not just that he didn’t pay steelworkers enough, the legacy of the violent Homestead strike is directly tied to the relative (compared to other countries’ unions) weakness of the US labor movement.

    which, in turn has created generations of anger within working class communities– which today’s modern day robber barons, like the Carnegies before them, try to numb and subdue. Enter world wrestling and all the rest.

    It’s deliberate– manufactured by the very folks who claim to be all about libraries. Just ask Laura Bush.

    Okay, sorry, i know you know all of this and i share your frustration with stuff like Comic Con (i do labor education with union members who defend Fox news and much worse), but if we want to reverse this shit, we need to remember that popular culture at its worst is designed by the same philanthropists who claim to be above it. And they do it with the stolen wages of the people they’re attempting to dumb down.

  6. Rymenhild says:

    I liked Fun House very much, and I’ve been reading DTWOF for years, but I have to respectfully disagree with you here.

    Imagine a world without museums or libraries, where the whims of popular culture reign supreme. We’d all be living in an eternal, infernal Comic Con!

    Love for popular culture and love for good books are not mutually exclusive. Neither does the commercialization of entertainment necessarily imply a lack of authenticity. Please don’t fall into the trap of separating “high culture” from “low culture.” What vocabulary would you use for your work if you didn’t have the “low-culture” genre of mainstream comic to draw from, however distantly? Just to provide one example: The speech bubble is a basic concept, but we wouldn’t automatically recognize it as a marker that signals that the character beneath the bubble is speaking if we hadn’t had access to a language of visual expression brought to us by the funnies in the Sunday paper. Fun Home may be “literary” — (I’m not happy with that word as a descriptor of high-culture writing, but I can’t think of a better one) — but it still necessarily engages with other, prior, “non-literary” and commercialized texts that use similar graphic motifs to describe characters and events.

  7. ES says:

    wow, I had not heard of Miriam Katin before. and yes: tax restructuring & elitist populist philanthropy, more of each please… enlightenment is in short supply, and it will be a long time before the gaping wealth divide will narrow.

    maybe we can influence trends which some of the super-rich follow. Mayor Bloomberg and Bill Gates — how do they compare with Carnegie? Bloomberg is a legendary donor, cuts large anonymous checks for such established arts organizations as the Metropolitan Opera; but as a fiscal tough-guy in public governance, he has a CEO/CFO pov. for instance, for a while he advocated cutting city recycling programs because they did not perform well enough on a spread sheet. he came around eventually due to public pressure and a restructured recycling plan.

    on a more sinister level, word is that Bloomberg’s willingness to let legal protestors and civil disobediants [vocab?] be illegally and protractedly held during the 2004 Republican convention was his Faustian bargain to curry favor with the Bush administration so that perhaps the feds would find more favor in funding future budgets for the city. other than that sort of huge lapse, he’s been a very good mayor and example of noblesse oblige. and he and Gates both did build up their own fortunes from scratch I think.

    here’s Aline Crumb’s cover illustration and interview for the current Heeb Magazine (LOVE issue came out on Valentine’s Day)~ thanks again for this great blog & DTWOF:


  8. Jaibe says:

    LoisGnosis, if we decided how to spend money by referendum, we’d either have a bunch more sports stadiums or have nuked the entire middle east a few years back. Actually, the sports stadium thing happened a few years back in Wales — they let voters decide whether to have a Welsh Opera House (Wales is famous for its singing) or a new rugby stadium — voters chose the latter. And voters enjoy it, so maybe that’s right.

    clara_lemlich, don’t forget a lot of feminists at the turn of the century were into eugenics too! It was a mistake that caught a lot of liberal intellectuals, and didn’t really die out until association with Hitler made it too uncool.

    I’m not saying that it’s clear that democracy or the masses suck, but I’m saying that there’s no trivial liberal answer to this problem. In fact, I just happen to have been thinking about it a lot lately because I was pondering the life & suicide of Stuart Adamson (Big Country). He was an incredibly talented musician and artist with an enormous philisophical devotion to the lives of the ordinary workers, but he sold the most records with a cheap gimmick he came to loathe (the guitar / bagpipe thing.) One of his early songs promoted the theory that working in factories destroys your brain — he was obviously having trouble dealing with stupidity while believing he should love the humanity. John Lennon wrote about this problem a bit too.

    Alison / Mo used to deal with it occassionaly in the form of “I thought homosexuals were more evolved.” I think it was usually Lois that kept replying “you have to face it, we’re just like everyone else.”

  9. JoeBeason says:

    “I think about this too. But then I remember that if we did away with tax deductions and actually just taxed rich people and corporations a real 10% or 20% or 30%, then we could democratically decide where to put the money. It would be called public funding.”

    As Jaibe alludes to above, how would that public funding get spent? The government’s already slashed so much funding of the arts.

    Here’s hoping that until government gets back on the ball, the rich have at least some of Carnegie’s high-mindedness to go with their share of his low-mindedness!

  10. Aunt Soozie says:

    Hi Alison,
    As you described your reaction to NY Comic Con I was thinking about your strip about your reaction to the MWMF.
    How about a point-counterpoint comparison of MWMF and NY Comic Con…I’d like to see that…

  11. Rymenhild, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m very aware of my indebtedness as a cartoonist to the traditions of “low” culture, and my riff on the Comic Con was a little bit tongue in cheek.

  12. Yeah, Aunt Soozie, I had a very similar feeling of overload at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. Or the Womyn’s Michigan Festival, as an ex’s Swedish mother used to call it.

  13. Danyell says:

    I really wish I could have gone to Comic Con, but I just don’t have the money.


    When did being a nerd become so expensive?

  14. --MC says:

    Maggie, yesterday was Lesbian Day on the Mouse Club. Not only were Queen L., Melissa and Jodie* on the Oscars, but Suze Orman talked about her partner in the NYT, and in the Style section there was a wedding, er, commitment ceremony announcement for some nice women.
    *Because I hate movies where people try to eat other people, I have long avoided “Silence Of The Lambs”. Saturday night I was in our local video place renting “Straight No Chaser”, and they were watching “Lambs” on the video system. Agent Clarice. Sigh.

  15. louise says:

    Danyell, there’s still Mocca in June. It’s more better, after spending the cover charge you can still afford to buy a stack of indie comics, and there’s fewer costumed fanboys buying $500 sculptures of Wolverine. When I went I got drawings from Jessica Abel, Evan Dorkin and James Kochalka, who drew a picture of me that looked very similar to his cat Spandy.

  16. Aunt Soozie says:

    Suze Orman…well, I’ll be…that’s explains her bad hairdos…or hair don’ts as the case may be. Okay, that was really awful of me but as a lesbian am I allowed to say that or is it internalized homophobia?

    and Queen Latifa? Remember our conversation about idols… she’s another one of mine… but I didn’t know she was a lesbian. Is that fact, supposition or fantasy? Actually, I don’t really recall ever seeing her “linked” to anyone in the press so…that’s a sign, isn’t it?

    I saw a piece about Aron Ralston on TV yesterday. I thought of him when Alison first talked about her lone skier heart arrhythmia event. What an amazing story of determination to survive.

    So, yeah,
    …MWMF and NYC comic con…
    neither very much like a quiet, solitary day in Vermont with only the neighborhood birds and baby moose stopping by for a quick bite to eat or to catch up on the latest news in town. Though I did see a baby moose dressed as Princess Leia once, but, that’s a really long story.

  17. Kat says:

    hm….yeah, the discomfort of having to aknowledge good works done by not great people….
    At the moment I’m thinking of Bill Gates, and his foundation’s work to revamp American public schools. On the other hand, his corporation seems to use abysmal business practices…..

    Pop culture tends to eat up and then define whole cultures, it seems. When people say that they hate America, or Britain, or wherever, the examples almost always refer to pop culture and not the actual place and its people…..

    that’s probably not to coherent….sorry…..

  18. silvio soprani says:

    I remember a DTWOF episode around 1990-ish where our dykes were driving home from the Michigan Festival. Mo was eating a veggie sandwich with alfalfa sprouts, if I remember correctly, and Lois was agitating for a Big Mac because it seemed more womynly to eat a cow than a sprout. Hmmmm.

    I suppose from a craftswoman’s point of view the Festival is a bit hectic.

    But from a “festi-goer’s” perspective, what I liked about it was how I would arrive in the dead of night after a 16-hr drive from the East Coast, and get transported into the heart of “The Land” on that flatbed truck under the stars. Then I could jump off and find my way in the pitch dark through those wooded trails to my favorite campsite. After a few years I did not even use the flashlight; it was always as I had left it the year before.

    That was very peaceful and safe.

    I have not been since around 1996 and I know things have probably changed a certain amount, but surely not the flatbed truck and the stars?

  19. shadocat says:

    Damn! I was all set to argue on this point, but clara lemlich and LoisGnosis have done it much better that I ever
    could, so the best thing I can say is, “Yeah! What they said!”

    I’ve spent most of my working life employed by non-profit organizations, so by saying this, I’m about to bite the hand that feeds me, BUT…for example, sitting on the board of my current employer are some of the local (and a few of the national) “robber barons” of our day. And while they may sign the odd large check towards one of our programs, it’s really nothing compared to the amount they keep for themselves. I guess that’s true for a lot of people, but when you’re talking about people who have 5 or 6 homes, and enough money to support a third world country comfortably. a check for $25,000 now and then means nothing to them. We never have enough money to serve all the people who need help, but you wouldn’t know that from the quarterly reports that are put out—most of the figures are distorted, if not downright lies. Welcome to the wondeful world of non-profits! I continue to work there because we DO help SOME people, and I guess that’s better than nothing. But I’ll bet if Andrew Carnegie,(or J.P. Morgan, or Rockefeller) had seen the light, and opted for a more simple personal life, he could’ve paid his workers a living wage and built the libraries too—JMO.

    And Maggie–you read my mind girl! That’s just what my gf and I said- “Lesbian Night At the Oscars!” (And now I find out Suze Orman’s gay? What a wonderful world…)

  20. Half Republican says:

    Hi – in which newspapers can I find DTWOF?


  21. Coleen says:

    I went to the NY Comic Con this weekend and it was definitely sensory overload. A little Chardonnay eased the sich though. (Yes, there was Chardonnay at a Comic Con, haha…) I searched high and low to meet Alison and couldn’t find her. I finally gave up and was blindly wandering around a main aread when I caught her out the corner of my eye. I belligerently yelled out, “Alison!”, stunning us both…Sorry Alison! You were very gracious though, haha…Thanks for signing my book. : D

  22. austin says:

    that steinberg show at the Morgan is so fantastic…everyone interested in cartooning should see it

  23. liza says:

    Austin (above) has a wonderful and exemplary website in which he leads his readers to many interesting ideas, artists and authors. He is a darn fine artist as well.

    I hope that this
    http://www.austinkleon.com/?cat=11 will link to his entry on Saul Steinberg.

    I agree that Steinberg is amazing, I’m sorry I can’t get to the exhibit at the Morgan. I’m glad you did Alison, and Austin.

  24. Robin B. says:

    Hey, Alison, I just found out that congratulations are in order for your, um, Love Life! I’m so happy for you!

    For everyone else: check out the link:


  25. Dr. J. says:

    Thanks, everybody, for the thoughtful words about robber-barons. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, since I started working for a Carnegie foundation this year.

    As clara_lemlich pointed out, the strike at the Homestead, PA Carnegie steelmill was crushed particularly violently; the wholesale defeat of the union significantly weakened the labor movement of the US for decades.

    And then Andrew’s money, gained in party by crushing the unions and underpaying the workers, is what, after 100 years of compounding, allows me to do science full-time, along with a few hundred other scientists. Doing research that improves people’s health (biochem), or at least uplifts and excites (astronomy).

  26. Suzanonymous says:

    Congratulations on getting the new book contract! (people, see Robin B’s note). And from the same publisher.

    So was your book proposal in cartoon form?

    About all the noise, stereos, and in turn the culture, have got much louder since you moved to the mountains, crisp CD sound, deep subwoofers, and accursed amplifiers, have added up to people “amping up” on high volume. I want to kill my youthful neighbors sometimes (at any rate, I would be happy if they were to come to early ends! Grrr 🙁 ).

    Back to happy thoughts, congratulations again.

  27. PixieLauren says:

    1. Suze Orman — I’ve long been saying “That chick is totally setting off my gaydar” every time I see her on TV. Guess I was right — Wow.

    2. Does anyone else think that Ellen was totally, totally, totally HOT last night at the Oscars? Good grief! I could hardly stand it!

    3. So, the rumor had been that Alison’s new book was going to be about her mother. Guess not. Holy Hell, I bet every one of Alison’s past girlfriends did a “spit take” with their chardonnay when they read the notice in the link that Robin posted!

    4. Now I really and truly can’t wait for Alison’s new book. Wow.

  28. Doctor E says:

    I also would prefer that comics conventions would be about comics, and the movie and video game people should find their own playground, but we’re sort of stuck with them. They bring in the money, and comics couldn’t survive without them except as crudely-zeroxed pamphlets, passed from hand to hand.

    I was at New York Con all three days. If you’d like to read about it, you can go to:

    I’m linking you to the first page of my Con writeup, because the number of hits I generate influences my ability to get press passes to future events. At the bottom of that page there’s a paragraph about Alison and a link to a page (with a picture!) about her Spotlight panel.

    My Con writeup includes lots of pictures, and most of them are of cute girls in skin-tight outfits. Certainly that’s worth a look! I didn’t intend the pictures to be so Grrrrl-oriented, but as Alison noted, most of the guys were dressed as Storm Troopers or Jedi. How much creativity does it take to BUY a costume? I refused to photograph any Star Wars geeks.

    I got to shake hands with Alison and tell her I liked her work. She signed my DTWOF book and doodled a little self-portrait!

    I welcome any comments on my recursive, inter-linked article, but please put them in the Popthought message board. This is Alison’s blog, and I don’t want to hijack it, even for a moment.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Wait, Stuart Adamson killed himself?! When the hell did that happen? (*Ginjoint does a quick Google, and finds out it was over 5 years ago*) And Suze Orman is one of us?!! Jeez, I thought I was relatively in tune with pop culture…I guess I have to crawl out from under my rock.

    Alison, I liked your film. The way you paused in the middle of it all…I wonder what all the screaming was about. Personally, I would not have handled that place well; I’m used to leading a very solitary life and would have been quickly overwhelmed. Good on ya for sticking it out. I hope the juncos are still in your yard for you to appreciate their calming effects.

  30. Feminista says:

    AB–so glad you got to do a panel with Aline. I remember reading her Wimmin’s Comix in the 70s.

    Seattle folks–have a great time at your get-together. Why,maybe we could even do a western Washington/Oregon meet-up in,say,Tacoma!? The mind boggles at the possibilities: political literati feminist thoughtful observors and other life forms engagingly in witty discourse (as well as lots o’laughs).

  31. Ginjoint says:

    Oops, that was me above.

  32. Feminista says:

    Oops,that should read “engaging.” Though we do accomplish things engagingly.

  33. Ginjoint says:

    Oops, we did it again, Feminista.

  34. Ginjoint says:

    One more thing…I wonder what the folks in that Missouri town will think of Alison’s new book. *smirk* Oh, I smell a good ol’ fashioned book burnin’! Yaaaay, Alison!

    On to pop culture…Ellen and Melissa last night? SSssssssmokin’.

  35. Deena in OR says:


    Yeah! Dear fourteen year old daughter came over from her dad’s this afternoon “Wow, did you see the Oscars last night? How great for liberals was all that?” Good to know I’m raising her right. *grin*

  36. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ginjoint, just the word for it.

    Godson and I initially made fun of all the hooha over the women’s dresses (I mean, how many ways can you drape anorexia?) but then the Dreamgirls number brought cleavage and HIPS into jiggling view, and even before that we were jabbering on about the various tuxes and that red velvet suit Ellen was changing into periodically. And then Melissa’s tux — yowza! I watched the early morning shows to see if any of their fashionistas would touch what the well-dressed dyke was wearing (to quote Liza), and they all, even the gay boys, refused to go near that topic. But the Oscars websites seem to all agree that the #1 quote of the night was Melissa holding the Oscar and saying “This will be the only naked man ever in our bedroom!” BWAAHAAHAA!

    Two questions: (1) Did anybody on this list ever march in the Jodie Foster Contingent in the San Francisco Dyke March? Where everybody wore a Jodie mask and matching white t-shirts that say “I am not a lesbian”? and (2) Liza, is there ANY chance you could post the text of your slideshow mentioned earlier on another thread — I know the slides are at the LHA but it would be fascinating to hear, however many years later, what you had to say about lesbian fashion.

    Ellen’s show tomorrow is supposed to be about what really happened backstage at the Oscars. Most of it will be just humor, I’m sure, but ya never know. She worked in that indirect comment about Bush’s illegitimate (p)residency by making the joke about voting, and totally sent Al Gore into hysterics…

  37. Jana C.H. says:

    Feminista– Our western Washington/Oregon get-together would be better in Olympia than Tacoma, I think. Closer to the half-way mark– unless we get a lot of Bellinghamsters, of course. Maybe we could schedule it for a crucial moment to cheer on that impeachement bill in the Washington state legislature.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Henry Ford: A great business is really too big to be human.

  38. Leslie says:

    Oh hell, the Dreamgirls brought more than hips and cleavage into view – were my partner and I the ONLY ones to notice a glimpse of areola when Jennifer H’s right breast almost popped out of her dress in the first half of the Dreamgirls medley?!? We were just waiting for another nationally televised “wardrobe malfunction” when she finally got a chance to duck into the shadows during Beyonce’s solo and tuck herself back in.

    But yes, it certainly seemed to be Lesbian night at the Oscars!

  39. Maggie Jochild says:

    Leslie, I thought I imagined it (wishing for it, to be honest) when nobody said anything. And my godson didn’t see it, either. I guess it’s okay when it happens accidentally, eh?

  40. Jodie Foster says:

    I think that the march that involved wearing Jodie masks and the t-shirt was mean spirited. Whether she is or isn’t whether she comes out or not, it is her own business. Tolerance?

  41. Ann S. in Madison says:

    For an absolutely hilarious, cringeworthy look at pop culture run rampant, you’ve gotta check out Idiocracy by the esteemed Mike Judge (‘King of the Hill’ writer/creator).

    Here’s the review I posted at Netflix some weeks ago:

    “Utterly brilliant. A superb effort from one of our finest, most satirical and yet most compassionate humorists. I believe Mike Judge is easily in a league with BORAT’S Sasha Baron Cohen for pure incisive American wit, parody and sublimely humiliating comedy. IDIOCRACY is so close to home, so wincingly funny that it takes its place with the darkest, most painful, and most right-on commentaries on American life. The set designer is also due for kudos – look for the unrelenting advertising of the 26th century…down to the clothing, the walls of our courts of law and the very names people have: “Formica” and “Frito” to name two. Luke Wilson is solid, Maya Rudolf creates a wonderfully full character out of her role, but perhaps the best performance is Dax Shepard as Frito – a revelation. But Judge never lapses into disgust. Somehow, there’s love there, too; a hand to hold while the scalpel goes deep, deep.”

  42. Colino says:

    A raise? What raise? come on sweetie, be reasonable… If I gave you more money, what would you do with it, hmmmm? Buy disgusting books with dykes in them, I know it, tsk tsk tsk… Anyway, you must realize I’ve got to get stinking rich, in order to found a couple of universities, where kids from the middle class will be able to get a proper education. There might even be a few kids from poor homes, that can’t always be helped; maybe even from your family!
    So you see sweetie, there’s more about this than just you. How could you be so selfish, how can you have so little concern for future generations? Can’t you make a little effort?
    And think about this: if I manage to get this university thing together, fifty years from now, all these little and big disraceful things people like you are blaming me for, they will be forgiven. My name will be remebered and respected, praised maybe. Isn’t that something to look forward to, sweetie?

  43. Ian says:

    Hmmm, most of the time I thank God that at least some rich robber barons and Quaker liberals in the 19th century got off their backsides and did something to atone for their ill-gotten gains. A large part of the British Left’s core principles were established during that period.

    Clara_Lemlich, have you heard of Ronaldo Munck? He opened my eyes to some interesting stuff regarding labour organisation in Latin America.

  44. Maggie Jochild says:

    Uh…”Jodie”…Why it is okay to use her name instead of your own for a comment but “intolerant” to wear a mask made from one of her own publicity photos?

    And what is “mean-spirited” about expressing a hopeful wish or conviction that she’s one of us? I don’t see anything wrong with being a lesbian, so I don’t consider it an insult to imagine she is one.

    You are very right in saying that her decision to come out is hers alone. All personal decisions of those folks who’ve chosen to be part of the public eye, a celebrity in this celebrity-obsessed culture, are still theirs to make. It does get a bit trickier when you want to pick and choose which pieces of the celebrity machine you want to feed or deny (as Jodie does), but even then, you have a right to not be attacked for your silence.

    But that contingent was composed of lesbians who are ardent fans of hers, who were expressing welcome in a very funny way, not intending her any harm. Where is the harm in it? That’s a serious question.

  45. Andrew B says:

    Suze Orman… For those of you who haven’t read the interview, take a look at it. She appears to be advocating that women should accumulate like Andrew Carnegie — then criticizing them for giving it away like him. Ugh.

    To me, the most striking lines in the interview were these. “K.T. is my life partner. K.T. stands for Kathy Travis. We’re going on seven years. I have never been with a man in my whole life. I’m still a 55-year-old virgin.” First of all, how can you call somebody your “life” partner when you didn’t even get together until you were 48? Second, extrapolating seven years to life is pretty optimistic, or something. Third, it’s an interesting definition of “virgin”. Somebody should tell Cynthia.

    There are just too many layers of weirdness to even hope to sort them all out.

    On the Oscars, how about Milena Canonero, who won for costume design? She wore a full formal tux with a big floppy black bow tie — and then she mentioned her husband in her speech. (I know, lots of possibilities. But I don’t see any reason not to take that at face value.) Definitely my favorite sartorial moment of the evening.

  46. Aunt Soozie says:

    Doctor E,

    Thanks for the link to your site and for your honesty in telling us that more clicks mean more press passes in your future. And, what an unabashed cad dear Doctor, urging us on with promises of scantily clad women. (Auntie won’t comment on the degree of scantiness…check it out for yourselves)

    It’s fascinating to see those folks in their costumes. I avoided comic con after you filled us in on the somewhat smelly realities. Sensory overload in the auditory and olfactory realms, at least when we’re talking boy sweat, isn’t among my favorites. But, when Alison’s next book is out… maybe I’ll go… do a little sociological study…get into the minds of the costumed.

    I enjoyed your piece about Alison’s presentation. I too was struck by her pronounciation of the word “artificer”. The word is significant in the tale of Alison and her father and I had never heard it before. When I read the book I had said, in my head, ARTificer. When Alison read she pronounced it arTIFicer. (okay, I made up how to write those, library girl can fix it, but you get the point, right? or go to Merriam-Webster online. Both pronounciations are correct and you can “HEAR” both there. love that feature.)

    Hearing an author or poet read from their work …the intonation, the emphasis or lack thereof…so enhances the experience. In college I took poetry writing with Sonia Sonchez. She always made us read aloud.

    She beautifully de-mystified and de-romanticized writing. Fuck that shit about being in the mood to write and letting it flow directly out of your soul onto the page…it’s work you fools. Write everyday, sit down at your desk, and EDIT! Edit, edit, edit! You think you’ll get it right the first time? Find that perfect word? just like that? Not chance. And don’t give me that crap about waiting for your muse… I’ll fail you. Get off your asses and start working you no good baby artistes.

    The best was when Sonia demonstrated her opinion of the average American’s impression of Africa and African culture…she started chanting loudly “uggah-boogah, uggah-boogah, uggah-boogah” and jumping around the room… yeah, that class was well worth the time and the tuition.

  47. Lizen says:

    Hey, thought some of you might be interested in this site http://www.on-my-desk.blogspot.com/

    It’s postings by various illustrators and creative types showing, yes, what’s on their desks. Neat time waster for me this AM.

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    Lizen, that site was fascinating. And, even better, the first artist listed, Jennifer Shiman, I’d heard about. I went to her link and oh my god, she’s got a cartoon of ALIEN (my favorite movie of all time) done in 30 seconds with cartoon bunnies. I laughed until I got dizzy. Will be slowly working my way through all her movies. Thanks so much.

    Thanks to Doctor E., too. Interesting how many Wonder Woman costumes there were — is that representative or a particular character you’re drawn to?

    And Aunt Soozie, your channeling of Sonia Sanchez was just brilliant. Annie Lamott offers similar pushes to writers in Bird by Bird. When I finally listened to her, and just began writing every day whether I fucking felt like it or not, and then learned to edit with a taste for blood, my writing turned a corner and it’s been What I Do ever since.

  49. Ginjoint says:

    Lizen, I liked that site! And I’ve seen a couple of Shiman’s bunny synopses, too – they’re hilarious. I’m going to spend more time poking around there later.

    Aunt Soozie, I’m impressed to hear Sonia Sanchez’s take on writing. Apparently it IS work. (I kid.) I recently read something about Margaret Atwood, who seems on the same page (sorry) as Sanchez in terms of editing and work ethic. Compare that to Anne Rice, who, from what I’ve read from her own pen, detests others editing her work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not slamming her – there’s a couple of her books I really like, others not so much. But a different approach to the same profession…it’s what makes the world go ’round.

    About the robber baron thing – as a wage slave, it is infuriating to me that corporate execs earn millions (yup, millions) in bonuses while their employees do not earn a living wage. Besides the work of Barbara Ehrenreich, a great book I read was “The Working Poor – Invisible in America,” by David K. Shipler.

  50. Doctor E says:

    Aunt Soozie- J. Michael Straczynski said much the same thing at the writer’s workshop at Comic Con: “Write. Write every day… Make it a Holy Frickin’ Chore.” Fortunately for me, my little pop culture column satisfies my need to write. The doctor gig pays better, anyway.

    Maggie- I tried to photograph every cosplayer I saw, so yes, it’s representative. My only exceptions were: no professional models, and no store-bought Star Wars costumes. I was surprised at how many Harley Quinns (The red and black clowns) and Poison Ivys (Green, with vines) there were. I’d never seen anyone dress as those characters before.

    I thought the convention was sadly deficient in little girls dressed as fairy tale princesses and preteens in crudely home-made costumes. Their absence probably relates to the ticket prices.

  51. NLC says:

    Aunt Soozie (and anyone else interested): Concerning the discussion of “artificer” above:

    Just as a footnote, the phrase in question, “Old Father, Old Artificer” (used as the title of the first chapter in _Fun Home_) is from the closing of James Joyce’s _A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man_:
    “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.”

  52. Jocelyn says:

    Dear Maggie:

    I thought the name line was a subject line, hence why it shows as Jodie Foster as my name.

    Sorry but I still see it as taunting her. A mask and a t-shirt with her denial isn’t showing hopeful support, it’s confronting her. You are not insulted or shameful of being a lesbian. Maybe she isn’t either. Or maybe she is. But that is her business. It would be classier just to leave her alone. It reminds me of that idiot Perez Hilton, who has made it his mission to out every gay celebrity, because he things they should be out and doesn’t care about the closeted person’s feelings. If he, and the mask wearers, want tolerance and respect for their life decisions, then respect the decisions to stay in the closet of others.

  53. Feminista says:

    Jana C.H.–Hmm,Olympia.It could work,but perhaps in the spring.

    Haven’t been there for 30 years,when a friend and I attended a radical social science conference at Evergreen,inserting our socialist feminist perspective.(For those who don’t know–Evergreen is a publically-funded univ.which has a history of offering women’s,labor,ethnic and envrionmental studies.) And we took brewery tour to sample Oly–this was long before the microbrew craze–and I asked them what was so special about the water. (Their commercial at the time was of a mountain stream,with the slogan “it’s the water.”)The corporate hack leading the tour would only say “it’s a special recipe.”

  54. Hannah says:

    Somewhere back up there Allison was mentioning feeling overwhelmed at the Comic Con….
    Oh, Allison, we ought to get you to Dragon Con, Atlanta Ga! You ain’t seen nothing yet!
    Any other Dragon Con goers out there?

  55. sunicarus says:

    Aunt Soozie~Sonia Sonchez is one of my favorite poets. Wow. It must have been incredible to have her as an instructor. Thanks for sharing the anecdote! This blog rocks.

  56. Jaibe says:

    Thanks to Lizen for the creative-types offices link. I actually totally changed how I organized my office after I saw Naomi Frears’ studio when I happened to be in St. Ives for open studio week. She puts everything that she finds that might inspire her on the wall so parts of her studio are like a collage. But not static, she changes her mind, adds & subtracts. So I do the same, even though I do science & engineering. It’s still creative, and you still need to celebrate good ideas when you run into them, and have them there when you are stuck.

  57. Erica Friedman says:

    Hi Alison –

    I could see that you had a bit of the “deer in the headlights” look about you, when we met at the Prism Comics.org booth.

    Pop culture is always frenetic, because it both hoards the past and reaches rapidly for the future at the same time. I love the craziness and the energy, myself.

    I notice someone has already warned you that San Diego Comic Con is about three times as large…I just returned from Comiket in Tokyo, which is three times larger than that. Imagine a whole city-sized landscape of intense obsesseive and acquisitional insanity. It’s like an amusement park ride made of people. LOL

    Anywa, it was great to meet you, I hope your soujourn at ComicCon didn’t freak you out so much that you’ll never do it again. 🙂 The more of us out there, (pun unavoidable) the better.


    Erica Friedman
    Yuricon & ALC Publishing

    Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu: http://okazu.blogspot.com

  58. meg says:

    Aunt Soozie! I had Sonia Sanchez as a prof in college as well – she was a great teacher.

    And she loaned me $20.00 for food when I was waiting for my V.S.A.C. check to clear, hadn’t been able to buy food for weeks, and down to pretty much *nothing* in the house. I was so hungry, and the money was a miracle.

    For that alone I would always remember her.

  59. geogeek says:

    Re: Cross-cultural stereotypes and verbalizations (“oogah-boogah”): I had a roommate who worked in the Arctic on big fishing trawlers, where the crew is typically a mix of Americans, Swedes, and Japanese, and they generally stick with their “own kind”. He described the situation in the galley as being sort of like the distribution of lunch tables in jr. high. Being a big friendly Irish-American and pretty sure no-one could actually beat him up, he made a point of sitting and eating with different groups, and ending up spending a lot of time with one of the Japanese tables. One day he was eating with them and they were yakking away in Japanese (which he didn’t understand) and one person started making “Wooo-WAH-wanh-wanh WAH wohn WOHN” kinda noises, almost like the “grownup” voices from the Peanuts t.v. cartoons. He thought this was odd and asked one of the guys who spoke English what these wierd noises were. After some embaressment, the Japanese guy admitted that was the way they made fun of Americans speaking their vowely gooey incomprehensible lingo.

    p.s. Jana- if you’re reading, I’m up for meeting for tea tonight at 7:30. I’ll bring a red book, since my book shave much more color variety than my wardrobe.

  60. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, kids, remember Helen the guest blogger? She’s back home and writing again. And she’s posted a photo of the, er, stirfry! http://adventuresofaitch.blogspot.com/

    Geogeek, some typos are intrinsically thought-provoking. I am now considering the meaning and appearance of a book shave.

    Meg, I hope Sonia S. reads this blog. Food money — it doesn’t get any more meaningful than that. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Jocelyn, I really appreciate your answer. I’m cogitatin’ on it…

  61. geogeek says:

    Oog, how awful. I’m a rotten typest, but U’m sure Freud could get a lot of mileage out of my incompetancies. It must be my furry books that I was thinkgin of…

  62. ? says:

    Someone earlier mentioned how the dress/clothing commentators for the Oscars did not mention Ellen or Melissa. Actually J. Alexander, judge from America’s Next Top Model, picked Melissa as his worst male outfit pick of the evening. hmmm….

  63. Maggie Jochild says:

    Yeah, and this morning P. Diddy was asked how he thought Ellen did as host, and he raved about her, adding that she had the “best suits” of the evening. Meant it, too.

    Bit by bit.

  64. Kat says:

    Ellen did look rockin’…..

    “?” — J. Alexander makes a point to be as rude as possible, it seems to me (not that I, um, watch Top Model…..or anything….)

  65. meg says:

    As far as Ellen and Melissa go, well, they really have nothing over the very cute and smart Alison Bechdel and Rachel Maddow.

  66. PixieLauren says:


    I think Suze Orman’s point isn’t that women should selfishly hoard all their money. Just that they ought to take care of themselves FIRST — I’m willing to bet my millions (ha ha!) that Andrew Carnegie took care of himself, before he gave to the arts. Women often take care of everyone else, to the detriment of their own well-being. I think this is what Suze is trying to address.

    Also, “life partner” is a term that means (approximately) “spouse” — And certainly a heterosexual person might say “spouse” or “husband” or “wife” or “the love of my life” (All roughly equivalent to “life partner”) after “only” 8 years, yes? Or even sooner? And wouldn’t be questioned for their word choice?

    “Life partner” means, “This is the person I choose to spend the rest of my life with” — “Optimistic” (as you said), I guess, but don’t heterosexual people say “till death do us part” when they get married? And usually heterosexual couples marry way sooner than 8 years after meeting, yes? Optimistic, I’d say!

    Last: Clearly the “virgin” remark was a joke. “Sex” as defined by most people, i.e., penetration by a male sex organ = Suze is still a virgin (She says). I don’t really “like” the joke, since I think it cheapens or minimizes the lesbian sex experience a little bit — But I can’t blame Suze for what she said in what was likely an uncomfortable moment (With an interviewer who wasn’t very nice, in my opinion).

  67. Deena in OR says:


    Hear, hear! Although I still melt for Norah Jones. (sigh)

  68. little gator says:

    about the word “partner”-my “partner” wrote a short story in which he referred to a character’s opposite-sex sweetie as that person’s “partner.” Someone told him that the word was exclusive to same-sex couples and should *never* be used to describe opposite-sex couples.

    We still use the word to mean anyone who is part of a couple though.

  69. meg says:

    that’s not me – must be a second ‘meg’ here.

  70. mike w. says:

    “I think about this too. But then I remember that if we did away with tax deductions and actually just taxed rich people and corporations a real 10% or 20% or 30%”

    Ummm – corporations don’t “pay” taxes – they collect them.
    Raise their taxes, they raise their prices at least as much.

    You and i pay the “corporate taxes”.

  71. Ellen Orleans says:

    Regarding the term “partner”….

    I have lots of straight friends who live with opposite sex lovers whom they call their partner. In this neck of the woods, it’s definitely a term to cover both straight and gay couples.

    It’s so prevalent in fact, that for non-sexual relationships, one has to say, “my business partner” or “my writing partner.” Otherwise, something more intimate is assumed.

    Now, if we could just get straight women to stop calling their women friends their “girlfriends.” That would clear up a whole other layer of confusion.

  72. Kat says:

    yeah, I’ve heard straight couples use “partner” quite a bit. The implication is usually that the relationship is more serious than the term ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ implies, but not a marriage. Makes sense to me…what did Little Gator’s partner’s friend have against it?!

  73. Andrew B says:


    Women and men should have equal rights to look after themselves first. Whether that’s what Orman meant is a matter of tone and interpretation. In a way I hope you’re right, but I doubt that either of us will convince the other.

    I disagree that “life partner”, “spouse”, and “love of my life” mean the same thing. The love of my life could be somebody I knew for two years in my twenties before circumstances pulled us apart. Such a person couldn’t be my life partner. And my spouse would just be somebody I had married, whatever our actual personal relationship consisted of.

    What really bothered me about Orman’s comment is her apparent need to make her romantic life conform to an authoritative model of lifelong commitment. Why not say “my partner of seven years” or “my partner” or “the love of my life”? Saying that somebody she got together with at age 48 is her life partner is trying to force her life to conform to an imposed model. That’s a bad idea for everybody.

    I agree with you that the remark about virginity was some kind of joke. But if “most people” didn’t think lesbian sex was sex, they wouldn’t get so upset about it. Whatever exactly Orman was trying to say, it was weird.

    I also agree with you that the interview itself was kind of weird. Those NYT Mag interviews often are. There was one with Walter Mosley a year or two ago that had some questions that made me cringe — basically questioning Mosley’s identification as black.

  74. Denise S. says:

    Alison, if you want a comic con that has lots of talented independent cartoonists and absolutely no Imperial Storm Troopers, come on down to the Small Press Expo. SPX takes place in lovely Bethesda, Maryland, in October. And it’s “North America’s premiere [sic] independent cartooning and comics arts festival.” How do we know? Because the organizers tell us so. (In this case, the hype is pretty accurate.) Check it out: http://www.spxpo.com/ It’s equivalent to the Alternative Press Expo that you’ve already been to, but in a nicer space that’s easier to get to. It would be great to have you at SPX.

  75. Art Read says:

    Carnegie’s assumptions about how his Philistine workers might have spent their excess cash and time, had they had any, belies what we have wrought for ourselves in the two times we’ve had a thriving middle class in this country: the 1750s-70s, and the 1950s-70s. The first era brought the Enlightenment, and the Constitution; an amazing document considering its authors were mainly white male slave owners. The second era tried to end the oppression/virtual slavery of the off-white, off-male, off-norm population–“the people,” basically; plus it contains all those other great socio-political movements you also cover in your work.
    But what about libraries and museums? It seems to me that many in this second era are concerned with maintaining things of value from our collective past–the Earth, for instance–even while bent on tearing down institutionalised oppression. Hard to say what kind of cultural infrastructure folks of Carnegie’s era might have laid down for us, had “the people” actually had access to the wealth generated by their work, the personal time to organize in persuit of such goals, and a government that responded to the will of the people over the will of the hegemony.
    That said; we’ve got an old Carnegie library in our town. It’s a museum now, after the new library was built in the 1980’s. Thanks, Andrew, you oppressive shrew. Could this be called supply side philanthropy?

  76. Aunt Soozie says:

    yeah, what PixieLauren said.

    when did you have a class with Sonia Sanchez?
    I was probably in her class in 1980 or so…?
    I was thrilled when I saw that she would be offering her class on the campus that I attended. I went to the big school’s art school on the far away campus…we didn’t often get the top names in academic professors. I think for most it was a punishment to be sent off to teach the art majors.

    I, uhm, did study James Joyce, too…I remember all that stuff that Sonia said but…I didn’t remember that closing from Portrait of the Artist, but, then again, we read Portrait and then spent the rest of the semester on Ulysses.
    I think I was semi-comatose through the whole thing.

    I don’t know how Alison did it but when I came out I had a very hard time showing for class and paying attention to the Professor of Modern British Fiction. He just couldn’t capture my attention the way my first lover could…and James Joyce, well, his writing couldn’t hold a candle to my foray into research, primary research, of sex and love and the power that came with coming out in that age of Helen Reddy and I am Woman Hear Me Roar. So…what was that line about artificers and fathers???

  77. meg says:

    Aunt Soozie,

    >I was thrilled when I saw that she would be offering her class on the campus that I attended. I went to the big school’s art school on the far away campus…

    Would that be Tyler, the extra campus of Temple out in Elkins Park, next to the nunnery? It’s where I was – and I have no idea of what year it was. I’m truly bad at datelines, amazingly so. Let’s say sometime in the early eighties, and that’s probably right. The first year I was there was the year the design student (Scott?)got shot down at the pizza place on Cheltenham Ave.

    The academic courses tended to be pretty weak there, much to my dismay, but the general student body didn’t seem to miss it much. I remember Sonia’s class distinctly, and we had one good Shakespeare prof – anything other is lost in the mists of time. Most of my time was spent in studio, nose to the picklepot…

  78. Feminista says:

    I think the term partner is fine for all couples,and I notice the medical community using it as well. In the 70s and early 80s we feminists and leftists on the west coast often used lover as our gender-neutral term,but I try to keep up with the times that keep a changin’.

    And I refer to my friends of either gender as just that–friends.

  79. Jaibe says:

    I thought the whole point of “partner” was that it was an orientation-neutral inclusive anti-pejorative. When people get married and stop calling each other “partner” that’s as stupid as when married women go from calling themselves Ms. to Mrs.. The point of “Ms.” was never to change the spelling of Miss, the point was to emulate the anonymity of Mr.! So that’s what “partner” means to me — any couple, gay straight married whatever. For that matter, maybe Ginger & Ammar are partners by transitivity if that really is a menage Alison is drawing.

  80. Matt Adler says:

    Hi, new to this blog, but figured I’d weigh in since I’m a fan of Alison’s work and I was at the con.

    Alison, I agree with many of the points you make… these cons can often be overwhelming and discordant. But I’d argue that those flaws are also a byproduct of its main virtue… that people with an interest in virtually any area of arts and entertainment can come together in one place, and meet people with similar interests face to face. I think that’s important especially in this Internet age where society is becoming more and more disconnected as we substitute electronic communication for real human interaction.

    So yeah, gathering thousands of people and attractions together in one building is always going to get a bit crazy… but it gets nice when you split off for panels and you’re in a room where you can really communicate with people. The con is what brings all those people together, and I’m not sure a smaller event could accomplish the same.

  81. Denise S. says:

    Matt, have you ever been to SPX, or APE, or any of the smaller cons? I’d argue that they are a *better* opportunity for genuine human interactions than large cons like SDCC (and believe me, I’ve been to both types, multiple times). Smaller cons gather a more selective audience — people who are genuinely interested in the types of media / content that are being showcased at that particular con. Plus SPX has, in the past, reserved Sunday afternoons for picnics and softball games for panelists and exhibitors and their friends/guests. Sunday PMs at SPX are where I’ve made some of my most lasting connections in the comics world. You should really check out a smaller con before making up your mind.

  82. little gator says:

    I’ll have to send Mr Gator to read these comments on usage of the word partner. I’m sure he’ll be glad to see that so many people agree with us.

    Thanks, everyone!

  83. meg says:

    WisCon. I don’t remember any funny costumes. Lots of intelligent conversation though, and some less so. But Ursula LeGuin! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    ok, it’s not comic books. *slinks away*

  84. Aunt Soozie says:

    Meg…no way…I’m certain that we knew each other.

    I had no idea a kid was shot at the Pizza shop…but I remember a design major who had a spinal cord injury. he seemed so comfortable with his chair though, I had no idea it was a recent injury. One time the elevator was broken and he was up in the design studio, he was totally pissed that he couldn’t get it to work…so, he just asked me to spot him, turned his chair around backwards, reached over and put both hands on the railing, gave himself a little tilt and rolled down the stairs. of course, his injury was low and he had a lot of muscle control in his torso but still, he blew me away with that stunt.

    I kinda did that coming out and dropping out thing that I alluded to above so I started Tyler in ’79 but I didn’t graduate until ’85. I was a printmaking major but I was a workstudy servant in the ceramics studio.

    I think we may have taken some print classes together or something. It’s all a bit vague. It was not the warmest and fuzziest place for lesbians back then…very conservative for an art school…or that’s how I remember it.

    Email me if you want to catch up at

  85. meg says:

    yup, that was him. I think he was the only student in a wheelchair while I was there – not exactly an accessable campus, was it? I’ll send you an email… funny old world, innit?

    I may not have existed in your reality though – our times overlapped, but I was fairly isolated in the metals studio much of the time, sanding my fingers to the bone and drinking cup after cup of expresso. Still, it’s fun to see the past through another set of eyes.

  86. Doctor E says:

    I would recommend Baltimore Con. It’s much more laid back and friendly, and even superstar creators like George Perez can chat with fans one-on-one without worrying about the enormous line of people behind him carrying stacks of books they want signed so they can put them up on ebay.

    More importantly, Baltimore Con is home of the Harvey awards, and if Alison isn’t nominated for one, I’ll be shocked.

  87. Matt Adler says:

    Denise, I’ve been to the MoCCA Festivals a few times… I agree that they are more personal, and I definitely see the value in them, but what I think they can’t do (and shouldn’t try to do) is bring everyone together. As you say, they focus on a more selective audience– but I think there’s something also to be said for the big gathering that allows you to experience all the different facets of the A&E community, meet people you might not otherwise have anticipated. It’s like Woodstock vs. the coffeehouse.

  88. Ellen Orleans says:

    Speaking of conferences, has any one been to the AWP, now underway in Atlanta ? It’s in NYC next year, and I’m considering it. Who goes? Posers, climbers, decent-hearted writers, a mix?

    (Um, that’s the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. And, no, I don’t know why there’s no second “W” in their name.)

    My cat’s trying to type, gotta go…

  89. Maggie Jochild says:

    Letterman had a video quiz last night filmed at the NY Comic Con, wherein a camera crew shot various unusual folks and sights and then Dave posed multiple choice questions about what was actually going on in that scene. Pretty hilarious, made more so by having read the insider exchange on this blog.

    Ursula LeGuin is one of my personal gods. Not just her work, but that of her parents — I haunted the Ishi wing of the anthro museum at Berkeley. And Theodora Kroeber’s collection of Yurok and other Northern California native stories (mostly from the women of the tribes) called “The Inland Whale” literally changed my life. One story in it is about Umai, a Yurok woman who enchants a canoe to take her to the World Beyond The World, across the Ocean Beyond The Ocean, to discover the source of the flash of light sometimes seen at sunset over the Pacific. She finds it is a lonely woman named Laksis building a bonfire on shore every night, hoping to attract company. Umai and Laksis become lovers and live together. Eventually, Umai misses her family and people, and decides to visit them, swearing to Laksis she will return. She becomes reabsorbed into her life back home, however, and forgets Laksis. Laksis, immortal, continues to build her bonfire every night. When I lived in San Francisco, I would often drive to Ocean Beach right before sunset in hopes of seeing Laksis’s signal. It felt so emblematic of my generation’s attempts to redefine the larger culture.

    I wrote a poem about this legend (and other pieces of Northern California Native culture) several years ago and sent it to Ursula. She wrote me back, a personal letter, and said her mother would have loved it.

    And Ellen O. — my cat Dinah is OUTRAGED that you choked off your cat’s attempt to join this blog. She wants to do an Intervention. Fortunately, she can’t operate the deadlock on the front door.

  90. Half Republican says:

    Anyone ever read Fall on Your Knees?

  91. Kat says:

    Maggie–have you gotten the cookies yet??

  92. shadocat says:

    This is the REAL Shadocat –THE cat—writing for a change, not that human imposter who has usurped my name–SHE claims to be too ill to participate in intelligent conversation; says she’s suffering from a bad case of “anal glaucoma”…

  93. Dinah Jochild says:

    Shadocat, way to break out of human bondage. But what on earth is anal glaucoma? I mean, glaucoma produces high pressure, opacity and nerve atrophy — to think of translating that to the anal region is alarming. Must come of how little raw meat they eat, I don’t know how they manage without hunting.

  94. newbie says:

    Along the thread of “consumerism” and “dumbing down” has anyone seen the movie “Idiocracy”? I caught it on my flight from DFW to Seattle on the digiEplayer. Very disturbing. I couldn’t decide if they were truly mocking our society or if this is where we are headed… or if it was simply humor at it’s most adolescent.

  95. Ian says:

    This is completely off topic and I’m not sure Kate will leave the link up, but I couldn’t resist mentioning it.

    A couple of threads ago there was a little discussion on Key Lime pie in which McVities biscuits were mentioned and there was a nice comparison between British chocolate and American candy. Well, on another site I found a rather random link to this place:


    Which sells English tea, biscuits, sweets, etc. It’s not entirely authentic though. I do hope AB and Kate don’t mind me posting the link. But it made me laugh after remembering the discussion over key lime pie.

  96. Denise S. says:

    Matt — what’s A&E? Sorry, I don’t recognize the acronym (and UrbanDictionary doesn’t define it). I do understand your point, though.

    Doctor E — the one year I went to the Baltimore Con, there were plenty of creators, but virtually no attendees. It was a great opportunity for those few of us who went to the con — we got to spend plenty o’ time talking with creators and getting sketches from artists — but for the creators themselves, it was a bad situation. (No attendees = no sales = no $$.) Have things improved in recent years?

  97. shadocat says:

    Dear Dinah–“anal glaucoma”–means she can’t see her ass getting out of bed anytime soon…(cue rimshot!)

    oops-no pun intended there…

  98. Matt Adler says:

    Denise – A&E = arts and entertainment, my shorthand way of grouping together books, comics, movies, tv, games, etc.

  99. Doctor E says:


    Attendance has picked up at Baltimore Con, but it’s still small enough that creators have time to talk to you. It’s by far my favorite convention.

    My writeup of last year’s Baltimore Con (since you asked) is at:


  100. silvio soprani says:


    Thanks for the English tea site. I love teapots. It is really difficult to BUY one these days. I went to so many department stores, big box stores, etc; nobody seems to sell them anymore.

    If you go to a high end gift shop, MAYBE there might be one or two.

    I fondly remember my first teapot–I bought it in Lewiston, Maine in a junk shop. It had a beautiful red chinese dragon on it, and it was large-about 8 cups, I think.

    Dr. E, for five years I worked in the warehouse building at Camden Yards, Baltimore, right across the street from the convention center. Once a year we could see all the kids in their capes, wings, masks, etc, lining up at 7 in the morning to get into the “Baltimore Con.” [I confess, I don’t know what “Baltimore con” stands for.] I have never been, but I always enjoyed seeing all the wild outfits strolling all over my city for a couple of days.

    I commute about 20 miles out of the city to work. On my way home, I always turn off my radio so I can hear the sounds of my city as I drive through it. Somehow it would seem so rude to drownd out all the noise. I can’t explain it, but that’s what I always do.

  101. The Empress Lydia says:

    shadocat and Dinah:

    There’s nothing wrong with reading what the humans write but must you encourage them by posting? I’m sure we all have better things to do.

  102. Boris Janavitch says:

    My Fellow Felines–

    May I ask a favor? If you happen to see your humans replying to my human’s posts about opera, please bite their hands. Maybe if she doesn’t get any more encouragement she’ll stop going. She didn’t get home til after midnight yesterday. MUST she stay for the Q&A afterwards? I don’t understand why she pays big money to hear humans howling for three hours, when I can howl for her free at home.

    Countertenors! I ask you!

    Boris J.H.
    Saith Ogden Nash: The problem with a kitten is THAT / Eventually it becomes a CAT.

  103. Kat says:

    Thanks Ian…..I have such a rough time finding proper Typhoo tea in this country. I got so used to popping down to the Tesco and stocking up. Now that I’m back in the US, it requires all sorts of internet ordering and waiting……ugh…..

  104. shadocat says:

    Boris–that is the very first poem I memorized and recited in front of a class (as a young kitten). It’s still one of my favorites.

  105. meg says:

    aunt soozie, the email bounced….

    I’ll try again, but thought you should know….


  106. The Empress Lydia says:

    Boris: I don’t bite humans. I wouldn’t dirty my teeth on them.

    There was a squirrel in the basement and the humans paid another human to catch and kill it for them. Then they had the nerve to complain about the price!

    Of course, I would have caught and killed it for nothing, but they wouldn’t let me down there till it was gone. They had some stupid idea I might chase it into hiding where it would never come out, or it might hurt me(*snort*) or something.

  107. Aunt Soozie says:

    Sorry Meg,
    Dunno why that happens sometimes.
    You can try fishouttawaddah at hotmail.

  108. sturdy grrl says:

    silvio: Lewiston, Maine! Most of my people are from Lewiston or Auburn area. Are you a New Englander?

  109. Aunt Soozie says:

    this may be of little interest to you all and if so please forgive me…

    I have a photo of a woman I believe to be our Meg from the opening of my senior exhibition at Tyler. Yeah, she was there, just smiling and admiring my work. What? No, she didn’t come for the food and the free booze! She came to admire my oeuvre not my hors d’oeuvre..sheesh…

    That was around 1985…and fyi, we did have color film then. With Meg’s permission I’ll scan it into my ‘puter and email it to Alison and…do you wanna see what Meg looked like in 1985?

  110. meg says:

    Puh-leeese, Aunt Soozie, let’s not kid ourselves.
    I was a starving artist then (as opposed to a starving non-artist now)- I was there for the food! And I wanna make sure it’s me first, ok?

    Then, go for it, scary as it’s bound to be.

  111. Chewy says:

    All through college we went to art openings and judged the shows based on the refreshments & servings. Until I was on the spot for my own senior art show. Party Hearty and Hardy too, can’t remember the vittles but there was hard liquor on the table.

  112. Kat says:

    yeah, we did that with recitals while I was at the music conservatory…..at the end of term you knew not to bring a lunch or suggest going out to dinner…

  113. Aunt Soozie says:

    It was great if you were working in the studio late on a weekend and there was an opening. yum. free food and drink and a reason to take a break from working.

  114. Chewy says:

    Aunt Soozie, exactly, a break from working in the studio. Just set up a studio in my basement. Feel the need to get off the computer and back into paint, or a combination of traditional & digital.

  115. meg says:

    Openings were my main source of fresh vegetables and protien during the last two years of art school. I always looked at the art, but I kept a firm eye on the buffet as well. O, those Korean students! Their familes went all out, and bless the Jewish mother’s hearts as well, and the Italians.

    We were vultures in those days.

    And you know, I have *no* idea of what I had at my senior show for food – I’m sure there was *something*. Probably not much, though…

  116. Kat says:

    I loved the diversity of what was served at recital receptions. The rich families would have centerpieces and matching napkins and fancy treats or sushi plates or something, the parents of an Italian friend found the only “proper” Italian bakery in the area and had a spread of wonderful desserts….and at least one person had ever so American bean dip, potato chips, jello, and that punch that has sherbet floating in it.

  117. Liza from pine street art works says:

    POV gallery owner: there are few things more annoying than people who come to an opening to scarf down the food but would never think of buying even a $10 item – or Fun Home at $18. I have regulars who even bring their children to stuff themselves on the sweets I serve, but have never even bought a chocolate bar (I sometimes sell locally made artisan chocolates)

    Then there are the people who bring me a coffe from next door when they visit. Usually, those who do are shop or gallery owners/workers themselves. A little pleasantry goes a long way.

  118. Kat says:

    for the people who are talking about student art shows (senior projects or whatever): were the works for sale, or was this an exhibition?

    Because I really see where Liza is coming from, and the people to which she is referring sound rather annoying.

    For me though, it seems different than someone who goes to a friend’s recital (or show) to support them and hear good music (or see cool art), but also get a nice selection of goodies at a time of year when meals often get skipped in order to make more time for studying and practicing.

    Or am I just justifying my past behavior? Its ok to let me know if I am.

  119. meg says:

    well, Aunt Soozie & I were refering back to student art shows at Tyler – the work wasn’t usually for sale, and the openings were public events where noshing down was pretty much expected behavior. It was survival for the students. However, getting sloshed on the free wine (unless you were a close personal friend) was Bad Manners.

    I expected to see my friends and a bunch of random folks at my opening, and I expected everyone to eat whatever was there. I’m sure that’s what went on.

    It’s kinda different ballgame than for profit venues. MHO

  120. meg says:

    PS. And Kat’s right – the people Liza is refering to do sound as though they have, at best, amazingly poor manners.

  121. Liza from pine street art works says:

    I”m sure it is a different ballgame for students and student shows. I know people who survived grad school on the cookies and juice served at department afternoon teas.

    I’m just surprised how many people still think that an art opening is just an excuse to stuff themselves and move on. As if the artists and art galleries didn’t have to support themselves on sales, and could produce wine and treats from thin air.

    I’d do just about anything for a good customer, but the schnorers are a different story.

  122. Aunt Soozie says:

    yeah…it was different with student shows.

    Our work generally wasn’t for sale. We had other shows at school…they came and went throughout the year. Those were the work of professional artists but that work wasn’t normally for sale either. Most of those folks, the pros, had gallery arrangements wherein if they were showing at a school for educational purposes it was okay but they couldn’t sell their work outside of the gallery that represented them.

    And in terms of that food it was on the school so, we figured, ultimately, we were paying for it.

    It is interesting though, people who come to professional galleries just to eat. And bringing their kids no less…ugh! There ain’t nothin more unappetising than a few youngins reaching their grubby germ infested hands up onto a buffet table. Auntie loves the little ones and she loves buffets…but that is simply repulsive.

    Auntie has a credo…
    you touched it, it’s yours now…
    or, the first one you touch is the one you chose…
    (no touching ’em all you unabashed butt scratchers and nose pickers) I mean, I know some adults are double dippers so maybe they’re just as awful but kids are so direct about it…maybe that’s why it seems more grotesque.

    Okay, now that I’ve thoroughly sickened myself…I’ll take my leave.

  123. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh wait,
    did you just say you’d do just about anything for a good customer? Hmmm…how good is good…I mean, whatta we have to spend to get that arrangement?

  124. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Depends what you want. And remember I said, “just about.”

    And I don’t serve dips. Yuck.

  125. louise says:

    my girlfriend just defended her dissertation this week! I somehow came to be domestic-partnered to a doctor. She goes to the CUNY Grad Center in Manhattan and there are always numerous events or talks or Blaxploitation film festivals going on with food and gallons of wine. And she says that they have a handful of relentless people they call ‘the feeders’, usually older and eccentric white folks who live nearby, who come to every single event, and ask bizarre unrelated questions but basically show up to eat the food. One showed up to an Africana Studies event with a bad cold and wanted to pick up every sandwich to find out what was in it, then got highly indignant when asked to stop, saying that she was a benefactor of the school. They asked her to leave and she did after throwing a huge fit. What are you going to do? It’s New York; for all we know she might be a benefactor.

  126. Chewy says:

    I too was talking about student shows. On campus to support & celebrate the finale of a class or senior project of a fellow student.

    When I lived in NYC the galleries were usually filled to capacity at Art Openings. It was more exciting to see who was there than to eat or drink. If I liked what I could see of the art I would return on another day when I could stand across the room and view the work properly.

    Of course I still go to art openings at the local colleges to support the students entering the art community. But now I usually pass on the refreshment table.

  127. little gator says:

    This food talk reminds me of an opne house I attended before I bought my current home. They say it’s a good idea to leave munhcies out to make the house seem more welcoming, and for the owners to leave the place to the agents and viewers.

    At one place there was a huge spread of enitcing homebaked cookies and quick breads on the kitchen table. Sitting at the table were 4 or 5 adult residents of the house, wearing shabby overcoats and glowering at everyone. They were also literally crouched protectively over the food, clearly wanting to keep it all for themselves. So why have it there at all?

    Even if they hadn’t been there giving us clues, we’d have quickly figured out that the place needed lots of repair, had been severely neglected, and the heat didn’t work.

    At least they cleared out the kids for the open.

    At another house a mom yelled at her 4 year old in front of us for leaving his toys lying around, then told him if we didn’t buy the house it was his fault for making it so messy. We didn’t buy the house but the kid’s toys had nothign to do with the reasons.

  128. Ellen Orleans says:

    Hey, check out the cover of Heeb Magazine and the article about Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Robert Crumb. Good insights on Jewish/Gentile sexual attraction and body image.


  129. Maggie Jochild says:

    Thanks, Ellen, GREAT read.

    Say – is your cat Empress Lydia, by chance?

  130. Aunt Soozie says:

    Thanks for sharing that article.

    White, schmite…
    My paramour always tells me what an exotic and voluptuous Jewess I am…and I am…right Paramour? (especially when she gets me to belt out show tunes in bed…)

    …and talk about whiners…

    oops…I didn’t say that about you, my sexy tall blonde-haired ham eating lover…did I?

  131. Aunt Soozie says:

    You want a glass of milk with that Babe?

  132. little gator says:

    The Empress Lydia is her own cat, and I am her human slave.

  133. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ah — provenance established. Thanks, little gator.

    And “Willa Catheter” made me laugh loud and long enough to draw Dinah’s attention. (Well, scorn, but whatever.)

    In the 70’s, we used to say goodbye to one another thus: “See ya later, agitator” — “After while, homophile”

  134. corybant says:

    Speaking of libraries, April 7th will be a sad day for Oregonians.

    Largest library closure in U.S. looms


  135. little gator says:

    Maggie and anyone else-Lyds is on cuteoverload.com. check the archive for December 3, 2006.

  136. Vesper says:

    i would be interested to go to a comic con just for the experience.


  137. Deena in OR says:

    little gator,

    Lyds is very cute-although I will admint to being momentarily distracted by the cats-n-racks page 🙂

  138. Deena in OR says:

    That should be admit…

  139. Maggie Jochild says:

    lil gator, she certainly lives up to the Empress appellation. Have bookmarked the entire site — who knew hedgehogs could turn you to goo?

    Dinah kept commenting on the crunchability of various creatures, until I made her go away.

    Photos of Dinah would not be suitable for any “cuteness” contest. Instead, she keeps submitting candids to mycathatesyou.com, hoping to make it into future editions of Bad Cat.

  140. silvio soprani says:

    sturdy girl,

    My apologies; I just saw your post from March 2!
    No, I was not born a New Englander, but I attended college in Lewiston, and I lived off campus in Auburn for a while.

    A piece of my heart is still in Maine!! I lived near a little grocery (this was in the early 70s) with a neon sign that said “Wilton Cake.” I never found out what kind of cake that was, but I had a feeling it must have been something regional. However, while reading Ulysses by J. Joyce for my literature class homework I did put down the book, hike down the street, buy some kidneys and some porter, and came back and cooked the same dinner that Leopold Bloom was eating. (Kidneys are WEIRD, but I felt compelled.)

    Later I got very attached to the novels of May Sarton, whom I believe also made her home in Maine.

    The final reason my heart is still in Maine is because my very first car (an old used ROVER), bit the dust on the “Hainesville Road” (Route 95, I believe), on the way to Nova Scotia. I never got out of Maine; it threw a rod and died about 3 hours north of Lewiston, and I had to leave it there, FM radio and all.

    Fine place, Maine, in spite of all.

  141. Doctor E says:

    I put myself through grad school on seminar pizza. Before a seminar there was often a grad student gathering with the speaker, during which they’d eat pizza and talk science. I knew all the seminar schedules and which ones had the best pizza. Occasionally there was Chinese takeout! Somehow I never considered art openings! The arts complex was too far from my lab, I guess.

    The only trouble was, once you’d eaten the pizza you were sort of obligated to attend the seminar. I have quite a store of background knowledge in areas having nothing to do with my field, all because of seminar pizza.

    Those skills and instincts don’t fade after they become unnecessary. To this day I find it nearly impossible to pass up free food, even if I’m not legitimately entitled to it. There’s a plate of doughnuts on dislay within 50 feet of this computer, a freebe from some other department’s party. t’s taking every ounce of willpower I have not to eat one.

  142. --MC says:

    Silvio, Wilton was a company that made cake decorating supplies — pans, nozzles, that sort of thing. The little grocery probably sold cake supplies.
    My uncle, who was a chef for a Reno casino, used to get their catalogs, which I as a small child would nab and spend hours reading and dreaming about cake. There was not enough cake in my upbringing, which explains a lot about how I turned out.