March 31st, 2007 | Uncategorized

I’m back from my vacation. I’m afraid I’m going to make a post without reading through all the comments on the last one because I have so many millions of things to do. But thank you all for carrying on in my absence. Whatever it is you were carrying on about.

In internet time, this post is several epochs late, but whatever. This was Memoir Week on Slate, They ran a bunch of reviews and essays focused on “the issue and aesthetics of writing memoirs.” They asked various memoirists, including me, to write about whether and how they let the people who appear in their books know about it.  So here’s a short piece I wrote on that topic.

I’ll return after I’ve dealt with the backlog of things that built up in my absence. Why do people take vacations?

106 Responses to “swamped”

  1. cybercita says:

    welcome back alison,

    we carried on so well without you that we even knew about your piece on slate. someone was kind enough to post a link. hope you had a lovely time.

  2. Maggie Jochild says:

    You know, Jesus went into the desert on vacation and came back with a particularly strong message. But, no pressure.

    In case Marge Piercy reads this blog (wouldn’t be the least surprised), Happy Birthday today!

  3. Blue says:

    Welcome back! I think we vacate so as to clear the back-log in our heads. Shame it doesn’t always work!

  4. Deb says:

    Welcome back! Hope your vacation was relaxing enough so you can tackle your backlog with a fresh perspective.

  5. Just a guy says:

    This struck me how lucky and privileged we are, to have Alison give access to her life like this. O Brave new world, and all that sort of thing. It’s pretty cool. Thank you.

  6. Silvio Soprani says:

    Interesting that Alison’s last word in her last thread was “maybe I should just…shut up,” and it took us 301 comments to compensate for her absence.

    Welcome back, Alison. Now we can go back to listening and watching (for a little while.) Got any pictures of New Mexico and those unearthly rock formations to show us?

  7. kate says:

    glad you’re back home

  8. Anonymous says:

    Am I remembering right? Did you say something about leaving a burritto on the seat of the car? I hope it’s mummified rather than reincarnated.

  9. I went to all sorts of elaborate lengths to get the burrito removed, and have someone take my car out of the airport lot so I wouldn’t owe a million dollars when I got home.

    And thanks for asking about pictures of NM, but I think I’m going to attempt to draw a line and keep a tiny sliver of my life to myself.

  10. Samia says:

    Hi Alison! I am so happy that you are back! I’m glad that you were able to go on your long overdue vacation and I hope you are feeling relaxed and recharged. 🙂

  11. Sophie says:

    Good for you!
    Cheers and Namasté to Alison the Hermite!
    (adding a French “e” for good effect and feminization)
    (I would type a funny face, but there’s no telling what emoticon would show up instead)

    This from the girl who visits this blog several times a day, and reads all comments, dare I say… religiously.

    Oh, and here’s a scoop: Spring is officially here in Montreal! I spotted the first buds this morning. The streets are full with people wandering aimlessly, a beatific smile on their faces.

    Despite the fact that they’re all stunned by the recent election’s results, each, it seems, for their own reasons.

  12. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, we’ve gone all spiritual here on this blog — Pesach? Easter? Reading religiously, beatific smiles, the Hallelujah chorus, Ave Maria, hermitages, shush the Rebbe is about to sing, emasculate/iMaculate conceptions and lasagna for the masses. I suggest we sacrifice an attorney general for the good of the planting and hie off into the hills with wine and one another.

  13. Sophie says:

    By the way, I hadn’t looked beyond your article at the whole Memoir Week feature on Slate’s website. Thanks for the link. We don’t really have the same genre category in French (people are not really supposed to write their “mémoires” unless they’re old and well-known), so for this literary translator, it’s all the more fascinating, and relevant.

  14. Sophie says:

    Lasagna for the masses! Count me in!

  15. Sillipitti says:

    Well, Alison, people go on vacations to get away from life and all its routines and expectations and worries and humdrumness. I hope you managed that. People also go on vacation to have adventures, like Tintin might have. Does getting stuck in Charlotte count for that? Maybe you had some in Santa Fe.


  16. Deena in OR says:


    Lasagna at Mass? That’s a service I’d show up for!!! (smirk)

  17. Silvio Soprani says:

    It will be Lasagna for the “little m” masses This Hostess would never try to compete with the Host. And you have to CHEW my lasagna.

    Alison, apologies for my tactless request. By all means reserve the images of your special landscapes. Everyone deserves a sanctuary.

    There is a place in the hills northeast of Tucson (not quite as far as that Summerhaven place that burned down in 2003) where you get taken up the mountain on a little trolley, and as you go, you actually see running water in the creek. I don’t know the name of it (BOLTGIRL, help me out!), but after living in Tucson for six months, I learned of this place during my last few weeks in the area. I was so amazed to find a green place with water only 15 or 20 minutes out of town that i kicked myself for not knowing about it sooner.

    When I think of how I took myself hiking in Catalina State Park with my two bottles of water, and just got exhausted and dehydrated for my efforts! (Although I did see a roadrunner bird doing the “keep on trucking” walk with her baby walking directly behind her in the same fashion! Now I see where cartoons come from! )

  18. Silvio Soprani says:

    p.s. Maggie, I am definitely ready to hie off to the hills with all of us and the bottle of wine! Start that bonfire!

  19. Deena in OR says:

    Silvio, and anyone else who might have been offended-

    Apologies, that last was tasteless, flip and poorly considered. It’s no justification, but I’m still sorting out stuff from when I was outed to my parish, and went from cantor/teacher of the first Euchrist class/marriage prep coordinator to local pariah in six weeks. I left the parish when someone scribbled “queer” in the dust on my car while I was cantoring at Mass. It’s a little hard to concentrate on leading a congregation in music when you’re looking out and wondering who would do something like that.

  20. Deena in OR says:

    Eucharist. Can’t spell today.

  21. Silvio Soprani says:

    I don’t think you said anything offensive. (I hope I didn’t!)
    Shame on whoever treated you so disrespectfully! (It’s bad enough to be outed as having a car that needs to be washed, but to add insult to injury is just dead wrong.)

    And I hope you have found (or will find) a spiritual community that will celebrate you for what you are, not shun you.

    I am so naive sometimes, but I always think that music, being such a spiritual and ecstatic endeavor on its own, will protect us from being treated badly. I mean, who could sit in a congregation and listen to beautiful music and then zero in instead on the cantor’s lifestyle? Idiots! (sorry, your story just burned me up…)

    Once during my famous six months in Arizona, I had to have surgery. I was all alone out there. I did not have any friends or family at the time in the area. One of my fellow teachers (I was working at a jail for boys as a teacher) was a lesbian who had moved to the area with her partner to start a sort of charismatic gay church. They invited me to come to the service so they could contribute to my healing process by the laying on of hands. I was not of that persuasion, but I was grateful for their generosity, so I went. Their service consisted of two hours of the whole congregation singing these wonderful contemporary spiritual songs, and certain lucky people got to wave banners and march up and down the aisle. I thought it was absolutely a fine way to spend two hours, even though I did not share their religious fervor.

    When I left I felt so energized. (I never could do aerobics; this was much better.)

    Whoever wrote “queer” on your car was sorely deficient in Vitamin L (love).

  22. little gator says:

    Deena- I was raised RC and they told me I was supposed to chew the Host. But I’d rather have lasagna.

  23. Maggie Jochild says:

    little gator, now you’re playing “straight man”? okay, i’ll bite (chuckle) — i will be GLAD to chew the host(ess). before or after lasagna for the masses.

    deena, really, babe, i can’t see any offense or where it was taken, guess i missed it. don’t you dare stop being bold and practicing your Lesbianism.

    okay, sounds like hieing with wine is on. just need to find a wheelchair-accessible hill nearby…

  24. Deena in OR says:

    We have a subcommunity of Charismatic Catholics in our parish. Yeah, that’s some interesting energy.

    Like I said to a good friend in the parish shortly before I left(she’s a lesbian nun, and one of the first people I came out to…) “Godde and I are fine. It’s some of Her people I’m having trouble with!”

  25. Deena in OR says:

    Ah, hieing off to the wilderness with lasagna etc., sounds wonderful. Too bad some of us are on the wrong coast!

  26. Liza from pine street art works says:

    One of my favorite parts of my job is when totally clueless straight couples(usually from out of town) wander around in the gallery and start looking at Alison’s work. I get to tell them about DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR! Yes, ma’am, I said DYKES. I love the look on their faces. Usually holding in the shock, trying to act like they’re hip enough to assimilate this without faltering. Then I hand them the list of Alison’s recent awards.

    Many such incidents today. Sunny and clear, people are wandering about enjoying the early spring.

  27. kate says:

    *contemplating how much better mass might be with lasagna

    go deena! go liza!

  28. Maggie Jochild says:

    G = W / M
    The gravity of our current situation is equal to the wait for equality divided by the number of times you have mass with lasagna. And Dykes. Yes, ma’am, that’s with a Y.

  29. little gator says:

    If you don’t know already, check cnn headlines for the story about the cancelled art exhibit with the lifesize chocolate sculpture of Jesus. Nekkid.

    The title, I kid you not, is

    My Sweet Lord

  30. Maggie Jochild says:

    little gator, I’ve been following that story with interest, even though it’s chocolate and not orange. The Catholic fundamentalist nutjob responsible for the art exhibit getting cancelled is William Donahue. Reacting to the above news is Jesus General, a wildly funny leftie blogger who purports to “out-religious” the Religious Right and be “an 11 on the manly scale of absolute gender”. He takes extreme stances the Right frequently does not understand as satire. He write actual letters to them (invariably signed “Heterosexually yours”) and posts them at his blog — always worth reading but especially today’s letter to William Donahue at http://patriotboy.blogspot.com/2007_03_25_archive.html#6577953779712265795

  31. april zosia says:

    i love the piece you wrote about the role of your “characters” in your memoir writing. i think that trying to eliminate those uncomfortable feelings writers of memoir have when they tell their story about other people is unproductive at best, dangerous at worst. Because, there will always be rough edges in life; there will always be conflict or moments when our needs and lives affect the needs and lives of those close to us. However, we have to embrace these complexities, these moments of chaos, if we are to really become the beings we are in the ever unfinished process of becoming.

    Thanks for illustrating that necessary tension so eloquently and so unapologetically.

  32. Jana C.H. says:

    Remember that painting smeared in elephant dung, “The Blessed Virgin Mary”, that caused such a fuss a few years ago? I remember someone pointing out that it was really the title that got people upset. If it had been called “Condoleeza Rice,” no one would have cared about it, except possibly Condoleeza Rice.

    There’s no cross in this this sculpture, or any other sign of Christianity. If it had been named “Skinny-dipping in Caramel” it would have been just another chocolate nude sculpture.

    The Jesus General links to a photo of the thing. Check it out, and see if you don’t agree with my title.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Seneca the Younger: Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. (And by artistes as food for thought.)

  33. Deb says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwwww Deena! Hugs to you from Eugene! I’m so sorry. Email me and we an chat. Yippppeee to Alison for the boundary! Cheers!

  34. meg says:

    crocuses blooming here, a few snowdrops, and all sorts of things greening up. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    chocolate jesus? All I can think of is Tom Waits, and that makes me smile.

  35. cybercita says:


    forgive me for my passion for correctness, but the painting to which you are referring wasn’t smeared with elephant dung. the artist, the african born chris ofili, is well known for using very small pieces of it to ornament his paintings. the effect was something akin to an icon, with the three dimensional hard bits, which he had painted, appearing like opaque jewels. the piece was moving and beautiful and not at all offensive, especially compared to what else there was on display at that exhibit {cross sections of cows, yuck}.

    however i’m glad you brought it up because the person who tried to cut off funding to the brooklyn museum as retribution for offending his religious sensibilities was our then mayor, rudolph guiliani. he’s a political front runner for the republican party. just the memory of his behavior back then is reminding me why i should do what i can for the democrats.

    i think that elephant dung may have some tribal sacred significance. will have to research this.

  36. Silvio Soprani says:


    For all we know, it may have some nutritional signficance, thus linking it as a precedent to the bittersweet chocolate art piece.

    At the very least, elephant dung ornamentation sounds quite ecological.

  37. Duncan says:

    I’m glad cybercita corrected that point on the disposition of the dung, because otherwise I’d have done it. 😎

  38. cybercita says:

    and now i must correct myself. his name is actually spelled ophili.

  39. cybercita says:

    and silvio,

    i’m sitting here debating whether to laugh or gag at your last post. thank goodness i’m jewish, or i’d be really bummed at having been put off chocolate by that remark, and on easter sunday!!!

  40. shadocat says:


    I read in a Time magazine piece several years ago that the “elephant dung” was considered sacred by the people in the artist’s homeland, as it is used extensively for fertilizer, and as such, given credit for bringing forth the vegetation that feeds the animals , and of course, the people. In their eyes, this makes the fertilizer the “mother” of all things, as without it, nothing would grow, and the earth would be desolate. By using it in portraying Mary, he was equating her with the “mother” of us all, which in the land of his birth, is the ultimate honor.

    I can see how those who were uninformed and unaware might take offense at the sculpture, but there was NO excuse for the way politicians (who presumably are well read and better educated–well they should be, anyway) who took advantage of the art controversy for political purposes (wasn’t ol’ Mayor Rudy G. angainst it?)when they could’ve used it as a teachable moment to illustrate the importance of learning culture differences. but that would be too much to ask for, wouldn’t it?

  41. Deena in OR says:


    It was more than three years ago. I’m mostly over it (smile).
    Of course, living next door to the parish and having my kids and exhusband still attending probably doesn’t help my inner work any.

    Cybercita…I think today is Palm Sunday. Next Sunday is Easter.

    I just got a batch of pictures in my inbox from my sister-in-law. Did you know that they now make plush finger puppets and masks of the Seven Plagues for Jewish preschoolers to learn about Pesach? It looked for all the world like Veggie Tales toys.

    Anybody honoring Ostara next Saturday night?

  42. cybercita says:

    palm sunday! of course. that would explain the palm fronds peeking out of people’s bags on the subway yesterday. shows what i {don’t} know…

  43. Maggie Jochild says:

    Deena, that does it — the mention of Ostara. Write me at my disposable address, girl, at magblog at sbcglobal dot net and send me your address so I can share a poem with you. I mean, if ya want…

  44. Deena in OR says:

    Maggie…check your mail.

  45. Jana C.H. says:

    One has to consider context in art, and no one in New York City is going to look at elephant dung and think “sacred;”they will think “outrage.” If “outrage” is the message you want to send, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t be surprised when people get upset. People will assume that you meant to upset them, which artists do on purpose often enough. If outraging people wasn’t at least part of Ofili’s intention, I have to conclude he’s mighty dim.

    Anyway, I looked up the image on the web, and there is quite a lot of elephant dung; the painting is studded with it, not smeared as I said earlier. The pieces look like dirty rocks in the image. They may be more jewel-like in person.

    And the Blessed V really looks a LOT like Condoleeza Rice; she has no chin at all.

    Doesn’t anyone else think Chocolate Jesus looks like he’s jumping into the ol’ swimming hole?

    Jana C.H.
    Saith James Boswell: He who has provoked the lash of wit, cannot complain that he smarts from it

  46. shadocat says:

    In defense of the artist; I don’t think the piece was solely intended for the people of New York.

    Just sayin’…

  47. Maggie Jochild says:

    Deena, didn’t work. magblog at sbcglobal dot net (you know how to decipher that so robotrollers can’t, right?)

  48. Maggie Jochild says:

    Deena, seems like maybe it’s on my end. Okay, try this: redredhands at sbcglobal dot net

  49. Deena in OR says:


    Ok…I tried again. Good luck. If that doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll post my address here.

  50. Lea says:

    um… ostara? is that similar to our old tradition of making big fires and sending burning straw wheels down the mountains?

  51. Silvio Soprani says:


    I tried to search the artwork on google and his name appears to have been spelled “Ofili” numerous times, but only he knows best how to spell his name.

    I think the painting is a beautiful image–the lines are flowing and abundant…but from what i can tell, the blobs of elephant dung are dotted rather randomly about the perimeter of the image, but they are all different shapes and sizes. (Some of them look to me like elephants…)

    I think the explanation shadocat related from Time magazine (about how using the dung constitutes a great tribute and connotes being the mother of all life) is plausible.

    I don’t know if Ofili created this work from his homeland, or whether he is now a New Yorker, but I don’t think this changes the essence of his statement (tribute) into insult (New Yorkers get worked up about artwork done in the medium of excrement.) Just because some of the critics (or the politicians) of New York City are alienated from the concept of the cycle of life (seeds/substance/poop/death/rebirth), that should not dissuade artists from invoking it in their art.

    Who knows; perhaps the artist grasped the irony–that his stuff of tribute was someone else’s poop–and hoped (in vain , apparently) that somebody would “get” it.

    That’s all I can muster in the realm of art appreciation today.

  52. Deena in OR says:


    I dunno about the burning straw wheels, but the bonfire works. Ostara and Easter are entymologically and historically connected.

    Anyone who’s ever been to a full-on RC Easter Vigil can see the ancient fertility rite history overwritten by the “men in skirts”.

    Bonfire? Plunging the Easter candle in holy water? Death and rebirth?? Eggs??

    Really now.

  53. Maggie Jochild says:

    And if you spill candle wax on those cute lil rabbits? You get hot cross bunnies.

  54. xckb13 says:

    While we’re on the subject of religious figures: edible or not? Take a look at http://www.sostav.ru/sotka/news/2005/10/07/1/

    The artist, Alexander Kosolapov, claims that he’s trying to reinterpet Andy Warhol for the Russian masses: “whereas Coca Cola for Andy Warhol signified a universal, democratic model of consumerism, caviar in Russia is the opposite – it divides people into rich and poor. Poor people do not eat caviar, but the president does.”

    I’m not sure what exactly this has to do with the Virgin Mary, since as we are often reminded religion is but a tonic for the masses (or does it imply something about Mr. Putin and Mary that would definitely fall into the realm of both political and religious blasphemy?) but the picture has provoked no less than two years of scandal and outrage. It was just included in an exhibit at the Sakharov Center of “forbidden art,” which the Center is now being sued for.

  55. Silvio Soprani says:


    I am intrigued about why in that link (in which all the text was in Russian, right?), the caption of the art is in English. What’s up with that? Is that part of the reference to Andy Warhol?

  56. Jana C.H. says:

    Not just New Yorkers but just about everyone in the Western world–and many other cultures besides–are going to equate excrement with insult. The “fertilizer = fertility = life = holiness” idea makes perfect sense when it’s pointed out, but most people won’t think of it while they’re busy (1) being outraged, or (2) grinning at an insult they think is deserved. Call me old-fashioned, but I think art which has to be explained to its contemporary culture is not good art.

    AB has not had to explain Fun Home to anyone; it makes sense on its own. Her explanations may deepen our understanding, but we “get it” without them. Even homophobes who hate it understand what it is they’re hating.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: If I don’t understand the deep meaning of a poem, that’s my problem; if I don’t understand the subject matter, that’s the poet’s problem.

  57. xckb13 says:


    Yes, I think it does largely have to do with the Andy Warhol reference.

    Also, though, it probably has roots in the idea of the USSR as a classless society (and it is true that under Brezhnev in the 1970s, pretty much everyone could afford to eat black caviar) that is being trampled by an American-style division between rich and poor.

    Finally, the use of English is endemic in art here. It is both a way of reaching a larger international audience and of either acclaiming (increasingly rare) or thumbing one’s nose at (common) the non-Russian world, which for many people begins and ends with America.

  58. tricia says:

    I love NM but you should go in October during the balloon fiesta which is absolutly breath taking. I’m from ABQ so I’ve seen all your pictures already.

  59. shadocat says:

    I need to make a correction: Chris Ofili was born in Manchester, but his familial roots are in Nigeria.

    Most artists don’t feel a “need” to explain their work–I mean how can you explain a Jackson Pollock, or even DaVinci’s “Madonna of the Rocks, or Henry Moore’s “Sheep Piece?” Sometimes the dialogue that is created by a piece of art can be as important as the art itself.

    When I first saw a photgraph of a crucifix bathed in a golden light a few years ago, I found it quite beautiful. It was only when I was told it’s title (“Piss Christ”) that, I’ll admit I was offended. Does that speak about the piece, or does it say more about me? Interesting questions…

    As for Alison not having to explain “Fun Home” to anyone: she chose to tell her story not in a tradional written book form, but to do it as a graphic novel instead. And if I remember correctly, wasn’t that the problem of that dust-up in Marshall, Mo. a ways back? You know, that some people did not understand the medium of the graphic novel, confusing them with comic books, fearing children would mistakenly read a novel meant for a more adult audience?

  60. cheesethug says:

    Likes:Pointing, sitting up straight, alternate realities, the lady with the pink hair on Trinity Broadcasting Network.
    Dislikes: People who can steal my thoughts,complainers, people who order their food WellDone, they are dead on the inside.

  61. Doctor E says:

    On the African plains, elephant dung is a vital natural resource and has been a symbol of fertility for thousands of years. The elephant dung on the painting is coated in shellac and decorated with African beadwork. There is nothing remotely offensive about it.

    That controversy was manufactured by Rudy to make himself look like a hero to his Catholic constituents. No one was offended until Rudy TOLD them to be. To this day, people believe the painting is spattered with elephant dung with the intention of mocking Catholics.

    Because Rudy Lied.

  62. shadocat says:

    Tell ’em Doctor E!! That’s what I was trying to say,but you’ve done it much more eloquently. Rudy and several other politicians jumped on that bandwagon( I believe the then-govenor of New York was on of them). Now THAT was offensive.

  63. shadocat says:

    sorry-“the then govenor of New York was ONE of them.”

  64. eris says:

    Not only does Skinny Chocolate Jesus look like he’s jumping in the swimming hole, he appears to have a little hippie ponytail. He would fit right in here around the Russian River.

  65. little gator says:

    Here comes Jesus Ponytail
    Hopping in a swimming hole…

    needs work. Which it won’t get from me.

  66. geogeek says:

    I’m not up on elephant dung, but I do know that in pre-indian wars central plain here in teh US and Mexico buffalo dung was an important fuel source, and in India cow dung is still. There’s also a near-universal-if-large-unglates-are-present use of dung for floor manufacturing, a sort of polished soft brick look. This sort of came into the US when straw floors were briefly in vogue in the renewable building movement, but they skipped the dung part.

    I woudl guess that the ideas of the artist probably involed both traditional ideas about the usefulness and sybolic nature of dung and a chance to (1) shock or (2) educate the US audience.

    Jana, Thrs is good for me, see you at the teahouse. Any other Seattle readers?

  67. geogeek says:

    Wow, sorry about the terrible typing. I know I’m usually a little spastic, but that was worse than usual.

  68. Maggie Jochild says:

    little gator, just plain inspired — i mean, with the added layer of the ‘here comes peter cottontail’ melody which those of us in the U.S. are intuitively singing it to.

    i think it stands on its own. certainly it’s enough to gain you entry to hell. see ya there, babe.

  69. little gator says:


    thank you Maggie!

    I mean, it didn’t even rhyme.

    For non USAns, the first verse is:

    Here comes Peter Cottontail,
    Hopping down the bunny trail,
    Hippety, hoppity, Easter’s on its way.

    There’s more but that’s all I remember. Like the Star-Spangled Banner, hardly anyone knows beyond the first verse.

    I’ve said/written way more hellworthy stuff.

  70. Jana C.H. says:

    Not connected to this current discussion, but relevant to the strip: Go to this link to read about a problem that Mo the newly-minted reference librarian will be dealing with:


    It’s a bit long, but fascinating.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Michael Moore: Librarians are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.

  71. Maggie Jochild says:

    Thanks ever so, Jana. I just read the self-same article on Salon and thought about linking to it here, what with crankylibrarian, librarygrrl and all the rest, but you beat me to it (and with a better link). A fascinating and thoughtful piece, especially for me who is concerned about how we treat the mentally ill in this country.

  72. a different Emma says:

    To Alison Bechdel–

    I was reading and my heart stopped. This is important:


    Forums come and go. It isn’t right that fans should want so much. We can hardly help it, but it isn’t right.

  73. shadocat says:

    Here in Kansas City, several upright citizens have been diligently working for some time to create a daytime center for the homeless.It would provide case manangement for those able and willing to find work, and some other activities (ping pong tables, books and magazines, a TV, maybe a computer) for those who cannot. Some of the businesses in the area have been opposing it, which makes no sense to me, as the homelss hang out most of the day in front of their businesses anyway…go figure…

  74. Deb says:

    shadowcat, we have something very similar to that here in Eugene. It’s called the Service Station and people can take a shower, do laundry, get vouchers for food, medical help and transportation. They can also get vouchers for free vet care and animal food. Then, we also have a center like that for homeless youth. Same services but also 1:1 drug & alcohol assistance etc. We like to think we are making a difference!

  75. little gator says:


    I just learned that my best online friend, whom I’ve never met in meatlife, is getting civil unioned in VT this summer and I’m invited!

    *scamper* *cavort* *frolic*

  76. Deena in OR says:

    little gator-
    Oh, frabjous day! Callou, callay! (Do I have the quote right, anybody? I know the spelling is questionable…)

    On an unrelated topic-I’m hoping to tap into the creative minds here. I’m charged with conceiving of, providing the materials for and supervising the assembly/creation of a piece of public, participatory art for a street festival/street shopping event tomorrow. The piece will be displayed at our public library when completed. The theme for the month is umbrellas. Budget is about $100. My thought, at this point is to purchase a cheap golf umbrella, remove the fabric and replace it with screen mesh, to which people could attach ribbons/bits of fabric/etc, on which they could write/draw/otherwise represent ideas which the concept of umbrella brings to mind.

    Any thoughts, insights, improvements on the idea? No thought too small, grand or ridiculous. As long as I can display it in public and it doesn’t blow my budget.

  77. Midsouth Mouth says:

    Why buy cheap when you can get stuff donated from the participants? That will lessen consumption for this ephemeral art, and it will add the personal touch to the collaboration.

  78. Deena in OR says:


    A great idea, and one I’ll incorporate into May and June planning…but the event is *tomorrow*, and has been dropped into my lap tonight. Not enough time to get the word out in time for this month’s event. But I bet that Goodwill has a golf umbrella…

  79. Jana C.H. says:

    Instead of mesh, how about the naked ribs with string or ribbon spiraled around fairly far apart like a spider’s web? And more ribbons dangling from the points of the ribs, though maybe that’s overdoing it. I kind of like the simplicity of the web. With a few flies caught in it. Or barbie dolls. Or George Bush action figures.

    Just some thoughts.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  80. Deena in OR says:

    Jana…see??? Inspiration. Now all I need to figure out, if I do that, is how to keep the structure taut without the support of fabric. Hmmmm…must brainstorm.

  81. shadocat says:

    Hey, this is a bit off-topic, but if you’re a bit irritated at the Black-eyed Peas “My Hump” song and you’re an Alanis fan, you might like this…



  82. shadocat says:

    Oh, and Alison; I realize this is a bit late, but I really enjoyed the piece you wrote for “Slate.”

    Glad you’re back.

  83. Maggie Jochild says:

    Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    We sure still need him.

  84. Group Flagellation says:

    I just read this by a different Emma and wanted to say….I really agree with you. if you don’t mind, I thought your statement was worth repeating. Its about time somebody said it. Thank you.

    a different Emma Says:
    April 2nd, 2007 at 11:37 pm
    To Alison Bechdel–
    I was reading and my heart stopped. This is important:
    Forums come and go. It isn’t right that fans should want so much. We can hardly help it, but it isn’t right.

  85. LondonBoy says:

    I love the idea of lasagne at Communion !

    Does anyone else here celebrate “a’ Chàisg” this Sunday ? ( I’m not going to translate that – just leave it as a puzzle for interested readers ! )

  86. little gator says:

    I think if I celebrated it I’d know what it was, so I’m guessing I don’t.

  87. shadocat says:


    I notice a lot of the “Dollar” (General, Family), etc. carry those golf style umbrellas. I know some of political misgivings about shopping at those places, buuuut…in case you don’t they’ll run you about $5 a piece. to stretch your money a bit, you might consider asking your friends to “donate” one to the project—I know I would be happy to do so myself. You can email me at shadocat55@yahoo.com, and let me know the details, if that’s acceptable to you.Also,
    do you think maybe a thick floral wire could keep the structure taut? Just brainstorming…

  88. Maggie Jochild says:

    Is it something to do with NASCAR?

  89. shadocat says:

    OMG Maggie, it just registered-today was the day Dr. King was killed, wasn’t it?

  90. shadocat says:

    sorry Deena-That was supposed to read “some have political misgivings”

  91. c&s says:

    dtwof is our favorite. we worship it. our libraries are closing for good. we are sad. mo, save us. boo hoo. c&s in ashland oregon.

  92. c&s says:

    why is no one responding??? it’s been almost an HOUR. Alison, we love you, we want you to come save our library, but all the other people who post on your blog are mean and lame. We hate them. They have a sick little clique. They’re freezing us out. Put them in detention or make them be nice to us. We are crying because our library is closing and nobody cares.

    PS this is only from C. S wanted no part of it.

  93. Butch Fatale says:

    LondonBoy — If I understand you correctly I celebrate it, but in English.

  94. sunicarus says:

    shadocat~”Thursday morning, April 4, shot rang out in the Memphis sky…”~U2
    Oddly enough, that’s my point of reference.

    Yeah, you’re right, shadocat.

  95. LondonBoy says:

    Butch Fatale:
    I suspect there are several people here who celebrate it. The question was more “does anyone here celebrate it in the same language ?”

  96. Butch Fatale says:

    10-4 LondonBoy

    I assumed it was “will anyone look this up” . . . maybe I hang out with too many smartasses. My search did lead me to language courses — if only I had summers free (something I find myself saying all the time)!

  97. Maggie Jochild says:

    So do you speak Scots, then, LondonBoy? How intriguing. At least half my ancestors did, at one point.

    I don’t celebrate it in any language, unless you mean the pre-Christian-cooptation with all the fertility encouragement, eggs, bunnies, spring harvest, etc. Plus chocolate, of course. I have from time to time made a major production out of Lammas/Lughnasa, as well, shouting “Death to the Red Hag!” as I stabbed my fork (with other like-minded women) into a casserole of the first potatoes/cabbage/leeks of the summer. But that’s also the week of my birthday, so there’s some overlap. (Leos celebrate birthdays rather longer than custom warrants.)

    Deena, take pictures of the result and — wait, we can’t post them here, can we? Well, at least send them to me. And write up a good description for the blog, I wanna know how it turns out.

    c&s, I can’t tell if you’re being facetious. We did post and read an articles a few threads back about the Ashland library tragedy. You have my utmost sympathy, even if you meant it about the sick clique thing. (C, I guess that would be.) We LOVES us libraries and librarians on this blog.

  98. Lester says:

    vacation?? i know vacation and that was no vacation.
    but you can sleep when yer dead i s’pose.

  99. geogeek says:

    So, I don’t have a t.v. but a friend of mine said he saw Alison on “In the Life” a few nights ago on our public t.v. station. Maybe this already came up and I missed it, but have other people seen it? And liked it?

    My friend’s only seen one of the books of strips, I think “Hot, Throbbing,” but he was particularly intrigued with Sydney, and why she’s “the evil women’s studies professor.” His opinion was that Alison must have had a run-in with a women’s studies prof. and thus cast her as evil. I content that WS prof. was the easiest way to allow her to argue about everything with Mo, the sincere foil to everyone.

    Perhaps I’ll catch this on t.v. next time around…

  100. little gator says:

    Oh why did it take me so long to remember? I had a job at the reserved section of my college library. Only 4 hrs a week for one semester, but that makes me a librarian, doesn’t it?

    I used to sneak out the reserved books(only when demand was low, and only for one night) and read them for fun.

    And I have a room in my house we call the library, guest room, plant room depending on its use at the moment. I start seeds on top of the lower shelves, and and except for that and a bed it’s all shelves of books. All arranged by an arbitrary system that makes sense only to me.

    Which reminds me-Alison, did you ever get that house that was all metal, like a submarine?

  101. Maggie Jochild says:

    blogger nicknamed little gator
    planned her life as agitator
    started seeds and sneaked out books
    clamored to “impeach the crooks”
    and pondered AB’s pater

  102. Jana C.H. says:


    Try ribbon with wire in it, available at fabric stores. Or just plain wire with ribbon wrapped around it, held in place by spots of Elmer’s glue.

    Or how’s this: before removing the fabric, glue good stiff wire along the edge, connecting to each point of the ribs. Then trim the fabric off, leaving a small strip of fabric to wrap around the wire. Or instead trimming the fabric entirely off, cut off pieces with an X-acto knife, leaving thin strips to form the web. Or something like that.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: I knew I shoulda been an artist.

  103. Jana C.H. says:


    A’ Chàisg? Well, it’s Gaelic no matter what it is. The aspirated form, as you have it, appears in my Gaelic-English dictionary, but it merely refers to the unaspirated form, Càisg, which does not itself appear.

    Maybe it’s Irish; my dictionary is for Scottish Gaelic.

    Jana C.H.
    Suas leis á Ghàidhlig!

  104. LondonBoy says:

    My mother is a native speaker, though my father isn’t. It’s Scots, not Irish: I can’t understand Irish Gaelic, though the words sometimes look and sound very similar. And it means “Easter”, as you probably guessed.

    And now I’m off to have a hot cross bun for breakfast…

  105. little gator says:

    As a librarian, however minimally, I have to correct myself. I checked those books out legitimately. I just felt sneaky reading them for fun when some other students has them as assigned reading.

  106. mtlknh rzynmsugb says:

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