Update from Herring Cove

August 25th, 2008 | Uncategorized


I’m trying to relax and have a vacation, but it’s been a little difficult. I made this little movie as a sort of transitional exercise. If all goes well, you shouldn’t hear from me for a while.

But any day now, Gahlord the web guy will be putting up a sleek new version of the site. In which YouTube movies will show up right here so you won’t have to click through.

68 Responses to “Update from Herring Cove”

  1. JenK says:

    Well, you could read http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-film-schools-teach-screenwriters-not-to-pass-the-bechdel-test/ if you’re at a computer. Nothing like seeing how the “Bechdel test” continues to persevere 🙂

  2. June says:

    I was wondering how they got such perfect numbers on the Olympic triathletes. Now I know the answer: Live A. Bechdel temporary tattoos.

  3. Parlay voo says:

    Two observations. First, my affirmation for the day is “I relax slowly and breathe into the Divine.” I don’t even know what the hell that means! Second, AB, your pen looks just like mine.

  4. Ian says:

    OMG! I bet you were one of those kids at the beach who always said “I’m bored! What do we do now?” in a whiney, whinging voice while tugging on their mother’s arm while their mom was trying to read Cosmo. I hope Holly buried you in the sand before she went home looking like Popeye!

    Why not try sculpture like this?


    If that fails there’s always diazepam I suppose … 😉

  5. Natasha Yar-Routh says:

    You really are having a hard time relaxing

    Very cool anchor tattoo, quite traditional.

    Try meditating, it helps to relax.

    Or cordon off a large section of beach, smooth out the sand and create a DTWOF comic that can only be properly seen from 30,000 feet.

  6. --MC says:

    Summer, summer, summer slowly turned into fall / me and my baby doll never went to the beach ..

    This happened to us .. there was never a day sunny enough to get out to Alki Beach, and when there was we had other plans, and now the rain curtain is back in place. I hope you have a good time doing nothing in the sun.

  7. Hey, JenK. I did recently read that filmmaker’s blog post about The Rule. Also, a sci fi blogger wrote about it recently. And the NPR cultural reporter Neda Ulaby is going to be doing a little piece on how the new TV season measures up according to it. She interviewed me for it last week. I’ll try to let the blog know when it airs.(I was kinda incoherent, so I’m not sure how much of me will make it into the final cut.)

    Why is there this sudden flurry of interest? It’s funny. Also, The Rule is not even my idea, it was the idea of Liz Wallace, this woman I went to karate school with.

  8. Marj says:

    Maybe it was posted here too, but I’ve been away – youtoob took me to a film by Holly of “Alison at the Bechstein”.

    I swoon… is there no end to your talents?

  9. Marj says:

    Steinway. Whatever.

  10. Kate L says:

    Finally, a font-related blog! I keep looking for the most readable font for the text on my powerpoint lecture slides, something that will have maximum legibility at a distance. I’ll have 440 students in one lecture section this fall – my lecture hall is literally the size of a movie theater, with a screen and projection system to match. I’ve heard that the interstate highway system has come up with a new font that they think will have maximum readability at the greatest distance. Does anybody know the font’s name? Or if its available as a computer font?

  11. freyakat says:

    Hey Alison,

    There are many many different ways to relax/unwind. There is nothing at all that says you have to like hanging out at the beach in full direct sun. I can’t stand doing that… and I know how to relax in my own way — in fact I go nuts if I don’t have time every day to do my version of nothing.

    Have fun doing whatever you feel comfortable doing.

  12. Saskia says:

    I think the new highway font is called Clearview. There was a big NY Times Magazine article on it earlier this year. The new highway font is all over Michigan’s interstates, and I must say, it looks good.

  13. Yes, Kate L! The NYT Magazine did a LONG article about the new highway font last year or so…it’s called, perhaps clearly enough, Clearview. It’s very handsome and legible as all get out.

  14. Oh. I was so excited about CLearview I leapt over all the rest of the comments. I see other folks are on the job!

  15. Jennifer Kesler says:

    Why is there this sudden flurry of interest? It’s funny. Also, The Rule is not even my idea, it was the idea of Liz Wallace, this woman I went to karate school with.

    I did attempt to credit her in my piece as well as you, as I attempted to sum up all the confusion about what the test is called.

    I’m not sure where the “flurry” started, since I can only trace links back to my site when I posted that article. We’ve often talked about the test because it’s a great way to demonstrate that sexism does indeed exist in the media, and that’s our topic. When I wrote the article about my own experiences with getting slapped down for passing the test, the article was fairly quiet for a week or two, then it started making the rounds on LiveJournal and even the front page of Reddit. I don’t know if it’s what I wrote (kind of an expose, I guess) or the timing, or both.

    But the test is an amazing tool for pointing out sexism we’re conditioned not to notice. I’m glad Liz Wallace came up with it (very insightful!) and I’m glad you gave it a public face, and I’m glad that when we talk about it to this day, it has the power to rally so much discussion.

    I look forward to hearing about the NPR report!

  16. Alex the Bold says:

    “Maybe there are some old Tums at the bottom of this bag.”

    (My God. There’s a line of DTWOF dialog for every occasion. Ooh, there’s a contest! Or a game! Or something to stave off the demons of my solitude!)

    Suggest a panel of dialog appropriate for the given situation, then suggest your own bizarre situation that someone else has to do the same thing for:

    Situation: You have to deliver a one-line eulogy for a dead clown.

  17. Kate L says:

    Thanks for the font info, A.B.! Wow, font help AND I get introduced to the journalism of Rachel Maddow! This place just gets better and better!!! 🙂

  18. The Cat Pimp says:

    Hm. “Tank Girl” had two female protagonists merrily blowing stuff up. Oh well. I think it was Charlie Stross who blogged on the Bechdel Rule. (I know him from way back and know his wife, too.) I once commented to him that it was interesting that he wrote female characters (the “Merchant” series, for example). His reply was that most of the stuff he reads is about men, so he decided to have women leads in some of his stories for variety. He shoots for writing competent women characters, as well. His latest is a take-off on Heinlen, so is not representative of his oeuvre or however it is spelled. But he does have some very bright protagonists in his novels.

  19. dzieger says:

    Apparently Bechdel’s Law is considered significant enough to appear on Wikipedia’s List of Eponymous Laws, alongside Asimov’s three laws of robotics, Avogadro’s law, Godwin’s Law, Moore’s law and Occam’s Razor 🙂

  20. Liza Cowan says:

    Poor Liz Wallace. Such a great idea, and her authorship is now obscured. On the other hand, she probably heard it from someone else, who heard it from someone else, and so it goes. Credit goes to the most famous. I suppose that’s always true, since there are really so few new ideas in the world.

  21. Mixelle says:

    I rarely find a movie that follows the Rule. Tropic Thunder basically had no women in it, Batman didn’t pass, and even though Pineapple Express had Rosie Perez as badass cop, she was surrounded and eventually killed by men. Maybe I need to pick less action packed movies. Any recommendations?

  22. Riotllama says:

    Allison, is there a way to put a little search box on your site?
    I often find myself wanting to go back to read a comment on a long ago post, but I don’t remember where it was. Will the flashy new site have a way I could type in a subject word, like “Michigan” or “Victorian” or “Bechdel Rule” and then all the posts with that text in them or the comments up?

  23. Jana C.H. says:

    Maybe we should push it as the Bechdel/Wallace Rule, like the Darwin/Wallace Theory of Natural Selection.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Arthur Pinero: Where there is tea there is hope.

  24. NLC says:

    Concerning Riotllama’s question:

    I’ll let AB and Gahlord iron out any decision –or technical details– about adding a search box to the ‘blog, but in the meantime:

    1] you go to the Google “Advanced Search”:

    2] Down at the bottom is a text box labelled “Search within a site or domain:”
    In that box type dykestowatchoutfor.com

    3] All your search will be restricted to the ‘blog

    (Not as convenient as having a search box locally, but it does the same job; and it’s a good search-technique to know about.)

  25. NLC says:

    Concerning Riotllama’s question:

    I’ll let AB and Gahlord iron out any decision –or technical details– about adding a search box to the ‘blog, but in the meantime:

    1] you go to the Google “Advanced Search”:

    2] Down at the bottom is a text box labelled “Search within a site or domain:”
    In that box type dykestowatchoutfor.com

    3] All your search will be restricted to the ‘blog

    (Not as convenient as having a search box locally, but it does the same job; and it’s a good search-technique to know about.)

  26. Pam I says:

    I have a free search tool from Atomz on my website – from http://www.atomz.com. You get text ads but they are not offensive. Works OK for my little uncommercial setup. And my blog on WordPress (also free fore the basic version) has its own inbuilt search tool. I think AB’s site is linked to WordPress so maybe it’s just a box to tick?

  27. --MC says:

    Type enthusiasts, eh? Anybody watch that documentary on Helvetica?

  28. Pam I says:

    Finally a reason to post this link
    Wingdings makes it all clear !
    (Only reservation, it doesnt pass the Bechdel test.)

  29. Deb says:

    Hope you can unwind for the vacation. I returned to the blog after a while working on my own issues around being a lesbian. I’m doing OK! I’m back into the fold after 3 weeks in the mountains, beach and Portland metropolis. Believe it or not, I found myself again in the backroads not far from the Oregon Coast! I have no idea what I was doing there….but I’m glad to be back.

  30. cybercita says:

    “i’m boooooored!!”

    oh, alison, you crack me up.

  31. NLC says:

    P.S. Here’s an even simpler way to search this (or any other) site:

    1] Go to the Google site

    2] Type the following in the search-box:
    riotllama site:dykestowatchoutfor.com

    In short, you’re searching for “riotllama” on this website (“dykestowatchoutfor.com”).

    Cool, huh.

  32. Riotllama says:

    Thanks everyone!
    If only we could all speak wingdings.

  33. Alex K says:

    Vacations and battery re-charging…and then back to the same thing that ran those batteries down. Hmmm.

    I have this on my mind because of today’s WaPo article on FBOFW / Lynne Johnson, whose plan is to re-draw her oeuvre. Yep. Go back to the beginning of FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, and *start over*. Same story line, but give it that old RASHOMON twist. A different perspective. Same thing, but with run-down batteries.

    So what can we look forward to?

    Maybe Laurence will finally get to sleep with Michael.

    Maybe Lizardbreath will develop facial muscles that work. (What does Blandthony see in her, anyhow? Given her lack of lower-face expression, she can’t be a good kisser.)

    Maybe Farley will take a heart attack and die in the water BEFORE he saves April.

    The possibilities are…you got it. Really, really limited.

    AB, if you’re thinking of modelling your return to D2WOF on FBOFW — don’t. Please don’t.

  34. Alex the Bold says:

    Alex K.

    “Maybe Laurence will finally get to sleep with Michael.”

    I ALWAYS wanted to write to her and ask, “Do you, you know, every draw your characters going at it? You know, really, really explicit drawings. Just as a joke among friends.”

    I won’t tell anyone what Charles Schulz wrote back when I asked him that one. But it does my heart good to think that somewhere in a file cabinet is Michael in a leather harness kneeling at Laurence’s feet, or Ellie spanking her husband while he’s hooked up to the nitrous oxide.

  35. Fester BesterTester says:

    Let us not forget Pat Brady’s “Rose as Biker Babe: The Private Collection”

  36. Dr. Empirical says:

    Dan DeCarlo, long-time Archie artist and creator of Sabrina and Josie & the Pussycats (his wife’s name is Josie) used to draw naked Archie characters for fans all the time. I don’t know if he ever drew them going at it, but I’ve seen a lot of Betty and Veronica sunbathing nude pics.

  37. Ellen O. says:

    I’m curious as to why people follow comic strips they don’t like. Why waste your time? Is there pleasure in disliking something?

  38. --MC says:

    Sometimes a comic strip seems so bad or wrong that you start following it out of ironic enjoyment, but that sometimes turns to real admiration. In my case I started reading “Family Circus” ironically, because the daily panels were so wonky I started trying to determine if there was something going on that I was missing.
    Then I started reading a zine called “City Limits Gazette”, which featured a regular column called “Bil Keane Watch”, in which the writer (Steve Willis) wrote detailed analyses of the FC panels, trying to discover Keane’s hidden intent — he determined that Keane was actually drawing a William James-like story of kids trapped in a house overrun by the ghosts of their parents’ guilts, their emotional poltergeists. (Not Me, for example)
    That interpretation made reading the strip every day more strange, more lovely.
    Now that Bil is no longer writing the strip, something’s gone out of it, so I don’t bother. I turn my attention to “Hocus Focus” instead. Have you ever noticed that, of the six things that are different between panels, that one of the things is never that one panel has Henry Boltinoff’s signature in it and one does not?

  39. Alex the Bold says:

    (This may be a duplicate. Sorry if it is. Take one of em out and shoot em, er Wite em Out.)

    Didn’t Syd Hoff used to do the sketches of his work with the characters naked and then put the clothes on them?

    My God. I think we’ve tapped into a collective notion. It’s almost like a comics version of “The Aristocrats.” You come up with the most detailed, offensive, disgusting, shocking workup for the strip/characters involved, then the last panel has to have a punchline that becomes the whole thing’s tagline.

    “So Michael climbs into the sling. Laurence …. and then in comes the mother … meanwhile, at the dentist’s office … and …”

    “And, what, exactly were you going to call the strip?”

    (Mallard Fillmore?)

  40. ocean c. says:

    ha, i love yr understated butch bathing costume! so charming!
    however, due to the magic of further youtube perusal, i learned that you don’t wear a bike helmet on yr daily spin. while i’m a stranger & i perhaps don’t have the right to make comments on how you choose to live yr life, it worries me greatly. skull injuries are no joke! cars are vicious! have you heard of http://www.ghostbikes.org ? it’s a strange, somber and slightly beautiful memorial to fellow bikers far and wide.

  41. Straight Ally says:

    Off topic but important:

    Del Martin has passed away. My condolences to her LGBT family; the rest of us will mourn her as we would any other cherished civil rights hero.


  42. Lisa (Calico) says:

    AtB – Yes, posting here tonight is tough going for me too. Oh well.

  43. Lisa (Calico) says:

    Yes, I just read the news. RIP Del.
    55 years together – lovely.

  44. Ginjoint says:

    Oh…Del Martin. *sniff* We all owe her.

  45. sk in london says:

    candles lit for Del Martin
    just read the news myself
    yes Ginjoint, yes we owe her…

  46. Alex K says:

    @Ellen O.: Let me put this hypothesis forward — One starts to read a comic strip, acquires the habit of following it, and despite changes in one’s own points of view, persists in the habit. (Very few of us regularly take inventory and house-clean, I think, whether of behaviour or of impedimenta. Certainly I don’t.) Criticising the inadequacies that one used not to perceive supplies re-assuring proof that tastes have shifted, progress has occurred.

  47. Alex the Bold says:

    The comic strip character is — usually — timeless and perpetual. Charlie Brown is always about 12 years old. Beetle Bailey is always a young man. Dick Tracy is always a vigorous, mature man. etc.

    Everything else ages, but I have a temporal anchorpoint. I read Linus giving a theological disquisition and I’m 9 years old again. Scooby Doo is never going to have to take a trip to the vet to be put to sleep. Etc.

    That’s why you stick with the old strips until they become rancid. Same reason I still sometimes talk to my teddy bear.

  48. Jennifer Kesler says:

    NLC, that only works if Google has indexed that page. Unfortunately, it doesn’t index every single page of very many sites.

  49. LondonBoy says:

    If you’re bored at the beach, why don’t you do what gay men do… sneak away to the dunes at the back of the beach with your best-beloved (or, if you prefer, a selection of random hotbodies harvested from the sunbathing multitude) and do what comes naturally…?

  50. Ellen O. says:

    Alex K —

    An, that must be the difference between where I live and you do. Here in Boulder, the culture very much encourages us to “regularly take inventory and house-clean… whether of behaviour or of impedimenta.”

    In the last 15 years, I have cancelled newspaper subscriptions, gotten rid of broadcast and cable T.V., changed jobs, left girlfriends, and let go of friendship all in the name of personal inventory and what is no longer serving my creative world and basic needs.

    For instance, I read The Comics Curmudgeon (or however that is spelled) for a few weeks, until I realized I was spending precious time reading someone else’s complaints about someone else’s creations when I could be creating my own imaginative and uplifting work.

    In other cases, I’ve just swapped bad habits, i.e. Facebook instead of reruns of “Sex in the City.” Overall though, I’ve discovered more fulfilling friendships and more satisfying ways to spend my time. I’m reading more books too.

    Whatever floats one’s boat.

  51. Alex K says:

    @Ellen O.: Thanks for that. You’ll remember Sydney’s musings on why, oh why, Stuart kept boxful after boxful of old copies of THE NATION… Pseudo-immortality. The stasis, and security, of comicstripland on which Alex the Bold comments above. False stability.

    There’s a pun in there somewhere, “stable” and “Augaean”, but in the interests of cleansing, I’ll let it go.

    Americans “do” progress, Europeans tradition: Discuss.

  52. Cate says:

    Ellen, thank you for the inspirational example, which hits me at just the right time. Behavioral impedimentia.

  53. Ellen O. says:

    Alex K —

    Oh, but Europe is progressive in so many ways that the U.S. is not. Transportation, health care, gay civil rights. (I know, not all of Europe is progressive in these way and parts of the U.S. are making strides in these areas.) Wish we could take the best of both worlds.

  54. Ellen O. says:

    Well, this makes things interesting… though not uplifting.

    From the New York Times,

    John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate, shaking up the political world with a surprise pick at a time when his campaign has been trying to attract women, especially disaffected supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    In choosing Ms. Palin — a 44-year-old conservative Christian and self-described “hockey mom” who has been governor for less than two years — the McCain campaign reached far outside the Beltway in an election where the Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama, is running on a platform of change.

  55. kmm says:

    Ellen O: Canada is the best of both worlds!

  56. Alex the Bold says:

    Palin is a fundamentalist as well. Surely, the best way for the U.S. to meet the challenges of the 21st century is to simplify biology.

    Here’s the answer for the AP Biology Test:

    God did it.

    (Repeat as necessary, perfect score.)

  57. Feminista says:

    Obama gave an incredible speech last night. Discuss.

  58. Ellen O. says:

    Kmm — Don’t I know it! British Columbia is looking mighty good these days.

  59. Oh my god. Just got back from a glorious, mind-emptying day at the beach to the McCain VP news. And I missed Obama last night. And then there’s  Del Martin’s passing (Thanks so much to the folks here who made comments about that.) Man, I’m so glad I don’t have to assimilate this all into a comic strip this week.

  60. Maggie Jochild says:

    Sarah Palin is a poster child for the extreme Religious Right, which has often said they won’t vote for McCain. Now they have their choice a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, wherein resides an elderly man who has had cancer four times and who won’t release his medical records.

    The whole “He did it to get Hillary voters” is a meme from the Right itself, trying to maintain the belief that ANYONE who wanted Hillary in office is going to switch over to McCain. That idea was killed dead by the activities of the Democratic Convention the past four days, particularly by the speech Hillary herself gave. The mass media and in particular pundits fueled their talking points (which is all of them except Rachel Maddow and sometimes Olbermann) want to keep alive the idea that there are still independent or former Democratic votes for McCain to harvest, both for fundraising purposes and to keep the left answering their false ideas.

    This choice was a desperate move by a dying campaign. He could have settled on Kay Bailey Hutchison or eight other much more experienced, nationally-known women who would have met the basic criteria of having a vagina. It’s not about her being a woman, it’s that she’s so far to the Right that she chose to have a Downs’ syndrome child rather than use birth control. She fights for the right for rich white men to hunt bears and wolves from airplanes, she is totally in the pocket of Big Oil, and her placement on the ballot means every fundie church in the U.S. will be directing its members to give money to McCain and the RNC now, instead of holding off as they have been.

    He knows he cannot win, not after this past week. But the RNC can fill their coffers and build plans for 2012. And, as a bonus, if they can convince lefties to engage in sexist attacks on Palin, they’ll get us at each other’s throats again.

  61. LondonBoy says:

    Dear Maggie,
    “…she’s so far to the Right that she chose to have a Down’s syndrome child rather than use birth control…”
    My understanding is that Palin discovered that her son had Down’s syndrome as a result of prenatal genetic testing during her pregnancy. For me, and I suspect for most people, birth control is aimed at preventing pregnancy: abortion is not the same thing, and to imply that abortion is simply another form of birth control seems to me at the very least to be misguided. I have met plenty of people with Down’s syndrome, and not all of them have right-wing parents. I am very sympathetic with the need to retain the right to abortion, and fully support a “woman’s right to choose”, but I feel your comment borderlines on the eugenic: the choice of whether to abort a foetus with Down’s syndrome (or indeed any other foetus) is a complex one, and should be handled on a case by case basis. Your comment seems to imply that it is selfish to bear any child that is not “perfect”. Surely the situation is this: Palin and her husband wanted a child, discovered that they’d been dealt a difficult hand, and decided to do the best they could. You or I might make different choices, but this is one choice that I feel unable to criticise Palin for. Like all the candidates, Palin has her weaknesses, but I hope we here don’t see this choice as one of them.

  62. Maggie Jochild says:

    I’m not arguing she should have had an abortion. She was in her 40s, this was their fifth child, they were choosing to not use birth control because she is so far to the right that contraception is murder, and that’s how she came to have a pregnancy where the risk to the child’s well-being was so very high. As someone multiply disabled, I’m not about to argue for aborting imperfect fetuses. I’m arguing that if they didn’t want run that risk with another pregnancy, birth control would have been a rational choice, one she’s not able to make because her religious convictions have altered her ability to reason. It’s not about “I want another child, I’ll handle what comes along”, it’s “I cannot use the pill because my church says any blastocyte at all is a human being”.

  63. LondonBoy says:

    Dear Maggie,
    Do we know that those are actually Palin’s beliefs? She’s not a Roman catholic – Wikipedia says she’s some form of pentecostalist – so there’s no reason why she shouldn’t use barrier-type contraception, since no blastocyst is formed. Maybe she and her husband just felt that they would be able to care for another child, and felt that the risks were acceptable.

  64. Maggie Jochild says:

    Wikipedia has already been altered by the Republicans, erasing some of the more damaging info about her. You’ll have to check progressive blogs to get accurate, documented information — plus, the Daily Show is already on it.

    Yes, Dobson and Buchanan have already declared her a perfect choice for VP; the fundie churches are already drumming up money for McCain as a result. She advocates teaching creationism, she doesn’t believe global warming is real, and both she and Charlie Crist used the term “a servant’s heart” tonight to describe her, which is evangelical dogwhistle code for “I’m one of you”. I don’t know if Orcinus has a post up yet about her, but look to them for the definitive word on her religious convictions since they follow the crazy fundie right with accuracy and depth. Her supporters are the ones currently pushing (well, have already pushed, Bush has agreed to it) legislation to declare the pill = abortion and therefore any group, pharmacist or physician who wants to object to abortion can refuse to prescribe, dispense or pay for the pill. They’ve given up on overturning Roe and instead are using stealth methods to return control of women’s reproduction to men. Even that is not the ultimate goal, of course — the real point is to eliminate all sex that is not het and male-dominated. She is absolutely of that camp.

    The good news is, that fringe is so out of touch they don’t realize this will sink the McCain campaign. It’s his Harriet Miers/Dan Quayle/Thomas Eagleton moment, and is displaying his reckless, volatile judgment in a way that nothing apparently has to the starstruck MSM.

  65. Ellen O. says:

    Save yourself Alison! Avert your eyes. Go back to the beach.

  66. Virginia Burton says:

    What is it with McCain and beauty queens? Two wives and now this?

  67. Pam I says:

    Two children each is more than enough. Why on earth does she need FIVE?