Friday, July 30, 2010


I've picked up some juicy estate sale stuff in recent weeks, some of which I'll put up soon. In the meantime, here's one of the newer pieces from my reportage portfolio, drawn at the top of an escalator looking down at this jerking, growling mechanical lizard at the St. Louis Science Center. A two-page spread. I want to go back and draw the Devonian diorama with the six foot dragonflies suspended from wires...

The Girls of Summer

I have been bad about blogging this week, and I cannot really apologize. My absence really has all been for legitimate reasons. For all that explanations are as dangerous as apologies, let me try and explain.My excuse, what there is of it, is that the days have been hot, I've been coming home tired, and once home there has been something that needed doing other than blogging.Anyway, we had another hot evening Tuesday, and I spent it playing with little girls rather than here.The neighbor kids - two little girls, one Peeper's age and the other Missy's - had the smart idea of beating the heat by running through the sprinkler that was watering their mom's raised beds out front, thus combining playing in the water with gardening, a brilliant bit of synergy.

The older of the neighbor girls is this cutie. Right now she's all knees and glasses at seven, but in a decade she's gonna break a lot of hearts, and several academic records, at Roosevelt High. Isn't she adorable?After gardening and running about in the yard lost their appeal, the vixens turned to beautification, which in this case consisted of hauling out my bride's collection of abandoned, rejected, one-off, peculiar, and discontinued nail paints. Understand that my love is a somewhat-girly-girl. She prefers the simple, the elegant, and the unfussy. But every so often she is bitten in the ovaries by a frilly girl-symbiont and has to go find an unusual color of nail paint.

These range from deep purples through odd charcoal-blues to bright reds, but are nearly always the ones that you see for two weeks on the counter at Nordstrom's and never again, unless you hunt the truly neglected remainder bins at Costco or those whatzit racks in the back of the gas station convenience stores. But they're ALL good to little and not-so-little girls looking to dress up their fingers.Here's the clowder of girls gathered around the beauty bar. The nail polish was a huge success, and my bride helped them limit the overspray and protect the pretty nails until the lacquer dried. Both little girls and big were very pleased with the results.
And not the least of the distractions has been my inside. My gastric distress, having taken a powder for a week or so, returned today with a shout. So I'm crouched over like a sick kitten, pawing feebly at my belly and feeling very, very sorry for myself.

Mojo, as always, has been a rock, and a wonder, wrapped in a heroine. I never forget to remind myself that I am a lucky man and she, probably, a very foolish woman, but with luck she will never catch wise.It's late, and my guts are finally subsiding, and I need to sleep. Hopefully the raccoons that ran in and out of the space beneath the front porch have not returned. I enjoy them, given a sufficient distance, but not so intimately. If they have taken up residence in our residence, they will find that no territorial concessions are possible. I'l ne passeront pas.

No matter. Tomorrow is the penultimate day in July, and I hope it brings me a little more peace, both inside and out.

I hear you under there, you furry bastards.

You've been warned.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Battles in July

At a bit of a standstill over the battle for July.

Tons of "decisive" battles in July for the American Civil War: Vicksburg and Gettysburg in 1863, Atlanta in 1864. But I have a hard time seeing the battles as decisive in and of themselves. Perhaps Vicksburg, but then, the entire campaign really led to the fall of the City. There are good arguments that the battle at Champion Hill, fought in May, really broke Pemberton and set up the collapse two months later. Gettysburg is really a replay of Antietam; Lee might have won if he'd let Meade come at him, but he didn't, and the Army of Northern Virgina was never really able to get over its notion of itself as the Shield of the Confederacy. It fought like hell in defense, but always seemed to lose its focus when it crossed the Potomac.

One "decisive" battle I'd hate to do but think that - along with Verdun, which is my choice for next February - is important in history is the first month of The Somme. The decisive nature of the battle wasn't on the ground but in the minds of the English generation of 1916 and generations thereafter. I'd argue that even today, if you try and propose to many English or French the notion of a hard-fought war you have to argue against the memory - however many times removed - of the pointless slaughter of the Somme and Verdun. Of the two, though, I think Verdun was by far the more terrible, and it had an effect on France much graver than the Somme had on England. So perhaps the one can stand for both, and of the two, the Meuse Mill would be my choice.

So...any candidates for the next two days - it's not too late! Vote for your favorite battle in July before the dog days of August commence...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And yet, another PIF!

I've been feeling really generous with all this time I've given myself to relax this week. So, I
made another PIF! Right click, save as, follow the TERMS.

No stealing, no altering, no reselling, no claiming as your own. Thank you for respecting my copyrights, infringers will be peed on by the 4 chihuahuas:(


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Exchange

My friend R. is a journalist of repute, an old hand, a wry spirit. Among other things, we share a cardiologist. We had agreed to meet today for barbecue, possibly to kick around project ideas. Late last night I realized that I would have to bail on lunch. Before turning in I wrote to R:

I apologize, but I am running badly behind on a project and must postpone lunch tomorrow. If possible, I'd like to reschedule in a few weeks, if that works for you.

Early this morning I find R.'s response in my inbox:

I know you hate me. Everyone does. I am alone, friendless and as of noon hungry too. This is horrible. You must organize your time better. As Dr. N_______ says, a disorganized man is not a heart healthy man. See you soon. I'm vamoosing a week from Saturday for two weeks in the wild west, but will write to figure out a rematch at Pappy's. I'll remind myself to call on 8/24 or thereabouts.

I reply:

You protest too much. No one who uses the verb "vamoose" can be unhappy. This is like a handwriting tic, or a chemical signature which reveals deep positivity. Have fun. See you soon.

R. volleys back:

I think you may have hit on a major mental-health discovery: Do you ever use the verb vamoose? ( ) Yes ( ) No

Respondents answering yes are not depressed to the point of exhaustion. Those answering no are ready for a deep-immersion Prozac bath. In addition to your expertise in the area of cardio-vascular research, you are also a skilled psychodynamic psychotherapist. I bow before your talents, and have a note to myself to call you in late August.


Dear R: Whilst you are gone I will be here, snorkeling in the Prozac bath.

R. gets the last line:

Name your dosage tenderfoot, and see you around.

Image: Ad for Deep Sea diving school in Popular Mechanics, August 1950, courtesy of the blog Modern Mechanics.

Ben Huh, CEO, Cheezburger Network, and Playmate of the Month

Ben Huh, CEO, Cheezburger Network

I was going to write about some of the many innovative companies in Seattle, but when a friend helped me set up an interview with Ben Huh (@BenHuh) fearless leader of I Can Has Cheezburger (ICHC) and other memes, my plans changed. So this piece is all about Ben Huh, the big cheese of a company that makes the world laugh. Questions are in bold.

23 July 2010 — Cheezburger Network, Seattle, WA

Everyone has already written everything imaginable about you and ICHC. So I'd like to show you a Dewar's profile and a Playboy bunny interview from 1983. These are the inspirations for how I want to talk with you. I thought this would be more fun. So, is that OK?

Dewar's Ad: Community Live Journal; Playmate interview, Sept. 1983 Playboy

So, basically, you’ll be like the Playboy playmate of the month.

First question—how do you pronounce your name?
It’s “Huh.” Some pronounce it "Hugh," but it’s “Huh.”

Do you mind telling me how old you are?
32 years old.

Thirty-two? I could be your mother! I mean, technically.

How would you describe your profession—like if you were at the airport and some guy asked what do you do for a living, what would you say?
I’m an Internet publisher. I also describe it as: We try to make people laugh five minutes a day.

You easily accomplish that, don’t you think?
Awesome. I hope so.

I first heard from about ICHC in the early years of Facebook. It was so random and funny—but I had no idea you were based in Seattle. Were you born here?
No, I was born in Seoul Korea.

How did you end up in the U.S.?
Long story, but in a round about way, we ended up in Hong Kong because my father had a job there. Then we moved to the states after that. Later, I went to college at Northwestern and that’s where I got a print journalism degree. Yes I was a writer, but I always wanted to have my own business.

Journalism writing wasn’t like literature, but I learned a lot about editing and writing from journalism school. When I graduated in ’99, I wanted to run a business and become an entrepreneur. So I worked for a dotcom for six months, then started my own company, and in 18 months it folded and died with the dotcom bust—terrible timing in the early 2000s.

But it didn’t stop you?
No. But I had a choice—either go back to school and get an MBA and rack up a bunch of debt, or go to work for a bunch of CEOs who founded companies themselves. I thought since I was completely broke, it was better to learn on the job. A requirement I had was that I would work only for a company in which I had direct contact with a CEO. So if I was going to work for someone, they’d have to be the CEO or I’d at least have to have to have regular communication with the CEO. Not a lot of CEOs would go for that—having a junior kid coming in demanding their time, but a few people did.

It wasn’t an internship?
No. It was a real job. I needed a real salary. I would do whatever. I started as a consultant to an Internet radio company. I did some marketing for another software company. I’d rise pretty quickly in the ranks. Eventually I came out here for a company that did touch screen software.

So that’s how you ended up in Seattle?
Yes. I spent two and a half years working on the east side [of Lake Washington] for a company that serviced Fortune 500 companies. It wasn’t all that interesting. I was making a six-figure salary—more money than I’d ever made, but B2B was completely boring.
So when this opportunity came along I said, OK, it sounds kind of crazy, but I’m going to quit my job and do this instead.

Six-figure salary—I hope you saved some money so you could do this?
My wife and I made a conscious effort to keep our expenses low. So we saved a lot of money.

Is she in this business?
Yeah, she’s the editor. She usually sits right there. [points to desk]

You really have logged a lot of miles to get here.
Yeah—I’ve been around the block.

The team at ICHC, working hard to make you laugh five minutes a day.

No kidding—OK, so let me ask you some of these silly questions.
OK. Sure.

Turn ons?
I would say intelligence is the number one turn on. I think when people say they have a connection with someone, I think what they’re really saying is they share the same intellectual traits or wit that I have. That’s the kind of connection you form with someone else. It’s like when sense of humor or intellect don’t match, that’s when there’s a disconnection.

In the realm of intelligence, would you put sense of humor as a component of that?
Sense of humor is such a widely ranging thing. Being in the humor business, there are a lot of different kinds of humor and you can’t really say one is better than another. But I think intelligence leads to humility—the ability for one to laugh at oneself—and that is actually a very positive trait.

OK. What about turn offs?
Turn offs…Playing fast and loose with the truth.

Lying is absolutely a turn off, but there’s a line that’s very close to lying that people don’t observe as lying, which is the fact that people kind of stretch the truth, they’re not honest with themselves, right? So like they just don’t—they think what they tell you—they don’t respect the other person enough to tell them the actual truth, or they want to look better to the other person or maybe they don’t think you would ever find out. That bothers me.

But if someone’s really good at that, you’d never know that they were doing it, right?
That’s right. That’s the problem with lying. It's that the moment you’ve become good at it, then you’ve fooled the world, and yourself as well.

I want to lead a life worth living.

Are you already doing that?
I’m doing it right now. I don’t know at the end of the day that I can say that yet—like that’s something you decide probably right before you’re dead.

Well, OK, hang on. I mean, you have your wife, you have this great business, you’re employing all these people, you’re making the world laugh…
This is a path. This isn’t the destination. I didn’t set out to employ all these people and make the world laugh and to become an influencer. You can be famous and live a life worth living—these are not mutually exclusive things. So at the end of the day I want to say yeah, that life was great. It was worth living. It was HARD. Nothing’s easy. Nothing GOOD is easy—but it’s worth doing.

But you do feel like you’re on the right track?
Oh, absolutely! I’m absolutely on the right track. But this is not…if this track ends and I jump to another track? It isn’t the end…like, that’s not why I did this, right?

Yeah, because you could sell this for X zillions of dollars to whomever
…and move on. But this didn’t define my life.

Favorite music?
I like music with a little bit of soul and personality. I’m not talking about soul music, per se, but it’s like music that shows the passion of the person playing. I tend to like female vocalists.

Like right now, recently, Adele. She has a great voice—she can definitely emote through her voice, like I think that’s fantastic.

Do you have a favorite sport?
I do. Football.

When you say football, do you mean soccer?
No, American football.

So you’re a football fan. Who do you cheer for?
I am actually a 49ers fan.

Secret fantasy?
I want to travel the world for a year. Just let go. Like me, my wife—go and spend 365 days out in the world.

I live in this weird alternate universe where people want to talk to me and people think what I’m doing is interesting, and I kinda want to be in a world where it just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I do for a living. I’m out there to see the world.

That’s why I was asking about telling someone you’re an Internet publisher because it doesn’t sound like anything the average person could relate to—which is kind of cool in a way because then people just start talking to you about whatever.
That’s absolutely correct.

Last book read, or your favorite book?
The book I’m reading currently is something called “Switch.” Chip and Dan Heath are the authors. It’s a business book about how to effect change within an organization.

So non-fiction—do you read anything just for fun?
The last book I read for fun was “Game Change.” It chronicled the last presidential election.

OK—It’s like, when you go to the beach, you’d be reading “Switch or Game Change?”
I don’t go to the beach. If I’m at the beach, it’s like I’m there to walk for a few minutes and then I’m going out and doing something else.

I don’t do the beach, either. I don’t understand people who just lay there for hours.
Me neither! I mean, I’m like, I’d rather go zip lining! Or getting lost in the woods! Or anything!

Favorite movie?
My favorite movie is “When Harry Met Sally.” When I first saw it I was young enough that the movie left an impression on me. And if I watch it now it feels a little old school, but it’s a cute movie—great dialog.

The last movie I saw in the theatre was Avatar because it was 3D. I thought it was well done. I really liked it. And I liked it as well before, when it was called Pocahontas. [laughs]

That’s cool. OK. So what do you do for hobbies?
I sail—a 28 footer or less is what I’m certified to captain.

What's your favorite color?

Orange? I saw somebody who was like your soulmate yesterday, walking down the street. I was like, MY GOD, look at all that orange. She was a showstopper.
But it has to be done in moderation. [Shows tip of his orange T-shirt under buttoned shirt]

What about your favorite food?
I’m a big fan of BBQ. Any kind of good meat roasted over a slow flame. I, like, go to Texas and I eat BBQ for the whole time I’m there. And I went to LA and ate Korean BBQ the whole time I was there. I go to NY and go to yakitori places—like three times while I’m there.

Different cities have different types of good BBQ they do well. Like you go to LA and get Korean BBQ; you go to NY and that’s the closest you’re going to get to Japan; and you go to Texas to get Texas BBQ. My wife is vegetarian. [laughs] Maybe that’s why I like it, but she likes the salads when we go out.

Do you like Seattle?
You know, I’ve grown to like it more.

You’ve GROWN to like it? That doesn’t sound good.
The weather is brutal.

The last city I lived in was Chicago. It’s a mega-city with lots of stuff to do. And here, I’ve been working a lot. I’ve been trying to grow my social circle a little bit more. We travel a lot so we’ll be here just 6 weekends this summer. I know more people in Seattle than I ever did in Chicago because of business and because of what I do, but personally, it was a lot harder to put down roots in Seattle. Like, we just bought a condo.

I’ve always heard people come here and people are so friendly but it’s impossible to make friends here.
There’s a little bit of stand-offishness. And now that we’re married, we hang out with each other a lot so there’s less incentive to make new friends.

Oh, is that new?
We got married in 2006

Thank you.

If you were on a dating service filling out a survey, how would you briefly describe yourself?
I’m a go getter who likes to take time out to laugh.

OK—so no long walks on beach, drinking wine, like the typical, “loves Labrador retrievers?” and stuff like that?
I do all of the above, but that’s not how I’d define myself.

Were you a funny or weird kid?
I was neither. Just a normal, nerdy, geeky over achiever.

When did you start using computers?
I first started programming when I was in the third grade. I’m not a programmer. It was a special program at the time in Korea—maybe 1986? Computers were really expensive. The school I went to had an allotment of 12 computers that the government provided. You had to take a test to get into the after-school program in which they would teach you how to do basic programming. I was in that program. That was my first exposure—very, very early in a country that had very few computers.

Are you a US citizen now or are you here on a permanent visa?
It’s funny you mention that. I’m actually taking my citizenship test on Monday.

Really? That’s exciting!
But it’s so easy, though. I mean, I went to high school here!

You did? Where did you go?
Cordova High School, near Sacramento—one of the suburbs of Sacramento. The city is called Rancho Cordova.

So have you been to any of your reunions?
No reunions. Not interested. High school was awkward. It wasn’t the greatest experience. And my high school wasn’t that great and didn’t prepare me for life very well.

I remember going to Northwestern and going to my first philosophy class and there were kids who had gone to Exeter and prep schools and they had read ALL the books in my philosophy class and I’m sitting there going, how do you pronounce “Goethe?” I was like, so unprepared.

Did your parents want you to do something else with your life?
They actually never really pushed me one way or the other. That was pretty unusual about my parents. The first generation of family tends to push toward a professional career, but they didn’t. They were really supportive of me going to journalism school.

Typical routine? When do you roll into the office and leave?
10 o’clock in the morning until 8 p.m.

OK, so you roll in at 10 o’clock and leave at 8. What do you when you get home?
We eat, and then we work.

So you guys are both like total geeks then?
Yeah. We’re kind of very… ambitious. I like it a lot.

Most amusing thing that’s happened since this phenomenon began?
In the book, Game Change—at the height of Palin mania, one of Obama’s advisors [Valerie Jarrett] receives an email with a picture of Obama at the podium pointing with a caption that says, “Chill the fuck out. I got this.” And she shows it to Obama, and Obama says, “That’s what I’ve been telling you all along—I got this. Don’t worry about Sarah Palin. I got this.”

That photo was from our site.

I was literally in New York reading the book at three in the morning and I was like, OH, MY GOD. I recognized it and the caption because we posted it and it went completely viral. And it landed on Obama’s desk.

That’s really insane!
It was awesome. It’s like we are a footnote of a footnote of a footnote of history.

My last question: Do you dream in color?

Ben in front of Cheezburger Network world headquarters, Seattle, WA


Special thanks to Larry Asher (@SVCSeattle), of the School of Visual Concepts, for helping me set up this interview; Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Jerry Gay, for shooting this gig; and David Horsfall, for taking time to review this piece.

Catch up with my latest logos!

I sometimes forget I run a business! lol So I thought I might share some of my own recent work here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

It is a truth generally acknowledged that a hard left to the earhole...

No moral here, just funny. (h/t to digby)

Grey skies are gonna clear up..

put on a happy face! Yes, it's all frickin' coming together! After years of bad web hosting and the most glitchy code you ever tried to change, I have finally found a nice home for my website.

Graphic Design by Tara

Same domain, more samples, info., and navigation ease! Not only that, but you can now purchase directly from me. This means less fees, faster service, and no site hold ups!

Why not sign my guest book while you are there?

Graphic Design by Tara Guest Book

Of course all of my 0ther sites are still available, but this is just one more way to reach me.

Graphic Design by Tara Etsy

Graphic Design by Tara Elance

The above 2 are your other best bets for great prices, variety, and feedback.

Thanks for reading and all of your support!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

91 hours in France.

The 97th Tour de France is over.Alberto Contador has won his third Tour, bringing him into the corona of the Greats; the equal of Philippe Thys in the Teens, Louison Bobetin the Fifties, and Greg Lemond in the Eighties and early Ninties. The next step is a fourth and fifth victory; if the Spaniard can manage that he will be assured a place in cycling history alongside Hinault, Merckx, and Big Mig Indurain. His performance in the individual time trial on Saturday was strong enough to allay most of the questions observers like myself had about the athletically acceptable but sportingly questionable attack on the Port de Balès on the 19th of July that put him in yellow.

This edition of the Tour will, sadly, probably be remembered more for the Last Tour of Lance rather than Third of Alberto.The spectacle of Armstrong struggling to keep up, his jersey ripped from crashing, is a worthwhile reminder of the incredible luck needed to even finish, much less win, this most grueling of athletic events. In the seven times the man won this event he never had a really bad day; never took a serious injury, never really fell catastrophically at speed as he did in Stage 8 this year. The pain he endured was the pain of victory, not the agony of defeat.You could make the argument that for a man of 39 twenty-third place is not a defeat. I doubt that Armstrong feels that way; he is what he must be to have won this race seven times - a predator, a man with a tremendous ego and need to win. No, regardless of his age, today must be a bitter end to his cycling career.

And, for me at least, this year asks some real tough questions about the man who was either Lance's strategic partner or his sock puppet, Johan Bruyneel. Because Team RadioShack was, in my opinion, a disaster this year. Yes, it won the "team GC" classification, traditionally a sort of booby-prize for the team with the most organization and least talent at the Tour. The very notion of building a team around a man of 39 was questionable; the notion of not having a Plan B in case that man crashed out or cracked was even more questionable. Sadly, Levi Leipheimer was exposed as merely a nice guy from Butte, Montana. He never put in a serious attack, never even looked remotely threatening. His thirteenth place was the result of grinding out decent, unspectacular, ultimately mediocre rides every day. That's not enough to become a great champion. He will have to step up his riding if he wants to step onto the podium. And at 37 he doesn't have much time.

The man who turned out to be the real GC hopeful for RadioShack, Chris Horner, was misused for three weeks carrying water for Armstrong or Leipheimer.

The question now is whether Brunyeel can find his next Armstrong or Contador. He has shown that he can't win through pure tactics. If he can't find the next Great his day may well be done.

Mark Cavendish won his fifteen sprint stage in two years.

Holy fuck, the man is fast.

Today is Contador's day in the sun on the Champs. His rival, though, will be back next year, with his brother Frank healthy, and there must be some concern in the Astana party tonight about the possibility of challenges from other of the riders that showed well this year such as Jurgen van den Broek of Lotto and Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin.

Perhaps the single biggest story is the one that has not been told about this year's Tour; the question of doping.

The UCI and the Tour organizers will tell you that the extremely low number of riders ejected for using CERA, ERO, tesosterone, HGH, or any of the many other chemical and blood products that the sport has been saturated with since the Nineties means that the testing is working, and that the dopers are being forced out, or forced to cut back or give up their craft.

And the fact is that the 2010 race was more like last year's relatively scandal-free Tour, and has not featured the horrendous doping scandals of the Tour of 2006, and the lesser but still ugly expulsions of 2007, and 2008 Tours.

But here's the thing that disturbs me.

There's no question that the Tour in the Nineties and Oughts was soaked in doping. The arrival of EPO and the EPO-derivative CERA, HGH, testosterone...these forms of cheating helped men fly up mountains and recover overnight in ways that no clean rider could match.

The patrons of the Eighties, the big men like Lemond, and the domestiques like Frankie Andreiu - who themselves knew of tricks like corticosteroids and caffeine - couldn't believe how the peleton flew along the roads at 45-55 kilometers per hour. EPO changed everything.

In the infamous "Tour de Dopage" in 1998 the winner (Marco Pantani) finished riding 3,877 km (2,409 mi) in about 93 hours.

In 2006, the even more infamous Tour of Floyd Landis, the eventual "winner", Oscar Periero, rode 3,639 km (2,261 mi) in 89 hours 40 minutes.

When Rasmussen of Rabobank was thrown out for dodging a doping test in 2007, while still in yellow, Contador's eventual winning time was 3,569.9 km (2,218 mi) in 91 hours.

You would think that if the testing had been effective in reducing the use of the blood doping, the EPO, the hormones and the drugs, that the winner's time would have begun sliding backwards from the dope-saturated Nineties and EPO-drenched Oughts.

This year's winner's time?

3,642 km (2,263 mi) in 91 hours, 58 minutes, 48 seconds.

"Life Is Beautiful"

PIF in a treasury...

The great news? Wherever you find it, here there, Etsy shop, you can just right click save! Remember if you alter it, use it for a link, resell, and/or claim as your own, 4 psycho chihuahuas who haven't had a walk in a month will come and get you!

Thanks mucho for the treasury props!


Dixon & Quatrano

I have been working on a range of projects, both visual and written, and have fallen away from posting regularly. Insofar as I've been able to stay focused, that's a good thing. (God knows that Twitter is out of the question for me).

But I have missed the curatorial aspects of this activity. I'm going to work on getting more visual matter up and on view, in most cases to celebrate it, but not always.

The image at the top of this post is a book cover by Maynard Dixon. More than a year ago I assigned a student in my Commercial Modernism class, Sarah Quatrano, to research Dixon for a presentation. She did a nice job, and in response to my request, burned a disc of some of the Dixon material she found. In the crush of a home & studio move over the course of the last year, I misplaced that disc, then rediscovered it.

Dixon had a complicated career, blending commercial work with later Western landscape stuff for gallery contexts. He got his start doing Mulford's Hopalong Cassidy novels. He married several times, secondly to Dorothea Lange, of FSA photography fame. I'm offering neither narrative nor assessment here; primarily I wanted to post that great Cassidy cover, which at the moment serves as my mobile phone's wallpaper.

Sarah Quatrano has done some great work, notably a project called Deathnography, which I notice has not yet shown up on her blog or site. (Gentle nudge, Sarah...) Thanks for the disc, Ms. Quatrano.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pass the sugar...

Okay, it's more of a PIF, but you get the gist of it. Right copy click to save and voila! You have your own .jpg of this yummy boutique treat!

"Terms of Use"

Since some unsavory people out there like to steal other people's work, claim it as their own, and/or sell it. I have to put this disclaimer...

Words and design are solely my property alone. You may copy this and use it for your own blog, website, etc. credit is not necessary but always appreciated. This image cannot be used as a link base. Although you are encouraged to send it to anyone you like, please be aware that it is not intended for resale or to be altered, so please let them know this. Under NO circumstances can you sell this in any format or claim it as your own original design. Usage for personal scrapbooks, crafts, etc. is more than okay☺

So you ask, "Tara, what inspires you to constantly make sugary treats?" Answer: I am so in LOVE w/frosting that if frosting were available I would marry it! I can't eat it by the tub anymore, so I have to get it where I can. I am an avid watcher of all those cupcake and cake decorating shows on t.v. and it's like dessert porn for me!

Thanks again for reading!

New Essays Page

Back from ICON 6, tying up some loose ends. I am working on an article version of my talk from the conference, entitled Illustration on Mars; Expedition to an Unseen World. When I have it ready, I'll post it.

In the meantime, I have been working on finishing out the new site I launched last week. One of the ideas I thought I'd try is to re-present some of the writing I do here in a topical format. (Blogs are fun, but the organizational format absent intervention is based on time, not content. The most significant fact about an essay is when it was written, not what it was about.)

On my studio site homepage, there is now a link to Essays on Graphic Culture, which (for now) features 8 Graphic Tales pieces, marked by title. You can access the essay on a page within the site by clicking on an icon. Links still appear within the body copy, so you're not imprisoned on the site. I am hoping that the page will make some of this material more approachable.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Underworld: Rise of the Weasels

Now here's a depressing thought:
"When I've asked Hill staff and elected officials about this, I've gotten an interesting answer: Think about what you need to do to become a politician, they say. Rise up in your local party leadership. Raise a lot of money. Get yourself quoted in the media. Campaign effectively. You don't really need to know that much about policy. And so a lot of elected officials simply don't know much about policy. Even if they wanted to become known as problem solvers and thinkers, they don't have the chops for it, and the pace of modern campaigning means they never have time to develop those chops, either. It's a depressing thought."
Yes, it is, Ezra.

We're seeing it here in Oregon, where our governor's race, among others, couldn't be more depressing. A retreaded former Democratic governor who proved only marginally effective when previously in office against the usual GOP gormless bumper-sticker who represents the triumph of belief in magic over actual thinking. Neither one can be forced to make any sort of statement that strays close to fiscal or political reality.

Both pronounce the usual crap about "prosperity", "freedom", "responsibility", and "integrity" without ever explaining how they'll restore First World public services to the state without reworking the Skinnerbox that is the Oregon tax code or unraveling the mystery that is the state government.

Hmmm. I could it be that our "leaders" have evolved into this sort of moronic, testicle-less, money-grubbing, mealy-mouthed rodent?Could it be that we prefer to be told these glittering lies than face the hard, ugly truths?

Gee. That's a depressing thought, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Away in the Hollow Ships

On the final rest day of this year's Tour de France, a moment's reflection on the 97th running of perhaps the world's best known bicycle race.

1. This year's Tour seems to be more of a grinding endurance test than ever. The cobblestones didn't help. The weather didn't help. The crashes didn't help. After 16 days of racing there are five riders within eight minutes of each other, but many of the pre-race favorites; Armstrong, Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, are far down and many minutes out of contention.2. I think we can stop wondering whether if Contador is a one- or two-year wonder, or a great champion in the Hinault and Indurain mold. If he can win this year, and not be brought low by injury or drug use I think he has established himself as a potential successor to the greats of the sport.

That said, I can't help but think less of the man for his attack on the summit of the Port de Balès. If sport is about anything it must be about the measure of the sportsman or sportswoman. The play should be fair; that's why cheating, whether it's doping or foul tackling or buying umpires is so poorly thought of. If sport is to matter anything, it is about testing one person against another to see who can go faster, higher, stronger, further. Regardless of the course of events that day, Contador lost his chance to prove that he would have beaten Schleck fairly. That isn't his job; his job is to win the Tour. But my job as a fan of the sport is to choose who I believe best honors the sport.3. I have talked a lot about this before, and there really is no point in rehashing it. The Armstrong Era of the Tour is over, and in a spectacular fashion; "Your father was no merciful man in the horror of battle.
Therefore your people are grieving for you all through their city,
Hektor, and you left for your parents mourning and sorrow
beyond words, but for me passing all others is left the bitterness
and the pain..."

4. I find that perhaps the saddest part of the Fall of Hektor is that his Patroclus, Levi Leipheimer, inherited a team in disarray. Johann Bruyneel's name has been mentioned when the great organizers and coaches in the sport are mentioned. But this year has to make one wonder; was Bruyneel a great tactician or merely the trained bear for great riders, Armstrong and Contador? He seemed unable, once Armstrong fell, to find a way to get his backup GC contender, Leipheimer, into position to threaten the podium in Paris. Leipheimer seems destined to find a place in the Hall of Near-Fame, a position in the pantheon of the Demi-Gods of Cycling.5. And, again, this year is a tale of woe for Cadel Evans. The Australian rider had suffered from atrocious team support in last year's Tour, finishing 29th, after three years where Silence-Lotto provided barely enough enough help to get him on or near the podium. But the truth is that the man had to do most of the hard work himself. His new BMC Team has done no better for him than Lotto did. But, let's face it, the man cracked on the Col de la Madeleine in Stage 9. He has not ridden like a champion this year. But it's sad to see him fall so far, and land so hard...

As always, the Tour is a pretty good reflection of people in general, with all their hopes, and fears, their greatness and the smallness. It is pain, and fear, bravery, and weakness. It is a great spectacle, and the battle promised for the Tourmalet tomorrow should not be the least of its enticements.

Update 7/21: It is beginning to look very like another Tour victory for the man from Pinto; he paced his rival Andy Schleck all the way up the Col de Tourmalet. I think that Schleck's chance was to drop the Spaniard on the big climb today by a minute or more - he couldn't. And barring disaster I suspect this means a third climb to the top of the podium for Alberto Contador.So as always...Vive' Le Tour!


In a world full of odd coincidences, a friend of mine sent me the link to this peculiarly funny video clip... the same time that I was reading the section about the fall of Constantinople in O'Shea's Sea of Faith.

The world is a very strange place.

(h/t to Moscow Minx for the video link!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


And yet another thing we must all overcome.. When it rains it pours and the rest of the time is just one big hot dry spell! How to manage the ups and downs and craziness of your business.

So what can you do to try and balance all of your projects, marketing, life, etc.? First, set up those boundaries! You will not do what I do and end up working 24/7 and let your house get dirty and your kids forget to shower! Make a schedule now of the only times you are allowed to work and really, really, try to stick to it. Family and pets first I always say! Then I put the kids to bed and work all night on the computer! lol

Give yourself time for possible projects. If you take on a lot of projects at once, don't promise something you can't deliver. Always estimate extra time in case you get hit with a lot of work at once. For example, I freelance with 6 sites, (not including my Etsy shop:) and I submit bids to Craigslist listings and another search engine for graphic design jobs. Sometimes I even get hits from my portfolio. I never know when there will be a ton of work and how many people need it whenever and how many needed it yesterday. I've finally learned to give myself a little leeway and estimate my time accordingly. If everything is done for the day, I may take on a small project to pass the time. But otherwise I have to give anything that isn't ASAP a week. I used to tell everyone 1-3 days which was ridiculous!

If it takes you a bit longer to get things done or you have an actual life outside your work, you may just want to take entire days off from bidding or choose your projects accordingly.

As far as marketing and mingling goes, I try to fit it in while I'm sitting here. But maybe set aside a day or block of time so you can just concentrate on all the work that goes into signing up for sites and adding potential clients to your profiles. I don't do Facebook and Twitter because it's time consuming and not really important to my business. But LinkedIn and DeviantArt are probably a good place to start for you if you are in the Graphics business. And of course you will need a blog! lol

Thanks for reading, more soon..

The Real Lives of Curious George, the Cat in the Hat, and Other Old Friends

Curious George, the BFG, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel. Could anyone ask for better friends than these? Well, sure: their authors. Beatrix Potter and Dr. Seuss are every bit as well known as their fictional counterparts, and you can bet that their stories are just as interesting. The biography or autobiography of a children’s author is guaranteed to be one of color and creativity, and just as hard to put down as that original book that captured your childish heart all those years ago.

Beatrix Potter’s Journal by Beatrix Potter, edited by Frederick Warne Publishers, 2006, Warne Books (Biography/ Picture Book)

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) was drawing backyard creatures, pet rabbits, and guinea pigs from her earliest years. A dreamy and creative child who loved art and nature and animals, it’s no surprise that her creations Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle became very real and dear to her. This illustrated biography, in the form of a fictional journal based on real diaries and letters, is a true gem. Flaps lift to show beautiful reproductions of artwork, envelopes open, letters unfold (the letter from Beatrix’s brother about getting the exact measurements of a pet bat is a particular delight), and sketches and other documents from Beatrix’s life are scattered throughout her handwritten journal entries. From her drawings of fungi to her relationship with her publisher Norman Warne to her purchase of her own Hill Top Farm in England’s Lake District, Beatrix Potter’s life is one filled with old-fashioned romance, understated humor, and the charming little animal critters that have been loved by readers for over one hundred years.

The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden, illustrated by Allan Drummond, 2005, Houghton Mifflin Books (Biography/ Picture Book)

Curious George and his friend the Man with the Yellow Hat currently reside in picture books, television sets, and movie screens. But they got their start in a humble flat in Paris, where their creators H.A. and Margret Rey came to honeymoon and stayed to live and work. Both H.A. (Hans Alberto; 1898-1977) and Margret (1906-1996) were Jews born in Hamburg, Germany; when Hitler’s forces invaded France in 1940, the couple knew it was time to leave. Joining millions of people who fled the city and crowded the trains, the Reys made their escape on a pair of rickety bicycles—with the manuscript that would become Curious George (his original name was Fifi) strapped to Hans’ back. The book that tells of this amazing journey through France, across the Atlantic, and to New York City is a lovely work of art all by itself. Author Louise Borden conveys the Reys’ story in poetic style. Allan Drummond’s illustrations are charming and energetic, whether they show the romance of the Reys’ pre-war years or the more desperate rush to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. Photographs, letters, passport stamps, and intimate details lend authenticity to this story that has become a real legend in the history of children’s literature.

Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl, 2009, Puffin Books, originally published 1984 and 1986 (Autobiography/ Memoir) 

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is the quintessential children’s author. From Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to The BFG to James and the Giant Peach, this perpetually popular author has the unique ability to tell a fantastic story. The man clearly had a wildly creative imagination, but he also lived a wildly creative life. He relates that life in two volumes: Boy and Going Solo. Boy is chock-full of antics and escapades from Dahl’s childhood—his vacations in Norway, his schoolboy pranks (including “The Great and Daring Mouse Plot”), and his eccentric family members. Savvy readers will spot not a few larks that clearly inspired his later fiction. Going Solo chronicles Dahl’s adult life, specifically his adventures in Africa working for the Shell Oil Company and his acts of derring-do as a RAF pilot during World War II. The real joy of his memoirs comes from Dahl’s distinct narrative voice—wry and tongue-in-cheek, full of dark humor and gleeful irony. Family photographs and documents dot the pages of both volumes, and the most recent edition collects the two memoirs in a single book and features lively cover art by Quentin Blake, whose illustrative style is practically synonymous with Roald Dahl’s most beloved books.

When Everybody Wore a Hat by William Steig, 2003, Joanna Cotler Books (Autobiography/ Picture Book)

William’s Steig’s autobiography is a story for children. But anyone who knows William Steig—author of the original ugly-loving Shrek!; creator of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, in which the main character spends most of the book as a rock—will understand that anything by this author will feature his trademark matter-of-fact tone and understated charm. When Everybody Wore a Hat is about Steig’s childhood in the Bronx, way back when you could see a movie for a nickel and a hat was as essential as shoes and a shirt. Through bright, childishly expressive illustrations, Steig (1907-2003) shows us life through his own eight-year-old eyes: an outing on the river with Mama and Papa decked out in stripes and polka-dots; neighborhood characters like elegant Mrs. Kingman who was “looked on by the women in admiration”; Steig’s first haircut at Ditchick’s Barbershop. There’s a healthy dose of realism as well, conveyed with a child’s simple directness: Papa yelling at the radiator when there isn’t enough heat, Mama’s tears when she receives sad news from the Old Country, and the bombs and blood of World War I. Deceptively simple but instantly engrossing, this slim little autobiography offers a slice of old-fashioned life and a look at the formative years of an inventive and irreverent author.

Bill Peet : An Autobiography by Bill Peet, 1989, Houghton Mifflin (Autobiography/ Illustrated Memoir)

In 1937, a young storyboard artist at Disney Studios got sick and tired of drawing Donald Duck over and over and stormed out, hollering “NO MORE DUCKS! NO MORE LOUSY DUCKS!” That artist was Bill Peet (1915-2002), beloved children’s author of The Gnats of Knotty Pine, Chester the Worldly Pig, and Buford the Little Bighorn (to mention just a few), and that anecdote is one of many that he relates in his self-titled autobiography. Peet got his start at Disney, becoming a lead story man for classic films like Dumbo, Cinderella, The Sword in the Stone, and 101 Dalmatians before his own career as a children’s book author finally brought him, fame, fortune, and artistic freedom. Peet tells his life story in pictures and words—his artistic creations dance across every page as he chronicles his childhood during the Great Depression, his storyboard presentations for the great Walt Disney, and his own studio where he wrote and illustrated his books. The insight into the workings of Disney productions is revealing and entertaining and Peet always has a sense of humor about whatever life throws his way. As engaging as one of the author’s own storybooks, Bill Peet: An Autobiography is a delightful portrait of an artist at work

Ezra Jack Keats: A Biography with Illustrations by Dean Engel and Florence B. Freedman, 1995, Silver Moon Press (Biography/ Picture Book)

He was born Jack Ezra Katz, but you know and love him as Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983), author of The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, and many others. From his penny-pinching childhood in the Great Depression to his years inking comics for Five-Star Comics (creators of Captain Marvel) to his experiments with fabric and collage, art was a crucial comfort for Keats. In this biography, the events of Keats’ life are illustrated by his own artwork. When little boy Ezra gets picked on by bullies in his Brooklyn neighborhood, we see an illustration of a similar scene from Goggles!. When Ezra explores the city of Paris as a struggling young artist, we see a self-portrait on a colorful Parisian street. And when Ezra realizes that there are very few black children in picture books and creates his hero Peter, we see that iconic image from The Snowy Day of little Peter in his red hood looking at his footprints in the snow. Ezra’s life is reconstructed in a simple, straightforward narrative that rolls along like a storybook. It’s a heartfelt, poignant tribute to an award-winning artist, written by people who knew (Florence B. Freedman was his high school teacher!) and loved him.

Virginia Lee Burton: A Life in Art by Barbara Elleman, 2002, Houghton Mifflin (Biography)

If you have a lasting fascination with steam shovels, snow plows, and construction sites, you probably know Virginia Lee Burton—or at least her storybook creations Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Little House, and Katy and the Big Snow. There’s also Burton herself, and she takes center stage in this elegant biography. From her student years in the early 1920s studying dance and design to the deliberate research methods she incorporated to write and illustrate her books, Burton (1909-1968) was a woman ahead of her time. She had an active career in an era when most women were housewives. She was an environmentalist before the term existed, a nature-lover who relished country living. She was an innovator in book design (Katy plows right through the text on the page in Katy and the Big Snow). She was an artist of many mediums—there’s an entire chapter dedicated to the folksy textiles created by her Folly Cove Designers. Author Barbara Elleman fills the pages of her biography with photographs, sketches, and images from the children’s books that made Virginia Lee Burton famous. The tone is highly celebratory (any trials and tribulations are very much glossed over) but the final product is a loving tribute to a talented and cherished storyteller.

The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Charles D. Cohen, 2004, Random House Books (Biography)

Dr. Seuss is a household name. We all know that Horton heard a Who and that the Grinch stole Christmas. But did we know that Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991) first penned cartoons for Dartmouth College’s literary magazines in the early 1920s? Are we familiar with Geisel’s advertisements for Flit bug spray? Thanks to Charles D. Cohen’s extensive biography, we are now. The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss offers a retrospective of Geisel’s life and art with a particular emphasis on his pre-children’s book days. Here we meet Geisel way back when he was a boy in rural Massachusetts, back when he was an ad man for Standard Oil and General Electric, back when he was a political cartoonist during World War II, back before he was Dr. Seuss. His whimsical animal-esque characters are present from day one, even if they are occasionally tempered by the commercial nature of his early work. And when the limits are lifted, watch out—richly reproduced examples of Geisel’s art cover the pages of this “visual biography.” Cohen lets Geisel speak for himself as much as possible and excerpts from letters, interviews, and articles tell much of the artist’s story. What ultimately comes across, in all its absurd Seusssian glory, is the very real sense of a man whose creativity knew no bounds.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Missy's Tour de East

Hi! Missy here! I wanted to bring you along on the fun thing we did on Sunday; it's called "Sunday Parkways", and its where lots of people walk, ride bikes, skate, skateboard, unicycle, and do everything but drive on Portland's streets! Mommy got to pull me in my little bike-buggy and my big brother go to go behind Daddy on the trail-a-bike, and we all went on our big adventure with our friends Auntie Meghan and Uncle Will and their friends, too, all over East Portland. So, are you ready?I'm ready to go! Mommy and Daddy left the camera in my buggy, so I took lots and lots of cool pictures of our ride! Here's the view out my buggy window as we set off from our friends Auntie Meghan and Uncle Wills house. Let's go Parkwaying!Here's where we went, which is called East Portland, which my Daddy sometimes calls "Felony Flats" which I totally don't get, but my Daddy laughs at some things which I totally don't get sometimes except Mommy's jokes which he never laughs at hardly ever which makes Mommy totally mad.I call this "My Feet, Which Am Totally NOT Stinky", since my Daddy and Mommy always complain that when I come home from daycare after playing all day and not wearing any socks ever that when I take my shoes off my feet are totally stinky which they are totally NOT!We met these people, and they were totally giving away these totally cool lights, which Mommy put in my buggy, so I got to play with them while Daddy and Mommy and Shea-shea were riding. I also took a picture of the package, which was really colorful and pretty, too.I don't know who this boy is, but I thought this was a good picture so I took it.Did you know how cool it is to be Chinese? Well, everybody in East Portland does now, because our Lee's On Dong Association was in Lents Park with their lion and dragon dancers, traditional fan dancers, drummers, and lots of other really awesome Chinese stuff! And since I'm Chinese, too, I'm also totally great! The lion was a little scary, so Daddy put me on his shoulders, but Mommy and my big brother were really sweet cuddling together to watch. He was a really good lion, and all the people clapped for him!Here's me, the cutest and smartest preschooler in East Portland yesterday. I had my Daddy take this because my arms aren't long enough. He looks like he has an owie but he says it was just because the sun was in his eyes. Silly Daddy!After we left the fun park and said bye-bye to the lions Mommy zipped right along. She is really a good bike rider, almost like a Tour de France guy, but she totally missed the big pink donut truck even though I told her and told her to stop because my tummy totally wanted a yummy donut and I hadn't even had my second treat that day!Since I was the coolest preschooler in the ride, I should have been the fastest. We came up behind this gomer with his silly scooter strapped on his buggy on the way over I-205 and totally blew his door-flaps off. Loser!But there were other slowpokes in front of us and sometimes Mommy had to slow down and even stop for a little bit......and sometimes she even had to get off and walk!In the morning it was cold and gray but Mister Golden Sun came out and we were nice and warm!Here's Mommy's butt-butt, which - unlike my feet - really is kinda stinky and smells like butt but Daddy says it's nice which I don't understand but I saw it a LOT today.We're almost back to Auntie Meghan's, where we will have lots of tasty treats and Uncle Will will fight us with foam swords and make us laugh a really lot and I will sit on Daddy's lap and eat his food and he will pick me up in the air and give me raspberries on my tummy and make me laugh so that I won't feel bad that he misjudged the screen door and gave me an owie, Daddy!And here I am, me, your intrepid reporter. I am the cutests and my feet am not stinky! I love my Mommy, and Daddy, and sometimes my brother, but mostly I love being me!Bye, now!