Help For The Homeless

You may remember that a while back I posted about the needs of our local food pantry. In our town, we have no permanent structure to give relief from the elements to our homeless population. For the months of the year that it is brutally cold we have a series of churches that volunteer their time and space for the shelter of the homeless but it is one of the missions of our food pantry that a permanent shelter be built and staffed. 

Partially to this end - and also to continue to serve the other day to day needs of the hungry - The Shalom Center held one of their biggest fundraisers this past Saturday. Called "Artists for Shalom" the event gathered over 50 works of art from artists and collectors in the area for auction. I do not have the total amount raised by the event, but I am happy to report that the framed Edison Lee original sold for $850. John and I are so pleased that we were able to support the center with this gift. 

I know times are hard and coming up with extra money is challenging, but if you have any similar events in your area, please consider donating your time or talents. You might be surprised how much it can help.

BTW, the above is the strip that was donated - although, as it was an original, it was in black and white.

Comics Kingdom Outage and the Nonfunctioning Widget

You may have noticed that the area for the widget with the daily strip on comics kingdom is not working. I could post the strips here every day but instead I suggest you go to the right hand sidebar where it says "Other Places to Read Edison". Each of the newspapers listed under that heading is actually a link to comics kingdom in that paper. Even though the widget is down, these links are working fine. 

By reading Edison through comics kingdom rather than here on the blog, John will actually make something like one thousandth of a penny for each time you click on the link. With son #1 in college and son#2 having just gotten braces, we need every one thousandth of a penny we can get :-)

Today's Strip

For some reason the widget isn't working today and the strip won't show up on Comics Kingdom so I've posted it here.

Go Buy These Books!

Mother's day is right around the corner - what better gift than a copy of Coffee, Tea, and Reality (I looooooove my copy) and Hello Daughter.

And bonus - Sandra will even sign them for you.

I Want Spring! Updated

I want Spring! And, in the words of the immortal Veruca Salt, "I want it now!"

As you can see from the above photo, we still have plenty of snow in Wisconsin. I got so crazy with snow/ice/mush fatigue a couple of days ago that I splurged on a nice assortment of cut flowers so that I could at least pretend to have Spring.

It is generally about this time every year that I have, flat out, had enough of Winter. I don't mind Winter - on many levels I actually like it. I truly can't imagine Christmas in the land of cactus. Or palm trees either, for that matter. It's just that Winter lasts too long. I think five to six weeks would be a nice amount.

Early Spring in Wisconsin brings the promise of wonderful weather to come, usually round about late March to early April. This promise lingers.

And lingers.

And lingers.

Until about the middle of June, when the temperatures that have spent six to eight weeks hovering between 30 and  50 degrees, finally decide to inch up into the 70s.

Then we get lovely summer weather that lasts until almost the middle of October. (I have spent many a Halloween picking the last peppers and tomatoes from our garden)

We then get something vaguely resembling Autumn for roughly three to five weeks and then, BAM! Back to Winter again.

So that's it, really. Two seasons. Winter and Summer with small pretendy bits of Spring and Autumn.

No wonder Winter seems so long :-)

Update: Apparently throwing little Veruca like tantrums works because yesterday was sunny, almost 60 degrees and gorgeous. No more snow!

It doesn't mean we won't still get one more good blizzard in before May but I have my fingers crossed.

Comic Strip of the Day

Mike Peterson has started a new site - Comic Strip of the Day.

It is a site like the striptoonist that features daily commentary about comic strips in a positive way. I started linking to it down in the blogroll a couple of weeks ago and meant to make a post about it then but it got lost in the shuffle.

I am so happy to see more sites like this popping up. I know the internet is full of sites like the comics curmudgeon that like to make fun of comic strips and I completely get why they exist. Especially when it comes to poking fun at strips that have been around a really long time. My cousin and I used to make a weekly date to sit down with potato chips and ice cream and watch the old Star Trek series, all the while making fun of how many times William Shatner took his shirt off, slept with an alien woman, violated the prime directive by completely destroying whatever computerized god/thing was running the planet so the natives could discover the joy of looking after themselves for a change, etc. (Can you tell one of my favorite movies is Galaxy Quest?)

So I get the snark thing.

But comics and most types of entertainment are really struggling right now as the entire media paradigm shifts and it is really nice to see a couple of sites come up that praise the work.

One of the features of Mike's site that I particularly like is that he gives a good in depth description of the comic feature as a whole rather than just the strip he picks for the day. He also makes it easy for you to find more of the strips by posting links to subscription services and book collections. And he has a place for comments so you can give your own feedback.

Mike has quite a background in the newspaper business and used to work as an editor which also gives a nice level of credibility to his choices. Plus he presents a broad spectrum of comic humor by including web comics and editorial cartoons as well.

And, it just so happens, today he is featuring Edison.

Thanks, Mike, so much for the shout out, and I'm sorry it took this long for me to send people to you. Your site has become one of my daily favorites and I hope it's around for a good long time :-)

CD's for sale

I am now officially offering my CD for sale on my harp website. I had stopped producing CD's because people just wanted to download music rather than deal with shipping. It seems there is a renaissance of sorts going on in the music arena and folks want CD's and vinyl records again. 

I'm afraid you're out of luck with vinyl for my music though - I can't quite pull that off :-)


I don't talk here very much about my harp life, but today's Retail really struck home with me. 

Most people don't realize how much all service sector jobs have in common. I often try to explain to my friends that being a freelance musician is just like being a waitress only with better clothes and a higher minimum wage. You still have to follow the "prime directive" of serving the public which is to not mouth off. 

I think I shall adopt Norm's punchline as my new mantra :-)

If You Could Meet Anyone Famous...

A friend of mine recently asked "If you could meet anyone famous, who would it be?".

Well that was a toughie because the first three people who sprang to mind were all dead. 

She assured me that was not a problem. 

"Not a problem?" I wondered to myself. "Does she have access to some secret pipeline I don't know about?"

It turns out that it wasn't a problem because, in this case, it was one of those questions where the answer is supposed to reveal something highly significant about you. You know , like "What kind of tree would you be?"

Or all those quiz questions in magazines that - once you finish taking the quiz - promise to solve the rest of your life and all your relationships. Forever.

Guess all that money people spend on therapy is completely unnecessary. Cosmo has it taped.

Anyway, it turns out my answers where less than she hoped for. I didn't want to meet the President. Or Ghandi. Or Jesus. Or Queen Elizabeth I.

No, the three people I first thought of were all women and they were all writers. And on some level, each of them changed my life. 

One taught me an infinite number of things I would need to know about people and living a life of creativity. One made me a more thoughtful voter and citizen. And one prepared me for the peanut butter and jelly covered roller coaster that is motherhood.

And they all made me laugh.

The first, and the one who had the biggest effect on me, is Agatha Christie

I consider her tremendously underrated as an author. I think most people just see her as a writer of fluffy little detective stories.

But she was so much more. She wrote a number of novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Giant's Bread and Absent In The Spring, to name two, are both very powerful and insightful peeks into the human psyche. And it is that ability to put her finger right on the archetypes and personalities all around her that makes her writing resonate so firmly, even today almost 90 years after she wrote her first novel. As silly as it may sound, she was Miss Marple. A highly observant woman with a deep understanding of human nature.

Further, her autobiography, simply titled "An Autobiography", is not merely a recounting of her own life but a comprehensive diary of a life lived during extraordinary times. During her lifetime, 1890 - 1976 she saw the invention of the telephone, the airplane (her first husband was one of the first fliers in the fabled RAF), two world wars, a world abandoning monarchies, the invention of radio, television, and moving pictures - with and without sound - the automobile, and the fall of the Victorian Empire. Look up how much real estate England controlled in 1890 and compare it to a globe from 1976.

And she documents it all through the eyes of someone, not only living in extraordinary times, but understanding them.

She also had an entirely different second life as the wife of famed archeologist Max Mallowan and spend over 40 years on digs all over Syria and Iraq. She was not merely a visitor - she worked on those digs right along with the rest of the team.

But the parts of the book that have influenced me the most are those that deal with her life as a creative person, both the aspects of trying to be creative when one doesn't feel in the least creative, and the aspect of dealing with publishers and all the various people one must work with if your writing is to be marketed to the public and/or adapted into movies and plays. I think this book should almost be required reading for anyone who plans to make a living in a creative field.

Added to all this, is the fact that her writing is terribly charming, witty and humorous. Almost like A.A. Milne for grownups.

The second writer, and the one I probably miss the most nowadays, is Molly Ivins.

A political columnist with a wickedly satirical bent, Molly's newspaper columns crossed my path at a time when it would have been easy to lower my head into the demands of mothering young children. Instead, through my encounters with her wit and her dogged journalistic investigations into the sausage making process that is politics, I realized the importance of being an informed voter. No matter how busy one's life might be, if one is going to live in a democracy and vote, one should go to the trouble to be informed. You may not always have agreed with her point of view, but you couldn't read her column and keep your head in the sand. 

And oh, was she funny! Her book "Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life Of George W. Bush" published in 2000 (before his presidency) remains a favorite of mine. She spent time working for both the Houston Chronicle and the Minneapolis Star Tribune - both papers who carry The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee - and it feels good to share papers with her.

Finally, I come to the writer who showed me writing didn't have to be stuffy and women can point out the absurdities of their lives without whining, Erma Bombeck.

For me, Erma Bombeck blazed the trail for women humorists of all types. She wrote about all the little joys and mishaps of motherhood, laying the trail for an entirely new type of standup comedy and new humor opportunities for women in general. She is the root to which I trace back Ellen Degeneres, Julia Sweeney, Rosanne Barr Lynn Johnston and Sandra Bell Lundy,  to name just a few. While there were many funny women before her, her self depreciating humor seemed to be a truly original voice. No Henny Youngman type jokes like Phyllis Diller. Just funny everyday observances. I miss her terribly. 

The bright spot is that, even though I can never meet any of these women for coffee and a good chin wag, as they say, I can meet them over and over again in their work. And my day is always a little brighter for it.

Thank you, ladies. 

I Am SOOO Getting This Book

I try not to go on any socio-political rants here on the blog. Suffice it to say that John and I have been aware of and ticked off about the culture of corporate greed for over 10 years. It's one of the reasons there are so many strips that touch on the topic.

Before today, I was unaware of the work and writings of Jim Wallis. I heard him on one of our local NPR shows, (we are lucky to receive 4 different NPR stations in our neck of the woods) with Joy Cardin of WHAD 90.7 Milwaukee. It was just a stupendous interview and I will be running out to buy his latest book "Rediscovering Values" just as soon as I can.

BTW - it's pledge week over at WHAD - if you're one of their listeners be sure to give them a call with your support. And if you are a regular listener of NPR elsewhere in the world, I'm sure they could use a pledge as well. In this world of bombast and opinion that passes for news, I don't know what I would do without NPR.



Paying For Comics

Whenever the print comic vs webcomic debate gets started, there are invariably many voices that say people won't pay for content on the web. Paywalls are said to scare off fans, who only open their wallets to buy merchandise, not the strip itself.

That may be very true in many cases. I myself have experienced this with my music. On my harp website, I made my music available for free but requested that those who downloaded it make a donation in any amount they felt comfortable with. I tried to make very clear that the donations were for breast cancer research and support programs for cancer victims. I was curious to see if folks would download the music and pass it around for free while - in essence - stealing from cancer victims.

The answer is: yes, people will happily download anything and everything that you provide for them with nary a thought about paying for it. The analytical program that comes with my website is sophisticated enough to track every download so I know people are taking the music. They just aren't paying for it. I started offering the tunes last spring and, to date, have been paid exactly 0 dollars and 0 cents.

I am not that surprised. It was an experiment. 

But I am taking steps to put the music behind a paywall from now on.

Anyway, I bring this tired old topic up again because of something I read on Paul Gilligan's blog over in Pooch Cafe land. 

The Denver Post has dropped 21 comics and Paul has written a very nice piece of commentary on the subject.

But what really got my attention were the comments in response to his post. Most of them are from folks promising to pay for Paul's strip no matter where they have to get it from - print or web.

This is because, along with having a great, high quality strip, Paul obviously has a very loyal and enthusiastic fan base. It gives me hope that, all previous evidence to the contrary, people will eventually make their peace with paying for content on the web. We just have to hope that the companies that are in the business of providing the content figure out the best way to get everything behind that paywall.

So take a little stroll over to Paul's blog - it's a great site - and be sure to particularly check out the comments.

I am also going to go out on a limb here and predict that the Post will have to reinstate at least 5 of the comics they've tried to axe.

Have You Read Your Credit Card Statement Lately?

For those of you who live in the U.S. and carry credit cards, this strip's for you. It originally ran this past  September. Now that the new laws governing credit cards have gone into effect, we get to see all the shenanigans the companies have been up to the past 9 months to nullify said laws and retain their tidy little profit margin. (Click on the image to enlarge.)