Backyard Superheroes

It's been pointed out to me, by no less than the renowned comics afficianado and podcaster extraordinaire Tom Racine, that I have been slacking off on my blog posts. Here goes - this one's for you Tom :-)

So it's project season again and first up on the roster was the garage roof. 

Last year the large and ancient Silver Maple behind our garage decided to fling a good portion of itself at our garage. Because the roof was beginning to rot anyway, this resulted in several good sized and unfortunately placed holes. Upon inspection, it became clear that the entire roof was going to have to be torn off and redone. As John is handy (and we are also cheap) the decision was made to do this ourselves. "I'll be able to get it all done in one long weekend" is a phrase I seem to recall hearing.

Before you think me too critical of his over optimistic timeline, you have to know this is not our first roofing rodeo. In 1989 our first house needed a complete tear-off and rebuild. John, his brother, and one other friend with roofing experience did the whole East face themselves (including a dormer) and John wound up doing the entire West face himself. It took an amazingly long time, turned my then youthful (read childless) husband into something vaguely resembling a coal miner and, I believe, prompted the phrase "Never again!!".

Ten years later, when we put that house on the market, we were told by the inspector that we would have to replace the garage roof in order to sell the house. Again, a total tear-off. As the profit margin on said home sale was going to be pretty thin, John reluctantly opted to do it himself.

"Never again!!"

Roof number three was our current house. Mindful of the perils of the steepness of this current roof, as well as it's extreme height and proximity to a thoroughly unforgiving concrete driveway, the decision was made to - gasp - Hire Someone.

Completely worth the money. I didn't have to worry about him breaking his neck and they had the whole thing done in two days. Plus they have this amazing conveyer belt to take the shingle bundles up instead of several bone crunching trips up the wobbly ladder with 40-60 pounds of shingles on ones back.

Roof number four almost doesn't count as it was our screened porch and is entirely made of those translucent corrugated fiberglass panels. Those things are nasty to cut, though.

So this was roof number five and by this time we should know very well how long such things take ;-)

Phase one - the South side - wound up taking 2 full weeks and one gi-normous dumpster and was completed last fall. Then the weather turned and we had to wait until April for phase two. To be fair, the North side did only take one long weekend, beginning Good Friday and finished Easter Sunday. It also took another gi-normous dumpster

This roof was different, though. Different in a good way because we had the help of our strapping teenage son to take some of the load off. Different in a bad way because our bodies are a little less shock absorbing these days and our tempers a little bit closer to the surface.

Which is why, over the course of the project - and after several bashed thumbs, blown knees, and dropped hammers, I have taken to calling my two backyard superheroes Dammit Man and Dangit Boy.

Long may they protect us from rotten roofs everywhere :-)

Ta Daah! Isn't is beautiful?!

Jazz Harp Videos - UPDATED

Well, I have finally gotten my act together and uploaded some videos from my February jazz concert to Youtube. 

Unfortunately, of the 7 I have uploaded, only 2 are showing up - not sure what that's about, my son says youtube's been weird and buggy lately.

I've posted another one on my blog here but, while the audio is fine, the video is pretty low res. I think it's time to call in the teenage son tech squad - watch this space for updates.

Speaking of updates:

UPDATE: Well, a couple more have made it through. So far on youtube we have: Vinnie Goes To Washington, Buddy Blues, Ripples, Bossa Nova Casanova, and Fuschia Blues.

A couple of "liner notes" as it were - Buddy Blues is named for a baseline I snitched from Buddy Guy years ago. Along with a little "turn-around" I bought from reputed jazz harpist Park Stickney. Thanks again, Park :-)

Vinnie Goes To Washington is an actual chapter title for a terrifically unscholarly biography of turn of the century, American female sculptor Vinne Ream Hoxie.

The genesis of Bossa Nova Casanova is pretty fully explained in the video.

I should have a couple more before the week is out - fingers crossed.


I realize I've been kind of slack posting on the blog lately. Suffice it to say that Spring is usually chaotic for me as a harpist - a lot of concerts, a show (Sondheim's "Sunday In The Park With George")my private students' annual recital, my college student's recitals and juries, etc..

I know, excuses, excuses.

So I'm going to try to make up for it by posting more often from now on, even if it's just to shout out to strips that caught my fancy. The following are some of the strips that made me laugh out loud this week.

I have been following Ollie and Quentin since its launch and, while I enjoyed it from the get go, I think Piers Baker has come into his own as a master of the unexpected visual gag in the final panel.

I've seen a lot of snuggie jokes, this one is my favorite so far.

Jim Toomey has now irrevocably changed the way I view Pandas. They shall forever more be "Land Orcas".

Pooch Cafe is one of the first strips I read every morning as it is right below Edison in the local paper. I love the way Paul Gilligan pushes the level of innuendo possible on today's generally G rated comics pages.

Unlike Pooch Cafe, Cul De Sac is a strip I have to go out of my way to read, as it is not in our local paper, nor is it available on dailyink as it is from a rival syndicate. I love this strip in particular for its channeling of Roald Dahl and Willy Wonka.

I am afraid I must admit that this probably took me an entire minute to figure out :-)

I love how all the criminals in Pros and Cons always wear either a collared shirt or a shirt and tie. The British truly are a great combination of classiness and silly absurdism. Kieran Meehan particularly so.

This is actually from last week - I meant to post it then but got behind. I have to say Cooper is probably my favorite character from Retail. After meeting Norm I think I can safely say Cooper is the closest to his alter ego :-)

And finally, my friend Sandra who gets two shout outs this week. I have a particularly soft spot for Between Friends because it always seems to be channeling my life.

Food Inc.

Some of you may remember a little piece I did a couple of months ago on losing weight. It wasn't really about losing weight, it was about all the exposure John and I have had over the past 5 years or so to books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and movies like King Corn and Food Inc..

For anyone who is interested and has not yet seen it, Food Inc. is airing this week on PBS. Check your local listings - it will probably be on a program called POV.

My Fridays

For comic strip creators who happen to be syndicated with King Features, Fridays are deadline day. This means that each Friday six daily strips and one Sunday strip need to be submitted to the media company for processing before they can be used by newspapers. In some cases, only black and white files are sent for the dailies and then the color is added by a third party. In others, the color is added first by the artist (or one of the artist's peons - read, wife).

So, as strips are usually  coming down the pipe to me between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning (and sometimes afternoon - I'm waiting for the last one now), I generally spend Fridays on the computer trying desperately to find something interesting to listen to on TV while I work.

So I got to wondering how many of us are there in this little Friday photoshopping/file separating/emailing club. I can imagine us all sitting in our respective universes doing the same thing at the same time. Sort of a globally spread out office of comic producing cubicles.

Of course, I may be in a club of one, with all the other artists blissfully ahead of deadline having already submitted all their strips by 8:00 a.m. Friday.

But I doubt it :-)

One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages

(The Edison Lee for One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages)

John Read, editor and publisher of the always excellent "Stay Tooned" Magazine, has taken on another project. (As if he didn't already have enough to do!) He is calling it "One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages". 

A couple of months ago Mr. Read took on the Herculean task of approaching over 100 of the syndicated cartoonists working today to ask them to contribute a Sunday strip for a traveling exhibit. His idea was to have all the contributing comics be from a single Sunday - in this case today, April 11, 2010. His plan was to have the original artwork (which is almost always in black and white) and then a color representation for each strip and then turn all this art into a traveling exhibition. 

Personally, I can't wait to see this exhibition myself as comic artists produce their original art in such a large number of ways with so many different papers, brushes, digital files, etc. and I'm curious to see who does what. John's Edison Sundays are about 8x24 and I know there are artists who work larger and artists who work smaller.

Anyway, you can read more about the project here and here along with lists of contributors.
Be sure to read the comments as well as there are some more explanations from John Read there.

The ipad - I want one even more now! (Updated)

Check out this post by Tom Richmond which addresses the ipad and Marvel Comics. I want one of these so bad. I am doing everything I can to hold out til the second or third version because I know it will have so many bells and whistles the first one doesn't. I am hoping someone at the Reubens will have one so I can ogle it :-)

And, again, I agree with Tom that this device is going to change the publishing world - hopefully for the better. To those who are hung up on the idea of having the ipad take the place of a laptop, I think Tom explains very clearly why the ipad is more like an ipod than a pc. Can you imagine having to maintain a wifi connection to listen to all your favorite tunes and podcasts while you are jogging or otherwise out and about?


I am also adding this link to the Charlie Rose show and their run down of the ipad.

Digital and Print - Where is The Future?

I found this article very interesting - I know this was a conference about comic books rather than newspaper comics - but we're all in the same boat wandering around the North Atlantic.