My Favorite Moment of Comics Journalism

In the early ’90s, I was a freelancer for a magazine about comic books called Wizard. For a couple of years I would regularly get assignments from my editor (Patrick Daniel O’Neill, who had great patience) to interview people. I got to interview Wendy and Richard Pini, whose series Elfquest got me into comics back in 1980. Alan Davis, whose drew Excalibur when it was my gateway into superhero comics. Joe Quesada early in his career, and so on, and so on. They eventually took all of the interviews in-house, and while I wrote some small news articles for a few more years, it eventually dried up. But there was one interview that was quite possibly my favorite one, which never saw print.

Image Comics logoIn 1993, Wizard published a special all about the X-Men family of comics (Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty), which sold well enough that some other special one-shots were planned. The next one was to be a special all about Image Comics, which in the early ’90s was a relatively new company with a lot of creators who had defected from the larger publishers to write and draw their own titles. I was asked to interview a group of the “second wave” creators; not any of the original founders, but some of the writers/artists who had started comics at the company when the doors had opened up a bit. The special was eventually cancelled, and it was just as well because one of the creators in question was not returning phone calls and I’d been told his presence was a must. (This creator also had some serious problems with getting his comic out the door and I suspect he was afraid to be called out on that.) But for the interviews I did, there was one that still makes me laugh my head off. We’ll call this creator John.

I was a huge fan of John’s comic (we’ll call it Doe), one of the best of the “second wave” of titles at Image. And long before Doe, he’d done a lot of other noteworthy comics; he wasn’t a flash in the pan. So I was pretty psyched to interview him. I’d read all of his series at Image, and even some ancillary material that also existed. Big fan. I’d talked with him briefly to set up a time, and late one evening I called him back up at the appointed hour.

At first I was simply happy with how well the interview was going. He was relaxed and chatty; I’d interviewed people before who were very guarded and gave one-word answers to questions. (On the bright side, those early experiences taught me how to both ask questions that couldn’t be answered so briefly, and also how to draw out additional statements from them when confronted with such.) But as the talk progressed, I noticed that he was… really relaxed. And getting even more chatty. Around the halfway point I started to ask myself, “Is John stoned?”

A few minutes later, I responded to something he said with a reference to the ancillary material that I’d read, and he said, “Wow, you really do like this comic. Do you want to write an issue?” I laughed in response. “No, really,” he said, and I could almost imagine John leaning towards me as if he was in the room. “You should write an issue. I want you to write an issue. It would be amazing.” Well, yes. It would be amazing. I laughed a little nervously and said that I’d love to do so, and the interview continued as his behavior got a little more erratic, but hey, he was still answering questions and giving overall rational responses.

The next day, John called me. This was the first time that had ever happened. “So, Greg…” he slowly said. “Um… what did I say to you last night?”

“Well John,” I said with an unseen smile on my face, “you said I could write an issue of Doe.”

There was an uncomfortable-for-John silence, which I finally broke with a laugh and, “But I won’t hold you to that, of course.”

I could almost hear his shoulders sag in relief. “Oh good,” he finally said. We talked for a few more minutes, I mentioned the high points of the interview, and he seemed pretty pleased with it. He even gave me advice on how to try and get ahold of the incommunicado artist (“Pretend you’re from a record label, he really wants to be a musician!”) and by the time we ended the conversation he seemed really happy.

As I said, the interview never ran because the special was cancelled, and it’s a real shame because I had enough from John alone that it could have been a great solo interview. But today an art book by John that I’d ordered ages ago and forgotten about suddenly showed up in the mail, and I had to start laughing at the memory of it all. Because for a brief 14 hours, I had an offer to write an issue of his comic. And while there was no way to have ever worked that into the interview, it was and still is the most unexpected moment I’ve ever had in all of my years of comics journalism.

Movies and Books: 2015

Another year gone by, another tracking of books and movies and such for the year. I know I missed a lot of graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a fair number for review purposes in serialized formats), as well as for the various zines I’ve read. I’d said that in 2014 that it was a hectic year in terms of school and tracking fell to the wayside a bit. That was not only true for 2015, but also for reading and seeing films in general. Ah well! Hopefully 2016 will be more productive.


  1. The Imitation Game
  2. Mr. Turner
  3. Early Summer [麦秋 Bakushū]
  4. The Housemaid [하녀 Hanyeo] (1960 version)
  5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  6. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live Action
  7. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Animated
  8. Bigger than Life
  9. Saint Laurent
  10. Inside Out
  11. Tangerine
  12. Grandma
  13. Big Business
  14. Black Widow
  15. The Grifters
  16. Room
  17. A Royal Night Out
  18. The Wait [L’Atessa]
  19. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  20. The Danish Girl


  1. Quiz-O-Tron
  2. Welcome to Night Vale: The Investigators
  3. Bianca Del Rio’s Rolodex of Hate


  1. Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  2. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  3. How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Friendship, Theft & Musical Theatre by Marc Acito
  4. Tiny Deaths by Robert Shearman
  5. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  6. The Reference Interview Today: Negotiating and Answering Questions Face to Face, on the Phone, and Virtually by Dave Harmeyer
  7. Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
  8. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
  9. Information Technology Project Management by Kathy Schwalbe
  10. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
  11. The World of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia Jr., and Linda Antonsson
  12. Basic Research Methods for Librarians by Ronald R. Powell
  13. Collection Management Basics by G. Edward Evans
  14. Remembrance of Things I Forgot by Bob Smith
  15. The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson
  16. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Kinfolk Vol. 14
  2. Kinfolk Vol. 13
  3. Lucky Peach #16

Graphic Novels: Continue reading Movies and Books: 2015

Movies and Books: 2014

Once again, an attempt to keep track of films seen and books read… I know I missed a lot of graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a fair number for review purposes in serialized formats), as well as for the various zines I’ve read. This was a hectic year in terms of school and this fell to the wayside a bit. I added a bunch in at the end of the year but still, I’m sure there were some big holes. Unsurprisingly, the numbers went down because of graduate school.


  1. The Wolf of Wall Street
  2. Philomena
  3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animated
  6. The Lego Movie
  7. Stranger by the Lake
  8. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  9. Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
  10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  11. Under the Skin
  12. Late Spring [晩春 Banshun]
  13. The Immigrant
  14. 112 Weddings
  15. 1971
  16. Deor and I
  17. Art and Craft
  18. Snowpiercer
  19. Obvious Child
  20. Magic in the Moonlight
  21. Boyhood
  22. To Be Takei
  23. Guardians of the Galaxy
  24. The Skeleton Twins
  25. Gone Girl
  26. Nightcrawler
  27. Foxcatcher
  28. Human Capital [Il capitale umano]
  29. Two Days, One Night [Deux jours, une nuit]
  30. Falling Star [Stella cadente]


  1. Richard III
  2. Welcome to Night Vale: The Librarian
  3. The Importance of Being Earnest
  4. Henry IV Part 1
  5. Wicked
  6. La bohème
  7. NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour Live Show: December 2014


  1. The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
  2. The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places by Melissa Davis
  5. Organizing Knowledge: An Introduction to Managing Access to Information by J.E. Rowley
  6. The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  7. Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi
  8. The Process of Legal Research by Christina L. Kunz
  9. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  10. Management Basics for Information Professionals by G. Edward Evans
  11. Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler
  12. The Old Funny Stuff (Author’s Choice Monthly #1) by George Alec Effinger
  13. Emphatically Not SF, Almost (Author’s Choice Monthly #15) by Michael Bishop
  14. True Minds (Author’s Choice Monthly #12) by Spider Robinson
  15. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
  16. Understories by Tim Horvath
  17. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  18. Who’s 50: 50 Doctor Who Stories To Watch Before You Die – An Unofficial Companion by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?
  19. The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst
  20. Digital Curation by Ross Harvey
  21. Miguel Covarrubias Caricatures by Beverley J. Cox
  22. Metadata for Digital Collections: A How-To-Do-It Manual by Steven J. Miller
  23. Cruddy by Lynda Barry

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Kinfolk Vol. 10
  2. Lucky Peach Vol. 6
  3. Kinfolk Vol. 11
  4. Lucky Peach Vol. 12
  5. Kinfolk Vol. 12

Graphic Novels: Continue reading Movies and Books: 2014

Vivat Grendel! Vivat Grendel!

You may already know that in addition to being a big comic book fan, I own a fair amount of original art from comics. And if you know me really well, you may know that I am a huge fan of Grendel, Matt Wagner’s signature series that my friend Dave Gross turned me onto in college. I already own some Grendel art that I adore; a Pander Brothers piece as well as a solo Arnold Pander piece, Jay Geldhof’s painting for Grendel Cycle, a J.K. Snyder III pin-up… well, now I have two more pieces that are both heading my way even as I type this, both in the hands of various shipping companies.

The first is a page from Grendel Tales: Devils and Deaths by the late, great Edvin Biukovic. Biukovic was an artist who had a short career in comics; he made his big North American debut through Grendel Tales and quickly became in-demand for his clean art style. Sadly his career ended at the age of 30 from a brain tumor, just as his career was getting huge. Earlier this month, his family released a limited number of his original art pages for sale, something that almost never happens. I ended up purchasing this beauty; I was a huge fan of Biukovic the second I bought Grendel Tales: Devils and Deaths #1, and he was a talent that was silenced far too soon.

Biukovic Grendel 04 Pg 18

The second is a page from this year’s Grendel vs. The Shadow, drawn by Matt Wagner himself. I never thought I’d own a Wagner Grendel page, and having the opportunity made my head explode. And if that’s not enough… just look at the detail and the graceful shading here. The art dealer whom I talked to about it said that it looks even more gorgeous in person. I cannot wait.

Grendel vs. Shadow 1 pg 10

Once I get them framed sometime in the new year, I’ll probably swap out some pieces either at home or in my office (or both?) with these. I love the art I have hanging right now. But I really, really love these. And it’ll be nice to see something new on the walls.

Movies and Books: 2013

Another year of keeping track of films and books read… I suspect that I missed a few graphic novels when you count the collected editions (since I read a lot of them for review purposes in serialized formats), ah well. Definitely a big uptick on movies for 2013.


  1. Django Unchained
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Live Action
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2013: Animated
  6. Silver Linings Playbook
  7. Amour
  8. Side Effects
  9. Party Girl
  10. The Company You Keep
  11. The Great Gatsby
  12. In the House (Dans la Maison)
  13. Stories We Tell
  14. Star Trek Into Darkness
  15. Iron Man 3
  16. Mud
  17. Frances Ha
  18. Behind the Candelabra
  19. The Painting (Le Tableau)
  20. Rent a Family Inc.
  21. AFI Docs Shorts Program Two: Life and Death
  22. Approved for Adoption (Couleur de Peau: Miel)
  23. The Bling Ring
  24. Much Ado About Nothing
  25. The Way, Way Back
  26. The Heat
  27. I’m So Excited (Los amantes pasajeros)
  28. Blue Jasmine
  29. The Wolverine
  30. The Spectacular Now
  31. Word Wars
  32. Gravity
  33. 12 Years a Slave
  34. The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
  35. Frozen
  36. The Deflowering of Eva Van End (De Ontmaagding van Eva van End)
  37. Our Heroes Died Tonight (Nos héros sont morts ce soir)
  38. Tiny Furniture
  39. Dallas Buyers Club
  40. American Hustle
  41. Her


  1. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Blue Heaven by Joe Keenan
  4. Black Blade Blues by J.A. Pitts
  5. Among Others by Jo Walton
  6. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
  7. The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson
  8. The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
  9. The Highest Frontier by Joan Slonczewski
  10. Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship by Amanda Hesser
  11. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  12. Fair Play by Tove Jansson
  13. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  14. The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth by Ursula K. Le Guin
  15. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  16. The Virtual Reference Handbook: Interview and Information Delivery Techniques for the Chat and E-mail Environments by Diane K. Kovacs
  17. Men and Cartoons: Stories by Jonathan Lethem
  18. Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman
  19. The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt
  20. The Portable MLIS: Insights from the Experts edited by Ken Haycock and Brooke E. Sheldon
  21. Reference and Information Services: An Introduction by Richard E. Bopp and Linda C. Smith
  22. Doctor Who: A Big Hand For The Doctor by Eoin Colfer
  23. Doctor Who: The Nameless City by Michael Scott
  24. Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny by Marcus Sedgwick
  25. Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil by Philip Reeve
  26. Doctor Who: Tip of the Tongue by Patrick Ness
  27. Doctor Who: Something Borrowed by Richelle Mead
  28. Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect by Malorie Blackman
  29. Doctor Who: Spore by Alex Scarrow
  30. Doctor Who: The Beast of Babylon by Charlie Higson
  31. Doctor Who: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy
  32. Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. Lightspeed Magazine March 2012
  2. Granta 114: Aliens
  3. Lightspeed Magazine April 2012
  4. Lightspeed Magazine May 2012
  5. Lightspeed Magazine June 2012
  6. Kinfolk Vol. 3
  7. Lightspeed Magazine July 2012
  8. Lucky Peach Vol. 7
  9. Lucky Peach Vol. 8
  10. Kinfolk Vol. 9

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2013

Movies and Books: 2012

Yet again, I got a little obsessive and tracked the number of books and movies I’ve consumed in the past year. Why? Well, if nothing else it’s an easy way to remember what I’ve seen when asked, “What was the best book/movie you’ve seen/read this year?” Also, it amuses me. This year showed a slight increase in all categories… And now, on to 2013!


  1. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  2. The Artist
  3. Albert Nobbs
  4. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Animated
  5. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012: Live Action
  6. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  7. Bully
  8. Mirror, Mirror
  9. The Avengers
  10. Headhunters
  11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  12. The Hunger Games
  13. Moonrise Kingdom
  14. Prometheus
  15. Safety Not Guaranteed
  16. Beauty is Embarrassing
  17. To Rome With Love
  18. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 film)
  19. Brave
  20. Magic Mike
  21. The Amazing Spider-Man
  22. The Queen of Versailles
  23. The Dark Knight Rises
  24. The Imposter
  25. Cosmopolis
  26. Sleepwalk With Me
  27. The Master
  28. Argo
  29. Cloud Atlas
  30. Wreck-It Ralph
  31. Holy Motors
  32. Skyfall
  33. Hitchcock
  34. Travels With My Aunt
  35. Les Misérables


  1. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey
  2. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  3. Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
  4. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  6. Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman
  7. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman
  8. Glasshouse by Charles Stross
  9. Embassytown by China Miéville
  10. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  11. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  12. Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater by Frank Bruni
  13. After the Apocalypse: Stories by Maureen F. McHugh
  14. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
  15. Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
  16. Bumbling into Body Hair: A Transsexual’s Memoir by Everett Maroon
  17. Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
  18. Moominpappa’s Memoirs by Tove Jansson
  19. American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama
  20. God’s War by Kameron Hurley
  21. Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson
  22. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  23. The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia by Paul Theroux
  24. Who Is The Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who: The New Series by Graeme Burk and Robert Smith?
  25. The Ninnies by Paul Magrs
  26. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  27. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction edited by Brit Mandelo
  28. All About Emily by Connie Willis
  29. Hav by Jan Morris
  30. A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files

Fiction Magazines, Chapbooks, and Zines:

  1. James Patrick Kelly’s Strangeways #1
  2. Fantasy Magazine July 2011
  3. Fantasy Magazine August 2011
  4. Fantasy Magazine September 2011
  5. Fantasy Magazine October 2011
  6. Fantasy Magazine November 2011
  7. Fantasy Magazine December 2011
  8. Chelsea Station Issue 1
  9. Lightspeed Magazine July 2011
  10. Lightspeed Magazine August 2011
  11. Lightspeed Magazine September 2011
  12. Lightspeed Magazine October 2011
  13. Lucky Peach Issue 2
  14. Lightspeed Magazine November 2011
  15. Lightspeed Magazine December 2011
  16. Fireside Magazine Spring 2012
  17. Lightspeed Magazine January 2012
  18. Lightspeed Magazine February 2012

Continue reading Movies and Books: 2012

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 16)

Back to Swimming
Despite swimming being “highly recommended” as exercise while recovering from my stress fracture, the last time I’d actually gone to the pool was back in January. Happily, Charlie gave me the nudge that I needed to finally start moving forward again, and we’ve been hitting the pool 2-3 times a week before work. My overall speed isn’t where it should be, but that’s what happens when you take six months off, right? All in all, though, it’s felt great to finally get back to the pool and start swimming some laps. My mile time might need some improvement, but I’m also glad that I can swim a mile without stopping again.

Ceiling Fan
There are a lot of things that I love about our condo, but one of the few things that has driven me crazy since day one was that there’s no air-return on the upper level (where the living room/kitchen area is located). With an 11-foot ceiling, that’s meant that hot air easily travels up there and then just stays put. We’d bought a fan to turn on when it gets too warm as an emergency measure, but this month we finally sprung to have a ceiling fan installed. I’m not going to lie, the installation was problematic and actually took two appointments with an electrician (plus someone to then repair drywall and re-paint) but now that it’s done? It’s fantastic. It’s been a transformative shift to our upstairs. Just having the air moving has made all the difference, and the fan itself looks great to boot. (Amusingly, when I first turned it on, for about five minutes it blasted hot air down at me, to the point that I almost started to majorly freak out. Later it hit me that it was finally getting all that trapped heat out of the top of the room that a fan on the floor would never touch.)

The End of Physical Therapy
I actually really enjoyed my PT sessions, which I often joked stood for “personal trainer” rather than “physical therapy.” Jackie definitely worked me over good each week, and she’s pretty great to boot. But I won’t deny that I’m glad it’s over, because it means that the long saga of the stress fracture appears to be finally over. I got a six-mile run under my belt towards the end of July, and finishing it with no problems was a huge relief. Of course, in an effort to remind me not to be too cocky, I then went and broke my little toe at the end of the month by stubbing it on a chaise lounge, so I’m back off running for the month of August. Ah well!

Rediscovering Debbie Dreschler
Debbie Dreschler’s two graphic novels from back in the day—Daddy’s Girl and Summer of Love—were hard to read. Not because they were badly created (they weren’t) but because the subject matter was rather disturbing and emotionally raw in places. Since Summer of Love Dreschler more or less vanished off of the comic book scene, so I was pleased as punch to recently discover her website and her blog. Her website shows the professional illustration work she’s been producing since then, and it looks great. Even better, she’s also got some adorable greeting cards for sale. (I might have bought a set.) Her blog has been serving up some sketchbook drawings of hers involving local wildlife, and all I can say is that she just gets better and better with time. (Debbie Dreschler: a fine wine of cartooning.)

Much-Needed Vacation
We went on a short vacation near the end of the month to Lost River, West Virginia, where we did… absolutely nothing. It was marvelous. Lots of sitting by the pool reading books (E.M Forster’s Howards End and the amusingly-named Showcase Presents: Showcase Vol. 1 were both read, plus another large chunk of Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar), some swimming, a massage, and eating all sorts of foods that are perhaps not great for me. But it was vacation, we got to relax, and the only schedule we had to worry about was when we’d scheduled our massages and what time our dinner reservation one night was set for. (And when I say “worry” I mean “we didn’t worry one iota.”) Any trip where you can accidentally break a toe and still think, “What a great time” is a good one.

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 15)

I tried a little experiment where for each week of the month I added an item to the list, with the fifth slot reserved for any particularly fantastic week. Bizarrely, several of entries for this month ended up involving travel in some way, but it’s strictly coincidence. Anyway, with that in mind…

Moonrise Kingdom
I enjoy Wes Anderson’s movies (which reminds me that I still need to finally see Bottlerocket and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou one of these days), so seeing Moonrise Kingdom was a given. Bill Murray’s and Jason Schwartzman’s presences were almost a given, but it was nice to see him working with a lot of new-to-Anderson actors; Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton were all great, but the kid actors stole the film over and over again. Just a charming film from start to finish, with an ever-increasing level of insanity as it progresses. By far my favorite film of 2012 to date. Also, for about two days I wanted to live on an island off the coast of Rhode Island. (Fortunately sanity reasserted itself quickly.)

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle
Guy Delisle’s travel graphic novels are fantastic; he’s a cartoonist who’s in the past written about taking trips for work to China (Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China) and North Korea (Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea), as well as—thanks to his wife’s job at Doctors Without Borders—living for a year in Burma (Burma Chronicles). Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City places Delisle and his family in East Jerusalem as his wife works in Gaza and Palestine. I love Delisle’s comedic tone mixed with moments of serious reflection, and Delisle does a nice job of making you feel you are there with him thanks to little details like trying to find playgrounds for the children, or going through security whenever he returns to the country after a business trip. There are a few moments that are head-scratchers (how did he not know what Yom Kippur was before moving to Jerusalem?) but on the whole I’m enjoying it a great deal. I’m reading just small chunks at a time to make it last longer; it’s been four years since Burma Chronicles so I want this experience to stretch out as much as possible.

Silverdocs 2012
It’s taken me 10 years, but this time I finally made it—briefly—to Silverdocs. Silverdocs is the AFI’s documentary film festival, held at the AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland. Every time I’ve heard about it, I’ve wanted to go, and every time it comes and goes without my presence. This year with Silver Spring just around the corner, Charlie and I finally made it up to the festival at the end to catch a showing of Beauty is Embarrassing, which is about artist Wayne White. (You’re probably most familiar with him via his design on a lot of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; in fact he even voiced several of the puppets, like Randy and Dirty Dog.) The documentary was fun (and I hadn’t made connections until seeing the film to some of the other people and projects he’d worked on, like the Smashing Pumpkins video Tonight, Tonight, or his collaborations with people like Gary Panter and Mimi Pond), although the Q&A afterwards was dreadful and we should have left as soon as it ended. But still, it was a blast to finally make a showing, and I am now determined next year to see a lot more. (I might even take a day or two off from work and go whole-hog and spend a day or two seeing the documentaries, workload willing.) It was a good time.

This American Life #467: Americans in China
Oh look! Another travel story. (Well, sort of.) This episode of This American Life (one of my favorite radio programs, although I primarily listen to it via the podcast) spotlights Americans living in China, with two main stories. The first story about a Chinese-American man who grew up in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents, then moved as an adult to China, was good… but it was the second story that really grabbed me. It was about Michael Meyer (no, not that one), a writer who lives in Manchuria in a tiny town called Wasteland. It was a fascinating story about living in a remote, rural community as an American, and I was entranced for its entire 17 minute portion. Meyer does a great job of dipping you into that culture and making you feel like you’re there, which is exactly what I want from my travel writing. It turns out it’s part of a book that will be published later this year titled In Manchuria: Life on a Rice Farm in China’s Northeast. I will absolutely be buying this book.

Potential Work Trip To Somewhere I’ve Never Been
No details yet, because I don’t want to jinx it (and because it could easily not happen in the blink of an eye) but if everything lines up just right, I get to go on a work trip at the end of August to a country and continent I’ve never visited before. Fingers crossed!