Thursday, September 18, 2008

Got it.
Sweep of the hat and a deep curtsy to David Foster Wallace.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the crippling tedium of naming things.

I have been pondering names for a new blog, and have come up with Nothing. Would that I could start one and think of a name later, but, in blog-world, you need a name to have an address to have a blog, so one needs to start at the very very beginning, unlike many projects of a creative and/or whimsical nature. This is funny and interesting to me. It's not a natural way for me to start a project, I've realized, much as I wish it was. Defining/titling something before it has been born makes no sense, and is literally crippling.
So...I guess i'll just procrastinate my way towards a new one here on tea and symphonies. Sigh.

The Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace killed himself. This isn't news, I know. Infinite Jest has been on my to-read list for so long, and how sad that I find it creeping its way back up to the top in light of its creator's demise. It's also odd to me, to feel such a sense of solidarity for a complete stranger whose books I have never read. There's something important in knowing that even those people who seemed to have such a reign on their lives can relent.
Today I happened upon these words of DFW via fb, and the last paragraph sent shivers through me that have yet to dissipate.

"As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger."

"They shoot the terrible master."

How lucid and foreboding a warning.

on procrastination, t-shirts, and sundry potent thoughts.

For the record, I'm procrastinating. I'm so close to finishing this bloody book, and the remaining drawings are filling me with dread and tedium, for some reason, probably the same reason that has me thinking daily about moving to Berlin and getting a job as a waitress. Which, I should say, (with no small awareness of the irony of it all) fills me with unparalleled glee. As well as remorse that I may be completely incapable of committing to anything on earth, at the very least geography.
But ANYHOW. Drawing is next, just a few small thoughts to fill a bit of lax time beforehand.
I love t-shirt slogans. I would own a company, or buy the company, or at the very least wear sloganed t-shirts, if they actually sold t-shirts, and not tents, with clever thoughts on them.
A few weeks ago I saw one that has been reverberating in and out of my head in sundry moments:

Well-behaved women rarely make history.

And though it is that typical feminist cheek and righteousness, I have to say, not only is it true, but it's kind of depressing, and really brings home who's writing this planets narrative.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

in the interim.

Isn't that always the way. I say I'm going to quit something and then somehow end up revisiting it with renewed fervour.
Though this isn't much of a fervourous (sic) post, to be sure. But it's amusing. Marginally amusing, anyhow. From Harpers' Weekly:

Police in Fresno apprehended a man for breaking into a house, rubbing cooking spices on the body of one sleeping resident, and assaulting another resident with a sausage.

How do they find this stuff?

Friday, September 12, 2008

a new human being.

So there has been radio silence, it is true. I've been drawing and drawing, and visiting Montreal, and drawing some more, and sorting and thinking, and strategizing my life.
I haven't come up with much.
BUT. I did realize that it has been 7 years, officially, to the day (yesterday, that is, Sept 11) that I arrived back home from my Aus-Asiatic tour.
I am a New Human Being. Skin, cells, and all.
That day, seven years ago, i made a decision (in as many words) not to leave the country for any extended period of time until I had found myself a livelihood I felt proud of (read: no more waitressing). And 'til I had somehow started making my own book(s), of some sort.
And so here I am, seven years later, doing clever things with computers to make books and magazines. So for the most part, kudos to me. Although this morning I encountered the mailbot (in my other job that must not be named) beeping forlornly as it butted up against a locked door. I sniggered as I squished by, but as the kettle began to boil in the lunch room I relented. It just sounded so defeated out there in the hallway.
So yes. A bit more balance would be nice, or commitment, perhaps, which we know I'm such an expert at, but all in all, I have made some progress, a blessed seven years later.
And I'm just finishing up my sixth little book, self-published as they may be. With two grants under the belt and storyboards evolving for part 6 of The Details (my seventh book, should we wish to include the little seen One-Night Stands), I'm feeling not too shabby this morning. Or at least in line with my goals.

All this said, it comes with a niggling need for change, which has me pondering some new seven-year plans, and a new blog to boot. I have not yet decided the name of it, but am hoping one will come in the next few weeks, for after I send Teatime 2 to the printers, I shall begin anew.
Check back here for details, but, 'til then, tea and symphonies i think i bid you fond adieu. An enjoyable chapter, but onwards!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

fuck it.

I was going to not blog this drawing, 'coz it's gonna be published in the next issue of Kiss Machine, and 'coz it's from my next book and I don't wanna give it all away, and 'coz i already blogged the unfinished drawing a while back so really, is there a point?
But, as per the title of this post, Fuck It. I'm sure the droves of people reading this blog will survive, and I am SMITTEN with this little piece. Check out the before version as well. Together both versions give valuable credence (to me) to the notions of seeing things through, of being excessively neurotic with a pencil, and of cross-hatching cross-hatching cross-hatching. Which is helpful when one sits at one's lonely little drafting table for seven hours straight for the last three or four days. Today I tallied my hours on this book so far and i'm at 85.5 in the last two and a half weeks.
I'm kind of amazed.
And I kind of think I'm certifiable too.

I LOVE this drawing. I Love Love Love it.
Unlike many things in the world at this particular moment.
LOVE. it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I don't know if it was

that I started watching at 11.30pm after 7 hours straight of drawing, but when I found out at the end of last night's episode that Libby was in the same insane asylum as Hurley, I Frickin' LOST it. HarHar. "Lost" it. I may well have to start attending a support group.

This found when googling 1920 catalog tea service

Go figure.
I'd just like to say that there is NO way that the people who named this toy did it guilelessly. Imagine how much fun it would have been putting this through the marketing department. Sometimes I wonder at the people who were creating entertainment for children from the 70s on back. A special breed, seems like, and a rare and lost treasure at that.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Snarks and Bandersnatches and bureaucracy, oh my!

Myself and a fellow employee have been in cahoots trying to figure out a more accurate (if not amusing) definition(?) for the Castle-esque workplace we frequent, well, him with much frequency, me with a great deal less. Anyhow. Today I was exceedingly please to come up with the following: the Cranium Bandersnatches* Corporation .

The word Bandersnatch is in the OED. (Or my OED, at least). I am Amazed by this and consider it a sizeable (if not personally meritorious) victory for the english language.

:;"#^*) emoticons.

I hate using these fuckers. (I don't have a problem with other people using them, but I reserve the right to be "old-school", and we all have our foibles. I mean some of you out there still believe PCs are better than Macs, ferChrissakes.)
While I do see the need to occasionally clarify a message by adding some indication of one's emotional state whilst emailing, there's something weird and diminutive about trying to relay it through punctuation.
I held out forever, i'll have you all know. Of course, ever surrounded by a world where emoticons and text messaging are becoming more and more the norm, i have recently, as ever, begun being sucked into it. This morning I looked at a thread of emails to noticed i had used a bloody smiley face TWICE in a row. Gross. (BIG SAD FACE WRITTEN OUT IN FULL WORDS FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND 'COZ COMPUTERS ARE WRITING MEDIUMS)

Well NO MORE, I tell you. That's quite enough of that. I am declaring an official moratorium on my own use of emoticons.

Friday, August 1, 2008


A fellow circus person sent me these, taken at Tuesday's jam. All the other photos i have of me spinning of from the dreadlock-and-significantly-less-tattooed age, which makes me practically a different person. So. These for the sake of posterity if nothing else.
(The last one is particularly cool. I've been trying to learn how to spin off (that is, toss and spin yer stick high enough to shake off excess fuel before actually spinning). It looks to me like I'm standing in between two angels shooting at each other with machine guns.)
(Oh thanks to Ben and his girlfriend for sending these along!)

Monsieur le JP's response to my asking why I should have to wear my helmet inside the theatre.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

a bit more process.

I'm actually making an effort to not post my drawings as I finish them 'coz, really, what's the bloody point of putting a book together if you give out all the pages ahead of time? And one must be disciplined with one's petty obsessions.
But. I've had a bad week of clerical errors and waiting on other people and miscellaneous stupid interference interrupting my drawing time a great deal, so managing to conquer two spare hours this morning on a day I thought was lost to other things from the start was particularly fulfilling. One has to START with this stuff, you know. If you save all the drawing 'til after your admin and your design touch-ups and your stupid computer shit is done, well, you're done.
So behold, a quick photo of the fruits (in-progress) of my time. For those of you who have strayed to this blog from god-knows-where, hands are my FAVVVOUURRIITTES.

I feel like i have to say something about it.

I guess it's expectations, but The Dark Knight, well...not as well written as I had hoped it would be. Christopher Nolan, you too, smited by toy-budget excess into careless editing and such. Well, maybe not careless, but it was just a whole lotta the same thing, felt like. Didn't dig too deep below the surface like Batman begins. And all the Two-Face stuff just kindda arrived on the scene and then blew up in the last 20 minutes, which was kind of lame. Anyhow. It was good (if not superlative), the evening was the event I had anticipated, complete with motor(bike)-chauffeuring and an excess of popcorn'n'chocolate, alll gooodd....i blame "expectations". Hideous, life ruining "expectations". If me and "expectations" ever meet in a dark alley, well, i'll give'em WhatFor, i tell you.
To end on a better note though, Heath Ledger, who I normally could care less about as an actor... HO.LY.FUCK.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Barely for the benefit of my other reader(s): on my very own reflection, for art's sake.

I was taking reference pictures of my reflection in a mirror yesterday (to draw from), staring into a mirror at something in the reflection behind me. I was interested to find out how small things in the background look when reflected in a mirror, and also where someone's (mine, in this case) gaze would have to be focused if they were looking in said mirror to see said background.)

I know.
This is my so-called life.

But I couldn't figure out how to do it sans camera, that is, so i would just see my reflection but not myself taking the actual picture. After much fiddling, I realized I just need put the camera where the mirror was, and look into the bloody camera lens of course.
THEN i did it (put the camera between me and the mirror) and what do i see in the mirror? A reflection of the digital preview screen of the camera. WITH the subject of the photo in it of course. Me!
It was all very scientific and fascinating.
Of course the results of the drawing of all of this remain to be seen.

Monday, July 28, 2008


As unfinished pages stare morosely at me from beneath my drafting table on a Monday night, all i have to say is this: I blame you, Shannon Gerard. Episode 18. No Joke. There is no hope for me.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nocturnal fantasies fulfilled with a quick google.

Last night i dreamt i was taking a road trip on my ("my") vintage red Norton, and i had to stop at a gas station to inflate the tires, and one of my friends was sitting in a nearby diner and I went in and sat with him and he read me poetry.
The only interesting ("interesting") thing about this dream might perhaps be its vague insight into my cultural schizophrenia. But. BUT. I woke up this morning and googled "vintage red norton"...just 'coz...and found THE BIKE OF MY DREAMS. THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE GREATEST MOTORCYCLE EVER. SWEET FUCKING CHRIST.

I haven't been able to focus all day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Igor Busted!

Last week i stopped at a red light (if you can believe that) at Dufferin and Queen and saw the above words in orange marker on a photocopy of a news article. The infamous Igor Kenk, the fucker, has been busted at last. 1,500 bikes recovered so far, from Kenk's den of sin that is Toronto's bike theft central.
I went home and googled and googled, but couldn't find specifics, until, from afar into my inbox came the critical link.

("Kenk's den of sin" I need a t-shirt. "Narrow escapee of Kenk's den of sin")

Thursday, July 10, 2008

on neurobiophysicist gifts and graffitti Gurus.

I have been hosting a couchsurfer for the last two nights, a neurobiophysician (!), who came to my door with a small token of thanks which is perhaps one of the Greatest Books Now Residing on my bookshelves. "Wall and Piece" it's called, about a London graffitti artist named Banksy who's a Genius. A Complete Genius.
This is him.

It has taken a whole lot of effort to not scan most to all the pages in this book to post, but I'm going to post one of his manifestos, which brought me to tears, (as always, click on images for full size)

and HIGHLY recommend visiting his site, particularly the films section, under museums, where someone has recorded his ventures into the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate, and god knows where else, where he installed his own paintings next to the residential wall hangings. some of which have lasted up to 12 days before being discovered and removed by the "authorities".

I'm also going to quote a few clever things he said, just 'coz:

"All artists are prepared to suffer for their work, but why are so few prepared to learn to draw?"

"Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent, leave the house before you find something worth staying in for"

"Imagine a city where graffiti wasn't illegal, a city where everybody could draw wherever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall—it's wet."

And this quote, THIS QUOTE!:

"Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas every day, we read novels by the millions and buy records by the billions. We the people, affect the making and the quality of most of our culture, but not our art.
The Art (sic) we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit, and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires."

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Canadian North doesn't really exist in my mind's landscape; it's just not really in my personal geography. Last night, however, I had been ruminating on a recently read essay about the North and metaphor, the latter of which very much is in my geography, before I went to bed.
So one of my dreams, funnily enough, was this: i was reading a love story, where the actual goings-on of said entanglement (of which i remember nothing) were interspersed* with the story of an Arctic hunter who was obsessed with figuring out the most painless way possible to kill birds. It drove him progressively mad throughout the book, and when the story finally ended (the love story? the hunter's story? both?) there was a final page, which was a full spread of a drawing of thousands of fish beneath the water's surface swirling around each other, with a spear-fisher's hole on the ice's surface above them.

* just for the record, i do not like the word interspersed, but i'm too lazy to find a synonym right now. It is a badly constructed word, not pleasing at all.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

foolin' around, for reference' sake

meta(for) metaphor

I need to draw an old dead guy for the second last page of this new booklet.
(sorry to give that away, but really, you have no idea who he is, do you? I mean, there was no old guy in the last one, was there? haha!)
Having a semi-conscious belief in hypersigils (tip of the hat to you, Grant Morrison) I have been feeling a bit hesitant to use any reference photos i have of my very accomodating friends playing dead to draw with. It seems inaccurate, and a just a bit too weird.

So a while back i decided I would use a picture of my father.
'Coz he's an old dead guy.
Of course I don't have any photos of him. So i googled him, and found a painting some lady did of him for some reason, and have been using that.

BUT HERE IS THE CRUX OF IT: I'm presently reconstructing the person who fathered me, in pencil, from a (female) stranger's portrait in oils that i found on the internet, and he's not even alive anymore.
To create a work of fiction.

It somehow feels like the most meta of metaphors.

(and not so far divorced from notions on a certain painting of the North I have just been reading about, Coco, oh, how it all falls into place!)

an astute observer this evening

pointed out to me that babies write themselves, while books do not. I thought this a very clever insight into the difference between my life and that of many others.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Shan's blog

Today, in a momentary fit of procrastination, i made my way to Little Dog Monday, realizing with melancholic self-disdain just how long it had been since my last visit, when the URL i had was wrong.
You should go there. It is very pretty. It was pretty before but it's prettier now. The link i've embedded is the prettiest (and the most flattering compliment to boot. EVER. All hail other peoples' drawings over my own) And, dear reader(s) there are DREADLOCKS. THUMPA THUMPA!

Although, might i say, dear Miz Gerard, I'm waiting for the hoochy!!!! Where are they?!?!

a public service announcment

from lenk enterprises. stef lenk (that's me) makes THE BEST GUACAMOLE ON THIS PLANET.
There is no hyperbole (surprisingly) in this statement. It is the DieHardTruth.

Friday, July 4, 2008

i think drawing

might be the only peaceable way for me to negotiate my way through silence. Bless it for that.

back to the drawing board.

Contrary to my scratchings of the other day, i am very happy with the below, although a bit melancholy that it is only a very small panel of teatime 2, instead of a full pager or a piece of artwork on its own.
Were it to be its own master, it would be called the thousand-yard stare.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

in the interest of archiving process

This is what I wasted three and some hours on today. It's a spine suffering from scoliosis (sp?). And though I'm not thrilled with it at all, i suppose it's something to add to my "in progress" file.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008




Sunday, June 29, 2008

Book(let) Launch, Tomorrow Night!!!

(click on image for a fancy invite with lots of information about my book(let) launch for TeaTime tomorrow night.

If you do not want to click on the above, I understand. We all have our foibles. Below are the details:

Festivities are at the Embassy in Kensington from 8pm on.
If you google "Embassy" and "Kensington" you will find easy-to-comprehend directions, thanks to the internet.
There will be music and excellent company and drinks and books for sale when you get there.
Friends, strangers, and those appreciative of oddities are all welcome.

Should you desire it, there is more information, both useful and otherwise, at my website, which is

My apologies if you have received my invite twice, or via facebook, or at an inconvenient moment in your lives.
My intentions are blameless, and my cartwheels anticipatory.

(My apologies also for signing off "s to the tef". I'm obviously off my nut.)

worth pondering.

I had two separate conversations today about signposts, that is, the rituals we choose to go through to signify our own progress for ourselves, development as people, etc etc. If one chooses the route of marriage, children, houses, religion, career, etc, it's all very clear. But what are those rituals when the above are not the ready choices for any given person?
Self-created ones, to be sure. But the fact that we all need rituals and signposts, wherever they come from, is a fact to me. That is, one can get away from the pre-conceived rituals, but I don't know if one can get away, peaceably, without ritual itself. And I don't know that I would ever want to.
Ho Hum.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


My most gracious host, (with whom I couchsurfed!) this last week in Montreal.
(not to mention the assurance that I still have a modicum of drawing-from-life skills)

the varied nature of questions, (with regards to life, work, and intimacy [both small and capital i)

Where shall I begin.
Hm. The OED, methinks, where I always begin.

Says the OED about questions:
Interrogative statement of some point to be investigated or discussed; problem; ; subject for discussion in meeting etc...; the~, the precise matter receiving or requiring discussion or deliberation; beg the ~, under consideration; it is a ~ of , what is required or involved is;... out of the ~, foreign to the subject; not to be considered or thought of.

of "questionable" there is this:
Doubtfully true; not clearly consistent with honesty, honour, or wisdom.

Asking questions.
When I used to be in university (wow, i used to be in university) I was that person that always asked too many questions. It was a good self-check (I feel/felt at the time); when I was asking questions it was because i was interested, and sometimes when they reached the "excessive" point, i was just checking in that I was still engaged with what was going on, a part of the dialogue.
Which, although annoying to others, was well intentioned, I assure you. To this day I have trouble understanding how the silent sorts can feel (capital I)Involved sitting on the outskirts of a conversation, questioning nothing, not clarifying details for themselves, not positioning themselves inside the continuum of what's going on.
When I stopped asking questions in class, it was a matter of not even a month or so before I stopped doing work, lost interest in academia, and traded in my year-two-course registration for a plane ticket to Sweden.

As one does.

In contrast though, with work these days, questions take on a different colour. At one of my jobs I ask the same questions repeatedly, 'coz i'm there so rarely that I can't get up the confidence to assure myself that I really have a firm hold of the job, of what I'm supposed to do.
BUT. It's also a way for me to manufacture engagement, since I find the environment deeply depersonalized and I feel like an ant there. If i'm still asking things, at least I still feel present. And being answered also helps with that; creates some sort of bond, however tenuous. Which, for whatever reason, is a big deal to me.

Moving right along.

The OED (1980 edition) defines "intimate" thusly:
adj Close in acquaintance, familiar; essential, intrinsic; closely personal intimately adv intimacy n State of being intimate; intimate act; (euphem.) sexual intercourse. intimate n Intimate friend.

For the sake of my ponderings I'm going to take the sex part out of it.
(Which is perhaps telling in and of itself?)

What of questions and their relationship to intimacy? This is what I'm pondering.
Discussions I have with intimate friends are a back and forth, a dialogue, much in the form of question/answers/re-questions, with happy digressions and meandering reactions to what one or the other has to say. I LOVE this. I can tell almost immediately when I'm not loving a discussion (or when i've retreated into self-absorbed tedium) when nothing other people say makes me react or question.

I've been with people before who seem to have very little intimacy (small i OR capital I) in their lives, but manage to fake this very well by asking questions. Creating a sense of interest by trying to get in on the people around them, how they do things, what makes them tick. Astoundingly, the "fake it 'til you make it" tactic can be very efficient in this way.* I have had times in my life where I've been disinterested in things until Precisely the moments I begin to investigate them, and suddenly find myself swept up. And the thing is, you can't fake the asking of a question. You ask a question, or you don't ask it. If you ask a question without interest, that much is very obvious from the get-go. If you don't ask, the same applies.

(* This tactic is also a very good one for getting laid. Who doesn't find someone attractive in some capacity, when they are being asked at length about their own navel-gazing self?)

There is, of course, a time and place for questions, I admit. There are moments where Intimacy is beyond questions.
Looking at artwork: beyond questions.
Reading: beyond questions.
Sex: you get my drift.

BUT, very frequently, it is AFTER all the questions, that the above examples are born.
I mean, what books, art, or half decent sex worth having didn't start with the question of how to procure themselves, make themselves better, arrive in a timely fashion, etc.

(an aside: I think fast food and one-night stands and the like have their place of importance in the world. That is a different importance from what I am talking about here. That sort of place demands the building up of a tolerance, a thick skin, a surly constitution; once you've accustomed your body to fast food (or fast anything) the habit is so strong your innards would revolt at the sight of anything else. ... Perhaps the same holds true of intimacy?)

This wonderful quote was at the bottom of an email i once got: The Dalai Lama always likes to say... that when you give birth in your mind to the idea of compassion, it's because you realize that you yourself and your pains and pleasures are finally too small a theater for your intelligence; it's really too boring. ~ Bob Thurman ~

I once received

a telegram from a cycling postman, but that was a long time ago now, and then a day or so ago i was led to a series of photos of said postman, on his daily errands and such.
And they are MAGIC.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

XERIC the third.

I promise, this will be my last Xeric-centric posting. Really, I promise.
BUT I was thinking about it today and suddenly remembered that Xeric is the very foundation that sponsored the publishing of "The Ballad of the Two-Headed Boy" by Abel Brekhus (aka Anders Nilsen).

XERIC the second.

I would like to add that since the year pretty much started as ASS as a year can start, this gives whole new credence to the fact that there is nowhere to go but up.
I'm selling books at Big on Bloor festival (in Toronto) today, if anyone is interested.

Friday, June 20, 2008


I wanted to write some huge cartwheel-worthy exposition on my discovery that I've been awarded a Xeric grant two nights ago (for TeaTime 1 and 2), but I can't even keep my thoughts straight on it. I've been giddy for two days! So there it is. I will now always hold a special affection for letters that begin "Dear Mr. Lenk"
(ironically my acceptance letter to Angoulême started in the same way. It took three emails to convince them of my gender. Oh impermeable comic-book world)

in reference to the keeping calm of horses.

Coco asked the other day where I got the reference "not to frighten the horses"...

s: Well *I* got it from the Nerve Guide to Sex Etiquette (ergo: you are not stupid) But a quick googling revealed this little beauty (which is likely the origin of the former quote) courtesy of British (!) actress Beatrice Stella Tanner Campbell: "My dear, I don't care what they do, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses."

C: Who knew. Thank you for that. You are giving me such a good edjumacation. Think how smart I'll be when I've known you another three years. Tell me, can I earn a PhD with you? But I guess instead of Doctorate of Philosophy that would be a Doctorate of Stefanie, which would result in the unfortunate earning of an StD.

(She has asked me to qualify this posting with the acknowledgement that this is not her cleverest moment, but I don't see the need, really)

How I Love

People who've known me forever. Not that the following links are much of a stretch, but I might have remained ignorant of them had they not been sent along...

Click here for the lower-case scarf

And here for a fully functioning grandfather clock made out of bike parts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


i have decided i am extremely fond of the word "nonetheless".
I'm not sure why today in particular, and perhaps tomorrow i will gaze upon it with lassitude, indifference or even animosity, but for today, I like it.
Having used it once already, I think a couple more for good measure is in order.

Monday, June 16, 2008

of comments.

I have very cleverly just figured out why i wasn't getting comments from this blog before. And i have tinkered and fixed it all. Oh bloggy cyberworld.

And so it begins: some NYC observations.

So. Have just come back from a LOVELY eight days in New York and Fire Island. A longer trip than was at first anticipated, thanks to my beloved cousin KJ, who invited me to extend the sojourn and accompany her to Fire Island, where I have never been before. And for a very white person who barely leaves her house, much less loiters in the sunshine on a beach for two days, well, it was BLISS.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And next: the bus from Chinatown, Philadelphia, dead things, and so on.

So then there was Monday. Where, after six years of wanting to go here, I got on a bus at 6am to Philadelphia for the day, to visit the infamous Mutter Museum, a home for medical specimens and oddities from all walks of life.

The trip there was an excellent series of smooth and timely procedures. I procured a ticket on the internet for a dodgy bus from Chinatown, so decided getting there early would be advisable. Showed up at 5.56am, felt very clever, and was directed to the bus in question, thinking I had an hour and four minutes, so no problem. Well, the bus was full and actually took off four minutes later, I inadvertently had taken the 7am bus. The guy who took my ticket didn't bother to tell me, and i have to say, in this case, I didn't particularly care. En route back, I arrived 40 minutes early to find out my bus had been cancelled. Stranded in Pennsylvania! I thought, ever dramatically. Then i coerced the woman behind the counter to give me my money back ( "I'm Canadian, I can't possibly wait for the next bus, I will be lost in New York upon my return!"), and walked about 20 feet to another dodgy bus company. Asked for a ticket to NY, and they threw me right on a bus that left not four minutes later.

This strange citizen I discovered (and became suitably concerned by) on my walk across town to the museum site:

This sign upon my arrival, signalling the terminus of my long-awaited pilgrimage:

And then the museum.
It was SO cool. I am working on a little side project called "The Ailments" which involves a great deal of drawings of dead things, and was thrilled and grateful to be able to garner permission in advance to photograph the specimens there for reference material. Among the most fascinating things was a wall of skulls, consisting of mostly thieves, gypsys, sailors, and suicides, some with explanations of their grisly exits from the world (Timothy Castriotis; Corfu, Greece, Supercargo (?), died of a dagger thrust in Scutari) I of course now want to do a book of skulls, surmising the lives of these people whose (now empty) heads leer out at Pennsylvania's tourists.
Just like this fact that the Oxford English Dictionary was written predominantly by a madman, I'm fascinated that we are using the skulls and organs of thieves and gypsies to educate ourselves on the workings of our own bodies. Note how it's never a Bay Street (or Wall Street, in this case) investment banker that has anything to tell us about ourselves, or not anything lasting, anyhow. When you die, the money moves onwards, changes hands, becomes irrelevant to the person it was owned by.

Also interesting was a talk I had with one of the museum staff, who told me that despite the fact that the specimens are all dead, they are still incarnate, inasmuch as they are capable of disintegration if not taken care of/preserved properly. That is, it is the things surrounding them that determine whether they are alive or dead, so to speak.
He pointed out that formaldehyde wasn't always used to preserve specimens, for ages it was alcohol. In fact, a soldier from the (a) civil war (so said he) had to have his leg amputated and wanted to keep it, so stuck it in a barrel of whisky and put it on a cargo ship (ship? something like that) to send it home. The sailors didn't realize, and cracked open the barrel to drink from it. No joke.

MoCCA; the books; a quick summation

So yes. The festival was Amazing. The biggest thrill was having people, both strangers and friends come up to me and say "where's the next one, then?".

Highlights of books acquired:
Edison Steelhead's Lost Portfolio: Exploratory Studies of Girls and Rabbits by Renée French (Awesome Awesome Awesome)

W the Whore (the first installment, which i didn't even know existed!): by Anke Feuchtenbergerowa and Katrin Devries

You'll Never Get Away with This by Eve Englezos and Josh Moutray, who do small run self-published books of Exemplary class and wit. (I'm particularly fond of "Their Condolences", which I picked up last year, about a man named Abram, recently deceased, whose "near and dear express what sympathy they can muster". Outstanding.

Then: (seen at MoCCA, but NOT bought due to baggage limitations on "international" flights and my dodgy left knee under heavy backpacks) (and then, of course, shamelessly purchased today on the Bloody Internet. I have NO restraint. CHRIST.)

M by Jon J Muth (mostly a kids' book illustrator, but christ can this man draw and paint. This is a graphic narration of the Fritz Lang film)

The Number by Thomas Ott. I am not linking his name to anything, 'coz i'm frustrated by this man's web presence. He's a bloody brilliant storyteller, but his works seem to have been written off as campy horror stories (it's true, they are horrific, i'll give you that), but he does these silent short narratives in scratchboard that are absolute Genius in storytelling.

This is the problem, of course, with practically everything graphica-inclined. It's written off as proverbial sausage-fest toybox reading, along with the T and A superheroes and the basement-addled teenage boys who wouldn't know a quality read if it hit them on the head (and Gods know we wish it would, sometimes.)

Audrey Niefenegger might be one of our only hopes in getting graphic novels to be more associated with literature, (see "The Adventuress" and "The Three Incestuous Sisters" but what a drag to have to rely on the big names to make the link. We sure as hell can't rely on all those pimply sorts with manga fetishes and rapidograph obsessions.


ALSO procured at St. Mark's Bookshop ('coz you get to the point where you think, "Why Stop now?!

Riceboy Sleeps- (a book of original artwork by Jon Thor Birgisson) (an Icelandic post-rock band front man, i have just discovered. Thank you Google.) Small and indescribably beautiful.

Foyle's Philavery- Wherein the proprietor of Foyle's bookshop of London (be still my Beating Heart, despite the fact that they owe us money for some errant Bricks we sent there some years ago at their request)...where was I? Oh yes, proprietor of Foyles, it seems, has been collecting unusual words, and herein is the treasury of said words, published in hardcover. A quick dip inside reveals such gems as nullibiety: The state of condition of being nowhere; absence; divagate: to stray, wander, digress, and iatrogenic; (of patient's disease or symptom) caused unintentionally by the medical treatment or the actions or comments of the physician.

And lastly: Books still covetted (and to be purchased upon financial recovery from the above):

"The Blot": by Tom Heeley, another silent graphic novel, 'bout a nameless man being followed by a mysterious black splotch.

So. That was MoCCA. So help my creaking floorboards and perilous bookshelves.


Oh yes, and though I did not purchase this, i had to chuckle when it was on the "staff picks" shelf at Barnes and Noble: Penis Pokey (being a board book with a largish round hole right in the centre, consisting of illustrations within of a monkey holding a banana (where the hole replaces the fruit), a guy holding an empty hot-dog bun (hole), and a cowboy riding the empty space (you get the picture)
And this warning on the outside back cover: "Warning; caution; disclaimer: This book is intended for novelty purposes only. Do not put your penis through the holes in this book or any other unknown holes. Death, severe injury, or papercut may occur. Once purchased, this book may not be returned to the retailer or the publisher"

Never trust the large print.

Spent eight days in four different places, rivalling those days of my early twenties when i hopped from city to city in ignorant backpacking bliss.
I have been known to be rather indifferent to my accomodations during my travels, (quite the opposite from my OCD-excessive tidiness at my cozy little home) HOWEVER. I feel like, as I am in my thirties now, a bit of research is in order when a hostel is necessary. With the time-honored internet, there is much information and forewarnings at my disposal, and I thought I had been quite responsible in choosing a place, a bit more expensive than your usual pennies-n-bread joint, but close to the MoCCA festival, near St. Marks Place, etc.
And then, Sunday morning, I arrived there to this pasted on the window (click on image for full size):

Being a skeptical but cautious sort, I went in and asked the man behind the counter if i was going to die if i stayed there overnight. He was quite kind and sincere, but poo-pooed the notion. Deciding I had better things to do than trek around the city on a Sunday morning looking for a better place, I left my bag there, went festivalling, and came back that night. I climbed the stairs, i admit, with some trepidation. Crazily, this is what I found:

These photos may not be the clearest indicators, but the place was SPOTLESS. Like, really. I didn't stay long enough to take a pic of the dorm (got there at midnight or something, left at six the next morning for Philadelphia) The rooms were small with plenty of beds like any hostel, but there were polished hardwood floors, and bathrooms that were better looking than mine will ever be, and locks on the door, etc etc. It seems the sign was regarding the cramped living arrangements (fair enough) but, come on, guests weren't lying on top of each other, and "perilous to life"? Yeah. God Bless America.

the notion of "sleep debt", and solutions therein.

Coco and i were discussing this, just before my departure, and that there isn't much stock to be taken in it. That is, the idea that one can accrue a debt by losing sleep that literally needs to be paid back before one can return to optimal health. So that all-nighter you pulled in grade 11 might still be weighing heavily on your immune system or psychological well-being.
But imagine. Imagine if this were true.

stef: "Come out with us, tonight, Coco, we are going to have some wine!"
Coco: "I'm afraid I can't, I'm very very busy."
stef: "What about later in the week, then?"
Coco: "No No, I'm sorry. I've got a great deal of sleep to catch up on; i'll be sleeping around the clock for the next five days."

Friday, June 6, 2008

and these words from Coco, in the wake of an evening celebrating Griffins, poetry, and, well, ourselves. day wine and I will have a talk and the conclusion of that talk will be very firm. I will say, Now listen to me, Wine. And Wine will say, Yes, I'm listening. And I will say, There will be no more of these shenanigans. You will go your way and I will go mine. And Wine will say, You are clearly very serious and A Deeply Sophisticated Person. Henceforth (Wine is always saying things like "henceforth") I will no longer darken your door/dresses/lead you to collapse into the orchestra pit while attempting to request Friday I'm in Love from the DJ....

Oh Please Please, Dearest Coco, won't you move back here and never Never Leave?!?!

10 hours.

And I will be in NEW YORK CITY!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Giant Vulva Bicycle taxi hits the streets of Finland.

And you thought i was kidding. This link sent to me by someone who knows my love of bicycles and my love of...erm...myself.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

quintessential canadian

some days i step back and watch myself, apologizing like there's no tomorrow for situations I find myself in through no fault of my own, but somehow have to unravel.
And suddenly my patriotism, whatever there might be of it, goes right out the window.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Griffins shortlist, Madonna, and a few pilfered poetic tidbits.

I got into a discussion about Madonna (!) today, her age, specifically, and it was most astutely pointed out to me that the world is making some huge broo-ha-ha (sp?) that she's turning 50 this year, while when Bowie and Jagger reached this age, people barely raised an eyebrow.
It's a gender-particular thing, this obsession with aging. It's real in so many contexts: I see more girls around me freaking about their age than guys, and it's some genetic necessity I think that prompts it. Which reminds me...someone pointed out to me recently that even the term "girls" and "guys" has some age-preference disposition to it; "girls" being more commonly used for young females, while "guys" remain age-anonymous.
Quite frankly, it's all kind of ass.


I then went to the Griffins shortlist readings, and tried not to notice that of the 13 nominees/translators on stage, only 4 were women. I'm usually quite good at remaining oblivious to these sorts of ratios, and I don't usually dwell on them, but today i cast my ballot that, should reincarnation exist, I would most definitely like NOT to be born female in my next life. For so many reasons, but the above are today's.


Stepping off my little soapbox, I enjoyed the readings significantly more than i did two years ago when I went. I'm blogging a few beautiful snippits that etched themselves in here:

...not everything buried is dead. - David Harsent

SIX MILLION CELLS and i'm supposed to be in charge?! - Ko Un

Monday, June 2, 2008

on a DIY day that started glumly, and progressively improved.

If accounting makes me feel like a fat man going uphill on a children's bicycle, then DIY distribution,inventory and books-on-consignment make me feel like a fat man with no legs running a 200-metre dash, rife with hurdles and a full bladder.

I'm Five books into this self-publishing miasma now, and today I concluded that if i don't figure out some consistent method for recording what books are where and how much and whatnot, well, it'll be a whole lot of wasted effort even making them, as they are not much more than dust-bunny gatherers here at my humble home.

So today was about stef-ministratory prowess in packaging and distributing my wares, then recording it all properly for "profit" and posterity. Dear reader(s), since you have paid my blog a little visit, you get to hear about it.

For those of you who may not realize, the process of self-publishing is a tedious and involved one.
After you've spent 200 hours or so (if you are OCD about it, like i am) conceiving, drawing, scanning, color-correcting, and pre-press approval'ing your book, you bring said little paper-babies in to purveyors of like-minded goods to sell them.

You try to act nonchalant, like you're totally cool with the fact that they will be tucked into a milk-crate on a back shelf somewhere, and one may get sold to some customer who found them by accident, 'coz s/he thought s/he had found a cheap score in a carefully hidden smut section.

But really you feel Glum. And perhaps a bit cheated, in that amorphous way that fantasy always evolves when it's actualized.

Charging 8$ seems brilliant (and certainly beats the $6 i was charging for the first book of this series), until you realize that the print-run of 350 has cost you $1200, making each book $3.42, and the average consignment fee is 40% of the purchase price (another $3.20), so your "profit" from the whole venture will be a resounding $1.38 per book.

And YES, you are not doing it for profit, ladies and gentlemen, yes yes, but a little bit of pay-back equilibrium would warm up those cold nights where you burn bills by the candlelight and hope the collection agencies have lost your number.
At book fairs you get to keep your consignment fee, but this at the price of malevolent glares by bargain hunters who can't fathom why you would charge $8 for what could be construed as a rather elaborate looking brochure.

And then, four books in, for some wonderful inexplicable reason, they actually start disappearing off the shelves and you need to check in and replenish. Printing them has become easier, and the people at the printing house pity you and run off an extra couple of hundred copies, should you ever feel the temptation to carpet-bomb the city with them. They have contests in the office to see which one of them can figure out what your storybook is about. And they are SO SO nice about deadlines, little changes, and ensuring your colour-correction sees its way to press-perfection.

Then strangers approach you and ask if you would be interested in submitting work to their websites, magazines, etc. People write a column (!) on the project. People let you hang art in their windows. Proprietors stop greeting you with a kind, apologetic tolerance, knowing that you are flogging a dead horse, and start greeting you cheerily and being super-accomodating, letting you leave more than the token 5 copies, as they will actually not be gathering too much dust (hopefully) before someone claims them at the cash register.

It took me about three hours to unravel a list of numbers and dates and venues and book-names from the past two years, but finally i think i have a grasp of the inevitable pattern of consignment-book selling, in one highly-neurotic OCD-rampant spreadsheet. Another hour and a half later I had bagged a pile of TeaTimes with enclosed labelled postcards advertising the sequel, then, having given up on finding my previous pile of consignment receipts, set out on my dear trusty bicycle.

I approached each shop with my ever-familiar sense of sheepish dread, which i was kindly asked to check at the door as almost (almost) every proprietor or consignment person most gloriously greeted me, carefully took my books, complimented me on them, and assured me that they were selling. That ever-niggling concern that my work is odd and inscrutable was replaced by the assurance that few people taking it to sell really worry too much; "different strokes for different folks" seems to be the modus operandi in this trade.

Dear readers and aspiring DIY bookmakers, today I left 51 books at 9 assorted venues around the city. And for the very first time since starting this whole process almost two years ago, I actually felt Good about it.