Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stolen Sharpie Revolution 2 by Alex Wrekk

Stolen Sharpie Revolution 2:  a DIY resource to zines and zine culture by Alex Wrekk  has everything going against it.  The size is unusual and, although it will fit easily in a purse or even a back pocket it doesn’t fit where most books eventually wind up—on a bookshelf.  It’s too small and its peculiar size makes it stack up oddly with the rest of the books.  Also, although this is a revised edition of an earlier version, there are so many mistakes—everything from spelling to grammar to syntax—that I often had to reread sentences just to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything.  And let me also mention that this book, which is about zine, has the look of a zine with the choppy layouts and the cut and paste appearance of pre-computer-era zines.

There.  Now that I have that out of the way, here is what I love about this book:
  • Because of its size, it looks like a zine.
  • Because of the mistakes in the text, it feels like a zine.
  • Because of the layout, it looks and feels like a zine.
  • Because of the poor editing, it is a zine.

I love that the author dared to not correct the mistakes. I don’t know when page 56 was replaced by page 55 but it took me a minute to realize that I was rereading the previous page and then when I looked at the bottom for the page numbers and saw 55, 55, 57, I found myself pondering what information should have been on page 56. 

It is this kind of quirky mystery that is almost inevitable with zines and which keeps the whole zine scene interesting.  This book isn’t glossy, like some zine books, and most of the content is up to date (although the geocities links are obviously dated).  Unfortunately, it is almost inevitable that some of the online resources would be in flux.  Thankfully, Wrekk’s own links work and I think it’s safe to say that joining her ning community will keep you updated on the latest and greatest online resources out there.

The usual content is here—where and how to find inspiration, a brief history of zines, and how to create a zine (collating, copying, etc.).  There is also a section on how to create your own distro, if you are so inclined.  I am not but I still read the content out of curiosity and after reading her words of advice I am still not inclined to jump on the distribution band wagon.  Wrekk also does what nobody else does and offers a word of warning and advice to those who are thinking of creating their own zines. 

I can see why this spare volume is the zine text of choice for teachers.  Definitely a book for newbies.  Thankfully not as slick as another zine book I recently read.  

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Randomness--24 Hour Zine Thing Zines

Here are some samples of the zines that have been completed in the past for the 24 Hour Zine Thing.  For those of you who are curious, yes, it would seem I am going to be doing this because my son and my daughter are both going to give it a try as well.

Unfortunately, the rules say that you cannot think about a theme.  At all.  You cannot go into this knowing what you think you will do for the 24 hours and the 24 pages.  Of course, the minute you say "I think I'm going to do the zine thing" your mind starts thinking up all sorts of great zine ideas.  But of course, the rules are the rules and the moment you think of a theme you have to set it aside for another time.

Anyway, here are some linkes to some past 24HZT "winners."  And if you're curious about the themes I've been forced to shelf because I'm not allowed to preconceive this thing . . . well, you can email me and I'll tell you what they are.  I should keep a list.  But really, I am trying so hard not to come up with any cool ideas.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Are You F***ing Serious?

I had pretty much given up on someone, a friend who simply faded from our lives.  But giving up on someone doesn’t always mean they are gone.  A few weeks ago, Rob got a message through facebook from this friend asking him for his address. 

He gave her his email address and she said, “No.  Not your email address. Your street address.” 

“Why,” Rob understandably asked.  After all, we hadn’t heard from her in years.  Not since I woke up with vertigo (November 2006) and not during the “fun” of going to the hospital emergency room (thrice) in 2009 and even when Rob announced our marriage, changed his status on facebook to “married” she was one of the few who said nothing. 

Absolutely nothing.

So when she answered that the reason she wanted our address was so she could send us a wedding invitation, he said, “I don’t think we can make it.”

He further explained that because she had said nothing about anything happening in our lives it didn’t seem important enough to her for us to be there for her wedding.  He also added something nice, something that, if I were to explain what it is would too clearly identify the person so I can’t share it.  However, suffice it to say it was a sincere expression of appreciation for her friendship.

Definitely more than I would have said, more kindness than I would have expressed. 

She was thrilled for us, congratulated him and said how she hoped we could all get together soon for a barbecue or something.  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  Truth is, I didn’t expect to receive the invitation at all.  I assumed that either she would blow us off because Rob had already intimated that we would not attend or she would change her mind as easily as she had changed her heart.

I was mistaken.  Today the invitation arrived and I barely looked at the envelope except to see that it was addressed to both myself and to Rob.  I had hoped the odd looking envelope would be a zine I’d ordered but no such luck.

I opened the envelope and read the Bible quote (Colossians  3:14) and immediately knew what it was I held in my hands.  I opened it but then put it in the “Rob’s mail pile” to let him deal with it.  After all, she had communicated with him more than she had communicated with me and I didn’t really know what he would want to do.

I sent him a text:  We received a wedding invitation.

Now, Rob understood my ambivalence.  Rob is also deeply loyal.  And there is a part of him that wanted nothing more than for this friend and I to revive our relationship.  His ability to maintain his connections with friends from his own past still amazes me and although his desire to keep me close to those whom I have loved is endearing it often results in a painful experience.

I was anxious about this happening again which is probably why I was so ambivalent.  It was emotionally safer.  And through it all, my appreciation of Rob’s loyalty grew by loving leaps and bounds.

No regrets.

When Rob received the text, he later explained to me, he actually thought about how nice it would be for us to go.  He thought it would be a loving gesture towards her, one that might rebuild the friendship we had once shared.  He probably even started thinking about what he would wear, what I could wear. 

But . . .

Once home, Rob went through his pile and saw the invitation sitting there and even though he had told our friend we were now married, even though she had congratulated u and was happy for us, she actually addressed the envelope to Rob (his last name) and Satia (my former last name).

He shoved the invitation into my hands and said, “We aren’t going.”

And I’m fine with that.  I mean, seriously, you’ve got to be kidding me.  She knows we’re married and although it is not always assumed that the woman will take on the married name, it is typically safer and more polite to err on the side of tradition.  And when you add into the mix the fact that my former last name is actually my ex-husband’s last name, a name I continued to use after my divorce for convenience, using that last name was a real slap in Rob’s face.  One that he felt deeply enough to have had enough.  More than enough.

I’d let go of the friend already.  And in the past, when I have tried to hold onto a friendship I’d already released or one that faded into the past for whatever reason, these things have inevitably resulted in my being hurt.  I am thinking of Erika.  I am thinking of Jorin.  I am thinking of Ann.  I am thinking of . . .

Well, it doesn’t matter.

This time, Rob is the one who was hurt.  And I am angry because he was hurt.

I shared this story with my mother. “She addressed the envelope Satia (my former last name).” 

“What a c***,” my mother said, with her typical bluntness and very surprising language.

Not that my mother isn’t “colorful” at times but this was beyond even her usual style. 

Later, I showed Marc the envelope.  Then I shared with him the conversation with my mother.  “When I told her about the envelope Grandma said ‘What a c***’.”

You know what Marc said? 

“I love Grandma.”

Me too.

And I love Rob.

And I love my children. 

I hate that Rob was hurt through this but it’s okay.  Love love love is the end result. 

I have nothing, not a damn thing, about which to complain.  I threw away the envelope and the invitation. 

On the RSVP card, I wrote in: 

Mr. & Mrs Robert Cecil will not attend with regret

I confess—I wanted to cross out the “with regret” but I didn’t.  Why?  Because Rob said we are better than that, we are good people, and we don’t need to do that.

My mother said I should send the card to her and she could cross it out for us.

I put the card in the mailbox.  They will have it on Friday, ignorant of their insensitivity or how they have hurt Rob.  I don’t think she will notice.  I don’t think she will care. 

And that’s okay.  Like I said, through this experience I’m reminded about how truly blessed I am, surrounded by these amazing people who love me and know my love for them. 

Which is the moral of this story.   

Movie Reviews

It is not often I get to say that I enjoyed a movie as much as I did the book but I can almost say this about Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer.  I can’t easily say “I enjoyed” either because the subject matter is so perverse.  Above and beyond the sensational or suppositional, this novel has a symbolism and central themes which are so disturbing as to make it nearly impossible for me to highly recommend it.  And yet, the writing is poetic, told as though it were a fable or a parable.  I avoided seeing the movie because I was convinced that there is simply no way anyone could translate the story to film with the same evocative power.  I dreaded especially that the disturbing nature of the story would be lost, replaced with a more salacious interpretation of the narrative.  However, the director did an amazing job and I was simply blown away, am blown away.  I would say that if you are inclined to see the movie and haven’t read the book but would then read the book first.  If you are not a reader by nature then see the movie.  But don’t blame me if you walk away from one or the other or both feeling stunned into submission.  It simply has that effect on the reader.  (PS:  From the first scene, Rob was unsure about watching the whole movie.  However, he sat through it all and said afterwards that it is very good.  I mention this because Rob and I often have disparate taste in movies and this is one that met us on many surprising levels.)
4.5 Stars

I watched Aimée and Jaguar because I had read and enjoyed the memoir.  Hmmm . . . maybe “enjoyed” is not quite the right word here either.  The story of Lilly Wust’s affair with Felice Schragenheim was, on the page, a complicated one, full of ambivalence and ambiguity.  A Nazi officer’s wife falling in love with a member of the resistance who is also a Jew?  Maria Schrader as Felice/Jaguar is so beautiful and gives the character a necessary much strength and confidence, while also allowing the audience to see her fear, that I wanted to immediately find other movies in which she has a starring role.  Her first lover in the film, Ilse, is played by Inge Keller whom I thought was far prettier than the book suggested she was.  In fact, the entire movie seemed to be only loosely based on the book.  That Lilly/Aimée had multiple affairs on her husband is shown but there is no context for anything that happens.  He seems to be more present on the screen than he was on the page.  As for the rest of the movie, it is good, often very good, but it is impossible for me to say I liked it because I felt it lost some of the strength the memoir had.  Something was lost for me in the translation and I found that disappointing.
3 Stars

Bent with Clive Owen is yet another movie that left me feeling uneasy but admiring.  Owen’s character, Max, is not likeable from the very first moment.  Adored by his lover, Max takes a lover, a stormtrooper from the early days of the Nazi rise before Hitler purged his inner circle of the “perversion” of homosexuality.  The decadence of the times is more broadly played out than in any other movie of the era I have seen.  And when the inevitable happens, the aftermath is harrowing.  Max, determined to live, will do so at any cost.  However, he needs to feel connection and how he goes about building a relationship is . . . well, it is lovely and desperate.  Also a little frightening because the audience knows that this man is uncompromising in his will to survive.  For better or worse.  And he is trying to survive the worst the best way he knows how.  How he ultimately redeems himself is harrowing.  A purely cathartic drama.  (PS:  Do not the wikipedia article before seeing the movie.  It contains huge spoilers.  Either see the play or the movie and then, if you must, read the article.)
4.5 stars

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lit From Within by Victoria Moran

Lit from Within: Tending Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty by Victoria Moran is not a brilliant book. It is not groundbreaking nor deeply profound. It’s not trying to be. It is only trying to be a book of advice, simple suggestions for lifestyle changes anyone can make to bring a greater fullness to daily life. And Moran succeeds on each and every page. Her advice is often simple. When she recommends having more beauty in your life, she suggests we buy ourselves a bouquet of flowers every week. Can’t afford a whole bouquet? Then buy a single beautiful bloom. She encourages the reader to embrace her own uniqueness in style, urging that fashion trends should never dictate what we wear nor how we wear it. Rather, what we wear should reflect who we are. Walking, yoga, getting adequate sleep, dietary changes. All of these little things add up to a celebration of the self that embraces all of the facets of who you are. I’ve read books where some of the recommendations are fiscally ridiculous. I am not saying Moran doesn’t occasionally slip in a few of these. I would have liked for her to suggest how someone who can’t afford to pay their bills should pay for a monthly massage. Better yet, when suggesting a monthly massage how about sharing some self-massage techniques? Anyone can afford to give themselves a massage even if they cannot afford one from a professional. There are other suggestions that are also somewhat harder to swallow. While I agree with her wholeheartedly that buying quality in clothing makes a difference, it is not always easy or even possible to spend $150 on a sweater when a cheaper sweater can be had for $20. Yes, if a new sweater has to be bought every year and that more expensive one, with proper care, could have lasted for another ten years then the more expensive one would be the better bargain. Unfortunately, saving up for that one expensive sweater might mean going without a sweater for longer than some people can afford. After all, we want to be warm too, don’t we? Still, I love her light, which exudes on the page. This is a woman who practices what she preaches, as evidenced by her words of advice. I found myself wanting to disagree with her protestations that she is not prettier than she herself seems to think she is. Maybe it’s because she reminds me of a friend I once had whom I thought was very pretty. Or maybe it’s because, like her, I have impossible straight hair. I don’t know. But I enjoyed reading her book and would recommend it as a nice little self-hugging gift anyone can enjoy although I would further suggest finding a copy and reading or skimming a chapter before buying it. Chapter 49 is towards the end of the book and, in many ways, encapsulates many of the concepts she suggests. If you like that chapter then you’ll like the book. If not, then don’t bother. But don’t expect to jump up and embrace each and every one of her ideas. Some simply are not as inspired nor as inspiring as others.

We Need to Take a Family Portrait

Joe recently shared this photo with me:

Daddy's Little Girl

That's a picture of Joe and Bibi.

Now I want to take a family portrait where every one of us has on a pair of chucks.  We have to hurry, if we're going to do this, because Bibi is a growing girl and who knows how much longer her pair will fit.

Which leads me to a story . . .
Once upon a time, I wanted a pair of high top sneakers.  This was probably in the late sixties and my mother, when I told her what pair of sneakers I wanted, said, "You can't wear those.  Only boys wear high top sneakers."
I was crestfallen.  It was perhaps the first time I couldn't have something, be something, do something, because I was a girl.
Then along came punk rock eventually followed by grunge and girls were not only wearing high tops but they (we) were wearing combat boots.  
Okay.  So they were wearing combat boots because I was happy wearing my granny boots.  But still, things changed and apparently way back then I was too fashion forward for my mother to recognize the insurgent trends.  
Anyway, Joe has red and Bibi has pink. So I guess Rob would want black and Rei would want . . . ummm . . . the three colors she would want are already taken.  Marc would take blue or brown, I think.  Erin could have green or purple.

As for me, I'm thinking plaid.  Or maybe polka dots.  Do they even make polka dotted chucks?  The answer is no.  Thwarted again!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Only Connect

I follow several blogs.  I rarely comment.  It isn’t that I don’t appreciate what I read.  It’s more that I often don’t know what to say or don’t want to say the same ol’ thing time and time again.

For instance, Rachel Green.  I check out her blogs regularly but I don’t comment often.  I think she’s lucky if I leave a comment once a month.  And by that I don’t really mean she’s lucky so much as I mean it’s a miracle I could wrap myself around the idea of leaving a comment at all.  Her photographs are so interesting to me because they are not pretentious and yet manage to be evocative.  How is that possible?  I don’t know.  I look.  I sigh.  I move on. 

I leave comments in Saila’s blog.  And Janice Erlbaum’s.  I think it helps that I know them personally.  The real life connection somehow makes the virtual one safer or easier for me.  I dunno.

Lately I’ve taken to following blogs anonymously.  If I follow a person’s blog anonymously I know that their readers don’t know I am following but does the blogger know?  I wonder.  Not that it matters to me.  I follow anonymously mostly because I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to follow my blog just because I am following their blog.

And I’m a terrible commenter.  Not only because I don’t know what to say but because I usually feel uncomfortable saying anything at all. 

It literally scares me, thanks to stupidity I’ve encountered too often online.

So I put myself out there writing blog posts but I like to keep a low profile.  How is that even possible? 

And then there’s, you know, this guy who writes this poetry and I know him in real life but I don’t comment because what can I say?  I’d just sound sycophantic and I don’t know . . . does he care that I don’t comment?  Does he wish I would comment more? 

Hi Greg!  Is it enough to know I read along all the time? 

Is it enough that I’m here, anonymously following along?  I don’t think so.  I find myself thinking about E M Forster’s proclamation:  Only connect.  Of course, in this age of internets the concept has taken on a whole new meaning. 

From where I’m sitting, it’s taken on a whole new meaninglessness. 

I guess I don’t like being anonymous.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block

House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block with illustrations by Barbara Mc Clintock has restored my faith in Block’s ability to tell a story that has a deeper meaning than the surface details. 

Block typically writes for young adults.  This slender volume is written for tweens, a younger audience.  But not once does Block condescend to her readers.  Rather, her poetic prose, so familiar to those who have read any of her other books, is evident on every page.  By choosing to layer a more relevant story beneath the superficial one of the lives and relationships between the dolls and their child-owner, Block honors the developmental phase that many young girls go through where they still hold onto those things that inform childhood while emotionally knowing something more is out there. 

She almost lost me but Block has lured, even seduced, me back into appreciating what she does so well.  For this I am sincerely grateful.