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January 28, 2007

Volume Five

Subscribers hear this, Volume 5 is under way. The text is complete and the illustration approach finally decided upon. We still don't know the size or shape or exact page count, but these details will bear themselves out in time. We have been meeting every few days, each time adding some new element to the basic concept. The book is a little confusing, but hopefully funny. There will be another explanatory essay contest, so start polishing your rhetorical chops.

I stumbled upon some pictures a few days ago that reminded me of another book in the Idiots'Books universe, a precursor from Robbi's graduate school days. In college I wrote a story called Cops, which in many ways launched my particular prose style. The story is a picaresque of one young man's journey through childhood. I'm not sure what it's really about. But Robbi decided to use it as the text for a project for her typography class.

Here is Robbi's treatment of Cops

For deep, intellectual reasons far beyond my power to grasp, let alone explain, the book was printed on clear plastic, so that the words from one page were visible on the pages around it. This is basically the opposite of what you want to do if your aim is having the book be readable. But this was not Robbi's aim. Robbi was exploring interesting use of type.

See: very interesting. Very cool. Not legible. Not something that the writer can really get behind.

Another view:

Ultimately I am won over by the coolness of Robbi's version of Cops. Did I mention that it is bound with tiny nuts and bolts?

Perhaps we will offer this version of Cops for sale at some point, but it would have to be very expensive, because sheets of plastic that can be run through an inkjet printer are not cheap. (Not to mention the nuts and bolts). But we may also rethink Cops and create a new version. The story is pleasing, though I am still hoping to come up with a better ending.

For now, however, we are focusing on Volume 5, while Volume 6 starts to clamor for attention.

Posted by bogenamp at 02:26 PM | Comments (2)

January 27, 2007

Day of Games

The day begain with a phone call from friend David, still at Bob and Seiko's house, where he has been sleeping in order to avoid the cat and dog dander that coats every surface in the barn. David was calling with an SOS. Apparently, Bob had locked himself in the upstairs bathroom, where David's glasses, contact lenses, shirt, and various other personal effects were consequently marooned. The bathroom door is seldom locked, nor does it close satisfactorily. Bob locked the door out of respect for the visiting guest, but due to the age of the apparatus and the infrequency of its use, the lock, once set, refused to open again upon request. The resulting impasse was delicious. Bob, within the bathroom, was helpless. David, blind as a bat and shirtless, could offer little but sympathy. Seiko, unfamiliar with the workings of old locks, was sent to fetch a hack saw blade.

Eventually the door was reopened, and without the use of the hack saw. I will withhold the details. This was one of the situations for which the solution is far less glamorous than the predicament itself. For the sake of modesty I will name no savior, but will allow that I played some role in the rescue. Once Bob was liberated and David reunited with his belongings, we returned to the barn for breakfast and to contemplate the day's boundless possibility.

It was soon decided that we would play games, a not unusual passtime when we get together with David. After much deliberation, we decided on charades, but as we started to play, we noticed a new pattern emerging. Rather than acting out the clues in question, we found ourselves resorting exclusively to the "sounds like" option, such that we would act out, syllable by syllable

Hairs / sun ring / a butt / hairy

in order to get the guessers to say...

There's Something About Mary

Get it? Pretty fun, actually.

Other than limiting the clues to aural references, the mechanics of our game was the same as regular charades. We still looked ridiculous as we tried to act things out.

We sometimes behaved like deranged people.

We struggled and clawed to be understood.

And when the task was done, we exalted in the thrill of hard-fought triumph.

And, after much exertion, languished helplessly for the better part of 15 minutes.

Here are a few of our favorite clues. Have a try. Better yet, get some friends, and try to act these out. It's a lot more fun (and humiliating) that way. Answers will be posted in tomorrow's entry.

bar sip / poop stirs

pool / love / clock

bra skoal pee yawn / cry gnaw fight

bar / shores: / the burn / shove / duh / head shy

duh / gal bend zit / kiss turd / grip flee

side / sand / edge kid miss

fur grass brick / bark

swat grr trip / clown

kill wig ins / pie gland

We sent this list, via email, to friend Christian, originator of the Primitive Beef, who not only solved each one instead of doing his appointed lawyerly work, but also provided us with a list of his own device, that we might try to puzzle them out together. Here is Christian's list. The answers to Christian's clues will be posted tomorrow if we feel like it.

A. pear sin / clock dough bitch

B. core / pet things / sand / duh / loon bur cal

C. get worse / dumb / flee crow / steam duh

D. slays / dove / stun per

E. boy / gory

F. backs tee / thrive her

G. strife / miss / shoot duh bull

H. my rents / love / duh / jams

After aural charades, we decided that our gaming hunger had not yet been wholly sated and moved on to Pictionary. Now, by any reasonable measure, Pictionary is not a game you can play with three people. In order to have two teams, usually you need at least two people on each team, so that one person can draw and the other person can guess. NOT SO with our unique brand of of the game, called Primary Representative Pictionary. In this version, invented out of desperation a few years back, there are three people and three teams competing for the win. Each person is the Primary Representative (that is, the person who does the drawing and moves the pawn) for a team consisting of one of the other two players. On the team for which I was the Primary Represenative, I would draw and Robbi would guess. On the team for which Robbi was the Primary Representative, Robbi would draw and David would guess. And I would guess when David (as the Primary Representative) drew. When there were All Plays, one person would draw and the two others would guess. If the person allied with the Primary Representative (who was doing the drawing) guessed before the non-allied person did, the Primary Representative won the round and his turn continued. If the non-allied player guessed before the Primary Representative's partner guessed, that player would win the round, steal the turn, and would begin to draw (as the Primary Representative), with his partner for that team.

Sound confusing? It is. But it works. If you can remember that the goal is having fun and don't resort to sabotaging the game by not guessing the correct answer when you know it but the net result of not guessing is that it becomes your turn (an entirely possible outcome of Primary Representative Pictionary). Fortunately, even we who invented the game struggle so mightily to remember the nuances of the rules, that we seldom remember, in the heat of the moment, whether or not it is in our personal best interest to guess the correct answer or not. So most often we play it straight. And thus have a fine time.

Eventually the fun wound down and the time came for David to hit the road again.

We drove to DC to have dinner with David's friend (and now our friend) Stacy.

After two full days of fun, we must now rest up for tomorrow and Sunday, which will be the ultimate anti-weekend. We have been postponing the piles of work and must return to industry.

But as they say, Gaul jerk band grow flay snakes Flack duh hull joy.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:06 AM

January 26, 2007

Primitive Beef

Yesterday we received a visitor, our good friend David Turner whom we have not seen in a long time on account of his being a very important person. For most of the last ten months David has been touring with Spamalot, playing Brave Sir Robin and many other characters.

Next week he is beginning a new show in New York, but we persuaded him to spend a few days with us in the barn before rehearsals get under way. A pastoral retreat. A bucolic romp.

His train arrived in Wilimington, Deleware, the closest outpost of train-accessable civilization.

On the long drive back to Chestertown, we grew powerfully hungry, and started remembering the best meals of our lives. We were in the mood for something outrageously unhealthy, something comforting, something that would remind us of our glory days and leave us fat and happy.

We both thought of the primitive beef, a noodly, beefy meal of yore, the final word in comfort food.

Now, no discussion of the primitive beef is complete without Christian, who either invented it or at least introduced it to us.

Primitive beef originator Christian Vainieri (pictured here at recent cupcake decorating event)

But Christian, who is cramming madly for the Maryland Bar exam, was not available for fun, and so we resolved to prepare and eat the beef in his honor. Only we couldn't quite remember how to make it. We called him. There was no answer. Undaunted, we went to the grocery store and purchased the ingredients as we remembered them: beef, macaroni noodles, onion, tomato sauce, worchestershire sauce, hot mustard powder.

The fact that we lack a stovetop did not deter us. We got out the hot plate and sauteed the onions before browning the meat. We added the 64-ounce can of tomato sauce and then the macaroni, which according to David, who seemed more confident than I felt, would cook in the tomato sauce as it reduced. Which meant we'd need a good lid for the skillet, to ensure that the liquid did not evaporate before the noodles could cook.

We felt urgency. We felt panic. Had we not felt pressed by a raw desperation, we might never have thought to use the lid of the galvanized tin recycling can to cover our skillet.

A tad larger than Betty Crocker might have recommended, but the lid did the trick. Beneath it's hulking mass, the primitive beef simmered richly, belching forth pleasing aromas.

It was impossible not to sample it constantly.

Before long, it was done. Perfect and steaming.

Sad to be without him, we invoked Christian in our pre-meal blessings, quietly cursing him for not being available earlier when we'd needed confirmation of the ingredients and overall approach to primitive beef preparation.

We might have saved our petty feelings. The meal was outstanding.

After dinner, there were presents for recent birthdays and Christmases. We gifted David with the very first seasion of Three's Company. He gave Robbi a camera with a fisheye lens. And, following a tradition now several years running, David gave me a number of amusing t-shirts. The one below is perhaps the most representative.

The odd expression on my face was on account of my realizing, at that very moment, what a bad angle this shot would be for my chin, which has a tendency to double and treble when pressed like this against my chest. Ironically, my chin looks ok, but my expression is horrible. A well-deserved punishment for my vanity.

After dinner we watched a very fine Kirk Cameron film called Left Behind (perhaps you have read the associated series of books?). As this blog is decidedly not a forum for critiquing films of the apocalyptic genre, I will refrain from expressing my opinion of it and from repeating the string of unpublishable words the act of watching brought to mind. We laughed a lot, though probably not when the filmmakers would have hoped. We want to watch the two sequels, but probably not for the right reasons.

Today we took David to the gallery to see the show. He gratified us by reading Man Joe Rises on the wall instead of bailing out and reading the book first instead.

It snowed beautifully for about 15 minutes and then stopped. The temperature dropped.

Eventually it got dark and started snowing again.

Our dinner plans were to grill salmon, and we decided to do so in spite of the snow.

I'll include this picture to establish that there was snow.

And this one because it's a better picture.

We had a fine dinner with Bob and Seiko.

The salmon (wild Alaska sockeye caught by the Behrs last summer) was delicious. Light and wholesome. A decided contrast to the primitive beef, which had sat heavily in each of us for hours.

There is still an enormous tupperware of leftover primitive beef in the fridge. Which I am afraid to approach. A certain amount of time has to pass before any of us will want to eat it again. My fear is that it will go bad before we once again feel ready. There is someting eternal about the primitive beef. Something uncorruptable and timeless. Perhaps I'll put it in the freezer. That it will be there for us. Some day when we most need it.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:30 AM

January 23, 2007

The Next Generation

A week has passed since the Next Generation opening. Much to our surprise, fabulous limousines have not yet appeared to take us away to offices with long mahogany desks for the sake of signing book, movie, and video game deals. But we suspect that the limousine drivers are merely being coy and biding their time, the limousine driver's equivalent to arriving fashionably late to a party. In the mean time, we are sitting on the couch with our bags packed, our traveling clothes neatly pressed, waiting to be taken away to the land of distant opportunity. We realize that soon we will have to attend to the household chores. The dust is beginning to pile up. The long-unwatered plants are begnning to wither.

In the mean time, here are some images from the show, for those of you who were not able to make the trek to Chestertown.

Over the next few days, Volume 4, Man Joe Rises, will be hitting mail boxes across America, Germany, Canada, and Spain (one each in aforementioned foreign lands). As I've said before, but will repeat at the risk of numbing redundancy, the book version of Man Joe was heavily influenced by the wall version, which was commissioned by Carla Massoni for The Next Generation show (mentioned at the beginning of this entry.) When Carla saw our first few Idiots'Books, she was interested in adding them to the show. When she mentioned that she had always wanted someone to draw on the walls of her gallery, the idea of illustrating a book on the wall seemed inevitable. The space we were allotted is a kind of alcove: a shelf on which we displayed fine art versions of our books, the walls that form the back and sides of the alcove, and the ceiling above it. We decided to use as many of the surfaces as possible. Because why not?

In the installation version, Man Joe (protagonist) rises quite literally from a book sitting on the shelf.

We'll let you do the close reading, drawing from whatever school of critical perspective pleases you most.

Joe's story then continues to the right and then up the wall.

Across the ceiling.

And down the other side.

And concludes roughly where it began.

Not far from where our names were printed on the wall.

I tried to be a big enough person to resist the name on the wall shot but ultimately decided that I don't have it in me. I may never again be named on the wall of an art gallery.

Unlike Robbi, who is so important that her name was on the wall TWICE in this very show.

The second printing of her name was meant to differentiate Robbi the illustrator from Robbi the "fine artist." For those of you who do not know, Robbi is, in fact both an artist and fine (if you know what I mean). Which means that she creates real live art in addition to the bizarre little drawings she produces to humor me.

Her medium of choice for this show was the clay monoprint, which is a singular print drawn from a slab of wet clay on which she has layed down a multi-layer, multi-color artform/design/inner projection, etc.

For example, Yves (pronounced "eve"), the largest piece (which has already sold, you sorry suckers).

Unfortunately, amateurish digital photography doesn't do much to faithfully represent the beauty of Robbi's monoprints, which are all about subtlety, texture, and detail. You will have to take my word for it that they are gorgeous.

She had four prints on display.

The other three:

Looking back at Yves.

The wall version of Joe was hung directly adjacent to the ten panels of Ten Thousand Stories.

Seen here head on.

The French Explorers, on the other hand, were hung on either side of the stairway one must climb to enter the gallery.

Approaching the Carla Massoni Gallery from outside, one is greeted by the handsome mug of Sieur de La Salle, who, as you might remember, after claiming the Mississippi Valley for France, was killed by his own men.



And looking down the stairs at La Salle's compatriots:

Joliet and Marquette, rising above the fray:

Enough about us, already.

As exciting as it was to be included in Carla's show, by far the most gratifying thing was being included in the context of so much other outstanding work. Robbi and I were but 2 of the 13 people featured in the show.

For example, these subtle, yet powerful pieces in wood by J.T. Kirkland, an artist out of DC.

In his gallery talk J.T. described the project of the work in the show as one of coaxing beauty from an unexpected place. Namely, wood from Home Depot. As you'll see in the details below, J.T. engages his wood by carefull drilling, all done by hand, holes of varying sizes. I hope that the power of his work can translate to the screen.

The patterning is elegant and moving. The wood, which he sands but does not finish, is made all the more beautiful by the removal created by the addition of the holes. He draws our attention to that which we might otherwise overlook in wood--the supple smoothness of its texture, the warmth and richness of its coloring, the desultory, endless waves of the grain.

I'll stop my art babble. Have a look and then check out his Web site and blog.

Zaria Forman showed large-scale works in charcoal that may be the most evocative, lovely cloudscapes I've ever seen. They are stunning, on account of their scale and skilled rendering. I wish that I had $7,000 so that I could buy this one.

I like this one, too.

We were also fortunate to meet and share wall space with:

Raphael Sassi, whose Subway Series captures an onlooker's gaze at the faces of fellow travelers.

Ken Castelli, whose landscapes capture the character and detail of his native Eastern Shore, in part to preserve a history being steadily effaced by development.

Catherine Collier, whose self-portrait is presented unframed on cardboard. One of many elements of her honest approach. I admire the brush strokes and color, the unapologetic use of paint.

Makiko Sasanuma, whose photos (below) were taken without the use of a color filter. This yellow is the actual color of light through leaves held up to the lens.

Nathaniel Ward, whose photos from a New Jersey mall present a naked critique of consumer culture, particularly the darker side of toys and toy marketing.

Jonathan Mort, whose beautiful oils (and charcoals, unpictured) capture the quiet beauty of place.

Sara Horne, whose installation presents a variety of sharply contrasting textures, each inspired by organic forms.

Jesse Dunn, whose lovely prints of hands evoke the religiosity of art.

Kaitlyn Ruitenberg, whose photos of doorways and openings from the local countryside are haunting and evocative.

Check out this link to read more about the rest of the artists and to see samples of their work.

And that's it, folks. We were given a tremendous opportunity and had a fantastic time putting it all together. Props again to our amazing intern Kate, without whom we would never have been able to get the wall painting done or books bound.

Tribute to Kate, at her most stooped and uncomfortable:

We would love to see any and all of you that might be able to squeeze in the time for a visit to Chestertown between now and February 10, when the show comes down.

With that, we must return to the couch to wait, as before, for the fabulously long limos.

Posted by bogenamp at 01:15 AM

January 22, 2007

Man Joe Hits the Streets

Susbcribers, keep an eye on your mailboxes. Idiots'Books Volume 4, Man Joe Rises, was sent out this morning. Lucky for me, I got the friendly, cheerful, patient mail clerk instead of the surly one who, last month, informed me that mailings of this size were frowned upon and that I should look into getting my own mail meter. We're marooned in the land between tidy, small mailings that the post office clerks can tolerate and the 200 minimum needed for bulk mailing (and the accompanying reduced rates). If you can help us round up another 70 suckers willing to part with perfectly good money in exchange for our books, it would be much appreciated.

To recap the past few days.

I did a few days of whirlwind consulting in Williamstown. Nothing was photo-worthy. But here is one of my favorite Williams pics of all time, stolen from the Web site.

The message implicit in this photo, which is featured prominently in the Williams Prospectus, is that, in exchange for the $35,000 tuition and fees, students are given really comfortable sleeping bags and a small patch of grass in a field populated by cows. It's counterintuitive, but applications are at an all-time high. Someone's been drinking the US News Cool-Aid...

Back from Williamstown, I turned my attention to making sufficient quantities of Volume 4 for the subscriber mailing. It took a long time. I really, really missed intern Kate. But eventually I was done.

When I was finished, I put on Robbi's genuis hat and, taking a cue from her playbook, noted my elation by dancing. No more jumping. Jumping is dangerous to one's pants.

Dancing, on the other hand,

Just makes you look silly,

But drives the women crazy...

Or does it just irritate them? I can't tell. I have been banned from further use of the genius hat.

We recently discovered a place a few miles outside of Chestertown where there is an old road along some fields. At the end of the road is a small beach on a river that leads to the Chesapeake. Iggy had a fabulous time running around like a nut.

I, on the other hand, was merely cold.

I had my first taste of real winter in Williamstown (11 degrees and an inch of snow), and it seems to have followed me south. We have had to turn on the baseboards the past few days. January is upon us now. Visitors to the barn will be greeted with an offer of tea, cocoa or hot cider. We have a variety of options.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:24 PM

January 16, 2007

Vacation Over

Yesterday we rested. Today it's back to the grind. In a few hours I board a plane for my beloved Williamstown, Massachusetts where I'll spend a few days doing freelance work for Quest for College (a new nonprofit geared toward providing tools to help underpriviliged and underresourced kids become equipped with the terms and concepts needed to ensure access to higher education) and the North Charles Street Design Organization (a strategic marketing firm specializing in higher education). For the former I will be meeting with colleagues to discuss potential funding sources; for the latter I will be meeting with my old colleagues at the Williams College admission department about new publications for the upcoming recruitment cycle.

Both of these projects are near to my heart, but both requires a far different parts of my brain than do writing and making books. Got to shake off the rust, for a few days at least.

Robbi, on the other hand, is turning to the project of preparing for her upcoming teaching gig at Washington College. This time she's teaching printmaking, something she loves but has not been able to do for a long time due to lack of access to equipment.

Although it was 63 degrees here last night, it seems to be a bit chillier in Williamstown. I have taken my heretofore unused Carhart jacket from its peg in the stairwell and am eagerly bracing for the cold.

No pictures today. How about another one of Jake, who is always fun to look at?

I love my dog, but I've always had a soft spot for Bostons.

Posted by bogenamp at 06:25 AM

January 15, 2007

Oh What a Night

So the Next Generation opening has come and gone. By all accounts, it was a roaring success. You will have to take my word for it because we neglected to take a single picture of the event, so overwhelmed were we by the roar of the crowd. In fact, there were a tremendous number of people present at 2:00 when the various artists were assembled to be photographed and made to speak wise words about their work. So many people, in fact, that both rooms were full and the stairwell was clogged. I kept looking about for the fire marshall to come put the kibosh on the whole affair, but he couldn't have made it up the stairs if he had wanted to, so we all suffered through our speeches while people listened and smiled appreciatively.

Robbi and I had practiced our speech several times, anxious not to repeat the debacle from the First Friday at the book plate. We were careful to switch back and forth, to make occasional jokes, and to cagily deflect the question of what we are trying to say with our books by turning the tables on the question and reverting to a clever discussion of process. Apparently, we decided, what we are up to is subverting the traditional relationship between word and image, creating a tension within which the reader is not certain whether to lend primacy to the words or the illustrations. Or something like that. It seemed to go over ok. We ended with metaphor in which the act of creating a book was akin to a pregnancy. I'm not sure if it worked. People tittered, but perhaps uncomfortably.

After the introductions we retreated to our section of the gallery. We were mobbed by people curious about the books. We answered questions, signed copies, explained subscriptions, shook hands. It was awfully gratifying. I'd love to feature pictures of the fun, but there are none. Perhaps another picture of a small, cute dog?

This dog is not Jake. This is Edgar, surrogate child of friends Holden and Michelle.

Speaking of which, thanks to Holden and Michelle for making the long trek down from New York City. Thanks also to the many other friends who took the time to come: Christian, Emily, Matt, Supi Loco, Beth, Armand, Bernice, Jill, Courtney, Michael, Uncle Bill, Uncle Ken and Miss Betty, Mr. K, Stella, Casey and Anne (and Hughes and Meg), Tom, Elizabeth, and Sarah. It was wonderful to see you all. I wish that I had taken pictures with all of you, smiling amid the throngs.

There was some success on the "selling art" front. Robbi's largest (and most expensive) clay monoprint was sold by two very nice people we are glad to know. Someone else whom I have yet to meet purchased an entire set of the limited edition books. Four of the French explorers sold (three to an extremely sophisticated couple from Baltimore with astonishingly good taste). And we sold a bunch of softcover books. I can't now quantify "a bunch" because I have yet to talk to Carla about the reckoning. And I think we might have added a few subscribers to the list.

What was most exciting was the opportunity to talk with people about our books, hear their thoughts, see their faces. But not take their pictures. As I mentioned before, I completely forgot about that.

The three hours went by in a flash. Suddenly it was 5:00 and we had to leave. We walked the 54 steps to our barn, which was already inhabited by partygoers.

Although we had made two pans of my patented 7-layer dip and had accumulated various vegetables for dipping, etc, we lacked intoxicating libation and so sent Holden, Michelle, and Stella to take care of the problem. They returned with enough hooch to intoxicate a medium sized whale. The party suddenly got a lot more peppy.

We finally let intern Kate stop making books and come to the party. She cleans up real nice, no?

People mingled and talked. I'm sure that there was all sorts of intelligent conversation. An intense wave of exhaustion hit me suddenly and I lost all ability to comprehend or articulate. I entered a trancelike state, ostensibly engaged in pleasant conversations with old friends, but really asleep, my brain resting in a tropical place.

When I came to, even the babies were hitting the sauce.

It was a great party.

This morning, we went up to the college playing fields with various dogs, including Edgar, the French Bulldog.

I'd include a picture of Holden and Michelle, dear friends of ours and keepers of Edgar, but apaprently I don't think highly enough of them to have taken their picture. On the other hand, there are about 15 pictures of Edgar and me.

I don't have pictures of any of the other dogs, including my own. Here is another of Edgar, from the night before. Apparently his is a burrowing breed.

After dog fun, we bid Holden, Michelle, and Edgar farewell and left ourselves to take intern Kate to the airport. We thought that we'd take her by Annapolis on the way to BWI, as it is roughly on the way and her entire east coast trip had heretofore consisted of lovely views of the inside of a barn. We lured her to Chestertown with glorious promises of a day strolling museums in DC. Said sidetrip never materialized and we felt guilty of bait and switch. So we ate some lunch, strolled the lovely crooked streets, and ended up by the water for pictures.

Me and cousin Kate, honorary idiot

And Robbi.

And here's the question of the day, what IS this contrivance?

We found it in a crooked alley next to a crooked building on one of Annapolis's crooked streets. We know this: it is historic. The crooked building was historic. There were plaques. We lacked the time to read them. So help us if you know. It seems like a well on one hand, but what, pray tell, is the pile of stones about?

As we walked back to our car by way of the Maryland State House, I recalled the thrill of jumping several days before, and decided to do so again.

So I jumped.

But wanted to jump higher. And so jumped again.

It was a good jump, I think in retrospect. In retrospect, I think I might have been satisfied with the jump. You may think it a vain thing indeed to jump again, to attempt to best this jump with another even grander.

But again I jumped.

And instantly regretted it.

For you who lack the keen eye, here is the jump's aftermath.

Alas, the simultaneous distruction of my pride and favorite jeans, both flimsy things, in retrospect. Neither worth gambling on the unlikely success of a subsequent jump.

There will be no more jumping, in spite of the joy of the show, of the friends, of Edgar the French Bulldog, of intern Kate and her outstanding work this week. in spite of the promise of tomorrow as an opportunity to sleep in. We're taking one day off. A day of repose and recuperation.

Before starting Volume 5 on Tuesday.

Posted by bogenamp at 01:02 AM

January 13, 2007

The Calm Before the Opening

It's 2:00am, early by recent standards. We have gone to bed around 4:00 most of this week. Robbi worked on the wall painting until 8:00am Wednesday night/Thursday morning. It has been nutty. I had no idea that this much work went into putting together a gallery show.

We must rise early tomorrow to put on nice clothes and go be artists, so I'll have to keep this brief, but I wanted to recap a few of the more memorable moments of the past few days.

Robbi continued painting.

Man Joe appeared. He is the star of the wall painting and of volume four. His appearance from the primordial bogs is the focus of the work. It was gratifying to see him, finally. His hapless, bewildered expression was at once pleasing and dismaying.

Bob and Seiko stopped by to check in on the progress. They seemed both pleased and dismayed.

Trusty, rugged, reliable intern Kate painted in the various fleshy parts of the mural. There are quite a few. Robbi was extremely grateful. While Kate painted the fleshy parts Robbi slept and ate ice cream.

I showed up in an outfit that caused consternation.

Robbi and Kate asked me to go home and change.

I refused out of principle but eventually got bored and went home.

Robbi kept painting.

And painting.

And painting.

Until she was done.

At which point she danced.

And danced.

And danced.

I was so pleased that I jumped for joy.

And jumped for joy.

And jumped for joy.

And jumped for joy.

And double-kicked for joy.

Just after this picture was taken I had a moment of profound reflection, wondering if I had missed my calling as a professional ninja.

In other news, we ran out of cat food and got more.

Which was agreeable to the cats.

Kate and I toiled on the limited edition fancy books with mulberry bark endpapers.

Kate did lots of work that we didn't want to do like cutting, trimming, stapling, binding, scoring, stacking, sewing...

...and pounding.

We finished the book version of volume 4.

Robbi taught Iggy some karate.

And then put the finishing touches on the installation.

All that dancing and jumping before was, in retrospect, a bit premature.

Tonight we bound our final stack of books, practiced the gallery talk we are to deliver tomorrow, and washed our nice clothes (tomorrow we get out the iron).

Iggy is curled in her tiny donut bed. Kate, abused and disrespected, is asleep in the other room, and Robbi, true to her promise, is cleaning the toilet for our guests.

Stay tuned for a full report on our entree into the art world. Too tired for a culminating joke. How about a picture of my brother's dog Jake instead?

Posted by bogenamp at 02:05 AM

January 09, 2007

As We Speak

It's 2:07 AM on Tuesday. As I lie here in bed so as not to bother my cousin Kate who is asleep in the couch in the other room, Robbi sits perched on an awkward red stool atop a counter in an art gallery approximately 200 yards from this tiny bedroom. The scene I'm describing looks something like this:

Robbi is painting the wall version of Volume 4. Why at 2:00 AM? She is a creature of nocturnal productivity, and would rather work when the gallery is otherwise unoccupied.

Let's go back a bit. I mentioned cousin Kate, visiting from Niwot, Colorado. She is our very first Idiots'Books intern and will be with us all week, helping us get ready for the show. In exchange for the many onerous tasks we will surely demand that she perform, she will earn an unimportant item on her resume and (perhaps) our good word in the case of a job interview. To sweeten the deal, we bought her two bags of granola yesterday, that she might have something other than cheese and lil smokies (our staples) to eat.

Here I am bossing Kate around.

See how she doesn't seem to be trembling in fear of my awful repercussions? I've got to do something about that.

Last night's task was to frame Robbi's clay monoprints, her FINE ART contribution to the Next Generation show.

Robbi with unframed monoprint:

Kate proved most helpful. She is masterful with a box cutter.

And in sewing the print to the foam core.

And in placing the artwork in the frame.

Are you catching my drift? Kate did EVERYTHING. We sat back and watched. Interns are the greatest.

In fact, at one point I fell asleep on the floor of the gallery. I think the woman at Subway drugged my cold cut combo.

After Kate finished doing all of the work, Robbi decided that she should take all of the credit and acted really enthusiastic, lest someone suspect the truth.

The task for tonight was getting started with the wall painting. Basically, Carla has given us an alcove to use as a place to display our books and on which to do a painted installation combining image and word. We decided to use the opportunity to debut Volume 4 in style.

Here are Robbi and Kate with a printout of a long panorama that Robbi is painting on the ceiling.

We're using a transfer technique to apply an outline of the original drawing that Robbi can use as a guide as she paints. Here Kate is chalking the opposite side of the drawing.

She then uses a pen to trace the outline of the original drawing, which transfers the chalk to the wall.

This is Kate struggling akwardly in the not-quite-big-enough-to-stand-up-straight space before we discovered the red stool.

When Kate was done tracing, we took down the drawing.

And voia!

An outline of the original (intentionally upside-down, you doubting Thomases).

We hung printouts of the various illustrations that make up the wall painting/story thing to see how it worked.


And then Robbi and Kate set to work on the painting.

Several folks who have heard about the wall painting have made Sistine Chapel allusions. I caution anyone who is planning on attending the Next Generation show to expect no naked cherub things flitting about the periphery. This is a classy wall painting. None of that Renaissance folderal.

This is how Robbi looked when I left her, about an hour ago.

She seemed to be having a great deal of fun painting on the ceiling. Most of us are told from a very young age that we are not supposed to do such a thing. And most of us can't reach the ceiling anyway. But Robbi has her red stool and a sugar rush from some chocolates she downed before heading over. I think I'll go check on her now, just to make sure she's not asleep on the gallery floor. It's happened before. Recently.

Posted by bogenamp at 02:09 AM | Comments (2)

January 07, 2007

In Need of Genius

We are now six days away from the culmination of our recent industry. At this time next Saturday we will be at a pre-opening luncheon for "artists" and their families. At 2:00 the doors will open and the eager public will swarm through the doors of the Carla Massoni Gallery, fists full of cash, scuffling and biting, screaming our names in peals of tortured ecstasy. Before then, Volume 4 must be completed, printed, and bound. The wall painting must be painted. The fine art prints must be framed and hung. The French Explorers must be hung on the walls.

All of this preparing has been giving us fits. Robbi recently ran out of genius and was at loggerheads as to how to get it back. It occured to her that wearing a Genius Hat might do the trick, and so she started to look for one.

This hat, while certainly outstanding, did nothing to replenish Robbi's depleted genius stockpile.

And so she tried another, this fuzzy affair recently gifted by friend Christian.

The hat was snug, warm, comforting. But no great flashes of insight coursed through her mind, no grand revelations disclosed themselves. Convinced nonetheless that she had identified the correct genius headgear, Robbi decided that perhaps the hat needed time to work its magic and decided to wear it to bed.

"This hat needs plenty of time to work its way through my particularly thick skull," I think I heard her say.

Like a good little guardian, Oscar kept watch over Robbi through the night, all the while coveting the hat and the associated genius.

The next morning Robbi woke with uncommon vigor, did 57 pushups, and worked her way through several complex calculus problems before slurping down a few egg whites and sitting down to work on painting the images for Volume 4.

A few minutes later she was done. And so we went over to the gallery to see how the images might work on the wall where Robbi is going to paint the wall version of the book.

This is a rare sneak preview of the Next Generation show, available to all four of you who read this blog!

Robbi is going to have to stand like this (below) for long hours while she paints an elaborate landscape of human desolation on the ceiling.

All in all, we were pleased with how Robbi's sketches looked when taped to the walls.

Tonight or tomorrow she's going to start the actual painting on the actual walls. The genius hat is standing by.

Posted by bogenamp at 01:52 AM

January 03, 2007

Ringing in the New Year

The new year has come. It's time for resolutions. In addition to maintaining better posture and eating less cottage cheese, I aim to be a more consistent contributer to this blog. My apologies for the recent lack of excitement on these pages. I can promise much more unexciting content in days to come.

We spent New Year's Eve in Baltimore with Chris and Emily. We watched football, ate a tremendous feast prepared by Emily. Pork medallions. Very sophisticated. I ate eleven.

After dinner was dessert, prepared by Robbi. This is where an otherwise pleasant evening went south. Robbi's contribution, a cake prepared in a crock pot, was a bad idea to start with. But the execution picked up where the misbegotten notion left off, and the resulting product was a mixture of repulsive and downright offensive.

Does that look like cake to you?

Robbi couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.

I think she ended up crying. Chris and Emily laughed. I lay on the ground and moaned. Out of husbandly goodness I ate an entire portion. This was a very bad idea.

After the horrible non-cake, we played a game of Celebrities, a wonderful pastime for people who don't mind making fools of themselves. in order to pick teams, we played the Ladder Game, a mystical exercise involving lines both vertical and horizontal. Robbi's college roommate Cathy once wrote an entire math paper on the mysteries of the Ladder Game. I won't try to explain it. I am not a math major. But here it is, in all it's glory.

As you probably can't tell from the picture, the ladder game picked Chris and me, the pork medallian team to play against Robbi and Emily, the horrible non-cake (affectionately dubbed "poopycake") team.

We had fun, but I'm not sure who won, lost as I was in the throes of my stomach-ache.

We're back in Chestertown now, the crock pot returned to it's rightful place in the non-kitchen. Robbi is busy working on Volume 4 and I am cramming for tomorrow's harmonica lesson. Iggy just finished destroying her favorite stuffed duck.

Which is to say, we all are well, but busy, in the new year.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:38 AM | Comments (1)