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September 30, 2009

Is this Font Dumb?

I posted yesterday about many things, one of which is the album/book collaboration we're doing with our friend Drew Bunting. I posted a link to Drew's site yesterday without realizing that he has recently launched a new one, one which offers a number of intriguing, and heretofore unknown, possibilities.

First of all, you can preview the cover of The New South. In case you missed it yesterday, here it is again.

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In case you are wondering, it is indeed a drawing of a bird floating on a watermelon while waiting for the floodwaters to recede in the wake of the glorious but not-quite-all-consuming rapture.

Drew's site also offers a free MP3 download, a live recording of I Want a Flava Flav from our show at Williams College last winter. It's an amazing song, a studio version of which will appear on The New South, and it's yours for exactly zero dollars if you take the time to visit Drew's site.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Drew's site, however, is the contest he is sponsoring in which he aims to answer the eternal question of whether or not Garamond is a dumb font. Whether you have strong opinions on this front, or whether you merely seek the eternal fame of impacting the typeface that graces the site of one of our generation's most rocking Episcopal priests, I encourage you to visit Drew's site and try your hand at web design.

The contest deadline is November 2, so get cracking.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:14 PM

Kansas City, Here We Are

Early this evening, Alden and I left the state of Maryland and headed to Kansas City to visit Dad and Judy for ten days. In addition to communing with the grandparents, we skipped town to give Robbi the time she needs to dive headfirst into a few lingering projects. She will be working on the following:

The new Idiots'Books web site.
For some time, we have been dissatisfied with the current site. It is static and dull. People visit occasionally to buy books, which we don't mind, but we know that it could be so much more. The new site will be home to the new Idiots'Blog (yes, loyal readers, The Barnstorming's days are numbered), will have a much-improved store with many new ways to spend money, will host a somewhat regular auction of Robbi's original art, will enable people to read most of our books online, and will (eventually) be home to our web comic. But Robbi is a self-taught web designer and programmer, and many hours of anguished tinkering lie in store for her in the days ahead. If you see her walking the streets of Chestertown with a deranged look in her eyes, hand her a cookie and point her back in the direction of the barn.

Here's a screenshot of the current site

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(Are you asleep yet?)

Once the new site is up, we're imagining reactions more like this one:

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The rest of the Makers tiles. 81 is a lot of illustrations, and though Robbi has been making steady progress, about 25 tiles remain to be imagined and drawn. Here is the latest, published Monday on Tor.com.

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Volume, 24, The New South. So pleased were we with the results of Tarpits and Canyonlands, our book/album collaboration with the band Bombadil, that we have decided to take on a new music-related project. For the past few months, we have been working closely with old friend and musician Drew Bunting to develop illustrations and a companion story for his new album. Robbi has to, like, finish drawing the pictures and do the graphic design and stuff. The production end of packaging albums gives Robbi the fits, and so I am glad to be 1,135 miles away from her right now.

Robbi is here.

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I am here.

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I feel safely out of range (just barely).

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Here is The New South's cover.

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Here is Drew's web site and here is Drew.

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Isn't he purty?

Work on her response to my web comic ideas.
Our concept for the comic is to have me develop an idea and sketch it out in my terrible scrawl. Robbi will then interpret what I've done, adding lovely, legible illustrations that may or may not take a cue from whatever I've done. She is a rebellious sort of collaborator and threatens even to change the words. And how am I to stop her? Occasionally, I am reminded of this photo, and I tremble.

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I can't wait to see what she comes up with. What, I ask myself in idle moments, will become of Twilight Man?

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What will be the ultimate fate of Paco and his ruffians?

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Once she's done, if we still like the comic, we plan to publish her version alongside mine, so that readers can get a better sense of how we work together. So much of our collaboration is invisible in the finished product. This approach will hopefully provide an interesting glimpse into our process.

On the one hand, ten days isn't so long, but I have to worry in what state I will find Robbi upon my return. I wasn't kidding about the need for cookies and other forms of nourishment. Left to her own devices with creative projects on the books, Robbi tends to fall into a sublime hibernation. She does not eat. She sleeps fitfully and at odd hours. I have no doubt that she will create beautiful work while I am gone, but will she remember to bathe? Your guess is as good as mine.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:11 AM

September 27, 2009

Back from the Expo

We have just returned from North Bethesda, where we passed an enjoyable, productive weekend selling books and talking to various book-loving people at the Small Press Expo.

Here is Robbi in the booth. See that winning smile? She was made for retail.

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But back to the beginning of the story. Saturday morning, we rose at 6:00, dropped Alden off with our good friends and neighbors across the street, and drove to Bethesda. Rather, I drove to Bethesda and Robbi slept like a log. When we arrived, I loaded up the hand truck with our various books and booth accoutrements.

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Once inside, I started to set up the booth while Robbi continued to sleep like a log.

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But then I put up our new banner, and something awakened in Robbi's soul. She was suddenly full of vim and chanting the words of our new marketing slogan over and over again, louder and more enthusiastic with each ensuing iteration: Making Books. Seeking Genre. Living in a Barn.

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I knew right away that we were going to have a very good weekend.

Because I was in charge of the scheduling, we got to the convention hall early. We were among the few exhibitors in the room as we started setting up our booth.

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But as we continued fussing endlessly with our signage and little stacks of books, the room started to fill up around us.

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Eventually we were all set up and ready for the public.

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Moments later the public arrived en masse. They were determined, these people. They wanted to buy books and they wanted to buy them right now.

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People stopped to read our stuff. Some of them laughed. Some smiled. Others burst into tears. (We suspect the people who burst into tears were bothered by other things unrelated to our books, which are generally not tear-jerkers.)

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As is usually the case at these shows, Ten Thousand Stories and After Everafter were the big sellers, with The Baby is Disappointing and Nasty Chipmunk close on their heels. Also popular were Last of the Real Small Farmers, My Henderson Robot, and Dawn of the Fats.

In addition to selling books, we were visited by the CinnaBomber, a fellow book-hawker who was handing out fresh-baked treats as an elaborate means of driving traffic to his booth.

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Though tempted, we did not feed the Kevin.

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From time to time, Robbi fought bitterly with our friend in the next booth, Kenan Rubenstein. If you like smart writing, beautiful artwork, and compelling comics, have a look at his blog and comics.

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Near the end of the day today we made an important discovery. I have been having difficulty identifying the particular spark of inspiration that compelled me to write Nasty Chipmunk. At one point Robbi sidled up next to the rotating book display and made one of her usual faces. The similarity was too uncanny to be attributable to coincidence.

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I've suggested renaming the book Nasty Robbi, but apparently only one of us thinks that this is a good idea.

It was by far the best show we've had to date, both in terms of number of books sold and number of great conversations, connections, etc. People are starting to remember us from past shows and are returning to the booth to see our latest releases or to buy additional copies of books they've enjoyed to give their friends as gifts. But we keep on meeting new people, too.

We had a nice discussion with a teacher/translator/children's writer named Jane who wrote a really wonderful blog entry about The Baby is Disappointing.

We were interviewed by a guy who claimed that he was going to podcast our comments on After Everafter. I'll be sure to let you know if it comes to pass.

We are back home and have collected our child. By all appearances, she missed us not at all. If anything, she was disappointed to have to say farewell to our friends across the street and return to her own bed. Our stuff isn't as nice as theirs by a long shot.

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In disgust, she decided to wear the dog bed as a hat. It's not her fault that her best attempts at protest ended up being nothing but endearing.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:00 PM

September 25, 2009

Getting Ready for SPX

We'll be spending the weekend at the annual Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda. We'll stand behind a six-foot table on which are displayed our various titles. We'll smile and try to look interesting, approachable, and worth spending a few minutes talking to. Sometimes this will work and people will stop to talk or browse the books. Other times, the masses will pass by without looking, leaving us to wonder if we have bits of breakfast clinging to our faces.

We're doing a few things differently this year. For one, we'll be debuting a book for the first time. About a week ago, Robbi frantically started illustrating a book we've been talking about doing for some time--Nasty Chipmunk. For about 12 hours straight, she hunched over her table with her ink and quill.

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Fortunately, Nasty Chipmunk is full of endearing woodland animals, which Robbi enjoys drawing. There is a lion, a vulture, a rhinoceros, a grandmother, an elephant, and a homicidal bunny, among others.

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In the middle of things, Alden expressed an interest in launching her painting career.

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Robbi says the baby has a nice sense of line.

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At the end Robbi's artistic flurry, Nasty Chipmunk was illustrated, and in just enough time to scan the images and place them in the layout. We made 50 copies and hope to find 50 people who each want one. Or 25 people who each want two.

All week we have been making books. Now that we have 28 titles in our catalog, preparing for each book show is an ordeal. But Alden has been pitching in, and we've been getting the work done.

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In the midst of it all, Robbi designed us some new business cards. We used to each have our own card, but now both of our names are on one, which seems appropriate, given that we are almost always in the exact same place.

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In preparation for SPX, we've also tackled one of the most vexing problems we've faced at these various shows--that of finding a way to make a prominent, readable sign to let people know who we are. The biggest sheet our biggest printer can produce is 13 x 19. Not exactly tiny, to be sure, but a size that still gets lost in a huge ballroom. Lots of other creators and small presses have created elaborate signage that hangs from elaborate scaffolds behind the booth. We have never felt quite so bold as to consider this option. But the other day, Robbi got inspired, did some online research, and ordered us a banner.

Before she ordered it, however, we had to figure out what to put on it. It seemed natural that "Idiots'Books" should appear. Also, we added the two illustrations that describe our respective efforts on our web site: a skillet with a typewriter to stand in for the writing side of things and a skillet with an easel for the illustration.

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We wondered if we might add an additional layer of texture and interest: a phrase, perhaps, to describe what we do and also raise questions among those browsing the aisles. After a long conversation in which many potential phrases were discussed, critiqued, praised, and mocked, we settled on the following:

Making books. Seeking genre. Living in a barn.

As seen on the finished banner:

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We are, in fact, making books. This much is clear. We do, in fact, live in a barn. It's the excuse we offer for our child's poor manners. As for the genre seeking, I can't say that we spend much time or energy trying to find words to describe what we do, but it is true that what we do persistently eludes attempts to be defined. Genre is important for mainstream publishing, because things that don't fit into pre-established categories with pre-established audiences are really hard to sell. "Seeking genre" is a quick way of letting people know that we're not about easy answers, whether the question is about what, how, or why we're doing what we're doing.

Once we had the banner in hand, the next challenge was how to hang the thing. Again it was Robbi who threw herself into the problem. She went to Home Depot and came back with elaborate clamps that hold pipes perpendicular to the surface they are clamped onto. She also came back with two six-foot lengths of lead pipe. Putting it all together, we were able to create two parallel standards between which to display our banner (note that these are two three-foot lengths of pipe; the actual banner will hang 3 feet higher).

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Today, fearing that the six-foot lengths of lead pipe (very heavy) might slip from their moorings and crush the skulls of nearby book lovers, we decided to see if aluminum replacements could be found. Robbi returned with eight-foot lengths.

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Which were quickly tamed with the help of the hack saw.

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This evening we have been packing our books, pens, table cover, clamps, pipes, business cards, and yes, the brand new banner for tomorrow's early morning drive across the Bay Bridge.

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It's lucky we have a minivan now.

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If you are in DC, Baltimore, or somewhere else nearby, think about swinging by for the day on either Saturday or Sunday. We will be giving out free copies of the Story Circles we created for Urbanite.

Alden will not be with us, however. She has agreed to stay home and answer phones. We figure once the world picks up our new business card, sees our new banner, and reads our new marketing slogan, the orders will come rolling on in.

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I think she's ready.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:48 PM

Who Wants a New Mac?

Have a look:

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This is the latest and greatest: A 13-inch MacBook Pro with aluminum unibody enclosure, brilliant glass display, seven-hour battery life.

Is your heart going pitter-pat?

Whether you are a longtime Mac user looking to upgrade to the next generation of sleek, elegant, functional Mac laptops or a self-loathing PC user seeking liberation from the sordid depths of computing hell, we are prepared to offer up our grand prize MacBook Pro from the Xerox contest to the first qualified bidder willing to part with $1,000 (we will pay for shipping).

The machine in question retails for $1,199 and has not been removed from its box. The seal is intact. It is just waiting for you to take it home and give it your love. Here are the specifications.

-2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor; 3MB shared level 2 cache
-2GB of 1066MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
- 160 GB 5400-rpm hard drive
- 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display; 1,280x800 pixels
- NVIDA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory
- Built-in iSight video camera
- 8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD+RW/CD-RW)
- Mini DisplayPort
- SD card slot, Firewire 800 port, two USB 2.0 ports
- Optical digital audio output/analog line out; built-in stereo speakers
- Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet
- Built-in AirPort Extreme wireless networking (802.11n) and Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
- Backlit keyboard and ambient light sensor
- Preinstalled Max OS X and iLife
- Size and weight: 12.78 by 8.94 by .95 inches (32.5 by 22.7 by 2.41 cm); 4.5 pounds (2.04kg)
- Meets ENERGY STAR requirements

And here's the MacBook Pro site, which you may consult if you want to look at more sexy photos of this laptop and its kin.

It kills me that I cannot keep this machine for myself, but I got a new Mac just a year ago, and must gracefully allow this one to seek a greener pasture.

Email me
with questions or to claim your newest, best friend.

Remember, Mac users are happy people. People with brand new Macs are the happiest of all.

Posted by bogenamp at 01:13 PM

September 24, 2009

Makers Tile Game v. 5.0: The Funnest One Yet

The 5x5 version of the Makers Tile Game has launched. To much fanfare:

On BoingBoing!

On Tor.com!

On Ephblog!

Here is Cory Doctorow's very own mashup of the first 25 illustrations. Apparently, he likes them.

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Play now!

Posted by bogenamp at 03:56 PM

September 23, 2009

Tuckahoe Tire Park

The other day, Robbi needed some quiet time to work on illustrating our latest book, and so Alden and I headed out in search of adventure. A friend had recently told us about Tuckahoe State Park, a beautiful wooded area with a lake, trails, picnic areas, and a recycled tire park. Alden perked right up when she heard about the tires. And so we headed out.

The tire park was, as advertised, full of tires.

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Huge tires.

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Tires with bits of tire strung between them.

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Tires attached to balance beams.

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Tires piled in an enormous pyramid.

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It was a wonderland of tires.

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Alden was pleased.

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She felt so inspired by the tires, that she insisted on wearing my hat and sunglasses, so that she could, as she told me, "Look just as cool as you, Papa."

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But Alden's favorite part of Tuckahoe Tire Park had nothing to do with tires. Rather, her heart belonged to the 8-foot slide.

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I asked her if she thought she was up to the challenge.

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She scoffed, sat down at the top, and proceeded to put her fanny where my doubt was.

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The tires were forgotten as she redefined speed.

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Once safely at the bottom of the slide, she climbed back up to the top again.

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And then she came back down. Exactly twelve times in a row.

An even dozen slides under her belt, she raised her arms to me, said "up", and our Tuckahoe outing came to the end. The girl knows when she's done.

Alden slept all the way home. While we were gone, Robbi completed half of the illustrations for the new book, which will, we imagine, be a crowd favorite. Detailing the adventures of a particularly ornery rodent, Nasty Chipmunk will first meet the public this weekend at the Small Press Expo. Subscribers will receive their copies in a few weeks.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:30 PM

September 22, 2009

Idiots'Books at SPX

This weekend we will be manning a booth at the 15th annual Small Press Expo, a veritable extravaganza of comic artists, publishers, and enthusiasts. If you enjoy the prospect of talking to lots of interesting people and seeing inventive, compelling, and sometimes downright beautiful work that you simply cannot find in any bookstore, you ought to swing by. If only to see us.

Here's this year's poster.

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You can click here to learn all about the show, the exhibitors, etc., but I'll list the essential info below.

Where: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

When: Saturday, Sept 26 (11:00am - 7:00pm) and Sunday, September 27 (noon - 6:00pm)

How much: $10 for one day or $15 for a weekend pass.

Why?: In addition to the many wonderful things there are to look at, read, and buy, Idiots'Books will be debuting its new banner and marketing slogan and will be offering a first glimpse at its latest title, Nasty Chipmunk.

Warning: don't come to the show expecting to see Alden. In light of her behavior at the last book fair we attended, she has been cordially disinvited to this one. We had almost forgiven her for being altogether wild and unpredictable--and then she did this:

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And this:

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When asked to apologize, all she had to say for herself was this:

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I rest my case. She's staying home with Iggy and the cats. But we will be there. Looking something like this:

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Posted by bogenamp at 04:02 PM

September 20, 2009

The Bathroom: Part 3

When hanging cabinets, one has to find a stud in which to screw the hanging rail. Some people have sophisticated instruments that identify studs through sheetrock. Others rap their knuckles against the wall and listen for the variation in sounds: hollow means no stud and solid means stud. Lacking sophisticated instruments, we tried this latter technique, drilling into the wall where it seemed to be solid.

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The result was a sort of wild goose chase that left us feeling like rather bad carpenters. When the big quake comes, we know exactly where this wall will split in two. However shoddy our technique, we did eventually find the studs, which enabled us to hang the rail.

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While looking up to admire it, I had a near collision with Tarzan, who grows more obtrusive by the day.

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We put the corner cabinet in place.

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And screwed it to the rail.

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Before long, more cabinets found their way onto the wall.

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And then we were done:

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Once the cabinets were up, we called the plumber and begged him to come install hookups for our new washer and dryer.

Here's how things looked before he came.

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And here is our new plumbing.

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Are you as excited about the new plumbing as I am? I doubt it. I am very excited about the new plumbing. But feel free to admire the elegant curve of the sewer line. Do not stop yourself from basking in the comfortable contour of the hot and cold water lines. Be not afraid if you, too, want to peer through the hole in the floor. I did. It is very dirty under the barn.

Tomorrow morning our brand new washer and dryer will arrive. Its sleek lines and many elaborate features will hopefully efface the recent pains of so many unnecessary holes in the wall.

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Posted by bogenamp at 09:00 PM

September 18, 2009

Big National Debut!

A few months back, we posted about winning the Xerox Solid Ink Print Sample Contest (in the Graphic Arts category). We were pleased to have been recognized by a huge, multinational company and to have won a Mac laptop. Even better, Xerox was going to feature us in an upcoming newsletter. Since then, we have been spending money hand over fist in anticipation of the catapult to fame and riches that was sure to come as soon as we had Xerox's public endorsement.

I should have known better.

Yesterday, Robbi received her copy of the Xerox Office Advisor, a sort of e-newsletter they send around to their customers. We were excited when we saw the familiar banner.

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We held our breath in anticipation of what Xerox would have to say about us. Surely, such a large and well-off company would have hired literary critics and art historians to carefully examine and critique the work we had submitted. Surely they would present elaborate essays describing the nuanced ways in which we were exploiting the inherent tension between images and words and the richness of expression that resulted. Surely they would include dozens of screenshots of the work itself, that people across this big round world might have a first-hand look at what we do.

I should have known better.

I should have known that given the opportunity, large, multinational corporations exploit every opportunity to endorse themselves.

I should have known that, given the opportunity, large, multinational corporations misspell the name of the press to which they are awarding the top prize.

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Part of the submission requirements was a sheet of short-answer questions. Looks like they were pleased by my enthusiasm for the Phaser, which I must admit, has been a very fine printer.

If you own a large, multinational corporation and would like to engage in a slightly more thorough investigation of Idiots'Books and its many mysteries, please give me a call. As long as you have a Mac laptop you're willing to part with.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:39 AM

September 16, 2009

NASCAR Baby

If you have not recently been to Home Depot with a small child, you might not have noticed the NASCAR shopping carts. Alden noticed. She noticed right away.

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It only took moments behind the wheel(s) to cultivate the cool demeanor, the steely glare of the stock car driver. Tell me if you've ever seen someone eat an apple with such evident disdain.

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Once she got the hang of it, Alden started doing tricks.

The "Double-Fister."

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The "Left-Hand Backup."

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The "Fists of Fury."

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And, last but not least, the . . . ?

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I scratch my head. Some moves defy words.

Posted by bogenamp at 08:32 PM

The Bathroom: Part 2

Once the painting was done, it was time to build the cabinets. As we did when we built our kitchen and studio, we called upon our Swedish friends at Ikea to provide inspiration and materials. Alden, whose paternal great grandfather is Swedish, seemed to feel perfectly at home there.

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She was an industrious helper when the time came to construct.

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After a short tutorial, she was ready to dive in.

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She drew inspiration from her Red Sox bib as she moved from cabinet to cabinet, tightening screws.

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She handed me tools when I needed them.

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She offered words of consolation when I hit my thumb with the hammer.

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At one point, she took a short break to catch up on her pleasure reading.

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As each new cabinet was finished, she checked for imperfections.

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Although she did not overtly criticize my work, her body language seemed to imply that had she been in charge, it probably would have been better.

When all the cabinets were complete, I discovered the reason for Alden's keen interest in them.

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Rather than be hung on the bathroom wall, the cabinets were to remain on the floor, that Alden might dance and preen inside them.

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Coy...

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...or costumed.

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I suppose there's no problem with her continuing to inhabit the cabinets once they are hung on the bathroom wall, though we'll have to contrive some sort of ladder or winch. It might, in fact, solve some of the space constraints that would otherwise be imposed by Tarzan's impending arrival.

Posted by bogenamp at 01:01 AM

September 15, 2009

The Bathroom: Part 1

We woke up the other day and suddenly decided it was time to repaint our bathroom. It has been really bad looking for a really long time. The ceiling and walls were painted in weak, clashing shades of dirty white, and the cabinets were an unfortunate yellow that was probably never in style. We've known for some time that an overhaul was needed, but the thought of actually doing the work had long defeated us. When we woke the other day with unexpected inspiration, Robbi rushed out immediately to buy some paint before we could change our minds.

We started with the ceiling.

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Then we painted the walls with a gray undercoating. It was such a startling improvement that we considered stopping while we were ahead.

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But then we glanced once more at the godawful cabinets, and knew our intervention had to continue.

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Robbi (who is careful and patient) tackled the trim.

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When she was done, I (who am hasty and reckless) started painting the walls. We opted for dramatic color change.

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Even though I am not a chocolate lover, the paint looked delicious.

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It was difficult to keep myself from licking the wall.

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Alden, who likes chocolate quite a bit, demanded a piece of the action.

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I showed her how it worked.

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Almost immediately, she recognized that painting is hard work, and completely lost interest.

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It was a short-lived experiment.

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I kept on at it in her absence.

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When I was done painting all the big, flat, easy parts, Robbi went back with a brush and did all the finesse work (where wall meets ceiling or trim, for example, or in that hard-to-reach place behind the toilet).

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The walls and trim are now painted, but our bathroom ambitions have since expanded into formerly unthinkable arenas. For example, we are going to hang cabinets on the walls and have purchased a real live washer and dryer.

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With Alden's blessing, of course.

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Posted by bogenamp at 12:31 AM

September 13, 2009

Indecision

When we got back from a walk around the park the other day, Alden ran over to the fridge and banged against the door, a sure sign that she was interested in having something to drink. I asked her if she wanted juice or milk. She said "Yes," so I handed her both.

Clearly, the situation was baffling.

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On one hand, juice was sweet and refreshing.

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On the other hand, milk was cool and nourishing.

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Unable to decide which beverage she craved, Alden moved to a more comfortable chair to continue her contemplation.

Juice...?

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Or milk...?

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She fretted as she tried to puzzle it out.

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A few minutes later, the storm clouds cleared, and she seemed to have made her peace with the situation.

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I cannot say what manner of revelation came to pass in that fuzzy little head of hers, but for now, at least, juice and milk do not seem to be incompatible concepts.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:36 PM

Come to Connecticut

Hello all. This is just a reminder that today (Sunday, September 13) at 3:30pm, Robbi and I will be appearing on a panel for the opening of Derailed: Comics Off the Beaten Path, a group show at Sacred Heart University's Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Here's my earlier post with more information.

Instead of posting here of late, we have been remodeling our bathroom, working, and driving to Connecticut. Which is to say, we have been in foul moods.

Somehow, Alden has remained cheerful through it all.

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Posted by bogenamp at 12:07 AM

September 09, 2009

Makers: The Latest Batch

Makers continues apace. Here are tiles 25-28.

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With yesterday's publication of tile 28, the serialization enters its second third. Robbi continues to hunch feverishly at her desk--drawing, drawing, drawing.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:42 PM

September 07, 2009

Derailed: Comics Off the Beaten Path

Robbi and I have been invited to participate in a group show celebrating the work of contemporary comic artists. The show, called Derailed: Comics Off the Beaten Path, is being mounted at Sacred Heart University's Gallery of Contemporary Art. It opens this Sunday, September 13 and runs through October 29.

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If you happen to be in the vicinity of Fairfield, Connecticut this coming Sunday (Sept. 13), there will be an opening reception from 1:00-3:30pm followed by a panel discussion during which Robbi and I will be expected to say profound things. Come see for yourself whether or not we are able to pull it off (Robbi has her doubts). Even if we are not able to pull it off, there will likely be wine, cheese, and cocktail napkins to enjoy.

Here's a link to some short essays about each of the artists (click the link at the top of the page to see a slideshow of the various artists' work, including some early sketches from The Baby is Disappointing and The Contented.)

Further, if you wish to find yourself in our eternal debt, we are actively looking for someone willing/interested/not unwilling to restrain Alden's wild impulses during the panel. We have occasionally allowed her to be present for our public appearances and have found her contributions not to our liking. Her various yells, squawks, and shrieks may well be profound, but not in any language that we speak.

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Posted by bogenamp at 11:09 PM

Long Weekend

For the most part, our long weekend has been dull and unphotogenic. There has been a lot of sleeping, a good deal of lounging, and a possibly unhealthy amount of television watching. We have punctuated the sloth with occasional bursts of low-grade activity. Expect no inspiration in the following.

Perhaps the most exciting moment of the weekend was when this man (and his dog) rode by the barn.

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Have you ever seen a happier (or hipper) dog?

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At some point over the weekend, Alden made an important discovery: loose change makes a much more satisfying clink when placed in one's piggy bank (as opposed to one's mouth).

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She also learned how fun it is to spin around and around and around.

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And how very hard it is to stand up afterward.

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Yesterday, she spent some time with Oscar and Lily in their tower.

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A place she knows that she is not supposed to be.

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Today we went to Lockbriar Farms to pick apples and blackberries.

Alden understands how to locate an apple.

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She knows how to pick it.

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But she does not seem to grasp the greater goal: that of arriving home with apples to eat later.

Alden wants to eat them now.

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Right now.

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Sometimes on the run.

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Sometimes right off the tree.

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She is a savage, savage child.

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After taking at least one bite out of every apple in the orchard, we headed over to the blackberry patch.

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Alden's fruit vendetta continued.

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Have you ever seen such rage?

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Such cold-blooded indifference?

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Such vicious mastication?

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I shudder to think she is my flesh and blood...

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...until Robbi reminds me...

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...she learned it all by watching me.

Posted by bogenamp at 03:40 PM

September 06, 2009

Before the Dawn of Man

Alden and Robbi are celebrating this holiday weekend with early afternoon naps, and so I have been free to draft my second web comic.

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Here's hoping you're outside enjoying the day instead of reading this.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:43 PM

September 04, 2009

Ruffians

Due to the endless wisdom of my employer, which periodically grants 4-day weekends to augment the restful implications of certain holidays, I do not have to work today. Robbi is off running Iggy in the nearby farmlands, and I am home with a few idle hours to spend on a new project, that of writing a Web comic.

Those of you who don't read Web comics may not know that they are a well-established phenomenon. Rather than bothering with newspaper publication, a lot of smart, funny people are posting serial comics to the web, cultivating an audience, and scrapping out a living by selling t-shirts, books, and other schwag to their fans.

Robbi and I want a piece of the action.

We like our books and lots of other people like our books, but relative to Web comics, which are free, books are expensive, which limits the audience to people who like our stuff enough to share their hard-earned money in exchange. We will continue to publish books, but we wonder if there might be people who might be compelled to see what we're up to if the cost of doing so were reduced to "free". It's hard to argue with "free". It's a rather appealing concept.

And so we thought it might be fun to try putting together a Web comic. I like to write things but am pitifully ungifted when it comes to drawing them. Robbi likes to draw.

The obvious question is whether we have something to say.

The answer is that we may not. But will this stop us?

Here's a faltering attempt, which pleases me in spite of its lack of earth-shattering revelation. The plan is that Robbi will take this pitiful husk of an outline and make it nice to look at. (Click on the image to make it bigger.)

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If you find this so painful to look at that you cannot bear to read it, do not feel guilty or despair. Robbi's version will be posted soon. When it is, I'm certain that the earth-shattering implications will be revealed.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:31 AM

September 02, 2009

Idiots'Books in Utne Reader

Imagine our surprise today to find this article about our work in Utne Reader's "Great Writing" blog.

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The piece features excerpts from our recent Urbanite interview and uses some rather encouraging words to describe what Robbi and I do. I could tell you more about the post, but I think instead I'll recommend you read it.

Posted by bogenamp at 07:26 PM

September 01, 2009

Bear Truth

You might remember that recently I told you of the bear infiltration of our house in Alaska.

We got some photos in the mail from our friend Vern, one of only four full-time residents of Coffee Point, Alaska. The other three are his wife, Marita, and his daughters, Evelyn and Emily.

Evelyn was the one who noticed the bear damage in the first place. They occasionally patrol our compound in the months that we are here in Maryland. Here is what Evelyn found: the bears' entrance point.

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"How does a great big bear get through such a small hole?" you ask.

Answer: I have no idea.

Here is what they did when they got inside. Bob and Seiko left the house quite neat when they closed up for the winter, I assure you.

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But they will have a lot of cleaning up to do when they arrive next spring.

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Bears: untidy.

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Once upon a time, we had nice trim around our windows.

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It seems the bear needed a toothpick.

And here's where the bears made their exit from the premises.

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Apparently, according to those who have been ransacked by bears in years past, the worst thing about having had a bear in your house is not the things they break and the horrible mess they make but the awful smell they leave behind. Bears do not take showers, and so their fur is covered with a lifetime of oily, fishy funk that they love to rub all over the interiors of the houses that they pillage.

We have a similar problem around here from time to time. Different kind of bear.

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Same results.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:16 PM