Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Little Death - the Introduction

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, the top 10 causes of death in the United States in 2007 and the number of people affected were:
Heart Disease: 696,947
Cancer: 557,271
Stroke: 162,672
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 124,816
Accidents: 106,742
Diabetes: 73,249
Influenza/Pneumonia: 65,681
Alzheimer’s disease: 58,866
Nephritis, Nephrotic Syndrome, and Nephrosis: 40,974
Septicemia: 33,865

There were 30,622 suicides and 16,110 murders during the same year.


A Little Death is directly influenced by The Virgin Project by Kevin Bose and Stasia Kato. That ground-breaking work dealt with something that happens at the beginning of almost everyone's life: the end of virginity, the beginning of sexual adulthood. A Little Death addresses the other end of life, one we will all have to face, some sooner than later. It looks at how we think we might die, how we would rather die, or even how we dread we'll die.

When Kevin heard I'd thought about creating a different version of the personal-experience anthology The Virgin Project, he dove headfirst into helping. At the time I had just finished another book and working on some much-needed home maintenance. Before long, I began to experience the usual in-between-book blues, when nothing I can do next seems fresh, funny or profound enough. After years of producing books and attempting to always raise the level of my own work, these weeks of indecision and frustration are normal for me.

Within a few weeks, I was receiving repeated emails from Kevin with lists of anonymous descriptions of death. At last I could just paint the house and think about what I was going to do with the ideas I'd received.

This is the first time I've done anything that can be considered a full-length genre book. In this case, it's something that Kevin is calling BOATS: Base On A True Story. Tom Beland's True Story -- Swear To God can be seen as the granddaddy of the form. My own The Desert Peach is, in its own way, a BOATS; I was never making any of that up.

What Kevin -- and now I -- are doing is a bit different. It's very hard for drawn book authors to find artists, and artists in many cases find it difficult to work with writers; the horror stories about collaborations gone wrong could give Gilbert and Sullivan nightmares, and form their own BOATS anthology. This form takes a few anonymous lines from dozens of people based on a single subject and fills it out with art.

There are many reasons why BOATS is anonymous for everybody but the artists. In the case of The Virgin Project, anonymity protects the contributors so they can display very personal moments in their lives without embarrassment of complications; "graphic novel" is a loose distribution term based on volume of pages, but in this case it may be accurate about the subject matter.

A Little Death is anonymous because I'm something of an Art Witch; if I publish it, sooner or later, it will happen. In The Virgin Project, everything vibrates with truth, because it is non-fiction and in the past. Because nobody can be dead and tell you about it, or at least not provably so, A Little Death has to be in the future; this is one case where the term "speculative fiction" actually reflects the contents. The title is, of course, a pun on the French phrase La petite mort, a euphemism for orgasm. In Rolf König's Jago, the character Gronzo says, "Death is like a great orgasm; it's hot! You're free!"

Since recent political controversies concerning the question at what point we are dead -- especially whether or not brain death constitutes death -- the medical community is re-defining death as heart failure. Hard to argue with that; when the pump stops pumping, we're dead, irregardless of what turned off the switch. At the time this list was posted, it was more about the old folks' diseases than the traditional engines of human demise. These days, not a lot of us are eaten by lions, although we can get killed by a mountain goat if we push the question.

The best fictional portrayals of death on television were on Dead Like Me.

Most of these stories were drawn by me, but at least one of contributors insisted on doing his own. You'll have to admit his Icelandic hard-headedness got it right. In return, he's the only contributor other than me whose identity is public, and he gets to tell you how to find more of his work. And I'm not so concerned about art-witching him into anything he doesn't want, because this is obviously exactly what he wants.

"As Kjartan grows older, his sense of humor grows darker. A survival adaptation, probably. If you regard fools as free entertainment, then it's not so bad there's so many of them. He's available for commission or what-not thru Good manners and amusing subject matter get you discounts. Rudeness and sick subjects... well, assuming he answers you at all, you'd better be obscenely rich.
For all its horrors, it's still a wonderful world, and Kjartan intends to enjoy as much of it as possible before he goes completely cyborg."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Seattle Pike;s Place Restroom art

An oddly delicate - or not - way of signaling without language, "This way to the restrooms." 

Yes, I'm easily amused.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What to eat at the Clallam Bay Comicon

Note: This is a logging area learning to be an entertainment and tourist area. If you have bad experiences, remember, local nerds do, too. Be a beacon for the future, and watch the geeks come out. You might find your local GIMP enthusiast - or expert on the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. LGBT community vibrant and growing. On the way in, you'll see a lot of places to eat along the road; they're all good. Native nations wonderful places to visit; watch out for amazing native art, including totem poles and house murals. Casinos and stores double as art-galleries.

Lake Crescent Lodge. If you have time, great restaurant and cold clear swimming.

(Not recommended: HIGHWAY 112
Exit is right after leaving West Port Angeles. Burnt Mountain sea side is collapsing, and the road is either very bad at that point, or has slides. Use 101 instead.)


Espresso and Booze

The Weel Road Deli's Hole Shot Espresso Shop. All kinds of variety and treats, and a cute little corner. The store is also the only local source of liqour and beer.

Strait Shots. as you breeze into town. Will serve you if you're on a horse.

Sunsets West Co-Op: Anti-mask and anti-vax, not so much MAGA as misdirectedly holistic. Better to be safe than sorry.

At the Breakwater Inn, halfway to Sekiu, order Dixie's bread pudding. Decent food, nice full bar. Great view.

In Sekiu, the By The Bay Café has good ol' 1950's diner food, and a pretty view.

During Fun Days: Lion's Club barbecue is prime. A must: look for frybread! Local prices low, food tasty, much of it homemade.

Neah Bay
Take-Home Fish Company. THE place for dry-smoked salmon. Worth the trip.

Warm House Restaurant. Nice place for breakfast, fish-n-chips, light dinners. Great eagle views.

Washburn's Trading Post. Best fried chicken in the area, soft-serve ice cream, excellent, well-priced produce. Store signs posted in English and native Qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌ (Kwih-dich-chuh-ahtx). ("Makah" is just what other people called them - it meant, "Good hosts." They are.) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My 60th Dragon Birthday - More Cakes Than Anybody

I'm a Dragon, in the Chinese calendar. This is my 60th year.  I had the most fabulous birthday anyone could wish for.  Well, I did.

Firs of all, I had a cake that frosted itself, when Wendy Emlinger sent me this fabulous birthday card.

Best Reuben ever.
Then we toured Seattle's Fremont neighborhood and had lunch at Homegrown restaurant. An accidental choice, made for the elegant and soothing decor. But the food was a revelation. The best Reuben sandwich I'd ever had (and I had a truck-driver dad who used to drive me about to taste pies and Reubens in rural Washington), combined with an arugala-hazelnut-almost-too-many-figs salad. Goodness.

Roberta Gregory took me to the King Tut Exhibit in Seattle, and we discovered that an ancient prince had accidentally speared his beloved - and no doubt sacred - hunting cat. This was very sad, and we read it in words and pictures on the cat's sarcophagus. Ancient drawn books coming alive. Well, you look at it and tell us that's a cat's tail - usually carved so smoothly and elegantly by the Egyptian sculptors - and not a rigid lance head. We felt so sorry for the cat and the prince.

Afterwards we discovered Morfey's Cakes, and the adorable and sprightly (sprite-like?) baker, Erin Blanchard. Morfrey should be filming her for their site. She's completely excited by her art. While I didn't taste any of it - I am 60, after all, and now it's about the eyes - in this case it was truly about the eyes.  Ooh la la.

Erin Blanchard and The Blue Cake.. 

The cake tower - with Rainbow Cake.

Too - many - cakes.
The gray cake. The Eifel tower atop it had melted in the heat.
Only pretending to taste. Om imaginary nom.
Someplace in the course of the day we did truly tasty coffee at the wonderful El Diablo Coffee Company.

We ended up at the Oddfellow's Hall restaurant, where Maggie Bloodstone shared the icy top sip of all her champagne flutes with me. Marvelous.

Finally, Ron Austin sent me the link to part of his amazing international comics-author series. Right when I needed it for an interview.


Geekgirlcon - WHY weren't you there?

It was... sparkly! Fabulous, fun, pretty - and the girls and boys were all having masses of fun and laughing without pressure or hassle. This is what happens when the girls take over.

Callisti, a long-time fan, with the Clearwater School.
Thanks, Prism Comics for my fabulous Glamazonia t-shirt! The Clearwater School loved it a lot.

Before the con, running around Seattle Center with Roberta Gregory, and wondering WHAT a Desert Peach Play poster was doing in the maintenance office of McCaw hall.

And now it's signed.

Me in my Ka-Blam Tshirt for GeekGirlCon - more print-run money!

Saturday evening, Kevin Bose and his wife grace took me out to Ivar's Salmon house, for fabulous crab salad. And we got to see part of the new 520 bridge barely fitting into the ship canal.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Lovely, lovely time at ToorCamp yesterday. Castle Camp (bicycle jousting), RF Palace radio, lockpicking school, help getting Car's battery jumped (would you believe I VERy VErY carefully turned my lights OFF - the wrong way?).

Ugly Reality Makes Us Fall Over Laughing moments:

Sciency guy who thought my being an Atheist made me unaware of the Mars Lander project.

Makah guy insisting - repeatedly, as the women's eyebrows went up - that the reason women didn't whale was because "women are so powerful, the whale will disappear or kill us all." That he had to keep repeating it made it hard to keep from giggling.

As a gay friend once grunted, primitively stirring a fire: "It's a GUY thing."

But no, seriously, I'm SO going to take advantage of my membership in Geezer Media next year to go and stay longer. I MISSED the Darkbots because I have to drive to GeekGirlCon in Seattle today!

I also wrote a supportive article (hey, there's no such thing as objective journalism), that included mention of the festival business model, and hinted that Neah Bay was bringing in jobs and money with fun and entertainment. As a kid, my parents' generation destroyed what we had, while this area still has a chance to heal and grow. YES, it's all scrub and plantation and clearcut now, but they're beginning to understand that all a clearcut pays for is more machines - while media and entertainment can pay for your living, your kid's education, and your future.

I'd need to promote my own books a few years before I could buy a booth, but I want everybody at ToorCamp to come to the Clallam Bay Comicon (see events). I know they'd love ToorCamp.  YES, there's plenty of the community that fear novelty, but I've been up here giving the new and intent a reason to come out and enjoy themselves for nearly 9 years. They're ready up here - and "Twilight" teaching them there's money in media didn't hurt.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

2013 Clallam Bay Comicon

You kids KNOW you shouldn't smoke, right?

During Clallam Bay/Sekiu Fun Days in 2013. 
The newly renovated building - nice job, Lions!

WHERE: Clallam Bay/Sekiu Lion's Club

Here's the Building, outside and in:

WHEN: We're officially listed as 13-14, but if you can get here on the 12th, we won't turn you away or not let you sell stuff. Breakdown is Sunday by noon.
Yes, we can move the tables. No, we can't move their art.

HOUSING: Get your ass in gear - it fills up FAST! And also Neah Bay: GETTING to Neah Bay and back, if you'd prefer not to drive every day - contact Olympic Peninsula Errand Service, for Janet or Adam: (360) 640-4583 NOTE: Neah Bay is a First Nations town, and dry. And you don't want to drive THAT road after enjoying some wind-down juice.

With Fun Days you get an old-fashioned small-town parade, a KILLER pot-luck if you come in early on Friday, a barbecue, and a bajillion fireworks Saturday, some of them even legal. We're the comicon with the BEACHES, bitches.

EVERYONE WELCOME. If you do comics, poetry, gallery art, jewelry, paint cars, bake pies, sing, do stand-up, sculpture, hip-hop, light shows, whatever - bring it. Cosplay wanted for the parade. AND HORSES!

BOOTH FEES: $25 ($27.00 Paypal). Contact for booth space:

ADMISSION for public: free. "We don't need no stinkin' badges." You're all special guests to us. And don't have to prove you're pros or amateurs.

AWARDS: Who are we to judge? If your fans love you, they love you.

PROVIDED: space, electricity (We ALMOST had wi-fi; maybe next year). Wi-fi is 24/7 at the library, right around the corner. LOTS of table space! Bring extra chairs if you can. There will be a free table for flyers, charities, and the comicon donation jar.

SPACE: Your choice of inside tables, outside covered porch, outside gazebo, or parking lot in front of the Fire Hall.

PANELS: Decide when you want to be here, based on the link calendar (following), and we'll stick you in. First come, first served, and NO, we don't care what you do. You're a grownup. If you want to negotiate with other panels for times, just let us know at donnabarr01 at gmail dot com.

GAMES: Marcus Evenstar is our official gamesmaster. Ask him. If you haven't got Facebook, we'll hook you up at donnabarr01 at gmail dot com. Facebook:
Gaming Porch!
CATERING: We have a NICE kitchen available, so if you want to bring and sell food, take care of your own licensing or whatever. Kids with cookies and charities very welcome.

HOW TO GET HERE: Take a flight to Port Angeles, then take the Forks bus to the the Clallam Bay connection at Sappho.  Yes, Sappho. Or take Olympic Bus Lines from Seattle.

BEST, safest, most scenic route if driving: Highway 101 around Lake Crescent, then Highway 113-112 to Clallam Bay (slightly longer, but recommended).

AUDIO-VISUAL: If you want to run film media, the library has an After Hours @ The Library Program and is open Friday and Saturday. We haven't set anything up connected with the Comicon, but contact them to set up your non-profit event anyway - and take donations for the library:

FIRE DISPLAYS: If you want to play Burning Man, contact the District Five Fire Department:

LAST-MINUTE PRINTING: Already on the peninsula and forgot something? Need a large print order at the last minute? These are the guys: 

T-SHIRTS: Don't want to drag a million t-shirts along, especially if you have a new design? Get 'em done in Port Angeles and pick 'em up there:
CHILDREN: watch your own.

TRASH: Keep inside at night! Or the dogs will get it.

FACILITY CARE: No tape of any sort on the wall. Respect the Lion's Club's wall displays.
Don't set yourself on fire.


1: Clallam Bay Comicon Central (Official convention t-shirts!)

2.  Donna Barr, A Fine Line Press

3.  A. S. Koi, Catalyst Studios

4.  Roberta Gregory

5.  Your Mom Comics

6. Dennis P Eichhorn

(Free table: Your damaged books with flyers in 'em - "The first one's free!" And any other giveaway goodies you want to share space with the fire department and the block watch.)