Thursday, November 21, 2013

Laughing At Homeland Security

This is the post from Facebook:

"Just had the most insanely fun, crazy weekend in Seattle. Stayed with fabulous friends, lectured with a stupid hat on, met up with artists at a house party, re-connected with one of the best, petted MANY cats, found stunning new restaurants for that special night at Emerald City, talked to fun strangers, got to see the early Christmas lights and decorations, got to ride Lite Rail (wheeee!) AND in a cop car AND got to giggle and laugh at Homeland Security people until they begged me to "please take this seriously." And visited the Fantagraphics store - TWICE. I WUV SEATTLE. Oh, and got to see "The Water Horse" and its wonderful making-of disk."

Now I shall attempt to clarify.

First, here's the whole weekend's itinerary.

Had to go to Seattle November 16, to get a NEXUS card, instead of a passport, because those suckers are expensive. Didn't quite understand what it was, of course, and my Canadian friends had been all, "Get a NEXUS card! It's only $50!" So if you know what it is, you can laugh at them - and me - now. 

All done? Good.

Me, by Maureen Vanderpass © 2013
Since Cartoonists Northwest was having their monthly meeting on the 16th, I took advantage of the proximity of the date to tell them I was going to attend. John Lustig ("Last Kiss") asked me if I'd like to speak. So I said I would. Not a bajillion people showed up, but - true to my mishaps in the universe with time-lines - they'd posted the date incorrectly in the newsletter. No matter! We had fun, and I got to tell people about the Clallam Bay Comicon and the Desert Peach musical (links on this page). And wore the Stupid Paper Hat I'd put together for the Kickstarter Campaign.

Thank you, Kevin Boze and Grace Reamer for letting me stay at your wonderful house, and play with blue, chinchilla-soft Miranda cat, again. And for the wonderful spaghetti dinner Saturday night! I sort of "pay" to stay at places with bottles of wine. We dropped by Wine World on the way to the meeting, and, being the perennially broke creative I am, asked the nice girl to help me.

"Because there are no bad wines here, I assume I can just ask for the cheapest red and not get back?"

"Well, we DO have one bad wine; it tastes like socks. Don't tell the boss I said that."

"Then a nice Italian or Spanish." Which nice, light red Spanish she got me, and we had with the spaghetti and got buzzed and silly and noodged into politics almost dangerously. I CAN hold my tongue, when requested, at dinner.

The next day I went all the way out to Renton to see T. Brian Wagner and film more promotional spots for the musical, and the hat came in handy again.  We're going to get a CD out, if nothing else, just as the fans have been begging for, for over two decades. To get there, I'd intended to take the 101 Seattle-Renton bus (the 102, which would have gotten me further along the route, doesn't run on Sundays).

Instead, the 106 came first, and I grabbed it. It wasn't an express. It wandered. All through Rainier Valley, passing Carkeek Park and Kubota Park on the way. It went everywhere! It was like a tour of the nicer part of South Seattle. 

On Monday, I know I did a lot of entertaining things, starting with a visit To Re PC, with constant adventure companiion Roberta Gregory, who found me a nice cheap cooling tablet for my laptop in the junk piles, for $5.00, and it works great. Cooling laptops extends their lifetime by years. If you can't afford a USB cooling tablet, just put the computer on top of one of those frozen pads you use for headaches.

Then, off to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore! Oh, it's a great place, in a block of charming brick buildings, in what looks like the space for an old tavern. Had lots of fun chatting with the guy on the desk, and did a hand-drawn poster for the Clallam Bay Comicon. At this point, only Fantagraphics has one!

That evening - the Kun-Rah party! Roberta and I met mutual buddy Maggie Bloodstone and one each friend of them both at Bimbo's Cantina on Capitol Hill. I couldn't buy the promised pitcher of Margaritas - they didn't make pitchers - but Roberta and I and Maggie's friend had the drinks themselves, and I picked those up. We were wearing silly stick-on snowflakes to represent Kun-Rah's bone mask, and two girls at an adjacent table had to know what we were doing, and receive cheek snowflakes as they became acolytes. So I suppose the cult is officially spreading to the masses.

We decided the red-lit restroom downstairs in the Cha Cha Lounge was the coolest place in Seattle. Then we went to BabeLand, where I wished I could buy ALL the kinds of lubricant - and then discovered that, when sample packets of brands run short, they scoop up a candy-box of lube packs and put 'em in their own little pack. So now I had pressies for Dan when I got home.

Then we went to find chocolate (the 2nd ritual of Kun-rah) and found the good stuff on sale at the QFC. We ate some of it and took some home.

On Tuesday, after getting the right addresses off the website, I got to ride Seattle Lite Rail to Sea-Tac airport. Whee! It was like a roller coaster over the freeway! No more driving to Sea-Tac for me - or even to Norwescon, if I ever make it down there again. Of course, when I finally did find the passport office, they did have a record of my appointment but - it wasn't in their office. It was at another office. 

They didn't really know where NEXUS office was. I had to call Officer Wang - yes, that's her name - and was told I couldn't get there, because it was at the  back of Boeing Airfield, behind the airfield, and I'd have to take a cab. WTF? I grabbed a couple friendly Seattle cops at Sea-Tac and scoped 'em out for information. They nicely told me where to find the Sea-Tac Secret Police Office and its public phone and VERY nice girl on the front desk, named Laurie, who helped me track down where the office was. By this time I was giggling. 

Anyway, back the Lite Rail, and onto bus #24, and the Museum of Flight. Did anybody know where NEXUS was? They did not. They knew where Perimeter Road was, though, and kinda sort pointed it out to me. Let's just say that, with the help of Randy's Restaurant, I was at least on Airport Way before I stood scratching my head, wondering where the hell the place was.

But who is this? A Sheriff's car? I waved - the officer waved back. Then I REALLY waved - with both arms - and he whipped his car around the corner, out of traffic, and waited for me. There was some head-scratching about where I was going before we figured it out, and after he saw the tiny muddy track along the fast traffic I'd have been perfectly willing to march along, he decided it would be safer to give me a ride. So, thank you, Officer John. I'm sorry I scared you with happy stories of Marijuana seed distribution on the Olympic Peninsula. Thank you so much, friendly policeman.

The office was the old airfield building, at the butt-back-end of Boeing Airfield, with no available buses for two miles. I missed my appointment, but I got there. 

I had to wait for a NEXUS officer, so I regaled the other people waiting with my story about how Osama bin Laden is and will remain the greatest military strategist of all time, because, with nothing more than 19 guys and some flight classes, he put an empire on a permanent footing of paranoia and war, and locked all of us except the most wealth and the military into our own country. And then we killed him, which was kind of like throwing away the key once we'd been locked in. And - they all agreed with me.

After figuring out paperwork with the NEXUS officer, I needed to talk to the Canadian officer, Officer Hicks. Yes, that was her name. By this time, I was literally burying my face in my hands and giggling at the whole process. The  cute, plump little Hicks said, "Please, could you take this seriously?"

She finally got it through my head that the NEXUS card isn't a passport - it's - get this - just so somebody in a car could go through the border quicker. As long as everybody in the car had a NEXUS pass, and carried no - for example - comic books. Oh, thank you for being so clear about THAT, NEXUS website.

She tried to be superior to me because I didn't get that right off, and out of my mouth came, "Really? Can YOU draw a horse in 30 seconds? Can you draw, write, and publish a comic book?"

She - almost sheepishly - admitted she couldn't (well, we ARE dealing with a Canadian here). I said, "Well, everybody's an expert in their own field. You know about this stuff - but nobody else does."

She asked me if I really wanted the NEXUS card, now. I said, "Oh, well, I've got this far - it's personal, now. I want to see if I can get through the whole process." 

She said she'd help me out there, and to get back when I got the passport, and offered to extend deadlines and stuff (they always do, you know; everything in life is open to negotiation, especially when it might have to do with fulfilled quotas or finished jobs - remember that when dealing with the IRS, whose agents always have a supervisor breathing down their necks).  

We were all polite and pleasant, until she told me she'd need some more information and I offered to email it, and she said she HAD no email - and that's when I fell apart, just laughing out loud at their whole operation. 

"You poor things! Abandoned at the back of Boeing Field! And you don't even have email! Homeland Security just LEFT you here!"

Now take a moment to enjoy the Twelve Banned Items of Christmas. You know how it took a while for the British Empire to become a joke? With the internet, it's taking us about six months.

Anyway, I said I'd try to get the rest of the paperwork, and go apply for a real passport. Then I went and found a nice sandwich at the snack bar in the building, and started trudging along the sidewalk toward Seattle. 

By the time I'd enjoyed the sandwich I found myself back at  - the Fantagraphics bookstore! 

Where I shared my Osama Is Killing Us story with them, and they thought it was pretty funny, too.

Then I went to my Seattle home, wandering around Pioneer Square a bit, and discovered Marcela's Creole Cookery and Spooked in Seattle - both must-sees for Emerald City - before running up the steep hill to catch the #4 at the last moment. Exercise! 

When I got back to the house, nobody was home, and Kevin had said I could use the VHS and DVD player. So I got into my cozy nightgown and had some bread and cheese and chocolate and beer, and watched "The Water Horse" - and its wonderful Special Features disk - with Miranda on my lap.

The next day I got up early, caught the early bus and early ferry, and did ALL the shopping that allows me to discount so much money it pays for more than the whole trip.

And spent the evening with hot cocoa and "True Blood." Yeah, yeah. Dumb show. But I needed to unwind my brain. And afterwards - my own bed, with my own kitties, and Dan.

Maybe next time I come to Seattle I'll be able to use the new trolley system!

Friday, November 15, 2013

How to Write an Art Contract

Time and again, it's been proven to me that even my most knowledgeable colleagues don't know how to negotiate and contract for an art project.

I use something based on this for all projects, no matter the size. Note the instruction that, "If we didn't talk about it, it's not in this contract!"

The bigger the contract, the more loopholes and lawyers. Don't try to INCLUDE everything. Just EXCLUDE everything you won't need to negotiate right at that time.

And it's ALWAYS 50/50%. You're a professional. If the printer, shipper, cameraman, etc., get paid - SO DO YOU. 

If you're a writer - or a fucking FOOTBALL FRANCHISE (ask me how I know) - who tries to argue anything else - SHAME ON YOU.

We can die of exposure.
Keep It Simple, Stupid

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fan Art Comes Back to Haunt Me - in a Good Way.

Officer and Savage original.
Adrian M. Kleinbergen messaged me on Facebook that he'd bought a piece from me at - possibly Con-Version. Now he's done fan art based on it. AND he's added that something he drew inspired it:

"Actually, you saw my piece in black and white (possibly in my self-published art book) and you said that what you drew was what happened next after an officer spoke to the feral lady."

So this is like - two-way fan-art!

First is  my original. Or maybe it's his was the original. I don't remember. It's a story about a handsome officer grabbed for breeding by a strong tribal woman. I did several versions of it, including a large ink painting and a comics story

Officer and Savage inspired.
Next here's Adrian's fan piece. Or orignal piece. It's kind of gorgeous! I think it's done with markers. I love it. He says his favorite colors are yellow and blue. Doesn't he do it well! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chocolate, Tequila, Heart Surgery

I have finally found a goddess. Or rather, she has returned: 
Goddesses just do what they want.

From about 1998-2002, I did a comic strip series, "Rental Goddess," for the magazine PanGaia. I forgot how many I'd done, because most of the pages went to San Diego State Special Collections. 

So out of the blue, the proofreader for the magazine sends me paper copies of all the strips, including the introduction of the Deity Kun-Rah, Goddess of Not putting Up With Crap. Damn, these are funny. And what timing! As soon as my lovely new friend scans 'em, I can post 'em at Webcomicsnation

So I guess I'd better get to the work of Not Putting Up With Crap, because Kun-Rah says so, and I don't want to meet her third ritual.

Now who wants to have a ceremony to her the next time I'm in Seattle? Or even out here in the Land of Dying Trees?

Her vestments are long and raggedy, red and/or black, with any kind of white mask (worn on the top of the head if you like). She carries any sort of chocolate or tequila (I think Grocery Outlet is her temple). She carries small cash to feed street people, and cruel hearts get not only torn out, they get drop-kicked over the nearest roof.

She protects the liver, because she helps rot it out in the first place. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I'm in Seattle - Cartoonists Northwest Speaker, and MORE!

1970's "Black Manuscript" art
Hi! Yes, thanks to the author of The Virgin Project, Kevin Boze - and his wife Grace (providing me with accommodations; ie., a nice couch in their lovely home) - I'll be able to stay from November 16 to November 19 in Seattle.

BUT - the schedule is filling up! 

November 16 (Saturday): travel to Seattle, speak at the Cartoonists Northwest meeting.
(Direct Page Link)

November 17 (Sunday): travel to Renton to do promotional filming for the Desert Peach Musical Revival.

November 18 (Monday): I'm going to party with Kun-Rah. And where? Bimbo's, in Seattle! Meet me there at 7:00. I buy the 1st pitcher of Margarita's. Check out the Kun-Rah link, and bring a white mask.

November 19 (Tuesday): travel to Sea-Tac to get my NEXUS card. Probably with a hangover. Which is a good condition to be in when dealing with the Feds.

If anyone wants me to come in early, for anything, throw a couch at me - and if you want, get sketches in return. I have an Orca metro e-purse card and a Car2go card, so I'm pretty well mobile. If you want me to come for a special event that weekend, let's talk about room for me at the Green Tortoise hostel (VERY inexpensive and a party all the time).

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Halloween Pah-tay

I had a lot of fun in Seattle for Hallowe'en.

Because everybody else was busy I stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel. They were throwing their own party. 

I chatted with a lot of fun people, from around the world, who seemed to think our American costumes quaint. it is one of our better holidays; pretty harmless and hails the silly. Free beer - that's never bad. 

Nice taco supper, too! Needed it before heading off to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Hallowe'en bash at R Place on Capitol Hill. Had loads of fun hooking up back with the crowd, including old friend Maggie Bloodstone. 

Seriously pimped out.
Anyway, my sparkly Judy Garland ended up looking more like Steve Bascemi in Boardwalk Empire. I'm trying to remember what Maggie was playing, but I think the Gin Collins kind of got in the way of the brain cells. Did too much dancing and admiring of wonderful costumes. 

Saw the best twerk on the planet and got an unexpected lapdance from a black-winged angel. Then again, as artist friend Mark Campos points out, since when is a lapdance from a black-winged angel not unexpected?
His Holliness da Pope

As usual, received a grand reception from the Sisters, who love my books and - of course - the condom pack I designed for them. Sister Abbess took a moment to discuss the possibility of arranging the appearance of a novice at the Clallam Bay Comicon, because a comicon needs a charity, and the Sisters are best at it. There is a novice in Bremerton, evidently. Bremerton! That town is improving all the time. The Fire Piper, Niall Townley, lives there too. It has quite the art scene.

Out on the street, ran into a guy who was having a bad night - until the conversation reminded him he was no longer sleeping in a Subaru in a graveyard in New Jersey in winter. And got another hug.
The Sisters hard at work.

The next day, headed to hit the Three Sisters of Clallam Art Gallery party. They were stepping up in the costumes. And the Soul Ducks - the local hard mud-wallow blues band - was doing their damnedest to crack the air. They said I got them. I hope so; I practically shook my head off the stalk.

On the way home, in Bremerton, stopped at our old house, to check out if Tree was still there. Yes, s/he was, in a neatly-laid-out brick-edged raised bed. We have actually lived Under The Deodars. Or at least one.

We're as nice as we sound.
She'd lost that huge limb that really showed her off, but the pruning job was good, and healing well. She used to drop these huge things, the size of trees. I was just sorry we didn't have a woodstove.

Dan made us move because the house was haunted. Looking at it now, I wonder how I ever missed that. 

Thu the Pirate
Tree, the deodar fir.
After all, it was between a cemetery - and the world's smallest "Indian reservation" - with fireworks stand - with its scattered graves among the trailers and RVs. And of course, all the cats that passed on while we were there. I was concentrating on Tree and forgot to say "hello." I only remembered Vincent, who disappeared so many years ago. Nobody ever gets over someone who disappears.

Prine family home and fireworks (see link in text).
The whole street is so obviously haunted. Or was it just because it was the Day of the Dead, on a spooky, red-and-yellow-leaved October? 

No wonder we love Hallowe'en and the Day of the Dead so much. Sometimes we need the real hurt of memories to clear our souls.