Monday, April 27, 2009

Our weekend of books and chores

This was a really satisfying weekend.

We went out to eat twice (I feel a little guilty about this indulgence), watched two movies on DVD, worked at Guapo, went to an awesome book sale and did lots of house work.

Friday night we went out to Chevy's Mexican Restaurant for the first time (not very authentic). I did really like the chips and salsa though and we ran into friends right before we left.

Once we got home we watched Fast Food Nation by Richard Linklater and the documentary Life After Tomorrow about what it was like for all the little girls in the Broadway and touring shows of Annie to star in it and move on from it. I recommend the documentary if you are a fan of the musical.

Saturday we went out for dinner at the India Oven on 34th and Belmont with our friends Aron and Ariel. It was pretty good and I could go there again. I've been looking for an Indian restaurant in town to call my own...

Sunday morning, our friends Dylan and Emily picked us up and drove us out to Gresham for a Portland Library book sale. It was day two of the sale and everything was half off! We're all a bunch of book nerds so we were in heaven. I found six books for myself, 24 books to sell at Guapo, and Allie must have gotten 12 or so books for herself. All for 37 bucks.

Here's a photo of the six I got

and here's a picture including Allie's score.

These photos are annoyingly blurry. I couldn't figure out Allie's camera when I took them. I'm tempted to retake them but I already put the books away.

One distasteful aspect of the book sale was watching all the speculators. I guess these days you can buy scanners, scan in book bar codes and see how much they're worth. In this way, you can find all the valuable books (with barcodes) without having any knowledge about them. It's cool technology but saddens me as a book lover. We ourselves resell books we find at these places, but we pick them based on our experience, taste, and love for books. Not like the one guy I saw methodically scanning an entire row of books, looking only at their "value" on the scanner, uninterested in even the author or title of the book. Having someone plunder all the rare books also makes it less likely that Joe Schmo and Jane Plain (??) can luck across something of value.

Once we got home Sunday, we busted our butts cleaning the house. Cleaning, organizing, and remodelling our house is an endless project and when we actually have time to work on it, it's very gratifying. I took four and half boxes of junk to Goodwill and tentatively started ripping out the rest of our carpet. A couple of years ago we tore out the carpet from our bedroom, the hallway, and the living room to expose the hardwood floors. We left carpet in two bedrooms and a closet. Yesterday, I got started on finishing this off and tore the carpet out of the closet (which admittedly was pretty easy). We have to clean out the bedrooms before I can do the rest and I'm hoping to get one of them done this coming weekend. I'm pretty motivated to do this, as we're planning on refinishing our floors this summer.

I'm feeling charged up for the week, and hope we can keep this productivity going.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stumptown 2009 is over! Also, I finished my zine!

Finally, there's some light at the end of the tunnel!

We've been super busy these last few weeks and now finally we can relax a little.

Every year in Portland, there is the Stumptown Comics Fest, a convention/celebration of indie, self-published, and alternative comics. We've tabled at the event and had a tie-in party for the last three years. This last weekend, we survived our fourth Stumptown and had a blast in the process.

We stayed one to three hours late at Guapo the entire last week, preparing for the event. (Tax day we stayed until 11pm, filing our tax extension). Friday we had our big annual comics party and reading. We got free beer from MacTarnahan's, who sponsored the event. They made us order a specific amount of beer in advance and I asked for 300 bottles, figuring around 100 people would be at the party. I was pretty close, as we ended up drinking 320 beers! Allie and I stayed a bit too late--it was 230am by the time we left.

It was our most successful reading yet. All of the readers did a great job and were funny, audible and engaging. For readings, we use PowerPoint and project the slides onto a roll down screen so everyone can see the art. A lot of the readers also add in sound effects and funny voices.

Every year during the reading we host the Maisie Kukoc Award for Comics Inspiration, created by our friend Jesse Reklaw. This year, Allie made the trophy and it was beautiful and won tons of compliments. She's going to post a picture of it real soon. Our friend Vanessa Davis won the award for her awesome diary comic "Spaniel Rage." Vanessa is one of my favorite autobio cartoonists and I was really glad she won. The award also came with a cash prize of $450. Paid in full!

Saturday morning we decided to sleep off our hangovers and showed up three hours late to the Stumptown Comics Fest. At 3:00. I had my panel with cartoonist Hellen Jo. There were some technical difficulties and attendance was lower than I would have preferred, but in the end I was pretty happy with our "performance." Leading up to the panel, I was really anxious, but I think I managed to keep the conversation going, while making Hellen look good. I'm ready for another one!

Saturday night was another party (I didn't drink at this one). Sunday at 6pm, the fest was over and we ended the weekend with good sales. It's pretty fun planning for these events and using strategy to pick which books will or will not sell. This year we brought fewer books than ever, and sold more of them than ever. Most of the books we brought to push did really well.

There was another party Sunday night which kept us up until 1am. Monday, we were able to sleep in, as I had wisely scheduled the day off from my office job. We had a goodbye brunch with friends and then headed back to work at Guapo.

I'm happy to say that yesterday I FINALLY finished my "2008 Year In Review Zine." This was supposed to be something I was going to send out with our Christmas cards in December but it took me forever to finish! In the end, it's 24 pages long. I decided to make it a series of lists, with photos and drawings interspersed. It features our top ten moments of 2008, my top ten CDs of 2008, and the top 10 cats in our life. I had a lot of fun working on the layout and planning which pictures to use. For various reasons, I wrote and laid out the text at home in InDesign. I then converted it to a PDF, and then eventually made it a jpeg so that I could put it in a PowerPoint program and lay it out with pictures during my breaks at work. I'm really happy with the idea, of making a zine instead of Christmas letter, but am not convinced that it will be as universal as a letter. For instance, will my mother-in-law really care about my the Joy Division CD I bought? I think I'm going to try and make one for this year too. Maybe I'll start it in September.

Because it's so late, I'm not sending the 2008 zine out to everyone. Let me know if you'd like a copy and I will mail it to you. This offer does not apply to complete strangers though. I mainly kept working on it just so I could say I finished something. I have a lot of creative goals in life. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier for me to start something than it is to finish. I'm trying to work through that.

Now that the 2008 zine is done, I can finally move on to new projects. Allie and I set a goal for ourselves last year to each have a zine ready to sell at this year's Portland Zine Symposium, which is in July. I've got to buckle down and get something done. I'm hoping to have two things ready actually. I'm starting a zine about my favorite band, the Beach Boys. I'm also going to start an elaborate zine/project about nostalgia.