I'm back from my trip to Massachusetts and Connecticut. Arrived a day late, yesterday afternoon, a little worse for wear because of a shutdown at DFW and the subsequent host of cancelled flights.

A good time visiting folks. Photos and more later.


Scott McCloud in Albuquerque

'Round about this time last year, Scott McCloud announced a 50-state tour for his new book Making Comics. I kept an eye on it as it came together, noticing that New Mexico wasn't filled in.

Years ago, I read Understanding Comics when it came out — and was blown away. First off, the structure: talking about comics by setting the author in a comic, talking about comics. So obvious and so well-executed. But his analysis was eye-opening, even for a lifelong reader (the space between the panels — of course that's where the action happens) and his case for "sequential art" as a truly unique form of communication was really compelling. I've been recommending it for years, for casual readers and comics creators. And I've watched over the years as it's cited across a range of disciplines, from presentation planning to interface design.

So I got in touch about 7000 BC sponsoring his visit to the Land of Enchantment. And it quickly became apparent that it was out of reach for our little organization. But I started looking for help, relying heavily on Jeff's connections. Over the course of the year, I stayed in touch with Scott, who was really great about trying to find ways to accommodate us.

Around the beginning of this year, we hooked up with VSA North Fourth Art Center and The Art Center Design College, giving us the means and the venue to make it happen. Though it was all finalized, contracts signed, and ready to go last Monday. Nine days before Scott was due to come to Albuquerque to present.

Scott and the family left Manhattan, Kansas on Monday to make it Albuquerque on Wednesday. I took the day off work to make any preparations and meet them. It's a long, not terribly interesting story, but things starting going awry first thing in the morning. By noon, I was about 3 hours off schedule and well into a day of perpetual motion. But I made it into town, along with a few other 7000 BC members. Arriving late afternoon, Scott met us at North Fourth to check out our exhibit Strip: Undressing Comics. We met his wife Ivy and oldest daughter Sky and spent about an hour looking at the work and discussing process.

We dashed over to Garcia's Kitchen for some food — where it quickly became apparent that, though we needed the energy, it was going to throw off our already-disrupted schedule. But we all raced to the school and made it more or less on time, and met up with Monica and other 7000 BC members.

Because the publicity had started so late, we were worried about the turnout. But it was respectable, probably more than 100. We had a table set up at the back of the room, and met a bunch of people, sold some of the group's work.

The presentation began with Sky, who gave a wonderful, funny, energetic recap of the tour. Then Scott took the stage for about an hour. He discussed history, regional differences, future of comics, his personal history — it was broad and fast and funny and insightful. He answered questions, signed books. We met more folks. And then wrapped up and a bunch of us, along with the McClouds, went to the Frontier Restaurant (a real Albuquerque landmark) for some dinner and conversation. It was great to finally unwind and talk with our guests more informally, with less care about schedules. That whole thing wrapped up about midnight. And once we finished with everything that needed doing, we got back home around 1:45.

So, thanks to Scott and the whole McCloud family for working with us to make this happen, and for putting on such a great presentation. And best of luck with the final stops on the tour.

And me, I'm off to New England this weekend. I'll be starting at Andy and Liz's for a couple days, then finishing out the week back with my parents.


Brunch at Cowgirl, Summer In The Dark

Some yardwork first thing Sunday morning, then headed over to Cowgirl for their Gospel Brunch. Heard that Joe West was going to be performing outside there. We weren't the only ones; greeted by a full patio and the warning that they had no idea when a table might free up because people tended to linger, we sat inside. Could still hear some of the music.

A hearty breakfast, then off to Summer In The Dark, Santa Fe's 10th annual film noir festival.

Been hearing about it on Cinema Talk, a regular Friday fixture on The Journey Home on KSFR. And thought we should check it out, having just finished our "superhero noir" series . They recommended just showing up for whatever show you could and, not really knowing anything about the movies, did just that.

We wound up at Shock Corridor. Kind of not what we were expecting — but the Cinema Talk guys had noted (and it seems to make sense, in retrospect) that noir movies were labeled after the fact. It wasn't a movement or anything, just a bunch of films that seemed to have a number of things in common when you looked back after a few years. And though this was lacking guns, a femme fatale, and a lot of smoking, the tale of an investigative reporter who feigns insanity to uncover a murder in an asylum meets the criteria. There were moments where the entire audience laughed out loud at parts that weren't supposed to be funny, but there was still some undeniably good stuff in there.


Sox and the City

Check out M's photo essay over at the view from Mars.


Bob, Doing His Part for the State's Economy

Bob, our former neighbor from Arlington, was in town last Sunday. He was in Albuquerque for a conference and headed up to Santa Fe for the day. We started off at Zia Diner, where we got to spend some time catching up and hearing about things back in Colonial Village. Then, up to Museum Hill and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, then downtown to the just-renamed New Mexico Museum of Art. And there was still time for the vendors at The Palace of the Governors.

Also in the past week, the sky turned threatening, but the rains held off at Music on the Hill.


Beth + Paul's Wedding

Yesterday, we headed to Albuquerque for the wedding of Paul, one of our friends from 7000 BC, and Beth. Ceremony was held at the (a?) chapel on the UNM campus. A nice, hour-long ceremony

I got awfully hung up on some of the artwork on the walls there.

We moved over to the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History for the reception; the ceremony ended around 3:00, the reception was due to start at 5:00. We were giving a ride to a friend, stopped by his place to pick up a projection screen for the reception, and made it to the museum by 4:00. That left us some time to head through the Billy the Kid exhibit and see some of the other artwork in the collection there.

By around 5:00, the museum attendees had been booted out and the lobby area transformed for the reception. And when the bride and groom arrived, their wedding party was there to surprise them with an arch of light sabers.

There was a little dancing, then toasts. Then, per Beth's family tradition, dessert before dinner. Long ago cautioned by her grandmother to have dessert first, 'cause you never know, they cut the wedding cake . . .

as well as the groom's cake, shown here with the translation from Polish.

Traditional New Mexican fare for dinner by Garcia's Kitchen. More dancing after dinner, fueled by the eclectic mix on the couple's iPod, an electronic slideshow of embarrassing childhood photos assembled by the groom's mother, and some more dessert.

A good time, they're a great couple, and we're happy to have been a part of their day.

(Paul, for his day job, did the old sci-fi-magazine-type illustrations for the city of Roswell advertising campaign — you can see them over at the bottom of the page for the Roswell UFO Festival, which is going on right now).


Fourth of July Hike

It's been a while since we went out for a hike, and decided a few days ago that we'd go back to the Circle Trail at Hyde Memorial State Park for the Fourth. The dry weather recently seemed to promise a better trip than last time, but the recent high temperatures (mid-90s) meant that we needed to make an early start.

So we collected Jett around 8 and headed to the Santa Fe Baking Company to fuel up. We were out on the trail by about 9.

It starts out going up, as we learned on our first attempt. And today we discovered that it just keeps going up. For just shy of an hour-and-a half, we climbed up. Plenty of stops along the way to catch our breath and enjoy the views (as best we could; pesky trees always seemed to be in the way). It was also a good chance to catch up with Jett, who we haven't seen in a while.

Plenty green up there. The past couple weeks or so, it's been clouding up in the afternoons and looking threatening, but rarely doing anything in town. But if the radar's telling the truth, there's been pretty consistent rain up in and on the other side of the mountain.

The trip down was quicker — and steeper. The trail eventually loops back by way of the picnic areas and campgrounds, and we were back at the car by around 11:45.

By the time we were ready to sit outside this evening, maybe do a little grilling, the clouds rolled in, the wind picked up. And then it started pouring. About 10 minutes of strong rain, maybe another 10-15 a little lighter. Some more spitting rain a bit later, but now it's cleared up enough for fireworks around the neighborhood.