Radio Appearance Saturday

We'll be guest hosts, along with Laurell, on tomorrow's (Saturday's) Mouth of Wonderlive. It's shaping to be a year in food kind of wrapup and sounds like it's going to be a blast. M+D will be coming along, so we may have a special guest for the Ask Rula segment.

Listen to the stream, catch the it at PRX page, or wait for the post on the blog.


Update: a couple photos below. It was a lot of fun, we were all on the air, all weighed in with our Santa Fe eating options, and M read her question for Rula. And Stacy swears the show will be on iTunes any day now.



Further update: since the topic of favorite restaurants of the year was discussed, we went out to one of ours, Vinaigrette, that evening. A few nights earlier, we went with M+D to the other best of the year, Lan's Vietnamese Cuisine.


unofficial take-your-dog-to-work half-day

Had a half-day the day before Christmas, and my coworker Natalie was hankerin' to bring her dog Jess into the office. At her last job, Natalie brought Jess to work with her every day.

Jess: how could you say "no" to this face?

Not so much here, where dog-bringing-in is officially verboten. But people sometimes do — it's more of a don't ask, don't tell, don't poop in the courtyard policy. But since the office would be pretty deserted right before the holiday, and we had no deadlines...

I decided to bring Cheyenne, since all everyone at the office has heard about from me lately is how much I want a greyhound, and we filled out an application, and we're going to look at one on Saturday, and zomfg! we brought that doggie home, we have a dog now! omg omg!

My other coworker Susan, brought in Queenie, the younger (and more active) of her two Aussie cattle dogs. They all got along great. It was fun to see Cheyenne with the other dogs. If they walked around, she followed them. If someone came in to our suite, she had to go check it out. Everyone told her how pretty she was, and ooh-ed an ahh-ed over her. One coworker said she looked "like a Chagall painting."

Clockwise from top left: Susan, Natalie, Jess, Queenie, Cheyenne.

Cheyenne meets my boss, David.

Susan talking to Queenie in my office, Cheyenne is baffled

Sacked out briefly on the pile of blankets I brought. Yeesh, that rug is really bright.


More Snow and Such

The snow started late yesterday afternoon, and by this morning was about 6-8" deep and still coming down. Headed out to start clearing everything out and, of course, the new dog needed to go for her morning constitutional.

A bit of a digression. Everything about a racing Greyhound is recorded and analyzed and it all goes to a giant database that, with the help of your dog's ear tattoos, you can track. So, thanks to this, we know Cheyenne's lineage, we know that she wasn't a particularly good racer (like her littermates) and never reallly made it to The Show. And we know that she came to us from Tuscon.

She was, I guess, relatively game upon stepping out into the snow. Immediately attempted to get back in. But with a little urging, headed out into the powdery white stuff. We're working on getting a proper coat for her — lest you think us spoiling her, note that Greyhounds have light fur and very thin skin — so used an old base layer, with somewhat mixed results. Anyway, pretty even-keeled (which describes her basic state), she did her business and got back inside to her bed quickly.

I was at work today, but at the end was rewarded with this:

BTW, M+D are safely here, beating the storms that covered the north- and midwest. They arrived in town last Thursday, traveled with us to Abq to meet Cheyenne, and were dogsitters on Monday. We've gathered for dinners, they've done their own things during the day (weather permitting).

This isn't due to melt, and there's supposed to be more over the next couple days, guaranteeing a white Christmas here in Santa Fe.



Just in time for Christmas, our own Santa's Little Helper. Only been here for about an hour-and-a-half; wasn't particularly freaked out by the house, but cautious. Now, just sleeping.

More — let's be honest, much more — later.


tree decorating with Stacy + Jim

As mentioned before, We invited Jim + Stacy over for tree decorating, dinner, and drinks (not necessarily in that order).

Stacy was very industrious and did a great job, despite her claims of never having done any tree decorating.

Jim was also quite fast, when he wasn't menacing Stacy, Hitchcock-like, with one of our many, many bird ornaments:

...or trying to eat them:

Bram opted to document the process and ply us with Mai Tais, in lieu of decorating. Here's this year's lovely ornament from Joan + Ken.

Everyone was happy with the results!

Enjoy the holiday spirit(s), everyone!


Top Ten Comics of 2008

I know that this isn't necessarily the audience for this post, but now that I've invested way too much time putting this together, I'm not only posting it at Raised By Squirrels, but wherever I can.

The following comics stood out to me this year; all had a release or were ongoing in some fashion in 2008. And though there are repeats from last year's list, I'm also trying to call attention to some that might have been overlooked. In no particular order:

1. The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite TPB by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba — I was not exactly filled with confidence when the highlight of this solicit was "written by the lead singer of My Chemical Romance." When I started hearing good things from surprising (and trusted) sources, figured there'd at least be some great artwork. There is, but there's also tight storytelling with a terrific tone, odd humor, and familiar elements in the right places that combine to make for an original, enjoyable tale, with the promise of more weirdness to come.

2. Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson — the early days of Thompson's strip are now collected into a book, and the adventures of the suburban Otterloop family are available daily at gocomics.com/culdesac. With a wry, affectionate sensibility and approach to everyday life that is familiar yet fresh, it brings new energy to the daily newspaper strip and, I think, could be the best one going on now. Plus, the linework alone is often funnier than just about every other daily. You can follow his blog at richardspooralmanac.blogspot.com.

3. Diesel Sweeties (dieselsweeties.com) by Richard Stevens — Monica introduced me to his daily syndicated newspaper strip just before Stevens retired from it to fully concentrate his energies on the Web version. So he's still offering a contemporary take on the modern comic strip, daily doses of geeky humor, contemporary wit, and a skewed glimpse at modern romance, all while wringing every bit of expression possible out of those limited pixels.

4. Hark A Vagrant (beatonna.livejournal.com; also posted at katebeaton.com) by Kate Beaton — literary humor, Canadian (and some American) history, fishmongers, saucy mermaids, dandies, Miyamoto Musashi somewhere in there, and, of course, Fat Pony. This occasional webcomic never fails to amuse with its obscure references and intelligent storytelling. The artwork is deceptively simple, well-paced and expressive. Found via The Comics Curmudgeon.

5. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday and
6. Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja — both titles appear for a second (and last) time because they each take characters with extensive history and continuity and bring something new to their mythologies. They offer different approaches: X-Men's, a sharp, character-driven story that puts the fun back in the old galaxy-spanning epics; Iron Fist's, a smart, mystical/martial arts adventure that that introduces new elements and characters who are such a such a perfect fit, it's tough to imagine they haven't existed all along.

7. Scalped: Casino Boogie TPB by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera — a difficult story, full of unappealing people making tough choices and generally doing bad things with unpleasant consequences. And probably one of the finest examples of what comics can achieve. Grittily realistic and evocative, it jumps around time and in and out of reality, interweaving characters and revealing more about their past and relationships in a way that would be tough to pull off in any other medium.

8. The Martian Confederacy by Jason McNamara and Paige Braddock — laugh-out-loud moments in a sci-fi tale about a quirky cast caught up in a caper on a future Mars. It's a simple premise, well told. The inventive characters and their dialog really drive the humor and fun in the story, which is really a great fit for the pacing and art. Credit goes to Monica for picking it out.

9. Helen Killer by Andrew Kreisberg and Matthew JLD Rice — not without its flaws, but it takes a pitch — Alexander Graham Bell gives Helen Killer a device lets her see and hear as well giving her super-strength and agility, which she uses to protect the president — that just seems ill-advised and turns it into a well-paced, historical sci-fi adventure. There's a lot of classic comic storytelling in there, a real love of the medium, but also a modern sensibility that manages to play it completely straight while reveling in the absurdity of it all. Thanks to The Invincible Super-Blog for calling attention to it.

10. Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front by Todd DePastino and the accompanying collection Willie and Joe: The WWII Years — OK, so, the DePastino book is a biography and, technically Mauldin is a cartoonist working in single panels, but they both call attention to a true master of storytelling through combining words and pictures. I usually avoid biographies, but this is a fascinating, gripping read of an exceptional character in unusual times. The collection traces his development as a draftsman and observer, all the more amazing when you learn the conditions he was working under.


Honorable mentions: Black Summer (mostly for its lush art); Criminal; Elephantmen; Fantastic Four (Millar and Hitch's); Doonesbury's B.D. storyline; B.P.R.D. and Hellboy; The Secret History of The Authority: Hawksmoor (a surprising story with beautiful, atypical supehero art); All-Star Superman; Invincible Iron Man; Comic Book Comics; Girls With Slingshots Volume One and webcomic at daniellecorsetto.com/gws.html; Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1 (2 and 3 haven't lived up to the promise, but that first issue is crazy fun); Gutsville; Guerillas (off to a promising start); and 100 Bullets is only missing from the list because now I'm just hoarding the trade paperbacks to read when it's all done.


Some Snow

Woke up this morning to some snow on the ground and some still coming down. Not too unusual for the past few days — one weatherman described what was going on as kind of monsoon season, but with snow. Around sunset, clouds roll in; there may be some precipitation, there may not; it may just be in the mountains, or it may be in town; it may be rain, it may be snow. We've started a couple mornings with a dusting.

But there was a bit more than usual. And it kept coming down. And continued to all day. As of around 5:00 today, probably about 4-5" on the ground:

Still snowing now. A Winter Storm Warning in effect until Wednesday, but it's not supposed to accumulate too much below 7500'. We'll see.

By way of contrast, today Colin (in Bermuda) sent some photos of him boating around this summer.



Got the tree yesterday evening, left it outside in the backyard (to be snowed on... sigh) overnight, wrestled it inside this afternoon, set it up, tested all the light strings (all ok), started to put them on the tree, got to the last string, and it crapped out. Changed the dinky fiddly little fuses, but no dice, it was dead. So, the tree is only partially lit and I have to go out tomorrow + get a new string — Jim and Stacy are coming over Tuesday night for the traditional tree-decorating Mai-Tais, and white bean chicken chili.


'Round about this time of year, all sorts of top ten (or whatever number) lists start coming out. Already Dori is planning her best music of the year, as is Andy. I usually try and send a couple songs Andy's way, hoping to make the compilation, though generally with limited success. Early this year, I tried to start a list (and a playlist on iTunes of the ones I got) of the new music I ran across so that, when the time came, I could make a meaningful contribution.

But soon after, circumstances conspired to cut me off from IndieSF during the day and around that same time, KCRW changed its lineup around and I wasn't really liking what they were playing during the times I was listening (which all may be changing again now that Jason Bentley is taking over as music director). And so I started listening to Pandora.

There's been a bit of a learning curve, figuring out how to really take advantage of how Pandora evaluates your preferences and recommends music, how to make selections to create more diversity — there's a pattern at work that Liz clued me in to that affected how I defined my selections. It's still not the same as having a good DJ who will challenge you, and there's some odd, even bad, choices that it makes, but every so often it just nails it right on. Sometimes, it's been music that I even own that I'd forgotten about, and often some new stuff I'd never even heard of.

Thing is, it turns out that I don't really seem to like anything more recent than around 2005. Which will probably only surprise most of you only in that I made it that far.

So, my recommendations? I liked what I heard from MGMT's Oracular Spectacular, but not enough to seek out anything other what what I could find for free (legal) download. Santogold's album — one of two new CDs I bought this year, something I haven't done in ages — is a wild, diverse treat that really plays better as individual tracks than as a whole. I got to listen to Portishead's long-awaited 3, and really, the only song that sticks with me is "Machine Gun." Moby released Last Night (my other purchase for the year), it's kind of a concept album that attempts to distill a night's clubbing into one disc; I was a bit disappointed, but it is a decent listen, even if the mellowing out tracks run a bit long. Does It Offend You Yeah offered some good songs, as did M83. What I heard of the new Thievery Corporation I liked, but hasn't compelled me to buy; for me, The Mirror Conspiracy (probably a Desert Island Disc that, yes, predates 2005) sums up what they do best. Seems that I should already own the new Reckless Kelly, but I'll get around to buying it; I do enjoy seeing them perform, but their studio albums tend not to grab me. Last year's demo of "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" by Black Kids is, I think, inferior to this year's studio version, though what else I've heard off their album is catchy. And The Ting Ting's "Shut Up And Let Me Go," despite getting overplay on an Apple commercial, is still just fun. In the "oldies" department, Pandora introduced me to Ladytron, Hybrid and the guilty, gothy pleasure that is Lucia; reminded me how great Lush's Split is; and showed me more of Curve's catalog.

Mostly, it's been interesting to see how we've just gone to listening to streaming radio rather than albums. Last year, around this time, I burned all our CDs to iTunes, so all our music is in unorganized mess on the desktop computer in the office. With the Airport Express (and PandoraJam), anything that's on the computer can play on the living room stereo and/or the speakers in the office. Every so often, there's an album or artist we want to hear, or we just hit shuffle to take a random tour of the collection, but often we just find ourselves letting someone (or -thing, in Pandora's case) else choose the songs.

When our local public radio station KSFR finally made their big transmitter switch, it increased their signal everywhere in the region except our neighborhood. Seriously, you get out to Alameda and it's fine, but in our house it's just static, so we listen to their stream. And every so often we do stream the ol' WAMU, often Saturday afternoons for their talk lineup, and then in the evening for Hot Jazz Saturday Night. We've long enjoyed (in its various forms) Indie, and were sorry to see them lose their spot on the air. But they've rallied and have a reliable stream and a terrific selection of music, and The Independent Get Down is our soundtrack for New Comic Night. I still worry about their survival, though; we all know that the future of ______ is digital, and radio's no exception. But like everything else, I'm not sure anyone's making enough money off the Web to keep going — so check them out and drop them a line if you're listening, OK?

We do still occasionally tune into an actual radio station, getting our NPR fix from a couple Albuquerque-based public radio stations. And Wednesday nights, we try to listen to Toast and Jam on KBAC. We're not particularly fans of jam bands or anything, but our friend Chris (from True Believers) is one of the hosts, and they always produce an entertaining couple hours.