Friday, September 13, 2019


Villa Mungkala is near a canal in residential old Bangkok, a few blocks south of Banglamphu and close to Democracy Monument.

I'm interested in staying in this area again, to see more of it, though I might try different lodging to get an idea of what's out there. I loved being able to easily walk over to all the services of Khao San--Boots, the supermarket, street food, coffee shops, laundry, and best of all, endless inexpensive Thai massages--but being out of the loud fray was fantastic. When I first went to Bangkok in 2000 and stayed at the Viengtai, Rambuttri was so much more off the beaten path. Now it's pretty chaotic, nearly as much so as its neighbor, Khao San, and my 2011 home-away-from-home, Sakul House, is no more. Still, it's hard for me to leave the area for the glossier downtown, since I like the old character of the neighborhood as well as the conveniences.

I followed my Bangkok routine this morning, dropping off laundry, mailing a box from the post office, then heading downtown by canal boat to hunt for the Naturalizer platform sandals I like (they're not available in the US, and I'm pretty hard on shoes so I've been through a lot of them), and then end my day at MBK, the big Thai mall with local character, as opposed to all the high-end malls that could be anywhere in the world.

Exhausting day, but you know I love Bangkok...

Old Bangkok

Morning in a Bangkok neighborhood.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Break in Bangkok

Since I was on a business trip to Tokyo, I burned some frequent flyer miles and added two more stops to my journey.

First stop was Bangkok for a few days. I hadn't been in six years, plus I wanted to catch up with my old pal Mr. Fixit from my Kuwait days. He'd just moved to Bangkok last time I was there, but these days he's back and forth to Jakarta, so I wasn't even sure up until the last minute if he would even been in town for my stopover.

On arrival in Bangkok, I headed to the S1 bus. Many years ago, there used to be an airport bus, but it stopped when the airport train opened. This "new" airport bus started a few years ago. There was nothing particularly new about the bus, and it took forever in comparison to the airport train to a taxi, but it was cheap. I took it to Democracy Monument.

I walked down the road to a path along a small canal, eventually arriving at Villa Mungkala, a colonial villa turned bed-and-breakfast. I'd spent so much time in Bangkok over the years, but I'd only ever stayed at the Viengtai, Sakul House, and for a few nights in 2011, at Feung Nakorn Balcony. I'd probably spent a grand total of three months in Bangkok over my various trips, and only stayed off Rambuttri for a grand total of four nights.

So I was really branching out this time, but I still like old Bangkok and the easy access to tourist infrastructure, so I didn't want to go too far away from the tourist mecca of Khao San Road. I'd found a nice compromise in this little canal district a mere ten minutes walk from KSR. I checked in and dropped off my bag, then followed a winding path up to the main road, and headed over to Tang Hua Seng department store.

No, I wasn't trying to buy stuff, aside from a tiny container of coconut milk to use in my morning coffee at the guest house. I was hunting the AEON ATM. It's got the lowest fee of any ATMs in Bangkok, and the department store one has been there since at least 2011, though back then, it had no fee at all.

Next up was dinner at the little sidewalk cafe owned by Max, the guy who does magic tricks for his customers. The food isn't any better or worse than any other sidewalk cafe, but everyone who works there is nice, the food is cheap, and Max has a good sense of humor. He'd gotten the cafe from his aunty in 2008, long before I ate there nightly in summer of 2011.

KSR just keeps growing and developing, but it's still got the same chaotic but charming flavor. I noted a self-serve laundromat. That's new. Usually, you drop your laundry off.

I was tired from my day of travel, but I was also delighted to be in one of my many "homes." This is the place I know best of anywhere I've stayed outside the US and Barcelona. I'd done all I needed to do tonight...check-in, ATM, dinner. Now it was time for my favorite Bangkok pastime.

An hour-long foot massage for just a few bucks. Excellent.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


photo by Jeff Feuerzeig
This morning, in my hotel room in Tokyo, I awoke to a message from my writer friend Warren Ellis on my personal email. As opposed to my work email, I mean. That's how I knew to sit up and read it.

He was passing on news. Daniel Johnston, an outsider artist and musician, and more importantly, a friend of mine since 1986, had died.

This was confirmed by the next email I received from Daniel's former manager.

I didn't have time to process this. Daniel died on September 11th, but I was a day ahead in Tokyo and I had to get to the airport on the morning of September 12th.

I finished packing my bag and headed over to Tokyo Station, to get on the Narita Express. My next stop was Bangkok. I sat on the train and thought about all the things I wanted to write, but this wasn't the time.

"Don't write something personal while rushing to the airport," I thought. There would be plenty of time on the plane.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fan Girling near Tokyo

You guys, I did something fun!

I met Gurihiru, the artists on Superman Smashes the Klan with Gene Yang. It's a series I am editing at DC, along with always-chipper Diego Lopez.

I took the shinkansen (bullet train) to see them out in the 'burbs. We had tea and talked via their translator, and they didn't even mind the few tiny art corrections I'd had to do on issue #1 (going to press Friday). The pleasure was mine.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Touristing Tokyo

I've been through Tokyo many times en route to other places, but I hadn't actually stopped and been a tourist in at least, what, 20 years?

I was in town with two colleagues. The first day, we met up with our local rep and went to some comic stores and stopped by a few sights.

I went back to the hotel early to wait out my jetlag and see how long the typhoon took to hit us.

Be Vigilant

Oh, sure.

I get to have all the fun.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

The Last Thing I Expected to See

I should be asleep. I’m in Tokyo and hallucinating.

Friday, September 06, 2019

So Long As You Have Your Passport

My sewing machine jammed while I was putting the finishing touches on a new handbag for my Tokyo business meetings.

Like really jammed, so I abandoned that and grabbed a DC Comics messenger bag. At least I’m on brand, I thought, as I shoved a bunch of stuff in a bag and called a Lyft to LAX.

I remembered my passport and my chargers and my snacks. I probably forgot something. Oh, I know. My new business cards.

Somehow I’m on a plane, waiting for takeoff.

I hope the hotel in Tokyo has an iron. I’m guessing it doesn’t have a sewing machine.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Stuff You Should Not Tell Passengers

Last night's Lyft driver:

 "I couldn't sleep at all last night. I went to sleep at 3, woke up at 5 and went to work. Then after work I couldn't sleep either. So here I am driving for Lyft, figured I might as well be doing something."

(As I quietly belt up in the backseat.)

Another fun thing he told me:

He was moonlighting from his job as an airplane engineer at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. He used to work at LAX, and the commute was killing him, until one day he realized he could just hop on a flight.

I don't know how that works since there are no commercial flights on this route. Maybe it's something private or utilitarian. Or maybe he was pulling my leg. 

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Back West

Red Line at 11 at night, Vermont and Santa Monica.

“Excuse me, I have to touch the pole!”

A large woman runs in the open door and taps a pole in the center of the car, then runs back out.

Everyone is like “Wha—?”

The doors close and pretty much everyone had glanced up at her on the platform.

That’s when she raised her shirt and flashed the whole train as it pulled out. Everyone cracked up. I did too.

“And we’re not even in Hollywood yet” said one old man.

PATH Darleen

I want to write fan fiction about Darleen and her animal pals from the backyard.

New Paint on the Block

The new neighbors bought their house for double the price of mine and then they immediately lowered the value...

Of course, Halloween IS right around the corner. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

On Safari in Jersey City

1. It's a party!

2. What the hell is that?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

LAX Excursion

I’m flying out of LAX tonight and it’s possible I’m going to miss my plane.

Right when I was leaving the office, some people decided they had to talk about a very important issue, so I was running late. I ended up grabbing a Lyft to Van Nuys Flyaway because I thought it would be the fastest way. (Normally I get the Red Line to the Hollywood or Union Station Flyaway.)

Well, that was a big mistake. The wait for the Lyft was annoying, the traffic was horrendous, and the bus left 20 minutes late.

Note to self: Always opt for the train during rush hour. 

So I was looking up how to walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 7 in case I have to jump off the bus and run while it makes its loop around, and hey, something amusing came out of this irritating night.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Decades Past

Here's a fun photo my mom posted today.

How about those socks I'm wearing!

Saturday, August 24, 2019


Eight months and 24 days after learning the hatch in the JC basement was super-leaky, it's blocked up! I tried hiring a landscape designer to deal with my backyard, but the only person who bothered to give me an estimate was crazy-expensive, so I put some laser-focused google-power to work and located the builder that company works with.

He was quite reasonable. Also, awesome.

Next step is to get the staircase and concrete out and fill it with dirt, drainage, and gravel. Actually, it's unclear what the next step is, but I'm hoping to find out soon.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Heritage Square Field Trip

In 1969, a bunch of cool old Victorians were picked up and moved somewhere safe from real estate development.

I went there over the weekend, needing to get out of the house.

The living homes of Carroll Avenue in Echo Park are more exciting, but these are cool too.
Here are some photos.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Enter Stage Left

Snagglepuss, the stage adaptation, was nominated for a Harvey Award! 

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Friday, August 09, 2019

Where Have We Heard This Before?

This former New Yorker drew a circle around his new office in the map, and tried living in different parts of LA via AirBnB within that circle. He also takes public transit.

Sound familiar?

I can hear my aunt saying it now. “I told you to write an article.”

Of course, writing an article is easier when you already work at a newspaper. Perhaps my story needs to be told as a comic.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Stuff of Legend

Look what Rev Cool, a radio host in southwestern Ohio, uncovered when cleaning out his barn.

It's a poster from a seminal event of my college years. I was at a DIY conference of radio hosts at Rev Cool's house, with the other "new music" (or whatever we called ourselves then) hosts from WYSO community radio. Me, Rev Cool, Marty Lou, Chuck, Dennis, I think.

"Do you think Antioch would book the Dead Kennedys?"

"Maybe," I said. "Probably not."

I was wrong.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Do the Hustle

I returned my Yosemite rental car before work yesterday, then at the end of the work day, walked outside my Burbank office building to catch the bus to the metro to Vermont/Sunset, where I hopped on a DASH bus up to the Greek. I had a ticket to see Blondie and Elvis Costello.

This kind of event is so easy here in LA, if you can work around the parking costs and the traffic into Griffith Park. The outdoor amphitheaters are huge, so you can always get a ticket. The settings are pleasant, enjoyable even if you're watching nothing. I wouldn't think to buy tickets to much of anything if I had to get myself uptown to the Beacon back home—I'm more a small event or more likely no-mainstream events-at-all person—but here events are more appealing due to the settings.

So I went to the Greek on the bus and watched Blondie and I thought about disco.

Disco was happening during my childhood. Donna Summer was the soundtrack to the 1970s, along with the Fifth of Beethoven, Play That Funky Music (White Boy), Gloria Gaynor, and as kids, we all tried to do the Hustle. Or something. I don't know if it was really the Hustle. But there were dances people would try to do, and I was certainly not great at them.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Moving Up

I was sitting in a cafe at the center of Yosemite National Park on Saturday (one of only a few spots where the outside world can intrude via wifi or cellular), when I learned an announcement about my promotion was going to show up on a website this week.

Which is odd since my promotion happened nine months ago. I was puzzled but ambivalent. Okay, sure.

But what I wasn't prepared for was the onslaught of congratulations! Which is awesome, but awkward, given the nine months in-between.

I practiced grace for several days. I sometimes succeeded.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Yosemite Photos

Here are photos of my short trip to Yosemite. 

I really need to do this kind of thing more often while I'm living here in California.

Yes Bear

It wasn't pocket lint after all.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Give Me A Tent and a Patch of Ground

Tonight’s lodging.

Looks fine, except the neighbors are traveling in a pack and blaring music through a tinny Bluetooth speaker.

Glacier Point

Here are some photos of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point.

Bear Where?

I awoke early—well, that's probably an exaggeration. I managed to leave the lodge at the outskirts of Yosemite before 9 in the morning. That's early enough, but hardly worth mentioning.

I drove to Glacier Point, a nearby outlook to get a glimpse of the Yosemite Valley I'd be arriving in soon.


And then I drove back, slowly down the winding road to the main drive. And then I saw a crowd of people and cars, and I pulled over.

I saw a bear! I think.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Short Fridays

Back on March 15, I'd been hovering over my keyboard at 7 a.m. As immortalized on, I was signed in on, waiting for Yosemite campsite reservations to open up.

I barely grabbed one and they were all gone for July 15-Aug 15 within a minute. I couldn't even get the same one for two consecutive nights, so I took a site for Saturday and reserved a still rare but less competitive single room with shared bath at a park entrance lodge for Friday night.

"That actually works out better," I thought. "In case I get held up in traffic out of LA and arrive late."

And here I was, five months later, cursing the slow traffic out of Los Angeles County. I'd meant to leave work at one, which is the earliest we can leave on summer Fridays, and I'd managed to get out just ten minutes late. But then I had to stop by my place to grab my blue IKEA bag of tent, sleeping bag, travel pillow, towel, and 19-year-old Thermarest. I shoved a few clothes in a knapsack, grabbed a water bottle, the old phone I use as an iPod, and was finally on the road by 2.

Traffic crawled from Burbank to Bakersfield, giving me plenty of time to alternate between being annoyed and contemplating my journey. My old car had been to Yosemite without me back in 2002. On the great cross-country trek with Turbo the Aussie, Henry the 1990 Ford Taurus had been driven to Yosemite after Turbo put me on a Greyhound back to LA. I was to be in a wedding, and while I can't remember which city Turbo and I had parted in, I remember being pissed when he'd locked the keys in the trunk right before I'd had to catch my bus. He'd been eating a sandwich out of our picnic gear in the trunk, and he had a habit of tossing the keys down inside the trunk while he made his sandwich.

"You're going to lock the keys in the trunk that way," I'd said a few days before.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The World on Paper

I just bought my last-ever copy of the final paper edition of the classic Nancy Chandler map of Bangkok, first published in 1974.

I bought my first one in the year 2000, and wore it out over several years, scouring its tiny details with my much-younger eyes, planning my destinations and routes along canals and alleys. The Skytrain was a mere infant the first time I stumbled over it, a few stops not even on the map when I looked up in central Bangkok and said OH WHAT'S THAT, followed by "If I took the river taxi to Saphin Taksin, I could pick up the Skytrain there," which forever changed how I got around Bangkok.

I had a few more versions, my last one in early 2013 I think, when I stopped by BKK in search of ceramic zebras on my way back from Burma. I also bought a PDF of this map, so in truth, I'll probably never use this paper version as intended.

I think I'll frame it and put it on my wall. I love a good map, and this one makes me nostalgic for a way of traveling almost no one does anymore. Indulge me for just a moment...there was a time when I stopped halfway though MariesWorldTour 2001, set up shop in Berlin for a month, spread out two maps of Africa on the rental apartment's floor, and that's how I planned alongside some Bradt and Lonely Planet guidebooks.

That world is gone now, and I'd never purposefully choose it over having a world of information in my pocket. In this case, tech makes my journeys so much easier. But no tech can increase the level of comfort on a pocked dirt road in a truck filled with chickens and goats. Don't worry, still plenty of adventure to go around.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


Wait, what? 

This must be how people feel when their exes move on without them.

(See also what else does the Justice League and THE 99 have in common?)

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Mixed Emotions

It's that time of year when everyone parses out their complicated feelings about a certain large comic book convention located in southern California, leading no one to satisfactory conclusions.

Let's review.

-Yes, it's changed.

-Yes, you've changed.

-Yes, we've all changed.

-Yes, it's insanely expensive and you could either get a new roof this year or you could pay for a hotel room at SDCC.

-I would probably not be going if I weren't employed in the field, as I would choose a new roof.

-Even those who go struggle with the ups and down over the course of a few hours.

-Yes, it's fun.

-No, it's not fun, in fact, it can kinda suck.

 -You probably can't go anyway, since you didn't plan ten months ahead of time, so your thoughts on not going have no actual bearing on the results. It's kind of like politics. Talk all you want. Doesn't matter.

 -You could just tell everyone you went, and stay home and buy that roof, since it's possible to be there all week and never see people you wanted to see.

-If I weren't going, I'd probably find some way to rationalize how I had made the better choice than those who went, but it would be absurd, because the truth is so much more complicated.

-When I don't go next, likely in 2021, remind me to bitch and moan about how stupid everyone is who is going, because they should all be buying new roofs instead. No, wait. Remind me to accept my spot in the world with grace and not put down those who still attend.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Decades of Everything Else

I was off to the Egyptian last night to see 1978 movie Superman (with New York-scapes by my friend Sam’s dad, who took photos from a helicopter), The screening included a conversation between a DC Daily host and Helen Slater (aka my former company’s lawyer’s sister).

I remember arguing the physics of the Superman ending with the girl down the street when I was a kid. I hadn’t actually seen the movie until tonight, so perhaps that’s why I was unable to suspend my disbelief.

The original Superman movie starts with a callout to 1938. When that movie came out in 1978, that seemed an impossibly ancient time, unrelated to the modern era. Watching the movie last night, I realized it's been longer from 1978 to now than from 1938 to 1978.

In my head, I roughly think of the last hundred years as "Depression stuff," "war stuff," "the sixties," "Vietnam/Watergate," and then anything after the Iranian hostage crisis and disco as "everything else, especially tech."

I might need to update my definitions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Highest Recommendation

The Indian food truck gave me a prescription discount card along with my lunch.

 Maybe I’ll just have a banana instead...

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Say It Isn't So

When you have heavy hitters on your panel at SDCC, you do what you must to survive.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Life On the Edge

Everyone's favorite Burbank motorcycle cop was stationed at the scene of the crime again today.

I spotted him as I arrived at the dead end, and so I stopped and hit the walk button once a second for two minutes. It beeps every time it's hit.


He left eventually. I like to think I annoyed him into departing.

The walk sign still hadn't changed, so as soon as he left, I crossed the street.

Against the light.

The horror.

Back in JC, I'd told a Lyft driver about my Burbank jaywalking warning offense.

He'd howled with laughter, said the Burbank police should check out Hoboken sometime, and when he dropped me off, he said I was the happiest passenger he'd had all day.

I'll take it, but you other Lyft passengers better up your game is all I'm saying.

Friday, July 12, 2019

I Need Help

God, who lives like this?

Monday, July 08, 2019

Monday Night Pottery

Here are photos of my latest pottery class output.

But first, a tale of taking a Lyft home from Burbank Rec Center.
Lyft driver: "It's chilly outside."
Me: "Weird, right? For July."
TLD: "And all that rain. And earthquakes. Maybe someone is coming."
Me: "..."
Me: "..."
Me: "Um, maybe?"

I didn't think the plate would make it through firing because it had a little crack in it, so I just tested out glazes on it. But it looks good and the crack isn't visible.

Hand built with imprints of my knuckles.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Clear and Present Danger

When TSA pulled me aside this morning, I wasn’t surprised, because I had a batter hand mixer in my carry-on.

You know, the kind of plug-in mixer with two paddles. Maybe your mom let you lick the batter off when you were a kid.

I had a story ready. I was giving it to a friend in LA. The real story is too odd, too complicated. I moved from New York to LA, but not really. I moved...but didn’t take my stuff and I saw this in my storage unit and thought maybe I could bake something with all those cherries on sale now. (If only I'd remembered to bring a cake pan.)

But when the TSA agent opened my bag, she only cared about the coffee beans I was carrying.


The offending mixer was purchased at Woolworth's on 14th Street and Avenue B in 1993.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Double the Fun

It's been a while since I discovered something new in my yard in Jersey City via my mom's wildlife motion-activated camera.

And while I was disappointed I found no new animals...I did find something unexpected.

The raccoons are teaming up now.

Friday, June 28, 2019

First Time I've Argued With A Cop INSIDE the Country

Guess who got a ticketed warning for not pushing the walk button this morning?

On a dead-end street with only an alley outlet, where construction has blocked the sidewalk access to other routes. And while I stood there yes, arguing with the motorcycle cop, another person ON HER PHONE did the same thing. Not because she was being a scofflaw (though technically she was as was I) but because who the hell stops, pushes a button, and waits at a dead-end street that gets maybe 50 cars a day total, all turning into the parking garage at the dead-end? I've seen maybe two cars on that road in the two years I've walked 2x daily across it.

"Are you in a hurry, ma'am?"

"Yes. I have 45 seconds to get to that crosswalk there to push the walk button before the next light cycle, since I can't walk on the sidewalk after that due to all the construction going on."

"Construction takes time, ma'am."

"I'm going to do this again. I'm not standing there in the sun at a road with no cars."

"Then next time you'll get a real ticket."

Oh boy. Is it worth hundreds of dollars in jaywalking tickets to refuse to cave into an incredibly stupid rule? This reminds me of the time I was willing to be jailed for refusing to bribe a security officer in Congo. FOR FIVE BUCKS I could walk onto the plane. FOR FREE, I could risk going to jail in Kinshasa of all places. Of course, this is actually legal here, just stupid. I don't do stupid well.

Bonus! Two people from the office spotted this event and called me as soon as I got to work. Ha ha...the humiliation.

Burbank. What a ridiculous place. Charmingly eccentric, yes, but also quite absurd in how it incentivizes driving over walking. Blocked-off sidewalks where the options put the walker at risk. Bicycles sharing the walk with pedestrians because the streets are dangerous. Walk signs that don't automatically change without a person pushing the disgusting button. Motorcycle police pulling over walkers. Gotta keep Burbank safe for cars, you know!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Container Garden

Here's something fun I did on Tuesday night...

...because sometimes I go through phases of trying to do something besides work all the time: I went to Los Angeles City College for a community class in container gardening.

The teacher gave us all wooden planters and some cuttings. I planted them on Wednesday and so far, it looks like the jade plant might make it. And my kale and radishes are starting to sprout.

Monday, June 17, 2019


For once, my pottery turned out all right.'s too small, but other than that.

I'll keep working to make a mug big enough to carry around the amount of coffee most people like to drink (me included).

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Before and After

Here's a look at the downstairs "kitchen" back when I first bought the house. I knew immediately what that was sticking out of the wall, much as I recognized the bare pipe in the middle of the bathroom ceiling (home to a future showerhead). 

And here's that same space once BBF and I sorted it out. (The gas nib was already there as well.)

Not bad, huh?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heading East

I turned my back just long enough to pat down some dirt in my balcony garden containers, and this packet of Siberian Kale seeds tried to fly away to Siberia.