Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Grocery Shopping

Cashier at the supermarket a few blocks from my Burbank condo: "You gonna go home and watch basketball on TV now?"

I stared at him a moment. I was certainly going home, yes. Not sure where else he'd think I was going with all these groceries I'd picked up for my empty kitchen after my trip to Europe.

The rest? What?

"Or baseball?" He added.

I was still struggling to respond. Was the World Series on? I was sure I'd have heard something about that. (It was,  I learned later, which shows you how little I follow sports events.) Did they even play basketball this time of year? Is there even an LA team? There must be. Wait...they had a famous guy for a while. Lakers? Why would an LA team be called Lakers? That can't be right. Los Angeles isn't famous for its lake. The Silver Lakers?

The guy could see I had no idea what he was talking about.

"Not into sports?"

"No, not really," I respond. "Shame on you."

I'd been shamed by a Vons cashier for not watching sports on television.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Gaping at Greenland

I glanced out of the window on my flight from Munich>Denver>Los Angeles.

Lo and behold. I've never seen this before. I didn't even know it was possible to get such a great view of Greenland from a commercial jet.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Independent Travel to Neuschwanstein Castle

Several months ago, when I was first told by my job I would be attending Frankfurt Book Fair, I attempted to book an entrance ticket for Neuschwanstein Castle. 

"Booking for this day is not possible." Was I too early? No. I tried again several times. Apparently, I was too late.

How could this be? Too late for a Sunday in October? The following Sunday had plenty of space. Oh well. 

I decided to just hang out in Munich on Sunday, October 20th, but then when I took an early train from Frankfurt to Munich on Saturday morning, then walked 26,299 steps (more than 11 miles, according to my Fitbit), I fit in pretty much everything I felt I absolutely had to see. The castle took precedence over any museums, and shops are closed in Germany on Sundays anyway, so I decided to wing it on public transit.

I know, I know. What's the big deal about public transit? Aren't you the queen of public transit, you may be thinking.

Sure. The train wasn't the problem. It was all the reports of ridiculous queues that seemed problematic. The castle isn't the only thing King Ludwig's house has in common with Disney World.

I decided my sleeping schedule had been so erratic (thanks, jet lag), getting up at 5 a.m. to get the first train out would be easy. And it was. I'd purposely booked a hotel by the train station so as to avoid dragging my luggage all over Munich, so I was on the platform ten minutes after leaving my room at MARC Munchen. I was a bit early so I headed down the escalator to the Starbucks that opened at 4:30 (I'd scouted it out the night before), and that's how I was able to avoid one of my big early-travel problems now that I've been avoiding cow dairy. I'd learned to deal with soy lattes in Tokyo, but here in Germany, it's easy enough to find mandel milch, or almond milk. I've only seen one place with Oatly so far, but I've only been in the country for six days. (If I do MariesWorldTour 2021, I realize I'll have to go back to drinking black coffee like I frequently did in 2011, or switch back to moo-milk. That's far enough off I have no idea if I'll still be avoiding cow and goat dairy by then.)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

To Bavaria

I boarded the 6:29 a.m. train out of Frankfurt this morning, my work duties done.

Holiday mode activate! A’schnitzeling I shall go!

Though it's a short holiday as I fly back to LAX on Monday. More a mini-holiday than an actual vacation.

I was in my Munich hotel near the train station by 10:30 a.m.

I've never been to Munich before, for complicated reasons. Not that complicated, I guess. Everyone has that ex they don't like to think about, the one where things went horribly wrong and you don't let them out of the dark recesses of your brain, and mine is Bavarian—Herr Marlboro—from a small town near Munich. He's in Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik, nicknamed this in my work because when I met him, he was wearing his sister's brown leather trousers and riding his XT-Tenere home from doing development work in Nyala. Like a German Marlboro man. (I usually nickname people in my books unless they have given me permission to name them, and given we weren't on speaking terms by the time the book came out, I couldn't very well ask him.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Helping Out at Frankfurt Book Fair

Frankfurt Book Fair. The largest trade book fair in the world.

A woman in gold lamé trousers walks up to me and a colleague at the DC booth.

"Are you publisher?"

"Um...yeah." (nervous glances, not sure where this is going.)

"I am writer!"

She's beaming and reaching into her bag to pull out her manuscript.

We stopped her short with "Sorry, we make comics," but I have to give her points for ballsiness.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Friends and their Books

I read up on the Frankfurt Book Fair and studied my guidebook on the plane.

This might be the only time I page through Publishers Weekly to find two different books by two different friends reviewed on the same page.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Gah. 0457 train to the airport.

Good news though. My plan to stay right next to the Barceloneta train station (Estació de França) worked. I practically rolled out of bed and onto the commuter rail.

I have seldom stayed in a hotel in Barcelona, having only stayed in apartments up until the one time I stayed in an empty dorm, following that up with a stay in a Gracia hotel last year.

My regular apartment complex had space, but once I found listings for Hotel Santa Marta in Barceloneta right next to the train, I had an idea. I needed to get an early flight from Barcelona to Frankfurt on Monday, and if I stayed at my regular spot, I'd have to walk or get the metro up to the airport bus. What if, I thought, I caught the first train to the airport?

The later trains involve connections but this one is direct.

Easy-peasy. Bonus—the airport shut down later after protests. I was lucky to get out when I did. Imagine if I'd been sent to Frankfurt Book Fair and gotten stuck on my own plans in Barcelona. This would be a bad thing.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Caganer Jackpot

A caganer and souvenir store opened near my favorite Barcelona clothing store.

Most of the caganers sold in tourist districts these days are poor quality, but a few were better than the usual.

I bought the Putin one to add to my collection.

Jet Lag and Cinnamon Rolls

You know what happens when you sleep on a plane?

Sure you do. You end up with a kind of dazed hallucinatory desperate need for coffee, a shower, and breakfast in the afternoon.

Only problem is oh god, in what order?

I went for breakfast and coffee first, or maybe I didn't. Predictably, the morning I arrived in Barcelona en route to Frankfurt Book Fair is a bit of a blur. I'd always flown from New York or Kuwait, and never flown straight through from Los Angeles in the past.

Once I had my head on a bit straighter, I headed over to On Land, a clothing shop I always stop by in Barcelona. They gave me a suggestion to stop over across the street for a coffee, and wow, that's not all the shop across the street had...

Monday, October 07, 2019

Feeling Centered

Tonight, centering the clay went smoothly and within a few minutes, I had made this thing.

This never happens. I usually struggle with all of the above. I don't usually blow it completely anymore, but I don't have control over the clay like an experienced potter.

Anyway, I wrapped the piece in plastic to let it dry out slowly between tonight and next week's class. That's how it works--you let the piece dry to leather-hard, then you trim it or carve it or add handles. You can't let it dry completely or else you can't trim or carve it.

I was feeling pretty smug until I remembered I'm missing the next two classes due to going to Frankfurt Book Fair.

Jersey City Walkabout (for them, not us)

I put all the game camera photos from 9/1 to 10/3 into one slideshow.

Fun to watch, at least for me. Be warned this is 11 minutes long.

I'm getting a new patio soon so the view will change a little by Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Trash Flow Radio

Hey, through the magic of technology, I was at New York Comic Con while magically talking about Daniel Johnston on Ken Katkin's Ohio radio show!

Download: Trash Flow Radio Oct 5, 2019 (RIP Daniel Johnston Special Part Two) (120 mins | 111 MB): Link here.

Playlist for Trash Flow Radio -- Oct 5, 2019 (RIP Daniel Johnston Special Part Two): Link here.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Feeding the Spirits

I added Chatuchak Market fruit plates to my little spirit house in my Jersey City kitchen.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Exit Stage Left

8 p.m. on a Thursday night at the ass end of the Javits Center is a tall order, but members of theater company Die-Cast Philly were undaunted. They made their way to New York Comic Con to perform a shortened version of their Tennessee Williams Festival staged reading of Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, our GLAAD-award winning comic book series.

I don't want to overstate the audience's reaction by saying "Not a dry eye in the house," because I was sitting raptly in the front row and not doing a survey, but I think it's safe to say most people thought about getting a little teary—when they weren't laughing.

Special thanks to my pals who put off their dinners and drinks and sleeping and trips home to see this remarkable event. I know who you are and owe you each one. Except for those of you who owed me one already. We're now even.

And THANK YOU, Chip for putting the people in touch with the people, enabling this to happen! I already added this production to my very short list of career highlights last year, so this is just the bonus round, but in the annals of my job life, this is right up there with "opens theme park in Kuwaiti desert and everything goes wrong in front of the BBC."