Monday, April 06, 2020


The lightbulb went out on my sewing machine, and I'm not sure I'm going to get to make anymore of these, but here are my favorites.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Sew At Home

The mayor of LA has asked Angelenos to wear masks in public (we are already under mandatory stay-at-home rules, so this is additional).

Not to pretend these can stop us from getting C19, but in case we have it and are asymptomatic and are within 6 feet of someone else at the supermarket or post office, we won't accidentally sneeze on them.

I'm figuring out the mask thing. Still not very good at it, but I'm getting there.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Excursion -- At A Distance

I really needed a walk after barely leaving my apartment for more than a week. Also, I wanted some elastic to try to make a few masks.

I have an N95 mask, sure. But that's for emergencies. Namely, if I get sick and need to go to the hospital.  (Its original purpose was for sanding pottery, or maybe I have it in case of SoCal fire season. I forget.)

But the point of these non-surgical masks people are wearing is to stop yourself from touching your face when you're in the supermarket or pharmacy. So I'm planning to make some masks tomorrow, but I only had a little strip of red elastic left over from I-don't-know-what project.

"Maybe Target has elastic," I thought. Followed by "I seriously doubt it." Have you ever seen Target's sewing section? It's for sewing buttons, really. (Walmart, oddly, has a great sewing section, but that's not nearby, and it's crowded and horrible even under normal circumstances.) 

Anyway, there's one of those mini-Targets a mile away, and it has both groceries and a pharmacy, so it's allowed to open. And since I feel like a slug, off I went, elbowing the complex door open and not hitting crosswalk buttons. All the humans I encountered hugged the other side of the sidewalk. No one is going near each other for now.

When I got to Target, I had to wait on an X on the sidewalk since only a few people are allowed in at a time.

There were a lot of bare shelves where the TP and Purell had presumably once been, but that wasn't my mission. My target at Target was the sad little sewing section, which was indeed pathetic.

There was definitely no elastic in the sewing section.

So I went to the hair section. I think this will work.

Bonus: I got in 10,000 steps today, even though this mission required a lot of hand scrubbing and two Clorox wipes.

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Most of you know I've gone around the world with a backpack a few times. Just me and 40 pounds on my back for extended trips, sometimes a year, sometimes a few weeks.

What not all of you know is about a kind of hoarding you do when traveling this way. It happens to me when I take long car camping trips too.

You hoard little packets of things. Salt. Pepper. Soy sauce. Single wipe packets that come with finger food. Tiny sewing kits from hotels. Little soaps.

And then, after months of traipsing around on public transit across Zambia, Indonesia, Mongolia, go home. You go into ShopRite or Ralphs or of the 24-hour mega supermarkets.

And the choice is overwhelming. Holy shit. Look at all that stuff!

And you still hang onto condiment packets for a few more months. What if the next time you go to ShopRite, the shelves are bare, or that specialty item has magically gone away, like at the ShopRite in Kampala?

Today, as I looked at the empty paper and pasta aisles in Vons, I wondered if maybe that's going to be us in 4 months. Still buying pasta to stash under the sink. In case tomorrow, Vons is out of pasta again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

But Do They Sell TP?

I can see the supermarket from my balcony.

Gonna have to go there eventually. Only 100 people allowed in at a time, so everyone else has to wait outside, six feet apart.

Friday, March 20, 2020


Caught without Tylenol, Sudafed, or toilet paper, his cavalier lifestyle finally caught up with him.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Legally Isolated

We're all homebound now, except for trips to the supermarkets, pharmacies, and hospitals. We're also allowed to go for walks, runs, or bike rides.

Today's tips gleaned from headlines: Take a walk, but don't go near other people or touch things. Clean your mobile device (aka phone) with rubbing alcohol or 70% alcohol wipes.

And for me, on morning of day 3 as I figure out how best to manage WFH...make your bed first thing and don't let dishes pile up. I haven't done YouTube yoga yet this week, but that's coming too.

Today's temperature: 97. No virus symptoms yet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Last Look

Made one last run to the office this afternoon. I had to unlock my door to let IT collect my old laptop so someone can use it to work from home.

See you in a few weeks or months, Batman. Don't let the Joker touch your face.

Maybe Not So Smart

I stopped by the French place for a takeaway turkey sandwich.

I spotted the locally made hand sanitizer for sale on the counter. Thought I'd support a local business.

"I'll get one of these," I said. I picked it up, scanned for ingredients but saw none.

"Does it have 70 percent alcohol?" I asked.

"No. That dries your hands."

"Sixty percent?"

"No. It has essential oils to kill the virus."

"Never mind."

I put it back. I'm currently eating the sandwich as it dawns on me this might be a mistake.

Death by turkey sandwich.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Working from Home

Here's my new office for the work-from-home initiative. To be honest, my first instinct was to go to home-home as quickly as possible and ride this out in Jersey City. But I only have a mini-kitchen there and no freezer. I'm better equipped for quarantine here in Burbank. 

My new office looks a lot like where I usually spend my time at home, but with a swapped-out WB laptop.  

Freelance Marie used to work at home every day, but always made sure to leave for lunch or for the gym.

"Otherwise, I'll never see other humans," was my reason to never keep food in the house.

Work-from-home Marie is good with being alone and used to social isolation but OMG those dirty dishes...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

In Search of Oats

I went to the (somewhat crowded) supermarket at 7 a.m. on a Saturday because I ran out of steel-cut oats.

The Vons shelves were a lot emptier than the aisles, but there was a single pack of Red Mill steel-cut Golden Spurtle sitting forlornly at the end of the cereal row.

Things are looking up.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Let's Do This

Yesterday at work was a "Does everyone have what they need to work remotely in case of shutdown" kind of day.

Marie: "You want to know how to make comics alone from a laptop, from any location? THIS IS MY MOMENT."

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Just Making Sure

All right, bidet attachment is successfully installed and ready for operation.


You did say norovirus, right?


I have this and a bunch of food. Ready as I'll ever be, I guess.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Pandemic Hacks

Just go with one of these and you won't have to fight your neighbors over toilet paper during Flupocalypse.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Two Colorist/Editors

These two photos popped up together somewhere on social media or my computer. I've already forgotten where and it was just a few days ago.

But these made me laugh. 20+ years separate these photos of me and my friend Steve, but we're still both kinda the same.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Law-Abiding Citizen

I nearly had another altercation with the motorcycle cop who hangs out at the dead end where I jaywalk on the way to work. (It’s a dead end, c’mon.) But I saw him just as I stepped off the curb. Stepped right back as he revved his engine.

Not this time, copper!

I had a conversation with another would-be jaywalker who’d stopped just in time. She pointed out we could’ve walked to the end of the cul-de-sac and back to the other side of the crosswalk in the amount of time we stood idle. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

So Quaint Now

Remember when we were worried about mumps because some people's immunity had worn off, and then there were all those unvaccinated people?

I had a titer test and sure enough, I need a new MMR because I show no immunity to measles.

But that's all so last year.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Monument to Mammals

Look what I ordered from Shara Porter for my Jersey City house.

Should go well with all the animals in the backyard.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Busy Weekend

Out for three nights running. Last night, I went to see Pandora's Box (the black and white Louise Brooks vehicle) at the Egyptian and tomorrow night I have pottery class.

If I’m still alive by then.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Friday Night House Concert

Last night, I forced a work colleague at ballpoint to accompany me to see my Austin friend Kathy McCarty's house concert in Echo Park.

We had such a marvelous adventure—first, we took the metro to the bus, and of course the bus had a fine collection of weirdos. The bus took us to Echo (No) Park(ing), where we walked up a hill to a stranger's house, the venue for the show.

I'd never been to a house concert in Los Angeles, only at my friend Tracy's house in Jersey City, meaning I'd never been the stranger who attends. But we weren't strangers long, as Kathy was there with her West Coast gal-pal posse, all interesting and smart people.

No one seemed inclined to adhere to the start time, and for a while, I worried a bit about getting home, but I kept reminding myself it was Friday night and I had nothing important to do in the morning. I forgot all about this once the music started.

First up was the local duo of John Hawkes (yes, the actor but once of Austin band Meat Joy) and Rodney Eastman, performing clever but not glib songs. Then there was a puppet show (really), and finally, Kathy played a combination of her own songs, Glass Eye songs, and Daniel Johnston songs.

The night felt like it belonged to a different time—bands playing in a group house in Austin or Dayton in 1985, teenagers along for the night, a cat wandering through the middle of the performance.

Before moving here, I'd heard the thing to do in LA is to go to house concerts, but damned if I know how one hears about them if one isn't Facebook friends with one of the performers. I'd do it again in a flash if I were just a bit more with-it and a lot less working-not-so-with-it.

Here's one of the songs Kathy sang, which she also sang at the memorial for Daniel Johnston, where she was accompanied by Jacob Schulze.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Burbank: Pedestrian Paradise

Walking to work. Intersection of Olive and Alameda.

Old man: "Whaddaya think this is, a racetrack?"

I laughed and kept walking. I have no idea what he meant. I wasn't lackadaisical but I wasn't walking particularly fast either. I didn't almost run into him and we didn't even get to the corner at the same time.

Walking to work. Intersection of Bob Hope and Alameda. I have the light.

Halfway across the street, I notice the woman in the car at the crosswalk is about to turn right on red and hasn't seen me. I half-pause. She looks left, sees me, stops, I finish crossing. A car three cars back honks at the woman. She's obviously going too slow for him, since she's paused to let a pedestrian cross.

I am still walking, now on the sidewalk in front of my building. The guy who honked the car horn drives by, his window down.

"Pick up the pace!" he yells.

I give him the finger.

Monday, February 24, 2020

But I Can't See Home From Work

I just realized I can see my office from my apartment.

Such a small world I inhabit during the week.

Oh, and one of my colleagues pointed out this to me. It's our office in the background in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. It's a new building but you can't win them all, I guess.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Raising the Roof

Look! Roof photos.

After weeks of waiting for a permit, tearing off and replacing the little roof on my Jersey City mini-castle only took a single day.

This all started because heavy winds blew the downspout off the front of the building. I can see how that would happen after who-knows-how-many years. I don't know the last time the drainage system was replaced, but it's looking good now. Plus, when the roofers came out to take a look, they noted the mini-roof on the bay window had no drainage at all, and the lumber all needed to be replaced.

A day later, everything looks grand. I want to do the main roof on top of the house, but there's a flat section, a pop-up box section, and a pointed roof at the back. Complicated. And pricey. Fortunately, nothing is leaking.

Elite Roofing brought a drone. Now I want a drone too. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

...and a Bigger Closet

What I really need is more clogs.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday, DTLA

When I moved to LA in June of 2015, I carried two suitcases, a laptop, and a plan to go home and get my car by the end of the year.

I stayed in Toluca Lake, DTLA, Studio City, East Hollywood, Los Feliz, and Hollywood before ending up a mile from work. I never did go get my car.

Today, I got off the Red Line near where I’d stayed in July, 2015. How long was I even on 4th and Main? Two weeks? Three? I wandered through Grand Central Market, stopped for a coffee, and am going to the craft fair downstairs before meeting friends.

DTLA is where I would live if I’d bought a place when I’d first arrived, or if the Burbank Bus has gone to Universal metro then. Too pricey now, but nice to visit.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Random Yeti Talk

Today I was at the Los Angeles Travel Show, and I stopped by the Bhutan table to tell them they have all the best yetis.

Sometimes I don’t even know why things come out of my mouth...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Here's How You Celebrate Valentine's Day

This blurry photo is of Joe Dante and John Sayles talking about the 1978 high art masterpiece Piranha at the Egyptian tonight.

I had never actually seen this film before, and it was pretty damn funny. I wanted to asked the filmmakers if they had any idea why Aquarena Springs (San Marcos, TX) decided to let their real name be used in the film, but I wasn't sure if anyone else would care, so I didn't ask the question.

I guess any place that featured mermaids and a swimming pig had a good sense of humor, and no one really believed piranhas would eat them if they went to Aquarena Springs. Plus, the film was a low-budget Roger Corman special, and probably no one had the money to make new sign.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Creeping Gentry

This beautiful old building was the home to Modern Plumbing, which was anything but modern.

You'd go in and talk to the wise-ass, gruff and stocky Jersey guys behind the counter and you could say "I need a doohickey that does the thing, you know, that thing," and they'd nod and sell you that thing for four bucks. I once went in looking for a piece and they gave me that piece out of their backyard trash.

It's either a sign of the times that these newly renovated apartments are $2,150, or maybe it's a great example of hubris. This building faces a busy street, with not much parking, and minimal bus service. It's nowhere near the PATH or Light Rail, and seems like there'd be a lot of cheaper rents nearby.

But maybe this is just a symptom of rapid gentrification, and the KFC next door is going to switch to selling organic, spoon-fed, artisanal, cruelty-free chicken.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

New World Manners

I always feel foolish when I automatically thank someone after they’ve done nothing meriting a thanks, and it just slips out.

But I feel even stupider when I thank Siri.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Define First World Concerns in the Form of a Question

I'm a fan of peanut butter, but over the last six months I've been trying out other nut butters.

So here is my report. You didn't ask for this, but great news, you're getting it anyway!

Almond butter: Yum. This can be delicious. It can also be bland. Depends on the manufacturer and the ratio of oil to almonds. But almond farming is messy and destructive. Not the farming itself, I guess, but when you do more than a little almond farming, and it takes a lot of almonds to keep us happy with our almond milk and almond butter.

Coconut butter: On its own, not so great, but mix it with almond butter and this is big yum. But again, our obsession with almonds is unsustainable, at least until we figure out how to not drain the world of water and bees while we farm almonds. (I guess coconut isn't really a nut? But it says nut right there in the name.)

Sunflower butter: This tasted disgusting to me. Like taking a bunch of sunflower seeds and smashing them up into a paste. I don't mind sunflower seeds, but I did mind a smashed paste of sunflower seeds. Right into the trash bin.

Cashew butter: Dee-licious. The only nut butter that was yummier than this was the Rx Nut Butter kind that usually has some almonds in it. But cashew butter is also super expensive. Maybe I can grow a cashew tree on my balcony?

What's next? Maybe brazil nut butter or macadamia nut butter. Or maybe I'll go back to the basics with peanut butter.

(Hint: In case you don't know this, the way to deal with the oil separation in nut butters is to turn the unopened jar upside down for a while before you open it, then once you've mixed it up, keep it in the refrigerator.) On to Tuesday!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Human Nature

I've never wanted to travel more than right now, while my passport is off for renewal.

Which leads me to...where could I go for a weekend that 1) is new to me and 2) doesn't involve Mexico or Canada?

I'm thinking Oahu and a ukulele factory, but that's going to take a few days more than a weekend, isn't it?

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Small Business Support

In Burbank, the liquor store is a great place to shop for all your cacti needs.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Luxury Lodging on the Road

Someone I used to work with (Rob) read my 2006 book Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik, and his primary complaint was "Why couldn't you have written about your entire trip instead of just the Africa part?" He hasn't traveled much at all, and he's curious about life on the road.

Of course, I started out with a story about the entire trip, but the publisher wanted an Africa travelogue, so that's what I wrote. I directed my ex-colleague to both the 2001 and the 2011 MariesWorldTour sites, but I doubt he'll get around to reading 24 months worth of blog posts.

But then I started thinking. What IS life like on the road? We have such fantastical ideas of travel—a world of luxury (ha, no) and adventure.

Yes, there is adventure. And my idea of luxury transforms to a car with a seatbelt after a few months of being crammed onto gearshifts and onto the back of motorbikes.

So here, Rob, is a look at the luxury of long-term travel. I pulled a bunch of photos of hotel rooms out of my photos database. I think this gives a pretty idea of the relentless nature of travel, as well as what a reasonable budget gets you once you graduate out of "on a shoestring" hostels.

Here are photos of a bunch of hotel rooms I stayed in during MariesWorldTour 2011. 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Mattress Shopping

I’ve been learning about mattresses for a little over a month. When I first got to LA, I bought an IKEA latex mattress, with mixed results. I've been thinking of buying a new one.

Today I made another trip to the local department stores, where I again tried out the beds that have made it to the finals. (I tried a bunch of the mail-order ones and most of them were way too squishy, not as good as my IKEA one.)

Let's see...Beautyrest 900-TSS Medium Firm. Stearns and Foster Hurston Luxury Firm. Maybe a Brooklyn Bedding hybrid but I'd need to try it again next time I'm in Manhattan. 

I spent several minutes on each, on my sides, back, front. I’m not buying until my tax return is in, but napping in downtown Burbank is fun...

...until you remember lice exist. Now I’m paranoid about department store mattresses.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Last Century

My mom posted this photo of the two of us.

Late 2000 in my old studio on Avenue B. Cute.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Roof Shopping

I'm in the market for new drainage and a new roof for my house in Jersey City. 

I love having an 1895 row house that looks like a mini-castle. 

Until I started getting estimates on a new roof. Now my intricate roof seems more like a problem than a charming detail. 

David, CA

"Burbank is also home to the largest Ikea in North America."

I knew that and most of the other tidbits in this article, but I did not know Burbank was named for a dentist named David Burbank.

Maybe I'll just start calling it David.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

This One Alone Could Win Most Games of Strip Passport

I caught the bus to the other bus over to the DMV in Glendale this morning, so I could upgrade my driver license to the Real ID kind. The new one will have a star on a bear, so I guess that's good?

Immediately afterwards, I dropped my passport into the mail for renewal. It expires in June, so I can't really go anywhere on it anyway. I wish I'd applied for it earlier so I could fit in a trip to Baja for some whale watching, but it might get back in time.

I paused before I sealed the Priority Mail envelope.

My passport. This passport.

Spain. Morocco. Mauritania. Senegal. Gambia. Mali. Burkina Faso. Ghana. Togo. Benin. Nigeria. Cameroon. Gabon. Both Congos. Zambia. Namibia. South Africa. Madagascar. Thailand. Laos. China. Tibet. Nepal. India. Bhutan. Indonesia. Borneo. Brunei. Singapore. Australia. New Zealand. French Polynesia. Easter Island. Japan. 

And that was just 2011.

I'd gotten the maximum pages in my 2010-2020 passport. 100.

They don't make them like that anymore. My new one will have only 52 pages, so I'll never make it through the whole decade on one. I'm getting the card as well so I can go by land to Mexico without getting stamps. And god knows what my next photo will look like. I'm pushing the high end of "youthful" at the moment. I got three sets of photos this time before I liked just one of them. I know I'm ridiculous.

My 100-page passport will be returned to me, but with a hole in the corner. In the meantime, there's plenty of whales I can see in California.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Australia Day 2020

I make ANZAC Biscuits on Australia Day, because Turbo taught me to do this when I lived in Australia (in three-month increments for two years, 2002-2003, ducking out when my tourist visas were up), and it just became something I did every year. Sure, I've missed some years, like when I lived in Kuwait or Cairo, but mostly, I try to acknowledge Australia Day.

Why? I'm not sure. Maybe just to recall the life I might have led, and did lead for a while. I sometimes reflect on how I was still too...young to settle down? Unlikely to live in a rural environment for more than a short time? Impatient with other humans around too long? A bad match for someone equally as intimacy-averse? Only my therapist knows for sure. Or would, if I had one.

There are many days I wish I'd become an Australian. I wouldn't call it regret. More like a pining for a past life. Nostalgia? Maybe.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Hanging Art

I finally got around to hanging some of the paintings I bought in Haiti.

It only took me 14 months, and I'm not done yet. There's plenty more to sort through. At least they're framed. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Saturday on the PCH

MLK weekend comes hot on the heels of the December holidays, and I'm always caught by surprise. Too late to make a plan, too expensive to buy a ticket to head out of town for the long weekend.

But that's okay as I have plenty to do in Burbank. But still, I like to take one day out of three to see something new.

The Eames House has been on my short list for some time. I looked up how to get there by public transit. Easy enough, assuming I have other things I want to see in Santa Monica. I bought a ten dollar admission ticket to see the exterior of the Eames House just under the village at Pacific Palisades.

But then I looked on the map and saw the Getty Villa was just down the road, less than ten minutes north on the PCH.

But the bus to the Getty didn't stop anywhere near the Eames House. Curses.

I rented a car and added more stops to my day's itinerary.

Friday, January 17, 2020

School Photo

Here's something my mom scanned in and posted. This was a couple of years ago when I was in school.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Aren't There More Important Things?

I boarded the plane on January 1 with a slight cold. Nothing serious. I went about my next few days with a slightly worse cold, but I didn't take it seriously until suddenly I was having the kind of coughing fits where my chest ached from all that work.

I stayed home on Friday.

Today, I convinced myself to go out into the sunlight to the #222 bus over the hill to the Hollywood Farmers Market. I wasn't in the market to buy anything, but I wanted to take a look at the refill stand. It's where you take containers and fill them up with dishwashing liquid, laundry soap, shampoo, that sort of thing.

I was wandering around after checking it out, when a young woman approached me and asked me to sign her petition to legalize magic mushrooms.

I didn't sign, but I didn't blink either.

In a day where I was already kind of disoriented, the moment made perfect sense.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Studio Tour

For reasons that will become clear in a few months, my colleagues and I went over to the lot this week for a DC-specific WB Studio Tour. We had a blast, though the day was chilly. My company is owned by WB.
Marie, Queen of Atlantis

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Movie Reviews

Here's my review of Cats, which I attended last night with some friends from work.

Note the theater was PACKED. This is not an opening weekend. It's not the Chinese Theater. It's a multiplex in Burbank on a Tuesday night. We struggled to find four seats together.


Jamie, is that the Taylor Swift-cat? (He says no, it's the ballerina, and this is the first time I notice he brought a flask. It comes out more and more as the movie progresses.)

Is that a fat joke? Is that another fat joke? I didn't know fat jokes were a big part of Cats.


(At this point, I notice Andrea has her hands frozen in front of her mouth, which is slightly ajar.)

Monday, January 06, 2020

All Human

I went through Iran in 1998 as part of an extended commercial overland truck trip, starting in Kathmandu and driving through to Damascus.

Overland trucks carry cooking gear, luggage storage, safes, spare parts, camping equipment, treated drinking water, group refrigerator, reference materials, and bus-like seats, as well as two driver-mechanics. (In some trucks, there is also a cook, but this trip was based in local hotels rather than campsites.)

We carried 8 tourists and 2 driver-mechanics. Last night, I found myself going over photos of that time, because it helps me to see what is being demonized, to remind myself of the place and people being reduced to "supervillain."

Friday, January 03, 2020

Dichotomy and Compartmentalization

I have a cold. I'm trying to decide if I should go to work.

Meanwhile, the world waits to see if Iran is capable of being the adult in the room. We all gasp in horror as marsupials and reptiles die by the thousands down under; the first victims of Australian climate change were incapable of even having a voice. A failed casino investor tears down women's health after the disenfranchised and disillusioned are manipulated by entertainment news and relics of the Cold War. White supremacy glowers in the dark corners, edging slowly into the flickering light of Tiki torches.

And I haven't written anything since I went back to the traditional workplace. I'm struggling with middle age, trying to figure out what to fight and what to settle into. I haven't washed last night's dinner dishes. I have a hole in my left sock.

I have a cold. I'm trying to decide if I should go to work.