Posted by: rocketbride | July 12, 2014

It would have been worse if Sage had thrown up on…

1. Maggie. She would have been totally traumatized and may have added to the clean up.

2. The new yarn and yummy fabric I just bought. Washing yarn…ugh.

3. The brand new comic books we bought for a birthday party tomorrow.

4. A half-dozen fresh Gryfe’s bagels.

5. The Hip Hop Family Tree discography I just finished making for Mason, containing all 40 songs referenced in volume 1 over 4 CDs, and housed in a handmade cardboard sleeve decorated with colour prints of the comic, which took 4 trips to Staples and a gallon of mod podge to complete.

6. In the air vent, like in my sister-in-law’s car.

It’s probably for the best that he only hurled on the seat, the floor, a cloth bag containing a new (but now unreturnable) picture frame, two dolls, an old battered book of Ontario road maps, and a brand new sewing pattern for a Maggie dress. The pattern pieces were basically unscathed, although transcribing the info off the befouled envelope was fairly harrowing. The envelope is in a better place now, by which I mean my garbage can.

Posted by: rocketbride | July 8, 2014

new hair!

My hair turned teal today in what is becoming a summer ritual along with taking on crazy amounts of projects, working out a lot and recommitting to FlyLady. Why teal? Because green is basically the only colour I haven’t tried, and I’m not really into it as a haircolour, so…teal. I match my living room and the wallet I made this week. I am essentially extending my brand.

teal for 2014


In other summer ritual news, I made it to the Island within the first week of vacation, a first for me. My department at Bat Masterson started doing this a few years ago, and it’s nice to roll in a visit with people I might not see for months, and kids I only see in photos throughout the school year. Unfortunately we were only able to take Maggie, as Sage was out of town and I didn’t feel like disturbing Blake in the middle of his trip to the Boytown, as I was the one who argued for longer visits that reduce the amount of painful transitions. And while I’ve certainly no qualms about taking Maggie on her own to the island, she ended up being a little left behind in the general rush of the day. I felt bad for her: she was the youngest, the least able to reach out for ride partners, and to top it all off she spent the afternoon huddling in our arms, ill. At least she and I were able to get some good rides in on our own (Antique Cars FTW!) and despite heavy resistance from my department head on the subject of the Swans, when Maggie & I took off to ride them alone, we were treated to the sight of a mama duck bringing out a shaky line of ducklings to swim alongside our ride.

(When I proposed the swans as a ride, she complained about how slow and boring and hot it was. I looked at her in disbelief. That’s the whole point of the swans! After the cheerful nausea of the rotating Bears, they had me at slow.)

It was probably just as well that Maggie was sick and we had to stay with her instead of adventuring after lunch. I consider myself a bit of an old hand at Centre Island, and the fact that our group expeditions never venture as far as Franklin Gardens, let alone Far Enough Farm or the beach was making me a little antsy. Maggie’s clinginess took the wind out of my sails so that I had to be content watching the other little ones race around in the splash pad.

(Pictures to come.)

Posted by: rocketbride | July 1, 2014

in rainbows

First of all:

i came up with this idea 13 years ago. i still think it's funny.

i came up with this idea 13 years ago. i still think it’s funny.

Happy Canada Day


I like change. I know it isn’t always obvious, especially not when I’m next to my free-wheeling brother, for whom change is the only constant (as it was for at least 2 of my mother’s 5 brothers). I suppose I should qualify it by saying that I like change on my own terms. I grow long fingernails with little effort, but I refuse to keep them at a steady length: when they get in the way of typing I ruthlessly cut them to the quick. When I’m ready to cut my hair, it all comes off. My dresses are ridiculously old-fashioned feminine, when I’m not wearing frayed cut-offs and band t-shirts with uncombed hair. I love summer, right up until the first whiff of fall.

And although the first weeks of summer can be a non-stop stress-fest as I adjust to life as a full-time mum, I like the fact that my working year stops cold, with no trailing off. Classes give way to intense exams, hours of marking lead to frantic cleaning of rooms and desks, finished off by an emotional end of the year that makes me glad for a few days off from my beloved Bat Masterson family. (This year we will be reuniting at Centre Island tomorrow, proving that we can’t even spend a week apart. Lame.)

When I’m not grading essays, calculating marks, counselling last-minute Larrys who want to give me a bunch of missing work on the last day (or possibly dropping it off at my house during the summer), I’m trying not to cry at the prospect of the inevitable departures. Some of my co-workers are squeezed out by the brutal economics of employment and seniority; others move up to new schools, increased responsibilities, board-wide positions, headships, vice-principal-ships; still others retire or go back to school. The partings are always heavy, and I’m often busting my ass to finish a farewell project at the same time.

This may be why I ran only once in the month of June. After my race on the first, it seemed like I blinked and it was July. I was sick for a few weeks, yes. School finished, yes. We have a new farmer’s market job, yes. Still, I can’t believe that it took me this long to break the 1k barrier. My body, however, was ready to remind me in every laboured breath and the heavy feeling of Doom that settled in my spirit and legs. Holy Christ, did it suck. The only thing that sucks more is the prospect of giving up the easy affirmation of my running friends, so it looks like I’ve got another date with Doom in a few days.

Maggie is not reacting well to the changes brought on by two parents suddenly at home all the time. She’s a girl who loves her routines, and loves her Grandparents even more; this is less a vacation than a grounding for her. In a spectacularly foolish move, I made things worse by getting my dad to convert her crib to a little bed yesterday. She celebrated by refusing to nap. Awesome.

She might not be napping in any case; we spent Saturday hanging around the market and Sunday at the Pride Parade, then Monday my dad took her out for a late lunch. She may think that naps have been called off for summer.

Speaking of the Pride Parade…

Not a lot to say. I wish I had gone when I was younger; it seems ridiculous that I’m nearly 40 for my first. Maggie is considerably farther ahead of the game.

happy world pride 2014

We cheered, sweated and danced for a few hours before retreating back to Yorkdale for dinner. Maggie showed more enthusiasm for the subway train than the parade, but maybe she needs a year to get used to the idea of a big, hot, sparkly parade where people squirt her with water pistols and her love of rainbows is reflected in almost every other person in the immediate vicinity.


  1. Drue dropping science. Because jazz is great and all, but right now I’m pretty obsessed with Hip Hop Family Tree, and I could do with some more rap!
  2. Being so close to the band, yet having tonnes of room to dance because most people were just standing around for no good reason.
  3. One of the most entertaining & crowd-pleasing members was a Alex, tap dancer. An excellent tap dancer, who led the crowd in a Hora during Talk Dirty, which I nearly missed because I was too mesmerized with the stage to notice a giant circle dance right behind me. And there was a tap-torchy-r&b duet to “Bad Romance” that I wanted to put in an envelope and mail to Borgie.
  4. Scott’s bouncing ragtime hands. How does he know where he is?
  5. Having a front row seat to two different vamps: Robyn the ice vamp and Andromeda the soul vamp, and having them close enough to smile at me once in awhile.
  6. Steve Sweat and the gino chains, flirting with me (just once, but that’s good enough!)
  7. Drue returning to the roots of the MC: announcing, hyping, singing, and greeting us all enthusiastically after the show
  8. Allan the drummer doing a solo that ventured into deep jazz territory, like Coltraine or Mingus, before switching into “Valerie”
  9. They were so surprised by the reaction after the show, so bowled over by the crowd waiting to meet them, and they didn’t have a pen between them.
  10. Robyn making sure we had an opportunity for a picture with her, even though we didn’t have a camera
  11. Not being sure about buying a second album, but being totally won over by the whole thing, including the Saturday morning slow jams which I had hereto avoided as a gimmick and will now be following just as avidly because…Powerpuff Girls!
  12. The band complimenting us on our wedding clothes. And when I told Robyn we almost didn’t do it because we were tired and it wasn’t an Arcade Fire show or anything, I liked that she didn’t blink, as if she believed that all Canadians considered it their duty to dress formally in and around AF
  13. wedding clothes and bathroom selfies

    wedding clothes and bathroom selfies

  14. Bumping into Scherezade on Dundas West because Mason suddenly needed the bathroom, and taking her to Queen West where we should have bumped into her but would have missed her entirely because she would have still been on the bus.
  15. They were so small! Rhythm section, brass and Drew were regular height, but I was eye-to-eye with Scott and I towered over the girls and the dancer. As Mariko Tamaki said of Margaret Atwood, they were squirrel-sized, and I just wanted to take them home in my pocket.

my very own terrible photo of the squirrel-sized margaret atwood.

my very own terrible photo of the squirrel-sized margaret atwood.

It reminded me of the old days, of dressing up for Big Rude Jake gigs or being surrounded by the spectacle of a Friendly Rich concert. It was glorious and I’m up way too late tonight trying to get it all down.

Posted by: rocketbride | June 3, 2014

women’s run completed

Now that I’m into my second year of entering races, I sometimes feel like I can’t be surprised (except by my own ingenuity in finding a public bathroom along a race route). One of the greatest thing about starting running classes again this winter was that I got in with a great group of women who want to race with me. Getting into running, I backlashed from the constant group management of ATS; running was supposed to be my lone wolf sport. And for the most part I can take or leave the social aspect of running: I enjoy the motivation of a group, but I can run by myself.

So it’s been humbling to discover how much better I feel running in a group. Even if we don’t do the race together, at least I get a ride with people who are as jittery as myself, and who don’t need to be entertained during the run (Wiener Town, I’m looking in your direction). When it’s over high-fives abound, I don’t have to share my snacks, and I’m around people who are just as red-faced as I. There is, dare I say it, sisterhood. It’s a good thing.

lisa, sandra, tammy, me, emily and alex: successful racers at the oakville run for women 2014

lisa, sandra, tammy, me, emily and alex: successful racers at the oakville run for women 2014

Not only was I humbled by these fast women, these ladies with whom I run down the sun, but I was also humbled by the response to my fundraising letter. I don’t often fundraise for myself, because I don’t want to tire out my friends with all the races and appeals. I almost didn’t make it this time, either – only a last-minute thought got my message composed and out to my people.

The responses were overwhelming. Women who pledged support even though I may not connect with them for weeks on end. Men silently throwing money in the pot. Other women telling me heartbreaking stories of their own suffering, pain they were trying to hold back from destroying their families. Two of my uncles donated lavishly. St. Stephen tossed in money from Japan, commanding me to deliver a PB (sadly I did not). Amelie donated race winnings from a race she had completed on the same day as mine. It’s been two days since I crossed the finish line, and people are still coming up to me to talk about my depression, and their stories.

It’s enough to make my shrivelled black misanthropic heart grow three sizes. And it reminds me that I have never for a single moment ran alone.

Posted by: rocketbride | May 30, 2014

women’s mental health

The following was composed for an email that I sent to my co-workers and a few members of my family. It also appeared as a post on Facebook. If you are on those networks, please don’t think I’m bombarding you with funding requests; I’m trying to get the word out and the fundraising is less important to me than sharing why I think this issue is important to me.

This Sunday I’m running 10k in Oakville. I do that from time to time. What’s different is that this time, I’m fundraising to directly support women’s mental health through the Halton Healthcare Services – Mental Health Program.

Many of you will know that I suffered from my first serious depression in my first year of teaching. I am still alive thanks to a combination of supportive family, supportive work environment and medical professionals who did not hesitate to get me into a combination of drug and talk therapy. I was able to discontinue that medication when I became pregnant with my son Blake less than a year later.

Ever since then, I have been very careful to seek support in all aspects of my life. I run for my mental and physical health. I take a different, lighter prescription on a daily basis. I read books and try to practice Cognitive Behavior Therapy in my daily life. I have a very supportive husband, who can recognize when I might need some extra help, often before I recognize it myself.

Lots of women don’t have this support. Lots of women isolate themselves until they end up hospitalized. Having visited three different friends on mental wards, I can tell you straight out that it’s not fun.

So if you like, and if you have a few dollars going spare, please click on the link below and toss a few bucks in the direction of Halton Healthcare Services. Even if you don’t, I’ll be thinking of you as I run, because many of you form the reason why I’m still alive today, to run for other women.

was i supposed to be dressed like a bee?

was i supposed to be dressed like a bee?

Posted by: rocketbride | May 16, 2014

my son, my grudge

Now that my son is ten Since he learned how to talk, Blake can be mouthy. I always say that this, plus the constant reading when I need him to do something else, is God’s revenge on me for being the exact same when I was a lass. We often get into scraps about various issues important to moms and kids (do I have to wear boots, why can’t I shower in the upstairs bathroom, I don’t need to wear pants in bed), and never more than in the morning.

This morning, he pleasantly surprised me. I was writing a sizable cheque to my parents, covering this month’s babysitting fees plus an oil change and a dryer handle repair, when he noticed the amount. “Are you really giving Grandma and Grandpa all this money?!?”

I explained, smiling slightly at seeing my own lost argument reflected on his face, that Grandma asks for payment because she considers her time to be valuable. “Shouldn’t they do it for free because they love us?” he demanded indignantly.

“Why do you think I sent you to Montesorri school?” I replied. “I was fed up with paying my parents so much money to look after you. But it’s a lot better now that I don’t live with them. And there are some benefits. I don’t feel guilty about dumping you there on the weekend for free because I’m already paying during the week. And I don’t have to pack food for Maggie, which is good, because she eats all day.”

He refused to be mollified, and went off to go have “a long talk” with his grandmother. As I dropped him off this morning, I said, “I want you to know that I didn’t put him up to this.”

“It’s like you don’t love us!” he piped in from the basement. The emotional manipulation begins.

Just in case you didn’t feel like clicking through, here is a pixilated reminder of the former man in uniform:


Posted by: rocketbride | May 13, 2014

they can always fascinate

By this point, I look at TCAF as less of an event and more of a permanent holiday, a joyous, uplifting free carnival that I can celebrate with friends, with family, or alone. (And in particularly lucky year, all three.) As with any experience that shifts from event to tradition, there are bound to be years that are better than others. I’m happy to report that this year’s TCAF was one of the best I’ve ever seen/attended/taught at.

Teachers Conquer Assorted Fears

I started a day early. For the second year in a row, I signed up for Librarian and Educator Day – a PreCAF with my fellow edu-nerds and a few fun creators. Last year I merely absorbed it in a state of bliss, but this year when the call went out for programming suggestions, I wrote about my own desire for a lesson swap. One of the programmers (and acquaintance of my brother—aren’t they all) wrote back to offer me the chance to participate in suck a panel. Game on.

This meant that I spent the last precious week of my in-class vacation/student teacher season bashing out a presentation on what I’ve done in the classroom with comics. I was able to bring in a lot of what V had done last month with Scott Pilgrim, and we generally had a blast assembling both the talk and the associated Pinterest board.

(It was a running joke while she was in the classroom that I had been able to avoid the obsessive whirlpool of Pinterest before V had made up a class assignment joining Pinterest and King Lear, and now I was only able to communicate with her via the site. In truth, I was playing with it when she asked me what all the TCAFuss was about, and the laziest thing to do was to put together a board to answer the question. Eventually the two of us curated it into a place to share ideas and striking images.)

The talk happened the day after she finished her placement, but she was so enthusiastic about the idea that she drove down from the Hammer to listen in and help me hand out pre-printed website address stickers. World’s Best Student Teacher, meet the World’s Worst (Student) Teacher! I think you’re going to get along just fine…

(Aside: my dad has an extensive stash of office supplies, so when I found myself in need of labels I went to him. He supplied me with a size perfect for a hard disk, earning my mockery…and yet it is a very useful size. Take that, modernity.)

I also dragged Amelie & Bonhomme from school to attend, both of whom later claimed to enjoy themselves. I don’t know what I like better: being a comicbook missionary in education or showing off to my colleagues; that day I didn’t have to choose.


The first talk was by the Tamakis, a powerful writer/illustrator team of cousins who are touring This One Summer. I was very drawn to their previous book Skim, and would often pick it up while I was supposed to be supervising the library, but when I sat down to finish it I got very uncomfortable with the relationship between the main character and her groovy English teacher. It’s not that the story was unrealistic or exploitive – on the contrary, it was sensitive and well-told – it’s just that I can’t read about a teacher kissing a student without several warning klaxons going off in my head, drowning out other thoughts. That’s professionalism for ya.

In any case, I was fascinated by the talk, and on what it’s like to work in comics from the perspective of a playwright and a professional illustrator. It’s not a secret that comics can tell a story differently than other media; I’m interested in the idea of the medium being attractive to people who might not be fans but who understand that what they have to say is best served through comics. They’re also really witty, they have good energy together, and they were warm and fun to chat with when I got my book signed.

I didn’t expect to see them again, as they were featured guests and I just don’t have the patience for long lines any more (especially when I was so spoiled with all the access on Friday), but we ran into each other again on Sunday when I wandered by their signing table. I was supposed to be on my way to where Mason was feeding Maggie a cookie in a futile bid to keep her from causing a ruckus, and I happened to be toting around Maggie’s copies of Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics, collecting signings from artists I didn’t know (last year I did known artists; time to branch out). Thus armed, I was able to stop again and ask nicely for an autograph on the FTC. While Jillian signed and sketched, she asked me what Maggie thinks of the stories, and which ones she likes best. Since we haven’t made much headway with FTC, we looked at NRC instead, and I pointed out the images on which Maggie comments: kittens with pie all over their mittens, a baby swinging from a ladder in the shoe house, party guests throwing desserts at Georgie Porgie.

“I think she likes mischief,” Jillian concluded. Well-spotted.

Stacy found us on her way elsewhere, and was drawn in as well when Mariko complimented her on her outfit. It pains me to admit that I can’t remember what she was wearing exactly, just that there were frills involved, and the whole thing reminded me of something Old Scott used to sing to her à la the Producers: “it’s springtime for Goth girls in Canada.”

Mariko opined that “once you dye your soul that colour, it doesn’t wash out,” a sentiment that perfectly captures how I feel in my post-clubbing life. I fannishly asked if I could write that down, figuring that one day I would need to make a t-shirt. It so happened that I had already jotted down a quotation from Maggie Atwood earlier in the day, as she was on the CBC talking about utopia and her wise and only slightly-inscrutable wisdom belonged in my powerpoint on the topic.

When I mentioned the other quotation, we started to talk about Maggie’s hardcore sf novels. It’s interesting to me, because I often hear her having to defend science fiction to a literary crowd, and she really knows her stuff. “She’s not a tourist,” I said. Jillian added that her husband is a fan of hardcore sf and he respects the Atwood. Mariko, however, refused to join the love-in.

“But…the Handmaid’s Tale,” I countered. “You can’t say you didn’t like the Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Oh yeah. If you don’t like the Handmaid’s Tale, you’re not a feminist,” she returned. We talked about how little she is, which I believe Mariko termed, “squirrel-size, like you can just put her in your pocket.” I told my Margaret Atwood story from the Basement Review, of seeing her open with the Sadies and, three acts later, hoping fervently she was gone as nude Guerilla Girls pulled boas from their lady parts to the tune of L7’s “Shit List.”

“Margaret Atwood invented that!” Mariko scoffed. “No one did that before Margaret Atwood.”


The second speakers on Friday were Lynn Johnston and Raina Telgemeir, an experience I recounted here. My own presentation went fairly well. My fellow panelists were superstar teen librarian Robin and prolific writer J. Torres, who drew more of a crowd than I would have. I think I talked too much, and the networking idea has yet to develop, but at least we put it out there, and I learned a lot from the other two. (I kind of want to live near Robin’s library. It sounds so awesome.)

The other two panels were on diversity and the coming fall line-up (feat. Stacy! “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” I babbled. “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” she answered.) I learned so much at both panels, and filled so many notebook pages with my frantic jottings that I was exhausted by the time they released us.

My panel

When the day was over, I insinuated myself into the Zingcar with the goal of getting a ride to Sage’s school. I think I was pretty babbley at this point, so it must have been a relief to let me out so that they could go home to rest while I got on with finding the way home through public transit, eating barbequed chicken with Sage (who is known by the staff, who wanted to know where his mommy was), and most of all, fighting the desire to just sit down and read my new comics. Home was welcome. I needed rest for the next two days.

Took Children and Friends

Sarah and Leo stared out as geek friends, or rather, as friends of my friends who knew them from geekery. As their family has grown, we often get together for parties, fruit picking or hanging out at the beach – normal people stuff. I tried to get them out to TCAF last year, but it didn’t work out, so this was their first experience as a family. I had promised them chillout times, author meetings and lots of kids content; TCAF took care of all of those things admirably on my behalf. We also had a large, chaotic and freewheeling lunch at a Pakistani buffet nearby, a place where we could order enough cheap food that the kids could get full, if they ever stopped moving.

Our biggest joy came from the kids room, which was downstairs this year (a significant improvement over the previous set-up on the second floor, as there was open access and no capacity problems). I usually spend a few hours in the kids area watching programming; this year it was a completely immersive area, with programming at the back, crafts at the front, a signing table for featured guests, and some of the most popular children’s creators ringing the room. This set up meant that one of us could watch the kids while the other made brief, tentative forays into the crowded world beyond, and if we had to leave the library for any reason with the kids, we could make a beeline back to the kids’ area without getting too swept up in the other displays.

I’m pretty sure that Maggie and Sage would be there still if we hadn’t dragged them away. Maggie did all the crafts, and Sage was mesmerized by the authors who came in to draw and read aloud. We ended up buying him three new books, all of which he now reads on his own time at home. Maggie was a little less friendly to Jon Klassen, but I promised him that I would keep telling her who had drawn a little funny dog in her book, so she would smile the next time.

Blake and Sage at the Cammuso presentation


I didn’t spend as much time hanging out with Zub & Stacy this year, mostly because I was fully occupied by the children’s area but also because the line to get into the second floor was long and slow (see above, re: capacity). But the line became a blessing when I ran into Death, as we were able to chat without interruption or distraction. (Except that we were in a library, and we kept reading the titles to each other. We’re both litnerds, so we can’t help that distraction.)

My other big excursion into the main area was to check out “Hip Hop Family Tree,” a book that the author presented on Friday as part of the Fall titles. I was intrigued by what he said about the book: that people were reading it who didn’t normally read books, who didn’t know what the index was. I was fascinated by his meticulousness, that his first volume only covers up to 1981, and the second 82-83. Mason is a classic hip hop fan, and I had read “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” a few years back on his recommendation, so this seemed like the kind of thing we would both be into. And the physical book itself is a gorgeous specimen: huge, yellowed, with classic comic colours and tonnes of info crammed into the narrative boxes.

The greatest thing about this book is that he gives lists and footnotes so we can go deeper. And you can’t read comics about music without going to the Internet and finding the songs. After we brought it home, I decided to use the discography as the track list for an epic 4-CD birthday present for Mason. I learned how to make CD covers out of cardboard, I colour copied pictures from the book, and I Mod Podged it into one gorgeous package. I also made a YouTube playlist, because I was pretty obsessed for awhile. Good thing the second version isn’t due out till fall; I’d never do anything else.

hip hop family tree volume 1 discography

Told Chantler, “Amazing Fishbabe!”

TCAF always falls on Mother’s Day, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest as my mom hates this holiday and thus expects nothing of me. Plus, I always have my kids with me anyway, so why overthink it? Mason, God bless him, doesn’t let my indifference bother him and always makes sure the kids do something for me. This year, thanks to V and her taste of Pinterest, I have started to collect ideas for a knitting mermaid tattoo. Because he’s awesome, Mason secretly commissioned such a thing from a local artist we admire, and gave it to me at the show on Sunday.

by Scott Chantler

I love it so much.

When I passed by Scott Chantler on the way out, I thanked him for doing such a wonderful piece. (He really went over and above a typical commission.) His only comment was that he wanted to do one a bit sexier, but Mason wanted the focus to be on Mother’s Day. We can only dream of what the sexy mermaid might have been knitting.

Towed Car At Finale

On the last day of TCAF, Blake and Maggie wanted to stay with my parents, so we took Sage and dropped him home partway through the afternoon. As the show wound down, we decided to have dinner across the street before we went home (it still counts as a date!) We got a window seat, and we spent dinner listing to instrumental, vaguely Asian music and watching exhibitors pack up their cars with crates of unsold books and prints. It was like being in the credit sequence for TCAF.

Unfortunately, when we walked back to the Pakistani restaurant where our car was parked, our car was no longer parked there.

I’m forgetful. I’ve done the thing where I can’t remember where I parked, and I have to wander around the parking lot. I’ve done the thing where it’s dark, and I can’t remember how far up the street I went to find a spot. But I have never returned to find my car completely gone. And the worst part was that the police sub-contract the towing, so we had to call three lots before we found the one where the Lassitude was impounded. (The other worst part was that panic was interfering with my ability to remember my licence plate. Pro tip: impound operators are not patient with a vague description of your car’s colour and dents.)

Once we found the car, I was able to calm down. We took the subway and a cab to North York, politely paid the fee, and gratefully retook possession of the car. Lesson learned, Toronto parking.

Posted by: rocketbride | May 12, 2014

raina-tcaf-boxcar: a foob morning with lynn johnston

lynn johnston

As ambivalent as I am about the Foob-iverse, I was nevertheless genuinely excited that Lynn Johnston would be speaking at Librarian and Educator Day at TCAF. As I am an English teacher, I fell back on my strengths, and prepared by finding one of her books at my local library, where I discovered the boxcar-licious “Home Sweat Home.” The lack of punchlines were a bit of an issue at first, and I gave up in disgust a few times, but then I realized that I was missing something big. Foob Modern (as opposed to Foob Classic) is the suburban Canadian Zippy the Pinhead, eschewing humour for stark truths delivered as unfunny puns and wimpy, moustache-less suitors. Now you can enjoy it ironically. You’re welcome.

I was planning to do the embarassing thing and buy this book from my library after it was signed, but my mom saved my bacon and found a 1982 Foob Classic collection in the murky depths of her bookshelves. Armed with this positive proof that I had not just discovered Foob yesterday, I set out for my day of being developed, professionally.


Scott Robins, Raina Telgemeier, Lynn Johnston

You guys, Lynn Johnston is totally crusty! In a fun way, of course. As Dave Roman later commented, she has nothing to lose now. At multiple points during the Q&A with the delightful Raina Telgemeier, I paused in my frantic transcription of cusses to marvel at the idea that my school board was paying me to listen to Lynn Johnston swear. Life just doesn’t get any better than that, chums.

Working from my notes, here are some of the highlights:

  1. Lynn Johnston doesn’t do many events, but when she does, she does them for free. Raina was a little surprised by this, but the revenue model was completely different when LJ started. She always lived off syndicate fees and book royalties, so she didn’t have to do personal events. That said, she claims to love meeting people, but only if they can pay attention. This led to the first swear, in which Lynn described the moment of recognition she feels. “I was that kid. I know them to the tips of their sneakers. They’re assholes.”

  2. She would never do a Skype booktalk.
    Raina: I’ve done them. They’re ok…
    Lynn: But you look like shit!

  3. Lynn Johnston’s reasons for writing Foob in realtime are fairly compelling. I asked if she ever had pushback from an editor for doing what no one else in daily strips was doing. She replied that when a strip stays static, eventually you need a staff of writers, which she didn’t want. She also said that it hurt merchandising a little bit, because her characters were moving through product demographics before they could get a lucrative endorsement going. (i.e. April was toilet trained by the time the diaper contract was finalized.) Since her source material kept growing up, her subjects had to change as well. She also said that moving the strip through time allowed her to find new humour and challenged her drawing skills. (I’m not the first to notice that Foob Modern is much better artistically than Foob Classic.)

  4. The editors wanted her to relocate the Patterson family to America. To which Raina replied, “I always thought they were American.”

  5. The re-runs allow bigots to see the normality of gays. The biggest controversy in the Foob-iverse was Michael’s best friend Lawrence coming out, after which she received death threats. Now that the strips have returned to childhood, the haters get to watch Lawrence grow up next to Michael.

lynn & raina

haters gonna hate


After the session, Lynn was gracious enough to sign my old book. While drawing a Farley (and misspelling my name, which was entirely my fault as I was too timid to correct her), she asked my profession, and then asked me what a teacher thought about the future of cursive writing. As in all stressful situations, I fell back on something I had heard on the CBC, which was that many kids who have difficulty printing are being taught cursive by occupational therapists, because it can be easier to do joined-up writing. This apparently satisfied her that the youth weren’t going entirely to hell.

my signed book #foob

My final encounter with LJ was when I was waiting in the lunch line, and she cut in front of me without realizing it. When she realized her mistake I tried to offer her a place in front of us, because what is more honourable than letting LJ eat before you? But she declined. Maybe she’s just too Canadian to feel comfortable violating the sanctity of line protocol. Maybe she was afraid I would talk to her if she stayed where she was.

Posted by: rocketbride | May 3, 2014

hanging out

There’s a lot I don’t like about joint custody, but one of the benefits is that once in awhile, I get a weekend to hangout with one husband and one kid. As Andrea once said, when you have two, having one is like having none. In any case, it means that I don’t really need regular time away from all of my kids at the same time, because these weekends always feel like a holiday.

Today was just so laid-back. I got to sleep in, which has been a major challenge lately, as perennial gutrot has moved back into my life in the wee hours, keeping me up far earlier than I like. When I finally emerged from my cocoon, we all tumbled into the car for a run to the market in a fruitless search of leeks. It’s just as well everything is late this year; gives us more time to prepare I suppose. I spent most of my time in the playground with Maggie, who is sure what she wants to do and is willing to boss me around until I make it happen. We had to take a few breaks for cookie & swing occupation, but we played more freely than we have since winter began. It wasn’t sunny but it was mild, and lately that’s enough.

After brunch at Caplansky’s we shifted over to She Said Boom for another crack at finding some course materials. Funding has been uncertain, so I’m starting to buy a set of teacher books with my own money. Haven’t had to do this since Hogsboro High and I don’t like it. But I do like new books, and I was able to grab two for the program (Midaq Alley and Me Talk Pretty One Day), plus two that looked good (Anvil: the story of Anvil and something by Marquez I’ve never heard of), and one for a good toddler who didn’t wreck any displays (Olivia Loses a Toy).

We went home, put the baby to bed, and slowly did chores until it was time for Date Afternoon: a Saturday showing of Winter Soldier, a movie that has been raved about no end. I kind of wish I hadn’t gotten the impression that it was the Citizen Kane of superhero movies because, although it was very good, I was let down by the fact that it wasn’t the best movie of all time. (Don’t worry Thor, you’re still my girl.) Also, I’ve been watching Scott Pilgrim with my class and nothing tops Chris Evans’ performance as Lucas Lee for sheer action comedy.

Sometimes I let him do the long shots when I feel like getting blazed in my winnie.- lucas lee

I have something like a half-hour before my bedtime, and I think I’m going to spend it reading a book quietly. Very exciting.

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