Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I’ve always been better at dialogues than monologues (and even better at multilogues, if that were a word, which it’s not), which may be one reason my book is a whopping one-third footnotes. (No joke: Velo Press actually had to change the shape of the book to accommodate my digressions. It’s an inch taller than originally planned. We’ll make you skip around on the page, but we didn’t want you having to skip from page to page.) So today, let’s catch up on some comments.

Getting right to the footnotes, in an earlier post I asserted that if my digression-laden writing style invited comparisons between me and David Foster Wallace, those comparisons ended short of the clinical-depression part – or the genius part. Anonymous helpfully adds, “or the being-dead part.” To which I can only add: So far! I probably can’t avoid that part any better than I avoided the being-born part, but I fully aim to continue avoiding the depression part while I’m between the two poles. The genius part, well, I think we’ve established that’s just as far out of reach. Anonymous, by the way, is one of my smarter readers, and I’m happy for him that they finally found his fingers and teeth. I hate when I lose those.


Thomas asks: “I read Sunday's comic about Caulfield visiting the hardware store. I'd like to know if you know a store that actually works in the manual way.” I loved doing that strip, because yes, it’s from my own life. There was a store near my house in Lansing called Dexter Hardware that did business the old-fashioned way, right down to the dust and cobwebs on whatever part of the cash register it is where the math takes place. It was a tiny place, but they never, not once, failed to have what I needed. And they sold me exactly the amount of stuff I did need and then showed me how to use it. If I needed one screw, they sold me one screw, not a shoeboxful. As a result, I would sometimes find myself there having planned on a credit-card purchase but with a bill that wasn’t worth the fees – and me without cash. They always sent me home with my purchase and my word that I’d pay for it the next time I stopped in. That store is empty now. I think it was simply a retirement issue, not competition from the megastores, but I still make a face at the giant warehouse outfits when I drive past, just in case.

Jim Smith thanks me for my work with the USO and for sharing the story about the tough-as-nails corpsman. And then Jim adds that it’s humbling to be thanked, that it was his honor to serve. It sounds preposterous at first, but I’m getting smarter as I get older. I’m still the humbled one – I am not a veteran – but as time goes on, it feels less like a shirked responsibility and more like a missed opportunity. Still, I identify a little too much with a line in the title song of Lyle Lovett’s new album, “Natural Forces:”
And now I sit here safe at home
With a cold Coors Light and the TV on
All the sacrifice and the death and war
Lord I pray that I’m worth fighting for
Paul twists things around the same way Jim did, thanking me when I ought to be thanking him, this time for the book-signing event at Schuler Books. Paul knows a thing or two about art and writing, so his compliments mean a lot. He tells me he shot some video of me speaking and posted it on YouTube, where either I can’t find it or I just got distracted by the Simon’s Cat videos. Like I’m doing now. Man, those are good.

La Professora echoes my gushing over the newly recognized Carnegie Professor of the Year, noting that he enjoyed the same strip Brian cited, cut it out and taped it to his framed strip about Machiavelli. This is why I love my job. If a cubicle wall or refrigerator door is like the Louvre for cartoonists, then professors’ doors and walls are like having your art hanging in the Louvre curator’s living room. Through the anonymity of the Internet and/or my incompetence at working it, I don’t know exactly who La Professora is, only that he is indeed a professor and that he posts some of his assignments online – and that I think I’d love taking his classes. Wouldn’t be easy. But I tend to screw up the easy stuff anyway.

Amanda posted a review of Trizophrenia on her blog, Kick Asphalt, and I still have goosebumps. Wow, was that nice. I’m a happy guy. And a big fan. Now more so of each.

And Patty reminds me that while we inevitably disagree on a few things, we’re in lockstep with our impression of The Corrections: “you're not alone. Your wife also thinks the Franzen novel sucked." Whew. I’m glad Amanda reviewed "Trizophrenia" and Jonathan Franzen didn't.

Have a great Thanksgiving. I believe I’ll take Friday off … back at you Monday.


Noel said...

Happy to see you have found a way to fill your "spare" time by becoming a blogger.
Enjoy your Black Friday off and happy holidays/off season.