Sunday, May 16, 2010

Top Ten (April 2010)

Top ten things I was into, month of April.

1. TREME. The new HBO David Simon drama about post-Katrina New Orleans. And also just about New Orleans. Brill-i-ant. A big focus is the tremendously fascinating distinctive music and culture of New Orleans, which I knew only a little about. Julie and I visited New Orleans shortly after Katrina for an ALA conference (the first large event scheduled in the city after the storm). Perfect time and place to film and write about. Awesome cast, real musicians, sweet cameos and top notch writing. Love this show.

2. WHEN YOU REACH ME. I'm usually late on stuff like this. But ain't it cool to be late to the party? For those not in the know, this took the Newbery for '09. Being married to a school librarian, I just noticed it laying on the floor one day and gave it a read. Really cool. Sort of a new-school mystery. I like how it was all twisted up and the characters and writing were not all babied down. Nicely done. I don't read a whole lot of middle-grade fiction. And I don't review books. Can you tell?

3. CROW QUILL. I have held a grudge against these nibs for many, many years. Hunt 102, crow quill. It may have been my first experience with pen and ink. College. A self-teach session. I promptly broke a couple of the nibs by bearing down too hard. (Amateur.) Ink in the face. Never went back. But lately, I've decided to change up my line for the art I'm currently working on. Still loose, but fine, fine and fine. Nothing heavy here. Took another stab at the crow. I ain't mad atcha.

4. THE BOYS. This is my pal Jeff Newman's newest opus. This pic book came out in late February, but I had not seen Jeff or a finished book until recently when he handed over a signed copy. This dude's a dang talent! Congrats, Jeff.

5. SKYPE. Seeing as my folks (and most of the fam) live about halfway across the country from me... seeing as they don't often get to see their one and only grandbaby... seeing as this whole web cam thing has been around long?... it was about time we got plugged into the internet streaming video phone thing. How cool is this? Not to sound like a total n00b (did I use that right?), but it really is the next best thing to being in the same room. Thank you, Oprah.

6. ORIGINAL WEDDING BAND. Last month, I lost my wedding band. (Not, like, cheesy cover music wedding band. I mean my wedding ring.) Julie's and mine--matching white gold with Mark Twain inscriptions. I was seriously, seriously bummed. Losing something that small, you really feel like you'll never find it. And it wasn't like I took it off. Somehow, at some point, it slipped off. And to get a replacement, it ain't the same (plus the cost has more than doubled in the last 7 years!) Anyhow... long story short, I found it! What a relief. Like a part of my soul that got clipped out, just got spliced back in.

7. CHILI MANGO JELLY BEAN. This new flavored bean from Jelly Belly is an absolute new fave. Spicy and sweet. It is currently in second to my reigning champion bean, the Black Licorice.

8. TUBE W/C PAINTS. After being completely loyal to my ¢heapo pans, I finally bit the bullet and paid up and bought a full pallette of tube watercolors. Now... I did not rock out with the Winsor/Newton Artists', but I'm at the next best place. And I like it! Full disclosure: I still am using some of the pan. Don't hate.

9. ELVIS COSTELLO, SNL. I do not recall how I stumbled on this musical moment in time last month. Apparently, in 1977, Saturday Night Live needed a last minute replacement for the Sex Pistols. Elvis Costello and the Attractions stepped in. I guess they wanted to play Radio Radio and were told not to (since that song is kinda giving the finger to "the state"). They agreed, it seemed, and started up with another tune. But seconds in, Elvis cut it off, shouted back to the band and they pounded out Radio Radio instead. I don't know if any of this is true, I was never much of a fan, but I thought it cool.

10. HENRY IN LOVE. I really like where Peter McCarty is going with his newest picture books. Sparse. Experimenting with line and with background elements (loose v. tight). Drawing focus to certain areas with intense attention to detail. JEREMY DRAWS A MONSTER is another of similar appeal. Cool.


Wedding Rings said...

Thanks for sharing this useful information with us...

Frank Dormer said...


I noticed your anger at your pen nib. Have you ever tried a Pickwick pen nib? I have used it for a while and love it. It takes a bit of getting used to, but they give a great line. I haven't been able to find one online, but I have a bunch and could send you some. I bought a box of 100 over 20 years ago, and just recently found out that Quentin Blake uses them. Send me an email if you are interested.

Frank Dormer

Jeff Newman said...

Thanks for the shout, Matt!

Matthew Cordell said...

"Wedding Rings"... er, ok. (?)
Frank... awesome! mailing you now.
Jeff... heck yeah!