7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #98: Featuring Ray Friesen

h1 January 18th, 2009 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: You know we like to mix things up here at 7-Imp. Last week, we featured contemporary paintings and photography, and today we switch gears big-time and welcome author and cartoonist Ray Friesen (the cartoon version of Ray greets us here), who draws a series of humor/adventure graphic novels for young children. Pictured above is one of the many characters he’s created, the timid superhero Captain Cautious, whom I chose randomly from Ray’s site, since I’d like to have the superpower of creating a vortex into the ice cream dimension, which Captain Cautious can do.

Ray’s first title, A Cheese-Related Mishap, was one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Graphic Novels of the Year for Kids. “I love writing and drawing cartoons,” Ray told me. “Coming up with bizarre characters and crazy stories to put them in is my favorite thing in the world. I love just illustration, and just writing stories all by themselves, but I think I work best combining the two together…”

Ray—whose literary inspirations are Douglas Adams, Walt Kelly, Carl Barks, E.C. Segar (best-known as the creator of Popeye), Terry Pratchett, Hergé, Albert Uderzo, and Matt Groening—has a brand-new title, Cupcakes of Doom! (published by Don’t Eat Any Bugs!, to be released in February, and officially aimed at the 9-to-12 age range). This one takes the “piratey villains,” as Ray refers to them, of one of his previous titles, Yarg!, and “magically turns them into the heroes somehow (or at least stars… Pirates are such loveable rogues, they can easily be heroes or villains depending on their mood) — basically, I like to pick a theme, and just have alot of fun exploring all the silly jokes it has to offer. There’s a story, sure, a whopping fun adventure, but mostly as a loose framework for me to have fun, and make people laugh.

We could all use a good laugh, right? This here’s the lighter side of doom.”

Basically, as Ray put it, there are sword fights aplenty, parrots, penguins, sea serpents, a treasure hunt or two, and all sorts of other piratey shenanigans. Here’s a two-page sequence from Cupcakes of Doom! I know it might be a wee bit challenging to read in spots, but I made the images as big as I could.

Ray, I believe, is in his early twenties, but don’t quote me on that. I do know that in School Library Journal’s review of A Cheese-Related Mishap, they stated that he started his cartoon career at age twelve and was seventeen when he wrote and illustrated the book. So, he’s a young ‘un, and I bet we’ll see lots more from him. Ray showcases a daily webcomic at his site, where there are also more samples of his titles for those children in your life (or your very own spastic inner child) who are fans of such wacky-fun graphel novel adventures. Many thanks to Ray for stopping by!

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For anyone new, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is our weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. Absolutely anyone, of course, is welcome to list kicks — even if, or especially if, you’ve never done so before.

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

1* How fun that we’re featuring a comic artist this week. I want a little “double take” sign to carry around and hold over my head at appropriate moments.

No joke necessary here.2* That little exhibit I was co-curating is up! Mostly up, anyway, and mostly on time. It was quite a rush there at the end, but everyone who has seen what we’ve put up has loved it. (For those who missed it last week, it’s stuff from our Political Americana collections on an inauguration theme.) But I can’t take credit for that, because the RMC has awesome stuff. We have Obama and McCain condoms, people! And thanks to me pointing them out, we’re going to get the Palin ones too. I LOVE MY JOB.

3* Speaking of inaugurations… I am really, really excited about this coming week. It’s such a relief. I just hope everything goes safely and smoothly.

4* I got an awesome thank-you card and bundle of neat stuff from Leslie Evans, who we featured back in December (thanks to Jules). I’ll say it again – I love her work.

I could so totally be in that league…5* I also got a tantalizing little card from Jarrett J. Krosoczka announcing his new book series about a heroic Lunch Lady. It looks like a lot of fun. And HEL-LO, how do I join the League of Librarians? Are they good? Or evil? I don’t particularly care, just want to know how to word my cover letter.

6* I’ve discovered and/or been discovered by lots of old friends and dear relatives on Facebook this week, including a girl I haven’t seen since 6th grade and a guy I remember roller-skating with in 8th grade. Dude, we are all so old. But it’s so amazing to see how everyone’s turned out.

7* Best of all… I was contacted by someone I haven’t spoken to since we were juniors in high school. She was one of my best friends from around 7th-9th grade, then we had a falling out (mostly me, if I remember right) and didn’t speak for about a year, then were best friends again for a while, but then (me again – I was very volatile back then) stopped speaking for good. I’ve felt terrible about it for so long, and now I’m so glad she found me and was brave enough to start a conversation. She’s turned out great, and has two beautiful kids. Maybe someday we can actually meet up in person.

BONUS: This is not exactly a kick, because I just found out that Andrew Wyeth died. But I am so very grateful for the body of work he produced in 91 years. He was a true genius at capturing the beauty in the flawed, the poetry in the spare, the holiness in the human. Rest in peace.

* * * * * * *

Jules: I echo what Eisha said about Andrew Wyeth. I was very saddened to hear the news this week. Anyone who’s been to my home knows I’m also a hugely huge fan: Many Wyeth prints adorn our home from various and sundry Wyeth-fan road trips I’ve taken to see his art, and I’ve read up on his family so much that I feel like, I dunno, I know them. The entire Wyeth clan is brilliant — not just N.C. and his son and not just in the arts (did you know that Nat Wyeth developed the prototype for the plastic soda bottle?). I have so many personal, emotional connections in my life to his art, and I’m sad he’s no longer on this earth.

This huge painting above hangs over my bed (the print, of course — not the actual painting). It’s called End of Olsons’. Wyeth painted it after the death of Alvaro Olson and his sister, Christina (the subject of many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, including the ever-so iconic one). Alvaro and Christina lived together in this house in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, which I once had the pleasure of seeing, and Wyeth painted there a lot. When Christina died in her sleep, shortly after Alvaro died, the doctor who attended her said that she had died from a broken heart. This painting was done when Andrew Wyeth visited the home after both of them were gone. The story goes that he tacked several drawings for this tempera on the wall of their home and came back the next morning to find them gone. Two swallows had also stayed at the house long after others had flown south, and then suddenly one day both of them were also gone. I don’t know if you can see them in this image of the painting here. I just really love that story.

Sorry. This could be its own post. I’d have a lot more to say. I’ll wrap it up with my other favorite painting of his, which is really important to me for many reasons, Wind From the Sea. It’s like a ghost story, this painting.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

1). I got to visit with my uncle this week, in town from way up in Maine.

1½). Doughnuts. Inspired by Calef Brown. Long story.

2). I asked my oldest daughter a simple question this week and got what was not unlike a full-fledged, two-minute musical for an answer. A complete song and dance number, the lyrics comprised entirely of the word “yes.” Four-year-olds. They kill me. Most of the time, all I can do is stand back and watch in baffled amazement. She’s also made up a new language. Did you know that the word “elephant” in this language is “compeesho”? I can’t tell you the name of the language. It changes every five minutes. But it’s one heavy on consonants. Lots of glottal plosives.

3). Reading a whole mixed bag of fables and old folk and fairy tales with my girls one day this week and then listening to them tell stories at the felt board. They had every essential element from a variety of old tales, and they were mixing up all the felt board characters from various stories I created once upon a time as a school librarian, and so it went a little bit like this, as you can see here: The very poor girl walked into the forest because she had just run away from her mean stepmother and the stars rained down and became money and there was a magic mirror in the tree and a princess trip-trapping over the troll’s bridge… Their obsession with dinosaurs creeped in, too, so there are some triceratops in the house that Jack built. I’m posting a pic of the felt board, since more than one person asked me to. Forever ago. I’m just really slow sometimes.

4). Having friends over for brunch yesterday and serving chocolate chip waffles with, OF COURSE, really strong coffee. Mmm.

SCRITCH!5). The bottle of Cabernet that Eisha gave my husband for Christmas, produced and bottled by a wine cellar near where she lives. Yum. It’s good.

6). Big Bad Bunny showed up in my mailbox this week, and he told me—via G. Brian Karas—to be afraid. To be VERY afraid.

I also got the same treats from Leslie Evans and Jarrett J. Krosoczka that Eisha got, and I thank them muchly. Lastly, I had a fabulous conversation this week with Laurie Keller, whose interview I’ll be posting soon, about “Waiting for Guffman,” and I just love her, as I love anyone who loves that movie as much as I. We just kept emailing each other lines from the movie, back and forth. I’m tellin’ ya, she is one of my people, I think. I just want to hang out with her.

If there's an empty space, just fill it with a line, that's what I like to do. Even if it's from another show.

7). The notion of “defying the languid movement” and the Robert Francis poem here and the Richard Blanco poem here and the Walt Whitman poem here (“Why, who makes much of a miracle? / As to me I know of nothing else but miracles…”)

BONUS, especially for the children of the ’80s:

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What are your kicks this week?

25 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #98: Featuring Ray Friesen”

  1. 1. My newly minted five-year-old read a book to me for the first time.
    2. I got my first invitation to read my debut book — at a big Austin event four months before publication.
    3. I read Robot Dreams and Chicken and Cat with my boys while waiting for a bellydancing show (featuring their mom!) to begin.
    4. My nine-year-old (somewhat reluctantly and nervously) attended his first book club meeting — and loved it.
    5. I, too, heard from an old, previously estranged friend via Facebook, and was glad I did.
    6. I made some cream of potato soup that’s gonna last me for days.
    7. My wife has received an overwhelming response to a National Day of Service event she’s organized for tomorrow. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

  2. 1. Learning that having the superpower to create a vortex into the ice cream dimension.
    2. OBAMA! OBAMA! The whistle-stop tour made me love him even more, if that is possible.
    3. Inauguration excitement. Related, but separate.
    4. Writing LOTR filk songs for my sooper sekrit project. (Hee!)
    5. Gnome progress.
    6. Homemade split pea soup.
    7. Excellent books read this week: Savvy by Ingrid Law, Reaching for Sun by Tracy Vaughn Zimmer, and T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte.

  3. That first comic is hilarious! Especially because we have been experiencing a moth invasion over that last few months! Started in the worm bin we HAD in our garage(no longer there, need I say) Gives me the heebee geebees!
    Eisha and Jules, I am saddened by the loss of Wyeth as well. Chuck and I had the opportunity to visit the Brandywine museum a few years ago and loved his work.
    Kelly, I will be over the next time you makesplit pea soup! Yum!
    My kicks:
    1. My newphew is doing better, still not out of the hospital but on the mend.
    2. Afterschool poetry club starts this week.
    3. Taking my middle granddaughter to Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, winds were howling, 36 degrees, and it was a bit scary but what an adventure. We talked about the “wind monster”.
    4. Treated to a solo of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by our granddaughter yesterday.
    5. Reading books about MLK,Jr. and making connections with students about the inauguration.
    6. Two teachers are letting me come into their rooms to read a poem every day and have students create a saving’s account of obeservations and thoughts for poems in the future.
    7.The miracle on the Hudson.
    Have a great week.

  4. I love the musical comedies of four year olds. Regarding Andrew Wyeth, it was a kick to see his Robin Hood paintings every day when I worked in the Central Children’s Room.

    My kicks:

    1. I just finished a forget-me-not wool felt for the school auction. It’s a beautiful doll, and I’ll probably post a photo at some point iin my “Things I Have Made” Facebook photo folder. 🙂 I’ve made another one, a little girl version (pony tails!) for our own nature table. I’ve been learning a lot with embroidery stitchery, but my guitar has been sitting neglected for the past few days. I need more hands!

    2. I’ve been doing monthly gigs at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. Recently, I got an email from the storytelling coordinator at Ravenna Third Place Books, and now I have a March gig with them as well. Even though I wrote a letter of interest last summer, I have the storytelling coordinator at the LFP location plus veteran storyteller Debbie Deutsch to thank.

    That’s all I have time for– I need to head out the door. I’ll check back later to read everyone else’s kicks.


  5. 1. Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven’t seen it, you have to. The cinematography is excellent. 4 Golden Globes— a must see! Danny Boyle (Director) and Anthony Dod Mantle (Director of Cinematography) are a wild team, they collaborated a movie called: Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise.

    2. Coffee & Chocolate (the shop in Knoxville)— for asking me to do another photography show in February!

    3. Merit raises at work–despite the cruddy economy. Evidently I have my boss snowed— because I received the maximum increase possible.

    4. Obama for finally pissing me off. I was beginning to get a little worried because B-man is totally flawless and I am obsessed to the max like everyone else. He announced that it would take years to close Guantanamo Bay. Grrr! Human Rights advocates have proposed a plan that would have the place down in 3 months.

    5. My lovely engineer bride who has helped me all week on GRE Math. HELLO—- I am apply to the Linguistics department— who gives a flying freak about isosceles triangles: well… except for the fact that the name derives from the Greek iso (same) and skelos (leg).

    6. “cutting up” the latest Southism I have learned. (good luck Googling that one)

    7. Sunspot. I love restaurants that can actually make really yummy vegetarian food. YUM!

  6. What a chewy, crunchy, scrumptious post about Ray. Love the way his mind works — vortex into the ice cream dimension? Cupcakes of Doom? Cheese-related Mishap? Sigh. He makes me feel ancient, though!

    Lovin’ that felt board, Jules. It was always my favorite part of library story time. And how awesome are made up languages? I have a certain affinity for compeeshos.

    Hearing Eisha (and lots of other folk) talk about Facebook reunions makes me want to open an account. Have been resisting thus far. And I’m so glad your nephew is doing better, Jone.


    All the Gobama stuff going on. Everything else really pales by comparison. It’s so huge that one wants to say so much, yet is left speechless.

    Saw 7 deer and 2 foxes frolicking in our back yard yesterday.

    Williams Sonoma Oatmeal Pancake Mix. Seriously good. Pancakes with texture and oh so light and fluffy!

    Finding books about Hawai’i written and illustrated by two women from my hometown of Wahiawa.

    Listening to Hawaiian music.

    Finally took down our Christmas tree (round of applause, please).

    Grace Lin made Yang family dumplings!

    Enjoy Inauguration Week, everyone!!

  7. Eisha, presidential condoms?! Your job sure

    Jules, thanks for sharing the story of the painting. And wow, choc chip waffles? They sounds delicious. And your pic of your children’s excellent felt board has brought back memories of playing with one as a small child. The mario skit also reminded how vivid nintendo game sounds are in my memory, my fingers were twitching (much like when I watch this choir clip!)

    1. I finally bought a wind up radio I’d been hankering after, and it works splendidly. I don’t listen to the radio much (probably because I like to walk without music/radio and tend to work or read on trains) but now can listen to it while washing up and cooking. And listening to BBC radio always makes me realise all over again that I’m living in the UK! In a good way, not in a what-am-I-doing-in-this-weird-arse-foreign-country way.
    2. A lunchtime talk at work went well – I was presenting to both newbies and people who work in the field, but I think I managed to make it comprehensible and interesting to most – phew!
    3. An afternoon nap under a throw rug
    4. A great reading year so far with lots of books stockpiled for the next couple of weeks too. I’ve even read Anna Karenina, Jules!
    5. Despite appreciating some aspects of winter – namely pretty tree branches and frost and then the snow – I was overjoyed this week to see snowdrops appear outside my office door. They aren’t unfurled yet but are still instantly cheering. These were the first snowdrops I ever saw (last year), so they kind of feel like old friends.
    6. I’m just about to make a pear and ginger cake for a colleague’s birthday tomorrow.
    7. Then it’s leftover venison stew with homemade bread for dinner, yum.

  8. I don’t know what happened there (suspect my copying and pasting skills failed) but I meant to say your job is weird yet deeply cool, Eisha.

  9. This week’s artwork is fun stuff, Jules and Eisha! Eisha, I’m glad that the Facebook thing is turning out so well. Very neat, reconciling with an old friend through current technology (and bravery). And oh, Jules, chocolate chip waffles. Yum! Let’s see. Kicks…

    1. An old friend is in town for a conference, and staying with us tonight. It will be great to catch up with him. And several other friends are coming over the next couple of months – this seems to always go in spurts for us.
    2. I finally read one of the Wimpy Kid books (the newest), and thought that it was hilarious.
    3. I’ve met my goal of riding the exercise bike for > 45 minutes/day every day this week. Watching past seasons of 24 helps a lot. And speaking of plot-heavy TV shows (my favorite) …
    4. … LOST is finally back this week.
    5. We got all of the Christmas decorations put away, and the house is clean and shiny.
    6. We went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant last night, using a gift card that Mheir’s very thoughtful brother and his wife got for us. We hadn’t been there in a couple of months, and it was so nice to be welcomed back. (Don’t we all long for that place where everybody knows your name?)

    And I’m going to stop at 6 today. Happy long weekend, all!

  10. Hi, all…

    Chris, the fact that your wife does bellydancing is great. I have a friend who took a class WITH her little three-year-old daughter. Congrats to your wife on her organizational and service skills, too, and to you on your chance to read your debut book to a big ‘ol crowd!

    Kelly, I’m still curious as to your sooper sekrit project. And I still wanna read Reaching for Sun.

    Jone, so much kick-y goodness, especially that your nephew is on the mend. Kicks #5 and #6 are pretty great, too. I love the poetry savings account idea. Oh, and my girls are STILL singing Rudolph, too.

    Congrats on the gigs, Farida. I wanna see you storytell one day. In person.

    Jeffrey, you’re going to study Linguistics? We need to talk. Also, Sunspot. Yum. My husband and I patronized that place so much when we lived there. It is made of awesome, yes indeedy-o. …congrats on your raise!

    Jama, I’ll tell my daughter you have an affinity for compeeshos. (So do I!) Hey, everyone, go see Fuzzy, Jama’s back-yard fox, if you get a second. I made that big to get your attention. As I just emailed her, that post made me have a lovely dream this morning, during a mid-morning nap, about my own bright red gorgeous fox in my own backyard. My girls ran into the room and jumped onto the bed to wake me up in the middle of that dream, so I didn’t get to go, you know, pet the fox or something, but he was beautemous.

    Anyway, Jama, I’d be so happy if you joined Facebook, but then I know you already know I want you to!

    Emmaco, okay, now that you’ve read Anna Karenina, I’ve gotta. Will put it next in my pile. Congrats on a good lunch-time presentation at work, and can I have pear and ginger cake with you one day if we ever meet? That was a fabulous performance by that chorus. Very clever. Here’s the other great video someone sent me this week:

    Jen, I need to follow your exercise-bike lead. I just HAD TO have one last summer, and guess how many times I’ve gotten on it? …I’ll be intrigued to see “Lost” this week. My husband keeps saying that the creative team’s method of story-writing and general production is offically Pulling Things Out of Their Ass (sorry to be mildly crude there, but typing “a**” wouldn’t have quite been the same), and I’d have to agree. But we still wanna see where things go from here.

  11. Jules, I had to get the bike because I was/am having knee problems, and my doctor pretty much insisted. It took me a while to warm up to it, but I’m in a pretty good groove now. I’ve definitely increased the duration and speed that I can maintain, though it fluctuates a bit. But for me, the key is television. I loved listening to audiobooks when walking outside, but if I do that on the bike, I spend too much time looking at the monitor. So I have TV shows that I only record on the TV where the bike is, so that I HAVE to ride to watch.

    As for Lost, I like that it’s not predictable – I’ve read so many books, and seen so many movies, that it’s not so common for a show to keep me guessing. So Lost works for me that way…

  12. Another great video 🙂 Her version of the story was very plausible.

    I’ve just been reading about how there’s an Optimists society who try to make people cheerier through small acts (this is the UK website as my laptop doesn’t seem to want to go to the international one). I sure feel short on hope and optimism too often (probably due to hanging out with the climate mob at work) so this society seems like a great idea, and in keeping with the spirit of 7 imp’s 7 kicks!

  13. Jen, that makes sense (about “Lost”). They definitely keep us guessing, and I suppose that’s why I keep tuning in. And their major shift in timeline at the beginning of the last season was intriguing.

    Emmaco, thanks for the link.

  14. Chris, I can’t think of a better kick than hearing your 5yo read a book aloud for the first time. Except maybe being married to a belly dancer.

    Kelly, one of my friends just said on facebook that after seeing the HBO special on Obama, she fully expects to see white doves fly out of his ass on Tuesday. I agree – he’s just too darn awesome.

    jone, I’m also so glad that your nephew is improving, and I also love the “savings account” idea. Brilliant – but I expect no less from you.

    Farida, you really are quite the busy bee. I’m pretty sure you can get extra arms grafted on now, but insurance may not cover it, depending on your plan.

    Jeffrey, I KNOW! I was so pissed I had to learn algebra all over again for the GRE – which I have yet to use in real life. WHY DOES IT EXIST? And I love your Obama kick – so much for the white doves.

    jama, how amazing is that fluffy fox picture? I love it! If you decide to go facebook I’ll totally be your FB friend.

    emmaco, pears and ginger are two of my favorite things, and I am drooling so hard over that cake. Congrats on the presentation, too.

    Jen, I am in awe. >45 minutes a DAY? Dang. Clever how you’ve tricked yourself into it, too.

  15. Jules, Joey and I love Calef Brown! Recently when I got us lost driving around Pittsburgh, we listened to Daniel Pinkwater read Polka-bats and Octopus-slacks more than five times in a row. Thanks to Calef, Joey loves talking about feeding snails pudding.

    7-Imp is making me hungry! An ice cream vortex, various soups, dumplings, pear and ginger cake. . . This is my first kick, because before I started reading, my tummy wasn’t feeling so hot. You all gave me back my appetite!

    2. We finally got to see some Grace Lin books! I want to send her my fortune cookie paper collection, especially the one that says, “You are a lover of words. Someday you will write a book.” I guess that would be silly, though, since she’s already written a bunch o’ books. Anyway, Joey is really, really cute saying “Okie-Dokie, Artichokie” all the time now. He might cry when we take that one back to the library.

    3. 7-Imp’s 2008 recap. Wow wow wow!

    4. Last Saturday, I made Mozambican cabbage soup for more than 30 people. And the leftovers got swooped up the next morning when I put them out for people to take home! Ah, more soup talk. I’m really hungry now. Gotta go eat some snails. . . or pudding or something.

  16. I wasn’t familiar with Andrew Wyeth’s work — thanks for sharing a bit of his life and art here.

    And on a lighter note, cool comics! My life seems to be settling into January-blah cabin fever and mundane winter ruts, yielding fewer obvious kicks than usual, but I’ll try to scrape together seven:
    1) Skating outside a couple of times, and seeing the girls progress, looking more confident and happy on the ice every time.
    2) Ordered a new violin for myself as an early birthday present. I’m very excited about this, and had an excellent experience buying from Fiddleheads — I usually hate buying stuff, but this was actually fun…and all through e-mail!
    3) A friend in town who calls me to go to the pub. I have some good friends, but a pub friend is something special.
    4) Cooking up a very nice tomato sauce using zucchini, Roma tomatoes, chard and basil from our garden (all frozen in fall)…yum.
    5) Our one-year-old is in that crazy stage where he’s adding new words daily. I love it. This is when parenting shifts from being barely tolerable to being quite engaging (for me, I know everyone else seems to adore babies).
    6) Awesome book blogger Tanya reviewed Savvy after I told her how much Ivy had enjoyed it…and Ingrid Law chimed in with a wonderful comment on the post that had Ivy beaming later that night.
    7) A great date with my wife (who has also done bellydancing!) when my parents took all three kids off our hands today — we hit a nice restaurant on the lake, then hit our favorite used book store and spent $50 in a happy hour of browsing.

    Have a great week, all!

  17. Late to the party, sigh, as usual… I mean, c’mon, these are delicious cake crumbs (and this week, cupcake crumbs), however 24-hours-old they might be. But just once could you leave me some icing? Sheesh, somebody’s actually scraped the dish with their fingernail. Or beaks, maybe. Bet it was those dang Wyeth swallows…

    Wasn’t feeling especially kick-y yesterday. Our 15-something-year-old cat died Saturday — she showed up at my wife’s place about the same time I did, so I always had a special feeling for her (the cat, I mean, although certainly The Missus as well). So I’ll just snag a handful of kicks from the usual weekly bouquet here:

    1 – Obama/McCain/Palin condoms. O my. But why is it that the idea of Biden-branded condoms makes me just go, ick?

    2 – The Wyeths. Funny, for some reason about 2 weeks ago I got in a Wyeth-browsing mood and spent a couple very pleasant hours with them on the Web (well, not literally THEM of course). I’ve only been to the Chadds Ford site once, and that was years and years ago, and it made a profound impression on me, in a way that (say) Paul Revere’s house never did.

    3 – Who was it who took the nap under a throw rug? …emmaco! That’s a great kick-and-a-half right there!

    4 – Ray Friesen’s work. One reason I like to listen to big-band swing music is: it’s almost impossible not to be cheered up. Friesen’s stuff is like that. (And yeah, he’s only 21. Which very nearly depressed me again until I remembered the concept of vicariousness. :))

    5 – All the inauguration stuff. Probably feels a lot different to anyone living/working within 100 miles of the steps of the Capitol, but at this distance the sense is similar to about 9pm on Christmas Eve — the extended pause of soft pleasure before the expected clamor and excitement and family squabbles and making up and gluttonous satisfaction of the The Day itself.

    6 – LOST: yeah, baby. Finally caught the last couple episodes from last season, gleefully rubbing hands in anticipation of the new season’s mindbendings.

    7 – Finally, one kick of my own: Think I’ve mentioned here before (around Halloween) that I’m gaga about Edgar Allan Poe. (And you do know 2009 is his 200th birthday, right? Like, TODAY?!?) For Christmas this year, The Missus got me the new Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories, which is one of the coolest books I think I’ve ever handled — like a pop-up book for adults. Just found out last week it’s been nominated for an Edgar in the critical/bio work category. Hurray for the sense of touch!

  18. Kathe, I know! Our kickers make me hungry every Sunday, too. Especially Emmaco. I’m still thinking about the notion of a pear and ginger cake. Hey, you made soup for more than thirty people…that’s pretty amazing right there, too.

    Glad you enjoyed the interview recap. Thanks for the feedback. Oh, and I bet Grace Lin would love that fortune cookie message after all.

    Jeremy, congrats on the new violin! That is most excellent. …And I completely understand the joy-of-4-yr-olds phenomenon. I enjoyed holding my wee babes, but I always prefer it when they’re older and can have conversations with you. This age is so fun that I kinda wanna freeze it. Well, most days.

    John, once again, my condolences on the loss of your pet.

    It’s always irritated me how Andrew Wyeth’s work gained this sort of reputation as being too sentimental, too formulaic. If you really study it or even see it in person, there’s actually this heavy symbolism, even a level of abstraction to a lot of his work, despite the surface-y realism, that is quite impressive. Glad you got to see some of his art work before, too. I highly recommend this book if you want to read further, and there are tons of fabulous titles all about his art and the stories behind it.

    Congrats on that Poe title. Who illustrated it? I can’t tell from the link. I’m intrigued.

  19. P.S. Jeremy, I can’t get that book review to open for the life of me. The page gets stuck every time. Will have to read it later, but anyway I’m glad your daughter got to hear from the author of a book she loves. Pretty cool.

  20. I’m late again–as usual.

    Jules, I love the daughter stories.

    Eisha, I laughed at your Kick #2. You won’t hear any “condomnation” from me about that one!


    1. I got a poetry book in the mail the other day–“A Curious Collection of Cats” by Betsy Franco. (I also got a package from Leslie Evans recently.)

    2. My husband and I finally got up to see my daughter and her boyfriend yesterday. We hadn’t seen them since Christmas Eve. I got to meet and cuddle Rudy, their new kitten–and play with Jack, their frisky yellow lab.

    3. I made guacamole, lobster rolls, and a huge apple pie. Sara made stuffed mushrooms. We all ate well and had a great visit. I just wish Sara and Jerry lived closer.

    4. I went to the Banbury Cross Children’s Bookshop to pick up a book I had ordered–CASTLES, CAVES, AND HONEYCOMBS. That was the last of the books I got for one of Sara’s best friends who’s expecting. Now we have a big box of outstanding children’s books to send her for her baby shower. She’s going to be a great mom. When Sara asked her what she’d wanted–she requested books!

    5. My friend Pat, the woman who owns Banbury Cross, also gave me F&G’s of three new children’s poetry books.

    That’s about it.

    Have a great week!

  21. What a great cover photo on that Wyeth book. Yep: those are the eyes that saw what had to be painted that way.

    The Poe book doesn’t have a single illustrator. It’s full of old photos and daguerrotypes and such. But the best part: the translucent envelopes inserted here and there throughout the book; in each is a handful of wonderful facsimiles of REAL documents important to EAP’s life. Like, say, there’s a letter from him to his crank of a stepfather, folded exactly the way the original is, with stains and tears and holes in the paper exactly where they are in the original… The odds of my ever handling the REAL originals are infinitesimal, so these are pretty darned cool little things I wanna tell you.

    (Plus: I had NO idea Poe didn’t wear a mustache until, like, the last year or two of his life.)

  22. Elaine, good choice on CASTLES….great book. Glad you got to see your daughter and have a great time.

    John, that books sounds wonderful.

  23. Wow, I have been away for so long that I need to get back into the habit of posting every week before I forget my kicks. I think I need a kicks notebook so I can keep track of all the good things that happen.

    Jules – Four really is a fun age. Imagine what five will be like!
    Jeffrey – Sunspot is one of my favorite restaurants too – I am a fan of their carnivore offerings. And I am too embarrassed to ever reveal my GRE math score.
    Emmaco – ha ha, you wrote “arse” in your kicks. I love that word. So much better than “ass”.
    Jen – the imminent return of LOST is making me very happy too.

    My kicks this week:
    1 – Hanging out with longtime friends during a visit to . . .
    2 – Knoxville! Knoxville! Knoxville! Where I ate . . .
    3 – Tomato Head pizza – I had almost forgotten how good it was. And whilst in Market Square, I bought. . .
    4 – A wonderful B+W print of the Tennessee Theatre, where Fred and I had our first date.
    5 – Watching the dining room light fixture shake as Cy ran around upstairs playing with Milo and Kai. Isn’t it marvelous when your children are great friends with your friends’ children? Ruby really hit it off with Ava too.
    6 – Cy’s latest DVD obsession is Bugs Bunny and The Muppet Show. Ruby loves the Muppets too – she always applauds whenever a song and dance number finishes. I’m glad my kids have good taste as I get to relive my childhood by enjoying these great shows. They are just as much fun as I remember.
    7 – Our flights to London are booked. It has been almost 4 years since I was last home, and I am so excited about spending 4 weeks with my family and friends, I can hardly stand it. And Cy is really looking forward to seeing the “old, old buildings”.
    Bonus kick from two weeks ago: Ruby had her first birthday and enjoyed smearing chocolate cake all over her face. She is now at that adorable chubby cheeked, crawling monkey stage, and even trying to sing “Jingle Bells”. She will also do a fake burp on command. Aah, the joys of having an older brother.

  24. Zoë, happy belated birthday to Ruby!

    I am jealous of your TN Theatre print, since — as you know — Blaine and I had our first date there, too. Congrats! Would love to see it some time. Oh, and yes, Tomato Head. Yuuuum. I miss that place, too.

    When are you flying to London? Have a safe trip.

  25. Ray: Awesome subject matter! Cupcakes, cheese, and penguins are all great things. Great cartoon of self, also.

    eisha: I would find it amusing if little signs appeared over my head and the heads of others. I already see words and patterns everywhere, so I wouldn’t be at all shocked by it. Yay for getting in touch with your old friends.

    e&J: I only recently (as of November) discovered some of Andrew Wyeth’s works. May he rest in peace.

    Jules: Re: your oldest daughter’s song and dance number: YES! She is brilliant. Enjoy the fairy tales and felt, giant lizards and all. Chocolate chip waffles sound good.

    My kicks from last week:
    1) OPENING WEEKEND of the show, complete with our final dress rehearsal, two previews, and four actual shows.
    2) Confidence
    3) Fun
    4) Singing The Name Game
    5) Sharing three good things about the day
    6) In-jokes
    7) Lozenges

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