My 2014 Neil Gaiman Thread

Over the course of 2014 I bought lots of different books. Usually I ended up purchasing something after having borrowed a title from my local library. Others I had to buy because Neil Gaiman was involved and I love his work, such as The Art of Neil Gaiman by Hayley Campbell. Must have for fans!

Neil Gaiman books plus Amanda Palmer's Art of Asking

Why, you may ask, is the Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer in the photo? Well, she’s married to Neil Gaiman; that’s a minor detail here but they look so good together. The more important factor is why she wrote the book. If you haven’t seen her TED talk, which has over 6.3 million views, you have to go and watch it now. It’s a great way to start off the new year. And pick up her new book; I’m in the midst of reading my copy. A quote from her website: “Expanding upon her widely popular TED Talk from 2013- the book continues to explore the ways in which ‘asking’ and ‘giving’ play vital roles in today’s artistic communities, and our lives in general.”

(A little background: I went to see AFP’s concert a few years ago in San Diego because her husband was going to do a reading during the event. I didn’t know much about this musician/social media queen at the time but after her concert I began to follow her on Twitter. I fell in love with her creative spirit, compassion and energy the more I got to know her online. If you have any opportunity to see this duo in a collaborative project, take it!)

The other little hardcover, The Sleeper and the Spindle, was specifically sold as a limited edition during the first ever California Bookstore Day back in May to help support local independent bookstores. I bought my copy at mysterious galaxy books; the staff and selection are excellent! There’s a larger, illustrated version of The Sleeper on sale now.

Rothfuss and baby
Rothfuss gently holding an audience member’s baby at the mysterious galaxy book signing.

I’m also a fan of Patrick Rothfuss. He’s a great writer and a generous person. Last October he put out the novella, The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which focuses on Auri, a mysterious girl from the Kingkiller Chronicle. After I finished reading it, my2104 b heart felt full. I got a richer sense of who Auri is and loved getting a small glimpse into her life.

Inside The Slow Regard

I have to mention that every year since 2008 Patrick Rothfuss and his team of awesome run a fundraiser under the name Worldbuilders to raise money for Heifer International. In a 2008 blog post the author explains why he runs Worldbuilders. The thread here is Mr. Gaiman helps him raise money for the charity in one form or another. This year a stretch goal was reached, a video was made one cold, early morning, and Neil Gaiman reads Jabberwocky was born.

What book adventures do you look forward to in 2015? I like the surprising, unexpected ones the best.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

My 2014 Neil Gaiman Thread

Des Cowley’s wonderful synopsis on book arts

Came across this gem of a video which gives a short excellent overview of book arts and its history by Des Cowley at the State Library of Victoria in Australia; I was also amused by the background music. Enjoy!

Des Cowley’s wonderful synopsis on book arts

Favorite author and library advocate: Mr. Neil Gaiman

I have been a huge fan of the writer, Neil Gaiman, ever since I read Neverwhere back in the mid- to late-90s while I was in high school. In recent years, there seems to be more attention and discussion about why libraries are still a necessary part of a community and Mr. Gaiman has been a great vocal advocate for libraries, which makes me love him even more.

I had to buy this magazine a few months ago because Neil Gaiman was on the cover.

Thanks to Twitter I came across a wonderful article in the guardian featuring an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday, October 14 at the Barbican in London. Some of my favorite excerpts:

“I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.”

I devoured science fiction and fantasy novels as a child such as those written by Piers Anthony, David Eddings, and Anne McCaffrey. (If you’re interested in specific series or title recommendations let me know.) If it wasn’t for my local library (and my parents’ willingness to drive me almost on a weekly basis) I would not have had the pleasure of reading these authors’ works.
Mr. Gaiman goes on to eloquently state that

“… libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.”

As a child, libraries were my haven to access books that transported me to far-off places and activated my imagination. I still visit my local library almost on a weekly basis to read the newest novel, borrow books about artists, or learn about what’s involved in starting up your own craft business. If not for libraries I would not be the person I am today and I continue to grow as a person thanks to my local library.

Favorite author and library advocate: Mr. Neil Gaiman

La Jolla WOW festival 2013

After our usual Thursday morning book arts class at Bay Park Press Sibyl drove a small group of us to the beautiful La Jolla Shores to see the first 1pm outdoor puppet performance, Seafoam Sleepwalk, directed by Basil Twist. This was one of the many activities to see and do as part of the WOW festival happening in San Diego. The fun, wacky, exciting performance was gigantic in scale, and the soundscape created by Yumiko Tanaka was fantastic. The beach environment added an amazing and ever-changing backdrop for showcasing the re-imagined myth of Aphrodite.

Sketch artist
Sketch artist on the beach

I highly recommend anyone who can make this event to go! Last day is this Sunday.

You’re also welcome to check out more of my photos on Flickr.

EDIT: Discovered on Twitter that the sketch artist pictured above is @inklines Michael Arthur and you can see his lovely sketches from that day on the beach here.

La Jolla WOW festival 2013

Austin Adventures (April 7th – April 20th)

I didn't find Austin to be a “touristy” town but it seemed like it would be a nice place to live. When I was looking online for things to see in Austin the usual advice was to go visit surrounding areas like San Antonio. Yes, Austin is known for music but Nick is not interested in music whatsoever and I'm a casual listener. The Texas capitol is also known for hosting SXSW (south by soutwest) but we missed it by a few weeks. And then, of course, there are the Congress Bridge bats to see around sunset but I was too tired to stick around to wait for the bats the day we were by the bridge.

Congress Bridge Congress Bridge

So what did we do? One weekend we walked around the capitol building grounds and checked out downtown.

Texas capitol building

Also art city austin was held that weekend (April 14-15) in downtown so we visited the different artists' tents. There were some wonderfully beautiful art work on display but the pieces that I would want were way beyond my budget.

On our walk back to our hotel from downtown I saw these 3 men dressed in vintage fashion. I just had to take a pic (one of my most favorite shots)! I wonder where they were struttin' to/from?

3 men struttin' around downtown

The following day I volunteered to help out at art city austin. I was assigned to the kid's block Colin's Hope: Imprinting Activity tent. The main purpose of the tent was to give out information to parents on water safety and drowning prevention. I helped carve potatoes for printing and enjoyed assisting the kids that stopped by.

At one point all activity stopped and there was a scramble to get underneath the tents because there was a sudden deluge of rain. One juggler, however, was nonchalantly walking around doing what he does best.

The volunteer opportunity gave me a better sense of Austin's community and supporting and promoting the arts in some way was personally satisfying.




Austin Adventures (April 7th – April 20th)

A Magical Day in my Tucson Odyssey

Today has been an AMAZING day! When I woke up I headed to our Airbnb host's backyard to do a bit of yoga. Staring at the crystal blue sky and hearing the soothing bubbling sounds from the small water fountain was very peaceful and helped me focus better on my poses. Also my upper back thanked me afterwards.

Later in the morning, while Nick and I headed to the University of Arizona's campus, a hummingbird hovered over my head and I stood still to watch it float against the azure sky. That was a magical moment.

Had the best fries I ever tasted at frog & firkin as our lunch appetizer. I am totally stealing the sinfully mouth-watering idea of topping fries with red sauce and melted mozzarella.

red fries at frog & firkin

After lunch Nick and I sat in a local café drinking the kind of iced chai we like. Then I left Nick to work and I headed to the university's Museum of Art, Poetry Center, and Special Collections.

U of A's Museum of Art

I forgot that most museums are closed on Mondays but I did get a campus map out of it. Since the Joseph Gross Gallery was only a few steps away I went in and was emotionally engaged by student Ben McKee's Matt & Ben (My Big Brother & Me) installation including 3 videos of various screen sizes. Still not quite sure exactly why I felt something so strongly in the pit of my stomach but it most likely has to do with my own relationships with my brothers; I miss them.

Ben McKee's installation

I wasn't sure if there were sensors but a light turned on in the room as I walked alongside the installation and a small video started up when I walked towards it in a separate section on the right (not pictured).

Next I walked over to the Poetry Center which is housed in a beautiful building (I should've taken a photo). They have a small exhibit of artists' books curated by Johanna Drucker. My favorites were works by Keith Smith and Tom Phillips.

Book by Tom Phillips
Out of Sight by Keith Smith

Out of Sight (Book Nr. 107) by Keith Smith

Continuing on my artist book hunt I headed to Special Collections. Thanks to the advice of one very helpful librarian at the Poetry Center I requested to see James Joyce's Ulysses designed by Philip Smith which is stowed away in the Collection's vault. When the librarian wheeled over the book I started feeling teary-eyed and my heart wanted to burst. This was probably the personal equivalent of beholding the holy grail. Every word that pops to mind does not do this treasure justice and the following pictures definitely are poor substitutes.

James Joyce's Ulysses
James Joyce's Ulysses (case)

A book love affair. See them kissing?

If you were wondering, the small slip of paper you see in the photos is a copyright requirement of Special Collections whenever a photo is taken. I am definitely returning to this library to check out more of their book arts collection. I'm still amazed that I actually got to touch the books and smell its pages.

The midday sun is brutal here but I am LOVING Tucson!

(I will still post about our time in Texas and Colorado but was overly excited about today and had to share.)


A Magical Day in my Tucson Odyssey

Splendiferous N’awlins (March 24 – April 6)

In New Orleans we stayed at an Airbnb property in the Muses Apartments only a couple of blocks away from the St. Charles streetcar line, which we could take right to the French Quarter (or get there on foot in about a half hour). The one downside to where we were staying was that there was no wi-fi service but thankfully there was Krewe du Brew, a new-ish cafe right on St. Charles Avenue where Nick spent his weekdays for work. Co-owners John and Eugene provides attentive service and friendly conversation. Stop in and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood. I enjoyed their chocolate chip banana bread and drank a lot of raspberry ice tea.

Fleur-de-lis mosaic at Palmer Park

Nick and I both adored New Orleans and would love to return for another visit. It also helped that Nick didn’t suffer allergies the entire time we were there.

A few highlights:

    • Visiting the art galleries of the Warehouse/Art District
Chihuly glass (white)

Chihuly’s white glass series is gorgeous

Michael Pajon, my new favorite artist

Michael Pajon’s collages rock! If I was rich I’d collect his work.

    • Unexpectedly finding this beautiful street art
    • Talking to artists at the Arts Market (held monthly on the last Saturday)

At the market I ran into Yuka Petz, who’s a local book artist I’ve been wanting to meet. I like her play on words and text in her work. I also spoke briefly with printmaker Pippin Frisbie-Calder from whom I got to learn about cypress trees and their knees.

Jimmy Descant
Tao Seeger

Tao Seeger is a great storyteller; I enjoyed hearing about the history of his instruments. One of the stories was about his hundred-year-old banjo!

    • Spending a beautiful day with Nick eating our way through the French Quarter
Cajun Cafe Market
Yummm ... Cafe du Monde's beignets

All the locals who I’ve spoken with says that Cafe du Monde beignets (pronounced “ben-yays”) are the best. We concur!


Additional photos:

New Orleans, LA



Splendiferous N’awlins (March 24 – April 6)