Em oi! Vacation, day 4

Cezanne Rolls Over in his Grave

It is hard not to observe that the average American these days enjoys a good meal. Food is everywhere, cookbooks are bestsellers (despite the demise of cooking), and there are even two full cable networks devoted to cooking shows. Cruises, as the phenomenal Dave Barry has pointed out, exacerbate the problem, since there’s an actual rule that you cannot be on a cruise ship and not eating. Still, when I get stuck standing in line for a sandwich behind a man who is in his left hand holding the crust of a pizza he just finished consuming before lumbering up to the deli window to order something with extra cheese and extra mayo. And then, before leaving the window, to see the man just leave the pizza crust on the counter instead of turning around and putting it in the waste basket five feet behind him. Well, I start to feel a little snappish toward other human beings.

It’s true.

This particular cruise had all of the rooms named for Impressionist painters. I am damned if I know why. All of the Impressionists were male and white, of course; the only room named after a woman was the Cassatt Lounge and no one went in there. That was weird. The restaurant on the Lido deck (the buffet) was named The Cezanne. It had this painting hung several times on its walls:

Lady in Blue, 1899

That was weird because it was hung at irregular intervals, as though the decorator of the ship had assumed that either no one would notice that there were several iterations of the painting or perhaps was unable to get more than three different Cezanne paintings to cover the entirety of the large room, thus necessitating the repetition. Bryan and I, working on our various projects, sat at a table for an hour or so and contemplated the judgmental features of this particular lady.

This comic is filed under: NC1763.V3 L86 2012b, for Drawing. Design. Illustration–Caricature. Pictorial humor and satire–Special subjects, A-Z–Vacations.  For more comics from this trip, check out: Vacation, Day 1.

To finish things up, here is another photo. This one was taken in Mexico, but I guess it could have been about anywhere. It reminds me of an important principle in my photography, which is that photographs tend to turn out better if I get as close as possible to the subject. Also, they turn out better if I use autofocus, since my poor eyesight means that I sometimes manually focus the lens into fuzziness. Oops.

Some kind of flower

Em ơi! #354: The First Tragedy of the 21st Century

Stay Classy, DPRK

File under DS932 .L86 2011, for History of Asia—Korea—Democratic People’s Republic, 1948-—General Works.

Considering how obsessed I have been with North Korea over the past couple of years, I am a little surprised that I haven’t drawn any comics about Kim Jong-il before. I did find this one about Kim Il-sung I drew about three years ago:


File this one under DS932 .L86 2009.

If you’re looking for a good book on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea as it’s typically known here in the West, I recommend:

Martin, Bradley K. Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty. N.P.: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006.
–At over 800 pages, an exhaustive look at the Kim personality cult.

Myers, B. R. The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves – And Why it Matters. New York: Melville House, 2010.
–In many ways a refutation of everything Martin claims, this book is both short and immensely readable.

Church, James. A Corpse in the Koryo. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006.
–A brilliant little pot-boiler of a mystery written by a guy who gives Raymond Chandler a run for his money. Allegedly very accurate with regards to DPRK society.

As a warning, a lot of defector memoirs have, uh, cannibalism. A lot of it.

I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow (Thursday) and won’t be back until the beginning of 2012, so have a good Saturnalia without me. I’m off to spend Hanukkah in Santa Monica (well, New Orleans and points south, but that doesn’t rhyme).

While we’re talking about books, here’s what I’m reading:

  1.   Potocki, Jan. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa. New York: Penguin, 1996.
  2.   Winichakul, Thongchai. Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-body of a Nation. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1997.
  3.   Mattson, Ingrid. The Story of the Qur’an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

(All links provided for ease of reference only; I am not receiving any kick-backs from Amazon.)

I feel very diverse. What are you reading this winter, anything good? If you have recommendations, feel free to leave them. I do so love hearing about what people are reading.

Em ơi! #352: Open to Interpretation

Someday I'll stop picking on Derrida.

Bryan tells me that this comic reminds him of #303: Playing it Safe. I think the swearing teddy bear is still one of his favorite characters. It reminds me of the previous one I did with Derrida and his cat (I can’t seem to find ANY of the Derrida ones offhand. Weird.)

I will tell you something about the last panel: When I started looking up female philosophers, I noticed that 2/5 of them (Hypatia and Tullia) had nude portraits on their Wikipedia pages.  I’ve never seen a nude painting of any male philosopher, including Socrates, who was a dirty old man and totally asking for it.  If you want to know what society values in a woman, there it is.  Hypatia: Mathematician.  Philosopher.  Astronomer.  Naked.

Seriously, I can count on one hand the number of female philosophers I read (Philippa Foot was the major one) and on zero hands the number of pre-20th century female philosophers I read.  That’s kind of screwed up.

Anyway, enough of that.

This comic is filed under NX652.P47 L86 2011 for Arts in general–Characters, persons, classes of persons, and ethnic groups–By name of character, person, class of persons, or ethnic groups A-Z–Philosophers.

em ơi! #350: we must imagine Sisyphus…

The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.  Or with a slipped disk in his back and rotator cuff issues.

As it says, about three and a half weeks ago I developed peroneal tendonitis in my left ankle. This is fun because it is the opposite foot from the one I hurt during my last marathon training cycle. As usual, I am surprised by how stupid my coping skills get without being able to run. This has really been a voyage of discovery vis-à-vis my terrible neurotic dark side.  I’d like to claim I’ve learned a lot about myself and will no longer be bothered by the same problems.  That might sort of be true…but I have a feeling that I’m not completely over some of these things.

But, my story: I was pretty depressed and feeling bad about how I was going to miss my marathon, and sort of in denial about the whole thing.  I’d made a PT appointment but hadn’t gone in yet, and as I was biking down I came up with this script.  Drawing this comic was really the first step in feeling better, because it was when I came up with it that I started to be able to laugh at myself again. So long as I do not take my problems too seriously, I think I can overcome anything. (And also I should point out that I overcame quite a bit of writer’s block, or comic artist’s block I guess? in order to post this. And I don’t actually even believe in writer’s block!)

For what it’s worth, the PT was actually very nice and told me about his own running-related injuries.

Learning from experience
The thing is, I should have known this was coming. Last year, when I subluxed my cuboid bone, the PT did a gait analysis and decided that I pronate too much. Everyone pronates a little (it means when you step, your foot rolls to the outside). But I do it a lot, and since I also have stretchy ligaments in my ankles, this puts a lot of pressure on them. If I want to wear the minimalist shoes I’ve been wearing (and I do), I have to do exercises to keep the muscles in my ankles strong. I wasn’t doing those consistently, so I got hurt.

In Baltimore, missing my marathon, a doctor friend gave me a brace to control the lateral movement of my ankle while I strengthen the little muscles in the area. In addition to preventing lateral movement, the brace prevents…well, it makes non-lateral movement difficult as well, I have to take a step with the good leg, then kind of post off the bad one–I’m sure it’s hilarious for all of those watching me. But I can run with a minimum amount of pain.

Yesterday I was hobbling around the track at the SERF and a guy blows past me in the outside lane. Not too surprising, I was running maybe a 10:15 mile (yikes, how the mighty have fallen). Anyway, he was going flat out, wearing Vibram FiveFingers, and he was really over-striding, so that he hit the ground heel-first pretty far in front of his body. I watched him do this pretty consistently for several laps (I had a lot of time to observe), and when I watched him stretch he was rolling out his ankles like they were bothering him. I wondered if I should have stopped and said, “Hey, you need to fix your gait before you wind up like me.” In my mind, one big problem with minimalist shoes is that it can be hard to tell if you’re doing it wrong, and to prove this both Bryan (who runs in VFFs) and I have been through periods of injury all summer (Bryan is sorted out now, thankfully, and I will be soon). Given that I know perhaps more than the average undergrad, and given that I was observant enough to notice all this, should I have said something?

I don’t know. I didn’t. If I see him again, I probably will.

Filing this comic under: RC1220.M35 L86 2011, for Internal medicine — Special situations and conditions — Sports medicine — Medical and physiological aspects of special activities. By activity, A-Z — Marathon running. Good times.

Em ơi! #332: I Think He’s Serious

"Maybe we can go to Cold Stone and I can just...stand outside and inhale..."

In the last panel there, B is actually making fun of me–that’s something I would say.  He has never shown any concern for what he eats in conjunction with how much or how little he runs.

EDIT: So originally I had the above sentence phrased differently.  B protests that he does care about staying svelte, which is why he runs several times per week with me, lift weights, and so on.  Which is totally fair — I don’t mean to imply that he’s a slouch or not fit or something.  He’s quite fit.  Mm.

Sorry.  I got distracted.  Anyway, my point was not that he is unfit or spends his entire life eating frosting out of a canister with a spoon (which is something I have possibly done in the middle of a sugar craving, ugh), but that he doesn’t freak out when he eats too many sweets.  If I eat a lot of candy, I feel like I have to run more to run it off.  He just shrugs and eats less the next day.  Both systems work in terms of weight maintenance…but his is definitely more relaxing.  So that is how he’s making fun of me.  He’s not a monster or anything.

Anyway, I found it amusing.

Things that count as “candy”: ice cream/frozen yoghurt, candy, chocolates, flavored syrup that goes in coffee, granola bars that have chocolate chunks in them, honey-roasted peanuts, sugar-coated pastries such as cupcakes or donuts or chocolate-chip muffins.

Things that don’t count as candy: sugar or hot cocoa mix in my morning coffee or afternoon tea (I need sugar and milk to drink coffee, and without coffee I cannot function, probably.  And Bryan said he would move out.), cough drops, dried fruit.

Today is actually day two of this experiment.  It runs until the end of the day Sunday (meaning “when I go to bed”).  I drew this picture to indicate how the first two days have been:

"Meh."I had a presentation today that was quite terrifying (I hate presentations generally, that’s why I want to be a novelist and sit in a cafe and not talk to people).  Most of my energy has been directed toward that and not to thinking about the sugar I am missing out on.  I notice I want some (for example, I usually have a small sweet after dinner, and I missed that today), but it isn’t overwhelming.  Since I still get sugar in my coffee, I don’t feel totally deprived.

I probably won’t have dramatic weight loss (all the running means my weight fluctuates a lot depending on my hydration), but maybe I can restructure my diet to have fewer cookies and more apples.  Not a terrible idea.

This comic is filed under TX553.S8 L86 2010, for (you ready for this?):

Home economics–Nutrition.  Foods and food supply–Examination and analysis.  Composition.  Adulteration–Dietary studies, food values, experiments, tests, etc.–Special constituents, A-Z–Sugar

LCC almost never fails.  Amazing.

Am I the only one who does crazy experiments-of-one like this?

Em ơi! #329: Pronounced “Lup*ton Me*trish”

Fuck you, Chase.  I didn't want the frequent flyer miles anyway.

This isn’t the first time this whole name thing has come up.  See also #307 and #294.

To say I have been somewhat conflicted on this issue is an understatement.  After way too much discussion B and I agreed that “Lupton Metrish,” with no hyphen (B doesn’t like hyphens, I don’t know why) would be a good way to style myself.  Well, that makes it sound like he had a huge say in it.  More like I said, “I’m changing my last name to this” and he said, “As long as you’re happy.”

I’m tempted to call Chase’s inability to get my name correct a form of racism — in many Spanish speaking countries, it’s normal to use two unhyphenated surnames.  Check out Gabriel Garica Marquez or Mario Vargas Llosa.  Even if Chase didn’t operate internationally (in fact, it’s part of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and operates in 60 countries), there are doubtlessly immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries in the US who want to maintain their names in the correct form on their VISA cards.  Anyway if it’s not out-and-out racism, it’s certainly obnoxious.

Fun Fact: Apparently Mario Vargas Llosa a) wrote his doctoral thesis on Garcia Marquez and b) later punched him in the face.  No one knows why.

By the way, if you were wondering where to find my second-ever published short story, wonder no more.  Just click to this link at GUD magazine and buy it for $0.50 (or get the whole issue in a nice PDF for $3.50).  It is totally worthwhile.

File this comic under: KF521.L8 2010a

Em ơi!#326: A Valid Strat

More colored pencils.  I am kind of digging the richness of the color, though it is kind of stylized.

File this one under: HE5736 .L86 2010a, for:

Transportation and communications — Bicycles — General works.

If you were wondering, last week I biked 100.5 miles, not including the 2 hours and 40 minutes I spent on the Spin bike at the gym.  It turns out I can read while on the Spin bike, which increases the appeal a little bit.  This week so far I have biked 20.8 miles; today I took the day off because I had a terrible headache.  I have looked back in my running log through to May and I can’t find a day where I didn’t do something – biking used to be what I did on my day off from running (and many of the other days, too).  So this is odd.  Instead, I baked a loaf of bread using whey from a bottle of goat’s milk I made cheese out of.  I also ate a bunch of cookies and studied MySQL.

It is a magical life, I tell you.

Anyway, with regard to the comic (oh yeah): Bryan eventually realized that I had a flat on my bike and not on my car and helped me call a cab to take me downtown.  I finally found out that my brakes had been rubbing on the rear tire and worn a hole through which the tube squished and subsequently ruptured.  It was a trying day, since I went through two tubes before the bike shop figured out I needed a new tire.

I’m for bed.  I have a new story being published (it is actually available for preview/online purchase right now); I’ll put up more details about that tomorrow or Thursday.

Summer 2010 Bibliography

It’s the last day of August, so here is a list of the articles and books I’ve read over the past three months.  Mostly, anyway – it doesn’t count the novel I wrote that I read twice (editing) or the two short stories of mine I also read for editing purposes.  I’ve organized them by place, since I was specifically researching certain countries.  Beyond that, there are a few themes you might note from the titles: sexuality, especially women’s sexuality; modernity and the supernatural; and place and modernity.  Looks like a lot of stuff about sexuality, though.  Huh.

I feel a little bad about not reading more fiction.  To be fair, the one novel I got through was 900 pages long (and I’d been reading it since winter – this only represents the last 500 pages or so).  Also my Vietnamese class took over my life.

It was a lot of fun putting this together.  It gave me a sense of progress and also helped me to keep my thoughts organized.  Maybe I’ll do another one for the autumn.

I haven’t included the DOIs for most of the papers, assuming that you can find the journals without too much trouble.  If you are having difficulties finding the things cited, drop a comment (or email) and I’ll help you out.  I also haven’t included very many comments (and certainly not scholarly comments) because my notes tend to be rambling and, to a certain extent, incoherent.  But if you want to discuss a certain paper, you can leave a comment.

Non-place specific

Oakes, Timothy.  “Place and the Paradox of Modernity.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87.3 (Sept. 1997): 509-531.  Retrieved August 2010 from the web.  <http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564066>.

  • What is it Gertrude Stein wrote, “…it was as if a bell rang within me”?  I really enjoyed this paper.

Tuan, Yi-Fu.  “Language and the Making of Place: A Narrative-Descriptive Approach.”  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 81.4 (1991).  684-696.


Sotheary, Mey Son.  “My Sister.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans. Tomoko Okada, Vuth Reth, and Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  45-56.

  • Better in Khmai, or so I am told by those who read the language.  Takes an unusually tolerant stance for the region.


Sinn, Elizabeth.  “Women at Work: Chinese Brothel Keepers in Nineteenth-Century Hong Kong.”  Journal of Women’s History 19.3 (2007): 87-111. DOI: 10.1353/jowh.2007.0062.

  • This was a really fun paper.  I totally found it by accident, too — I was searching for papers on family business for my job.


Mills, Mary Beth.  “Attack of the Widow Ghosts: Gender, Death, and Modernity in Northeast Thailand.”  Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia. Aihwa Ong and Michael G. Peletz, eds.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.  244-273.

  • This was a great story.  My future cousin-in-law (is that a recognized kinship term?) thought this would make a great one-act play.  If I ever figure out how to write plays, I’m going to write it.

Muecke, Marjorie.  Female sexuality in Thai discourses about Maechii (“lay nuns”).  Culture, Health and Sexuality.  6.3 (May-June 2004): 221-238.

Thaweesit, Suchada.  “The Fluidity of Thai Women’s Gendered and Sexual Subjectiveness.”  Culture, Health & Sexuality.  6.3 (May-June 2004): 205-219.

Watarachanakool, Pornvipa.  “Science, Technology and the Supernatural in Contemporary Thai Novels.”  Manusya: Journal of Humanities.  9.1 (March 2006): 38-51.


Duong, Thu Huong.  “The Story of an Actress.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans. Bac Hoai Tran and Courtney Norris.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  298-320.

Khai, Hung.  “Anh Phải Sống.”  Anh Phải Sống. Hà Nội: Đời nay, 1934.  n.p.

  • Not the greatest story, but not too hard for beginning Vietnamese readers.  (By “beginning,” I really mean “advanced students who are beginning to read stories and novels in Vietnamese, I guess.)

Khai, Hung.  “You Must Live.”  Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. Trans.Bac Hoai Tran and Courtney Norris.  Ed. Teri Shaffer Yamada.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.  278-283.

Khai, Hung.  “You Must Live.”  Trans. Truc Huy.  Saigon Online.  Retrieved 25 August 2010. <http://www.saigonline.com/truc_huy/khaihung.htm>

  • Not the greatest translation.  But then again, I wasn’t a huge fan of the story.

Nguyen, The Anh.  “The Vietnamization of the Cham Deity Po Nagar.”  Essays into Vietnamese Pasts. Eds. K. W. Taylor and John K. Whitmore.  Ithaca, N.Y. : Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1995.  42-50.

Quach, Trang.  “Femininity and sexual agency among young unmarried women in Hanoi.”  Culture, Health, and Sexuality.  10(Suppliment, June 2008): S151-S161.

Thu-Huong, Nguyen-Vo.  “History Interrupted: Life after Material Death in South Vietnamese and Diasporic Works of Fiction.”  Journal of Vietnamese Studies.  3.1 (2008): 1-35.


Anderson, Jourdan.  “Letter from Jourdan Anderson to His Former Master.”  Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery.  Leon F. Litwack, ed.  New York: Knopf, 1979.  Retrieved from the web 31 August 2010.  <http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/pdocs/anderson_letter.pdf>

Stephenson, Neil.  Quicksilver.  New York: William Morrow, 2003.

For those who have made it this far, here’s a fun song for the end of summer.  The video is quite avant garde, or less politely, it looks like a bunch of hipsters threw up on the set.  But the song is great: “Dog Days are Gone” by Florence and the Machine.

Em ơi! #323: Conspicuous Consumption, pt. 2

For those who didn’t get enough last week

So Freud was Austrian.  I mean, we all knew this, because he’s ALWAYS depicted with zis re-dik-u-lous achent, ja?  What I didn’t realize is that he died in 1939.  When the Nazis took over Germany, Freud’s books were among those they burned, and he famously quipped, “What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me. Now they are content with burning my books.”  He had four sisters who died in the camps, and he eventually escaped to London with the assistance of a Nazi who had studied his work and was a fan.

The more you know.

I do think that the change in conception of personality is very interesting, in part because of what it makes possible in terms of mental illnesses – think about it, unless you believe that personality is malleable and influenced by environment and that people can have different personalities for different situations, you cannot believe in Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder.  That is not to give a judgment on whether it exists or not (I have read too much on both sides of the issue to feel comfortable making a definitive statement here), but just to point out that if you lived in a culture that had a more static view of personality, you would probably see DID in a rather different light.

It seems as though today we’ve come to some sort of truce between all these conflicting ideas – we see personality as static but also see ourselves as presenting different facets of it in different situations; we see people as driven by instincts and ruled by chemicals, but still insist on the ability of the mind/ethics to govern it all.  And we are more nervous and depressed than ever (which might have more than a little to do with our old friend advertising).  Whee!

I love reading history because whenever I am convinced that the world is falling apart and we’re all going to fucking die (this happens frequently; I’m a pessimist), I just remember that society has been wrestling with these issues for more than a hundred years, and we ain’t dead yet.


This comic’s call number is HC79.C63 L86 2010a.

Em ơi! #321: Staff Infection

Bryan asked, when I wrote the script for this comic, if the Dean would recognize herself.  I told him no, because I’ve changed her name, so she can’t find this.  And also, I’ve been introduced to her two or three times now, and I don’t think she knows who I am.

I would totally get a Ph.D.  if I had a way of justifying it, just because I am totally in love with the intellectual exercise of being an intellectual and reading interesting stuff and writing about it.  This is maybe the problem with not being single, I don’t feel like I can just go on getting degrees because I think they would be fun or interesting.  There has to be a (pragmatic) reason to do things.

In other news, I received my first piece of fan mail from someone who I’m not related to today.  (Or, you know, someone I’m friends with on facebook – an email from a random stranger).  All of a sudden I feel like a WRITER.  I should get these novel revisions done tout de suite.  Bryan and I also passed a lovely weekend vacation in Chicago, where we went to the Art Institute, ate a lot of food, and saw some of my favorite relatives.

This is filed under LD6115 .L86 2010, for (deep breath): Individual institutions–United States–Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin System–Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin, Madison–Curriculum–Graduate work and courses.