Em oi! 431: One Sunday

Hourly comic day is technically February 1st, I think. It started back in 2006 when John Campbell, who once drew the comic Pictures for Sad Children (and then later set a bunch of stuff on fire and maybe quit the internet, I don’t know anymore) would draw an hourly comic every day for the month of January, and then invite other artists to join them on the last day of the project. The only rule is typically that you have to draw one panel for every hour you’re awake depicting something that happened during that hour. Technically you’re supposed to draw them AS THEY’RE HAPPENING but I never manage that. These were done during naps. Here I have in some cases done multiple panels in order to provide more of a narrative. Unfortunately it didn’t scan as well as I would have liked. I used to draw them on index cards (1-2 panels per card per hour). Perhaps I’ll try that again.

I’ve actually drawn these before (in Thai too), but not for quite a while. This one happens to cover last Sunday, which was the 4th of February. It was an atypical day around here in a lot of ways… we were recovering from a party the night before and B was struggling with a stomach virus that had been bugging him for a few days, so I did maybe more baby care than I might usually have and also we ate lunch at three in the afternoon. I think I maybe left out one wake up with Henry at 2ish? I don’t remember. Sunday is currently the day that I don’t run, so that’s also different from the quotidian, but that’s probably why I had time to draw this. Oh, and Henry spit up (on me) a few times more than usual. I have only depicted some of the bodily-fluid-related events here. It turns out that as babies get older, they tend to spit up less. Except when they’re fussy, they can swallow air that can lead to more spit ups. Henry got his first tooth last week. So you can maybe guess. Anyway. The lucky part is I didn’t give him the bright red Tylenol until after the last spit up. (Pro tip: If you are holding a baby and you feel his tummy suddenly kind of rumble in a bad way, point him away from you.)

Also, ignore Henry’s skepticism about Night Vision. It really is an excellent book. He is too young to really understand poetry.

File this one under PS3612.U686Z46 2018 for American literature—Individual authors—2001-—L—Biography and Criticism—Autobiography, journals, memoirs. By date.

Em oi! #423: Introducing the Kwisatz Haderach

So a thing happened. Some time ago, actually, though I wasn’t quite ready to discuss it publicly before now (case in point: I drew this comic thirteen weeks ago, and I didn’t expect I was going to publish it here, so I didn’t give it a number). I’m currently twenty-five weeks pregnant, as of today. Or maybe as of yesterday. I actually lost count recently and had to do some math to figure out where I was again. As far as I can tell, I’ve basically been pregnant forever and, with fifteen weeks to go, I will continue to be pregnant forever. People keep saying, “August will be here before you know it!” That is not true. Now that I have entered this world of measuring out my life with coffee spoons, I can say with certainty that August is an impossible amount of time away.

It’s actually not that bad, pregnancy. Or rather, I’m somewhat aware that a lot of my discomfort is the result of my own stupid choices. For example, my muscles all hurt; a reasonable person might choose to run less or lift less weight at the gym, but I have not made that choice. I have heartburn, and a reasonable person might choose to not eat curry a minimum of three times per week, but that is a future I am not prepared to face.

A few notes on the comic:

  1. The “gaze” being discussed is not really a Foucauldian thing–it’s closer to Lacan’s conception of gaze or Laura Mulvey’s concept of male gaze. Though Foucault did talk about the medical gaze, his bigger point about bodies was about the shift from people who look like x can do x to “we can create someone to do x” (so instead of looking for a strong young man with good posture etc. to be a soldier, find a young man and train him to be strong and have good posture and do the soldiering). But in many ways Foucault has become the philosopher-muse of the strip, so I decided to put him in.
  2. This might actually be the first comic that both Bryan and Foucault show up in the same panel together. So we have conclusively proven in the Em Oi! universe that Foucault is not Bryan in disguise. Just in case anyone was wondering?

Up until now, Em oi! has served as both an occasional journal comic as well as a somewhat joke-based comic. I’m afraid, for those who are uninterested in pregnancy, that there will be a number of comics on that topic forthcoming. But fear not, I’ll get back to making fun of philosophers eventually.

We’ll file this one under RG551 L86 2017, for Gynecology and obstetrics–Obstetrics–Pregnancy–General works.

Em oi! #420: I HELP

em_420a em_420b em_420c

If you follow my Instagram (or if you are one of the myriad people I’ve chattered at in the last week and a half), you have probably guessed that I spent a couple of days in Manhattan after my meetings last week. As part of this, I got to go for a run in Central Park, fulfilling a long-time dream. Several people warned me that the interior of the park has a lot of paths, and that it was easy to get lost, so when I saw a map (this was the only one I saw), I went over to have a look, and found myself in company with a number of other tourists. In my view, coming up behind people and unexpectedly knowing their language is probably the best part of knowing a second language. I have done this with Mandarin in a bunch of places, including a money-changing office on the border between Cambodia and Thailand and a cab in Singapore. This might be the first time it really came in handy in the US.

I should note that despite the best efforts of my long-suffering teachers, I still speak with a strong Beijing accent (these tourists had a more refined speech sensibility). 对不起, 我的朋友!

Anyway, the map in the photo is a rough approximation of what Central Park looks like in my mind. The big circle is the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which is about 1.58 miles in circumference (I ran one lap) and in which I think I saw a merganser (a weird-looking diving duck). The thing that looks like a bird’s nest is the Ramble. I first encountered the Ramble in the play Angels in America, which mentioned it as a place where gay men meet to have anonymous sex.[1] The sign at the entry didn’t mention that (surprisingly!) and instead described it as a place for bird-watching. I thought it might be a nice place to run some trails, but I was worried that I would get lost and freak out my cousin. Or interrupt something awkward. So I didn’t go in. But it was very pretty. Apparently, when you are at the Bethesda angel (which also plays a major role in Angels) looking north, you are seeing the rambles across the lake.

The rambles is basically the tree stuff behind the fountain.
The rambles is basically the tree stuff behind the fountain.

I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in Central Park, truth be told, even though I did nearly nine miles that morning (so seven in the actual park). Later, my cousin and I power-walked through on our way from the Met to Lincoln Center and I got to see the John Lennon tribute in the area called Strawberry Fields, complete with unwashed guy playing guitar.

I could keep writing about New York for ages, because I went to so many areas and my cousin just knows a ton about the city, so now I know a ton about the city. But it’s getting late, so I will bring this to a close.

We’ll file the comic under P118.2 L86 2016, for Philology. Linguistics–Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar–Philosophy, origin, etc. of language–Language acquisition–Second language acquisition.

If you normally access this blog through the pretensesoup.com domain name, I should have forwarding fixed on that in a day or two, so you will be able to find the new blog whichever URL you prefer.

[1] According to Wikipedia, they have been used for this purpose since 1920.

Em oi! #419: Question Spiral

em_419a em_419b em_419c

True story. I don’t know if I did something right here or not; maternal instinct: I do not have it. Six-year-old was adorable though.

I inked most of this on an airplane. (Also, sorry about the janky scanning; I did this with the Cam Scanner app on my phone at 30,000+ feet up.) As I write this, I’m lying on a bed in a hotel in Long Island, watching some stupid Food Network show and wishing the pressure in my sinuses would go away. I don’t really know what’s wrong with it. Possibly the airplane caused it to freak out. Hopefully that rather than the tooth I need to get removed acting up. New York: so awesome.

I guess I should get to bed. I took a Benedryl about an hour ago and now I’m knackered. Hope you are all having a good night and your sinuses are okay.

File this under BF723 D3 L86 2016, for Pyschology–Developmental psychology–Child psychology–Special topics, A-Z–Death.

Em oi! #418: How to Summon Cat


The new cat is named André and he is part cat, part Muppet. Behold his magnificence:


This comic was actually done with a type of paint I have only recently discovered. It’s called gouache, and it is similar to watercolor but more opaque. I am still learning to manipulate it as a medium.

So the dangers of drawing from memory: As I was sketching this, I was sitting on the ground floor on the sofa because the upstairs does not have good air conditioning and it was 90 million degrees out. Later I went upstairs and realized that the floor boards actually run in the other direction and the door opens to the hallway. The weirdest part is that the floorboards actually run in one direction and then switch midway down the hall. The reason for this is that our house was put together by a madman. 20160614_224945(I left the weird closet out of my drawing because it would be visually confusing.)

File this under SF442 L86 2016, for Animal culture–Pets–Cats–General works.

Em oi! #417: Poor Bastards


Ooh name that book. Or film. The film was also excellent.

Anyway, TWO COMICS IN ONE WEEK? I should pace myself better. Oh well. This actually happened–I didn’t hear the woman’s explanation to her offspring. I do wonder what she said. Okay, let’s bad segue into a quick discussion of the 2016 LMR 20k! (Link to last year’s race report.)


Year Time Pace
2009 1:53:39 9:09
2010 1:41:24 8:10
2013 1:56:41 9:23
2014 1:45:53 8:31
2015 1:50:45 8:53
2016 1:48:47 8:46

LMR20K 2016 micro race report: I ran in a circle that started at the Monona Public Library and went around Lake Monona. My 5K splits were pretty even at 27:11, 26:57, 27:31, and 27:08.

Finish line
Finish line. Those women behind me threw up their arms and shouted “woo” at every photog we passed and honestly I think I could have like punched them and been justified in it.

I was faster than last year, which was my goal. I didn’t beat anyone else in my running group, which was my other goal. This coming week, Saturday May 14th, I have a trail half marathon (the Ice Age half marathon) in La Grange, WI. I was hoping to use the LMR20K to predict my pace for the next race. If the two courses were similar, I would expect a 1:55:xx based on this performance. But they’re not–the trail race is a seriously harder course. And the weather may be quite a bit warmer. So we’ll see.

It was nice to race, though. I put off signing up for many races this spring because of stuff going on in my personal life and I have been missing it. In addition to the upcoming half, I’m also in for the Blue Mounds 18k and the half at Dances with Dirt. Depending on how things go health-wise, I would also like to do something crazy in the fall–maybe an ultra of some sort. Earlier in the spring, I was having some ankle pain after running distances farther than about 16 miles, so I’m going to wait and see if that has cleared up. Surprisingly, swimming helps keep my ankle tendons flexible when these things flare up.

We’ll file this under GV1062 L86 2016, for Recreation. Leisure–Sports–Track and field athletics–Foot racing. Running–Distance running–General works.

Em oi! #415: Em oi! Presents: Book Reviews

You will almost certainly need to click to embiggen.

What it says on the tin. Kali is sleeping on my lap right now as I write this, and talking about her medical problems feels almost like a betrayal to be honest. A HIPAA violation or something. But having visited a few different people with healthy cats this weekend, the toll the cancer has taken is really obvious. She seems comfortable at the moment at least. Because she hangs out in my office, we’ve basically been together 80% of every day for the last seven or so weeks since the cancer’s return was diagnosed. That also means I have plenty of time to observe her behavior and obsess over what she’s doing / not doing / eating / not eating.

I haven’t been dealing with the stress super well. Currently I’m running around 45 miles per week, and at this rate I might hit 200 miles for the month of March (I’ve got 180 so far). I have a lot to do, but it’s hard to focus on. In addition, I’m trying to finish up a play which is really stressing me out as well (the subject matter is a bit dark). If anyone has any suggestions for light reading, I’d be excited to hear them. After my adventures with Chast and Bechdel, I’m down to reading Good Omens for the fifteenth time. Anything funny / romantic / escapist would do.

Let’s file this under PN6714.D4 L86 2016, for Collections of general literature–Comic books, strips, etc.–Special topics–Other special (not A-Z).

Em oi! #414: The Quest


The struggle is real, guys.

So while I was finishing this comic up and getting it posted, news of Antonin Scalia’s death broke. This has been a rough week for me–after traveling back from Montana, I’ve been dealing with some credit card fraud issues and with Kali’s health issues. So I don’t have really too much to say, funny or serious. I’m tired.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if yogurt has gotten sweeter overall (not just coffee yogurt) over the last few decades. I drew this comic while we were up in St. Paul two weeks ago. Daniel tried to get me some coffee yogurt at their local grocery, a brand not available in Madison, but then we went out to brunch instead of staying in so I never actually tried it.

I’ll file this comic under HD9283.7 A2 L86 2016, for Industries. Land use. Labor–Special industries and trades–Agricultural industries–Dairy products–Yogurt–General works. Does it make you happy to know there is a preexisting call number for general works on yogurt under which you can search for all your yogurt needs? I feel just a little safer, personally. LCC got my back.

Mini Comics Roundup

If you don’t follow me on Instagram or other social media platforms, you might not be aware of my new hobby of posting mini comics over there. So here’s a roundup, plus a new one I somehow didn’t get scanned/posted before now.

These were all scanned using the CamScanner app, so if they look kind of cruddy, that is why. I ran them through Photoshop (okay, GIMP), but some of them, this was as good as I could get them. Or conversely, if you think they look awesome, that’s also why.

From Jan. 11, 2016:
business travel_1

Like a lot of people, I sometimes struggle with feeling like a total fraud. At this point, I’m pretty comfortable with my frauditude. I observed to someone a few years ago that it has been a long time since I went into a job confident that I could do all the parts of it flawlessly without issues. If you are reading this and also struggle with feeling like you are faking your way through life, I urge you to not worry about it. Nearly everyone feels like this. Just roll with it, you’ll be fine.

I went on my first business trip (to Long Island) since 2008 the week of January 11th. That previous trip happened to be in early February of a leap year too (to Houston, TX), and was chronicled in this comic:


It’s weird that eight years later, I’m back in healthcare IT after a long jaunt into different various fields. I no longer worry about feeling like a corporate stooge–for one thing, I work at a much less corporate place, and for another, I have come to the realization that art and making a living both have to have a place in my life. At least until the singularity.

From Jan. 14, 2016:

Security at LGA_1

This actually happened on my way back from my trip–there was a fire alarm as I was coming through security. No one seemed concerned. Certainly not the TSA agents.
Feed me_1
On the way out, I left the morning that David Bowie’s death hit the media. I actually woke up to an email from B telling me about it. On the way back, I was sitting in LGA waiting for my flight when the news that Alan Rickman had died broke. It was a weird week. At the gate, the agent was making announcements noting that it was not necessary to “slam” one’s bag into the bag sizer, and if we persisted in doing so, someone would get hurt.

From Jan. 28, 2016 (ish):

mixed grip

Deadlifting with Daniel during the St. Paul trip. I didn’t feel like inking it, and it looked better in pencil anyway.

Mixed grip means one hand palm up and one palm down. It is the best; I don’t care what you say.

From Feb. 3, 2016:
I sketched this out basically on the back of an envelope to amuse Daniel and Claire while we were in St. Paul for a wedding after I ran from their house down to the Mississippi River. Then I decided to go back and draw it out for everyone. It got three likes on Facebook. That is probably about what it deserved.

From Feb. 4, 2016:

I get anxious about travel.

From Feb. 6, 2016:


We went out to a company event in Montana for the weekend. After spending a few hours cross-country skiing (skate skiing, actually), I dashed out of the rental shop just to see the shuttle back to the lodge leaving the parking lot. Luckily, one of the women was heading back to pick up some trekkers, so I managed to get a ride and didn’t have to wait two hours for the next shuttle. We talked about wildlife on the way back.

From Feb. 7, 2016:


Another one from my skiing experiment, and one from the hotel. A bit behind the times, I guess, but no worse than the Joyce one, right? XKCD did the same thing a while back, except much better.

That’s all for now. I’m done traveling forever until April, but I may do a few more of these periodically. I enjoy the somewhat instantaneous feedback aspect (i.e., people clicking the little heart icon on Instagram), and it’s usually a lot faster for me to do these little ones than to think up a joke and draw 4+ panels. But we’ll see. I have another longer comic sketched and partially inked that I might be able to get up this week if I’m lucky.


Em oi! #413: It’s Only 43 Leagues

150 miles is 43 leagues or 211,000 ells.
As ever, if you’re having trouble reading, click to embiggen. I’ve had this comic sitting on my desk since before my trip to Long Island last week. I only just got around to scanning it. Oops. I was playing around with some different inks and Speedball pens. I have mixed feelings about how the art came out.

Recently, I was sitting around working while B was playing a game called Shadows of Mordor. It’s a surprisingly good game, and we found ourselves getting drawn back into the whole Tolkien thing. First, we watched The Hobbit (the Tolkien edit, not the full version–also, our copy was corrupted, so I missed the battle of the five armies).[1] Thereafter, I started re-reading The Lord of the Rings. At first I was only going to read FoTR . . . but I’m about to finish TT tonight. I’m surprised by how much my memory of the book has been overwritten by the film version, which I saw approximately 100 times (each section). I had forgotten, for example, that Faramir doesn’t try to drag Sam and Frodo back to Osgiliath(?) only to be attacked by a Nazgul. (Now I’m not even sure I’m recalling the film correctly.)

I’ve also become obsessed with the distances everyone is traveling in the book. In many sections it’s hard to tell, but in general I get the feeling that before the splintering of the fellowship, they are walking about twenty miles per day, more or less. That’s twenty miles in eight to twelve hours. At one point, when traveling with Glorfindel, this is referred to as a very long, difficult day’s march. The above comic was my immediate reaction. Of course, terrain counts for something, and they were frequently not on trails but just sort of out in the middle of the country, but still. (Maybe it was Bill the pony slowing them down?) Somewhat surprisingly, both groups (Legolas / Gimli / Aragorn and Sam / Frodo / Gollum) move much faster after the splintering than before it. But seriously, if I can run 31 miles in six hours, they should be able to go a little faster.

Another thing that interests me is that at least up to the point where Sam, Frodo, and Gollum enter Mordor, Sauron’s evil is very remote. The surroundings, even into Ithilien, are described as beautiful and the weather is quite fine. If one takes the tales of Sauron’s evil as provided by such luminaries as Gandalf, Elrond, etc. as tales (opinion rather than necessarily fact), it’s easy to begin to see Sauron as just a (hated) political leader. The orcs, for example, as seen during the scene of Merry / Pippin’s abduction, are quite like men in many ways with their conflicting loyalties and drive for glory. Sauron also employs regular men for his cause. In fact, when Faramir and his troops ambush a bunch of soldiers heading to Mordor, Tolkien offers us the following surprisingly sympathetic passage:

. . . Suddenly straight over the rim of their sheltering bank, a man fell, crashing through the slender trees, nearly on top of them. He came to rest in the fern a few feet away, face downward, green arrow-feathers sticking from his neck below a golden collar. . . .

It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace… (646)

Tolkien was, of course, a veteran of the First World War. This paragraph speaks to me of perhaps a memory of his battlefield experiences and the trauma he may have experienced. But it also raises for me the question of Sauron–the ever-unseen Big Bad, who is noted to be fixing the roads outside Mordor, who is apparently able to convince a lot of people, including Sauramon, to join him–can he really be as bad as Gandalf et al tell us? But beyond that, even despite the themes of good and evil, Tolkien doesn’t necessarily view these battles as righteous or valiant, and he doesn’t necessarily lionize violence.

At this point, B looked over at me and said, “Are you arguing that Sauron is all right because he made the trains run on time?”

Well, maybe. Don’t look at me like that. My favorite characters from this rereading are Smeagol / Gollum[2] and Galadriel, so.

If you’re interested in this “LotR is a story told by the victors and Sauron was framed” idea, you may want to look into The Last Ringbearer, a Russian parallel novel exploring that side of things.

There is clearly a lot more to talk about in LotR (I mean, it’s over 900 pages long), including world building, the role of women, the peoples and the North / West versus South / East thing, the colonial(ish) myth of empty places for colonization, etc. But I’m not going to touch on those here–feel free to comment with your thoughts though. And tell me I’m not alone in liking Gollum and hating Sam.

We’ll file this comic under GV1065.17 T65 L86 2016, for Recreation. Leisure–Sports–Track and field athletics–Foot racing. Running–Distance running–Marathon running–Special topics, A-Z–Tolkien, works of.

Tolkien, JRR. The Lord of the Rings. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.

[1] I still really want to see the Dol Guldor part. I love Galadriel and am a longtime fan of the actor who played Radagast.

[2] I actually feel like Gollum is rather hard done by. He certainly doesn’t deserve much of the shit he gets at the hands of Frodo and Sam. Sam is especially pretty cruel to him–there’s another paragraph where Gollum finds the two hobbits sleeping, and Tolkien writes that “could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, and old starved pitiable thing” (699). That passage very much made up my mind about him. And he is a much more interesting and complex character than a lot of them.