Em oi! #400: She Gets It


Since we came back from France and Belgium, this is something I have been going back and forth on. On the one hand, sites like Facebook are immensely entertaining, especially when one is bored or trying to waste time (that “I’m scheduled to go for a run now but it’s 35 degrees out” time of the morning). On the other hand, almost all websites operate on an outrage-for-clicks system, which means that people are constantly posting links to articles that are meant to be provocative. These articles typically upset me. And of course, there are several studies that suggest that Facebook can be bad for your self esteem. And that doesn’t even touch on Tumblr, which is basically an entire community of people who have set out to post the most upsetting and useless “social justice” things they can think of, in addition to retumblring each others’ inane drivel about things no one cares about. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few blogs on Tumblr worth reading.[1] But at some point, the anxiety/frustration that I get from reading this crap has come to outweigh the pleasure I got if people momentarily noticed MY drivel. So I’m trying to step away. I think it has been good for my mental health thus far.

I’ve been reading a lot of running/triathlon blogs instead. Ultra runners or “normal” distances, it doesn’t matter–if you can string your words together in a reasonably coherent and entertaining fashion, I’ll read about your climb up Pike’s Peak, your half IM, or even your 4×400 workout at the track. Maybe it’s because this foot injury[2] has forced me to run less, but I find it quite gratifying at the moment.

So the foot. As I maybe mentioned, I’ve been seeing a PT twice per week since I got back from Europe. My therapy has typically included ultrasound, poking at it with a stick until I say “ow,” and various types of stretches and exercises. This past week, we tried trigger point dry needling, which is like acupuncture except that it doesn’t rely on “meridians.” There’s some evidence that it works (unlike acupuncture), but my understanding is that there haven’t been enough high quality studies to really draw any firm conclusions. Nevertheless, if I were told that standing on my head until I black out every day would cure it, I’d do it.

That’s rational, right?

For those wondering, here is a list of things I have tried:

  • Icing
  • Rolling my calves (with the stick, with a foam roller)
  • Orthotics (both Happy Feet and Dr Scholl’s heel cups)
  • New shoes
  • Heel raises (both feet on the ground, both feet on a step, one foot in both positions, both feet bent knee/straight knee, and using a leg press machine)
  • One-legged squats
  • Calf stretches
  • Toe curls (alone, with a book on a towel, with two books on the towel)
  • Side steps with an elastic band around my ankles
  • Hamstring stretches
  • Actually a lot of various stretches
  • Ultrasound
  • “Breaking up adhesions” with a plastic thing
  • Trigger point dry needling
  • A Strassburg sock (at night)
  • A little elastic sleeve thing that is supposed to support the arch of the foot

Actually, while this looks like a long list of disparate and in fact desperate treatment options, I think they’re actually working. This morning, testing out a new pair of trail shoes, I ran twelve miles along the Ice Age Trail. At the beginning, the trail is pretty rutted and my foot was complaining, so I wasn’t expecting much, but after that calmed down it stayed calm for the rest of the run. This is definitely the best run I’ve had since the marathon, and I wasn’t taped. Was it the trails (nice and soft from yesterday’s rain), the new shoes, or the needling? I don’t care so long as I can repeat this at the 50k next week. TWO more runs before I hit the starting line!

By the way, in the comic above, Mom is carrying a cane because she fell off a horse. Presumably while chasing after cattle rustlers. Because she is a bad ass that way. (Not really–she said the straps came loose because of the humidity. But one has to admire that she came to Europe anyway and hiked around with that cane for a week and a half while she was healing. This is where my stubbornness came from.)

We’ll file this comic under HM741 .L86 2014, for Sociology–Groups and organizations–Social groups. Group dynamics–Social networks–General works.

The comic, by the way, took place on the Pont Neuf, which is a bridge. The sides look kind of neat, like this:

Pont Neuf detail.
Pont Neuf detail.

[1] If you’re reading this, I totally mean your blog, don’t worry.

[2] It’s plantar fasciitis (or plantar fascists, as B calls it).

Em oi! #399: He’s a Fan

Next time he'll perform "Eat It."

If you haven’t heard Janet Jackson’s classic song “Nasty” at this point, I don’t even know what to say to you. I’m not even the first comic artist to do a strip about it. Highlights from the music video include male crop tops, shoulder pads, and those funny squared-off haircuts that seem to have been popular in the 80s.

Everything was so square in the 80s, in a literal sense. What was with that design choice?

So following my marathon last week, which you may have read about here, I decided to run ten miles on both Wednesday and Thursday, sort of to see how I was feeling (the answer: tired). Then Friday we lifted legs. Some of you know that I lift with moderate seriousness[1]. This is something Bryan got me into just about six years ago next week(!) when we got our first gym membership together. Over time, I have come to appreciate leg day, because legs are a large muscle group and one that can do a lot of weight, so you can justify eating a lot of food after lifting legs.[2] For the last couple of months, I have been de-loading my squat (i.e., lifting less weight) to fix some problems with my form. So I was usually lifting about 95-100 lbs, but Friday I decided to go back to my typical working weight of 135 lbs (aka 100% of my body weight). Although I decided I would do five sets with five reps each rather than my more usual three sets of ten reps each, my quads unsurprisingly were not sold on the sudden increase. Then Saturday morning, I met my running group for thirteen (rather painful, hilly) miles. At this writing (Saturday night), my quads are no longer speaking to me. Basically I am currently sitting on the ground in front of the sofa and although I’m hearing a noise from the other room that suggests the dog is doing something untoward, I am having a really hard time motivating myself to get up and go check on the situation. Even the process of getting from a standing position to the floor where I could use my foam roller was rather harrowing. I may stay here forever.

Consequently, a new comic. Because I could sit on the ground and watch cooking videos and finish the inking. But hopefully my sabbatical is over and there will be more to come soon.

Anyway, dogs. So as the somewhat controversial Cesar Millan likes to say, dogs like to have jobs. This is especially true for working dogs like German shepherds and Australian shepherds, but it also seems to be true for regular normal house dogs like the shiba inu and the “mostly a flat-coated retriever.” If you don’t give the dogs a job, they come up with one themselves, I guess, because our dogs have certainly made a decision that they are each in charge of watching one of us. For the most part, when we are working during the day, we are in different rooms, and Edgar will be in my room while Maya is in B’s room. I am not sure how they came to this assignment, but it seems to be pretty consistent. If I move to another room to work, say, while Edgar is asleep (dogs spend most of their time asleep, much like cats), soon he will wake up and come find me in the new location. Similarly, I will find Maya either in the room where B has gone to nap, or occasionally in the next room if he has closed the door. Why do they act like this? How did they make the decision of which dog to assign to which human? And crucially, if we added either another dog or another human to the mix, what would happen?[3]

Questions that will probably not get answered.

Dogs who want my lunch.
Dogs who want my lunch.

We’ll file this under ML88.J3 L86 2014, for Literature on music–Aspects of the field of music as a whole–Visual and pictorial topics–Pictorial works–Musicians—Individual musicians, A-Z.

[1] Moderate seriousness defined as lifting 50-100% of my weight on most exercises, but without grunting, flexing in the mirror, or dragging along a gallon jug of either water or BCAAs to drink while lifting. Anyway, we lift on a body part-based rotation rather than an upper/lower split or that sort of thing. This fact included for the lifting nerds?

[2] Not that I need that sort of justification to eat a lot. Since my race, my diet has consisted mostly of romaine lettuce with parmesan cheese and Cesar dressing (a modified Cesar salad) and also cookies.

[3] When Daniel and Claire came to visit last, I think Edgar spent some of his time watching Daniel as well as me, but we were working in the same room enough that I can’t say for sure. He did really like Daniel though. We haven’t had any other guests either dog seemed to be as fond of.

Em oi! #386: She’s up all night to the sun

Working harder makes it better

I know I have used a Daft Punk song lyric as a title before but I can’t find it.

I was going to write about buying the house (we closed about a week and a half ago) and all the stuff that has gone on (and gone wrong, but also gone right) since then, but I am frigging tired. I have been getting up as early as possible (between 5-6am) to work on my thesis too, and that isn’t helping. Yesterday I ran twelve miles, then spent the rest of the day painting with my very kind and generous friends. Then I fell into bed by 22:00.

The paint looks good. I still have paint in my hair.

Today: Utterly unable to accomplish anything. Well, I got some work done and made some phone calls, but it wasn’t a productivity-fest.

Tomorrow: Hopefully better.

Until then, dear readers.

File this one under HB501.L86 2013 for Economic theory. Demography–Economic theory–Capital. Capitalism.

Em oi! #382: Make Good Choices

No bare bodkins here, sorry.

We went and saw the new Hamlet out at American Player’s Theatre in honor of my cousin Keith graduating from his PhD program. It was a pretty good show–the fellow playing Hamlet reminded me of David Tennant’s Hamlet, to some extent, and the guy playing Polonius reminded me of Bill Murry’s turn at that role. Jim DeVita, who played Claudius, was quite good, and I was reminded of the first Hamlet I saw there, with Mr. DeVita in the title role then. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were good and not portrayed as idiots, for once, which was very refreshing.

There were some more interesting things about the casting this time–for example, Horatio, Fortinbras, and a few other parts were played by African American actors; I don’t recall seeing that previously. It does kind of raise some other questions about race in casting (like: Couldn’t you cast a Black Hamlet?). But it’s a step, right?

The costumes were sort of surprisingly loud–the ball gowns and capes were made from some shiny material, maybe taffeta, and there wasn’t any wind, so as the actors went sweeping across the stage, we could hear the silken, sad, uncertain rustling. (And it didn’t thrill me.) But I do like a period dress Hamlet. I’ve been trying to put a finger on why modern-dress Shakespeare kind of bugs me, and I think it has something to do with the fact that when the actors are in modern dress, we have to pretend that the plays themselves are modern. What do I mean? Well, of course the plots are incredibly dynamic and, with a few exceptions, speak to us as much today as they did four hundred years ago. But not every sentiment in them is exactly an upstanding modern sentiment. For example: “Frailty, thy name is woman.” “Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain,/If with too credent ear you list his songs,/Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open/To his unmaster’d importunity.” Or how about Ophelia, speaking of the play, “Tis brief, my lord.” Hamlet: “As woman’s love.”

I could keep going, but I think I’ve made my point. I should add that I would rather see a modern dress anything than another “Hamlet wears tights and a dress tunic because that’s kind of like the way people dressed in the 1600s right?”

Interestingly, while I was drawing this comic, two people (neither of whom were aware of my researching J.P. Sartre) sent me the following joke:

Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French cafe, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.” The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, Monsieur, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”

Why is this funny? Because Sartre focused on the idea of choice. His thing about “authenticity” was that everyone should live the life that they want, so long as they do not negatively affect/exploit others, replacing ego with a “spontaneous selfness” he refers to as “ipsity.” As part of being in the world, we are free; choices represent a problem because they limit our freedom. But in order to really make a choice, you can’t just follow the path of least resistance–you need to actually make a choice. Since there’s no cream, he can’t really choose not to have cream, since he couldn’t choose the opposite (to have cream). (Quote from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Wikipedia also has a nice summary.) Anyway, Hamlet’s choice to either get revenge or spare his father is problematic in Sartre’s terms.

This one is filed under PR2807.A8 L86 2013 for English literature–English renaissance (1500-1640)–The drama–Individual authors–Shakespeare, William–Separate works–Hamlet–Criticism.

The process of choosing titles is a bit troublesome. I almost went with “Authenticity” (after a Harvey Danger song) but only my brother S. would have gotten it, since he and I are the only remaining Harvey Danger fans. As it is, perhaps he will appreciate this one.

Anyway, changing topics, here is the first comic I ever drew with Shakespeare in it:

Men in Dresses is my Queen cover band.

This one I’ll file under PN56.H83 L86 2013 for Literature (General)–Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics–Relation to and treatment of special elements, problems, and subjects–Other special–Topics A-Z–Humor.

Also you should know that the Library of Congress has reserved the heading BF1311.S5 for Parapsychology–Spiritualism. Communication with discarnate spirits–Mediumship. Psychometry. Channeling–Spirit messages, inspirational records, etc.–Special, A-Z–Shakespeare, William. So. You know. That.

Em oi! #374: Winning

Chai Yo!

This conversation actually happened while we were in Thailand, and I should have uploaded it earlier but I didn’t. For reasons (primarily, I am engaged in a standoff [ha]with my right ankle and have been busy sulking). But the good news is that it is up now. The guy in the pictures is Andy, you can see him in the background of this picture. The woman is named Wanni–she was our cooking instructor, and she was amazing. Clicking on this link will take you to their website.

In the last panel, the banner says “Chaiyo!” which means “Hurrah.” But I figured you could guess that from context. At the time, I’d spent a lot of the trip feeling like I was struggling to make myself understood…and then conversation with Wanni had been so easy, I was just thrilled. And evidently so was she!

We’ll file this under GN367 .L86 2013, for Anthropology—Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology—Culture and cultural processes—Acculturation. Culture contact—Assimilation. The Chinese have a term for this too–they call it “Zhong guo hua [中国化]” or “Sinicization”–I believe it specifically refers to an outsider adopting Chinese cultural norms. The Thai…I was going to say they don’t have a word for becoming Thai, but they do– “Siwali” or “Civilized.”

So that’s interesting, I think.

Things have been quiet around here. In order to avoid a feeling of isolation while working on my thesis (easy to have, since I no longer have any courses), I’ve rejoined a local martial arts dojo. It is so much fun. And I am, despite being on a rather large dose of ibuprofen, very sore. Yesterday the animals had their teeth cleaned. Maya had to have a tooth extracted (she’d cracked it, maybe chewing on a rock or a bone) and Kali was a bit loopy from the anesthetic, so things are pretty calm (see photograph).

Oh, the excitement.

Here are some other photos from the trip. This is still a tiny fraction of the total pictures I took, so I’ll try to find some more for next week. If you’re interested in more background information, some of these were taken at Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Doi Suthep in the area surrounding Chiang Mai City. Click to embiggen.
pink flowers

espresso con panna
espresso con panna
enhance your appetite
“Enhance your appetite.” I love this one. Also, I think the sugar packets hold more sugar than the ones here.
emily at wat chedi
Me at Wat Chedi Luang
bryan wanni emily maew
Left to right, B, Wanni, Em, and Wanni’s husband Maew.
altar wat chedi
Altar at Wat Chedi Luang
wat chedi
The chedi at Wat Chedi Luang.
Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang
Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang

maybe an orchid

many flowers

girl and naga
Girl and Naga, Wat Doi Suthep


Em oi! #39, 78, 90, 94, 147, 149, 158, and 162: Running Jokes

GV529 .L86 2007 (Recreation. Leisure—Physical education and training—Gymnastics. Gymnastics exercises—Heavy exercises—Jumping exercises.) Guest appearance by Ly!

GV498 .L86 2007 (Recreation. Leisure—Physical education and training—Gymnastics. Gymnastics exercises—Calisthenics. Group exercises—Rope jumping or skipping.) Guest appearance by Chandra!

GV1061.8.P75 L86 2007 (Recreation. Leisure—Sports—Track and field athletics—Foot racing. Running—Other special topics, A-Z—Psychological aspects.) Guest appearance by my sister-in-law, Claire.

GV1061.8.P75 L86 2007a (Recreation. Leisure—Sports—Track and field athletics—Foot racing. Running—Other special topics, A-Z—Psychological aspects.) Same deal, pretty much. Guest here is my brother Daniel.

RC553.M36 L86 2008 (Internal medicine—Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry—Psychiatry—Specific pathological states, A-Z—Masochism). Daniel again. He actually owns a ton of shirts with stripes on the front, in case you were curious. Or maybe he owns only one shirt like that and I just have some weird belief about his wardrobe. That could also be true.

GV1065.17.T73 L86 2008 (Recreation. Leisure—Sports—Track and field athletics—Foot racing. Running—Distance running—Marathon running—Special topics, A-Z—Training). I think that when I drew this, I was actually training for my first half marathon. I remember telling B when we met that my memoir will eventually be called I Wish I Were Eating Curry Right Now. It’s a recurring theme in my life.

GV1062.5.M3 L86 2008 (Recreation. Leisure—Sports—Track and field athletics—Foot racing. Running—Distance running—Individual races, events, etc., A-Z). Here, M3 is the Cutter number for the half marathon at the Madison Marathon.

HD9993.S952 L86 2008 (Industries. Land use. Labor—Special industries and trades—Recreational equipment. Sporting goods—Special products, A-Z—Swimming pools—General works. History.) The pool in question is at the Princeton Club West. In case you were curious. Now I mostly swim at the local Gold’s, which has solid lane lines. I miss the Roschach-like tiles on the previous one.

A ton of people have come up to me in the last two weeks to tell me they want to start running. Even my mom is getting in on it. (Hi, Mom!) So to celebrate, here are some of the comics I’ve drawn about running. Not all of them, even–I have drawn a lot of comics about running I guess.

Anyway, I am not feeling especially funny this week and I need to take some time off. I’ll be back next week with new stuff.

Em oi! #358: Kiss Me Deadly

Arguably, Batman should be on this list somewhere.

You can click to embiggen this, though I’m not sure why you’d want to, it’s already so large.

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with superhero comics. I really enjoy the frequent assertion that just having immense power, muscles, intelligence, etc., doesn’t make life a smooth sail–Spiderman may be able to defeat Doc Ock, but he can’t ask Mary Jane to the prom, and good luck Clark Kent getting Lois to look at you instead of Superman. Bruce Wayne may be quite a catch, but when a lady realizes her boyfriend is spending his nights driving around town with a young lad in a sports car, well, maybe she begins to think the romance is gone. The stuff that makes superhero comics interesting, in short, isn’t what makes them super, but what makes them human.

The Authority was a comic that attracted my attention in about 2005 or 2006 because it turns a lot of common comics tropes on their heads. It’s about a group of super heroes (Jenny Sparks/Jenny Quantum, Jack Hawksmoor, the Engineer, the Doctor, Swift, Apollo, and the Midnighter) in the style of the Justice League who live on an interdimensional space craft and save the planet frequently. Instead of having secret identities and living normal lives when they’re off duty, the Authority act like rock stars, getting drunk, getting laid, using drugs, going to parties, showing off…basically exactly what you might act like if you had super powers. They are quite violent and often act like they are above the law, including interfering in global politics (one issue shows them forcing the Chinese to withdraw from Tibet, among other things, and at one point they take over the US government as a junta). Their basic strategy is not something along the lines of, “Humanity needs to be protected from alien threats so it can reach its full potential,” (a la Superman), but more like “We know what’s best for you.” Needless to say, this doesn’t always work out.

Anyway, they have several female team members who are real members of the team and not just along to balance out the demographics, and also two gay men who happen to be an early gay superhero marriage, as I mention above. I can’t over-emphasize though, the Authority was always, if not badly drawn then really unevenly drawn, and after Ellis left the writing was pretty uneven too. The Midnighter later got his own comic which was entertaining if you enjoy watching people kick the heads off Nazis, for example.

And in some ways, that last paragraph encapsulates what I dislike about superhero comics: frequently badly (and unrealistically) drawn, in a style I find very difficult to replicate, with uneven writing, few realistic female characters, few characters of any ethnicity other than Caucasian, and terrible plots. I would hardly be original to observe that many comic artists draw female characters as though they’d never really seen a woman before, but as a woman I have to say that tendency bothers me. But while doing some reference drawings of Apollo last night, I realized the male musculature is just as abnormal.

I’ll class this comic under PN6232.C6116 L86 2012, for Collections of general literature—Wit and humor—Collections on special topics, A-Z—Comic books, strips, etc.

And here as a bonus is the first comic I ever did with Superman in it:
For better or for awesome

I remember when I drew this, I knew my actual wedding dress was going to be red, so I drew the dress in the comic blue to throw everyone off. This was totally important at the time.

Filing this one retrospectively under: P96.S94 L86 2009, for Philology. Linguistics—Communication. Mass media—Special aspects—Other, A-Z—Superman—General works.