Fooling around with a technique that uses layers of acrylic medium to duplicate the look of encaustics, which is something I’d kinda like to try, but would involve so much expense and set-up that I think I’d rather take a class in it first and make sure I actually want to DO it. (They’re offering one in Raleigh, but not until May.) Meanwhile, the layers of medium technique is something I understand, but it takes FOREVER to dry. I suppose you just need to keep a couple of ’em going at once.

That, or I should knuckle down and buy a heat gun.

On the other hand, it lets me alternate Batbreath illos with fooling with these little things, so I don’t go quite as barking mad as I could drawing dragons. The two pieces I’m working on are largely abstract, with small, stylized animals in them, because I have come to terms with the fact that my art is basically driven by having a small animal in it somewhere.

…aaaand I just realized that the way this one is set up, with the vague sketches of birds that I was using as the background and painting over, it now appears that this bunny has a bird beak up its butt. *sigh*

One of the first mixed-media pieces I did when I embarked on this was a heart with screws and various other bits and the text "I have no idea what I’m doing." How right I was…

Early morning…hot tea, shower, sit down to computer, poke internet.

Spam, spam, spam, contact form, contact form, spam, Amazon spam for Attack of the Ninja Frogs, spam…

Wait, what?

*scroll scroll scroll*

…they spent me spam. For my own book.

I…really?

I’ve never bought any of my own books from Amazon, but there it is, along with a pre-order for Curse of the Were-Wiener* and some of the Lunch Lady books (the Lunch Lady guy is seriously awesome, by the way, and you should buy his stuff.) I confess a vague temptation to go in and check the "I own it!" box next to Were-Wiener, since I am one of the only two people on earth who can say that right now, but I should probably get some actual work done instead.

Huh.

*See what I did thar? Marketing! I haz it!

I couldn’t resist a wall jewelry piece of at least one member of Sister Rosemary’s Curious Convent:

The World’s Smallest Nun

The name Sister Mary Chagnon is after Napoleon Chagnon the anthropologist, because…um….free association to "Napoleon was short." (Deep mysteries of the artistic mind revealed!)

Sister Mary’s exposure to the Yanomamo, however, was limited to a very brief engagement in her youth with the ill-fated Carnival von Vanderkamp, which attempted to tour the Amazon in an effort to escape the senior von Vanderkamp’s gambling debts. Those few who did not succumb to malaria or hostile tribesman–apparently not even the Yanomamo like clowns–eventually staggered out of the forest some weeks later. Von Vanderkamp himself is believed to have been eaten by a rabid tapir, and the surviving performers went their separate ways and never spoke of it again.

Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar

By all accounts, Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar should not have continued to operate. They were a very small operation as circuses went, they had no rides and their menagerie consisted of a single geriatric lion and a handful of obscure species, such as the Sudanese Crooning Lizards, who were obscure for a reason. Sure, Brendan the Mono-juggler could keep a single ball in the air for hours, but you got tired of watching after the first few minutes.

Lord Maggothaunch’s Carnival of the Un-Ordinary should have crushed them out of existence in the first year–indeed, that was among the lord’s stated goals–and its failure to do so was a source of intense frustration for him. Did he not have scantily clad women and a genuine, if sullen tiger? Did he not have a genuine freakshow, with real live freaks, including a pair of dubious Siamese twins and a two-headed calf in a jar?

Miss Tansybaum did not have a freakshow (at least not in the conventional sense, although the less charitable would argue that the entire operation qualified.) Instead she had Sister Rosemary’s Curious Convent.

The six nuns of the Curious Convent belonged to the Traveling Order of St. Barnaby, patron of sideshows, and they took their work seriously. While Sister Rosemary had retired from performing, claiming that sword swallowing was work for younger women, the Curious Convent still included the World’s Smallest Nun, the Fire-Eating Nun, the Strongnun, the Bearded Nun, and occasionally the Tattooed Nun as well. (Sister Mary Odelia’s tramp stamp was considered rather too racy for some venues, even if it DID portray the martyrdom of St. Sebastian.)

This was all very entertaining in its way, even if Sister Clara hated being billed as "The TRIUMPH of FAITH over FIRE!" and insisted on ending her performance with a short speech about how faith was wonderful for triumphing over adversity and despair, but was less useful against careless handling of flammable oil, and one should never attempt fire-eating at home. Nevertheless, the Curious Convent had difficulty competing with a two-headed calf in a jar and lived in dread of the day that Lord Maggothaunch procured a real live Feejee Mermaid.

No, the success of Miss Tansybaum’s Circus lay in three things.

First of all, she knew her audience.

She knew, for example, that there was no real point to a petting zoo when you mostly toured  rural communities with children who could pet a sheep any time they wanted and anyway knew too much about sheep to want to pet one in the first place, which cut down significantly on overhead.

And there were absolutely no clowns. The Circus of the Moderately Peculiar was a place you could go and be absolutely sure that you would not encounter a clown. They’d had a mime ventriloquist for awhile–at least, he said he was a ventriloquist, although since the dummy was a mime too, it was hard to tell–but he’d moved on to more avant-garde performance art and no one was sad to see him go.* Miss Tansybaum hated clowns and didn’t think someone should be subjected to a sudden clowning just because they wanted to come out to the circus for a day.

Lord Maggothaunch thought clowns were jolly and employed six, at least one of which was rumored to be a Bulgarian hit man attempting to flee from his past.

Secondly, Miss Tansybaum’s roasted peanuts were better.

Third, Miss Tansybaum’s fortune-teller, Mother Radish, could actually tell the future, and was wise enough to know when not to do so.

*Penelope and her Perilous Frog took his trailer.

So other than going to the comic book store, we didn’t do much for Valentine’s Day–we actually went out on Saturday, had sushi, I signed books, Kevin bought me a caramel apple, we came home, played video games, and that was as close to perfect a day as one gets in this life.

(My apologies if the handwriting is erratic in any of those books–the sushi came with complimentary unfiltered sake, in honor of Valentine’s Day, or possibly Kevin, whom the owner of the sushi joint has taken a shine to.)

However, Valentine’s Day was not entirely free of romance! Late at night, Kevin took the dogs out and the beagle went wandering, so it was a few minutes and a trek through the frigid wilderness before he came back inside. When Kevin crawled back in bed, he was freezing.  So he immediately glommed onto the largest heat source in the bed–I yelped and flailed–and then uttered the immortal words "Oh my god! Your butt is as warm as a thousand suns!"

Perhaps when I wished for a hot body as a teenager, I should have been a little more specific.

My apologies to the handful of people who were following me on Google Buzz–I didn’t block you because you suck (in fact, I know all of you, and you’re awesome!) but apparently a manual unfollow-and-block is a step in the only way to actually turn Buzz off–that nice button at the bottom that says "Turn off Buzz" doesn’t actually remove you, it just takes the interface off YOUR screen–and until they do a lot more to control the privacy issues, I’m stompin’ that as dead as I can. 

It’s not that I have particularly much to hide–my e-mail life is surprisingly dull!–but among the e-mails I most frequently use are my agent and my editor, and it strikes me as unprofessional to float their personal contact info ’round the world. (99.9% of you are terribly polite and pleasant individuals who I’m pretty sure are here for the random eggplants, but I’ve run into a couple people over the years who are too-clearly counting the seconds of any conversation until they can ask if I’ll send their manuscript to my agent, thereby bypassing the slushpile, and since I don’t do that sort of thing, I would as soon not be a mechanism for it all unwilling.) 

I am of the opinion that privacy on the internet is like twelve-year-old boys and porn…they’re going to find a way to see it, there’s no stopping them, the issue is not whether they will find it…but one is still obligated to make it difficult for them, out of a combination of concern and…well…sportsmanship, for lack of a better term.

Probably three inches worth of snow last night, but it’s not gonna stick–the roads are already melting, and big hunks are slithering off the trees. Time to shower, get up, and FINALLY go do a bookstore crawl, looking for copies of Dragonbreath 2 and signing their unwary cover pages.

And then perhaps sushi for lunch. Yes.

Also, prints of Penelope and the Perilous Frog now live, by popular demand!

Mixed Media…thingy….

My first fling with assemblage art didn’t quite work out, I think because I didn’t have a clear starting point. So I just stared at small unrelated bits and moved them around and then they continued to be small unrelated bits. Whatever internal alchemy turns them into related bits did not happen. There are people who can turn dross into gold–I can apparently turn dross into eggplants, but only if I’ve got a blueprint to work with.

So this time I went into it with a teeny image, and started creating a weird kind of frame around it, and somehow or other, the result was the Amazing Penelope and her Perilous Frog.

I kinda want to do another couple of these, sort of 3-D advertisements for a sideshow of questionable freakishness. (Step right up, folks, and SEE Lydia and her Astonishing TRAINED ZUCCHINI!)

Also, as I was driving home yesterday, I passed a homemade sign that said "BONSAI SALE." Sure enough, when I crested the hill, there was a van parked by the side of the road with a small rack of bonsai trees, being dealt out of the truck in much the same way that one might pass somebody selling rugs or fresh produce or seafood of questionable refrigeration.

Perhaps there had always been traveling bonsai salesmen–hard, road-weary men, dragging into truck stops in the small hours of the morning, buying No-Doz and cigarettes and Miracle-Gro before setting out again, chasing the elusive dream of a fortune shaped from tiny trees–perhaps you are all aware of them already and Bruce Springsteen has done songs about it and I am the last person on earth to hear of them, the way I was apparently the last person to hear about butt falsies and labia dye, but it certainly struck me as peculiar, and of course before long, I was writing the ad copy for Honest Bob’s Used Bonsai Emporium (The only thing smaller than our trees is our prices!) which is how I keep myself amused on the drive home.