Saturday, April 18, 2015


"Education is among my highest priorities. Teachers, your job is difficult, and these challenging times introduce uncertainty. I want you to know we value your service." - State of the Budget 2014
The Walker administration's transitional government proceeds apace. Prescient posts aside, it's a telling reveal to witness what legislative priorities are in store for our state. At least he's making the trains trucks run on time (h/t John). That and I can kiss off any hopes of a Governor's Award for the Arts nomination...

I am once again reminded of Alaska's official centennial license plate, which in fact depicts a long line of economic refugees fleeing the state to find work somewhere else.

Update: Another example that is indicative of not taking the issues facing education seriously would be the nomination of yet another member to the state education board who lacks both classroom experience and represents the interests of private schools (as do many members of the legislature who are themselves advocates and alumni of private schools).
JUNEAU -- Gov. Bill Walker on Thursday defended his appointment of a principal at a private Catholic high school to the state education board, which was sharply criticized by a state teachers union.
Walker’s other board of education appointee is Keith Hamilton, the founding president of Alaska Christian College in Soldotna, a position he’s held since 2000. Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Dispatch News

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Through the Outhouse: It Will Roll Downhill

Seem to be passing a lot of opinionated panels these days...

This one's dovetailed with the mushrooming education funding fiasco (see "The Sack of the Arts" here): for the predictably reactionary instincts of politicians who would never let a good disaster go to waste - especially one of their own cultivation - inevitably reveals their partisan opportunism.

And so the feeding frenzy over the state's impending financial implosion continues apace:
According to the Alaska Dispatch News, Bishop filed Senate Bill 97 to create what he calls an “education tax.” Anyone making $10,000 or more annually would be taxed at a rate of $100. The rate goes up to $200 for people who make $50,000 or more annually. And the rate would be capped at $500 for earners who make $500,000 or more annually. 
“That means people who earn $10,000 would be forced to pay a tax representing 1 percent of their annual income, while those who make more than $500,000 would pay no more than 0.1 percent,” the Alaska Dispatch News noted. - Raw Story
As per an astute comment by a friend on the related story posted by the local paper:
"So let's be clear about this.... You gave the oil producers a huge tax break last session and now you're increasing our taxes to pay for it? How the f$%& does that work!?"...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ooooh That Smell...

So the other day I was busted by an employee at our local comic shop here in The 'Banks: he handed me a recently released + recommended title, which after opening I reflexively took a big sniff of a page. No worry, as for him there's nothing like opening up a new set of gaming cards, so I felt right back at home. Probably one of the few places in public one wouldn't have to worry overmuch about looking like a total nerd.

But it did set me to wondering about this phenomenon: after a cursory Google search there is plenty of material out there on the well-established olfactory instinct of any bibliophile upon entering an antique establishment. And my entire childhood is predicated upon many, many memories of reading books - either in one of my father's used bookshops, while visiting my mother's library, or from my own collection lining one entire wall of my teenage lair.

Not much at all on the subgenre nerdgasm of comic books specifically. Aside from food itself, a couple notable triggers along these lines I routinely personally experience are the spring thaws in Alaska that immediately transport me back to coastal Maine. And both Roastaroma tea and the scent of Nikwax boot waterproofing will promptly cause me to mentally reach for a backpack, as they are indelibly associated with trekking. The only other instance I can recall would be new LP's that came hand-in-glove with picking up new releases from the record store back in the day.

excerpted from Cinnamonseries

At any rate, I'm sure I'm not alone in this. And even if it is one of the usual delusional tendencies that occupy my time, it's part and parcel of palpable, sensual connection that underscores the importance of making things, holding them and touching them offline.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Bored Dog" (aka Poopman)

To paraphrase a viral meme: "If YOU'RE bored, THEY'RE bored... BRING THEM INSIDE!" Scanned directly from the pages of my current sketchbook, and submitted more or less as a joke.

Every once in a while I completely forget what I've sent to the paper, and/or in this case it's a panel of debatable merit and keeps getting filed way to use only when everything else has run (either that or my editor goes outta town). But it's a sublime pleasure to laugh out loud with childish glee when one like this appears in the pages.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

From The Reading Couch: New Comics

The Editor-At-Large about the cabin, Atticus, sez: "Another gorgeous spring day outside: warm weather, clear, sunny skies… perfect for spending the day indoors reading comics."

The main book pictured is probably the most epic book I’ve bought in years (a collector’s facemelt in league with the pantheon of Chris Ware’s 2012 “Building Stories” and 1,000-page, double-volume boxed set of pure joy that is “The Completely Mad Don Martin”): "Dream Another Dream" is 120+ artists paying homage to Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo In Slumberland” in an oversized (16x21”) hardcover tome filled with luscious renderings.

Published by Locust Moon Comics in West Philly, the project was a Kickstarter success story with over $150k raised by 1,087 supporters. The compendium is "oversized" only in the sense that compared to the paltry publications of strips by contemporary syndicates one will be aesthetically overwhelmed with this resurrection of the historical dimensions of newspaper comics. Now this is the way they ought to be seen + read!

Also included in the image are a handful of miscellaneous recommended recent acquisitions, all of which have been a delight to peruse at leisure. I've been obsessively burning through the Neal Gaiman "Sandman" spinoff series, Mike Carey's "Lucifer," which has been a fun read that keeps me up at night turning pages (and dutifully driving back to the Comic Shop for the next installment - yet another hat-yip to the folks working there who I regularly trust to put spiffy stuff in my hands that I haven't yet heard about). Here's a little list with linkage to reviews of the other titles:

"Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant" by Tony Cliff  
"In Real Life" by Jen Wang/ Cory Doctorow 

Clockwise from upper left: Excerpted panels from Carroll, Wilson, Wang, Petersen, Cliff

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"I Got This"

I think that this particular panel pretty much sums up my positive outlook on just about everything. Onward through the ice fog!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Sack of The Arts

They're at it again: faced with budget cuts the legislative solution is to lay out the arts for gutting. Nevermind the elephant in the room (and that can be interpreted another way): when administrative costs and enumerable other misplaced priorities are factored into the equation, education - specifically the arts in this instance - will always be the perennial sacrificial lamb moose. And this is happening hand in glove at both the borough district schools and at the university level, so it's a wholesale assault on programs and classes that enrich not just our communities now, but on our collective, cultural future.
Case in point: $1.4 Billion was promised as credits to the oil companies and $32.2 Million was promised to the children of Alaska. Should the State break its "promise" to the oil companies, or should it break its promise to the schoolchildren of Alaska? How we cut, where we cut, makes all the difference. - "Keep The Promise" Sitka School District
 The ruling party has a vested self-interest in perpetuating - in this case investing in - a status quo of ignorance in aesthetics and ethics: after all it secures and expands their prospective, future voting base. Which appears to be the only investment in “education” they value. But it's ultimately the fault of voters - or more specifically the nonvoters who allow these barbarians to routinely pillage like this. Remember that - remember this - the next election.

And as for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board, you should be ashamed. In fact, maybe you should have the common sense and decency to simply resign. All of you. In accordance with your stated objectives, your priorities are corrupted... and someone ought to change your mission statements to reflect this. Consider this your formal Notice of Doubtful Status.

I know a lot of folks who only made it through school on account of there being art and music classes. For me the studios were an oasis of individuality in a sea of rules and conformity. And each and every time I do a guest artist gig at a school in art classes, I run across many a student who wouldn’t have stuck with it if it weren’t for some other avenue of expression for them. Also, as an example of how these classes round people out into future adults with diverse interests, appreciations and abilities, I don’t personally know any artists who aren’t also something else: a scientist, a teacher, a cook, a parent, a mechanic, an accountant, etc. Personally I don’t know many people who also don’t enjoy some kind of art, there's always something, a certain song, that made their day better, if not their entire life more worth living. It’s as much a part of our lives as it is a part of school: we learn new things about ourselves and other people when we share it.

Update: Alaska Commons reports on one of the saddest, hypocritical posturing and disingenuous maneuvering with "Legislators Dedicate Week to ‘School Choice’ in Alaska." These selfsame committee members - including deluded Democrats and Independent politicians who participate in the ongoing charade - are following the standard cynical Republican approach to education (as with every other governmental function): consistently oppose, derail, undermine and underfund it, so that when it finally starts to break, they can then point at the smoking wreckage and say “See – we TOLD you it doesn’t work!” Then repeat, ad nauseum, until their ultimate objective of for-profit privatization is achieved. It's part of a self-fulfilling cycle of crippling our schools, which ensures parents will instead enroll their kids in charter schools… because they offer things like… the arts.

Insert “a markedly derogatory term for a person who behaves stupidly.” I’ve just about exhausted my repertoire of insulting and pejorative words used to describe politicians, as the language instilled in me during my (de)formative years is generally frowned upon in polite company. Which I am most decidedly not, at least when it comes to some of the slack-jawed idiocy and contempt on display by elected officials, especially when it comes to matters of education.

This is how bad it’s gotten: it’s scraping the bottom of the barrel when someone like me decides that they’ve had enough of such rampant stupidity. By that I mean A) someone who is not a parent and has no children in the district, and B) is themselves a highschool dropout. You’d think those two points alone would disqualify anyone from taking an interest in the process, especially in conjunction with a deep-seated, inherent distrust of both of the bureaucratic monoliths of governmental + educational power structures. Sad to say it’s true, when things devolve to this point even folks like me sit up and take notice. I’m past being polite, I’m pissed: it’s political, it’s personal.

"If I don't hafta pay for my art than nobody else should either"

Update II: True to form + party dictates (predictable as ever), Wasilla Rep. Lynn Gattis has proposed doing away with the 1% for Art program with HB 160: "REPEAL ART IN PUBLIC PLACES REQUIREMENT."  One can only hazard a guess as to her personal aesthetic sensibilities, but it's a good bet maybe a picture or two on the office wall would help with staring out the window while at work.

Update III: And yet another Wasilla Republican just gutted all the funds for Alaska Public Media (television + radio). Link.

Update IV: Not to lay everything on Wasilla Republicans...
State Senate Finance Committee slashes education funding: JUNEAU — The Senate Finance Committee made some deep, last-minute cuts to education funding when wrapping up its work on the state’s operating budget on Thursday.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"John 1:23"

Actually I'm of the opinion it's a melodic symphony that promotes a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. Most of the time.

One thing I miss about residing in rural settings outside of the city limits and the ensuing noise ordinances is the loss of this ubiquitous background chorus that is a signature of the Alaskan soundscape.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Just When You Thought It Was SafeTo Go Back In The Water....

Needless to say, dam excited about today's official US release of this feature film (website here), for obvious reasons. Personally think a local showing will be in order...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Iditatoon: IKR?"

     Current Yukon Quest champ Musher Brent Sass (Wild & Free Mushing) was summarily disqualified from the 2015 Iditarod after having an iPod, a disappointing sequel to last year's bowing out of the race. A Go Fund Me account has been started to help defray the cost, and reward a true sportsman's acquiescence to what most folk's are seeing as a thoroughly blown call on the part of race officials. On a related note, IMHO the winners of these competitions also always include the mushers who make the tough calls and have their priorities - the welfare of the dogs - well in order.
     On a meta-level, it's an interesting point to consider how even acronyms in the texting vernacular are considered by some to still be outside the bounds of polite discourse - IOW when the slang for swearing is rated as equally offensive as the words themselves.