As 2014 comes in on the wings of hope and relief for so many, it’s time for the annual reportage of the year past, the year of travel. Six countries in all – and many cities, states, and provinces into the bargain. And for every thing that went wrong, numberless others went right. Isn’t it odd that we are utterly used to “went wrong” but that “went right” sounds odd to us? Oh what self-important creatures we humans are, always foiled by cruel fate, but bold in forging every piece of our own good luck!
Overview of the year:
We started off in January and February with a month-long adventure to New Zealand and Australia (stopping in LA en route ~ delivering samples to ad agencies and seeing friends.)
We visited Glow-Worm Caves, Hobbiton and WETA Workshop. We took a tiny plane over the Southern Alps of New Zealand, went Zorbing and zip-lined down Gravity Canyon, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, marveled at the flying foxes and blue fairy penguins. We visited even more agencies than we’d imagined, and ate much less lamb than we’d expected. We stayed with Stacy and Eric in Wellington, Jason, Kim, and Iona in Melbourne, and John and Pippa in Canberra, saw Trey Ratcliff in Queenstown, friends of Venetia’s in Melbourne and Sydney and made many new friends along the way.
For a brief and lovely time in February and March (and before travel interfered with her schedule), Venetia went running with our friend Scott. Now that she can actually breathe, she is very excited to see how her running stamina/enjoyability index will improve.
In March, I introduced Venetia to The Up series (which we now recommend to all of our author and story-telling friends). We watched the series together culminating in a trip down to Corvallis to see 56 Up. I also got to show Venetia Who Framed Roger Rabbit at our beautiful Hollywood Theater and she is now a fan, especially of Jessica Rabbit.
As a result of being Art Guest of Honor at Norwescon, I met Andri Magnason, the Philip K. Dick Award nominee who wrote Venetia and my’s favorite book of 2013: Lovestar.
I had a lovely time at Norwescon and look forward to it again this year.
April was the Month of Starstruck. Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta (aided and abetted by Tym Stevens) set up their Kickstarter campaign and I painted the cover, patch & t-shirt designs, and a few scenes from the story itself. I somehow also managed the solo painting of Glorianna (below right) – it was something of a breakthrough for me discovering how much I actually love painting, how easy and enjoyable it can be, if one will but let it. Now some wags among you might think this could have been achieved as many as 35 years ago…. and I’m not saying they’re wrong. Not at all.
But I’m very grateful it happened at all.
The month of May saw another HP Lovecraft film festival and a trip to Canada to be the Art Guest of Honor at Keycon, in Winnipeg. They had a splendid line-up of guests there, and many of them were good enough to take me up on my invitation to come visit me in Portland: Scotia (who ran Keycon’s splendid art show) came to see us in August and a great majority of the Keycon guests (dubbed “The Illuminaughty”) will be having an extended slumber party at my house in May 2014 for the World Horror Convention.
This was also the time that I worked up a proper poster for Andy Prieboy, one of my favorite musicians. I can only hope this recent group of concerts will yield a recording of its own!
In June, I proposed that Venetia cut her hair and after a week of skepticism, she realized what a brilliant idea it was. We documented the whole process and she is happier than ever with her new hair. The masses of long hair going not to Locks of Love (who have not managed their growth at all well, and cause much charitably donated hair to go to waste), but to Pantene (whose record is much better).
Then Venetia took a road trip back to Montana to be a bridesmaid at her friend Joanne’s mountain wedding. She and Trevor were (and are) adorable, and their wedding managed to chill the bridesmaids while insuring sunburns all around.
I stayed home to finish a job and was struck by inspiration to start my Small Gods series which has become a major part of this year. Today, January 1st of 2014, is the 200th Small God, although I was certainly not thinking of the New Year’s numbering when I began it. Small Gods are now available for sale on my website and have their own Facebook page.
After Venetia returned home, we began our Journey to the East Coast, starting with Roanoke, Virginia where I spoke and held a workshop for Todd Ristau’s astonishing MFA program – The Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University. Venetia got to see her first No Shame Theater performance, and I enjoyed performing my piece No Nude Bathing.
I toured her through many of the areas that I once lived and, with the exception of my parent’s old house in DC which has of course been torn down that an oversized McMansion might take its place, she has now seen everywhere I’ve lived on the East Coast.
Venetia’s first time in Washington DC was of course a real treat, featuring a whirlwind tour of many museums, and the Bungalow’s classic Independence Day Soiree. We are looking forward to returning this year and hopefully spending much more time at the Smithsonian.
But after a too-brief stay, a Carlyle Grande dinner with 2 tables of wonderful friends, and the hospitality of the Barkers, it was off to Charm City (by way of Ellicot City). It was my privilege to be the Art Guest of Honor for the North American Discworld Convention. Many old friends were seen there, and new ones too. The expensive early morning trip to the ER (for a stabby ear infection) was more than made up by meetings with old friends Sally and Yvonne. And a trip to the Baltimore aquarium with Yvonne and Dirk. I had a splendid time meeting people, butting heads with the estimable Bernard, and drawing even more Small Gods.
In Philadelphia, we visited dear friends Kyle and Trillian, and I set out with Trillian in the muggy summer heat on a scavenger hunt to find materials to build them a bookshelf. As you can tell from Kyle’s photo below, the mission was a success and the bathroom now sports its own library.
After a quick turn-around in Portland, we were right back on the road to San Diego for the Comic Con. We were hosted by the Haxos and were guardians of a sort to Jack Vance’s lovely granddaughter. This marked Venetia’s first visit to the madness of the ComicCon and she enjoyed it far more than she expected to. We spent an acceptable amount of time on Coranado Island and much more time eating exquisite food and sightseeing with the Badali sisters. My ComicCon encounter with Hugh Jackman was hilarious, and my signings for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund well worthwhile.
August was one of our two months of guests and I spent much it happily taking folks sightseeing. To my utter shock and dismay, Eric Chevalier, the person who was producing The Doom that Came to Atlantic City declared he was walking away from the project and had somehow spent all of the backer’s money – all 122,874 dollars of it. Designer Keith Baker and I spent much of that month dealing with the crisis and putting together a print-and-play version for our backers. After some agonizing weeks, the day was happily saved by the amazing people at Cryptozoic Studios. I am incredibly grateful to them, and touched by the outpouring of offers of help and support from others in the industry. I spent weeks thereafter working to hone the assets to make the game even better. The people who supported my game deserve it!
Venetia’s August held a number of interested events: she was called for her first-ever jury duty. Her disappointment at not being called for trials might well surprise the many who strive to avoid that very duty. However Amanda Palmer’s timely surprise appearance at Powell’s more than made up for that lack.
In September, I began the 3-month labor of love that is my 2014 Calendar, this year working with the Clarion Foundation, collaborating with the authors of their choice. It was, as ever, a delightful experience. But I hope next year to start rather sooner. We shall see what develops.
Two major concerts this month, first international cabaret performer Meow, Meow in the grand Schnitzer Auditorium, and then a debut of Pink Martini‘s new album with special guest performers Meow, Meow, the Von Trapp Children, Storm Large, and China Forbes.
This second quite free, staged in Pioneer Courthouse Square, sometimes called “Portland’s Living Room”.
We had even more guests this month, this time Venetia’s dearest friends. I got to meet Joanne and her new husband Trevor and play with their sweetie pie dog. Sarah and Oot Rothfuss were a delight to have in the house and we enjoyed many Portland adventures with them. Young Master Rothfuss commissioned a special dragon from me which I painted while he and his mother watched – one which has become a very popular Small God:
In October I finished the calendar in the very nick of time, and then it was off to England via Iceland. Andri Magnason threw the dinner party of the year after a tour of the Power Station where he writes. Iceland was as magical as imagined and I am looking forward to seeing how the Northern Lights influence my art in this coming year. More about Iceland HERE.
Discworld friends Richard and Amy took us on a Dickensian tour of London and we talked about travel and parades with Jessica Rabbit whom we had met earlier in the year in Australia.
We met up with Maha and her wife Sinead in Oxford and by utter chance in our wanderings we came across the Bodleian Library and the most surprising and exceptional exhibit: Magical Books. Then to Birmingham, more precisely Solihull, where Liz and Matt delighted us with musical horror from around the world and we mourned the death of Lou Reed. The biggest surprise of Birmingham was the multicultural shopping – we spent wonderful day searching through of Islamic Charity Shops with Liz and meeting many helpful locals who were very happy to help Venetia find exactly the right attire (“No dear, try these instead. The Mughal colors work better with your skin”). While the wedding suit I tried on was too dear, Venetia left with some stunning outfits.
The World Fantasy Convention in Brighton was all about the people. I had more fantastic meals – the food was pretty good too – than I could hope to remember. Happily I’ve already documented them in previous blogs. One of the major highlights was meeting The Indelicates. Every bit as interesting as their records suggest, we hope to see and hear much more of them in the near future.
There was still one last convention for 2013: Ambercon Northwest. We were extremely pleased to introduce Kat to the raven Aristophanes during the tour of Portland before we all headed for the wonders of Ambercon at Edgefield. Then, in order to really make 2013 a good year for Venetia, she went in for surgery on her nose. Earlier in the fall we discovered she had a deviated septum and was barely breathing at all through her nose. The surgery was a huge success and, despite a few weeks of imposed idleness, Venetia is now breathing well and deeply for the first time in her life.
Because Venetia was incapacitated for the rest of November, our multi-talented friend Jaym graciously agreed to help us with Thanksgiving. The unanimous highlights of Thanksgiving dinner this year were the sausage and apple meatballs. And our friends of course!
And finally, to round this busy busy year out, a comparatively quiet December.
I watched football while I drew Small Gods. Venetia baked apple pie and apple crisp.
For Christmas this year we traveled to Seattle for a week. I saw many people (though only a small percentage of everyone I know in the area. There seems never to be a sufficiency of time). While I gallivanted, Venetia house sat with a sweet dog and less-sweet chickens and read, on average, one book for each and every person I talked to.
January: Jaym Gates
April: Nathan Bardsley
May: Rich Gain, Venetia’s sister Tara and her boyfriend
July: Jaym Gates, Bhil and Fritz
August: Heather & Eric, Scotia, K Wiley, Jacob & Henni, Chris Pramas
September: Rob, Lisa and Bonnie, Joanne & Trevor, Sarah, Oot and Sarah’s mom
November: Connor Cochran and his wife, Jaym Gates
Andri Magnason’s: Lovestar
Terry Pratchett: Lords and Ladies, Pyramids, and our favorite (naturally) Small Gods
Pierce Brown‘s Red Rising – 2014’s most-anticipated book? A terrific read. With more books to to come. We hope to meet up with Pierce in the new year.
Robert Rankin’s madcap The Japanese Devilfish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions
Thor 2 and Iron Man 3
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Up Series (with the new 56 Up as the latest installment)
Big Trouble in Little China
(2013 went to plan, so we’ll pretend that this is 100% Accurate)
January 18: Pin-up Gallery Opening 6:30pm
April 11-13: HP Lovecraft Film Festival
April 17-20: Norwescon
May 8-11: World Horror Convention in Portland
May 24-26: Potential dates for my 50th Party
July 23-27: San Diego Comic Con
August 14-17: Considering GenCon
August 29-Sept 1: Considering DragonCon
September/October: Vienna, Budapest and Prague? Here’s hoping!
November 6-9: World Fantasy Convention in Washington DC
Christmas in Hawaii? We shall see.