Skincrawler Summer

This is the first of three TMI mini comics. My body had a months-long allergic reaction to lone star tick bites a couple years ago. I still break out in hives sometimes but it’s not that bad anymore. I try to laff about it now and be thankful it wasn’t worse!

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Inktober 2017, Slacktober 2018

I wanted to take a stab at Inktober and Erin, my creative partner in crime, was all in. We decided on a loose theme of “cool, hot famous people” and we both ended up QUITTING mid-October. Then we decided to finish the fan portraits for March which Erin totally did but I QUIT AGAIN. Here’re mine. I like to draw tiny ‘n’ cramped but if you click this, you can see it a little bigger in “real” size:

Pasaquan

Infusing this cold, grey day in Athens with ultra-bright Pasaquoyan visions from the summer. I would’ve loved St. EOM’s psychedelic compound before its restoration but seeing it fixed up had that extra sweetness of knowing that not only does this place exist but people care enough to look after it. We asked the caretaker if it ever felt normal waking up in an art environment and he said, “It makes the outside world seem a little more dull.”
pasaquan pasaquan pasaquan pasaquan pasaquan pasaquan

Nate

On February 3, my friend Nate died. He was only 35. It’s still heartbreaking and I’m having a hard time accepting that he’s gone. But I didn’t want to go back to posting whatever without posting something. Figured it was less annoying to throw a mostly selfish, mumble-jumble here rather than other social media (FB memories kept popping up for awhile and that was rough).

2012- one of the Portland Stumptown weekends. I’d just bought a new camera lens and Nate was always a good model.


I met Nate largely by chance in 2010 when he was pretty new to the Seattle area. Dan, a friend from college, was in town to visit a friend he’d made while teaching in Japan. That was Nate and I owe Dan big-time for introducing me to one of my best buds. I can’t for the life of me remember what our first conversation was but I remember liking Nate instantly and feeling like he was an old friend early on.
Reading texts and emails from back then, I appreciate how adaptable Nate was and how wide-ranging his interests were. Poor dude used to invite me to go snowboarding! Kinda funny to think he came into our nerd group as this healthy, athletic guy who went to the gym and was into swimming, hiking and snowboarding. It sucks that he isn’t around now that I like lots of those things too. He had this great, rare combo of being super chill and enthusiastically up for anything. So, I never went snowboarding with him but he came out with us for Emerald City Comic-Con, Stumptown, Linework… He went to all the dance nights with me– Britpop Dance night at the Lo-Fi where we’d chill in the red “Blade Runner” room and talk about Star Wars, then dance, then pull dumb faces in the black and white photobooth. We went to Talcum soul night where they spun rare soul 45s and put actual talcum powder on the floor. We went to J/K-pop night which was fun cuz our friend group is fun.
I didn’t realize until visiting him at the hospital that we were his “pub trivia friends,” but that’s totally accurate. We all went through big life changes over the years and trivia was something we did almost every every week. For me, it was a constant thing to look forward to through some not great times. Gavin and Nate had an insane amount of trivia facts between them. One of my favorite Nate reactions was when he’d get something wrong and be legitimately mad at himself, “goddamnit…” (he was rarely wrong). The other Nate reaction I loved was when he got an answer no one else knew and sang Usher’s “Yeah!” The team is still killin it out there and they’re still among my best friends. We made so many annual traditions– backyard fireworks and BBQs, bad movies, Portland trips.
Nate loved Halloween as much as I did and who knows how he felt about theme parties but he always went all out for those too. Early on, he showed up to the Fantagraphics gallery as the Invisible Man- still one of the greatest DIY costumes! Torgo from Manos Hands of Fate for Angela’s Monster Party. Eddard Stark for Halloween at Gavin’s– he won almost all the party games. Kristy’s Dynasty birthday with Nate and Eric standing in for Krystle and Alexis. Patrick Bateman for our Cults and Killers brunch– he came in with a real knife and handed out “bone white” business cards. He was Agent Cooper’s voice recorder “Diane,” a Twin Peaks costume you NEVER see and I’ve been to multiple Twin Peaks parties. He won all-day Risk at Ian’s Belltown apartment. And came over for Christmas with me ‘n’ Dean ‘n’ Kristy once– we played Ticket to Ride and watched movies that were set on a train. He won that too and over the years we continued to brainstorm train movies we’d watch during future Ticket to Ride Christmases even after I moved. Classy duo birthday at the Polar Bar…

I dunno. There were a lot of birthdays and Halloweens and whatnot I’m not remembering right now. We started Pen Pal Book Club when I moved, read and discussed two, then put together a list of all the other titles we’d discuss. Nate who is committed and reliable, went ahead and read those books while I basically quit reading for a year and a half. But then, this is the guy who spent our Seattle “study sessions” successfully reading/translating The Hobbit in Italian before working his way through every David Mitchell book while I dilly-dallied on various handcrafts (pretty sure David Mitchell is the only author I got him into). I still have a few unpublished pen pal book club notes I’ll probably throw here when it’s less painful.

One of the biggest reasons Nate and I got on so well was that we were both more into talking about movies and books than about our personal lives. A part of me is sorry I didn’t tell him anything really heartfelt at the end and our last texts were Steven Seagal quotes and “Surprise Motherfucker” gifs… but I think he knew it was better to stick with the interests and jokes our friendship was built on. We both loved the experience of going to the movies, even if it was something we’d seen a million times. It’d be cool to list everything we saw together but my memory sucks so here are just a few that stand out: midnight movie classics at the Egyptian (Alien, Jurassic Park (Socks!), and Jaws); Holy Motors and Norwegian Wood at SIFF; Sword of Doom! I hadn’t seen a full episode of The Simpsons until he showed me a bunch and lent me seasons 4-6. It took me months to get through those and every episode of Treehouse of Horror. Poochie the dog/Merlin as Poochie is maybe our best in-joke. I didn’t care about the Oscars but Nate was into making predictions and watching ’em so I did too. The last movie he recommended to me was Wind River and the last movie we were gonna watch ‘n’ discuss long distance was Blade of the Immortal. It’s sad we won’t get to argue about the former and that we ran out of time for the latter.

He trusted me to take care of Chateau Averyt which came with very little responsibility and a nice perk (pick up mail and water the bamboo, borrow all his books!). I managed to almost kill his bamboo while he was training for work in Baltimore and he still trusted me to house-sit again. He was a master of thoughtful gifts too– a tote bag and autographed copy of John Waters’ Crackpot from Atomic Books in Baltimore. A hot pink bento and chopstick set from Japan. The Blur ‘Country House’ castle as a cookie cutter from his last trip to Europe. Murakami books (yep- he introduced me to my favorite living author). The only thing he requested was a Seven Samurai tea set (when my hobby-of-the-moment was painting dishes). I spent five years promising him he’d get it and never delivered. He brought it up pretty much every time the B&N Criterion sale rolled around and asked about that motherfucking thing the last time I saw him. Daaaayum, I’m a real dick for not finishing it!

Ooooof. This is way too long. A few more memories. He’d take me ‘n’ Kristy shopping sometimes. For records or to IKEA. We spent a long time debating the best sofas and ottomans. I see myself as someone with markedly bad taste so the fact that he valued my opinions always seemed sweet. Also, he didn’t care that I was super mean and laughed at all the kids crying at the cat van in the parking lot. He wasn’t crazy about the Goodwill Outlet, my top shop in Seattle, but he came anyway and wore gloves to dig through the bins of broken glass and dirt. West Seattle and Capital Hill yard sale days– good stuff.

We ended up with different, limited diets but I’ll cherish some food memories too. Dim Sum with him ‘n’ Kristy at Duk Ali’s where I ate myself sick and had to lie down on his floor for an hour to recover. Sky-high burgers at Katsu. Ramen. Pizza with potato slices on top from the place up the road from his Uwajimaya apartment. Genki Sushi dollar days. “Summer of gelato.” Potluck pancake breakfast for dinner. I wish we’d gotten to eat Okonomiyaki together.

He’s the only friend in my Seattle crew I ever had anything resembling a fight with and he’s the only one who didn’t wish me well when I told him me ‘n’ Dean ‘n’ James were moving to Georgia. There was a period where we didn’t talk/write/text for a few months that I deeply regret. On one of my trips back to Seattle in 2016, Nate said I seemed a lot happier and that made him happy. We spent the day bumming around West Seattle and his apartment, laughing about Castle Freak, Family Fued and John Tesh. We didn’t talk about his health even though it was clear something was seriously wrong. We listened to 13th Floor Elevators when he dropped me off at the airport and we talked about hanging out in Athens or Greenville the next time he came out to visit his sister.

I got to see him one more time at that apartment, only for an hour or so. His mom was in town and he’d recently been taken off things that were making him miserable but was still building up strength. So, I knew then things were kinda grim but we didn’t talk about it much then either. Nate never wanted me to worry. Back when they’d tried surgery, he only texted me, “I’m going in for surgery and won’t be fully recovered for some weeks ahead. I’ll shoot you updates, but please don’t worry, ok?” Then we joked about space horror movies and then I didn’t hear from him for awhile. The last year was like that, lotsa gaps in our correspondence when he was dealing with all this shit, then we’d go back to texting/emailing about stuff we’d been watching. I’m lucky that while all this was going on, he still made time for his friends. I flew out back to Seattle for New Year’s Eve and had a really good three days hanging out with him, even though it was in the hospital. His family was there and my core Seattle crew was there, and it was like old times. We watched another bad New Year’s movie as per tradition (Tom Cruise’s The Mummy) and spent a lot of time laughing. Ach. Miss him terribly. Fuck this year.

Unicoi State Park

On the last day of last-LAST year, Dean and I took to the mountains for a brisk hike in Helen. Our noses were getting red and runny from the cold when we stumbled upon a crowd charging into the lake for a “polar bear plunge.” On the shore, a polar bear mascot danced in front of a bonfire. Dammit, I wish I had a photo of that.




The Tang Dynasty Staycation

Erin, my partner in crime, has moved to Prague and I thought posting some photos would be a better use of my time than lying around feeling sorry for myself. These are from an early Sunday morning last March.
(Don’t blame me for someone else’s grammar, nerds.)

We started at the Pulaski tracks which I like best in the colder months. Less people and less bugs in the tall grass.

Kitty Cat Friends Fur-eva!

Redneck Beach used to be more tucked away but new construction means it’s now visible from the road. I still think this man-made waterfall is really special tho. We waded across, shrieking the whole way as the freezing water numbed our feet and ankles.

The ruins of a 200-year-old cotton mill.

Lingering rays of sunshine as the clouds started to roll in and we headed out for pancakes at The Grit. A perfect morning of sightseeing around town!

Halloween in Athens

aka “Halloween Highlights with Wu” aka “Too Many Phone Photos!”

Halloween is my favorite holiday and, luckily, it’s Athens’ favorite holiday too. I only stayed in three days the entire month of October and still missed about a half dozen movie screenings, the costumed dog parade, and who-knows-what-else. Here are a few of the highlights: Mrs. and Mrs. Face: Erin and I have different faces, figures and personalities– but people mix us up all the time or ask if we’re related. NOPE, but that older white-person confusion inspired our costumes this year so here we are as each other! …Or are we ourselves, pretending to be dressed up as each other?!

Jason almost died but still managed to meet me ‘n’ Erin for Horror Movie Pictionary. I thought it was kinda sweet that he was shy about Pictionary drawing when he’s not shy about drawing dicks all the time. Also sweet: how Erin couldn’t care less about horror movies but she always comes with me cuz she’s ride-or-die. I laugh-cried at Anna’s incredible Phantasm drawing (phantom + orgasm). We didn’t get it and either did her team but it’s genius. I think I did two (?) horror-ish trivias and learned I like King Kong wine and can’t identify chainsaw noises.

Andy and Kelly came over to carve jack-o-lanterns. Cat-o-lanterns for me ‘n’ Kelly. We cat ladies.

Between Flicker’s 31 Days of Darkness, Cine’s Schlocktoberfest, and my own ill-spent time, I watched and re-watched a lot of horror movies. Seeing these on the big screen was so fun: Frankenhooker, Phantom of the Paradise, Hausu. I somehow watched Ginger Snaps twice by happy accident! I attended my first (but not last) Gonzoriffic with Ethan and Rebecca and became obsessed with “Bad Girl Dracula.” Carey and I got to introduce a screening of Slumber Party Massacre, complete with pizza and sleeping bags. I also saw It, Mother!, and Happy Death Day. (This isn’t the most flattering photo but I’m posting it anyway cuz I don’t have another one with Kris and Dean. They’re wonderful. Re-Animator double date!)

Boulevard looks like a movie location for trick-or-treaters (and def a million kids know it!). We like to stop by my boss’s beautiful historic home then stop by The Ghosties show. Naoko as Gogo Yubari in Refused Are Fucking Undead (stolen from her IG cuz she was soooo good!), Kelly as a pinata cuz I didn’t get photos of the bands but check out her sick DIY skillz.

On Friday the 13th, Erin and I got $20 tattoos together! This is my third tiny tattoo and my first in a little over a decade. I love it! Lemme tell you who didn’t love it though: Friday the 13th superfans. I posted it on Twitter, carefully avoiding any hashtag, and ended up with 70+ replies, retweets, and private messages. I love most of those movies too and get that this isn’t Manfredini-approved but get off my dick, dudes!

Evan and Neil hosted their second Dark Pandemonium Carnival Soiree. Can you believe Evan made his Donnie Darko costume?! I love catching up with him and my former co-workers at the ‘berry. Wish I’d gotten a photo of Eddie as Wino Santa, watching the Addams Family on mute with me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay long because I had to get up and run a half marathon the next morning!

On “fake” Halloween, we dressed up as GLOW wrestlers. It was fun but I was really uncomfortable wearing so little and my discomfort was compounded by some icy rain. I learned the true meaning of freezing my ass off that night and am now typing this with a gross cold! Honestly, my biggest regret is not drinking MORE and hiding my weakness behind my own Iron Curtain of boozy warmth.

The day after the Wild Rumpus/Dancin, we went to Eric’s Surprise Birthday Brunch. Kate and Eric are such a warm-hearted pair. I’m lucky to know them.

Ooof. I gotta run out the door soon to see Thor. Here’s a lazy/jumbled gallery of awesome!




I love Halloween and I love Athens! Byeee!

Back to Nashville

Yep! I’d just seen Nashville for the first time with my in-laws last spring, then I went back for a weekend trip in the fall with my library ladies, Lane and Erin. I say “Library Ladies” since the three of us used to work at the Athens public library. Good times!
(Man, I miss my long hair…)

Pinewood Social, a bright stylish brunch place AND bowling alley! I thought the can art was pretty cool. Not pictured: five waiters with the same hair-do, longer and flipped on top, short on the sides. Lane’s friend Kyshona met us early for breakfast and a walk around a park. Like Lane, she’s a talented singer.

Third Man Records. That animatronic monkey band! Also, Erin and I cut our own record in the Voice-o-Graph that is mostly us laugh-singing “Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-basketball.” Hahaaa!

Margaritas and burritos with Rae and her husband Travis at Rosepepper Cantina. I’d been reading Rae’s blog for a couple years so it was fun to meet her in real life! She and Travis are fellow animal lovers with great taste in movies and roadside attractions. PS: They recently became cool parents.

Barista Parlor with Callie! I love meeting weird, unique ladies.

And of course, we library ladies had to pay a visit to Nashville’s library. I’d checked it out with Dean but it was cool to spend more time there. The whole children’s section is super fun. There’s a Wayne White/student collab sculpture where you can crank around the eyeballs.

More of Lane’s fun, talented pals. She’s got a lot of ’em.

Last view: the jade art deco men’s room at the Hermitage Hotel. A feast for the eyes if ever there was one. Until next time, Nashville!

Rockabilly Road Trip: Leftovers

Bits and bobs. Phew, that was a long, packed trip!
Touring the Carter house in Franklin, home of 1,000 Civil War bullets.

Earth mounds at the Kennesaw battlefield. “Wow, Steph. I didn’t know you were a Civil War buff!” The thing is, I’m not exactly. HOWEVER, like football, I grew up around a lot of enthusiasts–my uncle and cousin were Gettysburg reenactors. So before this trip I read Battle Cry for Freedom and we stopped at two battle sites.

Haunted hearse and chicken in Alabama.

Elvis’s birth home in Tupelo.

LOL, this hotel pool/DIY garden. Love it!