Photography, Travel

Road Trip Travelogue Day 1: 5 States

CA > NV > ID > MT > WY

5 States – 1 Day

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

Breakfast: scrambled eggs & homestyle potatoes

Departure: 5:30 something AM

First Stop: Black Bear Diner in Fernley, Nevada

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Unplanned Stop: adjacent casino in Fernley, Nevada

Philip’s Winnings: $12

Number of Photos I Took in the Casino Before Being Told Photography Was Not Allowed: 6

The Best Photograph of Those 6:

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Places to Pee in Nevada: Casinos

Places to Order Starbucks in Nevada: Casinos

Places to Lose Your Hope for Humanity in Nevada: Casinos

Where We Did Not Stop for Gas in Nevada:

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The RV Model’s Name: “Honey”

How I Fought Boredom While Driving Through Nevada: eating sunflower seeds and spitting the shells into a paper cup tucked into my seat belt

Number of Prisons We Passed in Nevada: 3

Number of Hitchhikers Allowed to Pick Up: 0

How Many Snakes We Stopped for in Idaho: 2

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My Impression of Idaho:

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Where We Ordered French Fries in Burley, Idaho: MacDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box

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MacDonald’s: salty, greasy, too crunchy

Burger King: delicious when hot, too potatoe-y

Jack in the Box: perfect amount of salt and grease, good when cold

Winner: Jack in the Box

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Camping Advice from a Walmart Employee in Chubbuck, Idaho: “Keep the fire going all night… Do you have a gun?”

Camping Reservations Made: 0

Arrival Time in Montana: 12:30 something AM

Number of Grizzly Bear Warning Signs at Lonesome Hurst Campground in Montana: 3

How Long it Took to Decide to Keep Driving After 18 Hours on the Road: split second

Arrival Time in Yellowstone National Park: 1:00 AM

When We Snagged an Empty Camp Site at Madison Campgrounds: 1:30 something AM

When We Learned We Would Need to Move Our Tent: 8:30 something AM

Follow my blog here on adrienneblaine.com for more posts about my 10 Day Road Trip!

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Books

Book Review: Trash Market by Tadao Tsuge

 

After President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima today seventy-one years after the bombing, you may be surprised to learn that many young Americans and Japanese do not realize that the United States and Japan were not allies in World War II. American historian Carol Gluck explains these conflicting memories of Hiroshima and WWII in “Ghosts,” the May 20th episode of On the Media. And to explore the post WWII narratives of Japan, consider reading Tadao Tsuge’s Trash Market.

Tsuge is known as a pioneer of alternative manga with a cartooning style that doesn’t shy away from the gruesome. Born in 1941 and growing up in the slums of Tokyo, Tsuge has been a prolific cartoonist who made ends meet by working at an “ooze-for-booze” blood bank from a young age. His stories are inspired by the people he knew and observed and the tensions of poverty and post traumatic stress.

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Drawn & Quarterly‘s collection of six Tsuge comics is followed by excerpts of Tsuge’s autobiographical writings and an essay by editor and translator Ryan Holmberg, who is an art historian specializing in Japanese work. The title, Trash Market refers to Tsuge’s harsh, although not unsympathetic, assessment of the “trash people” selling their blood and bodies in the slums and red light districts of his youth.

Holmberg writes, “as the creations of an artist who had the luxury of only momentary respites from the blue-collar grind, Tadao’s comics offer an opportunity to imagine what it was actually like to live as a man inside the human trash market of postwar Japan.”

In the same way that a sketch is often more compelling than a polished piece, Tsuge’s work unravels as a collection of loose impressions that do more to capture a feeling than a tightly wound comic would. Holmberg writes, “He begins drawing with only a rough beginning, middle, and end in mind, with no script or breakdowns. ‘Part of the excitement of making comics,’ [Tsuge] says ‘is seeing how things will turn out.'”

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If you plan to read this collection, remember that while Tsuge’s comics are dark, these postwar narratives do not lack optimism.

 

 

 

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Books

Book Review: Pachyderme by Frederik Peeters

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The maroon binding of Pachyderme has called to me from many a Graphic Novel section shelf. After years of picking it up, flipping through it and thinking, “another time,” I finally got around to reading a copy from the San Francisco Public Library.

I knew this graphic novel by Swiss cartoonist Frederik Peeters was not going to be a casual read. The woman suspended in air on the front cover portends the ominous suspended reality this book explores. There is a foreword written by the accomplished French cartoonist Jean Giraud (AKA Moebius 1938 – 2012) that says everything anyone could ever hope to say about the quality of Peeters’ story and illustrations.

Giraud writes, “Pachyderme is the perfect example of a vivid and poetic graphic novel that succeeds in conveying a sense of the unconscious, of true master. I have the feeling Pachyderme remains mysterious even to its author, who let his tale wander where his pen took it, live its own life, while paying close attention to storytelling and the quality of his art.”

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Much like the space between waking and dreaming, the story and art range from hyper realistic to completely nonsensical. Giraud uses the word, “oneric,” or dreamlike to describe this oscillation. This is a new word for me and I am excited to have it as a part of my vocabulary now!

The only problem with Giraud’s foreword is that it gives too much of the story away. So I suggest reading it after you have finished the book. I don’t want to review the plot or characters in detail because this book is best experienced firsthand and without any foreknowledge.

All you need to know is that the story is set in French speaking Switzerland in 1951 and that a woman is the central character.

Here are some of my favorite panels:

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Save Pachyderme for a quiet day to yourself.

 

 

 

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Books, KQED

Book Review: God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls by Jaime Hernandez

For a fan of comics, I have not always felt welcome in the comic book store. A bad experience actually inspired me to write an article in 2014 for KQED Arts called, “No Girls Allowed? Braving the Comic Bookstore.

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I start by writing: “Five years ago I went into a comic bookstore in the South Bay and emerged from its shadowy depths with a sexist Lois Lane comic book from the ’60s and the sense that I was definitely underrepresented and unwelcome.”

If only I had found Jaime Hernandez’s 2012 Ti-Girls first! Although Jaime is in fact a man, his representation of women is so dynamic, I never would have guessed. He is best known for the “Love & Rockets” series. Created with his brother Gilbert Hernandez, Love & Rockets follows primarily Latina teenagers in the 1970s California punk scene.

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With the Ti-Girls, Jaime clearly draws inspiration from his love of female wrestlers. His characters span different cultures, ages and classes. And while each character is pretty damn sexy, they are all drawn to be so in different and equally powerful ways.

We first learn about the Ti-Girls adventures from comic enthusiast Maggie who shares old issues with her friend Angel. What Maggie doesn’t know is that Angel knows all about superheroes, because she has just discovered her own super powers.

While sneaking out as her alter-ego “Boot Angel” she runs into the mysterious Russian woman living in her apartment complex better known as “Alarma” of “The Fenomenons.

But not everyone is so lucky to have super powers and belong to an all-star lady squad. Maggie’s other friend, Penny Century, stirs up some intergalactic trouble when she tries to achieve superdom by any means.

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Three generations of female superheroes come to the rescue and Boot Angel learns more about her own powers from each.

When the young and inexperienced Zolar Bratz fail, and the exclusive Fenomenons refuse to get their outfits dirty, it is up to the aging Ti-Girls to come out of retirement to set things straight.

The best part of this comic, is the rewriting of the superhero canon. Unlike male superheroes Angel’s mother explains that “all women are born with it, but most lose it at a really early age. It’s too subtle to notice because most blossom when much older,”  she continues, “Guys don’t get it. They gotta go out an’ have lab accidents and other stuff to get their cojones but we got it born right in us.”DSC_0401.jpg

Check out this book if you’re a fan of super ladies!

 

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Personal, Photography

The Sunset

 

“Even bros like sunsets” observed comedian TJ Miller. That must have been what San Francisco city developers were thinking when they renamed the “Outside Lands” the Sunset District.

Bounded by Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach, this suburban development within San Francisco is the city’s largest district. But before there were ticky-tacky houses, sand dunes and shrubs were the first to greet the Pacific Ocean.

As a resident of the Sunset District, I have been struck by the way the sun passes over my house and sinks into Ocean Beach every night. It feels like the days are slipping away. In an attempt to capture this unique beach town, I have been venturing out of the house with my camera during the “Golden Hour,” when the sun is low on the horizon and casts everything in a golden glow.

I will be posting some of these photos on Instagram @adrienneblaine under the hashtag #sunsetdistrict. But to see all of my photos in this series, follow this blog on adrienneblaine.com!

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Fashion, Personal

My Favorite Jean Jackets

A jean jacket is an American wardrobe staple. Levi’s were born here in California during the Gold Rush and I could wax academic for pages about denim’s evolving cultural significance.

Some of us may remember the skillful “Go Forth” ad campaign for Levi’s, which wove the brand and patriotism together using the audio from newly discovered wax cylinder recordings holding what is believed to be Walt Whitman reading his own poetry.

A crackling voice reads an excerpt from the poem “America” by Whitman. I bet Whitman would shudder to think of himself as a pants salesman.

That being said, don’t you wish you had a cool pair of jeans now? What I would argue is even cooler than a pair of denim pants is a denim jacket. After years of searching for the perfect jean jacket, I now have, not one, but three!

I bought all of these jackets second hand. Two of them I bought on the same day from the same store, which I thought I would regret, but I have yet to!

The first is the quintessential American denim jacket. And while it is not Levi’s brand it is Ralph Lauren, which is just as American as apple pie.

What drew me to the jacket was it’s dainty proportions and embroidered pockets. In the past I have tried on children’s denim jackets but still struggled to find one with arms that were slim. I appreciate the feminine details on this jacket like the pleats and the pulls that can cinch around the waist.

I like to pair this jacket with formal tweed slacks because oddly enough I am trying to phase denim pants out of my wardrobe. After wearing this on a windy day, I am happy to report that this denim jacket can also act as pretty decent windbreaker.

The second jacket is one that I bought on the same day as the first. I couldn’t walk away from it because I knew I would never find another like it. It’s a vintage Wrangler blazer with 70s styling.

The oversized lapels almost scared me off, but when I tried it on the fit was too good to be true!

Because the stitching is orange I like to wear this with a rusty orange checked shirt I own. I usually pair the jacket with black pants. I also like to pump up the 70s vibe with some platform shoes.

The last jacket is one that I have owned for a few years. It’s the most masculine of the three, but I like it for beach days that turn into bonfires. Since it’s a bit oversized on me, it’s like cozying into a jacket a man friend lent you.

 

The denim is soft and perfectly worn in and faded. The inside is lined with a quilted silky fabric. There are also four spacious pockets which is rare in women’s wear.

 

This is a jacket that I throw on more than anything. If I were to wear it intentionally, I would probably wear a dress underneath to counteract the masculine feel of the jacket.

While I never thought I would need three denim jackets, I am happy that I own all of these. Do you have a favorite jean jacket, or multiple favorites like me? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

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Arts & Culture, Personal

Revisiting Nickelodeon’s “As Told by Ginger”

I was raised by the glow of the television, and cartoons on Nickelodeon were my favorite. Recently the theme song for “As Told by Ginger” (as sung by Macy Gray) came to mind:

“Someone once told me
The grass is much greener
On the other side
And I paid a visit
(Well, it’s possible I missed it)
It seemed different,
Yet exactly the same
(Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
‘Til further notice,
I’m in-between
From where I’m standing,
My grass is green
Someone once told me
The grass is much greener
On the other side.”

In my mind Macy Gray has never conformed to gender expectations for women singer-songwriters. And I always appreciated how her voice set the tone for a cartoon show about preteen girls in middle school. The show premiered in 2000 just as I was entering middle school and ended in 2009, the year I graduated from high school.

While I remembered liking As Told by Ginger because the protagonist Ginger is a writer, I did not remember how well the show itself was written. I am not surprised that creator Emily Kapnek went on to create Suburgatory, a short-lived but cutting satire of suburbia seen from the perspective of a teenage girl. Kapnek also contributed to episodes of Parks and Recreation as a consulting producer.

After re-watching, I am impressed by the complexity of each episode’s plot. While the story always centers around Ginger, her friends, her brother and her mother also play significant roles.

In the second episode, Ginger invites her school’s popular girl over for dinner while her younger brother invites the fantastically grotesque older woman he met at a nursing home. “Carl and Maude” was the cartoon’s homage to the movie Harold and Maude. If you’ve been watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt you may recognize Carol Kane‘s voice in this episode.

Characters on As Told by Ginger are well-developed and believable as real people while conforming to established archetypes: the mean girl: Miranda, the popular girl: Courtney, the gross younger brother: Carl.

Miranda’s insecurity drives her malice, while Courtney is a popular girl looking for true connection. And Carl articulates his passion for the bizarre with Poe-like eloquence.

With lessons about self-confidence, family dynamics and friendship, I would recommend this cartoon to any preteen girl. I know it helped me get through middle school!

 

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KQED

Read My First Article for Bay Area Bites!

Bay Area Bites is a food blog for Northern California’s Public Media KQED. My first article for Bay Area Bites was published today, and you can read it here! The article is titled: “Pie Ranch Sells Food for Thought at Highway One Non-Profit Farm Stand.”

I first came across Pie Ranch while driving from San Francisco to Santa Cruz along Highway One. It was the first time I had taken the coast for this commute and was enjoying the wonderfully scenic drive. As I neared Santa Cruz, I noticed hand-painted signs for pie & coffee cropping up. There is no one who loves pie and coffee more than I do, so I felt compelled to stop and investigate these claims. I pulled into Pie Ranch and wandered into their farm stand.

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Can you spot the hummingbird in this picture?

Something about the late afternoon light and the surprise of this quaint roadside offering really captured my imagination. Once inside I was impressed by sumptuous produce and socially conscious offerings. I have been able to visit multiple times and have learned more about the farm with each visit.

If you live in the California Bay Area, or plan to pass through during a road trip on Highway One, you’ll want to check out my article to learn about what Pie Ranch has to offer. Their next family-friendly event is happening this Saturday, April 16!

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