Happy Wednesday! Vacation Wrap-Up, New Iron Man & More

yellowstone_2Well hello: happy Wednesday! I’m nearly recovered from our trip to Jackson, Wyoming, and happy to get back to my blog. Got lots of travel-related links and some nice nerdy news as well.

Our trip was quite an adventure–me, Scott, Sid, and Sarah were joined by Sid’s mom Myndi (my husband’s first wife), her partner, and his two sons on a 10-day trek from Oregon to Wyoming! We caravanned in a car and van, taking two days to reach Wilson, Wyoming (right near gorgeous Jackson), where we had a free week at a comfy condo, thanks to Myndi’s uncle, who owns a timeshare.

Did I mention that the condo had one bedroom? And that there were eight of us, including a 21-month old, two tweens, and a 16-year-old boy? Thanks to bunk beds and a pull-out couch, we were snug as bugs in a rug–plus, we had extra incentive to get out and explore the pool, nearby Jackson, and Yellowstone National Park (which I’d never been to before).

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Scott and Sarah in Jackson, Wyoming’s gorgeous park.

We took two days back as well, staying the night in historic Wallace, Idaho–a tiny, charming, former silver boom town–in the Stardust Motel. Most of the town is for sale at very reasonable prices, so we all dreamed of selling our homes in Portland and moving east (seriously, you can buy two hotels and a cafe for less than $500,000). Plus there was an excellent restaurant, the Blackboard Cafe, which served us delicious Italian food! But we ultimately decided that most of the town being for sale was probably a bad sign, and headed home.

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The Stardust Motel in Wallace, Idaho. Rides in the spaceship are extra.

But Elisabeth, you’re probably wondering. What the heck? What was it like traveling and living with your husband’s ex-wife for more than a week? I guess I haven’t written much on this subject, but while I am lucky in my choice of husbands, I’m even luckier when it comes to ex-wives. All of Sid’s parents have always been close–we live within blocks of each other and do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays together. On the trip, Myndi and I alternated planning meals and buying groceries. When one cooked, the other cleaned. Plus, each branch spent some time doing their own thing, which gave us a sense of independence and freedom. All in all, it was a great trip, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

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Dinner at the Lotus Cafe! Sid, his mom Myndi, Brett, and Sarah, cracking up.

Whew!

Vacation-Related Links

Yellowstone was quite the drive. And smelly (we visited Old Faithful and trekked around checking out countless sulfuric geysers). I admit, the thing that caught my eye was a beautiful hand-embroidered Yellowstone Park pillow by Catstudio in one of the general stores. Unfortunately, the price tag precluded my purchasing it, but you should definitely check them out. They’ve got tons of gorgeous National Park-themed pillows and more.

As you could probably guess, my interests while on vacation (and everywhere else) largely revolve around food. If you happen to find yourself in Jackson, Wyoming (a fantastic, albeit expensive, resort town), the Lotus Cafe is delicious and inventive. Their organic menu includes everything from raw and vegan dishes to elk and bison. I had their Lotus Pad Thai, which was remarkably delicious, even though it was vegan and gluten free (except I added chicken). They are a peanut-free restaurant, so the sauce was made with almonds. I’ve been thinking about it ever since, so I may try to replicate it!

After my experience with GeekCraft Expo PDX, I had to stop by MADE, a shop in Jackson that is dedicated to unique handmade goods from more than 250 local artisans. This shop was amazing. If I had been interested in buying souvenirs, I would have blown my budget there! As it was, I was conscious of the fact that we could barely fit all the luggage we had in the car. Next year we hopefully won’t be lugging a Pack N’ Play with us!

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MADE, a handcrafted-goodies shop in Jackson. I didn’t want to take too many pictures of the items, since they were all original designs.

Besides eating, my other favorite vacation pastime in reading–and boy, did I pick a doozy! All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister inflamed, enraged, and inspired me. Tracing the results of first and second wave feminism, the advantages they’ve given us, the backlash they’ve inspired, and glimpses into our possible future, this book is a must-read by every literate woman, whether you identify as a feminist or not. As a women who married (for keeps) at 37 (much older than the 1950s median marriage age of 20) and who gave birth for the first time at 39, Traister was telling my story–with a richness of context that made my head spin. Read this book.

Geekery

Announced today: the next Iron Man is Riri Williams, a 15-year-old black female science genius. Created by Brian Michael Bendis (creator of Miles Morales, the half-black, half-hispanic, all-awesome Spider-Man) and drawn by Stefano Caselli, Riri debuts in the role at the close of Civil War II.

The Doubleclicks are returning from their 30-city nationwide tour and playing in Portland this July! Catch them at the Doug Fir July 19 with Danielle Ate the Sandwich, Lucia Fasano, and Barbara Holm. This is a 21+ show, but families can also catch them at the Tualatin Public Library (aka my childhood hangout) July 24. There’s also a live podcast recording July 25 at Kickstand Comedy Club!

Want a taste of seeing them live? Here’s a video of one of my favorite songs, “The Guy Who Yelled Freebird”:

So that’s what I’ve got! How are your summers going? Any vacation plans or dreams to share? Post them below!

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Happy Tuesday! Comics, Comics, Comics

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Betty and Veronica, by Adam Hughes. Image from Bleeding Cool.

Hey all! How was your weekend? I took a crazy one-day trip to Emerald City Comicon to chat with people about GeekCraft Expo PDX and to see some friends. It was awesome–more so because two friends hitched a ride with me. It is infinitely preferable to spend two to three hours talking about movies, TV, and childhood experiences while driving to Seattle. Woo!

So as you can imagine, I’ve got lots of comics news:

Comics

The proofs of the Fight Club 2 hardcover are here, and it is gorgeous (I got a peek because my husband, Scott Allie, edited the book). Chuck Palahniuk wrote a beautiful little tribute to the creative team, and hinted about what’s coming next. Gosh, what could it be . . . ?

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Jessica Jones by Michael Gaydos. Image courtesy Michael Perlman.

It’s like my favorite comic book publishers are trying to make all my dreams come true! One example: there’s going to be a new Jessica Jones series by the original creative team, Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and David Mack. Brian Michael Bendis is, of course, the choice for the writer, but I’m so please that Gaydos is returning. His take on Jessica is so distinctive and definitive–I love it. And David Mack is perfection. If you haven’t already, check out the original series, Alias, and the followup, The Pulse.

But wait! There’s more! Archie Comics’ new Adam Hughes Betty and Veronica series, which was announced last May, will hit comic shops in July. Adam Hughes’ “good girl” art is legendary, and the prospect of him doing interior art in addition to covers? This is a can’t-miss series. I’m also looking forward to the variant covers by Stephanie Buscema, Cliff Chiang, Veronica Fish, Francesco Francavilla, and Chip Zdarsky.

“But enough of these johnny-come lately artists,” you say? Fear not: longtime Archie writer/artist Dan Parent is debuting Life With Kevin with J. Bone this June, starring an adult Kevin. This will be a digital-first series, but I’m happy to see the Archie “house” style alive and well in any format!

Picnics

Well that was a change of topic! But relevant to my life. Sid has joined a baseball team and has two games per week–one on the weekend in the morning, one during a weekday evening. During the dinner hour. So I’m taking this as an opportunity to make fun picnics!

Up first: this salami caprese pasta salad, with grilled asparagus and corn muffins (pro tip: these are all leftovers). I have seven more to plan–I’ll take pics and post recipes in case you need ideas this summer.

Books

I am overloaded with books. Seriously. I have like eight library books right now, because I put titles on hold online on a whim, and then they all arrive at the Belmont branch willy nilly. However! I highly recommend reading Sex and Shopping: Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl, the autobiography of Scruples author Judith Krantz, because it is a delightful look into a certain kind of liberated woman I had no idea existed in the late ’40s-early ’50s. Really. Plus, I discovered how many of her bonkers books came right from her real life. I mean, this is a woman who rubbed shoulders with Richard Avedon and Barbara Walters before (and while) they were stars!

That’s all I have for today. Reader, you have no idea what else I’m up to! But you will. Very soon. (Those last three lines were a tribute to dear Judith.)

Why Jessica Jones Is the Hero We Need

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Our heroine, by artist David Mack.

When I was 14, I fell in love with the Uncanny X-Men, and especially teenaged hero Kitty Pryde. Kitty was everything I wanted to be: cute, fantastically smart, super powered, and conveniently emancipated from her parents so she could go live with an adoring group of grownup superheroes who thought she was the best and always had her back. But years later, when I read Brian Michael Bendis’s gripping Alias series, it hit me like a punch to the gut: although I had grown up wanting to be Kitty, I was really more like Jessica Jones. And I wish I had met her earlier.

Jessica Jones’s origin story starts out much like any superhero’s: she survives the tragic death of her family and an accident that gifts her with superpowers. Soon she’s dyed her hair bright purple, clapped on some shiny tights, and is poised to become the very! Best! Superhero! She can be!

Unfortunately, that’s not very good. She’s soon captured by Zebediah Killgrave, aka the Purple Man, who completely violates her, keeping her in his thrall via mind control, for eight months. When she finally meets her would-be “adoring group of grownup superheroes” (while being forced to attack them), they beat her so badly they send her to the hospital in a coma. When she wakes up, she realizes that instead of “having her back,” no one really noticed that she was missing. For eight months.

Jessica Jones, despite her early promise, was not destined to be the darling superhero mascot adored by millions. Instead, she was a failure. A loser. A damaged woman who the world does not revolve around–instead, she must make her place, and her peace, herself.

Meeting Jessica Jones started a chain reaction deep in my soul. I, like so many girls, grew up hearing the same mantra: “You can be anything you want! You’re smart! You work hard! You can do anything!” But what if you can’t? What are we taught to do when we fail, when we don’t live up to our potential, when life slaps us so hard it knocks the wind out of us?

Now I am not knocking the loving people who told us this–in the ’70s and ’80s, we were coming off decades of asking women, “Do you really need to go to college?” and “Why would you want to be anything other than a wife and mother?” Our messages to girls are always evolving. But I think everyone would benefit if our next iteration includes the following information:

“You are going to fuck up. You are going to fail. You are going to hurt other people, and yourself. You are going to compromise yourself in ways you later regret to get the things you think you need. And you’re still a worthwhile person. And you’re still deserving of love. And you can use all your fuckups and failures to help someone else.”

Jessica Jones fucked up as a hero and retreated, becoming a disreputable private detective with a love for booze and the occasional man. When I fucked up my life 15 years ago (fizzled comics career, terrible-idea marriage to someone who isolated and emotionally abused me), I fled to the other side of the country. While I did not actually become a detective, I did tirelessly investigate the cases of Can I Get That Dude’s Attention and How Many Shots Can I Have Tonight and Still Function Tomorrow (really, I left no stone unturned).

But what I love the most about Jessica Jones and Alias is, her redemption didn’t come in the form of a training montage (let’s figure out those faulty powers!), a new shiny uniform, and a team of super-cool friends: you can be a special awesome girl superhero after all, Jessica! Instead, her journey is slower, more painful. More mistakes. And as she learns, she creates a new life for herself, on her own terms. Which is what we all really want anyway.

Anyway. Haven’t watched Jessica Jones on Netflix, but as you can see, I’ve got high hopes. Still love you Kitty Pryde!