So, of course I had to do a window display at Powell's for Where the Wild Things Are. It was one of my first favorite books and one of my longest-standing favorite books. I have to say, I worry about enjoying the film (which I'll be seeing today with Maxx and Zoë, as I visit down here in California) because part of what is beautiful about the book is its perfect spareness. I know, I know, I know - that was the book, this will be the film, and they're different things, and I should try to make room in my heart for both, but you don't understand how important this book and Maurice Sendak are to me.
Years ago when I first started considering getting a tattoo someday, my first thought was, hmm, should I go with Max and the moon during the wild rumpus night or Mickey in his dough airplane in the night kitchen?
Let's see if I can remember the titles of all the Sendak books I own (written and illustrated by or just illustrated by)...
Where the Wild Things Are, Mickey in the Night Kitchen, The Sign on Rosie's Door, Outside Over There, Some Swell Pup, The Love For Three Oranges, We Are All In the Dumps With Jack and Guy, Pierre A Cautionary Tale, A Hole is to Dig, the Little Bear books, Higglety Pigglety Pop or there must be more to life... I bought the memoir Sleep Demons for the cover which he illustrated (but good book!), Chicken Soup with Rice, Alligators All Around, One Was Johnny, The Green Book, Lullabies and Night Songs, Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water, The Nutcracker, Kenny's Window, Fly By Night, The Cunning Little Vixen, No Fighting No Biting, What Do You Say Dear?, What Can You Do With a Shoe, Frank and Joey Go To Work, Swine Lake, Dear Mili, I Saw Esau, The Miami Giant, Brundibar...
And that's just a fraction of what he's written and illustrated. Once I was lucky enough to visit the Rosenbach museum in Pennsylvania to look through their amazing collection of Sendak illustrations and dummies and writings - excellent.
I must admit, in the first book I wrote, I shamelessly plagiarized Maurice Sendak.
It was about the size of a business card, and the cover was a piece of cardboard. Inside were a few tiny pages of cut-up newspaper which I stapled together (or possibly had Mom staple together). There were illustrations throughout. The text went something like:
It was Haloween night.
Wiches was flying.
Black cats was peeking.
Gohsts was string. [I think that meant stirring]
And it was still dark.
I don't know exactly how old I was when I made that book - five? I can't imagine I ever would have mixed up my wases and my weres like that, but I guess I did. The And it was still dark was a direct steal from the last sentence of Where the Wild Things Are (And it was still hot). Apparently I didn't care if my plagiarized line really made sense. I think that even at that time I must have understood somewhere in my child's brain that the beauty in Sendak was in not only the story he created, but the music and rhythm of his words.
one more picture of the display. but only because the first has too much glare and the second is at an angle and i can only claim to have one good photo if i average the two together. the graphic, by the way, is not a blowup from the book but my own little send-up, created on adobe illustrator and gimp.
lovely sound of wild parrots out the window in the morning.
watching baseball in the family room with mom and dad.
studying, with maxx and zoë and frank, the ways and the natural habitat of the snerfaladerf
(and the doodleflork).
this place has always been home. for so long, no matter where i was, no matter where home should have been, this was home. what wonderful - to be here now in that period of my adulthood in which where i live is home too.
This one goes out to the lovely Xtine who asked that I give a before and after to show what I did to Virginia Woolf's head.
OK, so don't get excited. There was very little photoshopping in this operation. I just needed a complete head of Virginia Woolf for something at Powell's, and all I could find, in keeping with Powell's policy on where we can attain graphics online, was a photo with the tip cut off.
So, here she is with the top of her head painted back in with the simple, simple process of using the clone brush.
Also, the photo was quite small, so after I restored the top of her head, I had to figure out how to blow it up without ending up with nothing but pixels. In Adobe Illustrator there's an application you can use to basically trace an existing image. By tracing the photo, I got this...
which definitely doesn't look photo-perfect, but it'll blow up much bigger and I figure it'll look like some cool arty effect I've applied. Here's a closeup so you can see what it looks like large.
OK, then I applied some color to it
and - wait for it - here she is in her final incarnation
as part of the grand campaign of famous literary figures from history coming together to sell Powell's t-shirts. Here's a bonus. Chekhov, Poe and Angelou joining ranks to support the cause.
I usually forget just how much the world is full of words, but once in a while: a morning moment standing in the shower looking at shampoo bottles and then my towel, hung over the top of the glass shower door, a tiny tag sewn in, then the tag sewn into my robe, the scatter of letters all over my tube of toothpaste, and I find I can't stop noticing that there are words everywhere.
wash once before use. machine wash with like colors. no bleach. tumble dry.
Everything talks to me. My tweezers say: Trim. My brush says: Goody. The outlet on the wall says: Follow directions. Test monthly.
Oops. OK, I'll try.
Shampoo bottles are bragging all the time like those kids in high school who gush about their popularity just enough that you can hear the desperate inside their words:
"Nature's boredom-banishers, including clarifying Florida Grapefruit and invigorating French Peppermint, give ho-hum hair a refreshing burst of enthusiasm, while mounds of frothy lather sweep away the clingy deposits that drag hair down and leave it lifeless. Limp, lazy, lackluster locks get back into the swing of things, shine again, take on a totally fresh, new attitude."
Walk through the house, past bookshelves and bookshelves, the painting in the hall with Stephen's name on it, into the kitchen where wide, naked spaces like refrigerators have to get crowded with words. A Cinema 21 film schedule (from last December). A magnet that tells what we can recycle and what we can't. A dry-erase board where Stephen wrote "Do good." (And my brother wrote "monkey.")
A yellow sticky still stuck to the door jamb with a quick cartoon portrait of José and a note to my brother, taking care of him while we were away once, years ago: Don't forget my pills.
Make a little something to eat (tiny words on tiny stickers on red and yellow peppers) and go in the back to sit at the computer and look at words and tap words out on fast fingertips. Next to me on the wall is an old map. In big words: View of the center of Paris taken from the air. Smaller words: Seine. Ile de la Cité. Zero in: Boulevard Henri IV. Zero in: Square H. Galli. Zero in: Ruines de la Bastille.
Take a trip out of the city - drive under green freeway sign and green freeway sign and green freeway sign to a place where you can angle yourself to see nothing but sand and sea stretching to forever - and still. Lovely words.
This one says I [heart] U JASON
And right next to it: a love note of a different kind: