The Big 5 – “Why” did you start to blog? – Week 2


all depends on the day…

Throughout the last week we have been reading some great entries into this challenge and have to say that many of the reasons that other bloggers got started are ones that we can easily associate with: as a journal, a place to vent, a vehicle for artistic expression, to connect with others and to see what the rest of the blogosphere is up to are just a few of the points offered up. We had been saving Roz Chast’s cartoon for a very long time in the knowledge that one day it would be just right for that very special post and lo and behold, it is. She knows us all and must have been perched on our shoulder the day we first pressed publish for we are All of the Above, though we would like to think that subtlety plays at least a small part in getting our point across.

Did we think we could change the world? Not realistically. Did we anticipate changing ourselves? Never in a million years, but we did. Would we do it all over again? In a heartbeat and we would venture that many of you would also. This fortnight the Big 5 Challenge is curious to know Why did you start to blog?” – forum or fancy, news or reviews, to find friend or battle foe, seek source of satisfaction or sound out discussion, to expound, extoll, expand, in song, full-colour, poetry or prose …

We would love to know why you decided to put it all out there.

For all those who are new readers to Across the Bored, some great entries and the guidelines for this challenge can be found here: Need more info, want to browse past themes or get the badge for your blog? See HOW DOES THIS WORK.

F is also for Friday: Roz Chast


the sound of gears turning

It is doubtful if anyone in the last three decades has more prolifically caricatured the odd and interestingly recognizable events of everyday life than Roz Chast. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, does not hesitate in calling the 58 year-old cartoonist “The magazine’s only certifiable genius” and the evidence is easily found in the watercolour-washed and inked panels that have graced its pages for the last 30 years.

R.Chast_Stuff_A2Zwe are all guilty

The appeal in the shaky, quirky style lies in its urban icons – the message is not lost in any perfect graphic portrayal of the parts, we instantly recognize the whole whether it is a situation we have faced, something we may have seen or just random stuff and nonsense that flies out of left field. In a black and white framed snapshot of the absurd, multiple panels spread out over a few pages, a magazine cover, even a hooked rug or pysanka, most of Chast’s work is self-explanatory, readers either laugh or just don’t get it.


don’t even think about starting with dessert

Chast has admitted that she is an anxious person, sometimes suffering from insomnia but rather than letting this have a crippling effect, it informs her cartoons and books with all those bits that we hate, have phobias of, secretly know and hide or have thought about while tossing restlessly around in bed at 3 AM.  Like the best social commentary, she lays it out like a royal flush for all to see – these kinds of reflections on existence are far from pedestrian, Ms. Chast’s style creates a neutrality, a world where we are all a little off and most of the time just as strange as our neighbours.

41_1pick one – or add your custom card to the collection

Life, whether it is domestic, family or work, provides sufficient material for Ms. Chast and more than enough to fill the pages of over a dozen books: one can lose many hours glued to the pages of the Theories of Everything: Selected Collected and Health-Inspected Cartoons, a compilation of the cartoons published in The New Yorker, Scientific American and the Harvard Business Review.


this is the aftermath of a bad mom

This cartoonist’s perspective is as genuine as the characters portrayed in her work – the typical glossy “author photo” on the dustcover would seem inappropriate and so a cartoon of a woman much like Roz herself smiles quizzically back at us.

We find ourselves in Roz Chast’s cartoons for we are her “everyman”.

Read more on:

Roz Chast
Roz Chast at the Julie Saul Gallery
Roz Chast appreciates Art

F is also for Friday: A Comically Fine Line


when communication leads in two different directions

Depending on the occasion, anyone one with younger members in the household will know how difficult it can be just to speak to one another in the same language. Inane bits of conversation ranging from “how was your afternoon” to “please put your boots on the mat” can lead to fiery flare-ups, snorts of derision with rolling eyeball accompaniment or the best of the bunch, the snappy answer. From either party involved. It was one of those days and the best option was not to say anything at all because if we did it would have been, inevitably, much worse.

A moment’s solitude was in order and we happened to be in the vicinity of the local greenhouse which we hadn’t stepped foot into since our own monsters were small and in need of some winding down. In our own childhood, the place had seemed enormous with exotic plants hanging off raised beds and a banana tree with fruit dangling within a monkey’s reach tucked in a wing off the back. As recently as 20 years ago the glass house, as the Ghost liked to call it, had a heavy warmth filled with the sweet perfume of tropical flowers in the dead of winter and a koi pond whose occupants would swim up to the surface in the hopes of being fed. Today the door opened upon nannies with strollers seeking their own few minutes of peace while their under-fives bent over a rather sad display of non-descript between-season blooms.  The air wasn’t as close and wet as we remember, the koi had been moved, their pond now filled with pennies and the dark water where they now hid from prying eyes didn’t invite closer inspection. The plants looked as though they had been donated by apartment dwellers with black thumbs – those that had once been green and fresh in some florist’s shop with all the promise of growth and sun and plenty of water had shrunk to shadows of their former glory, leaves a bit brown around the edges with blossoms trying vainly to shout colour into the wilderness of the hothouse.  Evidently the man who used to take such care, who had a gift for nurturing his green charges was long gone and his apprentices had learned little, didn’t care or perhaps just didn’t know any better. Two nurseries once filled with odd-shaped plants from far corners of the world were closed – hopefully they are filled with seedlings and bright buds for the upcoming Easter exhibition.  It took all of ten minutes to make the rounds and as much as we wanted, not even one photo opportunity presented itself – the iphone stayed sleeping in our pocket.

The library attached to this small botanical garden is in much better condition – clean and quiet in the adult stacks, a little more boisterous and chaotic in the children’s section, it boasts a lovely sitting room with floral scrollwork hand-painted around the edge of a coffered ceiling.   People come and spread out their books on the massive oak tables, study, look through thick art tomes or just breathe a sigh of relief in one of the comfortable, green leather reading chairs. That is exactly what we did.

chast new yorker coversitting quietly seems to have helped

More on visions of life as we know it by Roz Chast next week.

February Spotlight Awards – Just what the Doctor ordered

Because Roz Chast knows all about it

Across the Bored has been feeling a little under the weather lately due to the fusion of PTXD (post-traumatic Christmas disorder), looming deadlines, long overdue wrap-ups and the general malaise that February in an arctic climate can bring. No amount of retail therapy can cure this although the exuberant Miss Z would beg to differ judging from her accounts of the marvels of Macy’s yesterday. We also learned that fated Tuesday that Chocolate Chili Chai tea and a banana for lunch, no matter how healthy, are not willing partners in any gastrointestinal dance – so with the dog sleeping off his all-night patrol duty, the Professor away on work-related pursuits and the Ghost and his partner-in-crime, the inscrutable Dr. Fu, otherwise engaged in the entanglements of university life, we have taken to our bed to watch endless episodes of Cake Boss on Youtube and catch up on computer stuff. Could be worse, we could actually have to justify our actions to someone other than ourselves….

Not to say that we are actually getting caught up on those past-the-due date emails and god forbid forwarded Facebook notifications which we have been consciously ignoring in some sort of unnoticed protest but we are being constructive, sort of.  The bright spot is that we were able to have a second cup of coffee this morning and a more leisurely look at a few of the posts popping up on the reader, discovering in the process some great music, photos and new blogs. It is time consuming. Somewhere around mid-afternoon the realization that we should get on with it kicked in.

What make us feel better in the grand scheme of things? Apart from the obvious and depending on the situation, much of the time it is pretty simple. Most recently it has been the reminder that yes, there is someone out there that is reading, enjoying and perhaps even being inspired by what we do. Our memo arrived via Nicole over at NMNPHX who was kind enough to include Across the Bored in her picks for her February Spotlight Awards!

spotlight-award-logo-finalEvery month she highlights 3-5 blogs that she has found “awesome”, telling her readers a little something about them and urging them to visit – we did and were glad for the effort. There is a Past Spotlight Winners link in her menu where you will find over 6 months-worth of blogs and perhaps even a few familiar names.  Ours can be a small world so be sure to check out Nicole’s blog – especially the “Spam Comment of the Week” posts!

Now, about those emails…