Coffee, My Romance

A pal of mine recently wrote, “I’m thinking of revamping our coffee system and immediately thought of you. If I were to start from scratch, what would you recommend?”

It’s flattering that I’m the go-to when someone thinks of coffee, or it’s a sign that I need an intervention: either way, I figured I’d share my coffee setup with you. There’s a shopping list at the end.

I’ve done a bit of experimenting over the years, and picked up lots of tips from Brew Methods, so let’s get rolling. There’s lots of good info at this Wirecutter writeup about making pourover coffee, which is the general style I use. If you insist on sticking with a drip coffeemaker, this isn’t the post for you. This also isn’t going to have any espresso tips.

First thing you need: good coffee beans. I use Blue Bottle (formerly Tonx), which sends me 12 oz. of fresh-roasted beans twice a month. It’s a bit pricey, but I don’t drink booze anymore, so I figure I can splurge on coffee. Shut up!

When those super-beans run out, I use Costa Rica Terrazu from our local Fairway supermarket, which they roast on-site relatively often. Don’t buy pre-packaged beans from a supermarket or a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks. Those are roasted months earlier and are likely stale by the time you use them. If you start with bad beans, the best techniques around will still yield bad coffee.

Next: don’t use a blade grinder. You need to use a burr grinder. The heat from a blade grinder is bad for your coffee (refer back to that Wirecutter piece for the explanation). Trust me; you’ll notice the difference. I use a Hario Mill to grind my coffee. It’s manual, but you can get an electric one; the Baratza Encore is supposed to be really good.

Why do I use a manual one instead of electric? Mainly it’s for the ritual. I like having my hands involved in the process. Hand-grinding also takes a while, which helps pass the time that it takes to boil the water.

In the morning, I make two cups of coffee, for me & Amy in a Chemex 6-Cup Classic Series Glass Coffee Maker. Here’s what I do.

Pour about 750 ml of water into a Bonavita 1-Liter Variable Temperature Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle. Turn it on and set to 208°. (You can also use a standard kettle on your range, then transfer 600 ml of the water into a Hario V60 Buono Coffee Drip Kettle; that’s what I used to do before I bought the Bonavita electric kettle a few weeks ago.) You’re going to use 600ml of water for the actual pourouver; the rest is used to warm up the Chemex and the mugs.

Put 35 grams of coffee beans in your grinder. You’ll have to experiment a little to get the right coarseness. I use a metal Kone Coffee Filter in my Chemex, but that costs $60 and might be a little pricey for you. If you go with a Pre-Folded Circle Coffee Filter, you’ll need a bit different coarseness. That Brew Methods site will help you figure it out.

I use a digital scale to weigh out the beans, as well as the pour. A pal of mine who’s a chemistry professor scoffed at this, because he does most everything by eye, but I’m really a process/instructions-oriented guy.

So,I’m grinding away the beans while the water’s heating up. If Amy’s still asleep, I go down to my library to do the grinding, because it’s kinda noisy. It’s also kinda noisy to traverse the stairs, but she puts up with it, because the end result is dynamite coffee.

At this point, the counter has the following items on it: 6-cup Chemex with Kone filter, the Hario mill, with 35g of ground coffee in it, two coffee mugs, my watch, and the digital scale.

One the water reaches 208°, I pour about 50ml of it into the Chemex, to warm up the Kone and the base of the Chemex. I pour a little into the two mugs, to warm them up, too, but I make sure there’s still 600ml of hot water in the kettle.

I dump the water from the Chemex in the sink, then put it on the scale, pour in the coffee grounds, and zero out the scale.

Then I do a 15-second pour of 85-100ml of water over the grounds. With a Kone filter, you want to pour in the middle, not in a spiral. With the paper filter, you can use a spiral motion.

I let the water sit for another 45 seconds, while the coffee off-gases. This is called the “bloom”. It’s not as pronounced a process with the Kone, because the gas can filter out through the sides of the mesh, but with a paper filter, the term “bloom” is much more appropriate for the way the bed of coffee grounds swells up as the gases are released. The thing is, you want those gases outta there, as they disrupt the process of coffee extraction.

With those 45 seconds passed, we’re now at the 1-minute mark. I start pouring in more water, again in the center of the Kone. The gooseneck of the kettle allows for a steady, focused pour. If you try to pour from a standard kettle, the mouth is so wide that you’ll get lots of splashing and bad extraction of SuperCoffeeGoodness.

Over the next 90 seconds (up to the 2.5-minute mark), I pour until it reaches 600ml of water. I stop around the 300ml mark and let the water settle a little, for maybe 10-15 seconds. I’ll let it settle again around the 450ml mark, before pouring the remainder.

Then I wait for another minute, at which point we’re at the 3.5-minute mark. Near the end of that 1-minute wait, I dump out the two mugs, which should be nice and warm now.

I take the Chemex off the scale and replace it with Amy’s mug. I zero that out, then take the Kone filter out of the Chemex and hold it over the sink, since it’s probably still dripping. I pick up the Chemex and swirl it around a little; this supposedly releases some flavonoids or something. It also helps distribute the solid particulates. You don’t get those with the paper filter, but some solids creep through the metal mesh of the Kone.

I pour 220ml or so into Amy’s mug. I replace her mug with mine on the scale and zero it out again, because I’m insane. I swirl the Chemex a little more and pour myself 300ml of coffee. This is because women can only drink 73% of the coffee that men can drink. It’s science.

And that’s my morning coffee ritual! I won’t lie. It take a little time: boiling water, grinding beans, and 3.5 minutes of actual pouring time. (I left out the part where I walk around in my library and look at books while I’m grinding the coffee.) But it will make really good coffee for two people.

If you’re making a single cup, you can try to cut these quantities in half and do it in the same 6-cup Chemex. That’s what Amy does when I’m traveling.

But how do I make a single cup of coffee? Glad you asked! In the afternoon, I have a single cup of around 250ml, which I make with an Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker and an Able Brewing DISK Coffee Filter.

There are a ton of Aeropress methods out there, but I’ve settled on a pretty basic one.

  1. Pour 350ml of water in the electric kettle, set to 208°.
  2. Grind 16 of coffee beans in the manual mill (I use a Hario Coffee Mill Slim Grinder, Mini for this one, for two reasons: it needs a different coarseness than the Chemex and it’s too much of a hassle to change the setting every morning and afternoon, and I use this setup when I’m traveling, so I like having a smaller, more portable grinder in my luggage (along with a small digital scale, which makes me look like a drug dealer)).
  3. Once it’s at 208°, pour a little water though the Aeropress and into the mug, to warm both up. Dump the water.
  4. Put the Aeropress on top of the mug, put them on a scale, pour the 16g of coffee in, and zero it out.
  5. Slowly pour 277ml (!) into the Aeropress. Why 277? Because that’s what some guy did to win an award at an Aeropress contest, but now I can’t find the web-page where he gave his method. Maybe it was a dream and there’s some Kabbalistic significance to the number. All I know is: good coffee.
  6. After I pour in the 277ml, I stir the coffee about 3-4 times with that big stirrer that comes with the Aeropress.
  7. Slowly press out the coffee.
  8. Drink the coffee.

You’ll note that this method isn’t as specific about timing. I do it much more by feel than the the morning Chemex setup. It still makes for a good cup of coffee.

So that’s the basics of my coffee rituals. You can read a ton more about other people’s techniques. The Aeropress in particular has a bazillion variations, including Left Hand Suzuki Method.

Want a shopping list?

Morning Coffee – 2 mugs

Afternoon Coffee – 1 cup

Now go make some amazing coffee!

Anniversary Call

I went to my former company’s Christmas party this past Friday. It’s sort of a tradition, if you don’t leave on bad terms, to come back your first year out. I was glad to see my old coworkers, and I was reminded of all the dread I had about making the jump. Looking back, I was more nervous about breaking the news to my bosses than I was about undertaking my new gig.

Today’s the one-year anniversary of when I got serious about quitting my job and launching a new business. I’d been considering the move for a few weeks, and when I was at the office Christmas party a day earlier, I found myself looking around the banquet hall and thinking, “Is this the last time I’m going to be at this?”

The next day, I called one of the advertisers in my trade magazine to ask him three questions:

  1. Do you really believe your industry needs a trade association?
  2. Do you believe I can build it and run it?
  3. Do you think you can convince your company to join and provide start-up funding?

He said, “Yes,” to all three, but he’s also a good pal of mine, so I wasn’t 100% convinced that I should do it. I mean, I wondered if our friendship affected his judgement about my abilities to do this. But, because he’s a good friend, I knew I could trust him not to spill the beans while I started reaching out to more companies.

I called another advertiser-pal a few days later — I’ve made a bunch of good friends from the nearly 15 years I spent on the magazine, which has helped me launch this new biz — and asked him the same three questions. I got the same answers.

In the next few weeks, I called on three more companies, getting farther from my friend zone with each call. The fifth company was a major player in the industry, but I had no close relationship with anyone there. My contact enthusiastically told me they’d be on board and would forward me funds if I needed them to get things off the ground. That meant I was five-for-five, and that’s when I knew It Was On. Fewer than four weeks after I made that first call, I gave notice at my job and started this crazy ride.

I think I’ve gotten used to having a job that doesn’t yield a tangible product like a magazine (quite a transition, since I’d been doing this for 19 years), and I’m still working out the kinks of being my own boss, but I can’t forget that first call a year ago, that first time I said to someone besides my wife, “I’m thinking of quitting the magazine.” Did I need to say it to believe that I was really going to do it?

My pal wasn’t in when I called that Saturday, but he rang back that evening while I was at our neighbors’ place. I took the call out on their enclosed deck, watching the headlights on Skyline Drive through the trees while we discussed my future. We talked about our businesses, and our midlife crises, and how long he’d been waiting for me to make some sort of change. (The second pal I called said, “FINALLY!” when I told him I was thinking of leaving.)

I don’t have much to add; I just want to mark the anniversary.

Library of America: Fuck Yeah!

Library of America was having a 20% off sale a few weeks ago. Also, they discount the books on their site AND they’re a non-profit doing the Lord’s work, so I kinda splurged.


If necessary, I can explain myself:

  • Thoreau – Walden – I never read it, and there’s a seminar on it this May at St. John’s College.
  • Dos Passos – USA trilogy – I never read it and who knows?
  • Saul Bellow – They were selling all 4 collections of Saul Bellow’s novels as a group for $115 (before the 20% discount), and I figured I need to add more heft to my 20th century Jewish writers shelf, alongside Philip Roth, Bruce Jay Friedman, Bernard Malamud, Joseph Heller and James Salter (nee Horowitz).
  • Susan Sontag – Essays of the 1960s & 70s – I never read her, and really have to correct that.
  • Philip Roth – Nemeses (novels 2006-2010) – I own these books separately, but I have the rest of the Roth L.O.A. collections, and I’m a completist.
  • Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology – it was only $9.95, and I’m now interested in LA after a my trips there this year.

Why don’t you come by and check out the library sometime? And go buy some books from the Library of America!

Podcast – The Guest List 2014

Virtual Memories Show:
The Guest List 2014

Two years in a row? That makes The Guest List a Virtual Memories Show tradition! I reached out to 2014’s podcast guests and asked them about the favorite book(s) they read in the past year. More than 30 of them responded with a fantastic array of books. So, just in time for Hanukkah and Christmas, the Virtual Memories Show provides you with a huge list of of books that you’re going to want to read! Get ready to update your wish lists!

liberryThis episode features selections from nearly 3 dozen of our recent guests! So go give it a listen, and then visit the Guest List cheat sheet where you can find links to the books and the guests who responded.

(And check out the 2013 edition of The Guest List, too!)

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guests

The guests who contributed their favorite book from the past year — and that’s “favorite book I read in 2014,” not “favorite book that came out in 2014″ — are Maria Alexander, Ashton Applewhite, David Baerwald, Nina Bunjevac, Roz Chast, Sarah Deming, Michael Dirda, Jules Feiffer, Mark Feltskog, Mary Fleener, Nathan Fox, Josh Alan Friedman, Richard Gehr, Paul Gravett, Sam Gross, Rachel Hadas, Kaz, Daniel Levine, Sara Lippmann, Merrill Markoe, Brett Martin, Mimi Pond, George Prochnik, Emily Raboteau, Jonathan Rose, Ron Rosenbaum, Dmitry Samarov, Seth, Katie Skelly, Ron Slate, Maya Stein, Rupert Thomson, and Frank Wilson. Check out their episodes at our archives!

Credits: This episode’s music is The Book I Read by Talking Heads. Most of the episode was recorded at Virtual Memories Manor on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. A few segments were recorded by the guests and e-mailed in (which is to say: don’t blame me!). Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band.

Podcast – Creativity on Demand

Virtual Memories Show:
Kaz –
Creativity on Demand

“When I started Underworld, there were a lot of comics coming out that were autobiographical and depressing; anything but funny. I decided I was gonna be a little different. I was gonna be the Ernie Bushmiller of underground comics.”

Kaz joins The Virtual Memories Show

From Rahway to Hollywood, by way of Underworld! Kaz joins the show to talk about his career(s) as a cartoonist, animator and artist. We talk about how he fell in love with the collaborative aspect of animation (and how the SpongeBob Squarepants sausage gets made), how the world caught up to the outrageous depravity of his Underworld comic strip, how Art Spiegelman taught him to be an artistic magpie, how he may have made Mark Beyer cry, how it felt to show his parents his work in an issue of Al Goldstein’s Screw, how he learned to make a story turn funny, and what it’s like to supply creativity on demand, and more! Give it a listen!

“I didn’t make any distinction between getting published in Swank and getting published in The New Yorker.”

Kaz joins The Virtual Memories Show

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guest

Kaz was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and started drawing comics for Art Spiegelman’s Raw Magazine while still in art school. As an illustrator and cartoonist he’s contributed to many magazines over the years (from Entertainment Weekly to The New Yorker) and started his weekly comic strip, Underworld, in The New York Press. There have been 5 published Underworld collections and editions published around the world. In 2001 Kaz joined the crew of SpongeBob SquarePants as a writer and storyboard director. That lead to his work on Cartoon Network’s Camp Lazlo, where he won an Emmy for writing, and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb where he was nominated this year for an Emmy. Kaz is currently working in Disney TV development and in January will rejoin the crew of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants as a staff writer. The end of 2015 will see Fantagraphics publish a hardcover collection of Underworld comics titled The Book Of Underworld.

Credits: This episode’s music is Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles by Captain Beefheart. The conversation was recorded in Kaz’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Kaz by me.

Mission Statement

Someone asked me yesterday why I make the Virtual Memories Show, and I gave my pat answer, “To get me out of the house.”

I thought about it a bit, and if there’s any guiding principle, it comes from Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities, a book given to me by That Really Important High School English Teacher.

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

But also, to get me out of the house.

The Quotable Wayne White

Ready to record

When I make a post for a new podcast, I usually include a quote or two from the guest. In Wayne White’s case, there were a whole lot of good quotes. I didn’t want to put them all in that post, so here’s a bunch of ‘em:

  • “Success really messes with your ego.”
  • “I think most really famous people — politicians and movie stars — are sorta insane.”
  • “Art has to show a level of confidence, or no one will want to look at it.”
  • “The movie has given me the opportunity to do bigger and better things, but as far as a psychological concept that I can use in my art, I’m still trying to figure out a way to make work that expresses what I’ve been through. It was quite a unique experience, being in the spotlight. I’d like to do some work that shares that story.”
  • “Getting on stage and performing is just another art project to me. It’s a way of manipulating people; that’s what art does. It was just another way of getting over an emotion, or a laugh, or an idea, just like a drawing or a painting does.”
  • “Sometimes it looks like I’m going for the laughs, but I’m going for connection, for the emotion. All artists are. What else is there, when you’re looking at a piece of art?”
  • “There’s something in the air out here in LA, with the big words in the landscape, the big open plain with the big monumental something sticking out of it.”
  • “I gloss over my art and say, ‘I just go for the laughs and I’m just a plain old guy, and I like to entertain people,’ because it’s funny and I don’t like to get too serious about it. But there are a lot of thorny issues with it and a lot of subtleties. It looks like I’m just defacing a painting and being funny, but I’m not. There are a million subtle things going on and that’s what makes it art.”
  • “I’ve always loved cartoonists, like Mad magazine. Cartooning informs my work, big time.”
  • “Cartooning is the hardest craft I ever did, because it’s no-shit-everything-has-to-work. With a painting, you can fudge things. Everything in a cartoon has to work, like a car, or it won’t run. I learned a lot about craft and discipline from cartooning, way more than painting.”
  • “I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had three separate careers: freelance illustrator, then set designer, puppetteer and animator, and now fine artist. I just bluffed my way into every one of ‘em!”
  • “Like Red Grooms, I travel to a city, I hire local young artists and we build cool stuff.”
  • “Like my work, Jeff Koons is a similar kind of notion: Can I just hit it on the head and still make it art? Can it just be a complete, dumb, big idea that someone can get in a second and still be art?”
  • “To me, I like the hand-made, the feeling that the artist made it himself. That’s where the human smell comes in. . . . Some people would say, ‘soul’ or ‘spirit,’ but I like to use the word ‘smell’.”
  • “I’m a frustrated writer; that’s why I do the word-paintings. Of course I write poems that I don’t show anybody. I’ve written lyrics that I’ve pitched to my musician friends, but they’re not interested.”
  • “To live in New York, you have to love the street. The street is your front yard. That’s where you live most of the time. I got tired of that street energy.”
  • “My favorite thing to do is just to draw. That’s where it all comes from, and that’s what gave me the confidence to bluff my way into things, because I could draw. It’s the default position for me, my core.”

Podcast – Success is Embarrassing

Virtual Memories Show:
Wayne White and Mimi Pond –
Success is Embarrassing

“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had three separate careers: freelance illustrator, then set designer, puppetteer and animator, and now fine artist. I just bluffed my way into every one of ‘em.'” –Wayne White

Wayne & LBJ

Artist Wayne White joins the show to talk about how his life and art have changed since he starred in the documentary Beauty is Embarrassing (which, if you haven’t seen it, go do so now now NOW!). We talk about the allure and absurdity of hubris, how much of the movie-Wayne maps onto the real version, how LA influenced his word-paintings, how he balances art and commerce, what happens to the giant puppets that he makes for installations, what he thinks of Jeff Koons, why he’s moving toward art-as-public-spectacle, what art form he’s dying to get back to, what his next big project is, when he’s gonna get rid of that beard, and more! Give it a listen!

“Cartooning is the hardest craft I ever did, because it’s no-shit-everything-has-to-work. With a painting, you can fudge things. Everything in a cartoon has to work, like a car, or it won’t run. I learned a lot about craft and discipline from cartooning, way more than painting.” –Wayne White

But first, we have an interview with Wayne’s wife, Mimi Pond! I interviewed Mimi last May (go listen to it!) at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, shortly after the release of her graphic memoir, Over Easy. This time around, we talk about the success of the book, the surprises of the book tour, how the sequel’s progressing, how it felt to win a PEN Center USA Literary Award, and more! (There are also some overlapping questions, and I thought you guys might dig hearing their different perspectives on topics like LA vs. NYC, and becoming empty-nesters.)

“In LA, it’s the law that you must be engaged in writing a screenplay with your hairdresser, pool boy, personal trainer, life coach, dog walker, or yoga instructor.” –Mimi Pond

Mimi also at the drawing table

Enjoy the conversations! Check out more pix from my visit to their home! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guests

Wayne White is an American artist, art director, illustrator, puppeteer, and much, much more. Born and raised in Chattanooga, Wayne has used his memories of the South to create inspired works for film, television, and the fine art world. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University, Wayne traveled to New York City where he worked as an illustrator for the East Village Eye, New York Times, Raw Magazine, and the Village Voice. In 1986, Wayne became a designer for the hit television show Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and his work was awarded with three Emmys. After traveling to Los Angeles with his wife, Mimi Pond, Wayne continued to work in television and designed sets and characters for shows such as Shining Time Station, Beakman’s World, Riders In The Sky, and Bill & Willis. He also worked in the music video industry, winning Billboard and MTV Music Video Awards as an art director for seminal music videos including The Smashing Pumpkins’ Tonight, Tonight and Peter Gabriel’s Big Time.

More recently, Wayne has had great success as a fine artist and has created paintings and public works that have been shown all over the world. His most successful works have been the world paintings featuring oversized, three-dimensional text painstakingly integrated into vintage landscape reproductions. The message of the paintings is often thought-provoking and almost always humorous, with Wayne pointing a finger at vanity, ego, and his memories of the South. Wayne has also received great praise for several public works he has created, including a successful show at Rice University where he built the world’s largest George Jones puppet head for a piece called ‘Big Lectric Fan To Keep Me Cool While I Sleep.’ He was the subject of Neil Berkeley’s 2012 documentary, Beauty is Embarrassing.

Mimi Pond is a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. She’s created comics for the LA Times, Seventeen Magazine, National Lampoon, and many other publications. Her TV credits include the first full-length episode of The Simpsons, and episodes for the shows Designing Women and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. She lives in LA with her husband, the artist Wayne White. She is currently working on the sequel to her 2014 graphic memoir, Over Easy.

Credits: This episode’s music is I’m Ragged but I’m Right by George Jones. The conversation was recorded in Wayne and Mimi’s dining nook on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Mr. White and Ms. Pond by me.

Podcast – Our Lady of Organized Vituperation

Virtual Memories Show:
Mary Fleener –
Our Lady of Organized Vituperation

“I was so excited to get an issue of Weirdo in the mail. I ran up my driveway and saw my neighbor and said, ‘Look! I got a letter from Robert Crumb!’ And he said, ‘Who’s that?’ And I thought, ‘Here’s my introduction to the mainstream appreciation of underground comics.'”

lotpViva Cubismo! Mary Fleener joins the show to talk about her career in cartooning, her love/hate relationship with LA (mostly hate now, but there was a little love in the early days), the Zora Neale Hurston story that made a cartoonist out of her, the story of how Matt Groening accidentally derailed her career, her past-life regression while attending the King Tut exhibition in 1978, the roots of her Cubismo comics style, the joys of simplifying her life, the new book she’s working on, the horrors of The Comics Journal‘s message board, and more! Give it a listen!

“When I was going to college, you’d pass the guys selling ‘Muhammad Speaks,’ then you’d run into the Hare Krishnas, then there’d be the La Raza guys, then the Jesus freaks. Everything was in flux. Everybody was getting in cults. Everyone was either asking you for money or trying to convert you.”


Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Mary Fleener was born in Los Angeles when smog was at an all time high, Hollywood was still glamorous, and every woman’s ambition was to own a mink coat. Inherited good art genes from her mother and never wanted to do anything else. A collection of her comics was published in 1994 by Fantagraphics as Life of the Party. Her Illustration work has appeared in The SD Reader, OC Weekly, The Village Voice, SPIN, Guitar Player, Musician, and Entertainment Weekly, as well as projects like The Guitar Cookbook, Weird Tales of the Ramones (CD box set), Star Time (the James Brown CD box set), Carlsbad Museum of Making Music – “Hands on the Future” exhibit, and CD covers for The Insect Surfers and Buddy Blue. Her paintings have been exhibited at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Track 16, David Zapt Gallery, Laguna Beach Art Museum Annex, LACE (Los Angeles), COCA (Seattle), Southwestern College, Patricia Correia Gallery, Sushi Gallery and Ducky Waddle’s Emporium. She also enjoys making hand-built ceramics and wheel thrown functional pieces that she glazes and fires in her own kiln. She enjoys painting on velvet, that which we all consider the King of Kitsch, but which also makes her color and “cubismo” style of drawing even more dramatic and mysterious on the plush background of black velvet. She lives is in Encinitas, CA, with her husband, a dog, a cat, and lots of stringed instruments. They have a band called The Wigbillies.

Credits: This episode’s music is Boomcubism by Brian Eno. The conversation was recorded at Ms. Fleener’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Ms. Fleener by me.

Podcast – Slow Learner

Virtual Memories Show:
Jules Feiffer –
Slow Learner

“There are certain things that come up when you age, the abandonment of some old things and the incredible opportunity to do new things. . . . I discovered at the age of 80 I could do what I couldn’t do at 16, 20 or 30.”

Jules & Lynda's selfie

Lynda Barry takes a selfie with Jules Feiffer at SPX 2014

Jules Feiffer’s professional cartooning career began in 1945 and he’s still going strong. He achieved Mt. Rushmore status as a cartoonist, satirist, playwright and screenwriter, and his new book, the 150-page graphic novel Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel (Liveright/WW Norton), signals both a new phase in his body of work and a return to the films noir (and comics and romans noir) that first inspired him. We talked about the new book, why he left political satire behind, how it felt to ‘learn to draw’ in his 80s, why we both hate the term “graphic novel”, how Waiting for Godot made him reconsider the possibilities of a 6-panel comic strip, what he learned about storytelling while working on a long-form comic, and more! Give it a listen!

“People like Lenny Bruce and William Steig gave me permission. And once they give you permission you walk through that door that they opened and then it’s up to you to go further. If I’ve played a role doing that, that’s great.”

Feiffer sings!

Jules Feiffer and a page from his next book

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

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About our Guest

Jules Feiffer‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip ran for 42 years in the Village Voice and 100 other papers. He is the author of a wide range of additional creative work, including the Obie award-winning play Little Murders, the screenplay for Carnal Knowledge, and the Oscar-winning short animation Munro. Other words include the plays Knock Knock (a Tony award nominee), and Grown Ups; the novels Harry, The Rat with Women and Ackroyd; the screenplays Popeye and I Want To Go Home (winner of the best screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival); the memoir Backing Into Forward; the children’s books The Man in the Ceiling, Bark, George, and Rupert Can Dance; and the illustrations for Which Puppy? by his daughter Kate and the children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. His latest book is Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel (Liveright/WW Norton).

Credits: This episode’s music is Retrospective (Duke Ellington), Passionella Prelude, and I Yam What I Yam (Robin Williams). The conversation was recorded at Mr. Feiffer’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on a Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photos of Mr. Feiffer (and Lynda Barry) by me.


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