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Over on the Robbi and Matthew blog, another new post has been published for your reading pleasure. It includes various attractive photographs, some facts, and an exaggeration or two.

 

 

Nothing to See Here

Hello, everyone.

Once again, a brand-new post is waiting for you over at the brand new, lovely and gratifying Robbi and Matthew blog.

We hope to see you there.

 

 

GO AWAY

Hello, people. I have just done a post on the new blog. It contains various lovely photos of children roasting marshmallows around a campfire. If you care to read it, here is the link

And here is a stern reminder that www.idiotsbooks.com will very soon (mere days from now) not be a blog at all, but the landing page for the new Idiots’Books site.

Which is to say, while you’re welcome to keep coming here, the stories and photos you came here for today are heretofore going to be found elsewhere.

So get out of here, already.

Go here instead. 

See you on the other site. (Get it?)

Opening Day

Hello, friends.

If you didn’t read my post of a few days back, the time has come to move over to our new blog at robbiandmatthew.com. We’ll be redundantly placing posts both here and there for the next few days, but very soon, this URL will take you to the landing page of the new idiotsbooks.com website and not to the blog to which you have been accustomed for so long. And we don’t want this to cause you alarm, worry, dismay, or any such related emotions.

However you typically find this blog, whether RSS feeder or routine keystroke, it’s time to recalibrate to this new URL:

www.robbiandmatthew.com/blog

Now on to our regularly scheduled post.

—-

Yesterday was the much-anticipated (by us, anyway) Grand Opening of our latest creative/business venture, Haywire Letterpress.

In attempting to reconstruct a narrative for your benefit, I realize that it was one of those blur days where everything moves a little too fast, where you have to choose between getting things done and remembering the details.

But let me back up for a second. Before we could officially open our doors to the public, there was the matter of providing them with snacks. And so, on Friday afternoon, I went to Trader Joe’s to fill up munchies.

And to Chipotle, to fill up on napkins.

And then there was the matter of getting set up. The Haywire opening was downstairs, but upstairs, we put together a mini bookstore for showing off our Idiots’ and Bobbledy wares.

Friday saw a late night of dusting, arranging, and other associated industry.

Saturday saw a gorgeous morning perfect for the opening of doors that had been shut for so long.

It was the first time the barn had been open to the public in nearly four years. So we put out a sign to remind everyone that we were still there.

In case you are wondering, the jewelry in question is a collection of gorgeous, hand-made pendants, bracelets, and bookmarks hand-made by our dear friend Robin Rice out of vintage glass that has been tumbled in holy water from sites around the world. The aforementioned craze of the day kept me from taking a photo of her stuff, but I will remedy that oversight today.

In any case, the doors opened at 10:00.

A few minutes later, we had our first Haywire sale.

That it happened to be a stack of “Oh Shit!” cards made the moment all the more satisfying (and our prospects for long-term success feel that much more likely).

Lots of people came, in a steady stream, all day long. We thought we would have moments to catch our breath.

We were wrong.

There was lots of interest in the press itself. Which was not surprising. It is a gorgeous old living anachronism.

In addition to browsing the stuff we’ve already printed, visitors get the chance to operate the press themselves and print their own, limited edition Chestertown broadside.

While we gave tours, answered questions, and made change downstairs, the kids kept themselves busy with electronics and unconsciousness in the hayloft.

It was a very good opening day.

We could have gone promptly to sleep at the stroke of 5:00pm, but tired as we grownups were, the kids had other ideas. So we drove out to visit our friends for a bonfire in the woods. It would have been nice had I taken at least one photo to share with you.

Home again, we collapsed into the deepest type of sleep, from which I have only just recently rallied. We’d like to stay in bed all day, but this is not going to happen. The doors open again at 10:00am for more of the same.

So come join us, please. Some snacks remain, as does plenty of inventory (though I must warn you that the stockpile of “Oh Shit!” cards has been significantly diminished.)

Pressed into Service

If you have been paying a shred of attention, you’ll know that we are in the midst of a torrid fling with a 1,200lb Chandler and Price, en route to a brand new venture into letterpress. The new press is called Haywire, and its grand opening is tomorrow, October 25, from 10:00am-5:00 pm at the barn on South Queen Street.

You will notice that there are three people in the photograph below. In a stunning breach of ten years of working as a two-for-all, Robbi and I have recently added the wise and talented Jodi Bortz into the fold. She is the heart and soul of Haywire. We come up with the pictures and words, but she does the real work, the actual printing.

In the Studio
Jodi’s dad was a printer, and until walking into the barn a few months ago, Jodi had no idea that she had inherited the family gift. But the woman is a natural printer, a virtuoso. As beautiful as this old press may be, she is a temperamental creature with many creaks and idiosyncrasies. But Jodi is the press whisperer, knowing just how to ink the disk, just how to register the plate, just how much padding to stack behind the tympan.

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Without Jodi, there would be no Haywire. Which means, there would be no Animals Uncensored cards.

DSC00029

And I will say, with some immodesty, that they make the world a better place.

DSC00174

If not a more colorful one.

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Haywire aims to say that which needs to be said but is so often left unspoken.

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But lest you worry that Haywire is nothing but a potty-mouthed affair, know that we offer sweeter stuff as well. Such as our Baby is Disappointing card set.

DSC00284

And our “White Christmas” holiday card, which celebrates the letterpress-only allure of blind emboss.

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And our custom stationery sets. We will be launching with four concepts (the others involve golf, inkwells, and lunatic donkeys), but will be taking orders for bespoke designs.

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There is also room in the Haywire oeuvre for Robbi’s brand of weirdly adorable (or is it adorably weird?) line art.

0LX937qM3m1CjRhg1x9buZvLLoCmfCG-28PK-lprs7g,oJMMGoixhGijxgD2tdQEYXVEYh4DDNZgf3qveky1-8c,uS1LLHumKUo0M2zLibi22yr8r35XnvEhASKHet3BhQwAll of which is inestimably elevated by that gorgeous emboss of the press.

DSC00311My favorite design is certainly this ass-kicking ninja. I’m pretty sure Robbi modeled him after me.

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I’m talking about the donkey, of course.

How does all this make us feel? This picture speaks 10,000 words.

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So, please, please, please, if you are free, come see us this weekend. We’re so excited to finally share our stuff in the flesh. As lovely as letterpress looks in a photo, there’s nothing like running your finger across it and enjoying the tactile pleasure that can only be achieved from this ultimate labor of love.

And if you live in, say, California (just out of range, we’ll admit), know that the Haywire site will launch as soon as we can enter all the products and work out the bugs. Not much longer now, we promise.

For now, Jodi continues to print, Robbi continues to stay up all night tinkering, and I continue to marvel at these two remarkable women I’m lucky enough to get to work alongside every day. Occasionally, I throw them bits of language, which inevitably finds a deserving home.

Just look how my words get to spend their days.

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I ask you, has a writer ever been so lucky?

Come see us this weekend or next:

Oct 25-26; Nov 1-2

10:00am – 5:00pm all four days

100 South Queen Street
Chestertown, MD 21620

Moving Day

Friends, the time has come for a change. As I have been hinting in recent weeks, Robbi has been in the midst of a furious web development project, creating various new sites that will carry us forward for the foreseeable future.

One of these is an umbrella site that covers everything we do, from Idiots’Books to Bobbledy Books to the soon-to-launch Haywire Letterpress. We would love for you to check it out and let us know what you think (especially if you find any problems), but most importantly, we want you to know that the blog on that site is going to replace this blog as the place where we post about EVERYTHING we do. 

The new Idiots’Books blog will still have posts about Idiots’Books, and the new Bobbledy Blog will still have Bobbledy-related content. But the new blog on the new site is the only place that will have ALL of our posts, covering the range of topics from books to kids to letterpress to general foolishness.

If you enjoy the kind of stuff you read here, come on over to the new blog and set a new bookmark for yourself.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see this graphic in the header.

For a few more days, we’ll post redundantly in both places, but before long, the URL you entered to get here today will take you to the new Idiots’Books homepage.

Also, if you are so inclined, please check out the new Robbi and Matthew site and do let us know what you think. What do you like, what did we miss, what words are spelled wrong, etc. Pull no punches if you have opinions. We want to get it right.

Thanks, everyone, for bearing with us through the renovations.

 

Lately, Mid-October 2014

Last week Robbi headed back to her old elementary school, and I tagged along. The occasion was Alden’s first parent teacher conference.

As directed, we signed in.

Completely of our own volition, we admired various evidence of our child’s recent weekday activities.

With little regard for modesty or decorum, we reveled in Alden’s having been added to the principal’s “100 Board,” the result of having been “caught being good,” an initiative aimed at rewarding positive behavior (and, seemingly, toward letting kids know that principals aren’t just mean, terrifying creatures).

Our little scholar has been busy at work this week.

She is working on her Halloween costume, which is “owl with pink feathers.” The feathers in question are each individually drawn, cut out, and taped to the costume in question. The work is painstaking and time consuming and Alden seems thoroughly undaunted by any of it. She seems to have harnessed her mother’s constitution, which I see as a very good thing.

Downstairs, Jodi has been channeling Robbi’s designs into gorgeous little works of art.

I cannot tell whether this giraffe is my favorite.

Or whether it’s this ninja kicking a donkey in half.

August has taken to wearing my clothing.

Iggy has taken to wandering off with shoes, making my morning scramble that much more taxing.

I continue to seek temporary solace along the sun-drenched back roads of Chestertown.

Robbi has taken to showing up, rifling through the spice drawer, and leaving again without cleaning up her mess.

On Saturday, we climbed on our multi-person bicycle contraptions and headed out of town. Our favorite little road to bike along is Lover’s Lane, where there are a few miles of woods and we feel truly apart from the world as we know it.

August came along, too. He just couldn’t fit in the photo above.

Just as I couldn’t fit in the photo below.

Once Alden decided to join us, August seemed to intuit that his share of the spotlight had diminished somewhat, a realization which dampened his mood, if slightly.

But only for a moment.

It was a spectacular day. The woods gave way to open fields and wide blue skies.

It was a day for taking photographs.

And a night for taking photographs as well. As Robbi redesigns our entire web presence, we need images for various banners, etc.

The observant among you will one day soon find the scene below excerpted as the header for the brand new Idiots’Books blog.

The task of getting these photos is less free-wheeling than it might seem.

Here is our best attempt at a deliberately haphazard arrangement of various Idiots’Books titles for the purpose of showing variety, energy, and volume. We are not displeased at the array, but the photo itself seems dim and insufficiently inspired.

Then Sunday came, with a trip to the Tire Park at Tuckahoe.

August continues to delight in dominating inanimate objects.

Kato continues to surprise me with occasional flashes of inner disco.

And now a new week is upon us, the end of which will be marked by the Grand Opening of our Haywire Letterpress studio. Which is both an exciting and discouraging thought. Exciting to finally bring the new venture to light. Discouraging considering all we have to do between now and then. But we will get it done. Because we have to.

Thank goodness for necessity, the driving force of all action, so far as I can tell.

 

 

Matthew Draws 37 - Readers Draw

Yes, today is the day when I post my latest drawings, but in a surprising inversion of the usual protocol, this week, I am going to start by showing you the answers.

Here they are. 

Keifer Sutherland
Cameron Diaz
Don Knotts
Michelle Obama

The Idiots’Books subscribers among you already know it, but for the rest of you, the letter that accompanied the Matthew Draws Anthology Volume 1 mailing included a challenge: that readers draw these four people (using the above source photos) and send their drawings to me, with the understanding that I would post them for public scrutiny and public evaluation.

We received submissions from seven brave souls. I also did a batch of drawings. Using the surveys that follow, you can help us determine whose drawings of these people are the best (keeping in mind that “best” is an elusive classification, not necessarily meaning “most accurate” or “least horrible looking.” Feel free to define “best” however you like, keeping in mind the intrinsic value (and beauty?) of flaw.

For the sake of an even playing field, this week I am drawing under an alias. Which means any of the eight batches of drawings could be mine.
As you evaluate the drawings below, please rate each of the following on a scale of 1-4, 1 being “god awful” and 4 being “downright magnificent.” (For example, if rating Matthew’s drawings you would give all 4s.) We will tally your ratings to determine the winner, who, by the way, will receive a yearlong subscription to Idiots’Books for his/herself or a friend of his/her choosing.

Let us begin.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thank you, kind people, for taking a few minutes to share your thoughts. We’ll tally the results and report on the winner next Friday.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Place of Honor

Our friend Chloe likes Robbi’s illustrations. A lot. It’s really flattering. On what basis do we make this claim? Chloe has won the erstwhile weekly art auction more than any other single human being. (I believe our friend Sarah is a close second.) Also: when the art auction was a regular thing, we would get frequent emails from Chloe cursing us for posting such appealing art for auction. Chloe would curse us and then bid up the price of illustrations to a level surpassing our wildest expectations. I would like to say that we stopped posting weekly art for auction out of a sense of guilt that feeding Chloe’s habit would result in her kids not getting enough to eat. But this is not true. We just got busy.

What made me think of this today was receiving a message from Chloe, to which she attached various photos of Robbi’s illustrations prominently displayed on the wall . . . of her bathroom.

Cat and Robot


Otter in Water

Hungry Birds (not to be mistaken with the angry ones)

Sloth on a Recumbent Armchair Bike

And a print of Castle with Beach Balls, which Robbi sold as a fundraiser for Chestertown’s children’s art space, KidSpot.

I can’t tell if being thus surrounded by Robbi’s work while attending to one’s most intimate business would be a relaxing or upsetting experience. Art is, after all, terrifically subjective.

We choose to interpret Chloe’s choice of home gallery space as the ultimate honor.

At the same time, we can’t help but notice that there seem to be a few square inches of the bathroom wall that are not yet covered with illustrations. Which means there are economic opportunities afoot.

Which means we’ll probably revive that auction soon.

Matthew Draws 36 - The Answers

Ok. Ok. I’m sorry. I know that these answers were supposed to be posted on Friday, but Friday was a big day. A busy day. A tiring day.

And so I dropped the ball.

There is no time like the present for picking the ball back up again.

 

The guesses were many. There were several themes.

Most of you sensed that this person was a child. This was a reasonable impulse.

Many of you guessed the correct child, but not all of you, I’m afraid.

  • By process of elimination, this is a female. A terrifying female.
  • Kid president?
  • Emmanuel Lewis!!
  • Emmanuel Lewis
  • Emmanuel Lewis
  • Some kinda freak baby-something?
  • Uncle Fester after a one-two punch. (Mostly a very disturbing baby)
  • Webster!
  • A 7-y-o at the ophthalmologist’s after being given 27 cups of coffee & the promise of post-appt candy
  • Whatchu talkin’ bout Willis?
  • Mike Tyson
  • Emmanuel Lewis of Webster fame. I hope my advanced age helps me against my younger, smarter competitors.
  • Wow… just wow. But, you know, great work!
  • Michael Strahan’s baby
My favorite response:
  • This is kinda like what Teri Gross looks like compared to what I thought she looked like. Sorry Teri Gross.
(I ALSO thought Teri Gross looked completely different than she actually looks. I wish I had never, ever looked at her actual photo, because my dream was a beautiful dream.)
And the correct response:
  • Emmanuel Lewis (AKA Webster)

Next up…

 

Here, there wasn’t much mystery.

Really, it all boiled down to you guessing which generation of ruthless North Korean dictator I was trying to draw.

  • Kim Jong Un
  • Kim Jon (I forgot how you spell the last part of his name)
  • Kim Jong Un!!
  • Kim Jong Il
  • Kim Jong-Il
  • Pity Kim Jong Un who has been AWOL and powerless for awhile
  • Kim Jong-Un. (well done!)
  • He be Ill’n!
  • Kim Jong-I’m-Feeling-a-Little-Il
  • This is easy peasy lemon squeezy…Kim Jong-un double chin and all.
  • Kim Jong Un!
  • Kim Jung Un
  • Dear Leader!! Kim Jong Un.
  • Kim Jong-un
  • Kim Jong Il (or Un?)
My favorite response:
  • OMG you PERFECTLY CAPTURED THE “SMUG DICTATOR LEGATEE” LOOK. It’s the new Kim Jong! Well done!
As you can see, the guesses were pretty evenly split between the “Un”s and the “Il”s.
And the “Un”s have it!

Next up, we waded into less consensus.

 

Once again I was the target of derision as the result of my inability to draw a plausible hand.

  • Janis Joplin
  • Carrot top in drag?
  • Janis Joplin!!
  • Janice Joplin
  • Janis Joplin
  • Carol King?
  • Kim Largemouth-Bass-inger
  • Whoopi Goldberg grew a claw?
  • Captain Hook(ette).
  • Lovechild of Janis Joplin and Captain Hook
  • I was gonna say Steven Tyler, but the glasses make it Janis Joplin.
  • If not for the glasses, I would think this was Steven Tyler (lips, teeth, hair, the many bracelets and rings). However, the glasses defs make it Janis.
  • Julia Roberts?
  • Carly Simon?
My favorite response:
  • Goldie Hawn starring simultaneously as Captain Hook and her daughter’s role in “Almost Famous”

The correct response:

  • Why do you draw all those little teeth and then just blob the hand? Luckily, Janis Joplin isn’t famous for her distinctive hands.

We conclude, then, with the one that gave you fits. And for good reason. Though I can see my subject in this drawing (if faintly), it’s only because I drew him.

You tried hard. I really believe you tried.

  • Rob Riggle
  • It’s got to be a politician
  • what someone looks like when they just realized they have swallowed their tongue. wow! that makes 4 right!
  • Every copier repairman I’ve ever seen.
  • Jon Hamm
  • IRS agent
  • Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in 20 years.
  • John Travolta? Marigold says it’s got to be.
  • Tommy Lee Jones, approximately halfway thru probing by aliens
  • I can’t believe I’m saying this. Chris Christie post jelly doughnut on Letterman days? Perhaps during Bridge-gate.
  • Brad Garrett.
  • Bob Dole
  • Pete Rose. No Ciaran Hinds.
  • John Travolta, after seeing a monkey eat a zebra.
  • Um, that white dude from TV, clearly
  • Paul Ryan
But not one of you got it right. I fooled you a bit by jumping from the usual categories. This fine gentleman plays the game of American Football. Most likely, my friend Clayton will complain that this fellow is too obscure. But in that argument, Clayton will not be correct.
This fellow is none other than Payton Manning, unarguably one of the finest quarterbacks in history.

As for the bonus question:

Which of these fine, upstanding citizens would you pick to play Matthew in the Lifetime Movie of the Week about his life?

  • Matthew should play Matthew! We need some eye candy in this movie, and lord knows it won’t come from any of these people.
  • Kid President, because he’s awesome and we need more of him.
  • Write in vote: Woody Harrelson
  • There are no suitable choices here for that job.
  • You are neither a baby nor a sociopath, a diva nor a chauvinist so none of them are worthy of the roll.
  • Webster. But him now – old Webster. Obviously.
  • I think we can safely rule out #3, given her presumed ovaries; Kim Jong-Il has, I’m guessing pretty ltd range & thus wouldn’t be able to do anything but pretend that he was in charge & that everybody’s scared of him; #1 is too young (sorry, Matthew), altho Matthew DOES make that face; so I’m gonna hafta go w/ #4 of the square jaw, chiseled features, & lifeless eyes.
  • Whoopi. If she can play a nun in Sister Act, she can play anybody!
  • Janis Joplin is just edgy enough to pull it off.
  • Definitely number one. Nothing says “What possessed me to marry into the Behr family” like that face.
  • Ryan Gosling… I don’t think he’s one of the special creatures featured here… but stranger things have happened.
  • It’s not exactly a typecasting move, more like “inspired by the story” of Matthews life, but I think Michael Strahan’s baby could be awesome for this role.

The winner, of course, is whichever misguided soul referred to me as “eye candy.” But I also appreciate the suggestion that I be played by Michael Strahan’s baby. Or Woody Harrelson, for that matter.

You people are too kind.

Stay tuned this coming friday for a Matthew Draws of an entirely different sort. In addition to my drawings of four celebrities, you will be reviewing the drawings of seven intrepid Idiots’Books subscribers who have sent in drawings of the same four subjects for a fight-to-the-death round of head-to-head Matthew Draws competition.

It will be thrilling! And ground breaking!

And almost certainly, I will lose.

Good times. Good times.