The Virtual Memories Show (general)

Cartoonist & comics-historian Eddie Campbell checks in from Chicago. We talk Pandemic Hair, surviving with a pair of 2-month-old kittens (acquired by yesterday's guest, Eddie's wife Audrey Niffenegger), finishing his book on the great cartoonist and interviewer Kate Carew, the difference between imagining books and making them (I have no idea what he's talking about), how the scribbly charm or half-assed-ness of his comics takes a lot of work, catching up on Gasoline Alley reprints, his appreciation of the interchangeable anonymity of Picasso & Braque's unsigned cubist works, his belief that your bucket list should be enjoyment of the magic of the everyday, and more. Follow Eddie on Twitter and read his work • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Eddie_Campbell.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:39am EST

Author & artist Audrey Niffenegger checks in from Chicago. We talk about her decision to add a pair of 2-month-old kittens to her pandemic household, the progress she's making on the sequel to The Time Traveler's Wife, how she fortuitously incorporated 9/11 into that book and has found a place for the pandemic in this one, and why she continues to wear lipstick every day. We also get into writers' tendency to keep fiddling with their books (especially and expensively in the case of Joyce with Ulysses), the bookstores she wants to visit after This Whole Situation, the question of positing a better world in fiction, Chicago's inequality and how it's exacerbating the health crisis, the nonprofit Artists Book House she helped launch, and why she's enjoying the silence even as her house succumbs to entropy. Follow Audrey on Twitter and support Artists Book House • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Audrey_Niffenegger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:29am EST

Publisher Annie Koyama checks in from Toronto. We talk about whether the pandemic has affected her plans to close down Koyama Press in 2021, and the big farewell she had planned for this year's Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We get into her guerrilla charity/grant-program to help cartoonists and other creative people, her concerns for her 92-year-old mom, the increasing racism toward people of Asian descent, how "being good in emergencies" gets tested when the emergency never ends, why she delayed her dive into Animal Crossing, and the ongoing lesson of appreciating the mundane. Follow Annie & Koyama Press on Twitter and Instagram, and pick up some of their books • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Annie_Koyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:25am EST

Writer, performer, director and producer Kathe Koja rejoins the show to talk about her new story collection, VELOCITIES (Meerkat Press). We talk how she's coping with the pandemic, the importance of having a good working relationship with chaos, and why Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker is more apropos than ever. She gets into her work in immersive theater and how it needs to be reimagined in this era of social distancing, while teasing out details of her new project, Dark Factory. We also get into the upcoming reissue of her cult novel The Cipher this September, why she's bingeing on Babylon Berlin, the one thing she hoarded when things went sideways, why it's important to be open to the messages the world sends us, and what to do when you find a pill lying on the floor in a hospital cafeteria. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_373_-_Kathe_Koja.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13am EST

Documentary photographer Jonathan Hyman checks in from Bethel, NY. We talk about his travels from Maine to Maryland to photograph towns and "open the economy" rallies during the pandemic, the near-emptiness of New York City on St. Patrick's Day, the parallels and divergences with post-9/11 America and his photography projects from that era, people coming at him during rallies because of their hostility toward media, how pointing a camera at someone is different than pointing a phone at them, and more. Follow Jonathan on Facebook and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Jonathan_Hyman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:53am EST

Author and professor Peter Trachtenberg checks in from the Catskills. We talk about his surprise at how well he's dealing with This Whole Situation, the essay he's working on about Katherine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider, the realization that Americans are more afraid of going broke than contracting COVID-19, and how this pandemic echoes and differs from the 1918 flu and the AIDS crisis. We get into the book he's working on about living and dying in New York's Westbeth artists' apartments, the value of art in society, his meditative practice of reading Levi's Periodic Table in Italian, what it was like to preside over graduation-by-video at Pitt, and more. Follow Peter on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Peter_Trachtenberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:27am EST

Author, archivist and curator David Leopold checks in from Bucks County, PA. We talk about curating art in a quarantine and organizing the Socially Distant Theater virtual exhibition of Al Hirschfeld's drawings of solo shows, how museum audiences are changing over the years and his concerns that we'll continue to drive away from in-person experience, missing JazzFest in New Orleans, making a social-distancing garden, bingeing on The Leftovers and Saki's short stories, researching minstrel shows for an exhibition on race & identity in George Herriman's work, and contextualizing them as commedia dell'arte (while being sensitive about the potential for offense inherent in the subject matter), working on a Frontera music virtual exhibition for Arhoolie, going 6 weeks without leaving the farm he lives on, and more. Follow David on Twitter and check out the Ben Solowey Studio and the Al Hirschfeld Foundation • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_David_Leopold.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:27am EST

Cartoonist, illustrator, archeologist, and teacher Glynnis Fawkes checks in from Burlington, VT. We get into how her knowledge with Ancient Greece & archeology informs her perspective on the current pandemic, and talk about how how she's making a diary comic about her family, but setting it in 1347 during the Black Death semisorta so she can avoid drawing her kids using their iPads all the time. We get into how making Charlotte Bronte Before Jane Eyre led her to realize how much we think we're excused from a lot of hazards, the Angouleme residency she's missing out on, the inspiration of Natalia Ginzburg's Family Lexicon, how she's staying in touch with her comics-festival table-mates, Jennifer Hayden, Summer Pierre, and Ellen Lindner (who I really need to record with), how in-person contact has become a luxury, the joys of online yoga, and more. Follow Glynnis on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Glynnis_Fawkes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:49am EST

Musician, producer, and just-about-Broadway songwriter Gary Clark checks in from Scotland to talk about the musical of Sing Street (he wrote the songs, based on the movie) and how its Broadway debut has been postponed by the pandemic. We get into the recent charity livestream of Sing Street, what he's learned from the process of working on a musical and how that's feeding into his next project, the Emma Thompson-led staging of Nanny McPhee, the dire prospects for clubs and theaters hurt by the quarantine, the importance of having routines and rhythms for work and life, the pros and cons of streaming music, practicing Transcendental Meditation, having to rewrite the Nanny McPhee song "Plague, Rickets, Scurvy & Spleen" in light of This Whole Situation, and (of course I had to ask) the (non-)prospects of a virtual Danny Wilson reunion. Follow Gary on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with news about the musical of Sing Street • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Gary_Clark.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:38am EST

Architecture writer Witold Rybczynski checks in from Philadelphia. We talk about how his present circumstances — retired from teaching, helping his wife recover from a broken arm, and editing his next book — have enabled him to transition into shelter-in-place mode pretty smoothly. We also get into that upcoming book, The Story of Architecture, how working on it enables him to transport himself into the Renaissance and elsewhere/when, how it's modeled after Gombrich's The Story of Art, why he doesn't want to theorize about the impact of the pandemic on architecture, the Mantel & Greene books he's immersed in and the French TV series he's bingeing on via Netflix, and his acceptance that there are wonderful historic buildings he'll never visit. Follow Witold on Twitter • Listen to our two our full-length podcasts: 2015 and 2019 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Witold_Rybczynski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am EST

Author & activist Nathaniel Popkin checks in from Philadelphia. We talk about the potential for creative moments in the midst of self-isolation, the inspiration of Elsa Morante's novel History on his recent LitHub essay on the abuse of war imagery during the pandemic, the unique social aspects of Philadelphia, the dilation of time during self-isolation and how glad he was to take a social-distance walk with friends, the eternal search for justice and the battle against corporatization, the history of how the Lenape natives were defrauded of their land in the 1700s and how the language of destroying indigenous people hasn't changed over the centuries, how literature helps him travel in time and space, and more. Follow Nathaniel on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Nathaniel_Popkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21am EST

Cartoonist and educator Tom Hart joins the show to talk about how the Sequential Artists Workshop (SAW) is adapting to the pandemic era. We get into Tom's comics upbringing and his formative years in the Seattle scene, how he managed to avoid superhero comics during his formative years, my discovery of his debut, Hutch Owen's Working Hard, in 1994, the value of pretension and his drive to bring literary notions to his comics, the experience that led him to create SAW, the challenges of teaching students half his age (& younger), how teaching his helped him as a cartoonist, the new form he's seeking for his next book, and why he's hoping to get out of Florida. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_372_-_Tom_Hart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55am EST

Author, teacher & activist Kate Maruyama checks in from LA. We talk about whether writers have a responsibility to write a positive future and how she helped organize the Writing Better Futures in Times of Crisis virtual event (happening 5/14/20!). We also get into how she self-shamed into finishing a novella but is averse to the myth of WFH productivity, teaching writing online, whether her F&SF & horror background prepared her for this scenario, the fragmentation of LA and the challenges that creates for keeping community, reading for the Shirley Jackson Awards, the theory that panicked brains focus on details rather than broad & deep thinking, and more. Follow Kate on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kate_Maruyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:57am EST

Writer and editor Ron Hogan checks in from Queens (near Elmhurst Hospital). We talk about why you don't need to write King Lear while in quarantine (or finish War & Peace, although he's hoping to do that), how to handle bad writing days regardless of whether there's a pandemic on, keeping up with his writing-development e-mail, Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives, and a key lesson from Thomas Merton to find the core of one's writing. We also get into how he officially joined a Quaker meeting via Zoom, his binge of season 3 of Castlevania, his deep-dive into the Psalms, having Korean baseball games as occasional TV-wallpaper, enjoying The Anarchist's Tool Chest (as part of his goal of minimizing his engagement with capital), and more! Follow Ron on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to his e-mail • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ron_Hogan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:09am EST

Supernatural horror author & game writer Cassandra Khaw checks in from Montreal. We talk about her life in transit and her dread at seeing borders close, how horror writers are scaredy-cats and why she's trying to write something bright & happy, how it's driving her batty to not be able to go to the gym), the therapeutic aspects of playing Animal Crossing and how it deviates from a key rule of gaming by enforcing the need to slow down, her lament at missing Montreal's mural festival, helping amplify other writers through Twitch-streamed readings, her undying love for Stephen Graham Jones' Mongrels, her upcoming novella, and more. Follow Cassandra on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Cassandra_Khaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:35am EST

Flutist and author Sato Moughalian was the last person with whom I recorded an in-person podcast, and the first guest of the show to turn up positive with COVID-19. She checks in from New York City to talk about her recovery and the time-warping delirium of going 35 days without leaving her apartment. We get into how she's been able to return to the flute, how she knows her lungs well enough to rebuild their strength, her concerns about the future of live music, the communal nature of musicians and their way of being in the world, the joy of the very vibrations in the air that come from performing in close quarters with other players, losing herself in Call the Midwife and more. Follow Sato on Twitter and Instagram, watch one of her performances, and read Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Sato_Moughalian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:47am EST

James Beard Award-winning writer Brett Martin checks in from New Orleans. We talk about his brand-new Best New Restaurants In America feature in GQ, how the world's changed since he finished this annual tour and how this edition helps celebrate restaurants both for what they are and what they do. We get into his last great meal, the communal & celebratory spirit of New Orleans, the way he misses all the things he used to gripe about (travel, hotel rooms, etc.), the uncertain future of our alma mater (Hampshire College), my envy at what a fantastic writer he is, why he's not bingeing prestige TV despite writing a book about it, his regular Meal of Bretts at Crescent City Steakhouse, and more! Follow Brett on Twitter and read this year's Best New Restaurants In America and his book, Difficult Men • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Brett_Martin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:02am EST

Cartoonist Karl Stevens checks in from Boston, to talk about how his life hasn't changed all that much during the pandemic (outside of one COVID case in his co-op). We get into how he's trying to find unique humor for gag comics, and playing mix-and-match with The New Yorker's unofficial list of humor topics, his deep dive into Jack Kirby's 1970s comics, having his new book postponed until next spring, the festivals and conventions he misses most, his reflexive morning click on comicsreporter.com almost 6 months after Tom Spurgeon's death, and more. Follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram and check out his work at The New Yorker • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Karl_Stevens.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25am EST

Professor and author Shachar Pinsker checks in from Ann Arbor after a month-long walloping by COVID-19. We get into how his recent book, A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press), informed his understanding of the pandemic's effect on people, how social isolation may affect the exchange of ideas, the post-COVID energy and inspiration he's feeling for new writing projects like pieces on the nature & future of conviviality and the history of the feuilleton, how his family in Israel is coping, and whether he can taste coffee again. We also talk about how he had to learn online teaching on the fly, what it takes to develop a good asynchronous course, and why teaching during this experience helped him as much as it did his students. Follow Shachar on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Shachar_Pinsker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EST

Professor and author Shachar Pinsker checks in from Ann Arbor after a month-long walloping by COVID-19. We get into how his recent book, A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press), informed his understanding of the pandemic's effect on people, how social isolation may affect the exchange of ideas, the post-COVID energy and inspiration he's feeling for new writing projects like pieces on the nature & future of conviviality and the history of the feuilleton, how his family in Israel is coping, and whether he can taste coffee again. We also talk about how he had to learn online teaching on the fly, what it takes to develop a good asynchronous course, and why teaching during this experience helped him as much as it did his students. Follow Shachar on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Shachar_Pinsker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am EST

Let's check in with musician, songwriter, producer, inventor and now novelist David Baerwald! We talk about America conforming to the apocalyptic vision of his 1992 album, Triage, and his friends realizing he wasn't as crazy as they thought. We get into the novel he's writing about his family and its connections to 20th century history and the roots of the CIA, how working on the book lets him travel the world from his desk, why we should all Google Emily Hahn & Israel Epstein, why this is the most dangerous moment in human history, what it was like moving house in the middle of the pandemic, the fun of teaching guitar online, how he adapted a full-face snorkeling mask into PPE in lieu of an N95 mask, how his son and the college-age cohort views the future, how a bag of mushrooms is helping him get by, and more. Follow David on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_David_Baerwald.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17am EST

Nov Shmoz Ka Pop? Writer & artist Paul C. Tumey joins the show to talk about his fantastic new book, Screwball: The Cartoonists Who Made The Funnies Funny (IDW Publishing). We get into where screwball cartooning began, how he selected the 15 cartoonists profiled in the book (like Herriman, Segar, Rube Goldberg, and Frederick Opper), the ways in which the book is an attempt at explaining the parentage of Mad Magazine, the nuances of biography and his work at humanizing his subjects, and how screwball cartooning intersected with with vaudeville & film (and how the Marx Bros. got their names) and why it's the subject of his next book. We also talk about how we're coping with pandemic-panic and his latest binge-reads & -shows. • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_371_-_Paul_C_Tumey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13am EST

Cartoonist Keiler Roberts checks in from Chicago. Even though she was one of the people I was most worried about during the pandemic, it turns out she's doing better than anyone else I've talked to. We talk about what it's like to see the rest of the world conform to her everyday life, her MS and how the lack of day-to-day errands has reduced its toll on her, the progress she's making on her next book, why she chose to bail on comics festivals last year, shifting her coffee-dates with friends to Zoom, how she stays grateful for little things, and more. Follow Keiler on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Keiler_Roberts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44am EST

Biblical scholar David M. Carr checks in from Putnam Valley, NY. We get into how his book, Holy Resilience: The Bible's Traumatic Origins, resonates with our current moment, how he was trapped in Mallorca when the European semisorta travel ban was announced, the ways Tiger King reflects our own cagedness, the work he's doing on the book of Genesis and the nature of the myth of the Flood, the power of Jewish traditions (especially talking back to God), and how our relationship with our pets may disturbingly mirror the patterns and language people used to use about slaves. • Follow David on Twitter and Facebook, although he's not active on either • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_David_M_Carr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am EST

Michael Gerber, editor/publisher of The American Bystander, a.k.a., the last great humor magazine, checks in from Santa Monica, where he's busier than ever. We talk about finding humor and sharing laughs during the pandemic, the Bystander's viability and how its distribution model is built to survive this sort of situation, his background in history and how it helps and hurts right now (including the lesson of the Rome's Gracchi brothers), his upcoming binge of I, Claudius and the novel of ancient Rome he's threatening to write, Dan Savage's (non-sexual) advice about keeping perspective during the pandemic, and his realization that making The American Bystander may just be his calling (as opposed to CIA analyst, which he considered once upon a time). • Support The American Bystander by subscribing to the Last Great Humor Magazine, and check out samples at their site • Follow Michael on Twitter, follow The American Bystander on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to their free daily e-mail, Quarantine Cavalcade • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Michael_Gerber.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:48am EST

Author Scott Edelman checks in from West Virginia. We talk about how the pandemic has derailed his podcast, Eating the Fantastic, after 120 episodes, all the conventions that have been cancelled and how much he misses them (and why Readercon is his fave), the solace he takes from Middlemarch, the books he's hoping to get to now that he's not reading for pod-guests, whether his zombie fiction has prepared him for the current situation, the joys of light opera, and more. Follow Scott on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and listen to his podcast, Eating the Fantastic • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Scott_Edelman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11am EST

Illustrator and cartoonist Ken Krimstein checks in from Chicago. We talk about how the process of finishing his next book helped him muscle through the early stages of social distancing and isolation, and how the content of the book — adaptations of anonymous autobiographies of Jewish teens in pre-war Lithuania — helped him with perspective on the trials people have gone through in the past. We also get into some utopian thinking, his Charles Portis binge, his amazement at Frank Santoro's graphic memoir Pittsburgh, how he'll never escape Hannah Arendt, years after finishing his graphic biography of her, and more. Follow Ken on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ken_Krimstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:24am EST

Yiddish historian Eddy Portnoy checks in from Harlem. We get into how he's managing the work/home setup now that his sofa has molded itself to his body, how the Yiddish papers covered the 1918 flu and the analogs that has for our present situation, the Displaced Persons exhibition he's working on for 2021 at the UN (fingers crossed), his long-gestating project on a pair of Yiddish puppeteers, a 1970s novel he's reading about the Black Death hitting NYC, why his Jewish tendency to comedy outweighs any tendency to utopian thinking, the soul food restaurant he'd love to visit again, and more. Follow Eddy on Twitter, and read his book, Bad Rabbi • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Eddy_Portnoy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44am EST

Author Maria Alexander checks in from Los Angeles, where we talk about finishing her Bloodlines of Yule trilogy with the upcoming Snowblind (and reworking the ending to be a little less downbeat, given the current moment). We also get into her pandemic-binges, like Bewitched and the Preston/Child Agent Pendergast novels, her social-media distancing, her experience with an emotional vampire (prompted by our mutual love for What We Do In The Shadows), and more. Follow Maria on Twitter and Instagram, and buy her some Agent Pendergast paperbacks • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Maria_Alexander.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:17am EST

Artist, teacher and graphic medicine practitioner Kriota Willberg checks in from Manhattan. We talk about the importance of building routines during home confinement (inspired by Ellen Forney), reaching domestic equilibrium in a 2-cartoonist, 1-bedroom apartment (they're both working on new books), holding Netflix Sync parties with friends in lieu of having people over, volunteering at a food bank, missing comics festivals, and how her experience in the AIDS era as part of the Chicago arts community prepares her and compares to our pandemic moment. Follow Kriota on Twitter and Instagram, and read Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kriota_Willberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34am EST

Doug Wright Award-nominated cartoonist Sylvia Nickerson checks in from Hamilton, ON. We talk about her artist residency and how its postponement has led her to rethink her artistic direction, the fate of the invisible people she documented in her debut book, CREATION (Drawn & Quarterly), why it can be a good time for people to think about creating other worlds, the dual inspirations of Lynda Barry and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and more. Follow Sylvia on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Sylvia_Nickerson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:52pm EST

Cartoonist, illustrator & writer Summer Pierre checks in from Highland Falls, NY. We talk about the importance of work & parenting routines, keeping sane with freelance work, making diary comics, diving into National Poetry Month, the joy of sending & receiving letters (and getting a recent letter from Seth), crying at the supermarket, having the impulse to drive down to New York City just to cruise around the empty streets, and more. Follow Summer on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Summer_Pierre.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43am EST

New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake checks in from Brooklyn. We talk about the challenges of making gag comics in the COVID era (and finding jokes outside of Zoom conferences and toilet-paper hoarding), adapting her Shitshow and Nightmares live events to an online audience, stocking up on art supplies but worrying about the pharma supply chain from India, conning her kid into a reading contest as a way to get some quiet time, missing even the awkward-est of hugs, and more. Follow Emily on Twitter and Instagram, and look for upcoming livestreams of Shitshow and Nightmares • Also, go read her new essay about enchantment and middle age, Molly and the Unicorn • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Emily_Flake.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26am EST

Photojournalist Kyle Cassidy checks in from Philadelphia. We talk about his new photo series, Between Us and Catastrophe (recently excerpted at Hidden City), where he's photographing and interviewing (at a distance) the healthcare workers, essential personnel and volunteers who are keeping the world going during the pandemic. We talk about the awful choices that nurses have to make, the technical challenges of the series, his aggravation at neighbors holding porch parties, the book on Icelandic sweaters that he'd love to get back to, his decades-old flash that's been waiting for this moment, his fundamental belief in the goodness of humanity, and more. Follow Kyle on Twitter and Smugmug • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kyle_Cassidy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:29am EST

Translator Alta L. Price joins the show to talk about co-curating the 2020 (now 2021) edition of Festival Neue Literatur with Tess Lewis. We talk about the bureaucratic snafu that led her into a life of translation, how she fights the urge to revise translations between editions, the differences between translating a classic vs. a contemporary work, her work for gender parity among translators and translated authors, and how editors serve as gatekeepers that inadvertently perpetuate disparities. We also get into how studying printmaking brought her an understanding of what a work of art is and does as it shifts media, her literary ambassadorship of Chicago, how she overcame perfection-paralysis, and plenty more. This episode was intended to promote the Festival Neue Literatur, which was to be held April 23-26, 2020 in NYC but has been postponed to 2021; I decided to retain the portions about that to remind us of The Before Times. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_370_-_Alta_L_Price.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03am EST

Last time Eva Hagberg checked in, she'd just gotten her positive COVID-19 test. Three weeks later, she fills us in on the most harrowing medical experience of a life filled with harrowing medical experiences (seriously, read her memoir). We talk about her attempts to cope with the virus without going to the hospital, the system-wide assault the virus conducts on body and mind, how the experience may change the pandemic novel she'd started writing in The Before Times, and more. Follow Eva on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and her own podcast, Recoup • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Eva_Hagberg_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14am EST

Essayist and journalist (and one of my very first pod-guests!) Jane Borden checks in from LA. We talk about memoir-metamorphosis, her recent Vanity Fair piece on the art of making art during a plague, the solace of deep time, working for Tom Wolfe, the Ishion Hutchinson essay that recently blew her mind, the intertwining of arts criticism and memoir, whether it's healthy to try to interpret the pandemic through metaphor, rereading her Joseph Campbell books and reflecting on her marginalia from her 20s, and more. Follow Jane on Twitter • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Jane_Borden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01am EST

Writer and critic Whitney Matheson checks in from Brooklyn, after a multi-week bout with COVID-19 (her doctor thinks she's past it, but still dealing with after-effects). We talk about the irony of her being debilitated just when the world needs pop culture recommendations most, her best Zoom angles, the amount of good, bad and ugly art that will come out of this period, the restaurant she misses most, the TV show she's meaning to catch up on, home-schooling a 7-year-old kid while trying not to pass out, and how happy she is to have a birthday coming up next week. Follow Whitney on Twitter and Instagram, subscribe to her weekly pop-culture e-mail and get exclusive content like her comics, short stories and more at her Patreon. Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Whitney_Matheson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:59am EST

Cartoonist and playwright Dean Haspiel checks in from Brooklyn (home of his superhero, The Red Hook!). We talk about making art (good, bad or ugly) during the plague, finding yourself while putting your life on hold, how our social norms may change after the pandemic subsides, the virtue of online comics, bingeing on 1970s comics by Steve Gerber, feeling sad (but not self-pity) when his play, The War of Woo, had to be postponed last month, and more. • Nominate season 3 of The Red Hook, STARCROSS, for Best Webcomic at the Ringo Awards • Follow Dean on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to his e-newsletter • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Dean_Haspiel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:33am EST

Author Christopher Brown checks in from the edgelands of East Austin, TX. We talk about the final edits of his upcoming novel, Failed State (which is part of the universe of his previous novels, Tropic of Kansas and Rule of Capture), and how the border between dystopia and utopia are kinda permeable. We also get into his amazing weekly e-mail, Field Notes, nature's reclamation projects, the potential inflection point of the current moment, why he's trying to translate German and has taken up the lute, the midwest road trip he's planning, and more. Follow Chris on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to Field Notes • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:06am EST

Author Matt Ruff checks in from Seattle and we talk about his brand-new novel, 88 Names. We get into what gaming and the internet reveal about human character(s), how he handles VR nausea and whether VR measures up to what Neuromancer semisorta promised us, the pros and cons of a virtual book tour (including an upcoming one on Altspace VR on 4/17/20), the fluidity of identity in the virtual landscape, the bookstores he can't wait to get back to, post-pandemic, the origins of empathy, and more. • More info at our site • Check out our 2017 podcast and the rest of The COVID-19 Sessions • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_369_-_Matt_Ruff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:59am EST

Translator Tess Lewis joins the show to talk about co-curating the 2020 (now postponed to 2021) edition of Festival Neue Literatur, why editing a bad translation is much tougher than just translating it yourself, the book she's proudest of translating (Maja Haderlap's Angel of Oblivion), and the project that is the most difficult (Ludwig Hohl's Notizen), how the business and culture has changed, her dream project of translating Montaigne (swoon!), and how literature — especially in translation — can disrupt the familiar and familiarize what seems strange. This episode was intended to promote the Festival Neue Literatur, which was to be held April 23-26, 2020 but has been postponed along with everything else; I decided to keep it all to remind us of The Before Times. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_368_-_Tess_Lewis.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:41am EST

Fantasy author Ilana Myer checks in from eastern PA. We talk about cancelled travel plans, the virtual tour for her new book, The Poet King, what she learned in the course of finishing her Harp and Ring trilogy, the difference between reading about the pandemic and living it, making the plunge into Wodehouse (and avoiding dystopian fiction), and more. Follow Ilana on Twitter and Instagram, and read her new book, The Poet King • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ilana_Myer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:09am EST

Cartoonist Jennifer Hayden checks in from central NJ. We talk about the need to micro-vent during self-isolation with her family, the graphic memoir she finds herself immersed in (and which keeps growing in scale), her changing understanding of aspects of the Goddess, and how this situation is bringing her to terms with herself. Follow Jennifer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and read her great graphic memoir, The Story of My Tits • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Jennifer_Hayden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27am EST

Silent-film accompanist Ben Model checks in from the Upper West Side of NYC. We talk about how the pandemic and self-isolation led him and his partner Steve Massa to launch the Silent Comedy Watch Party, a livestream on YouTube that airs every Sunday at 3pm EDT. We also get into the ups and downs of Zoom teaching, the challenges of playing piano for a telepresent audience, how he can't wait for New Yorkers to get pushy again, and more. Watch the Silent Comedy Watch Party and follow Ben on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ben_Model.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:57am EST

Author Michael Tisserand checks in from New Orleans. We talk about how his wife (a pediatrician) got through her recent bout with COVID-19, how the city has had to change its traditions and practices even when jazz funerals beckon, the Krazy Kat strips that are giving him solace, the comparisons with Katrina, and more. Read KRAZY, Michael's biography of George Herriman, and follow Michael on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2017 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Michael_Tisserand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27am EST

Writer, editor and rare book dealer Henry Wessells checks in from Montclair, NJ. We talk about the books & authors he's bingeing on, the big project of selling Ricky Jay's collection, the joy of a walk in the woods, the one cooking ingredient he wishes he'd stocked up on before battening down the hatches, and more. Follow Henry on Twitter and go check out his book, A Conversation Larger Than The Universe: Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic 1762-2017 • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2018 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Henry_Wessells.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45am EST

Cartoonist James Sturm checks in from Hartland, VT. We talk about how COVID-19 has affected learning at the Center for Cartoon Studies (he's the founder and director of that institution), his weekly digital Sabbath, recording video-dispatches with cartoonists about this experience, missing Tom Spurgeon and how he would have helped us cope with this, and more. • Follow James Instagram and follow CCS on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2019 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_James_Sturm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43am EST

Urban fantasy horror writer Richard Kadrey checks in from San Francisco. We talk about how self-isolation impacts his writing, the history of urban plagues, his stab at passing the time by learning to use Windows, Clive Barker as "comfort food" reading, why he doesn't binge on TV series, risking his life for his favorite bourbon, the difference between folk horror and rural horror, and more. • Follow Richard on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Richard_Kadrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:31am EST

Artist & writer Dmitry Samarov checks in from Chicago to talk about self-isolating in a packed-up apartment (he's supposed to move in a month). We talk about his paintings, the lack of social distancing in some neighborhoods he's seen, his current reading (Tropic of Cancer and Ben Katchor's The Dairy Restaurant), and more. • Follow Dmitry through his weekly e-mail • Listen to our most recent full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35am EST

From St. Louis, my brother Boaz Roth checks in to talk about how his role as a teacher has changed in the COVID-19 era. We get into how this whole experience measures up with the time his house burned down and his family had to live in a rental for 9 months while they rebuilt, the books he's reading, and the optimal size for an online seminar. • Listen to our full-length podcast • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Covid_Check-In_with_Boaz_Roth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:44am EST

From Arlington, MA, essayist and AGNI co-editor Sven Birkerts checks in to let us know what books and poems provide him some degree of solace during the pandemic. We talk about what normal might look like in future and the way the recent past seems unreal, his daily challenge of taking an interesting photo for Instagram, the theme of ongoingness in literature, caring for his 92-year-old mom, and more. Follow Sven on Instagram and Twitter • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2017 • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Sven_Birkerts.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:08am EST

It's legendary science fiction author Samuel R. Delany's birthday! Chip checks in from Philadelphia, where he's found himself working on a new piece of fiction. We talk about comparisons with his AIDS-era experiences, his partner Dennis's willingness to share him with Rachel Maddow, his recent binge of Tiger King on Netflix and his disappointment in Da Vinci's Demons, his new website, samueldelany.com, the advantages of turning into his grandmother, his virtual birthday plans, and more. • Follow Chip on Facebook and on his new site • More info at our site • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2017 • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Samuel_R._Delany.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:17pm EST

Horror fiction editor Ellen Datlow checks in from the West Village of NYC. She talks about the low-grade anxiety of day-to-day life, getting by when USPS services drops to 1-2x/week, turning down an assignment to recommend pandemic-novels for quarantined readers, how her Fantastic Fiction reading series is going virtual, and more. • Follow Ellen on Twitter and sign up for the livestream of her next Fantastic Fiction session • Listen to our full-length podcast from • More info at our site • Find all our COVID Check-In episodes • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Ellen_Datlow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12am EST

On March 30, Eva Hagberg got the news that she tested positive for COVID-19. We talked that evening about her condition, her previous life-threatening health issues (chronicled in her memoir How To Be Loved) and how they shape her response to this, the impact of self-isolation on sobriety (she's doing fine with that, but worries about others), and more. • Follow Eva on Twitter and Instagram • Listen to our full-length podcast from 2019 • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Eva_Hagberg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09am EST

On Sunday, March 29, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow (a.k.a. Dan Perkins) checked in to let us know how he's getting by in New York City during the pandemic. We talk about schlocky movies, the current challenge of being political satirist but the benefit of being a science fiction fan, the further collapse of alt-weeklies (and the need to support This Modern World via subscription!), and the last thing he left his apartment for. • More info at our site • Follow Tom Tomorrow on Twitter and Instagram • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Tom_Tomorrow.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58pm EST

A few days ago, cartoonist Peter Kuper returned from Oaxaca, Mexico to the Upper West Side of New York City. He joins the show to talk about why he & his wife made the decision to come back at a time that New York's COVID-19 cases are blowing through the roof. We talk about the communal nature of life in Mexico, whether the situation here matches up with his decades of dystopian visions in World War III Illustrated, the good omen of raising monarch butterflies in his Oaxaca garden, the bad omen of giant scorpions in said garden, his unfortunate choice of reading material just before the pandemic started to spread, and more. (Our most recent podcast was at the end of 2019) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:38pm EST

Jim Ottaviani, award-winning & best-selling author of graphic novels about scientists (think Hawking, Feynman, Fossey, Turing), checks in from Ann Arbor, MI. We talk about how he's balancing his day job and comics writing with the compulsion to read the news and graph out infection rates. We also get into whether his science background has helped his perspective on the pandemic, how the university model might change when we're past this, and what new books he has coming (fingers crossed). You also get a story from me about the limits of risk mitigation plans. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Jim_Ottaviani.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EST

In our first Covid-Check-In podcast, artist Kate Lacour (Vivisectionary, Fantagraphics) calls in from New Orleans while her kids are asleep. We talk about how she's coping — taking care of her kids & her garden, reading Cixin Liu, making diary comics, helping neighbors — and how she's planning to celebrate her birthday tonight. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: COVID_Check-In_with_Kate_Lacour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm EST

It's the end of the world as we know it, and we feel fine! A few weeks before the COVID-19 lockdowns began, pop culture writer and REM maniac Whitney Matheson joined the show to talk about how she managed to blaze her own journalistic trail by writing about the music, movies, TV and books that she loved. We get into how pop culture writing and blogging have changed since she launched Pop Candy at USA Today in 1999, why she left NYC and why she had to come back, the importance of having great content on her Patreon, what it's like being defined by work in her early 20s, how a post about a KFC sandwich remains her most-read piece, and how she has to do triage to figure out what to keep up with. We also get into her upcoming kid's book about the Loch Ness monster, her most recent celebrity freakout, how she taught interviewing skills to students who are unused to talking on the phone, the importance of having a career plan (and trying to stick to it), and how parenthood introduced her to a different world of pop. Oh, and because she's all about lists, we find out her top three American rock bands (including REM, of course). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_367_-_Whitney_Matheson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:25pm EST

The phenomenal new book, Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian (SUP/Redwood Press), traces the history of an Armenian family from the mountainous woods of Anatolia to suburban NJ. Author Sato Moughalian joins the show to talk about her inspiration to write the life of her grandfather, ceramic tile artist David Ohannessian, the chronicle her family's exodus through the Armenian Genocide, and how she had to prepare herself to visit Turkey as part of her research. We get into the multi-generational process of coping with trauma, the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and its ongoing denial, how her grandfather wound up helping retile the Dome of the Rock (while bringing Ottoman tile art to Jerusalem), and the way oral storytelling can capture styles that differ from family to family. We also talk through he music background (Sato's an accomplished flutist), the creative community of NYC, her seven-year period of introspection and grief-work, and whether she's considering another book, now that she's got her first volume under her belt. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_366_-_Sato_Moughalian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm EST

Your host Gil Roth talks about how COVID-19 is impacting his work, his life, and this podcast, in a special bonus episode of The Virtual Memories Show.

Direct download: Covid-19_Bonus_Mini-Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EST

The great cartoonist Ben Katchor rejoins the show to talk about his brand-new book, The Dairy Restaurant (Schocken), a 500-page illustrated history of, um, dairy restaurants! We get into what drew him to the milekhdike personality, the remnants of Eastern European Jewish culture that call to him, why this book had to be prose-with-pictures rather than comics, the decades of research and interviews he conducted, and why these restaurants came to represent the history of how Jews moved away from their parents' professions. We also discuss just what went wrong with the world, why his favorite books are old Chicago Yellow Pages directories, why just studying Jewish history can constitute a sort of Judaism, his fascination with interwar Warsaw, his plea for a controlled economy, and why The Dairy Restaurant had to begin in the Garden of Eden. • More info at our site (And check out our past conversations from 2013 and 2016!) • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_365_-_Ben_Katchor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EST

Writer, actress and adult performer & producer Stoya joins the show to talk about her upcoming NYC theater appearance in Dean Haspiel's new play, The War of Woo. We get into how she's grown as an actress, why porn is like sketch comedy, her joy in the surprises of live theater, publishing her first book, and the mental benefit of moving the decimal. We discuss her vision for her online erotic magazine, ZeroSpaces, the history of labor exploitation in adult entertainment, running a monthly Sex Lit book club, what she's learned as the sex & relationship advice columnist at Slate, her interest in higher education and the next stage of her career, the learning curve of identifying and interacting with different segments of her audience, the unexpected obstacles to intimacy with people outside the adult industry, and why reading a novel is her favorite escape. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_364_-_Stoya.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:11pm EST

In a murder hotel in Jersey City, author Cassandra Khaw joins the show to talk about her bad luck with AirBNBs, the root of her fixation on body horror, and how she settled on a cannibal chef for one of her main characters so she could (imaginatively) explore the concept of turning 180 or so pounds of human being into a fine meal. We get into her Food of the Gods series and her other supernatural horror books, her fascination with the aftereffects of violence, the influence of Lovecraft on her work, and the time she embarrassed herself in front of Frances Hardinge. We also talk about her work in the video-game industry and how she entered it by following the convention circuit, what writing games has taught her about storytelling, diversity in the gaming community, and the unique way that games can bring people into other lives and other modes of seeing. Oh, and we get into how she settled on her mythological name! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_363_-_Cassandra_Khaw.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51am EST

With his new novel, The Grand Dark (Harper Voyager), Richard Kadrey takes an artistic leap from his renowned Sandman Slim supernatural noir books. We sit down in a murder hotel to talk about mixing robots and genetic engineering with Weimar Germany, getting inspired by Mel Gordon’s Voluptuous Panic, David Bowie’s Low, and the Brothers Quay’s Street of Crocodiles, the impact of the 2016 election on his writing, and how he's getting ready to end the Sandman Slim series. We also get into the gentrification of the east Village and the Bowery, the thin line between preservation and nostalgia, the moment his brain got warped by Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, our shared love of What We Do In The Shadows, the time he attended a screening of Cronenberg’s Crash with Kathy Acker, his LitReactor course on writing dark urban fantasy, the wonder of being edited by Ellen Datlow, the accretionary model of novel-writing, and why it's okay to build your fantastic world by just looking out the window. (Check out our 2018 conversation!) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_362_-_Richard_Kadrey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EST

With his new memoir, Soviet Stamps, artist & writer Dmitry Samarov explores his experience of emigrating from the USSR as a child, finding his way through late-'70s and '80s America, and becoming an artist. We talk about the book's winding path to self-publication, how his story does and doesn't fit in to the history of Soviet Jewry, how he overcame the embarrassment of including his adolescent art in the book, his 4th grade autobiography and how it managed to predict much of his career, and the possible Dmitry-lives that could have resulted from decisions that were out of his hands. We also get into his notion that art requires disengagement, his gauge for the life and death of artworks, the value of the apprentice system over art school, why he's writing fiction for his next book, and which self-promotional event he hates more: the book reading or the gallery opening. (Oh, and check out our previous conversations: 2014, 2015, and 2018) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_361_-_Dmitry_Samarov.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:18am EST

The great publisher, editor, anthologizer, retailer and collector of crime fiction, Otto Penzler, joins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Mysterious Obsession: Memoirs of a Compulsive Collector (Mysterious Bookshop), and his decision to auction off the world's greatest collection of crime fiction (think ~60,000 first editions). We get into his instant regret about that decision, how it inspired this memoir, and how he's getting by without all those books (especially because he designed his house to accommodate an even larger collection). We discuss the changes in his Mysterious Bookshop and his other Mysterious pursuits as the internet has warped book and retail culture, the camaraderie and friendships that he built over a lifetime of collecting, the mania that can strike during auctions, and the difference between collecting and reading. And we talk about how he learned to edit major writers for his anthologies (including a near-disaster with Joyce Carol Oates), the farthest he’s traveled to acquire a single book, the moment he realized he had a writing style and how that unlocked him as a writer, how he had to choose between Sherlock Holmes and the rest of crime fiction, the vagaries of fame and literary reputation as reflected in book collecting, and why he characterizes himself as a parasite in the mystery world (having done everything but writing a mystery novel of his own). • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_360_-_Otto_Penzler.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EST

In a time where immigration is under attack, Joan Marans Dim and Antonio Masi demonstrate the history and importance of immigration in America with Lady Liberty: An Illustrated of America's Most Storied Woman (Fordham University Press). We get into what drew the writer and watercolor painter to the Statue of Liberty, how they came to their previous collaboration on the bridges of New York City, the need to put landmarks into their social, political and economic context, how Emma Lazarus’ New Colossus poem invested the statue with purpose, and how the meaning of liberty has changed in America over the centuries. We also talk about the engineering marvel of the Statue of Liberty, how it was transported from France and assembled in America, the secrets of the hard-hat tour of Ellis Island, and the ways the meaning of liberty has changed in America. But there's also room to talk about Joan and Antonio's differences of approach to a topic, how differently writers and painters approach a topic, how the large scale of Masi’s watercolors helps him engage with the work, the E.L. Doctorow piece that Joan turns to before starting any writing project, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_359_-_Joan_Marans_Dim__Antonio_Masi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:15pm EST

His wondrous new collection, Ecstasy and Terror: From the Greeks to Game of Thrones (NYRB), brings a dizzying array of Daniel Mendelsohn's critical-essayistic-memoir pieces together. We sat down to talk about the work of the critic and the drama that makes for a great critical piece, as well as the temptation to make a name by going after easy targets, his need to criscross genres and categories with personal writing and criticism, and why his negative review of Mad Men got him more pushback than anything else he's written. We get into his amazing 2017 memoir, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and an Epic, its gorgeous structure and its insight into Homer and our present day, while we try to suss out why the great Greek translators have either produced a great Iliad or a great Odyssey, but not both (he's working on a new translation of The Odyssey). We also discuss the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the nature of contemporary mythmaking, my pet theory about the tragedy of Achilles in the Iliad, Emily Wilson's question about Odysseus' true homophrosyne, the role of erudition in criticism, how institutions like The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Paris Review etc. handle succession, our love of the finale of The Americans, his one conversation with Philip Roth, and SO much more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_358_-_Daniel_Mendelsohn.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:51pm EST

Legendary designer Walter Bernard joins the show to talk about Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines (Columbia University Press), the new book he co-authored with Milton Glaser. We get into the art and necessity of collaboration, the relationship he and Milton developed over half a century of work, the pros and cons of doing redesigns for globally established institutions, and the decline of print in the digital age. We get into his stellar run of redesigns for Time, Fortune, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, the one magazine Walter would have loved to redesign, his design pet peeves, how he learned to learn the culture of newsrooms, how he came into his own and could feel like a true partner to Milton, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_357_-_Walter_Bernard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EST

With her new book That Was Awkward (Viking), cartoonist and humorist Emily Flake explores the world of awkward hugs. We get into how that book landed in her lap, why she hates drawing other people's jokes, and how she learned (and pushes the boundaries of) the New Yorker cartoonist's voice. We talk about the massive influence of Shary Flenniken’s Trots & Bonnie comics on her work, the question of “age-appropriate” reading and her 7-year-old kid, performing stand-up cartooning and hosting the Nightmares and Shitshow series (and getting Robyn Hitchcock to guest on that evening’s Nightmares!), how making 4-beat comic strips taught her to write humor, the guilt she felt the first time she saw someone with a tattoo of one of her gags, building up immunity to editorial rejection, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_356_-_Emily_Flake.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:49pm EST

It's time for our annual Guest List episode! More than two dozen of the year's Virtual Memories Show guests tell us about the favorite books they read in 2019 and the books they hope to get to in 2020! Guests include Christopher Brown, Nina Bunjevac, Jerome Charyn, Caleb Crain, Joan Marans Dim, Boris Fishman, Katelan Foisy, Mort Gerberg, Eva Hagberg, Peter Kuper, Kate Lacour, Liniers, Kate Maruyama, Edie Nadelhaft, Sylvia Nickerson, James Oseland, Dawn Raffel, Witold Rybczynski, Frank Santoro, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Karl Stevens, James Sturm, Frederic Tuten, and Chris Ware! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_355_-_The_Guest_List_2019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EST

"I had an amazing life, and my love for my family is unsurpassed, followed nearly as much as the love for my closest friends. Be kind to yourselves, and live in laughter as much as possible. I love you. Thanks for everything."

This special episode of The Virtual Memories Show features the memorial service for Tom Spurgeon, held December 14, 2019, at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. The speakers (in sequence) were Whit Spurgeon, Sunny McFarren, Rob Eidson, Dan Wright (slideshow here), Fred Haring, Eric Reynolds, Jordan Raphael, Me, Jeff Smith, Laurenn McCubbin, Rebecca Perry Damsen, and Caitlin McGurk. The following people spoke during the open comments session: Bruce Chrislip, Christian Hoffer, Carol Tyler, Evan Dorkin, Darcie Hoffer, Shena Wolf, and James Moore. To get a greater understanding of Tom's life and his impact on the world around him, please listen to these heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes funny remembrances of our friend. If you'd like to make a donation in Tom's name, he requested that your gifts go to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, but he also would have been happy to know you supported your favorite artist, writer, or creator, however you can. • More info at our site

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Memorial_Service_-_Dec._14_2019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26am EST

Political artist/illustrator Peter Kuper rejoins the show to talk about his new graphic adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (WW Norton). We get into the highwire act of addressing race without diluting the book or otherwise changing Conrad's tale (that is, how do you balance adaptation and revisionism?), how Peter accidentally subjected himself to some of Marlow's ill health while adapting the book, and how he used graphic storytelling to bring other perspectives to the story. We also discuss his trepidation about adapting a canonical book, his trepidation about drawing boats, and is trepidation about making an optimistic issue of World War 3 Illustrated. Oh, yeah, and he tells us about getting to hold Conrad's diary from the river journey that inspired Heart of Darkness, his ongoing Spy Vs. Spy strips for Mad Magazine, and, on his 3rd appearance on the show, I finally ask him just where his progressivism started! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_354_-_Peter_Kuper.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EST

Today (Dec. 16) would have been Tom Spurgeon's birthday. To honor my best friend after his untimely death, this mini-episode has my remarks from his memorial service this past weekend at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in Columbus, OH. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Birthday_Memorial_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:49pm EST

Artist and avid motorcyclist Edie Nadelhaft joins the show on the eve of her new gallery exhibition, Evening In America (at the Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC, Dec. 10, 2019 to Jan. 25, 2020)! We get into her unstructured approach to painting, how she tries to capture the immensity of America, her interest in what comes after the first impression, and how she got hooked on motorcycles. We also get into the multiple meanings of Evening in America, the notion of the road as character, the process of working through her artistic influences, the rampant sexism of the art world and how she short-circuited it, and the perils of a long ride when you don't know where the next gas station is. And, of course, I ask her what she's riding these days. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_353_-_Edie_Nadelhaft.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm EST

At Cartoon Crossroads Columbus - CXC, cartoonist Robb Armstrong joins the show to talk about celebrating 30 years of his nationally syndicated comic strip, JumpStart. We get into how he made the transition from gags to character-based humor, the early days of doing the comic strip while holding down a full-time job in advertising (and some absolutely crazy stories about how he used to get original art from Philadelphia up to the syndicate office in NYC), the pop culture references he regrets from the '90s, and why believing in in his characters helps his readers believe in them, too. We also discuss the challenges of breaking into cartooning and the support he got from past African-American cartoonists like Morrie Turner and Buck Brown, the influence of Charles Schulz on his work and his character, how he learned to stop worrying about industry awards, and the move from Philly to LA and the lessons learned from going through the TV production process. We also get into his strong belief in helping other artists, why he thinks pencils and erasers are the devil’s tools, what he'd tell the Robb of 30 years ago about what he has to look forward to, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_352_-_Robb_Armstrong.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EST

One of the greatest conversations I've ever recorded was with Clive James in 2015. On the occasion of his death on Nov. 24, 2019, and to celebrate his life, I've re-posted that 2015 podcast, along with a new introduction • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Clive_James_Bonus_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57pm EST

Small press comics publisher Annie Koyama joins the show to talk about her decision to shut down Koyama Press after 13 years, her thoughts on how artists should be treated (and how they should treat themselves), and how to make the most out of life after getting a terminal diagnosis. We get into what comes next in her support for the arts, how the publishing business has changed and what risks she can and can't take, the near-death experience that led her to launch Koyama Press (and the accidental naming of the company), and the most surprising success in her backlist. We also discuss how her artists took the news, what she'll miss the most, the importance of supporting artists throughout all stages of their careers, how not even her previous careers in film and advertising could prepared her for the world of art comics publishing, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_351_-_Annie_Koyama.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44pm EST

From the Sex Pistols' last show to the backseat of Elvis' gold Cadillac, Ed Ward has had a front-row seat to the history of rock & roll. He returns to the show to talk about The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977 (Flatiron Books), and we get into the challenges of chronicling the form in that that era (both narratively and chronologically), his novelistic approach to history, the destructive nature of nostalgia, and how glad he was to get corroboration on the circumstances of Jim Morrison’s death. Along the way, we get into his oft-quoted but misunderstood review of the first Stooges record (and how Iggy validated him), how Woodstock predicted the collapse of the music industry, why he thought (incorrectly) that the ‘70s were a nostalgia-proof generation, why he doesn’t listen to music anymore, and his answer to the key question of the era: Beatles or Stones? • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_350_-_Ed_Ward.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32am EST

Following the death of Tom Spurgeon, my best friend and an inveterate supporter of the show, I've re-posted our 2012 conversation, along with a new (and emotional) introduction • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Tom_Spurgeon_Bonus_Episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm EST

Third time’s the charm! Cartoonist Pete Bagge returns to talk about his new comic biography of Rose Wilder Lane, Credo (Drawn & Quarterly), and we get into the thematic ties of his three biographies — Lane, Margaret Sanger, and Zora Neale Hurston — and how he learned the biographer's art over the course of those works. We talk about how he discovered Rose Wilder Lane's walk-the-walk libertarianism, her transition in and out of socialism, the likelihood that she co-wrote her mother’s Little House series of books, Pete’s own history with libertarianism and the uncomfortable questions he’d ask his parents, and why his own biography would be a lot less interesting than those of his subjects. We also discuss his writing and drawing process and how he structured these books, why he’d prefer to produce comics in installments and how economics mitigate against that model, how trying to write for TV made his comics writing more concise, and why he’s likely sticking to shorter biography comics for a while. Oh, and we talk about his ’80s/’90s editorship of the anthology Weirdo, how he followed R. Crumb, and the artists he pissed off as well as the ones to whom he gave their first shot, and the memoir he’s written but has yet to draw. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_349_-_Peter_Bagge.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:14pm EST

The Nazi swastika is a symbol of evil, but what about the pre-Nazi version of that symbol? With the publication of The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today (Allworth Press), Steven Heller returns to a topic he's spent decades on: the power of graphic design and its abuses by Nazis and other totalitarian movements. He rejoins the show to talk about whether the swastika is redeemable to its original purpose as a Sanskrit Buddhist symbol, why it's uniquely toxic in comparison to other national and religious symbols like the USSR's hammer & sickle, and Steven's biggest surprise when he began researching the swastika's history. We get into how he teaches students about the ramifications of swastika-derived designs, how most Nazi, nationalist and white supremacist groups are variants of the Cross, his sadness about having to revise and reissue this book for our current era (but happiness about giving it a tighter, more effective layout), the ramifications of free speech vs. hate speech, and whether it's okay to punch out a Nazi. We also tackle my experiences visiting Germany, the coding of modern-day white supremacists, the impact of graphic design and illustration on Resistance, Antifa's unfortunate similarities to the SDS, and the question of whether he's obsessed with hate imagery. (We also get into non-swastika stuff, like how he's staying occupied while his Daily Heller blog is on hiatus, the role he played in giving a number of illustrators and cartoonists their first gigs, the memoir he's working on, and why he's not looking to be the subject of a documentary.) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_348_-_Steven_Heller.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:01pm EST

Cartoonist Kevin Huizenga joins the show to talk about his new graphic novel, Glenn Ganges in The River At Night (Drawn & Quarterly)! We get into late-night reveries and using a character's sleepless night as a base camp for a 200-page book, the ways repetition leads to time travel, making an artistic breakthrough partway through his new work, his modular approach to storytelling and how it jibes with his midwestern comics style, and the risk of identifying too much with his stand-in, Glenn Ganges. We also talk about video-game sobriety, whether his favorite creators are spending too much time on Twitter, learning about indy comics before the internet, and our shared cyberpunk upbringing. And we do the math on how many books in our libraries we'll actually get around to reading! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_347_-_Kevin_Huizenga.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

Live from CXC - Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, it's my Spotlight Session with Ho Che Anderson, cartoonist behind KING, Godhead (Fantagraphics) and plenty more! We get into the ups and downs of Ho's career, his transition from "frustrated cartoonist" to "somewhat dissatisfied cartoonist", his twin inspirations of Mister X and Black Kiss, and all the comic, writing and movie influences that went into his science fiction epic Godhead! We also talk about his being labeled an "openly black" cartoonist, how being Canadian gave him a different perspective on Martin Luther King when it came to tackling MLK's biography, why he prefers writing a story to drawing it, the importance of world building in both his fiction and non-fiction work, and why you should never meet your heroes (unless your hero is Howard Chaykin)! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_346_-_Ho_Che_Anderson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm EST

A beautiful and subtle meditation on memory and his parents' marriage and divorce, Frank Santoro's 200-page graphic novel, Pittsburgh (New York Review Comics), is one of my favorite books of 2019. Frank & I get into about Pittsburgh's unique visual style, in which he eschews black lines and works directly with color markers, how he solved the problem of word-balloons intruding on a comic page's color harmony, and how the book's design and style mirror the reconstruction of memory. We talk about how the book originated with his dad totally opening up to one of Frank's friends about a story he never told Frank, how interviewing family members for the book brought him closer to them and to understanding them as people, and why I developed the belief that men are far less likely to know how their parents met than women are. We also discuss how his art-training influences his comics compositions, how working for painter Dorothea Rockburne taught him to see the page as music, why he prefers standalone projects to serial publishing, and plenty more. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_345_-_Frank_Santoro.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:22pm EST

Transgression vs. transcendence: Elizabeth Hand's brand-new novel, Curious Toys (Mulholland Books), explores artistic and cultural taboos through the lens of a serial killer mystery set in the amusement parks of Progressive Era Chicago. We talk about her inspiration for making outsider artist/writer Henry Darger one of the lead characters of Curious Toys, how she first heard about Darger and the Vivian Girls mythology he created in his paintings and 15,000-page (!) novel, the striking similarities between Darger and Tolkien, the tragedy of outsider/visionary artists, and the challenge of casting a nonbinary character a century in the past (the novel's other lead, not Darger). We also get into why writers have no control over the success of their books, the differences between writing on spec vs. on contract, some hints about her next Cass Neary novel, the time she outdrew Deepak Chopra at a bookstore signing, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_344_-_Liz_Hand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EST

With her new book, Vivisectionary (Fantagraphics), artist Kate Lacour has created a work of repulsive beauty (or beautiful revulsion). We get into the theme of transformation in her work, her untraditional notion of comics, whether Vivisectionary should be considered "body horror", the concentric narratives that comprise the book, and how nothing can prepare you for the insect life in New Orleans. Along the way, we talk about treating God like an art director, the twin joys of generation and decay, the symbology of her art, the wonders of going to the Art Students League in NYC for life drawing classes, her followup questions to the Gil Roth AMA episode, the intensely mixed attraction/repulsion reaction people have to her work, what made her most uncomfortable about doing a five-day journal comic, why she's adapting the Song of Solomon for her next work, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_343_-_Kate_Lacour.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06pm EST

The great architecture writer Witold Rybczynski rejoins the show to talk about his wonderful new book, Charleston Fancy (Yale University Press). We get into how he discovered the stories and characters behind the Byzantine homes of a block of Charleston, the city's unique history and its role as a pioneer in historical zoning, the catastrophe that launched the book, and the value of local architects. We also talk about how computers have changed architecture and building, how an architecture student can graduate nowadays without actually making a set of architectural drawings, the loss of tradition and continuity in architecture, how moving into Philadelphia proper has changed his perspective on the city, why he disagrees with the modern notion that every age has to have its own architecture and what he'd like to see from the rebuilding of Notre-Dame, what he culled from his library before moving house, and what single building he'd like to not see anymore. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_342_-_Witold_Rybczynski.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am EST

With the publication of part 1 of Rusty Brown (Pantheon), Chris Ware joins the show to talk about how he and his art changed over the 18 (on-and-off) years since he began the project. We talk about the nature of memory, the experience of time, and the purpose of empathy (or empathy as the purpose of human life). We get into art and its role in organizing consciousness, the give-and-take of self-doubt, his impact on comics and other cartoonists, the effect of parenthood on his work and life, his midwestern roots & the allure of The New Yorker, and books that changed his life (whether he read them or not). We also discuss that synthetic, sorta artificial style he's known for and what it permits him to do in his comics, the comic strip diary he keeps and why it can't be published, how cartooning compares to the origins of American architecture, the alchemical relationship between drawings and type size in his comics, why art schools should get back to teaching figure drawing, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_341_-_Chris_Ware.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:41pm EST

With Creation (Drawn & Quarterly), Sylvia Nickerson explores the decay and renewal of the Rust Belt city of Hamilton, Ontario, wonderfully tying the personal and political together in an extraordinarily graceful debut graphic novel. We get into her entré to comics, her dissatisfaction with traditional art education, the interplay of her academic and artistic careers, and the encounter that pulled her out of an artistic morass. We also talk about her experience with Hamilton, how becoming a mother changed her understanding of the city and its citizens, the differences between gentrification and development, how both she and Hamilton have changed in the decade-plus that she's lived there, the comics her dad drew for her mom when they were courting, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_340_-_Sylvia_Nickerson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33pm EST

In his amazing new book, Tragedy, The Greeks, and Us (Pantheon), Simon Critchley explores how Ancient Greek tragedy captures the eternal crises and tensions of human life, and how philosophy went wrong in trying to tame it. We dive into how Critchley learned to appreciate the drama of the tragedies, how it led to his critique of Plato and Aristotle and much of what comes after them, and how we continue to wrestle with the central question of the tragedies: "What shall I do?" Along the way, we talk about the perils of moral monotheism, Wallace Stevens' philosophy-as-poetry, what it means to treat Plato's dialogues as drama, the role of women in Greek tragedy, the allure of the antiquity's lacunae, the difference between reading plays and being at the theater, why he thinks philosophy begins in disappointment, not wonder, and how he's dealing with recently losing his heavily marked-up copy of The Peregrine. We also explore his various obsessions, including medieval cathedrals, the possibility of change, 19th century America, soccer, and most importantly, David Bowie! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_339_-_Simon_Critchley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EST

Author, fashionista, creative ambassador, and recovering window-dresser Simon Doonan takes us on a guided tour of gender non-conformity with his latest book, Drag: The Complete Story (Laurence King)! Simon & I talked through his personal history with drag, how drag has evolved over the millennia, how the current moment is pushing drag in new directions, and why male British comics were so comfortable performing in it (a long-standing question of mine). We also get into his love of craft and how dressing windows at Barneys was the perfect venue for him, the value of having a day job and not making art the center of one's life, how a kid who failed his 11+ wound up writing a shelfload of books, the joy of his crafting reality show, Making It, why he didn't get through the auditions for Queer Eye, the TV skill he had to learn, his love of history and his abhorrence at the idea of being anyone's role model, what sort of drag I'd be able to pull off, and plenty more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_338_-_Simon_Doonan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm EST

After a 20-year sojourn in the investment world, Amor Towles returned to his first love by writing the bestselling novels Rules of Civility and A Gentleman In Moscow. We get into how he managed that jump, the lessons he learned from his first failed novel, and the advantages of making a later start in publishing (and whether he could've written either of his books when he was young). We talk about his intense outlining and planning process for novels and how it allows for more creativity within the writing itself, his relief at showing his writing teacher (Peter Matthiessen) his books before it was too late, the symphonic model he applies to novels, his best practices for book tours (writing short stories and getting out and seeing the cities he was visiting), the perpetual nostalgia that is New York, his use of recurring characters in his fiction and whether it means he's creating a Towlesiverse, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_337_-_Amor_Towles.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01pm EST

Baby incubators and boardwalk sideshows: not exactly a natural fit nowadays, but once upon a time, the best way to save premature babies in America was to bring them to Dr. Couney's "INCUBATOR BABIES" attractions in Coney Island, Atlantic City and other midways. Dawn Raffel untangled his story and tells the stories of the children he saved in her wonderful book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies (Blue Rider Press, out now in paperback). We get into the mysteries of Dr. Couney's past, Dawn's fascinations with Coney Island and with interwar America, the flaws in social care in the first half of 20th century America, the offline research that fueled the book, her relationship with some Couney's surviving babies (now in their 80s and 90s), the obstetrics field's resistance to Couney's work, the missing ledger that would have disclosed the fates of many of the babies Dr. Couney treated, and whether she would've brought a premature baby to Dr. Couney. We also get into Dawn's writing life, the outsized influence of her 13-year-old discovery of War & Peace, her predilection for short chapters, how Topsy the Elephant really died, and plenty more! (BONUS: I prattle on for a few minutes about my first half-marathon) • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_336_-_Dawn_Raffel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:14pm EST

He's just here so he won't get fined: David Shields joined the show earlier this year to talk about his book-length essay, The Trouble With Men. Now he's back to talk about his new documentary, Marshawn Lynch: A History (on Amazon, iTunes and Vimeo). This time around, we get into the Awfulness of Greatness, whether human beings are capable of change, and the Deion Sanders interview with Marshawn that melted David's brain and started him on this documentary project. We talk about the racial aspects of black athletes dealing with a white-dominated media, how Lynch made noise by keeping silent in press conferences, the one section of the documentary that led a Seattle audience to boo him, the challenges in structuring the documentary chronologically and thematically, what Pete Carroll was thinking on That Play, the split between "my truth" and "the truth", the moment he got to meet Lynch after a screening of the movie in Oakland, and more! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_335_-_David_Shields.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:42pm EST

Occupy, telepathy, the surveillance state, and poetic treatment of reversion in 16th/17th century English poetry: Caleb Crain’s brand-new novel, Overthrow (Viking) has it all! Caleb & I talk about the image that evoked his new book, why this one is his “dark novel”, and how its writing was filled with a sense of inevitability (and maybe a little bit of prophecy). We get into the notion of self-surveillance and why he carries a dumb-phone (even though it almost led to his failure to show up for our podcast session), the way gay people have a theory of mind for straight people but not necessarily vice versa, the optimism of Occupy and the dreadful fate of Aaron Swartz, the difference between fiction and nonfiction editing, the importance of unscheduled nap-time, and the challenge of writing a novel about the weaponization of our relationships. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_334_-_Caleb_Crain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm EST

Because of a last-minute guest cancellation, I had no show lined up for this week! Rather than take a second week off this summer, I decided it was time for another Gil Roth AMA episode, since the last one was almost 5 years ago. Thirty-two past and upcoming guests and Patreon supporters came through with questions for me, including (in the order I answered them): Ken Krimstein, Hugh Ryan, Barry Corbett, Joe Ciardiello, Glynnis Fawkes, Kyle Cassidy, Ian Kelley, Kate Lacour, Dean Haspiel, Eddy Portnoy, Kate Maruyama, Tom Spurgeon, Jonathan Hyman, David Leopold, Paine Proffitt, David Townsend, Boaz Roth, Chris Reynolds, Liniers, Caleb Crain, Bob Eckstein, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Andrea Tsurumi, Henry Wessells, Vanessa Sinclair, Jim Ottaviani, Maria Alexander, Mary Fleener, Stephen Nadler, Charles Blackstone, Lauren Weinstein, and David Shields. We cover everything from creative lessons learned to "why so many cartoonists?", from what books I re-read and why to who is on my Mount Rushmore list of dream guests, from the comics and GNs that have affected me most to what I think about the Peak TV era, from how running has affected my podcast-practices to who my most obstreperous guest has been, and plenty more! And it was all done in a single two-hour take, so give it a listen! • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_333_-_Gil_Roth.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53am EST

He wowed us last year with Tropic of Kansas, and now Christopher Brown is back to talk about his brand-new dystopian legal thriller, Rule of Capture (both from Harper Voyager)! We get into his grand jury stint a few years ago and how it brought home to him the inequality of the law and led to this new novel, why there are so few lawyers in science fiction (but so many in comic books), and the challenge of writing a novel about the law as opposed the facts of a legal case. Along the way, we get into his search for utopia and why he's eschewing dystopia with this next novel, the phenomenon of Texan billboard-lawyers (like his novel's protagonist, Donny Kimoe), his love of Njals saga, the Icelandic poem about a lawyer who's ridiculed by other vikings because he can't grow a beard, the little capitulations we make that lead to the domestication of evil, his unsung legal heroes, and what one should or shouldn't do if one finds oneself on a down escalator behind a certain Supreme Court Justice. • More info at our site • Support The Virtual Memories Show via Patreon or Paypal

Direct download: Episode_332_-_Christopher_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:49pm EST