09222020 // 95 degrees, some clouds. no siken report yet.
or maybe the spine labels kinds look okay. they look kinda really good actually. secretly used the giclee printer that's not actually mine to use, but nobody needs to know about that, embedded high-pigment ink in expensive paper, so... so that's good. I did a thing folk can't easily do themselves. that makes it valuable.
I like the spine labels. I like them a lot. I might just keep doing that. and I did a thing where I was trying to wrap the book to protect it for shipping and instead made an elaborate grommeted & wax-rubbed slipcase/envelope/something. and I like the fuck outta that too. it's the same paper used for the covers, for both the paperback (ours) and the hardback. I used a dirty hunk of beeswax, so I rubbed months and months of desert dust and shop detritus all over the thing along with the wax, then rubbed and rubbed and burnished it to a smooth non-sticky finish. I love rubbing dirty wax on things.
I love rubbing dirty wax on things. it carries and transmits history.
09212020 // 99 degrees, scattered clouds. siken failing to establish a schedule that he'll follow.
blind stamping the finished book is a bad plan. it'd work on the cover before I attach it to the text block, but once it's on, no matter how you've snugged up the spine to the spine, still there's give -- the paper and other material of the interior is designed to move, it's not rigid, it's not solid, so there's no backing to support the slam slam slam of the hammer. next book I'll set up a spine in the chase and print the damn things rather than do this trying to figure shit out shit again. a platen press would come in handy there. probably when it comes time I should mock it up and get the alignments and impression depth and whatnot all figured out -- build a temporary jig in the chase to hold the spine in place, and do it after the spine boards are attached but before the covers, before the turn-ins, so the printing can go parallel to the bed and cylinder direction (a la recherche du couvertures baisé, like seriously baisé). originally the thinking went something along the lines of the fonts I have physically here in type form aren't the fonts we used to design the books so I'd figure somethng else out, but I ain't figuring shit. sans or not, that's the only thing I care about now. I can get close enough.
09172020 // 102 degrees, uv bad but not catastrophic, filtered by haze from the burning world (or does the filter make it worse? I can't remember). siken doing siken things.
occurred to me that I had other plans for the covers, that I was gonna do half-cloth with reinforced covers, but then I didn't and now I can't figure out if I want to do that. I did cover over cloth at the spine, and so the corners should match, but the cover's on so I can't just put cloth under it. considered doing just one of the four corners, but I don't know if that'd make sense. decided, though, and feel good about the decision, that the spines will get blind stamped rather than aplliqued onlays I can't figure out how to design in a way I feel good about. there'll be some onlay anyway, though, maybe. I want to ruin the books with a library catalog label. I don't know how to correctly categorize, and I don't want to make something up like an asshole. I want to understand the system and then embed a separate meaning in the label, categorize it right, but not correct.
821.92 I think. but the other codes.
09162020 // 100 degrees, super extreme uv, no clouds, no humidity, drivers on the streets really not understanding what a bike lane is. siken cleaning his house or whatever, I don't know.
just occurred to me that we're using 100# speckletone rather than lightweight bookcloth. I can't use the endsheets I intended. I have to use 100# something cut the same way to counteract the pull the cover wrap is exerting from the front. that is both disappointing and also a relief since I suspect my plan was stupid anyway. when god closes a window, he tells you to fuck off or something. I think that's what they say. anyway, the way this would usually work is I go forward with my plan and then I ruin everything. this time, however, I realized that I wasn't gonna be able to balance the pull with the things I meant to use --
see, 80# paper doesn't exert that much force. you can pair it with bookcloth. 100# paper's got a bit more guff to give and it's got an ego and if you make it hang out with something it thinks is inferior it's gonna exert its influence in all kinds of unpleasant ways. it doesn't care that it ruins everything, it just cares that you acknowledge its strength. also no. my job is to make sure I balance the materials and it's only that I was late to the shop today that I had time to think about the pull the cover wraps were exerting on the boards, so much more than book cloth, and I had the space and time and distance to get to the point where I could say YEAH, DUH, and realize that, again, I'm a dumbass, and I didn't think my way all the way through this, and OF COURSE I have to use the same inside as outside. the thing is I don't have 100# material that matches the endsheets. which is fine, it's just not what I meant to do. it's maybe gonna look better, and maybe I'll use the burnishing tools to do a little tooling on the interior, just because I can, not because it does anything useful.
09112020 // 75 degrees, nw smoke covering the sky. siken snoring, but he needs to wake up since he did the spine onlays wrong.
the paste I made a while ago is still good. there's clove oil in it to deter insects who like to eat paste in books, but it's also antimicrobial so the paste, held safe in the refrigerator, stayed stable and so I didn't have to cook new paste to do the covers,
first book I wrapped I put the front on the back, so I had to peel it off as much as I could, then I sanded the rest of it off, so siken is gonna have to make me another cover to finish this run. sorry, siken. probably I should always just throw away the first of anything, in some kind of ceremonial way, since I always screw up the first of anything. the ceremony would remind me to just fucking check all the shit already. that sounds ceremonial, doesn't it?
while I do pva for the spine reinforcement, it's a paste blend we use for the cover wraps. we want it wet, we want it to penetrate not just the cover material, but the case as well, we want them fused, we want them united, married, one. we want them inseperable, while the spine we want reworkable in the future, should these books actually mean anything to anyone and a hundred years from now they might need a new cover. that's the thing. the cover is only the cover. it's never meant to last forever. it's meant to be replaced. it's the interior that matters. the pva can be scraped off, the text block re-backed. then someone not me in the future can make a new cover however they want. hello future whoever. thanks for the work.
I got 6 of 10 wrapped, then I ran out of paste. I don't feel like cooking more paste tonight, so I'm gonna let them sit for the weekend and then I'll make more paste and then I'll do the remaining 4, and then I'll do the inside pastedowns and then I'll put them in the press. right now they're sitting under 3 of our super cool hunks of steel, 6x9 things each weighing about 30 pounds. the press will exert more than a thousand pounds of pressure. that's when things go from crafty whatnot to goddamn BOOKS.
I'm excited to exert a thousand pounds of pressure.
(I never had weekends before the apocalypse. but the landlord kicked everyone out when their leases expired so he wouldn't have to risk having to not be able to evict people in case protections got put in place [dude, this is arizona, who's gonna protect anyone unless it's protecting someone's gun?], and then the job went away since I'm a chef which means restaurant which means shut down which means hey no job, so I'm a grown-ass man living with my parents. and they kinda like it, since now they've got a personal chef, and someone to change the batteries on the smoke alarms and wash the windows... and I'm so down for all of that, since they're my folks, and they're old and they need help and yeah, I'm happy to help, so happy to help, but they get full service only on weekends, and that's something I decided, since I've always been a guy who works all day every day, which kinda wouldn't work in a caring for elderly folk kind of way. so each day I rock the breakfast, do the dishes, don the bike helmet and say see-ya. but weekends they get full service. I feel like maybe we used to do this kind of thing on purpose, as a matter of course, we just took care of our people. I'm taking care of my people and it feels like I've failed at something, and that now, me thinking about it now, feels maybe wrong. I can give this time and not complain.)
09102020 // 83 degrees, uv high but not super bad, sky hinting that it knows what's going on up north. siken being siken offsite.
waiting for the covers -- they just need their text and then I'll seal them and let em sit and then I'll wrap the boards. tipped on endsheets for the next book, and I did a better job this time (sorry, previous book). there's still no shoulders on these since I'm not rounding the spines, so I need to make sure the adhesive is super wet when I attach the covers, so I can better form the hinges -- probably should wet the hinges before casing-in, so there's better flex, but not so wet that it dilutes the glue on the endsheet. maybe wet the hinge, but use regular glue. maybe. make sure to wet with distilled water so I don't stain the hinge.
pretend like I know what I'm talking about.
I'll know what I'm talking about after. this is science after all. that's the process. I hypothesized some shit about interfaces and substrates, we'll see how it works out.
tomorrow I'll bolster the spines. I say bolster even though that's not the right word because my brain won't give me the right word. I don't know your experience of not finding the thing you know, but for me it's physical experience, like a bubble inflating behind the frontal cortex, pushing everything out of the way, making everything else stop until I deflate it and settle on some other word. anyway, I'll REINFORCE the spines tomorrow, after I've slammed them all into submission with the cobbler's hammer rae sent me, then they'll sit for a day. then I'll make a custard pie for my parents, because they like that, and I made one for them this past weekend and they said it was perfect, but holy shit it was not perfect. the recipe called for whole eggs, which are basically big water balloons with a little bit of fat, and so the custard took forever to cook and then it also developed bubbles inside the pie -- so after it cooled there were bubbles set in the matrix of the nutmeggy custard, which were fine, I guess, until they were collapsed with a fork, resulting in, for me, the sensation of eating perfect scrambled eggs. except they were cold and sweet and nutmeg-infused scrambled eggs. do not make your custard pie with whites and lowfat milk. that's making custard from water. make your custard with yolks and cream, or at least whole milk. and scald that milk so the proteins get on your side. then I'll pick that hammer back up and knock the spines further into submission, flattening the knots and smoothing the tapes so there's a consistent surface to meet the spine of the case.
I don't like desserts, for the record. I like a bite, I guess. I can't imagine eating a whole dessert by yourself.
we don't need to talk much about it, but holy fuck that exposure shit (sure, I reported low temps, but mostly that was the temperature when I was writing, not the temperature when I left the house and biked over, in case you're looking at my reports and thinking me weak for suffering at temperate). I was told always to stay hydrated. I thought that was all. I did what I understood to do, but that's not enough. for serious, I boiled my goddamn brain. and thank you and apologies to them what had to interact with me while I was doing my stupid. I think the worst of our desert summer is done, so we don't have to worry about that until next year, when I've had sufficient time to forget the things I learned this time.
eyeing the 20 years of fiction we've published. thinking of doing something with that. there have been a few good moments on our pages, but they're buried and so nobody sees them, even though they're right there. the internet is big.
09072020 // not going outside. not even looking.
uv cooks you and it doesn't matter if you're hydrated. learned that you should take a few days off from stupid heat after you've done a bit of extreme exposure. I've spent the last month boiling my brain. I hear there'll be snow in colorado on tuesday.
09052020 // probably it's still stupid hot. I don't know what anyone is doing.
streetcar tracks caught the front wheel of the bike last night. spilled into traffic. whiteboys laghed and called me an asshole. nonwhiteboys jumped over the rail and collected me, helped me out of traffic, asked was I okay, asked did I know my head was bleeding.
09042020 // 113 degrees, sky blistering, many days of extreme uv. siken frowning.
you sweat a bunch and then you vomit. this desert stuff sucks.
09022020 // 88 degrees, sky black. siken penciling, and not doing things in order.
brain check: nope. say no words out loud today.
08312020 // 79 degrees, sky all little fluffy clouds. siken snoring.
the fun thing about broken brains (broken? are they broken? yes I know there's words and we say neurodivergent and we say all kinds of things and sure that's super cool and great and let's celebrate the diversity of neural ways... but...) is how you I slip away for a bit, and things rock slant and this. THIS is the only way that things have ever been. and then a day a week a whatever later it's not. things are this now.
anyway, things are this now. hey, look below, things were other for a bit. a guy who goes off the rails and inhabits and behaves within a reality not in play with the rest of everybody doesn't benefit from semantics. I appreciate your efforts. maybe. maybe I appreciate your efforts. your efforts will maybe help later. I'm forutunate to have friends who tolerate me, privilieged to at least be white while I dance my impenetrable song, and maybe broken only so much that its impact on my life is only minimally catastrophic, rather than spectacularly fatal.
08282020 // 93 degrees, sky pretending. siken painting more.
dreams about failure. dreams where a guy says "you're the guy that failed." and I say yes, I failed. strange to remember dreams. I don't remember dreams, but hey I remember this one. and sure, I failed. I have failed in so many ways. and fine. whatever. I'm gonna do this now. and maybe I'll fail again. and then I'll fail again. I am so good at failing. yesterday I cared that I failed. today I do not give any kinds of fucks about failing. watch me fail. watch me do everything wrong. watch me fail again and again and again. I kinda don't care. when I get it right probably you're not gonna be around to notice anyway, so what the hell does it matter that you're for whatever reason here to watch me fail? hey, I did this wrong. then I did this again. then I did this again. then I wondered what the fuck am I even doing? then I did something else, then another thing, then I did this, then this, then this. and I failed and I failed and I failed. and then I failed.
yesterday I gave a fuck about failure. today I maybe care less. I'll probably care again in the future. right now, though, I'm gonna go ahead and fail some more.
the dream about failure, where the guy called me out. he was a consumer, his assesment of my own success at whatever decided by its commercial appeal. I failed at being marketable in my dream, and maybe that's no failure at all.
I have mechanical pencils of exquisite machined work. they hold and transport the lead far more elegantly than other implements. the things I write with them, they're supported by generations of care and skill superior to everyday folks' implements. I fail with style. I fail with the support of generations. my fail is small. my fail is a thing that happens because we're I'm willing happy to risk. I am so happy to fail. I forget this sometimes. I forget that my whole plan, in its entire, is to fail. so yes, dude, I'm the faiure. I am this bright shining failure. I fail and I fail and I fail. now watch me do something else. probably I fail again. but so fucking what.
hello. it's me. I fail. hello. I fail. hello, let's try this and who gives a fuck if we fail? let's do a thing. let's do this. let's do this. let's do this. and this. and. this.
08272020 // some degrees, some humidity, probably there's a sky. siken painting again.
let's play a game. the game is called fail at everything. I'd sing you a song about it, but holy crap would that be a horrible song. first verse about the pointlessness of doing anything. it gets worse from there.
cases fully squared w assistance of bastards and rough foam blocks. ready for covers. waiting for covers. siken is painting covers.
08212020 // 97 degrees, humidity 28%, clear sky and no wind to speak of. not super awful, but still anti-siken weather, who presents presently as a t-shirt with no inhabiting body.
cased the other 9 blocks. rae sent a hammer, which is in need of cleaning, but the head and weight seem to do the job better -- do the job correctly? I don't know, I don't know what correct is. I have books that say things, but they're books and they don't convey what correct feels like. just do this do that and then do another thing afterward, which fine. which, fine. which that's only partially useful.
siken doesn't like the covers he was making for these books, so he's rearranging his office.
08202020 // 81 degrees, humidity 51%, sky hazy and working toward overcast (update: lightning over south tucson [further update: rocking monsoon action, which might negatively impact my cycling home]), plants dust, siken making coffee. started two cold brew herb teas.
"do as I do and scrap your fey ways..." steven, you are my rowling. also, no. I can fey any way I please, same as you, though I hope I hold the fey and wing in no direction. but my fey, and how it presents despite myself, the clever I've fought all these years and failed since I cannot not make a joke, I cannot convey the seriousness with which I engage in everything -- but for real, for actual, I fucking mean all this. I just cannot hold this pose or perform these gestures, and it's not that I can't, it's that I don't know that I'm not doing it. I'm this black velvet clown, in the basement, by the beer fridge. I'm that thing and please nobody fault me for how I was painted.
that's not just about everything, but also specifically about spork. we mean the fuck out of this, but I cannot brand us coherently, I cannot not be this, this whatever the hell I am nor can I not do things the way I do. it frustrates me, it wakes me up at night, this inability to sit companionably with peers and participate successfully in whatever peers do when they congregate. all I know is that they do things other than what I do. when prepping to transport the family and cats (they're family too but you wouldn't include them in your reading of that line unless I pointed at them, so there, I pointed at the cats, but also the cats are included in the word family) I didn't want to give any tsa people reason to give me special attention so I removed the skull ring that's been reshaping my left index finger for the last 18 years (and my sweat and activities reshaping the ring) and also the ball chain around my neck that I've forgotten even why I was wearing it and
and when you exist in the culinary world, these things, these flame-shirts and stupid hair, it's all fine, you know? that's where I was. that's where I've been. I showed up chef to every poetry reading. I did not know how little sense I made. I presented clever, when all I ever showed up as was me. merely. only.
my fey ways are knives and fire, but also my fey ways are fold and sew and take these words and bind and protect and present and celebrate them. eat this, too, I've been saying. I plated this with bookboard and paper and thread, it pairs beautifully with pinot grigio.
constraints: use only the tools and materials on hand -- easy, since we're broke anyway -- I guess that's the whole of the constraints. it blossoms with steps, each its own limiting factor.
last night's second measurements and application following initial failures sat overnight under 90# of steel and emerged today as a functional, if ungainly and desperately in need of grooming book-thing. trimmed the fore-edges (the decision to not trim or otherwise handle the edges means the boards I have on hand give me a .25"-ish square head and tail). trimmed fore to .25", measured 1.5" from spine and removed excess material outer and inner. set aside, though still needs the rest of the cleanup, the sanding of all the bad things I did, all the leftovers from material removal, and the swell on the edges resulting from how the blade pushes the layers of the board to the sides, creating edge-swell, when the boards are cut. this is why you use a guillotione, which we don't have. also I like sanding the edges of the covers, since no matter how carefully you I measure, there's always gonna be some squaring-up to do once it's all assembled. squaring up the square. that's a boring lol there. the overhang top bottom and fore, that's the square. so, making it all line up...
since the measurements all played nice and my gestures resulted in no catastrophes, I will now batch. 9 this, then 9 that, then et cetera.
08192020 // 109 degrees, humidity 10% which still feels like a lot even though it's nothing, sky blank, plants desiccating, siken awol. bound with little yella pils.
pulled materials, made measurements -- taking pressing into account for spine-board measurements, going -.0625 in mild hope of final alignment. slightly under's fine, but over means the book won't play nice on the shelf, and so much of my every day is spent thinking about (and denying myself things bc) how to make books be books and play nice with other books. but if you fully expect almost nobody to touch the books, treating them as object only, then can't I have some fun? if the choices I make require so much explanation then there's some kind of failure there. just make the books, don't mess with the bookness, don't confuse or discomfit anyone with your my fun.
this hot makes personal humidity (in its defense, it does not discriminate, it does not make humidity personal). I'm terrified to try to pick up the weights (no handles, since they often are stacked), those 30# 6x9 hunks of steel that I love but also I seem to be the only one as excited about them as me. just you wait, someday you're gonna need to hold something down. the first cover constructed is a test by fiat: sweaty hands and dirty air and she chose the white bookcloth. thank you hot and dirt, I usually don't test. my style is most often: ruin it, ruin something else, shake fists at things, do unnecessary examination of the ruined things, determine I should have not just made more careful measurements but also confirmed that things were gonna work, then set the whole thing aside and do something else. doing a quick mock up to test things always feels like so much effort.
gutter = 3x thickness of board for french hinge, a bit less otherwise. the hinges are never full french and never quite other. too much and the interior might sag on the shelf under its own weight, not enough and the book wrecks itself when you open it, and while a cloth hinge endsheet section is my favorite I haven't figured out how to minimize the swell it makes or how to make it not pull the first and last pages because the glue you I used to hide it creeps that full .25". sure, you say, just sew in an endsheet, but there's risk there too from it being just a single folio, maybe liable to tear, but maybe after the spine reinforcement it won't be such a problem, but still it's where all the tension of the casing happens but also a tipped-on endsheet has that .25" and pull but without the swell and it's how most people expect a book to be, and the sewn endsheet would have visible thread in the fold which is not what people are used to seeing and could potentially detract from an observer's notion of 'bookness' and thus devalue the text and throw it back into object territory.
this is my tweet about gutters and endsheets.
oh, right. wait so many hours between steps in any adhesive process. hence the blunder forward and hope for the best. see, at this stage in the process it's paste not pva, it's a wetter thing because we I want
the adhesive to penetrate the materials and fuse them together rather than just a surface bond. but this is just a test, right, so thank the heat and pretend like it'll be okay in 30 minutes to play at a next step. one of the text blocks has a semi-wonky spine anyway, so I'll use that one so if it all goes to hell at least it's the 10 of 10 (final count:9) that can go home to the shelf next to all its disfigured siblings.
keep your pants wet, yeah, but wash em when you're done.
08182020 // 109 degrees, sky clear, plants dead, siken sleeping.
somebody placed shopping carts in a dark spot on the bike path last night. there are no stores nearby so they really went the distance on being an asshole. hurt but uninjured, whatever that means.
hammering away at spines, made choices re: materials -- rather, asked for opinions about the materials on hand. white selected, so the book's gonna be a gloves-only affair. or something that gets dirty and you look at it and you know that someone handled it. maybe they weren't careful, but maybe that's okay since a book unused doesn't have any purpose whatsoever. but also, I don't know, taking care is not such a bad thing.
08172020 // 109 degrees, sky clear, plants dead, siken painting.
evangelizing into the void re: such awesome potential in a well-designed ebook. maybe there's source material, maybe there's things you want to point at but you don't wanna yammer or summarize because maybe it's too much or someone else has already done the work -- sure, you could make mention and cite and maybe someone's gonna go take that small step and go there on their own, but do they? I mean in a physical text, do they stop reading and exchange devices (a book is a device) and... I know that I only sometimes do. but electronically I'm asking all kinds of questions and wandering away and getting context and history and elaboration or explanations of jokes I didn't even know were there. and also the potential for such informational density, such clear and concise possibility! pure color with only the fewest necessary marks to communicate meaning -- and to be able to communicate so clearly and purely but to exclude no one from being in on all of it as the required tools are all just right there. step away a minute, learn the thing, then step back and appreciate the synthesized work. -- and folk scoff at the idea of the electronic text, and I know that it's been done so poorly and people are right to scoff at what's come before, all clunky and ugly and often just the digital equivalent of a staple in the corner of your pile of 20# extrawhite copy paper -- do you disregard all books because someone made a shitty zine? -- and do you disregard all zines because they're not books and... and whatever. I love the things. extended remixes, director's cuts -- here is the object, pure. here is the thing too, but extra and more and here's everything you need to get the most out of this and here's all this more if you liked this and here are my friends and here's how I got here and you don't have to stop, you don't have to put this down, you can go everywhere and here are all the covers and here is a bonus raw text to give you insight into how we got to the thing in the main body and...
chef friend showed up to talk mabye new restaurant once this is over. I continue to be embarrassed how I don't trust anything anyone says and so I'm always making people declare that they mean what they say, and probably that's not the best way to go through life, but what do you do when you don't believe anything anybody says?
08162020 // 109 degrees, though matt said it was 117 up there, sky still stupidly clear, no chance of rain, plants dead, siken moving a horrid couch into the office, made soup with mayocobas and chipotles.
the twitterthing, I don't get the twitterthing. I maybe don't have to get the twitterthing. I don't want to get the twitterthing. we have people who get it so I don't have to. cooped up so took a walk in the stupid heat which was a bad plan and then ended up at the bar on the corner where every night they scream trump and usa and do country karaoke and they laughed at my mask and an old guy who didn't understand he was three feet from me and probably can't hear so he talks really loud called me brainwashed and I ordered a beer and I flipped them all off and went to the patio and they all failed at follow-up. the sky threatened to rain, but the sky is all talk. something caught fire a mile or so away, making for us a dark cloud that didn't do anything but smell. spent the morning trying to understand the twitterthing. wasted the morning. fixed an epub to make it readable, stopped myself from 'helpfully' sending it to the publisher that, in my opinion, kinda phoned it in on the design and usability fronts.