Friday, November 26, 2010

Fight Boredom with Cats, Beards and Communication!

Instead Of Kids, We Have Cats
This tiny zine is about the size of a matchbook, but there was clearly an incredible amount of effort put into it. It features eight watercolour cat portraits, some with little stories on the back. The premise is that cats often become family members for queers, hence the title, and the size of the zine, mimicking the wallet-size family photos that people often carry around with them. Vellum covers are sewn on and the whole thing folds together like an accordion. So wonderful.

The Rose & The Peacock #4
In this issue of Stephanie's perzine, she wonders at all the time she has spent in her life waiting - for doctor's appointments, the bus, Christmastime... She writes about her bizarre facial expressions and the way they get her into trouble, and includes profiles of her favourite punk bands and an overview of the Tiffany glass exhibition that recently came through Montreal (noting that the women who contributed to his designs are finally being credited for their work). Cut-and-paste with some hand-coloured pages, this is another delightful read.

Femme À Barbe #2
The much-anticipated second issue of J Bee's Femme À Barbe is finally here! This issue contains contributions of art and writing on the topic of body hair (facial hair to be more specific - the French title translates to Bearded Lady). Sari of perzine You've Got A Friend In Pennsylvania and feminist comp zine Hoax, writes about their history with body hair, from being encouraged to shave as a pre-teen and eventually quitting but always having troubles with facial hair - and their mother's treatment of it. Bastian Fox Phelan writes about the reactions to their first zine on the topic, Ladybeard, and others write about facial hair in relation to transitioning, to racist beauty ideals and to privilege. It's pretty much my favourite comp zine that's out there right now. And you can get it through Fight Boredom Distro.

Shotgun Seamstress #3
Speaking of fucking awesome comp zines. Osa has been putting together this zine "by and for black punks, queers, feminists, artists and musicians" for several years now. This issue's theme is Money, and features pieces on photographer Alvin Baltrop, Gravy Trains!!!'s brief battle over royalties and traveling on the cheap (aka trainhopping), as well as interviews with musicians Kali Boyce (Nastyfacts) and Mick Collins (The Dirtbombs and The Gories), plus a reggae playlist, comics and more, all put together with the sweetest cut-and-paste layout you've ever seen. Newer issues will be reviewed in the near future. I picked this one up from the Ste-Émilie Skillshare at Expozine and traded for the latest issue back in August when I was at the Portland Zine Symposium. In the meantime, read Osa's MRR columns here.

How to Communicate: A Clipart Zine
Kate Pinchdog, who you may know through Riot Wife and other exciting titles, has begun an excellent clipart series, the first of which is How to Communicate. This half-size zine features ten pages of amazing vintage clipart of images such as telephones, televisions, record players, books, and all sorts of good-looking people making use of them. It has the feel of a guide on etiquette, but way cuter and funnier. Featuring advice on making telephone calls, fashioning a tin can telephone and even how to talk to cops. Great stuff! Grab a copy from her Etsy shop, and keep your eyes peeled for future titles like How to Make Money and How to Be a Woman.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fight Boredom with Gender Theory, Vampires and Go Get 'Em Zines!

Gender On A Threshold: Studio Portraits of Women & Their Bicycles 1890 - 1900
This zine was given to me at Expozine by a lovely person named Heather, after a moment where we had stared at each other and said, "I've seen you before, but I don't know where." Which seems to happen to me a lot these days. (For the record, it was at a zine workshop at Ste-Émilie last spring). She was wearing this hoodie that needs to be noted because it was printed with an intricate floral pattern that was actually teeming with skulls upon closer look. Want. Anyway, as I'm sure you can tell from the title, this is a pretty excellent zine. It's all about women's historical place in the public sphere, and how the bicycle came to change it. Bicycles themselves were seen as for-men-only, with women being relegated to tricycles if they rode at all. Of course this changed, what with the "new woman" and bloomers and all, and this shift is illustrated throughout this half-size 30-page zine. All of the photos included appear to have been taken in Quebec and Ontario, giving the zine a very local feel and presenting history in a very relateable way. The insistence upon all lower-case letting was irritating at times, but overall it was a very original and thought-provoking zine (with a substantial bibliography included).

Vampire Sushi #1
Argh, yes! I love this zine. This was put out as something of a Halloween special by Vampire Sushi Distro (operated out of small-town-UK by zinester couple Tukru and Carl). It's got a horror theme and is pretty much the most unpretentious art zine ever made. Quarter-size and printed entirely on red paper, it features illustrations by Cherry Truant, frl.zucker, Emma Falconer and others, plus short fiction by Clementine Cannibal and a Vampire Sushi mixtape tracklist featuring all of our favourite monster bands - The Cramps, Jack Off Jill, L7, The Knife, The Horrors and a whole lot more. Think vampires, zombies and even a were-pigeon.

The Rose & The Peacock #3
Another delightful Expozine find. Stephanie and I traded for a stack of each other's zines. The Rose & The Peacock is very whimsical and sweet, featuring personal prose, poetry and a little bit of history. Although vowing not to let her job define her as a person, she takes a great interest in the work of others, like her mother, television doctors and various "late-bloomer" authors. Work is a recurring theme in this issue, which even features a photo of her mother sat at the typewriter at one of her first secretarial jobs. She discusses her feeling of unease with speaking on the phone, which leads into a short biography of Emma Nutt, the first female telephone operator. Always nostalgic for a time long before her, every page is cut and paste with 1950s-style imagery. It was a nice little read, and I'll likely review more issues in the future.

Dig Deep #1
So, there is this genre of zines that really only exists in my head, and I call it "go get 'em zines" - basically, they're kinda zines that are written well, that present a generally positive attitude and that make one feel ready to take on the world. Think Nothing Rhymes, Riot Wife, Fuck Shyness and Adventure Time. Well, now we can add Dig Deep to the list. Heather is a librarian in Chicago (something you can read more about in Into The Grid), and she strikes me as someone who's able to find happiness in the small moments in life. Which is what it's all about, really. She writes about exploring the libraries in every town that she visits, a resolution to do Significant Things in the months leading up to her 30th birthday, impromptu dance parties, and the place that she calls home. Plus funny work tales and a series of ten-word zine reviews. Into The Grid and Dig Deep will be available through Fight Boredom Distro very soon.

for maranda for sam

What I've Been Up To Lately: While tabling at Expozine on Saturday, Zoë (whom I met through our mutual love of Sassyfrass Circus) came over and asked if I'd like to start tabling at the Midnight Kitchen on a regular basis. From their website: "The Midnight Kitchen is a non-profit, volunteer and worker run food collective dedicated to providing affordable, healthy food to as many people as possible. Based out of McGill University in Montreal, QC we provide free/by donation vegan lunches 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, at 12:30 in the Shatner building on McGill campus." So I've tabled there a couple of times now and it's been a slice. They served me the best rice pudding I've ever had in my life. From now on, Fight Boredom Distro will be tabling at Midnight Kitchen every Wednesday afternoon for an hour or so at lunchtime, occasionally joined by Kate Pinchdog and maybe others. I'm really pleased about this, because I've been wanting to table my distro at various fun stuff besides the requisite zine fairs, and now is my chance. Besides that... Attending the Salon du Livre de Montréal, making brooches, reading lots (zines, and Kamouraska by Anne Hébert), planning some workshops that I'll be hosting in the near future, watching The Notorious Bettie Page, acquiring a new pair of rainboots, catching an interview with Émilie Jouvet and Wendy Delorme of Too Much Pussy: Feminist Sluts in the Queer X Show on Les Francs-tireurs, and perhaps spending a little bit too much time looking at Hello Kitty junk online.

In Other Zine News: Maranda Elizabeth of Telegram Ma'am has reduced all of her zines by 50% for the remainder of the month. Grab 'em while you can; I know that some of those back issues will be out of print soon. Also, Catherine Elms reviewed Fight Boredom #5 on her blog, and my post on zine fair etiquette was linked at Sparkplug.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fight Boredom with Expozine! And Manners, Please.

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has ordered a copy of my new zine so far. I love those first few days of listing a new issue and getting all those lovely notification emails and packing everything up to mail it out. I had a funny experience at the post office the other day. I went in with about thirty packages and thankfully no one else was there. My favourite clerk was working, and she is super sweet and told me that I look nice in my green cardigan. She always speaks with this pleasant tone of voice and is patient with me when I stumble with my French vocabulary. Whenever I have a large amount of mail, I divide the envelopes into countries, putting first those destined elsewhere in Canada on the scale, then America, then England, and so on and so forth. So we have this little routine where she weighs them and clicks around on the computer, and I make an announcement when I've switched to another country. "On change pour Angleterre!" So we were doing this, and I had maybe six envelopes left when an older woman got in line behind me. She quickly became frustrated with my stack of mail and started huffing and puffing in a very noticeable way. I tried to ignore her at first, and continued making my little announcements, on change pour Australie, on change pour Nouvelle-Zélande... This woman began swearing at each envelope that I put onto the scale. I'd set one down and she'd burst out with, "Ostie!" I'd set down the next one and "Tabarnac!" So I turned around and said to her calmly, in the best French I could, "I'm at the post office and I'm mailing letters. Do you have a problem with that?" She rolled her eyes at me, then swore again when I set down the next envelope. I turned to her again. "This is what the post office is for! What do you want me to do with all this mail?" She couldn't think of anything except to ask, "Who are you writing to?! Are these all your friends?!" as if it was any of her business anyway. I said, "I know I have a lot of mail, but that's the way it is sometimes. I'm going to be another two minutes and you'll just have to be patient and wait your turn." This did not shut her up. She swore even louder when my total was announced (nearly fifty dollars), and finally the clerk said, "This woman runs a small business. She comes in every week with lots of mail and it's not a problem." Nice to know she's got my back. I told the old woman to get over herself, and the clerk said, "See you next week!" and I got outta there. What a mean person. No one likes waiting in line, but it's inevitable, especially at the post office. Get the fuck over it, and don't go in there if you're in a rush. Though I'm perplexed as to what else this elderly woman had on her plate on a Sunday afternoon anyway. Those of you in Canada, the States, England, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Austria - your zines are on their way!

On to Expozine... I had a good enough time. I was not as overwhelmed as usual (though I've never been great in crowds), I sold a lotta zines, I picked up some Halifax zines for Fight Boredom Distro, I grabbed the latest issue of Ghost Pine, and I realized that I know quite a few people in this fine city. A success, for me anyway. But I haven't done enough complaining for the day, so I'm going to continue. First of all, I barely saw any zines, at least the photocopied and stapled version that I so love. I saw a lot of t-shirts, posters, books, cds, dvds and expensive stuff. Some of it was cool shit, but being that the event is called ExpoZINE, I'd sure like to see a lot more zines. And I'm not talking about twelve-dollar art zines.

And people who are there solely to advertise their blogs... COME ON. I don't want to be petty, but I've decided that from here on in, if I see people acting like douchebags at zine events, I'm going to call them out publicly, be it to their faces or through this here blog. That said, some of the people from Spacing Montreal were total douchebags. Yelling at every passerby, "Have you heard of our blog? Have you heard of our blog?" and scaring everyone away from surrounding tables. They had postcards for people to fill out with notes on their favourite places in Montreal, which is a cute idea. Unfortunately, though they had pens and paper, they refused to provide the space for people to write things down, which meant that these people would constantly pile their stuff onto my neighbouring sister's table, hiding her zines and making it impossible for other passersby to see her. Totally ignorant and obnoxious behaviour - though perhaps not too surprising, an organization called Spacing taking up too much space? The guy who was tabling for them earlier on seemed nice enough, but new representatives showed up a few hours later and they were no fun to deal with. My sister quickly became frustrated and I had to ask the tablers to be little more respectful and stick to the tabling guidelines. I said, "If you're going to ask people to write things for you, you must be able to provide that space. My sister paid just as much for her table as you did, and you're overstepping your boundaries and hiding it from everyone." They cleared a small space at the front of their table, but it wasn't ten minutes later that they were sliding their things onto her tablecloth again. Finally, she packed up her zines and came to have a beer with me, because those people were fucking annoying. Note to Spacing: Book two fucking tables if you need the space next year.

Another annoyance: The Hard Sell. There are a few of these jerks at every zine fair, the ones who yell at you from behind their table, or who make you feel guilty for not purchasing anything once you've stopped. One that I've dealt with for two years in a row now is Ballz Zine. Last year, they called me to their table, and I went over in order to be polite, but was not particularly interested. They basically tried to hassle me into buying a mixtape, and every time I said no thanks, they'd come back with a rebuttal. It was like being stuck on the phone with a telemarketer (sometimes I'm too nice to hang up). This year, as my sister and I passed by, a girl stood directly in front of us and burst out with, "Do you like to read?? Do you like words??" Instead of taking the hint when we continued walking on, she simply yelled louder. Um, that's not how you make friends. I'm already uncomfortable enough in crowds without some hyper stranger yelling at me. Just let me browse. If I'm interested in your zine, I'll stop and take a look. Maybe I'll even buy it or trade with you. If not, I'll keep on walking. Deal with it.

I struggle with these thoughts often. I love going to zine fairs, but they are overwhelming. I've tabled at many of them over the past... six years? When was my first one? 2004, Peterborough? As a tabler, I feel like I've found a decent balance between conversing with people, letting them browse, and making them feel comfortable. Sometimes I can sense when a person isn't up for conversation, and that's okay with me. As a shy person, I can understand it, and am happy to sit back and continue reading or sewing, or doing whatever to pass the time. I answer people's questions and I try to smile. Attending a zine fair as a visitor rather than a tabler is a different experience. I personally find it quite awkward, as I feel pressure to spend money, and tend to avoid eye contact in order to discourage The Hard Sell, or whatever else may come up. I prefer to flip through zines on my own, perhaps say a quick hello, and maybe make conversation if I'm truly interested in the tabler's work. But mostly, I'm in my own little world and I'd like to stay there. There is no getting around the fact that zine fairs are crowded places, and are often held in small, even dark venues. They will never be perfect. But as attendees, we must learn to respect people's space as much as we possibly can - that means being friendly but not overbearing, not pressuring people to spend money that they may or may not have (I find it quite classist when a zinester rebuts a no thank you with, "But it's only three dollars!" as if that three dollars is nothing at all, when to many, it may be the difference between buying food later on, or catching the bus home), not overstepping boundaries in terms of table space or what-have-you, and not looking at zines as some sort of money-making venture. Let's try to keep these ideas in mind for the future, hmm? Feel free to add more suggestions and share your own stories in the comments.

Fight Boredom Distro News: I've recently addded Culture Slut #23, Femme À Barbe #2, Jen(ny) Ambular #2 and Telegram Ma'am #19.5 to the catalogue. Root #1-#3, Facts About Menstruation That Every Woman Should Know, Telegram Ma'am #18 and #20 and Dig Deep #1 are soon to come. Beginning this week, I'll be tabling with Fight Boredom Distro at McGill University's Midnight Kitchen (SSMU building 3rd floor, 3480 MacTavish) every Wednesday at lunchtime. Come eat yummy PWYC vegan food and check out some rad zines!

In Other Zine News: Hannah recently reviewed Culture Slut #22 and Fight Boredom #5 on her blog. Also, the zine reading that I mentioned in an earlier entry went really well. It was my first time organizing and hosting an event, and although I was nervous, I couldn't have been happier. The fine people at the 2110 Centre For Gender Advocacy decorated with streamers and lights and the room looked so lovely. We all ate good food, drank wine, read zines and laughed a lot. I'm hoping to throw events like this on a regular basis, so get in touch if you're interested.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fight Boredom with Handmade Brooches and the Latest Issue of Culture Slut!

This issue of Culture Slut is slightly different than usual - this time I've printed it in glorious full-colour! It features nearly thirty Polaroids that I've taken over the past year, as well as photobooth strips, collages, crafts and other ephemera. Cut and paste with typewritten text - no computers were used in the making of this issue.

While the focus is mostly on the visual, I do write a little bit about my love of afternoon adventures, the way my grandparents have influenced me, and a recent trip to Portland, Oregon. Special appearances are made by Maranda Elizabeth, Vincent Wilde, Hello Kitty and Lisa Frank.

The price is a little higher this time around, due to the cost of full-colour printing, but I promise you it'll be worth it.

Quarter-size, 46 pages, full-colour. You can order it through my Etsy shop, Paypal to, or mail well-concealed cash to: Amber Forrester / 10124 Ave. Hébert #8 / Montréal, QC / H1H 3W6 Canada. I'll be updating Fight Boredom Distro with the new issue shortly, as well as other titles, like Femme à Barbe #2 and Jen(ny) Ambular #2.

culture slut #23 culture slut #23
culture slut #23 culture slut #23

As if that isn't enough, I've also just listed a whole bunch of hand-embroidered felt brooches. Kate Pinchdog was kind enough to be my model. You know that I’m all about reclaiming the words that people use to put others down, and this is just another part of that. How can anyone insult you by hollering cunt, slut, bitch, dyke, when you’re already wearing the word proudly on your chest?

reclaim the words that people use t put you down reclaim the words that people use to cut you down

Fight Boredom with Expozine and the Zinester Show & Tell Party!

Oh hi! It's been a little while since I've posted an update, so maybe you're wondering what I've been up to? I'll admit that I was feeling down for a little bit there. I had a series of bad happenings, like drinking too much and losing an expensive phone, getting a little deeper into debt than I oughtta be, feeling too icky to go to school... but things are getting better. I've begun volunteering at several different places, and as the weather gets colder, I feel more and more committed to my winter survival plans, which include learning how to make mulled wine, silkscreening, writing a lot and just keeping myself together.

This Saturday, I'll be tabling at Expozine and I just finished a brand new issue of Culture Slut right on time. My sister will be here, so I'm looking forward to spending time with her (and other zinesters) and exploring the city and eating good food.

Tomorrow evening, I'm throwing a zinester show and tell party at the 2110 Centre For Gender Advocacy and I'm really looking forward to it. It's the first event of the sort that I've planned, so here's hoping all goes well. If you're in Montreal, I'd love to see you there!

show and tell culture slut #23