Thursday, June 29, 2006


At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs - Even though I haven't read them all, ERB's characters and imagery have an important part to play in the artistic development of Marty. When I was young and into the whole comics/sci fi thing (as opposed to being old and into it) I discovered an artist named Frank Frazetta. I saw his artwork adorning paperback book covers at the local mall's bookstore. I loved them. I would visit that section of the store every time I went just to look at those paintings. Unlike some smart people, I didn't buy the books based solely on the art. I waited and bought the Frank Frazetta art books. But...I did read some of them anyway.
So, here I am a middle aged man trying to track down those classic ERB books from the past. It's proving difficult. Most are out- of- print which is shameful. That's almost like saying "Lord of the Rings" is out- of- print. I'm finding some at the library. The others I may have to dig around on Amazon or other rare book sites to find. Or hope that they reprint them.
Of all of ERB's creations, Tarzan is the king. But it was the Pellucidar series that captured my imagination. Pellucidar is the world that exists at the center of the earth and it is ruled by Stone Age men and creatures. Two surface men, David Innes and Abner Perry, tunnel through in their iron mole and find that Pellucidar is a most unaccomodating place for modern men. This is where the adventure starts. Granted, it is not the CGI slick adventure of the MTV era but the old-fashioned serial romance pulp adventure of years gone by. It's not high literature by any means but it's fun and fun is why I read. Hopefully after I read all the Pellucidar books I may try to track down some of his others like "Tarzan," "Carson of Venus," and the John Carter/Mars books. I think my mind needs a break from the slick CGI stuff (which I love) for a while. And, it won't kill me to slip a few classics in here and there.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Bone by Jeff Smith - In this one volume edition of Smith's 12 year comic book masterpiece, the fate of the entire population of the Smith's crazy Boniverse is in the hands of a few tiny Bones (from Boneville) and the former royal family of Atheia. This book is huge in scope and rates right up there with Lord of the Rings and Elfquest. It's 1200 pages and it took me a few weeks to get it all read (a page or two every morning at breakfast) but it was worth it. This is a fantastic story with fantastic art. Everything about it is great.'s funny to boot. Comic book fan or no, you should give this epic a try. It transcends the cliche of being a comic book into being something akin to literature with visual aids.
The Martian War by Gabriel Mesta (aka Kevin J. Anderson) - This book supposes that the "War of the Worlds" really happened and that H. G. Wells and friends had a hand in quelling the invasion. This book is populated with many characters from other Wells books such as Dr. Moreau and Hawley Griffin from "The Invisible Man." There is a lot of fantastical stuff in this book and it will stretch your imagination a bit (where does the oxygen come from on their flight into space, etc.) but it's a fairly entertaining book if you enjoy the genre of alternate universes/histories and the like. It's a bit slow in places and the "Well, I say," attitude of the stodgy Britains to martians and the like is just a tad unbelievable. I think if even H. G. Wells met up with a real martian he'd be hard pressed not to at least say, "Holy Crap!"

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Incredible Whiners!

I'm sick to death of hearing how Brett Ratner has ruined the X-Men movie franchise with the latest (and last?) movie. Truth be told, it's not that bad of a movie. I enjoyed it and I'll tell you why I enjoyed it. I went into the theatre with my Comic Book Geek Button switched off. If you like comics and grew up reading comics, this is the only way you are going to enjoy these movies. Brett Ratner isn't the only director that has "messed" up a superhero. It's been going on for years. At the risk of showing my geekiness, here are some examples:

- Wolverine is a touchy-feely wimp compared to his comic book persona.
- Rogue and Wolverine were bitter enemies before they were ever teammates.
- In the comics, Cyclops is a great leader and not a lovesick wuss.
- Dark Phoenix never kills Cyclops and Wolvie never kills her. She kills herself.
- Wolverine never openly reveals his love of Jean.
- Halle Berry is so totally wrong as Storm. Storm is 6' tall and no wimp.
- When the plane is in danger of crashing, Storm does nothing. In the comics, she would create an updraft and land the plane safely. Plus, she flies for crying out loud. She's gonna stay in a plane that's crashing?
- Xavier is just plain boring in the movies. All he does is get put in a coma, get kidnapped, or die.
- Where did all those weird symbols come from on Nightcrawler? And why is he such a downer. In the comics, he's a fun guy. And he and Wolvie are best friends.

Okay, that's enough. You get the idea. What people don't tell you is that Ratner did some things that were kinda cool. We finally get to see the Danger Room (where they train). Colossus throws Wolvie which in the comics is called a "Fastball Special." Kelsey Grammar was good as Beast even though the makeup was a tad weird.
So, all you future superhero moviegoers out there...listen up. Turn off your Buttons, put all aspirations of Oscar aside, leave Turabian at home and just have fun. It's a movie based on a comic book. Release your inner child before you go.
And just so you know, the perfect superhero movie is "The Incredibles." 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Two Hour Tour

Sunday, Sarah and I used our annual pass to take another Argosy Cruise. This one was a tour of Lake Union and Lake Washington. After hustling to get there on time because we went through Fremont (artsy community south of the zoo) during the weekend of the Solstice (translation: Fremont Freak Festival) and got stuck in traffic. We arrived just in time to be a little late. They held the boat and made the captain mad. Such is life. Once on the boat, we started to relax.
On this tour, we saw many spectacular Seattle sights. Some of the highlights include:

- Floating homes (including the one in "Sleepless in Seattle")
- A two story business that is actually a boat
- Bill Gates estate
- The neighborhood where Dave Matthews used to live (he lives close to us now)
- A houseboat that is registered as it's own independent nation
- Dale Chihuly's art studio
- Gasworks Park
- Seaplanes landing and taking off
- The 520 bridge undergoing maintenance
- The wetlands near the Arboretum

You get the picture. There's alot to see in Seattle. So far, my favorite cruise is through the Ballard Locks. Today, Sarah and her friends Heather and Debra were possibly going on the 1 hour Harbor Cruise. It really pays to have that annual pass. We have one for the zoo also. Unlimited fun for limited funds.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I Claim Your Power to Create

I've been pulling stuff out of storage recently and going thru each box, keeping some stuff and throwing some away. I came across a letter written to me back when I was preparing my thesis at seminary. In the letter, Ellen shared a poem with me that is quite good. It's by Ted Loder from the book "Guerillas of Grace." It's called...

I Claim Your Power to Create

O Ingenious One,
it is not only creation,
but creativity
that awes me.
It is a wonderous, fearsome thing
that you share your power to create.

O Mysterious One,
I shrink from your power,
yet I claim it;
and it is mine by your genious
or madness
this power to speak
and have light burst upon a mind
or darkness descend upon a heart;
this power to make music
to which souls dance
or armies march;
this power to mold and paint and carve
and so spin out the stars
by which I plot my course to heaven or to hell;
this power to hear and touch and taste
the love and truth
by which life itself is birthed and built,
or the hate and lies
by which it shrivels and dies.

O Daring One,
it is an awesome power you've shared;
and I rejoice in the artists
who dare to use their gift
to create the beauty which casts this world
into a more whole and holy dimension,
who dare to breathe visions and vibrations
into dullness,
as you breathed life into dust.

O Gracious One,
it is an awesome power you've shared;
and I honor your power
not only in pianist, poet and painter,
but in those whose encouragement ignites my heart,
whose laughter lights up a room,
whose touch fills the void,
whose integrity inpires my will,
whose commitment builds a church,
whose compassion builds community,
whose demands stretch my soul,
and whose love makes my day;
and I honor your power in those artists
of kitchen and office and shop,
and courtroom and classroom and sickroom;
in thos crazy people
who somehow know the world is always unfinished,
and who happily risk pushing and shoving
and tugging and pounding
and making love to it
until it and all of us
come out in a more glorious shape.

O Ingenious One,
it is not only creation,
but creativity
that awes me.
It is a wondrous,
fearsome thing
that you share your power to create.

Going to the Movies

So, Sarah and I decide to go see "Cars" yesterday. Good flick. Not as good as some of the other Pixar favorites but good nonetheless. Anyway, the show was at 4:45 so I ask for 2 tickets. The box office chick says, "That'll be $17.50." Hold the phone, jack. What happened to the matinee price? On weekends, matinee time has gone from "Before 6" to "Before 4." Can you just say it with me...RIP OFF!!
It sucks going to the movies these days. Number one reason...most of the movies suck bigtime. Number two reason...prices keep going up. So, higher prices plus suckier movies equals Marty don't go to the movies much anymore. I made a rule yesterday and Sarah agreed. We only go see the big movies...really big movies like "Superman" in the theater. The rest...we'll watch at home via DVD (Blockbuster Online $17.99 a month) on my 32" television with stereo sound. That's quite good enough for me for most movies. And we are going to try to frequent our local independently owned theater more often. And we're going to not go after 4 on the weekend. Sheesh.
We gotta fight back anyway we can. We've been sneakin' in snacks for a long time now. I remember years ago going to a movie with a friend. She had her backpack so we snuck Subway sandwiches and drinks into the theater. Priceless! Fight the power, people!

Friday, June 16, 2006

My Life with the Beatles

I don't know how old I was but I can distinctly remember sitting on my Uncle David's bed with him and his girlfriend at the time listening to Beatle's records. I was just a tot but Uncle David always let me hang out with him. He was cool that way. Back in those days, I was more captivated by the artwork on the album covers than the music. I remember staring endlessly at the covers to Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. (perhaps feeding the future artist within)
Sometime later, after we had moved to Georgia, my parents gave me an Alvin and the Chipmunks sing the Beatles album. I loved it. Kids really love the Beatles. Have you ever noticed that?
The next memory I have is listening to my Uncle Terry's album collection. My cousins, my sister and I would spend a week with him on his farm. At times it got boring so we searched for music to listen to. We would get into his album collection and give everything a chance. I remember my cousins (all girls) liked the Carpenters and Herman's Hermits. I gravitated toward the Beatles and remember discovering the song "Mockingbird" by Carly Simon and James Taylor.
Sometime while I was in middle school, Uncle Terry let me take a bunch of his albums. I chose a couple of Jimi Hendrix albums (including Are You Experienced) and Sgt. Pepper. I eventually sold the Hendrix albums to a friend. My young ears weren't sophisticated enough to get Hendrix at that time. (don't worry...I have Hendrix on CD now) I kept Sgt. Pepper and played it over and over and over. I didn't quite get it but it entranced me. I even found that on some of the tracks you could flip the balance back and forth and vocals would disappear. I loved that because then I could hear what the music was doing all by itself.
When I was in high school, I played in a band that went nowhere (man) but we had some fun and played a few Beatles songs along the way.
During my ministerial stint in SC, me and a couple of musical compadres had a band that gigged a little around the Columbia area. On our playlist was...of course...several Beatles songs. I even convinced the church I was working at to do a Sunday morning series called "...And The Beatles Said: Questions for God." In the series, we picked several Beatles songs and related them to questions that we have for God. We performed the songs as well. It was a big hit.
I can't pinpoint specific instances when I discovered all of the Beatles' music but I am a big fan. I had that Sgt Pepper album up until not long ago. (don't really remember what happened to it) I have a Beatles watch. I just reserved Beatles Anthology to my queue at I am checking out all the discs from the library (because my collection was stolen out of my jeep a while back) and loving them all over again. Still fresh after thousands of listenings. Can you say that about other groups who have been around that long? Not really. So, if you're a fan...pull those CD's out and rejoice. If you're not a fan or (heaven forbid) have never heard the, do not walk, to your nearest library and check out everything they've done. You won't be disapointed...and if you are...I don't want to hear about it.

Paul McCartney Turns 64

When I'm 64
by Paul McCartney & John Lennon
(even though we all know Paul wrote it)

When I get older losing my hair,
Many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

You'll be older too,
And if you say the word,
I could stay with you.

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride,
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

Every summer we can rent a cottage,
In the Isle of Wight,
if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera Chuck & Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four.

Things That Bug Me

- Loud, booming stereos in cars blasting rap music.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Wine (and Doughnuts) in the Wilderness

Last night, after our requisite dinner at PF Chang's, Sarah and I attended a play at ACT (A Contemporary Theatre...cute, huh?) called "Wine in the Wilderness." Here's the synopsis.

Against the backdrop of a race riot, Bill, a college educated painter, gains insight into more than his art when he clashes with his working-class model over everything from food to politics. Written in 1969, this black classic tells a truthful, tender story of a man and a woman reaching toward intimacy, artistic truth, and a vision of community they can share. A significant piece by the first African American woman to have her work professionally produced on the American stage, Wine in the Wilderness uses laughter and straight talk to paint its own portrait of love and longing in turbulent times.

The play was good. Great performances by all.

After the play, I suggested we go to Krispy Kreme for dessert. When we got there, the store part was closed. Closed? (in the south, many KK's are open 24 hours) So, we head to the drive-thru. I hate ordering doughnuts at the drive-thru. I want to see 'em, sitting there in their little case whispering, "Pick me. Pick me." Well, we get to the drive-thru and the guy on the speaker barely speaks english. This was so weird for me. I expect to hear a southern accent coming from a KK speaker. McDonald's? Any accent will do. Krispy Kreme? It must be southern. So, after several attempts to explain what we want (Again, if we were inside...point, click, done!) we finally get our dozen assorted doughnuts (over $7...what are made outta gas?) and head home. They were real good but the whole experience left me missing the south just a little and thinking, "Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore."

Things That Bug Me

- Someone who acts like you're their best buddy one day and then don't know you the next.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Humorless in Seattle

Adam and Heather came over the other night for dinner. (Pot roast...yumm!) They are also from the south (NC) but moved here via Boston. Our conversation was all over the place as usual but something Heather said struck a chord with me. She is working part time at a nursery and she mentioned that the customers don't get her sense of humor. One lady walked off in a huff apparently not sensing the humor in what Heather was saying. I have experienced this as well.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself to be a Robin Williams or Jim Carrey but in my time and place, I can be quite funny. Well, my time and place ain't Seattle. When I try to be funny here, people stare at me like I just killed the pope or something. People that are from the south laugh and people that know me laugh but others...forget about it. Did I become instantly unfunny crossing the Continental Divide? I don't think so. Apparently there is a huge cultural difference that causes this but for the life of me I can't figure it out. I will admit that, in my opinion, people take themselves way too seriously out here. I, for one, would like to see them loosen up a bit. It's okay to not be seen reading the latest intellectual bestseller while sipping coffee at the local joint. This goes for you Christians too. Put down the Donald Miller for a while and pick up Calvin and Hobbes. Seattle, you need a laugh.


Orbit by John J. Nance - America has finally entered the private space race as average citizens get to experience the thrill of orbiting earth. Kip Dawson wins a chance to orbit with a private company called ASA. His marriage is on the rocks and his relationship with his kids is not good but he can't pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Once in space, things go horribly wrong. (As they tend to do in these types of novels) The pilot is killed and Kip is left alone with no way back to earth. He records his life via laptop and is unaware that it is being streamed live to earth. Soon everyone on the planet is captivated with Kip's story and whether he will live or die.
I have enjoyed Nance in the past but this one seemed too long even at a brisk 275 pages. The way it was written, it could have been an awesome novella but as it was it seemed about 100 pages too long. Also, the things Kip revealed about himself via computer were inconsequential to me. I wanted more depth, more regret, more meaty matters for Kip to confess and for the world at large to chew on. Nance follows the rescue effort too much and Kip too little. A fair read but not what I expect from Nance.
Route 666: Highway of Horror by Tony Bedard and Karl Moline - A horror comic? Gasp! When will I grow up? Never. I love graphic novels and this is a good one. Carrie Starkweather witnesses the freakish death of a friend and uncovers a plot that involves dead bodies, monsters and ghosts. She also discovers her "gift" via an after death visit by her grandfather. As the body count rises, Carrie races to discover what the plot is, how to stop it and, most importantly, how to use her gift.
This one is pretty good. It would make a killer movie although the whole story hasn't played out and I have no idea how it ends. I will have to track down other volumes (if they exist) to find out what happens to Carrie.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Good Deed for the Day

On Thursday as Sarah and I exited the theatre on our way to deal with my storage issues, we met an elderly blind man in front of the thrift store. Basically he said, "Hello" and "Help." At first, we just thought he needed to get to the drugstore so I grabbed his arm and off we went while Sarah went on to the jeep. Once there, I found out he needed to get to the Greenwood Senior Center which is about 10 blocks away. He was gonna walk it but I said, "No way" and we gave him a ride. His name was Bob and he was a nice fellow. Turns out he's on the board at the Senior Center which is throwing a benefit concert at the theatre which I am running sound for. So, we dropped him off and I told him I would look for him on Sunday.
I'm so glad he asked for help. I admire that fact that he is independent enough to think he could do it on his own but I'm also proud that he came to the realization that he needed help and asked for it. I would have never been alert enough to know he was needing assistance. I have a tendency to walk with my head down in the streets. It's a nice neighborhood but there are some homeless who want handouts from time to time. Downtown they can be a bit obnoxious at times. A couple of weeks ago, I had one guy who got in front of me and wouldn't let me go on until he delivered his schpiel. I would have given him something but I don't carry cash. I wish it didn't have to be like that. I wish I could help people without thinking, "Are they legit? Are they really hungry or are they going to go booze it up?"

Friday, June 09, 2006


Sharper Than A Serpent's Tooth by Simon R. Green - The continuing adventures of John Taylor in the Nightside. His mother, Lilith, is on the warpath, trying to destroy the Nightside and reshape it to her vision. John must stop her or lose everything and everyone he's ever cared about.
I like these "Nightside" stories. They're simple but fun dark urban fantasy. They're short so they don't take too much time and the characters that fill the Nightside make me laugh. They're so outrageous. Serious literature this ain't. But fun. Did I say fun?
Superman/Batman: Generations II by John Byrne - Byrne is my favorite comic artist of all time. He breathed new life into the X-Men back in the 70's and those stories are the very model for everything that has come since. In this book, he spins alternate timeline stories about two of our favorite superheroes. Again, not great literature but a fun read. I read to rest my mind. I hate reading deep stuff all the time.
Julia Margaret Cameron's Women by Sylvia Wolf - I didn't have time to read all the text but I did peruse the photographs with great care. JMC is one of my favorite Victorian photographers. I really gravitated toward these in college and my love for them still lives. Sarah loves them too (She's a great big fan of Victorian stuff) These photos are quite beautiful. No airbrushing just lovely everyday women from that era. Really beautiful stuff. I hope to get this book out again some time because I would love to delve into the biographies of the different women that posed for JMC.

Blogger Down Bad...Blogger Up Good

Blogger's been down for a couple of days but it seems okay now. Sometime soon, I'll catch up on my blogging. I have a couple of book reviews and some reflections to write. Catch up soon, I promise.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yet Another Article About Bill

BILL REESE 1967-2006
Minister was a beloved teacher

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

ARLINGTON - On April 20th, Bill Reese was celebrating the sixth birthday of his son, Forest, with his wife and newborn daughter.
But when stomach pain kept him from eating much at Forest's birthday party, his wife insisted that he go to the doctor.
He was admitted to Arlington Memorial Hospital the next day and was soon diagnosed with liver cancer.
Mr. Reese spent the remaining five weeks of his life at the hospital, except for the last few minutes. He died Monday shortly after being taken home in an ambulance to be with his family.
"It all happened so quickly. But we were all here and it was quiet," his wife, Jane Reese, said. "It was peaceful."
Mr. Reese lived a vital, active life.
The 39-year-old teacher had a black belt in karate and had recently played the genie in a Creative Arts Theatre and School production of Aladdin.
He worked extra jobs so his wife could stay home with their children.
In addition to teaching speech at Sam Houston High School, he also taught at Dallas Baptist University and worked as an associate pastor at Park Springs Baptist Church.
"He worked three jobs so I could be a homemaker, because he knew my heart was here with the children," Jane Reese said.
Mr. Reese grew up in South Carolina and earned a bachelor's degree from Charleston Southern University and a master's degree from the University of South Carolina.
He met his wife while they were both studying at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
Jane's father, David Gouge, said he liked Mr. Reese from the start because Mr. Reese was old-fashioned.
"He asked me for my blessing of his relationship with Jane," Gouge said. "And he promised me that he would ask me for her hand in marriage when it was time."
When Mr. Reese was diagnosed with liver cancer, his doctor told him that it was terminal, his wife said.
"The doctor said that he should go home and get his affairs in order," Jane Reese said. "But he wanted to fight. And we found a doctor that wanted to fight. It wasn't so much for him, as it was for us. It bought him more time and gave us more time to make peace."
He used the time to videotape messages for his young children, Forest and Savannah, now two months old. He also inscribed a message in his Bible for Forest. A friend took a portrait of the family in a hospital room while other friends held up a black sheet as a backdrop.
"He bucked up for that," his mother-in-law Louise Gouge said. "He wanted to make sure that everybody else was OK, because he knew he was OK."
During his illness, a family friend created a Web site to update supporters about Mr. Reese's condition. A group of men from Park Springs Baptist Church and other churches took turns staying the night with Mr. Reese.
Mr. Reese rarely talked about his illness, but asked about what was going on in the lives of his guests. He handed out books of scripture and talked about God.
The student council at Sam Houston organized a fundraiser that raised more than $2,300 to help with expenses.
"They thought very highly of him, not just the students, but the faculty," Sam Houston Principal Beverley McReynolds said. "Students connect with teachers who put forth that extra effort and show that they care, and that's something that Mr. Reese did very well."
The student response was especially meaningful, the family said.
"When you're a teacher, you don't know if you're making an impact. That touched my heart," Jane Reese said. "Before he passed, he was able to see that he had touched their lives."
Jane Reese plans to have her husband's body cremated and spread his ashes in the mountains of Tennessee, where he spent many weekends with his family growing up.
Left to remind Jane Reese of her husband is a binder of e-mails that friends sent to the hospital, baskets of cards and several laminated posters signed by students wishing him well.
"He was much beloved," she said. "I'm not surprised by it. It was a testament to how he lived his life."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don't Try the Stake Sandwich

"Vampire" To Protest White Castle's Garlic Sandwich
Reported by: 9News

A Cincinnati man who claims he's a vampire is planning to protest a new fast food sandwich made with garlic.
The man says White Castle has "angered the undead" with its new garlic cheese sandwich.
He plans to picket the Queensgate White Castle location on Sunday.

Whoever said, "Truth is stranger than fiction" knew what they were talking about.