Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Music with No Lyrics

"Call it aura. Art always has had to do with aura -- spiritual aura in the past, individual aura in modern times -- and this applies not just to visual art. Religious music, for example, was written to express piety and honor the church. Court music was composed to compliment the king. But in the modern era, secular symphonies arrived. What were they supposed to celebrate? The temperament of the composer. As the pianist Charles Rosen has written, pure instrumental music came to have 'its own law, its own reason for existing: it [was] produced by the artist not for a purpose but because he must -- out of an 'inner necessity'"

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

Gluttony, Gifts and Good Will

What a Christmas! It was a whirlwind of activity. Quite the change from last year. The difference is finding a church where we're forging friendships with some good folks. It's a welcome change, believe me.
On Christmas Eve, we went to church that morning and grabbed a light lunch. We then went home, watched Home Alone and got ready for the evenings festivities. We started off with a nice get-together at the Cox's. We had a big turkey meal with all the trimmings and it was good. Knowing we had another get-together after church, Sarah and I held back. We then headed off to the Christmas Eve Lite Brite Service at our church. True to the name, they had what looked like a giant Lite Brite in the sanctuary with different Christmas pictures displayed. The kids did a Nativity presentation that was hysterical. (the two young divas fighting over the one microphone was classic) After church, we headed to our second party of the day at the Douglas home. As we entered, smoked salmon was thrust upon us and we dove in heartily. After a little while, we sat down for a 5 course dinner featuring prime rib. It was a fantastic meal and even better company. We had a wonderful time. Later that night, we wobbled home, swallowed every antacid known to man and went to bed.
Christmas morning arrived and there was much snoring. We slept until about 9 and slowly pulled our creaky bones out from under the covers. After we were successful in waking ourselves up, we commenced with the gift exchange. Sarah got me a belgian waffle iron and the complete set of Monty Python's Flying Circus on DVD. I gave her Creature Comforts Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD and a gift card to go get some funky star lamps she wants. We also got each other several of our favorite snacks but they were met with a lackluster 'thank you' and tossed aside. We talked to our parents on the phone and then ate the Stollen (a german fruitcake and Sarah's family tradition) we had gotten for the occasion. Later we had Christmas lasagna (our new tradition) and went over to some of our new church friends house for games and more food. (we didn't eat much over there)
As you can see, it's been a busy season but a good one. Going back to work wasn't fun but there's hardly anyone around at the theatre so it's kind of quiet. I hope your holiday was as fun as ours. I just hope I fit into my clothes once the new year rolls around.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Len Sweet at the Kindlings Muse

"We are supposed to be closest to the Creator and for the church to be the least creative place a scandal." - Len Sweet

"The Bible has this phrase: Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold. Don't let the church squeeze you into its mold either because the church can squeeze you alot harder than the world can into certain conventions and molds." - Len Sweet

"...there are certain times in history where God is more active in the world than in the church and I think we're living in one of them right now. I think God's doing some incredible stuff out there but I don't think alot of it's in the church, I think alot of it is in this culture and I think our job is to join him in what he's doing and in whoever he's appearing in." - Len Sweet

"To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed is to be a pilgrim." - Mark Nepo

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Stroll and Some Scrolls

Sarah and I finally went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls down at the Pacific Science Center. We had free passes since she helped them in the planning stage with some costuming issues. I found it to be a very educational experience. I really enjoyed reading the placards and listening to the audio provided. I loved seeing the arts and crafts of the day; a comb, a basket, some cloth, pots. Then when it came time to see the scrolls it was pretty amazing. Words can't describe my thoughts so I won't even try. It has prompted me to perhaps do a little more research. Even the little room at the end with the sacred texts from different cultures was pretty awesome in and of itself.
After exiting the exhibit, we made our way to the monorail. After last years accident where two of them collided, they've been shut down most of the year and have only recently been running again. Well, when we got over there, they were shut down again. I guess we'll never get to ride the stupid thing. As we said last night as we walked away, "Stupid, stupid monorail."
Since that didn't work out, we ducked into Center House to get change for the bus and discovered a Christmas Village with working trains. It was pretty cool. After taking a few pics for my Uncle Jerry (he loves trains) we scooted out into the rain to catch the bus down to the shopping district. We spent some time finishing up Christmas shopping and ate dinner at P. F. Chang's. It was fairly bustling downtown. Actually it was a madhouse. Nordstroms has a Santa Claus house built on the corner and the line to see the Jolly Old Elf (and get pricey pics) was down the block. We got tired out pretty quickly and took a cab back to our vehicle at Seattle Center. Once home, we enjoyed some dessert and watched some Battlestar Galactica. It was fun to get out but it's so crazy at Christmas. I'll be glad when it slows down after the first of the year. Then we can trek back downtown and enjoy it without the mobs.


The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The premise is simple: A young boy and his father trek across a post-apocalyptic landscape, surviving day to day in an inhospitable environment. It's a plain story told plainly yet I found myself rooting for these two lost souls. Actually, not much happens in the story. It's actually pretty cliche. They journey, they find food, they run out of food, all seems hopeless, they find food again, etc. And yet, I kept with it. I was compelled to see if things would turn out alright for the man and the boy. Do they? You'll have to read it yourself to see.

Art is Discovery

"I think that part of the artmaking that it's often about discovery. It may start out with a kernel of an idea but eventually it'll move to something larger and you don't know where it's going but you know how to respond and shape." - Roger Feldman (Artist and Professor of Art at Seattle Pacific University)

Source: The Incarnation: An Artful Evening, a podcast from The Kindlings Muse

A Poem of Incarnation

Made Flesh
Luci Shaw

After the bright beam of hot annunciation
fused heaven with dark earth
his searing sharply-focused light
went out for a while
eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
his cool immensity of splendor
his universal grace
small-folded in a warm dim
female space—
the Word stern-sentenced
to be nine months dumb—
infinity walled in a womb
until the next enormity—the Mighty,
after submission to a woman’s pains
helpless on the barn-bare floor
first-tasting bitter earth.
Now, I in him surrender
to the crush and cry of birth.
Because eternity
was closeted in time
he is my open door
to forever.From his imprisonment my freedoms grow,
find wings.
Part of his body, I transcend this flesh.
From his sweet silence my mouth sings.
Out of his dark, I glow.
My life, as his,
slips through death’s mesh,
time’s bars,
joins hands with heaven,
speaks with stars.

Dag Quote

"God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason." - Dag Hammarskjold

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Poems About Jesus

Comic poet Jude Simpson has written some interesting poems about Jesus. You can find them all here. Make sure you also click on the MP3s which allow you to listen to them read by Jude herself.
There are also some poems by journalist Steve Turner. Check those out here.

Art and Beauty: Urinals, Tattoos and Nudity

"I realized recently how frustrating it can be to fail to see what others find beautiful. have ever walked into a museum or gallery or looked at a picture in a magazine...and wondered how anything so ugly and lacking in taste had come to be considered art, you might recall the moment in 1917 when Marcel Duchamp acquired a porcelain urinal from a plumbing equipment manufacturer...signed it "R. Mutt," and submitted the now infamous Fountain to the Society of Independent Artists exhibition...The society...found the urinal beyond the pale.
"You mean to say, if a man sent in horse manure glued to a canvas that would have to accept it?" asked the artist George Bellows.
"I'm afraid we would," replied Walter Arensberg, Duchamp's patron and champion, who had shopped with him for Fountain.
Arensberg...went on to defend the work aesthetically as a "lovely form," which was going too far even for Duchamp, who later said he was horrified that his readymades...had come to be admired for their beauty. "I thought to discourage aesthetics," he said. "I threw...the urinal in their faces as a challenge, and now they admire them for their aesthetic beauty."

"Immanuel Kant...saw engravings of tattooed native New Zealanders and announced that the tattoos did not enhance the beauty of the human figure. That was just one man's aesthetic opinion. It seems never to have occurred to him that the tattoos may not have had an aesthetic purpose but were the consequence of a ritual or religious passage: through the painful process of tattooing, the tattooed New Zealander achieved power. What was a question of beauty to one man was something entirely different to another."
So how to define the beautiful? The ancient Greeks...devised a mathematical scheme for the proportions of the human body that set an abstract ideal of physical beauty, which has little to do with real life. As Kenneth Clark wrote, "It is widely supposed that the naked human body is in itself an object upon which the eye dwells with pleasure and which we are glad to see depicted. But anyone who has frequented art schools and seen the shapeless, pitiful model that the students are industriously drawing will know this is an illusion."

"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in its proportion." - Francis Bacon

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joe Barbera: 1911-2006

With his partner William Hanna, Joe Barbera is one of the pioneers of animation. The Jetsons, the Flintstones, Yogi Bear and countless other creations have blessed our lives with much needed humor. Their greatest gift to the world was the Tom and Jerry cartoons. These early MGM toons stand timeless along with the works of Disney, Fleischer, Jones and other giants of the industry. They also created my favorite cartoon of all time, Jonny Quest.
Thanks, Joe, for all the great toons.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Another Sick Cat

Max is doing better but now Mickey is sick. Fortunately we know what his problem is. Over the last couple of days, he's eaten every bit of food we've left out for Max and now his tummy is upset. I'd accuse him of being jealous of all the attention we've been giving Max but the evidence is mounting. I'll tell you...I've had about enough with the cat emissions over the last couple of days. I just hope these two get better soon. It's heartbreaking to see these little guys not feeling well.

The Call: A Wild Ride

When I was a youth minister in SC I took a group of young people whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River in NC. I had been rafting once before, on a guided trip down the Ocoee River in TN. On this particular trip, we had a family with us that were, all of them, expert rafters. Because of this, I was told we didn't need to have guides for the trip. It ended up being a big mistake. Once we arrived at the river, I found out that the family each had their own individual conveyances for the trip. None of them would be with us in the rafts. Too late to do anything about it, we jumped in the rafts and took off.
I knew it was going to be a long trip when, on the first turn, I was thrown off the raft into the cold water. After the initial shock of hitting the water, I immediately got my body into the position taught to me on my previous rafting trip. The position is designed to minimize injury. It worked to some extent, although my behind dragged the rocky bottom and made it uncomfortable to sit for a while. I lost my shoes, hat and sunglasses on that dunk and we had barely started. I finally rejoined the rafts and we got on our way again. Things went smoothly for most of the rest of the trip and I assumed our troubles were over. I was wrong.
Near the end of the trip, our group hit a trouble spot. We came around a corner and saw many people in the water with empty rafts surrounding them. The people on the shore were yelling at us to do something but I couldn't hear them over the noise of the people in the water and the river itself. The next thing I know, our raft hits and rock and goes completely vertical. Our entire group was thrown into the water. Having been there already, I remained calm.
Unfortunately, others did not. When I surfaced, I came up near one of my girls and she was, in a word, freaking out. I reached out and grabbed her and, while trying to speak words of comfort to her, started dragging her to shore. Once we got everyone out of the water we found that everyone was safe and sound. The rafts were secure and waiting for us to return to the trip. At that point it was made known that the end of the journey was right around the next bend and that it could be walked. With that revelation, half of our party chose to hoof it the rest of the way. They had had enough of the water.
The few that decided to join me in finishing in the rafts mounted up and we headed for the finish line. We were tired, sore and still had a 3-4 hour drive back to SC. Needless to say, it was a memorable day. Despite all the drama that ensued that day, I can't wait for another opportunity to do some whitewater rafting.
This past Sunday, our Sunday morning class at church is continuing its discussion about the Call of God on an individuals life. Our instructor has begun to talk about the Holy Spirit a lot of late. He is concerned that we, as Christians, are not tapping into the power that is available to us. He is concerned that we are too terrified to fully submit to the Call that is on our lives. I would have to say that he is 100% correct on that point.
Fully submitting to the will or call of God on our lives is like rafting down a raging river. Sometimes you hear the instructions of the guide and sometimes it seems as if there's no guide at all. Sometimes you feel confident you are conquering the river. Sometimes you fall out of the raft and into the dangerous rapids. You have no control. There is no steering. The water takes you where it will. It pulls you under and then lets you up for air. The rocks bruise and scratch your body as you continually fight for life. Death, at this point, is a very real possibility. Finally, the current lets up and you are able to crawl to shore a battered heap of wet exhaustion.
These thoughts are incomplete and I may visit them again sometime. I guess what I'm trying to say is do we stay safe on the shore or jump in and see where the current takes us? Right now, I'm on the shore. I've nearly drowned in the past so I don't trust the guide anymore. But every now and again, I stick my big toe in the water and wonder if I really should jump back in the water.


Flaming London by Joe R. Lansdale
In this sequel to Zeppelins West, Ned the Seal returns to team up with Mark Twain, Jules Verne and an odd assortment of characters in their fight against the Martian tripods.
I mentioned earlier that Zeppelins West was a strange book and I didn't know if I would read the sequel or not. Well, I caved and read it. It was short so what the heck. This one had a bit more of a plot and more interesting characters but I'm not about to put any of these books up for a major literary award.
Reader beware! These books contain offensive language and, as I said before, just plain weird. Read at your own risk.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sick Kitty Report

Max is doing much better today. The day started with us thinking he was about the same but he's been eating some and been very clingy, wanting lots of attention. (which is good because he's been hiding alot the last few days) We had a bit of an episode with kitty poop tonight. If you have a weak stomach, do not read on...but it's too funny not to share.
Sarah and I kinda lazed around and watched a movie this afternoon. Afterward, as we prepared to give Max his medicine I noticed something brown on the back of Sarah's shirt. I told her about it and then stuck my finger in it thinking it was chocolate cake (which we had just eaten). Thank God I sniffed rather than tasted. It was poop. Poor Max's pooper isn't working quite right yet and he had gotten some on the pillow on the futon which Sarah had been laying on. YUCK! Well, we stripped the futon and all other contaminated materials and had a pretty good laugh about the whole thing. (especially the part about the possibility of me sticking my finger in my mouth to taste the "chocolate") To top it all off, Sarah had made brownies. It's funny. Neither one of us had a craving for brownies tonight. And again, I say YUCK!
So, Max is better and we're pooped! Pray that Max continues to improve over the coming days. These cats are our kids and it hurts to have one be under the weather.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Art is Out There...

"Art is out there waiting to be captured, the only question being whether we are prepared to recognize it."

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

Churchill on Painting

"...he (Churchill) recalled the first time he tried to paint a landscape out of doors. The great man of action felt paralyzed by indecision until a friend grabbed his brushes and started splashing and walloping paint 'on the absolutely cowering canvas. Anyone could see that it could not hit back. No evil fate avenged the jaunty violence. The canvas grinned in helplessness before me. The spell was broken. The sickly inhibitions rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.' Churchill therefore found painting 'complete as a distraction. I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, completely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them in the mental screen. They pass out into shadow and darkness. All ones mental light, such as it is, becomes concentrated on the task. Time stands respectfully aside, and it is only after many hesitations that luncheon knocks gruffly at the door. When I have had to stand up on parade, or even, I regret to say, in church, for half and hour at a time, I have always felt that the erect position is not natural to man, has only been painfully aquired, and is only with fatigue and difficulty maintained. But no one who is fond of painting finds the slightest inconvenience, as long as the interest holds, in standing to paint for three or four hours at a stretch.'"

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Sick Kitty

Our cat Max is still sick. He's lethargic, dehydrated and won't eat. The vet took blood and gave him an injection to help with the dehydration. He also has some food he's supposed to eat. We won't hear the results on the blood work until tomorow. So far, he won't eat. I picked him up and held him and he purred a little bit. That's the first time he's done that in 2 days so it was encouraging. If you don't mind praying for a sick cat, say a few for Max. We want our little guy to be well.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
A shipwreck survivor is rescued and brought to a mysterious island where strange experiments blur the line between man and beast.
I am trying, from time to time, to read some of the classics I've missed out on over the years. Although I knew the basics of the story of Dr. Moreau, I had never read it before now. I'm glad I did. It's a great yarn that has implications for today's culture. H. G. Wells was truly a visionary writer. I wish someone would do an updated movie of this story. I think it could be fantastic if done well. Of course, the one with Marlon Brando was a fiasco. I haven't seen the one made in the 70's but I'm going to rent it. I'm terribly interested in the seeing the one made in the 30's. I hear it's the darkest and best.

Sleep Deprivation

Neither Sarah nor I are sleeping very well. Coming off the Christmas production at church we were very tired and thought we would catch up on some sleep. NOT! And as if insomnia wasn't enough, last night we had to take our cat Max to the emergency vet. Turns out he was severely constipated and they had to do two enemas to get him cleaned out. The poor doctor came back after the ordeal with a different pair of pants on. I wonder what happened?
So, we get Max home and we're back in bed by 1am. I decide to sleep in and come in to work later. Forget that! I still woke up relatively early and finally just got up and came in to work.
Max is traumatized and refuses to come out from under the bed and every 8 hours I have to lift the bed up so Sarah can pull him out so we can give him his medicine which traumatizes him further. It's a never ending cycle. Tonight we go to the show at Taproot with friends. After that, let's hope the Sandman visits us. He would be a welcome guest in our home for sure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

White Elephant

Today was Taproot's Christmas brunch down at the Edgewater. After chowing down on some delicious Eggs Benedict, we had a white elephant gift exchange. It was quite fun. The first gift I opened was the Jesus and Mary Clock. (the pic of Mary on the right side morphs into Jesus) I loved it which meant, of course, that someone stole it. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to steal it back later and it became mine. It's so kitschy. I'm going to hang it in the studio.
Guess I'll have to genuflect every time I sit down at the computer.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bob Ross and the Power of Art

"This is your world on this piece of canvas. You can do anything that your heart desires here. You have absolute and total power. This is the only place in the world I have any power. Here, here I am a dictator--boy, I can do anything here, anything, and you can, too." - Bob Ross

"Ross thereby touched on a basic reason for making art--to have a place to indulge your id and comfort your ego, an area of authority, where perhaps, secondarily, with luck and a little effort, you might make something good enough to hang on the wall or show to strangers. Ross's message was: You may feel hemmed in by work or by family, but before an easel (or, by implication, at a piano keyboard, or in a dance studio, or typing your novel) you are your own master."

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

An Artist

An Artist is like God, but small.
He can't see out of God's creation,
For it includes him.
With the seas divided,
All the animals named, and the sun and moon and stars
Set in their tracks, an artist spends his life
Not only wondering,
But wanting to work like God
With what he can command: his paints.
He tries to copy God's creations.
He tries to shape beauty with his hand.
He tries to make order out of nature.
He tries to paint the thoughts and feelings in his mind.
An artist is like God
As God created him.
Small, strong, and with limited days,
His gift of breath is spent
Over his paintbox.
Choosing and brushing his colors,
He tries to make paint sing.

This poem is from a children's book by M. B. Goffstein. I heard it read by Nigel Goodwin on the latest podcast from The Kindlings Muse. If you are an artist of faith, you simply must listen to this show called An Artist is Like God.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Aunt Pookie and the Wrong Pastor

Here we are in our "get-ups" from the play. Aren't we cute?

"Nothing Worse Than Bad Christmas Plays"

Which is not the case at our church. The title line is actually a line from the play itself...a zinger for all those churches out there doing bad Christmas plays. Believe me...I know. I've been in quite a few of them myself. Thankfully, this was not one of them. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
Last night was the last performance of The Creche Collector and it was bittersweet. On one hand, Sarah and I have had the time of our lives. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to finally feel connected in a church and to be doing something you feel gifted to do. Over the course of these last few months of preparing this play for production, Sarah and I have come to feel more and more at home at NW Church. During the final week of rehearsals and performances, I really feel that new friendships have begun. Yesterday was especially memorable as we sat around the table with our new friends talking and laughing. I haven't laughed like that in a long time and it felt good. Really good. I told a few of our new friends how I was feeling and that it really felt good to be in this place. They reiterated with kindness and basically said, "You're stuck with us now." The other side of the coin is that we are just dog tired from the whole thing and it's good to finally get some rest.
This experience has also been different in that it's been amazing to work with the director/writer Jeff Berryman. We've been attending his Sunday morning classes (which are challenging and just awesome) and we've been meeting with him as members of the church's artists group. This was different. I've worked under many directors but I don't think I've learned as much as I did working with Jeff. He teaches as he directs and I learned alot. I hope to hang out and learn a whole lot more before it's all said and done.
Tomorrow night is our cast party. It's been good to rest today but I think we've missed seeing these good folks that we've basically been living with for the past 2 weeks (although we did run into a couple of them at church this morning). I'm looking forward to the party. I am also looking forward to seeing where these new relationships lead. Sarah and I have been lonely for friends here in Seattle. I hope that these will be healthy and happy relationships for all involved.
PS: The picture I've included is of Sarah as Aunt Pookie trying to get her lighter to work as she deals with Cole about the stolen creche.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pierre Bonnard on Art/Life

"I had been attracted to painting and drawing for a long time, but it was not an irresistable passion; what I wanted, at all costs, was to escape the monotony of life."

Source: The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Creche Collector

The church Christmas production has kicked into high gear. This week sees us rehearsing from 6 - 11 every evening with performances running from Thursday thru Saturday. Sarah and I are both in it. We have small parts. I am playing "The Wrong Pastor," a transplanted Southern preacher with a craving for chicken fried chicken sandwiches. Sarah is playing "Aunt Pookie," a mean old biddy. Here's a synopsis of the story.

When young Will Callus, a seventeen-year-old foster child brings his créche collection (nativity sets) to the Leffermann home, Cole Davis, a cynical newspaperman with a weakness for a good story, gets curious about Will’s past. As the Leffermanns and their small church community prepare for another Living Nativity, Cole traces the mystery of this young boy’s obsession with Christ’s birth through a menagerie of offbeat characters, and in the process finds what both he and Will have been searching for all along.

This experience has been and continues to be a whole lot of fun. It has really given us a chance to get to know folks at church (being the newbies) and it's a really good play. Kudos go out to Jeff Berryman. He's the writer/director of the play. I give him big props for writing a church Christmas play that is not cheesy and even bigger props for being one of the best directors I've worked with. It's been a pleasure. If you're in the Seattle area and want to see the show, c'mon out. I guarantee an evening that will be well worth your while.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey
"Philip Yancey asks the question that haunts many believers: Why should I bother with the church? From growing up in rural Georgia in a fundamentalist church to his experience at LaSalle Street Church in inner city Chicago, Philip reflects on the church, his own perceptions of it, and the various metaphors the Bible uses to describe it. Yancey's own early church experience set his faith back by many years. In Church: Why Bother? he offers us a glimpse of his pilgrimage back to faith and to the church as a place of real community and spiritual vitality. This honest and insightful book will help you explore your questions about the place of the church in the life of faith and how to find spiritual connection and community." (from the publisher)
Even though this book doesn't give me the excuse to stop going to church, (kidding) it does give some great answers to burning questions for those who are slightly fed up with church in this day and age. And, of course, in the end I find that while pointing fingers at the church I have three pointing back at me. The church is comprised of people and people are pretty flawed. There's a reason why the Bible refers to us as sheep and it's not because we're fluffy and cute. It's because we are dumb. We screw everything up...even church.

Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale
"The Wild West Show travels by Zeppelin to perform before a Shogun, soon to be emperor of Japan, only to discover the Frankenstein monster is being whittled down slowly and ground into aphrodisiacs by the would-be ruler. Buffalo Bill, who, due to a recent accident, exists only as a battery powered head in a jar of liquid manufactured from the best that modern science and pig urine has to offer, along with Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and a cast of historical as well as literary characters, rescue the monster, only to be shot down over the Pacific, where they are saved from sharks by Captain Nemo and his intellectual seal, Ned. And then things get weird." (from
And then things get weird. An understatement if I've ever heard one. This is, perhaps, the strangest book I've ever read. How do you describe a book that mixes legends of the Old West, the sci-fi writings of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and a healthy dose of irreverent humor. You can't. And the fact that there's no plot to speak of doesn't help the situation.
So, what drew me to this book in the first place? Well, I love Lansdale's book The Bottoms. I like some of the alternate history fiction that's out there. This seemed like it might be a fun read. It was kinda fun but also kinda just odd. I think Lansdale could do well with this genre if he would think of a plot. It's one thing to thrust historical and fictional characters together and hope something interesting happens. Perhaps he thought the juxtaposition of said characters would provide all the entertainment necessary. I don't agree. These characters needed a call, a quest, a goal to strive for. Some had them but they were weakly developed.
Now, my quandry is that I also read this because I was more interested in the sequel, Flaming London. Do I take my chances and read that one as well, hoping for more of a plot this time? I don't know. I'll let you know if I do.

Update on Mark Driscoll

In a nutshell, Mark met with leaders from around Seattle and the situation has been smoothed over. The protest has been called off. If you'd like to read more about the resolution of this situation, go here.