Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Meme

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

Travelled to Alaska, Canada and Iowa; experienced a blizzard and white out conditions; emceed a dog show.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No. I don't do resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, they all had the decency to go to the hospital.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
Good health and peace of mind.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I have had some success with my art.

8. What was your biggest failure?
Not being a better husband.
9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes, some gastro issues that still plague me to some degree.
10. What was the best thing you bought?
Our vacation to Alaska.
11. Where did most of your money go?
Cats, medical bills, art supplies, food.

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My art.
13. Compared to this time last year, are you:
 a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?

a) Happier in some ways, sadder in others. b) Thinner. c) Poorer.
14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Making art and playing parchesi.
15. What do you wish you’d done less of?
16. What was the best book you read?

Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer, Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman.
17. What did you want and get?

Success with my art; a great part in the Christmas musical at church.
18. What did you want and not get?
Complete good health.
19. What kept you sane?
My wife, my art and my friends.
20. Who did you miss?
I miss my family, old friends and my youth.

Christmas in Iowa Part 5

Christmas Eve (12/24/07)
We got up late, got ready, dressed warm and walked into town. It was only 24 degrees this morning so it was like having a heat wave. I marveled at the snow drifts against her parent’s condo and the snowplow piles of snow that towered over our heads. We visited a unique gift shop and bought some cool ornaments and a cool birdhouse for my mom. After that, I took pictures of the town crèche with baby Jesus buried in snow and a sleepy church cemetery on a rolling hill. We headed back home, ate lunch and we’ve been pretty much just sitting around the rest of the afternoon. The Burch’s friend Ruth stopped by to spend the night with us. We played a definition game, ate lasagna and went to church.
The lasagna was good and church was pretty dull. The choir was pitiful w/ a couple of screechy sopranos drowning out the rest of the voices. At the end they had communion and a candle-lighting ceremony. Pretty standard. Nothing special.
I know this seems like a pretty dull entry but after the first few days activities we were ready for a dull day.
PS: I'll be posting other pics to my photo site when I get to it. The link is in the sidebar.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas in Iowa Part 4

White Elephants, White Knuckles, White Out! (12/23/07)
On Sunday, we got up and headed to Galena, Illinois…a small touristy town on the Mississippi that Sarah grew up in. We went to church at First Presbyterian, "the oldest, continually used Protestant church building in the Old Northwest Territory." It was easy to tell that that statement was true because I'm quite sure the pews are original to the building. They were quite uncomfortable. The church does have some beautiful stained glass windows however. We sat thru a pretty typical service except for the too long Children's nativity presented on video instead of live. After the service, I met many people, ate a potluck dinner including turkey and dressing sandwiches, had yet another White Elephant gift exchange and then spent the afternoon with friends of the family. Deloris was a sweetheart. She is 90 years old and had a great time opening gifts. She suggested we all take turns and then proceeded to open all of her gifts in succession. It was good to meet Bob and Jim as well. We left quite early so that we could beat the bad weather home but we didn’t succeed. During the last 30 miles of the trip we found ourselves in a white out. Now, being from Florida, I thought white out was this stuff you use to fix mistakes on paper but I was mistaken. It's where the snow is blowing so fast across the road you can’t see a thing. We ended up in a convoy behind a sheriff’s SUV as he escorted us thru the worst of the storm. We passed many, many vehicles off the road and one SUV on its side. We finally made it home and I was thrilled to find out that we weren’t going anywhere the next day. We ate, played Rummikub and went to bed.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas in Iowa Part 3

Blizzard (12/22/07)
The next morning we drove a couple of hours to Morrison, Iowa for the family Christmas. The trip started well but the fog continued to plague the state. When we arrived I found that we were having the party at the town’s museum. The town was small…probably 4 square blocks. After we arrived and I met some of the family, Sarah and I went for a walk around the town. I took some pictures and experienced the cold for the first time. My face was extremely numb. I don’t know for sure what the temperature was but it was 7 degrees when we left Solon. I’m sure the wind chill took it down below zero. We arrived back at the museum and the family drifted in one by one. We had a good lunch, exchanged gifts and played M & M bingo. Since our gifts were in our luggage I drew funny pictures of what they would have gotten if American Airlines hadn’t lost our luggage. They loved it!
Later, as the snow began to fall and the winds picked up to around 40 mph, we decided to head back to Solon. On the way back I got to experience a blizzard for the first time in my life. Up until that time, a blizzard for me was an ice cream dessert at Dairy Queen. Well, I'm here to tell you that driving thru that puppy was no fun. Sarah's mother told me not to be scared but that reassurance didn't help when she decided to hightail it thru the storm and take on any and all snowplows along the way. It's a wonder my hair didn't turn whiter than the new fallen snow.
On the way back, we decided to stop off at the Cedar Rapids airport because the Burch’s friend Ruth had heard that the St. Louis airport was going to bus a bunch of luggage in. We pulled up to the front and went inside only to find tons and tons of luggage lined up in the lobby. I immediately got in line but Sarah and her dad started looking thru the piles and piles of bags that had been brought up. Within 2 minutes they had found Sarah’s bag so I jumped out of line and located my bag about 15 minutes later. Sarah’s dad asked if we should tell someone we got our bags but I said, “No, let’s get the hell out of here.” We called Great Lakes to tell them we found it, cursed American Airlines under our breaths and beat a hasty retreat. Finding our luggage took a load off our minds and we were finally able to get a good night’s sleep that night.
While Sarah was making a pit stop in the ladies room, she overheard a bedraggled woman on her cell phone describing their trip by bus from O'Hare. Apparently everyone who went thru there had a worse experience than we did. We are probably the only people that made it into Iowa by air on Friday.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Iowa Part 2

The Mist (12/21/07)
We woke up less than bright-eyed and nowhere near bushy-tailed. We washed up, put on the same clothes from the previous day and got some breakfast at the St. Louis Bread Company. After sustenance, we caught the shuttle to the airport and got filled in on the local gossip about some football player from the area. The lady giving the info was bending the ear of the shuttle driver who repeatedly responded with a hearty, "You're kidding!" We finally arrived at the airport knowing much more than we cared to about this fellow and proceeded to check in. There was still no word on our luggage but the Great Lakes people were great to us and said they'd be on the lookout. We tried talking to American again but it was just more stupidity and rudeness. To top it all off, we were flagged by security and had to do the full pat down, go thru your bags routine. We finally found our gate and the information that our flight was delayed another 1.5 hours due to the fog. This fog is like some supernatural beast trying to keep us out of Iowa. I think Stephen King wrote a book about it.
Our flight finally took off at 12:30 and we arrived in Burlington, IA. The airport was small and I mean small. The guy put all the bags out and ours weren't there. We filed a claim with the Great Lakes people who continued to be super nice and we headed out towards Solon.
On the way we stopped at Goodwill and Wal-Mart to get some clothes, undies, socks, toiletries and the like. After a great buffet dinner at the Pizza Ranch (good fried chicken), we headed home with her parents. We caught up, cleaned up, called to check on our luggage again (no luck because the fog continued and flights into Iowas continued to be cancelled) and finally went to bed.

Christmas in Iowa Part 1

Meet Me in St. Louis (12/20/07)
The day started okay. We finished packing and took the boys to the vet for boarding. (Very sad…but they were well taken care of) Joan picked us up and we hit the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight. Everything went great…until we got to St. Louis.
We got off the plane and found that our flight to Cedar Rapids was cancelled due to heavy fog in Iowa. (we later found out that pretty much the whole state of Iowa was shut down) We then proceeded to the red phones (Holy Crap, Batman!) to talk to someone about an alternative. Their first suggestion was that they didn't have anything until Saturday. My strong suggestion back was they they'd better try again. Our alternative ended up being to catch a puddle-jumper w/ Great Lakes Aviation (yeah, I’d never heard of it either) on Friday at 11:10 am to Burlington, Iowa, meaning that her parents now have to drive 2 hours to pick us up rather than half an hour. ur next step was to try to find our luggage. Well, that was the biggest mistake of all. They had no idea where our luggage was. It was so frustrating to talk to those stupid, rude people. At one point, the stupid, rude person told us that our luggage probably went on to Cedar Rapids since that was our final destination. I asked her how our luggage was going to get there if we couldn't. She had no answer. We almost jumped in a rental car with a guy named Jason and his wife to drive to Cedar Rapids but at the last minute we decided to stay hoping we could sort out the luggage crisis. We finally found a very nice American employee (the only freakin’ one) named Earl and he treated us right. We got a hotel for the night and he assured us that our luggage had been marked to be aboard the plane tomorrow.
So we got a 50% discount (act of God) at the Westport Sheraton. We had a luxurious dinner at McDonald’s (actually it was pretty dang tasty), watched some cable TV and went to bed.

I'm Back!

Did you miss me? We arrived safe and sound back in slushy Seattle on the 27th. Man, is it good to be home. We had an interesting holiday and I will be blogging about it over the next few days. Be patient as I unfurl the complicated tableau of our trip. Stay tuned. It's worth it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
"The Man Who Murdered Death. Shooting Death was a mistake, as Zane soon discovered. For the man who killed the Incarnation of Death was immediately forced to assume the vacant position! Thereafter, he must speed over the world, riding his pale horse, and ending the lives of others. Zane was forced to accept his unwelcome task, despite the rules that seemed woefully unfair. But then he found himself being drawn into an evil plot of Satan. Already the Prince of Evil was forging a trap in which Zane must act to destroy Luna, the woman he loved. He could see only one possible way to defeat the Father of Lies. It was unthinkable --- but he had no other solution!"*
I finished this back before we left for Iowa so this review will be short and sweet. It was pretty good but not near as great as I thought it might be. I was interested in reading it because we have been watching Dead Like Me and I had heard that the concept was similar. It really wasn't that similar. It dragged in a few places but picked up toward the end. I'm not sure if I'll read anymore in the series or not. Probably not.

*From the book jacket

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Tomorrow morning we board a plane headed for Iowa. It will be my first time to the state and the first time I will meet a bunch of Sarah's family. will cold. Perhaps not as cold as it could potentially be but too cold for me nonetheless. I'm taking every stitch of warm clothing I have. Tomorrow morning will be hectic. We are mostly ready but we have to take the cats to the vet for boarding. That will be crazy. I am taking the laptop with us but I'm not sure if I'll be able to find internet access anywhere. We'll see. So, you may not hear from me for a week. I know that will be hard on you die-hard Renzntzman fans but it might do you good to have a break. Then you can appreciate me all the more.
Merry Christmas. See you in a week...or less.


This morning was our work party down at the Edgewater Hotel on the water. The food was fabulous but my stomach was acting up so I wasn't able to enjoy it like I would have liked. We had yet another white elephant exchange where I scored a Tracer Projector and Sarah (seen here with our friend Julie) got a cheesy cow bank. We named it Pamela because it's got big udders.
I like this white elephant stuff. It's fun. I've scored some good gifts. Maybe next year I won't be so lucky and the white elephant will fall on my head. Oh well. That's life I guess.

Monday, December 17, 2007

12 Days of Christmas

Listen all the way to the end. It's pretty cool!

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Whatever's on hand. My wrapping is terrible. Sarah laughs at my ill wrapped gifts.
2. Real tree or artificial?
Artificial. I don't want to celebrate Christmas by killing a tree.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Sarah decorates...usually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Whenever Sarah gets to it.
5. Do you like eggnog?
This is the first year I've ever tried it. Not really.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
GI Joe stuff.
7. Do you have a nativity scene?
8. Hardest person to buy for?
9. Easiest person to buy for?
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Crappy art supplies from well-meaning relatives.
11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail w/ a Christmas letter and photo.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Miracle on 34th Street.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Not early enough.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Certainly. We keep a white elephant box in the closet.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Well, my diet has been dramatically altered. I used to love my mom's sausage balls.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Sarah likes clear but put colored on the tree this year. She doesn't like blinking lights so they don't.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
Linus and Lucy from A Charlie Brown Christmas.
18. Travel for Christmas or stay at home?
Travelling this year. Going to Iowa.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
We have one of those funky foreign thingies on our tree. I don't know what it's called but it could be used as a weapon.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Usually one on Christmas Eve and the rest in the morning. This year, we're having to open our big gifts before we leave. I'm not sure what the tradition is for her family.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
23. What I love most about Christmas?
Time off, time with friends and celebrating with Sarah.

Elephants Part Deux

My friend Marshall sent me this link which has the definition for white elephants. Thanks Marsh!
The bleached pachyderm party on Saturday night was alot of fun. We met some new folks from church, ate great food and had great fun. The white elephant portion of the evening was pretty funny. Sarah stole the Moses action figure and I originally ended up with the portrait of Bob but our friend Mary stole it from us so that we could get something else. That was very nice. I stole the Herman Munster bobble head that you see in the pic above. That's Joan holding Sarah's Moses (who now has a place of honor atop her dollhouse). Someone else got a Deluxe Jesus action figure with glow-in-the-dark hands. Good stuff!
We have one more white elephant on Wed. morning...a brunch work party at the Edgewater Hotel. They have awesome food! Last year I scored the awesome Jesus/Mary clock. Here's hoping I score something equally tacky this year. I can put anything in our studio. It's a hodge-podge of weirdness.
Sunday found us at lifegroup in the afternoon where we enjoyed good food and good company. later in the afternoon, we sang some carols accompanied by young Ian and Erik on the violin and cello. After that, we shared Christmas memories and said our goodbyes. It was a nice day.
It's so great to have friends especially around the holidays. Our first Christmas here was nice but we didn't go to any parties or anything because we didn't know anyone. I'm glad we've found a community to be a part of. Even a Scrooge like me likes a bit of social interaction once in a while.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Elephants Abound

Tonight, Sarah and I have another white elephant party. We have 3 total for the season. It's such an interesting concept. Where did the idea originate? Is it called a white elephant because the first gift was a white elephant?
In less than a week we will be in Iowa visiting Sarah's family. It will be my first time there and the first time meeting many in her extended family. I will be under the microscope I'm sure. I'm sure it will be a good trip although I dread the possibility of being colder than I ever have been in my life. It gets below zero there. I'm a Florida boy, remember?
Art has taken a back seat to Christmas but I've got a lot to do when we get back. I have 5 shows in Jan/Feb so far plus Insurrection Vintage (where I have had art on display since May) is opening a new store at the corner of Roosevelt and 65th (a great location) and they want me to be their resident artist at both stores. I've got to get cranking.
So, not much else to report. I'm sure I'll chime in occasionally over the next few days before we depart but I'm not sure I'll have internet access on the trip. If not, I'll journal everything and slap it on the net when I get back.
Feliz Navidad, everybody!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Lesson Learned?

Winterland was a fun experience but it also gave me some insight into some things that I've been struggling with over the last couple of years. I've been trying to figure out what "my thing" is. I have so many "things" that I enjoy doing that it's hard to focus sometimes on just one of them. My love for art has been rekindled but I missed having opportunities to act and sing. Winterland gave me that opportunity. What I learned is this: I love singing more than acting. The singing part was so much fun and I feel like I did a good job with it. The acting...a bit of a chore. It was fun but I just don't know that I'm an Actor with a capital "A." So, what does that mean? Well, I'll tell you. It means that I will concentrate on what I enjoy. No more lamenting the fact that acting opportunities don't jump up to greet me. I'm going to concentrate on my art and see if singing with Midlife Chrysler satisfies the singing void. Perhaps they'll also let me play some hand percussion...another thing I enjoy alot. We'll see.

Max Update

Our cat Max seems to be doing better. We are giving him liquified baby food several times a day to keep him hydrated. His energy level seems a bit improved. He actually sprang off the chair for treats the other night with Sarah. He hasn't done that in ages. We are still watching him and are prepared to "let him go" if that is what needs to happen. For now, he's doing okay.
We are boarding both Mickey and Max with the vets while we are in Iowa for Christmas. It will give us peace of mind to know that they are being cared for properly.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Winterland Pics

1) Big Tell and Jim Billy Rayburn.
2) Rehearsing with the band.
3) Marshall and Joan.
4) Granger: the Col. Sanders from Hell.
5) The band Midlife Chrysler.
(That's not all me in these shots. I wore a fat suit under the costumes. I've lost about 40 lbs since March.)

Winterland is Over!

The lights are off. The set is struck. The costumes are put away. The show is over.
It is with a mix of sadness and relief that I put Winterland: The Quest for Christmas behind me. I am sad because it was a great experience with a wonderful director and a great cast of friendly folks from NW Church. I was given the opportunity to act and sing again and it was fun. New friendships were forged and Sarah and I feel even more a part of the NW family than ever. I am happy because it took over our lives for 4 months. With life not giving us a break, that made for some stressful and very tiring times. But despite my weariness, it was a great time and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Some highlights include...
- Me as Granger entering with a KFC bucket at dress rehearsal. Just look at the pictures. I look like the Colonel.
- On Saturday, between shows, a few of us got silly and started singing songs from the show in different styles with the band accompanying us. We did reggae, Beatles, Devo, Kermit the frog, James Brown, and who knows what else. It was a blast. Seattle people can be way too serious most of the time. It was nice to be able to just cut loose. At the end of the session, Joan got up off the bench she and her hubby Marshall were sitting on and dumped him on the floor. It was a great ending for a fun time.
- The lifegroups did an outstanding job feeding us. They were asked to provide healthy food for us this year and they hit the ball out of the park. My body thanks you all.
- The band, Midlife Chrysler, is in need of a new vocalist. They want me to come jam with them some time after the first of the year. I'm looking forward to it. I miss being in a band.
Well, I could go on and on. It was fun. It was tiring. We laughed. We cried. It became a part of us. And now it's over...sort of. Tonight's the cast party. One last bit of revelry before we put it behind us for good. So long, Winterland!

For more on Winterland go here and here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Art Update

I've sold a few more pieces. The small canvas collages I created seem to be a hit. I took 9 down to Twilight a couple of weeks ago and 4 sold immediately. I will have to get cranking on more of those. I hope the prints take off as well.
A guy called me this morning from Candle's Cafe wanting to know if I'd take $75 for a $100 piece. I really didn't want to do it but I did. My justification was that if I had sold the piece somewhere that charges commission I probably wouldn't have gotten that much out of it. But part of me wants to say no. It's art and it's worth at least $100. In terms of supplies involved, the pieces cost next to nothing but the time investment is pretty significant. If I thought I could get more than $100 out of one of them, I would charge that. But alas, people just don't buy art. So I've priced them to move. I just don't know if I want to be haggled down as if it was something at a garage sale. What do you think?
So, the new year looks to be pretty busy. Jan. and Feb. find me with 5 different show opportunities whether they be solo or group. I hope that 2008 will prove to be the year that my art really starts to take off. We'll see.

Friday, December 07, 2007


"Ever reliable and responsible, Otis Halstead is a father, a husband (one half of a “well-dressed couple of substance”), and the CEO of Kansas Central Fire and Casualty. He has never done anything out of the ordinary. Until now.
The change in Otis starts with an antique toy fire truck, the exact model he had pined for at age ten but never received. Though it is now a collectible costing $12,350, he will buy it–because he can. Next comes a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, ordered from the Nostalgia Today catalog. A Kansas City Chiefs regulation NFL helmet follows. But Otis’s real coup is the purchase of his one true childhood passion: a red 1952 Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter. For his baffled wife, Sally, this is the final straw. She insists that he see a shrink–a sloppy man with flowing hair who uses terms like “mature men in crisis” and “second childhood syndrome.” Otis is unimpressed–and extremely insulted–by the doctor’s insinuation that his baldness is to blame for his sudden interest in toys.
But it’s not until tragedy strikes uncomfortably close to home that Otis decides he wants out of his sensible, safe life in Eureka, Kansas. And so, a few weeks before his sixtieth birthday, Otis leaves town, heading west on old U.S. 56, a corporate CEO wearing a football helmet, riding a forty-year-old motor scooter, and with a BB gun strapped to the side. One might say he was in for an adventure. Otis would say he was finally about to experience life."*

Plain and simple, this is a book about a man going thru midlife crisis. Why am I reading a book about this? Guess. Yes, I must admit that, at times, I feel as though I am going thru a crisis. Whether it's midlife or not, I don't know. It has more to do with identity...knowing who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing. Has my life been a waste of time? Have I made my mark? Will I ever find myself? These are questions I ask myself everyday. So, I thought this book might be a good read.
As it turns out, it's quite a disappointing read. It starts promisingly enough with Otis in crisis and really starts to breathe when he "hits the road. The journey starts out great but then grinds to a screeching halt. What happens at the end is pretty dull. Lehrer has a right to end his book however he pleases but I didn't like it. Not one bit. Not only was his writing simple and dull, I found myself wanting more of the journey. I can't tell you how many times I've felt like Otis...just wanting to pack all my essentials in the back of my jeep and hitting the road. I understood how Otis felt and his need for escape. I wanted to journey vicariously thru him...thru the story. I didn't get a satisfying journey with this one. What a let down.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Tortured Artist Test

I am 45% Tortured Artist.I know Art, I just don't live it.
I have some artistic ability, but it is probably a hobby and doesn't drive my life into a dark abysmal hole were I am alone and against the world.

This cracks me up because people always tell me that I seem too "normal" to be an artist. What's normal? If normal for an artist is to live in squalor, never bathe and to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown every few hours, count me out. So, go ahead. Don't count me as an artist. My work speaks for itself.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

White Snow, White Elephants and Winterland

Sarah and I attended a Christmas party/auction on Saturday night. It's an annual event among some of the folks at church. People bring wrapped gifts of value and they bid on them. They can also steal them "white elephant" style. It was fun. It was still snowing but we drove to Everett and rode over with Marshall and Joan in their 4-wheel drive SUV. I'm glad we did that because these folks lived out in the boonies (for Seattle) in a magnificently macked out log cabin. The roads were a bit too much for our jeep.
We didn't do any bidding (on purpose). Marshall and I sat in the back quietly (we thought) making snarky comments as the auction proceeded. At one point I guess we got a little loud and almost accidentally bid on something. It was funny and scary all at the same time.
The food was fabulous. I don't eat like that anymore but I made an exception last night. It was quite tasty. I, of course, paid for it today but not as badly as I thought it might be.
It was nice to have a little fun before the week begins. The musical is in full swing now and we have major rehearsals the first of the week. First performance is Thursday night. We're not quite ready but we're getting there. It should be's just going to be an exhausting week trying to juggle work, cat care, and the musical. Thank goodness they're feeding us every night. That's one less thing to worry about.
So, if you don't get too many blog entries this week it's because I'll be elbow deep in Winterland. I'll try to chime in from time to time and I'll catch you up when it's all said and done.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

First Snow

It's snowing. The prediction is that it will turn to rain later. I love snow but we were supposed to go to a Christmas party tonight that is up north where they get it worse than we do down here in Seattle. I hope it will not be too bad so we can still go. I was looking forward to it. Although, a night at home with a cozy fire might not be too bad either.


"From the New York Times bestselling author of the Deathstalker and Nightside series comes a new kind of hero in an old kind of war.
All those things you hear about as a kid? The boogeyman under the bed? The creature in the closet? They're for real, people.
Eddie Drood knows they're for real. His family has kept humanity safe from the things that go bump in the night. For ages, they've held back the nightmares, locked the doors, barred the gates, and put righteous boot to monster arse on a nightly basis.
But now Eddie's in trouble. One of his own has convinced the rest of the family that Eddie's become a menace, and that humanity needs to be protected from him. So he's on the run, using every trick in the book, magical and otherwise, hoping he lives long enough to prove his innocence. And he knows how dangerous the Droods can be-because he's one of them."*

The overall premise of this book (and future ones I'm sure) is simply this: What if James Bond existed in a world of magic? Pretty straightforward. Secret agents in a Harry Potter world. The only reason I picked this up is because I am a fan of Green's Nightside series. This series might draw me in. The story was pretty so-so but it picked up at the end and I can see where it might become a good series. Even Nightside's first book was only so-so but the plot arc introduced gave me hope for a future of better stories and they did get better. So, I will look forward to seeing more from this magical 007 in the future.

*From the dust jacket.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


We are finding ourselves faced with the devastating task of trying to decide if it's time to put one of our beloved cats to sleep. They are both sick but one is doing better than the other. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. I am keeping this short because Sarah has written about it in detail on her blog. Go here if you would like to read more.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rehearsals, Rehearsals, Rehearsals

Starting yesterday we have rehearsals for our church's Christmas musical every day or night thru the performances which are the 6th thru the 9th of December. Throw in a couple of Christmas parties here and there and a trip to Iowa and that makes for one busy holiday season for the Gordon's. I still hope to blog when I am able but there won't be much going on except for the aforementioned activities. Go here if you want to see what our Christmas musical is all about.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Marty Recommends...

Once - This movie is great! Okay, so the cinematography isn't so great but the rest of it is excellent. It is a wonderful musical love story. You really fall for the characters in a big way. The music is excellent. After the movie, Sarah and I went to Barnes and Noble to get the soundtrack. I think the best thing I can say about this movie is that it is so authentic. No glitz, no glamour, no schmaltz. It is very, very human.

Fido - If you are a fan of Shaun of the Dead, you will love this movie. The premise is simple...a boy and his zombie. It has a great cast including Tim Blake Nelson who is one of my favorites. Billy Connelly, another fave of mine, plays Fido...the zombie w/ a heart. This movie is just plain fun but caution...there is a lot of blood and guts. It is a zombie movie after all.

Dead Like Me - Sarah and I are enjoying this series a lot. It centers around a girl named George who is killed at the age of 18 and recruited to be a Grim Reaper. We are in the middle of Season 2 and it's a very cool series.

Amazing Grace - This movie tells the story of William Wilburforce and his battle to abolish slavery in Britain. This movie is well-done with a great cast, great story and a great look.

Eureka - This is a Sci-Fi Channel series that tells the story of a small town in the Pacific NW that houses all the great minds of the world. As a result, they have access to technology that no one else has and problems that require unique solutions. Keeping the peace is Sheriff Jack Carter who has his hands full in more ways than one. This series is formulaic but enjoyable nonetheless. The characters are completely likable and the special effects are exceptionally good for a television series.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Georgia Baptist Resolution Criticizes Baptist Blogs

Those kooky Baptists are at it again. Once again they have proven that they are better at demonstrating what they are against rather than what they are for. I'm so glad I'm not one of them anymore. They make me sad.

Story Link

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ready or Not!

We had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday with friends. It was a low-key, laid back day and best of all, since we had it at our house, the leftovers stayed here.
Today, I had to go to work (yuck) but it was a quiet day since no one else was that was good. When I got home I found that Christmas had exploded all over our apartment. For those of you who don't know, Sarah is very much a Christmas person and I am not. I don't mind the decor and all it's just that I don't get into the holiday spirit. Sarah does and in a big way. We're not even going to be here for Christmas this year. We're going to Iowa to see her family. But we're having our NW Arts Christmas Party here so Sarah put on her Martha Stewart hat today and went to town.
I will have to admit that I have 95% of my shopping done this year. Thank goodness for the internet. So, ready or not, Christmas is on the way.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Encouraged Again

I took a little trip to the Pike Place Market today to drop off some art at Twilight. I gave them 52 prints and around 12 originals to sell. The three gals who run the place came in so I got to talk to them for a bit. They are opening a new place in West Seattle. That's very exciting. That's double the selling potential not to mention the fact that West Seattle is a more artsy area than the Market downtown. My stuff will probably have a better chance at selling over there. They also asked if I wanted to do a solo show at the new place next year. I, of course, said yes. They said it's really big but I told them if they book me I'll fill the space. No problem. As long as I have shows lined up it gives me the extra drive to produce art. I'm sure the show will be mid to late next year so that we can put some space between the January show (which they are sponsoring as well). Things are still happening so I am encouraged.
In January, in addition to the show I have lined up w/ Twilight, I am also involved in an Art Party where I will be selling my art and prints and I am also involved in the Pop Tots Alphabet Show. They have lined up 26 artists to interpret each letter in a funky but kid-friendly way. I am doing the letter "R". Should be fun.
So, that's all the art news for today. Remember kids, it's fun to be's just not always financially lucrative.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Little Discouraged

The life of an artist is a roller coaster. True, I've sold quite a few pieces recently but I've also had some discouraging moments.
- The Edmonds Art Walk was a bust due to bad weather.
- A gallery I would really like to get into downtown keeps rejecting me. They like my stuff but they have someone doing stuff kinda like mine already. (Yeah, right. It's collage but it's nothing like mine. They can't have 2 collage artists?)
- I got an email from a Canadian magazine today. They love my art and wanted to commission me for something they needed in a hurry. I called but they had gotten someone else.
So, I am a bit bummed at the moment. The little victories are nice but I wouldn't mind something a bit more substantial...something on a scale befitting my genius! (HA) In reality, I would like to be a big deal (Jeff's phrase) in the art world. I've always wanted that. Luckily, the life of an artist is full of rejection and disapointment. I have a thick skin. I can take it.
I'll get over this hump and keep on working. It's all I can do.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Shiva Descending by Gregory Benford and William Rotsler
"A gigantic asteroid the size of a mountain, Shiva is set to hit Earth with the force of a hundred thousand nuclear bombs, poised to destroy all life on Earth and blast the human race into instant extinction. Only a last-ditch space mission has a chance of saving the Earth--or what's left of it after the first asteroid rainshower."*
I've had this book sitting on the shelf for a long time. I think I picked it up at a Dollar General in SC. Well, I finally got around to reading it. You know what? It's pretty much your standard, garden variety, asteroid-is-going-to-hit-Earth kinda story. It was written in 1979 so I guess it's one of the precursors to Armageddon and Deep Impact. Lucifer's Hammer came first. It was published in 1977 and it's a better story. But, I guess if you like those end-of-the-world type books...and I's worth a read. Just don't expect to be surprised. It's been done and done better.

Dead Art Walking

Well, the Edmonds Art Walk was a bust. It rained and rained and rained and no one showed up. Well, a few folks but not near the crowd they are used to. One of the organizers said they've only had 3 bad turn out nights in the 6.5 years they've been doing it. Guess what? I got one of them. Yippee! Hopefully they will ask me back during the spring or summer when the crowds are big. That would be great.
I did have a yummy Thai dinner at a local eatery and I did eat some yummy cheese while hanging out at the cheese shop. Man, that was some good cheese...and expensive. The manager gave me a hunk of this awesome cheddar to bring home so Sarah could try it. That was very nice. They also had this nice Irish brie served on these funky fruit cake looking crackers. Awesome! If it wasn't so blinkin' expensive I would have brought some home. Maybe next time we're in Edmonds I'll splurge for some. If you like cheese and you're ever in the Seattle area, I recommend the Resident Cheesemonger in Edmonds. It's worth it.
So, I'm done with the art shows until January. Probably a good thing. December is going to be crazy!

Edmonds Art Walk

This Thursday night I will be showing and selling my work at the Edmonds Art Walk. I will be camped out at the Resident Cheesemonger (204 Main St.) from 5 -8 pm. I will have prints of my work available for purchase as well as a few select originals. The good folks at the Resident Cheesemonger will be giving out yummy samples of their cheese. It looks to be a grand night of cheesy art and cheesy snacks. Join us, won't you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mickey Health Update

I got so busy I forgot to update you all on Mickey's progress. After his very expensive ultrasound they determined that he has a kidney infection. He is on antibiotics and appetite stimulant. He is eating more and feels like he has gained a bit of weight back. He didn't lose too much. He is still fat and sassy. Thank you all for checking up on him and thinking about us during these difficult geriatric kitty years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Batman: Dead End

If you like Batman and you haven't seen this, watch it now!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Too Busy to Blog?

I hope the dozen or so of you that check my blog will forgive me for being a bit infrequent with my posts. The holiday season is upon us and things are getting very busy for the Gordon's. Christmas musical rehearsals are kicking into high gear as well as having a lot to do in preparation for my upcoming art shows. I will post when I'm able and actually have something interesting to talk about. See you soon.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kitty Update

Mickey is at the internal medicine vet as we speak. They are sure it's a kidney infection so he will go on antibiotics and an appetite stimulant and can eat whatever he likes for a few days. (He's loving him some Bumblebee tuna) Hopefully we'll see an improvement in a few days. We're thankful (at the moment) that it seems minor compared to other things it could have been. We'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Our Sick Kitty

Mickey's condition continues to be a mystery. He still won't eat his regular food but we've managed to get him to eat a bunch of treats many times a day. At this point the vet just says to get him to eat...anything. Sarah is trying to get an appointment for more tests...ultrasound and whatever else. I'm certain it's going to be expensive. Some people might balk at the expense and have the animal put to sleep. Sarah and I are not built like that. The only way we'll consider that is if Mickey's quality of life is going to be greatly diminished...if he is going to suffer in any way. Otherwise, we will do what we can and deal with the money issues as they come.
Sarah's two boys, Mickey and Max, have been with her a long time. They've only been my boys for a couple of years but I'm quite attached to them. When my cat Trinity died a couple of years ago, Max became my buddy. It's almost like he knew I had a loss and he was trying to help me. Mickey is entirely a mama's boy.
Remember us in your prayers and positive thoughts. Everyone in the family's been sick this year except for Sarah. She's worn out from trying to take care of all of us.
If you want to read more about Mickey from Sarah's POV, go here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Long Weekend

Due to vacation hours building up and the impending loss of some of those precious hours, I am taking Tuesday of this week off. Since we're between shows I didn't have to work Saturday so that means I'm in the middle of a 4-day weekend. It's not all fun and games, however. Saturday and Sunday were busy days.
Our cat Mickey is not eating like he should so Sarah took him to the vet on Sat. morning. They took blood and will let us know something on Tuesday. It's either nothing or something very serious. We knew that one day the medicine for his Inflammatory Bowel Disease would eventually stop working but we hope that is not the case. We're not ready to say goodbye to our little furry guys. They are precious to us. The good news is that his personality has not changed and he doesn't seem to be experiencing any discomfort. We'll see.
Saturday, I prepared for a long day of rehearsals but gained a reprieve when Jeff sent me home early. Sarah and I took advantage and had a date night. Just dinner and a movie but it was nice nonetheless.
Yesterday was a full day. First, we forgot to set our clocks back so we ended up at church a full hour too early. We went to the local coffeeshop and had breakfast and beverage. When we got to church we found out that we won 2nd place in the Trunk or Treat contest. We got a $50 gift certificate to Olive Garden. Sweet! We didn't want first place since it was tickets to the Christmas show at Taproot. Jellybean the clown won that prize and she deserved it. Her trunk was a huge draw w/ candy and balloon creations.
After lunch with our lifegroup, we jumped into a long afternoon Stumble Through of Act 1 of the Christmas musical. We did finally stumble thru the whole thing, laughing alot. I need to get off book in a bad way. Memory work is tough for me. I don't know why. But, no excuses...I've got to buckle down and get that stuff in my head and in my body.
After rehearsal, we came home, ate and watched a movie. Then, off to bed. We don't have rehearsal tonight but we do have it on Tuesday and Thursday night. I have memory work to do to prepare for that since we are going to work on one of my songs in a big way. I'm looking forward to 2 days of chores, art, memory work and enjoying being away from work.
Laundry beckons. Off I go.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trunk or Treat

Sarah and I participated in Trunk or Treat at our church again this year. The theme for our trunk this year was "Mad Scientists." As you can see from the pictures, we had a fun and crazy time turning our jeep into a laboratory. Sarah told all the kids that I had lost my marbles and they had to find them and put them back in the jar. If they did, they got candy.
Participation was down from last year...probably because of recent events in our church. We'd sure like to see folks get behind this as an event for the community. It could really be spectacular (or is that spooktacular) if everyone would pitch in and help. Sarah and I did our part this year and even threw alot of ideas in the ring. Kent built a maze out of cardboard boxes that was a big hit. We've just got to find a way to get people involved. Sarah had a great idea to boost participation by offering great prizes for the best trunk. Unfortunately the whole thing got lost in the shuffle of the transition weirdness at church. We still offered prizes (Taproot tickets, Olive Garden and Starbucks gift certificates) and I guess we'll find out who won on Sunday. I think they let the kids pick. Zack told us that he voted us third because we had spiders (doesn't like them) and weird eyeball candy (apparently doesn't like those either). At least he knows what he likes. My money's on Jellybean the clown. Her trunk was very popular. Her balloon creations were a big hit!
So, another Trunk or Treat has passed. My hope is that we can get our ducks in a row and really grow this thing for next year.
Yeah, I like Halloween. Can you tell?

Trick or Treat!

Well, as promised, here's my little treat for all you happy people. I wanted to finish a Halloween poem I had been working on but it just didn't happen. Here's the substitute. This really should be posted under Mart History but I'll make an exception this once since not many people visit my Mart History page anyway. Heck, I probably don't update it enough to warrant a visit anyway but...well...that's neither here nor there. On with the show!
This little drawing is actually a group of paint chips like you'd get at Lowe's to figure out what color you want your wall to be. A few years ago, I found that I liked the slick surface and that it was fun to draw and paint on them with a Sharpie and some paint pens. Well, it was fun for a bit until the paint pens dried up. I bought some more pens and they dried up as well. Paint pens just do not hold up very well and since they are very expensive, it just wasn't worth doing anymore.
These little guys were part of that brief experiment with paint chips. I just found myself drawing all the classic monsters of Hollywood history. Then I thought it would be funny to line them up like the Brady Bunch. Then I came up with the idea of calling it The 'Fraidy Bunch. Then I got an idea for a comic strip or comic book. Then...well...I got frustrated and bored with the whole thing so I stopped. Maybe one day I'll resurrect The 'Fraidy Bunch. I think I could do the idea justice with paint. Shoot! Now I'm thinking about it again.
Well...anyway...Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Check in later. I may have a special Halloween treat for you. Or maybe a trick. Mwa-ha-ha!

Monday, October 29, 2007

What's Goin' On!

Here's an update on all things Marty.
First of all, yesterday was the last day for our pastor Milt. He and his wife Barbie are headed to Amarillo for a new chapter of ministry. Their son Pat, our worship leader, is headed to California to continue his education. Our youth minister's last Sunday was a couple of weeks ago. So, as you can see, transitional days are ahead for our church. Yesterday was a day of mixed feelings for Sarah and I. Milt and Barbie were at NW Church for 29 years. We knew them (barely) for 1 of those years. It was strange to be so disconnected from the feelings of loss shared by the congregation. We'll miss them but we still feel so new to that church. In a way, I'm glad we weren't able to attend the send off banquet last night. I think it might have been a bit awkward for us. We, unlike so many folks around us, have no tears to shed.
And now on to the health report. I did my fast and my two days of bland food. I've now spent a week eating an essentially alkaline heavy diet (as opposed to acidic) and it seems to be working. I have experienced a significantly lower level of gas and very little, if any, discomfort. The only problem with all of this is having to give up some foods that I like but aren't good for me. Oh well. I guess my health is more important than Diet Coke.
Finally, the best news of all. I got an email from the owner of the cafe in Wallingford where my work is displayed this month. I sold 2 pieces with no commission and she wants me to leave my stuff up a bit longer. I will head over tomorrow to replace the pieces sold and pick up the money. That is so great because I have some stuff I need to buy to get ready for my next show in Edmonds. I finally received the sample prints and they look great so I'm going to order more. I'm also going to buy a portable print rack, some more business cards, and perhaps some more frames. All that money is going back into the art but there's great potential for more sales in the future because I can sell the prints for an affordable price.
So, that's about it. We've got a busy week ahead with work, prep for art shows, Christmas musical rehearsals, memory work for the rehearsals, and preparing for Trunk or Treat at our church on Halloween night.
Wow! That's alot. I'd better get crackin'.

Groovelily: Striking 12

Last night, Sarah and I travelled to Tacoma to see Groovelily perform their show Striking 12. It's the 4th time I have seen them but the first time seeing this particular show. The first 3 times I saw them they were more like concerts...just performing individual songs. Somewhere along the way, GL began venturing into the world of musical theatre. (Thanks, no doubt, to Brendan's education in...GASP...musical theatre!) Striking 12 is, I believe, the first show they developed. The story revolves around a grumpy guy refusing to party on New Year's Eve, a girl selling lightbulbs, and Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl. It's an amazing show. If you have a chance to see it, don't hesitate. If all you can do is buy the CD and listen to it, do it. Do it now! It's worth it!
Since our friend Debbie was attending the show with us, we met her and ate dinner with her and her husband Jeff. We ate at a Thai place called Wild Orchid. It was very good! We then dropped Jeff off and picked up Deb's friend Ed since he was the one actually going to the show. We arrived at the theatre only to find that someone had picked up my tickets which were under my name. It all worked out in the end since we didn't want to be in the front row anyway. Sarah and Debbie had done a show at the theatre and the front row is way too close to the stage. So, we ended up 4th row center. Very nice. We looked for the people who had nabbed my tickets but they weren't sitting in the front row. Darn. I was gonna bean them on the head with Ed's gigantic belt buckle. That thing was as big as a hubcap.
The show went on and we had a great time. The band was in top form and I think we all held a smile on our face throughout the evening. They are such talented folks. I'm so glad they are doing well.
After the show, they did a drawing for a free CD. We didn't win. We decided to hang out and talk to the band a bit. Debbie wanted to talk to them about the licensing of the show for theatres to mount their own productions. We're hoping Taproot will become interested. We chatted with Val and Gene for a few minutes and then headed out.
They are going to be doing the show in Seattle in December. (more info on their website) I'm not sure if we can go but we might try. We're big fans and it's a great show.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Gone South by Robert R. McCammon
"Gone South. In Vietnam Vet's parlance, it means screwed-up, crazy. In the Deep South of the United States, it means dead.
Dan Lambert's experiences in Vietnam have left him no stranger to psychological wounds or death. Years later, they have also left him divorced, broke, unemployed---and on the run. For Dan, to his shock and his shame, has become a murderer.
There is a $15,000 reward on his head---a reward that two weird bounty hunters will stop at nothing to get: a reward that doesn't interest the brutally disfigured Arden Halliday. For Arden is after a different prize---one that she hopes to find deep in the dangerous swamps of Louisiana. Joining forces, Arden and Lambert head south---he to hide and she to seek. Yet there they will both become discoverers---of the dregs of American society, bloody violence, drug smuggling---and a curious destiny."*

I first read this book quite a few years ago. McCammon is one of my favorite writers and, in my mind, kicked Stephen King's butt quite a few times. He is great at blending the natural and the supernatural at a level that teeters between believability and folklore. That's not to say everything he's written is grand but Boy's Life continues to be in my list of top 5 fave books of all time. But enough of that. On to Gone South.
This is a strange book. It starts off normal enough but as the story goes deeper into the swamps of Louisiana, it gets deeply strange. At the heart of the story is Dan Lambert, a down-on-his-luck, terminally ill, Vietnam vet. To McCammon's credit, you pull for Lambert even though he is on the run for a crime he clearly committed. You actually invest yourself in quite a few of the characters in this book. Strange though they are, you find yourself hoping for the best to happen to them. You want them to catch a break.
Be warned. This is a gritty book with plenty of gory, over-the-top action. It's an ugly story to be sure but it's got a beautiful ending. Perhaps a bit trite, but beautiful nonetheless.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I've Joined Scrapiteria

Scrapiteria is "made up of collagists who work in the traditional cut and paste method. Each week, one of the members posts a new theme which we all intrepret in our own way."
I'm really looking forward to contributing to this community. I feel like it will be fun but also challenge me to be productive and creative when I'm feeling less than motivated. Also, it's nice to be involved with a community of artists again.
See you later. I've got to put a new blade in my X-Acto Knife. I've got work to do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Getting Better All The Time

I'm on the third day of my fast/alkalizing diet. The goal, quite simply, was to clean out my body and start over. As you know, the first day I fasted completely drinking only water. The second and third days have been filled with the less than delightful consumption of bland soup, veggies, almonds and bananas. There aren't a lot of choices on the alkalinic foods list and, unfortunately, I don't like many of the choices already. The result so far has been that I do feel better. I am still gassy at times but there's been no pressure or bloating. My guess is that I've just been normal gassy but it's been so long since I've experienced it I don't know what normal looks like anymore. It's nice to not have the pressure anymore. I hesitate to use the word pain since it wasn't particularly painful. Instead, I would describe it as a discomfort that saps my focus. Yesterday, I actually felt like I could focus on a task. Last night's rehearsal for the Christmas musical at church was the first time I have been able to enjoy the process because I wasn't experiencing the discomfort. Tonight, we're going to see The Importance of Being Earnest with friends. We are going to eat at Gordito's which serves wonderful, healthy burritos. I don't know what's going to happen when I introduce real food into my system but I am going to be careful and take it slow. I know my stomach has shrunk and I've lost another 10 lbs or so. (I weighed 258 in March. This morning I weigh about 230.) I will eat slow and try to sense when I am full. We'll see what happens.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Life in the Fast Lane

I am fasting today in an attempt to rid myself of the evil H. Pylori bacteria that have been plaguing my system. Doctors have been no help at all so I've been doing research on the internet. Sarah and I figured this approach may work but if it doesn't it won't hurt me. After the 24 hour fast, I will eat alkalinic foods for 2 days. Basically that means fruit and veggies. This approach worked for someone on the internet. I hope it works for me.
Since I've had this problem, I've dropped some weight but that's a good thing. The weight loss is due to eating differently in the hopes of improving my health. I've dropped between 15-20 lbs since March but most of it has come off in the past 3 months. I feel better in that respect but the whole gastro thing robs me of my focus and affects my mood. Everything in my life has suffered because of it. I want to feel better. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 19, 2007