Monday, April 30, 2007


Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi, Ghost World by Daniel Clowes, Flight Volumes 1, 2 & 3: Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Every once in a while I pick up some graphic novels at the library. They have a pretty good selection and I usually find things I won't necessarily buy but that I don't mind reading. I finally got around to reading the stack I had picked up over my last few visits.
Daisy Kutter is the story of a female gunslinger/outlaw set in a steampunk New West. She is persuaded to take on one final heist so that she can get out of debt and, as is the case in these kinds of stories, everything goes wrong. The story is pretty straightforward but there's enough there to make it interesting. The reason I picked it up was for the artwork. Kibuishi is a new find for me. I discovered his work in the Flight anthologies I also picked up. His work is cartoony but not so much so that it detracts from telling a somewhat serious story.
Speaking of Flight, these books are full of stories and art by a bunch of folks I've never heard of but what a discovery. Some of the work here is fantastic. (Every anthology has a few duds here and there) Most of these are also rendered in a cartoony style but the variety of styles is endless. I would consider buying these if I came across them at a good price...just to have them in my library as a reference for great cartoon art. Some of the stories aren't bad either.
Last but not least, I'll turn my attention to Ghost World. I'm not one to read the edgy, underground type comics (or whatever they're called today) unless the art interests me. I have been familiar with Clowes for a number of years but haven't been a fan. I finally picked up GW because we saw the movie a few weeks back and liked it so I wanted to compare the book to the movie. They are totally different animals. The movie did one up the book by pulling together the plot with an element of a continuing storyline. The book just meanders disjointedly through the girls everyday world. I am disappointed that there are some things in the book that should have made it into the movie. After experiencing both, I am inclined to think that they compliment each other. They are separate entities but neither detracts from the other's success at telling a part of the story. I am also more appreciative of Clowes' style. It's subtle and quite fitting for communicating the stories of the offbeat people he chooses to highlight.
Reading these (and all other comics) makes me want to attempt my own comic again. Perhaps I will when a story I feel like telling comes to mind.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Sarah and I went to the movies today to see if I could shake off the blues. Consider them considerable shaken. Hot Fuzz is the best movie I've seen in a while. It's no secret that I'm a fan of Shaun of the Dead and this is a brilliant follow up. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are a great comedy team. Director Edgar Wright does a marvelous job of mocking action movies. He does such a good job that he may get offered some action movies as a result. Don't know what else to say about it right now. It was a very satisfying experience. My biggest endorsement would be that I could watch it now...and enjoy it again!

Hold On Loosely

Last night, we met with our artists group friends. There was no agenda except that we all brought art to share with one another. The meeting started with a couple of us sharing some difficulties that have occurred within the last week. Eventually a theme emerged and a deep melancholy settled onto my shoulders. I sat quiet for the rest of the meeting, even when my art was being passed around. I just didn't feel like I could speak for fear of breaking down. I still don't quite know exactly what the melancholy was all about but I suspect it had to do with broken dreams.
After we talked of difficulties, someone said that it was probably best to hold lightly to your dreams just in case you have to let go of them at some point. If you cling too tightly (with apologies to .38 Special) you won't be able to let go. I'm not sure how to communicate what I'm feeling. Let me just say that I know about broken dreams. I've "let go" of plenty in my day. In my younger years, my one and only dream was to be an artist. My plan was to get my BFA (which I did) then my MFA, find a teaching position and live out my days as a working/teaching artist. God, or what I thought was God, took that dream away from me. It hurt for a while but then I let go and moved on to what I thought was His dream for me. I moved forward as faithfully and blindly as Abraham. I attended seminary (a difficult time for me) and eventually became a minister. I eventually found my niche in ministry and worked very hard. I became very good at what I was doing despite enduring some tough situations. Eventually, that dream came crashing down as well.
So, here I sit with gifts and talents overflowing not knowing which dream to pursue next. Lately, I've had a little success with my art but will it last? I don't know. I need to move on but I am finding it difficult. The failures of the past still haunt me and God remains silent. Most days I doubt He's even there. I feel very much alone and abandoned and I don't know which way to go.
It seems Becca is feeling the same way I am. I know what you're going through, Becca. I really do.


Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer
"Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too . . . if she lives long enough.
A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback—a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.
While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what she’d done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains. Exploring morals and ethics on both human and cosmic scales, Rollback is the big new SF novel for 2007 by Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Robert J. Sawyer."
I've read quite a few books by Sawyer. He is perhaps my favorite author in the sci-fi genre. The reason for that is quite simply because among all the techno-babble and hard sci-fi concepts being thrown around, he never forgets the characters. His books are always populated by wonderfully developed, complex, flawed people that you can invest in. His plots are always related to some sci-fi idea but the development and outcome of this idea is played out through the lives of the characters. Rollback is no different. It's a wonderful read. I can also highly recommend Calculating God, The Terminal Experiment and FlashForward (my fave) by this author.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Theme Emerges

Have you ever experienced a period of time in your life when a particular theme seems to be enveloping you? That is happening now with us. Here's a timeline as best as I can remember it.
  • On April 13th Jeff blogged about his need for rest and what that should look like in his life. I commented that he should take a look at it from the perpective of Sabbath. He took me up on it.
  • That night, we got together for our NW Arts meeting and Jeff introduced the topic for the night's discussion: Sabbath. We all talked about rest and what it means for each of us. We also talked about the Sabbath and why it is that no one takes that concept seriously anymore.
  • On Sunday, April 15th, Sarah and I took a Sabbath. We did absolutely not much all day long and it was a gloriously refreshing time.
  • On Sunday, April 22nd, we returned to church for our pastor's new series called Less Stress based on Psalm 23. The title of the sermon? Rest is Best.
  • Today I was listening to a Kindlings Muse podcast entitled Unfrantic Spirituality. The topic of discussion was C. S. Lewis and his seemingly unfrantic approach to life.
I will be contemplating all of this for many days. I've got to try and get my head around why this is bombarding us here and now. I've always tried to live a simple life as best as I can. I learned a long time ago that money isn't everything, nobody wins the rat race, and there are more important things in life than working yourself to death. Perhaps I've missed something and that's what I need to figure out. Sarah and I need to examine just what this all means for us. We've already batted around some ideas. Let's just see where all this is leading. Meanwhile, I think I'll try to get some rest.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson
This book is travel writer Bill Bryson's love letter to growing up in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1950's. Through good times and bad, Bryson recalls a time of innocence and the loss thereof.
It's no secret that I enjoy a good coming-of-age story. Many of my favorite books are tales of that rocky, blurry period when a child begins to become an adult. This book is non-fiction but it's tales of love and loss are just as powerful as those in a well crafted fiction account. Byson's sense of humor is astounding. Since I read at bedtime, I refrained from laughing out loud so as not to disturb my wife...but I wanted to many times. The exploits of Bryson and his childhood buddies put mine to shame. (if they indeed did all he said) I nearly couldn't contain myself during the story of the confetti bomb. Funny stuff.
There's a good balance in the book though. Bryson balances the fun stories with the realities of the time. He throws in more than enough examples of racial atrocity, communist witch hunts, and atomic age fear to keep you from thinking the 50's were a wonderland of candy coated bliss.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to remember their childhood fondly or wants to contrast the world of yesterday to the world of today. This book is a time capsule and, at least for me, I think it shows more about what we've lost than what we've gained.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fallen Angel

Being from Pensacola, I can't help but be affected by the tragic crash of a Blue Angels jet today. I have seen them many times and the best show I've ever seen was by accident. My friend Karen and I went to the beach on a Friday before an air show on Saturday. We had the place to ourselves. All of a sudden the Blues showed up and ran their routine for Saturday. It was amazing!
When I moved here 2 years ago, I was driving down Greenwood Ave. and I saw one of the Blues fly by. (they were in town for the Seafair show) It really made me homesick.
If you are from Pensacola, the Blue Angels are just part of your life. For me that is amplified by the fact that my dad worked at NAS Pensacola for years.
I knew I wanted to blog about it but didn't know what to say. Then I thought of this video which just sums it up. This is for you, Blues!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Forever Odd by Dean Koontz (audio)
This is the second novel in a series chronicling the crime-solving adventures of Odd Thomas, a young man with the supernatural ability to "see dead people." In this tale, Odd uses his gifts to aid a friend in distress.
I reviewed the first book a while back and never mentioned anything negative because the overall experience was good. I cannot say that about this book. The negatives reared their ugly heads and remained there unvanquished by a lackluster story. The story is told from the perspective of Odd. During times of action or dialogue, the story flows naturally but during times of slow description and exposition, the language becomes flowery and, in my opinion, unnecessary. It's as if there are two narrators or perhaps Odd has 2 personalities. These flaws were in the first book but anytime I thought I was about to be caught up in a lag, the story bolted forward. That didn't happen this time. I believe this book could have been at least half it's length. I know that the author was trying to build suspense but all he did was build boredom. The story wasn't nearly as interesting as the first book. It was pretty straightforward with no twists or turns. All in all, a pretty unsatisfying listen.
I still like the character of Odd Thomas and also some of the supporting characters. I know that there is a third book and I want to know what happens to him but I don't want to be bogged down in a swamp of slow moving plot again. So, I guess I'll wait a while until I'm really desperate for something to read or listen to.

My Generation

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Striking 12 in Tacoma!

Groovelily is one of our favorite bands and they are bringing their musical/concert Striking 12 to Tacoma in October. These guys are based in NY so it's rare that they come out this way. I am so in line for tickets in my brain right now.
If you are not familiar with GL, check them out here. I think you'll like it.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Day of Rest

It was weird the way this all worked out. On Friday, Jeff wrote in his blog about how hard it is for him to rest. I suggested he take a look at the concept from the angle of the Sabbath. He did. We ended up talking about it at Friday nights NW Arts meeting. In a nutshell, not many of us really know how to rest and the ones of us that do don't do it enough. So what's weird about that?
On Thursday evening Sarah asked if we could play hooky from church and lifegroup to recover from our week of hosting an 8 year old. Bekah was a joy but it was exhausting nonetheless. I said sure since playing hooky from church is something I could not do when I was a minister. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to not be there every time the doors are open. So Sarah and I sent our regrets about lifegroup and I turned down a request to lead communion on Sunday morning (sorry Pat) and we played hooky.
It turned out to be a nice day of doing nothing much. I got up at 8 because Mickey (one of our cats) was doing his revolving door routine of wanting under the covers then wanting out then wanting in, etc. Sarah slept until 10 when I marched in and demanded waffles. (okay, I didn't demand...we had already decided on waffles) She made the waffles and we ate them with real maple syrup. (none of that runny sugar free crap we've been using) After cleanup, we walked to Blockbuster and then Fred Meyer. Sarah bought some onions, broccoli and snap peas to plant in her balcony garden and we got some much needed toilet paper. Ah, domesticity! Since payday is today and it's been a long pay period, we opted to pay for our Freddie purchases with our rolled coinage. Sarah was embarrassed about it but hey, it spends just as well as the paper kind.
After arriving back home, Sarah adjourned to her gardening chores and I piddled in the studio. Following that, we went to the beach to soak in a little nature. The above photo will tell you all you need to know about our visit. We plunked down against a log and vegged. It was so relaxing. I think I could have just slept right there on the sand.
There were two guys wandering around on the beach and they stopped to try and hit the two logs in the water (see pic) with a rock. They probably threw 100 rocks and hit it once. One guy moved up closer and still couldn't hit it. It was hilarious. After they left, I picked up a rock just to try it. From a sitting position, I pegged it the first time. Yeah, baby!
After a sufficient time of laziness in the sun, we returned home but stopped by a neighborhood we've not explored just to check things out. We stopped to see how much one home was ($750,000) and then went on our way to our modest but homey apartment.
The rest of the evening consisted of more chilling, pizza (I sprung despite being fiscally challenged because we were both craving it), and we started watching a miniseries on DVD from the Sci Fi Channel called The Lost Room. (pretty intriguing) We crawled into bed around 10, read a bit and then went nighty night.
If you are not taking a day like this on occasion, shame on you. It's good for what ails ya!

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Already Dead by Charlie Huston
This noir vampire novel introduces Joe Pitt, a tough P. I. type who just happens to be a vampire working in a vamp controlled NYC. His investigation begins with a zombie hunt and spirals into race to find the carrier, the one creating all the zombies.
I didn't enjoy this book. It's gotten rave reviews but I just didn't care for it. I listened to a podcast interview with the author and they made it sound so interesting. It wasn't. Sure, Huston does a good job of setting up the noir atmosphere and everyone talks like it's a cheap pulp story but I found the whole thing cliche'. I've never been a fan of the hard-boiled detective stories anyway. I guess I thought with some supernatural elements thrown in it might be good. That's what I get for thinking. To me, the whole thing just seemed so repetitive and boring.
I'm in a rut with my reading. I need some new discoveries, some new genres to explore. Any suggestions?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday the 13th Part II

Well, I went home this afternoon to get ready to come back for Bekah's show. (at the end of drama camp they do a show) I made sure to grab everything I needed to video the show so we can send a disc to her parents. I also had to grab the fruit platter that Sarah prepared for the after-show reception. Well, as I'm exiting the apartment, the fruit platter begins to drip marachino cherry juice all over the floor. I put the tripod down to facilitate clean-up, it falls to the ground and breaks. Great! Well, the tripod is probably 22 years old but it was (I thought) in good shape.
Thankfully, the curse of the 13th ended there. Bekah's show went well and our meeting of the NW Artists was good. On the way home, Bekah begged for us to tell her a story. Being a bit late for me, I came up with some typically warped tales that delighted both Bekah and Sarah. Remind me to tell you the one about Punchman Meets Rockman. It's a winner!

Friday the 13th

I can believe it's Friday the 13th because I had a mostly sleepless night. Every time I would fall asleep, and I mean every time, I began having nightmares...really disturbing stuff. I only remember one but it had to do with these two elderly sisters. One was seemingly normal and the other was a psycho. The "normal" one was covering for the murders of the psycho. It seems to me the psycho might have been a ghost because I remember something about a haunted house. I also remember that she looked like Joanna Lumley (Brit actress) but her teeth were filed to sharp points. Very scary. I hope the day isn't indicative of the night.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Martin Luther? Anyone?

Can anyone out there in cyberspace recommend a good bio of Martin Luther? I don't like dry and scholarly texts so can you maybe recommend one that's fun to read? I know that's probably too much to ask but I had to try.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


In case you haven't noticed, I have created a site for my photos using Blogger. I didn't like Flickr so I took a cue from my friend Jeff and started a photoblog. Check it out sometime. The link is in the sidebar under "More About Me."
Let me give Jeff a big shout out here. His photos rock! Check it out. There's a link to it in the sidebar under "Other Blogs."

Monday, April 09, 2007

Going to the Chapel

MC is getting married! Mary Catherine is the daughter of my friends Dan and Kim in SC. It seems like only yesterday that she was dressing up like a bear to be in one of my kooky dramas at church. Ah, the memories. MC's a great girl. I don't know the guy she's marrying but he must be okay. If he wasn't, Dan would've pulled the old "cleaning the shotgun" routine a long time ago. Wanna check out their wedding website? Go here.
Congrats, you two. Have fun!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Little Visitor

We have an 8 year old in the apartment this week. Our friends who live in Boise have sent Bekah to stay with us so she can go to Taproot's drama camp this week. I'm sure it will be an interesting week. She and Sarah have been playing most of the afternoon. It's been very dramatic. They pulled out Sarah's dollhouse and had some serious drama going where the kids were sent to an orphanage and the dog to the pound. That seem rather tragic to be coming from the mind of an 8 year old. Still, she's rather imaginative. On the way back from the airport, I called her mom to tell her we had her. I got her answering machine and left this long message about being a homeless man named George who found her daughter wandering around the airport. I said she was okay and that I had fed her crackers and vienna sausage. When her mom called, Bekah told her she was Ruby and started talking like I had in my George character. Then Sarah became Fred and Bekah drew pics of Fred, George and Ruby for us. After lifegroup, she asked if we were really having vienna sausage and crackers for supper. So funny!

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman
This is my second book by Kimmelman. I like the way he writes about art. He talks about it in a way that is more accessible than your typical art professor. In this book, he doesn't so much do the talking as the listening. He met with well-known artists at a museum and got their impressions of their own work and the works of others. I learned alot from these conversations. It was refreshing to me that most of the artists didn't talk about art as if they were reading from a Star Trek tech manual. Many of them expressed disdain for highmindedness when it came to talking about art. They expressed themselves eloquently, simply and with passion. Many of them explained how they feel as though they haven't got it figured out yet. It's quite a relief to hear one's art role model confess that. But it's true. I don't think you can ever figure it out. You just have to keep working at it, chipping away at the block bit by bit, feeling satisfied with the sore muscles and slight headache that can only come from the act of creation, and feeling anxious to do it again tomorrow.

Chuck Close Quotes

"What moves me about Seurat's are in the incremental, nuanced, part-to-whole way his paintings are built out of elegant little dots, though I feel even more of a kinship with Roman mosaics because the mosaics are made out of big, clunky chunks, and I especially like the idea that something can be made out of something else so different and unlikely. In Roman mosaics, an eyeball is made from the exact same chunk of stone as the background, and this brings up the concept of alloverness and Jackson Pollock. It's what I aim for in my own work, an alloverness that's different from what most portraitists do by putting all of their attention into the eyes, nose and mouth."
"My daughter once asked me if I was alive when the world was black and white, which is a pretty amazing thing to say, when you think about it, because everything she saw that was old on TV was black and white."
"I remember being asked by some children once, 'Do you work from photographs or can you really draw?' as if looking at a photograph means you're not really looking, as if you're cheating..."
"I've always wondered how a magician watches another magician perform: does he see the illusion or the device that makes the illusion? For me, the thrill as a painter is not only seeing what another painter has made but how he or she had made it. And I think one reason painting continues to have urgency, when so many so-called experts like to say it is dead, is that there is something about the smearing of colored dirt on a flat surface and denying the flatness through the illusion of depth which retains its original magic from the days of the cave painters and which can never be denied."

Source: Portraits by Michael Kimmelman


Firestorm by Rachel Caine
"Rogue Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin must rally the remnants of the corps against the Djinn, who have broken free from Warden control, and a cranky Mother Earth, who's about to unleash her full fury against the entire world."*
This is book 5 of the Weather Warden series, a storyline I've rather enjoyed up until now. Compared to the others which were full of action and compelling characters, this one was just plain boring. I can't explain why but I just didn't seem to care about what was going on. I guess the whole Mother Earth plot just reeked too much of "crunchy granola" for me. Yes, we have abused the Earth and now she's awake and pissed. It should have been advertised as fiction for tree-huggers. I know that book 6 is coming out soon but I may wait until there's a big lull in my reading before I pick it up. I guess I need a break from the weather.
PS: I hate the covers on these books. It's like a Harlequin Romance novel cover without the hunky Fabio guy. That is so not what these books are like. If they were, I'd stay far, far away.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I don't know how I did it but I did it. I screwed up my blog. Oh well. SIGH! That's what happens when a technologically-challenged person (who is in denial about his being technologically-challenged) starts messin' where he ought not be messin'. The main part's okay but I screwed up the sidebar somethin' terrible. I'll probably have it back to semi-normal in a few days. Not that it matters. The only thing there was a bunch of stuff about what books I'm reading and what music I listen to and what movies I watch and blah blah blah. Who cares about that stuff anyway?

Movie Watching

I'm sure many of you have noticed that I keep a record of all the movies I watch in the sidebar of this blog. My buddy Jon inspired me to do this. I decided to do the first quarter of the year and then examine the results. The result is...I watch too many movies. Granted, Sarah and I watch movies together in the evenings to wind down and there's nothing wrong with that. We just do it too much. Sometimes we watch two back to back. Darn that Blockbuster and it's all-you-can-rent-for-one-low-price deal. We've dug ourselves into a rut with it. Well, the results are in and we're going to try to cut back. With the weather starting to get nice, I'm sure that will prompt us to get out more even if it's just for a nice stroll through the neighborhood. In the summer it stays light until 10 pm here.
Since I've resolved to try and improve my drawing abilities, perhaps I could sketch while watching a movie (like I did the other night to prepare for the video shoot). That might "redeem the time" a little bit more. I'm not much of a multi-tasker though. Once I got into sketching, I lost track of the movie. I had to ask Sarah what was happening. When I truly enter the drawing zone, I pretty much check out of the world completely.
So, with the first quarter complete, I think I will continue to monitor my movie watching for another quarter at least. Then I can gauge whether I've cut back or not. Wish me luck. I'm a cinema junkie with a Planet of the Apes on my back.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I spent the day doing some acting for a video we're presenting at church on Easter Sunday. I pretty much played myself which is the most difficult role I've ever played. Jeff wrote the script and it revolved around the idea of doubts about the Resurrection. I spend most of the time waxing philisophical in a Marty-like fashion (that pretty much means brutal honesty with a side of humor) while I am sketching images based on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. I learned a few things from the experience. They are...
  • It was difficult playing me because I don't really know who I am anymore. I think a new me is emerging from the ruins of the old but it's still an awkward place to be. Perhaps the old Marty is dead but a new one will rise from the that Phoenix bird!
  • I knew I was rusty at acting but being rusty at drawing surprised me. It shouldn't have. I enjoy the art of collage and am having a bit of success at it but when it came time to sit down and do the sketches for this video, I had a difficult time of it. My knowledge of anatomy isn't what it used to be and I found myself having to refer to photos. Once I had the photographic reference, the chops started coming back...but slowly. I still have pretty good hand/eye coordination but the whole drawing thing needs some work. I'm glad this experience woke me up to the dormancy of my talent. I need to let it wake up.
  • I am still a bit off balance around my new church friends. Like I said before, it's hard to be me when I don't know who me is. But they amaze me. They are truly some of the most genuine, down-to-earth, gentle, loving people I've ever met. It's true that I miss having some of my old cynical, skeptical rock and roll buddies around (I really miss being able to talk about music with people who know what I'm talking about) but something tells me that these folks are going to be good for me...somehow. (Big thanks to Steve, Merlin and especially Kent...the hardest working guy I think I've ever met)
  • Jeff is a talented guy and I like working with him. As a director, he is so encouraging and full of wonderful insights. He has a way of seeing things that totally inspires me...and makes me angry with myself for not having seen them myself. He challenges me...and that's something I need right now. Thanks for the opportunities, Jeff.
Well, the day is done and I'm one tired puppy. I had forgotten how taxing a video shoot can be. It's fun but draining. I can't wait to see how the vid turns out...even though I hate seeing myself. (Do I really sound like, my hair is thin...geez, lose some weight, fatty) Who knows. It might end up on YouTube. If so, maybe I'll let you know about it. Then again, maybe I won't.

Happy Historic Low Usage

I saw this sign on the Ballard branch of the library the other day.
Library closed Sunday, April 8th due to historic low usage.

Wow! And here I thought it was Easter. Little did I know that it was Historic Low Usage Day. Just think of all the things I've been missing: visits from the Historic Low Usage Bunny, coloring and hiding Historic Low Usage eggs for the kiddies, and don't forget that ever important Historic Low Usage pageant that the local church will be putting on next Sunday. I feel cheated. Well, no longer. Starting this year, I am going to start celebrating Historic Low Usage Day in style.
Is it too late to get a Historic Low Usage Bonnet for the Historic Low Usage Parade?